Welcome to another amazing Student Success Story here at Horkey HandBook!
Today we’ll be hearing from Sierra Schmidt…
As a stay-at-home mom, she created a successful virtual assistant business that would give her the flexibility she wanted to be there for her kids and support her family’s income at the same time. Sierra has taken her love of Pinterest and travel and built something amazing!
Read on to hear about Sierra’s “secret weapon” when it comes to sharing value and finding new clients. She’s also got a powerful strategy for learning and becoming even more awesome at what she does!
Name: Sierra Schmidt
Short bio: Stay-at-home mom (to three kiddos) turned Pinterest virtual assistant
Location: California (USA)
Date hired by first client: October 1st, 2018
Return on course investment: October 3rd, 2018
Average hours worked per week: 12
Average monthly income: $1400
Services offered: Pinterest management, email management, social media management, proofreading
Hi, Sierra! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My husband and I have been married for 14 years and live in beautiful Northern California wine country. I have been a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born eight years ago. Just before her third birthday, I gave birth to twin boys and our life has been fun but crazy ever since!
I love photography, travel, and crafting with my children. I have a small travel blog on the side which has been great fun and allows me to educate and grow in new ways that also benefit my clients.
How about your business?
My babies started kindergarten in August this year.
In June, I took the Virtual Assistant Course created by Horkey HandBook and worked on my website and case studies with friends over the summer to prepare. I launched my VA business in September 2018 and began pitching clients. I offer Pinterest and social media management services, as well as email management services. My target market includes those in the travel industry and creative services industry.
Why did you decide to start a virtual assistant business?
With all my children in school, I was ready to work again and support my husband in helping to provide for our family. But I didn’t want to lose the flexibility that I had for several years to be really involved in my kids’ school activities and caring for our home.
It was important to me to be my own boss and only work in a way that was best for my family. I researched for weeks and when I landed on Gina’s course, I felt confident that it was the right path for me.
Why did you choose Pinterest management as your main niche?
I have always loved Pinterest. I didn’t really realize that I could make an income from it though. After enrolling in the VA course, I came across Gina and Kristen’s Become a Pinterest VA Today! course and I was intrigued.
I became so passionate about what that platform could do for small businesses, that both clients that I landed through VA Leads ending up adding Pinterest services to my tasks even though they hadn’t planned on it, because I was excited and knowledgeable about it.
Was there anything holding you back from starting your business?
I had been out of the workforce for so long!
I was afraid to write a resume that had a nine-year gap.
I feared that no one would hire me.
I use technology in my daily life, but when I started researching all of the programs and software regularly used by businesses now, I realized that I didn’t know anything about any of them. It was a bit overwhelming and I really feared not being able to find clients.
What was the most challenging part as you got started?
I was like a sponge learning as much as I could as fast as I could and it was exhausting.
I was up late working on my new business and up early taking care of my children. I wondered if my expectations for making this work were unrealistic.
How did you overcome that?
My husband was incredibly supportive from Day 1 which helped build my confidence. I told myself that I just needed to work enough to earn back what I had invested in the courses and in my website, and I allowed myself to reevaluate after that.
I took everything one step at a time and grew more and more confident as I learned each new process and accomplished each step.
Once I landed one client, I felt sure that I could indeed do this!
How did you find your VA clients?
I started pitching clients in September and landed two that month.
By the end of October, I had booked three more clients and my schedule is now full with five clients in total.
Two of my clients came from VA Leads, the matchmaking VA service offered to students of Gina’s 30 Days or Less courses. The other three clients came from The Pinterest Post Community which is offered with the Pinterest VA course.
If I were looking for more clients, I would join Facebook groups and get to know the people on them. Because my niche is travel, I am in several travel blogging groups and people are asking for Pinterest advice almost daily. I happily answer their questions.
Almost weekly, someone asks for Pinterest VA referrals. I think that by laying the foundation of sharing Pinterest wisdom freely, I am a good candidate for consideration in these cases. I haven’t tried yet, only because my roster is currently full, but I plan to pitch in Facebook groups in the future.
How did you decide on the travel niche?
I had never had an interest in blogging, but I have always had an interest in traveling.
When I began my VA business. I came to realize how helpful it would be for me to have a blog of my own so that I could practice on my own site! I started a travel blog and it is so much fun!
I treated myself as a client in order to practice Pinterest, SEO, web design, email management, social media management, etc. I want to help people with businesses that I am passionate about, so I reached out only to leads that were in creative or travel industries. This has worked perfectly.
Potential clients like the fact that I have direct experience in their field; I am constantly educating myself on growing my own blog which in turn helps me to be a better VA to my clients.
Can you tell us about your favorite client or project?
I honestly love all my clients. I only pitch businesses that I’m passionate about and believe that I can truly help their businesses grow.
My favorite client is my first because she had faith in me. I was probably not the most qualified candidate, but she hired me because she appreciated how thorough and honest my responses were. I told her what I could do and was honest about what I would continue to learn. She could see my integrity and drive and she trusted me. That meant a lot and gave me the confidence to fill the rest of my roster really quickly!
How are you working on growing your business currently?
My hours are currently full (hooray!), but I know that I am not working as efficiently as I could be because I am still learning the ins and outs of balancing so many new clients all at once.
I am currently working on managing my time and setting up standard operating procedures so that I can work faster and “give myself a raise” by saving time. Once I do this, I plan to open up my schedule to add a couple more clients.
What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?
Everything! I look forward to further educating myself so that I can be the best virtual assistant that I can possibly be. I want each of my clients to feel well-cared for and glad that they are making an investment in me. I look forward to managing my own schedule, adding more clients at a steady pace, and maintaining a healthy career and life balance.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Sierra!
Sierra lives in beautiful Northern California with her handsome husband and three adorable, crazy kiddos. In addition to supporting small business owners as a virtual assistant, she is passionate about her family, her faith, and traveling the world with her camera. She also loves the beach, reading a good book, and strawberries & dark chocolate. You can find Sierra at Sierra Virtual Solutions