Virtual Assistant Student Success Story with Calyie Martin

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We’ve got an awesome Student Success Story to share with you here at Horkey HandBook! 

One of our favorite things is featuring the stories of students of our courses who are applying what they’ve learned and making their dreams a reality. 

In this post we’ll hear from Calyie Martin, a work from home mom who hit her stride when it comes to online business. Money was tight after she quit her job to stay at home with her first baby, and she was sick of reinventing herself career-wise each time she had to move with her military husband.

Calyie shared her story about how she landed her first virtual assistant client after lesson two of my free VA email course, Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Career. And this client pays her $1,000 per month! Not bad, right?

Hi Calyie – tell us a bit about yourself: Who are you and what do you do for fun?

Hi guys!

I’ve worn many hats along my travels – I was in the Canadian Navy for awhile, worked for Microsoft in their customer service department, ran an accounting firm and lastly (just last year) managed a gas station.

I’m now a military wife and a new mother. I spent the past six months looking for a way to stay home with my new son and portable work, since having to move is inevitable.

So instead of trying to find yet another career in our new city, I thought I’d find something I could take with me. I did a lot of research on how to make money from home, and no doing lots of surveys is not a great way to make a living! I was looking for something that I could work at and build as I go, something to fill in the hours during nap time and to bring in extra money to the household so we weren’t living paycheck to paycheck.

I still wear many hats, but ones that I’m very proud of and happy to tell you all about. I’m a military wife, a mommy, a proofreader, a virtual assistant, and a quilter. When I’m not at my computer, I can be found at my sewing machine creating quilts for babies and adults alike. My newest passion is creating weighted blankets for autistic children.

How long have you been in business?

I’m very new to the freelance world.  

I’ve always worked in brick-and-mortar companies. I’ve been freelancing for just four months now.

But wish I had of started this years ago!

What convinced you to become a virtual assistant? Was it what you expected?

Freelancing as a virtual assistant is a new concept to me that I came across just a few months ago. I’d heard of people working from home, but more from the standpoint that they could do their work for at home, instead of commuting to work.

A year ago this month, I gave birth to my son. I had full intentions of going back to work after my maternity leave was over. We started interviewing and looking into our options and different daycare facilities.  

We found the options to be extremely expensive for our needs, and since I worked shift work and my husband is in the military, we’d also need a backup babysitter for nights that I would be called away.

So more than half of my pay would be devoted to someone else taking care of my son – where is the logic in that? I figured there had to be something else I could do from home, so we wouldn’t have to pay those outrageous amounts.

(Side note: This is why Wade decided to quit his job to become a SAHD almost three years ago now. Totally worth it!)

So when my son was about 5-6 months old, I started researching how to make money from home. I came across the usual stuff, like being paid to take surveys – and I did it for awhile – it even paid for our Christmas last year.

But no way was it sustainable enough to keep the bills paid every month and for us to continue our lifestyle. So I went looking for more.

I came across a lot of sites for freelance writing, and I’ll admit I even tried it for a month, but I wasn’t very good at creating my own works. I found that I enjoyed working with what others had written instead, so I found a bit more on being a freelance proofreader. And then I found Gina’s virtual assistant training course through Caitlin Pyle’s, Proofread Anywhere blog. 

I had no expectations before I started freelancing, so everything has had an extreme learning curve. But one thing I know for sure – I will NEVER go back to my old life in the retail sector.

Virtual Assistant Success StoriesWhat’s been most challenging thus far?

The hardest part for me is probably the hardest part for everyone, finding the clients you want to work with.  

I’ve gone through a few duds along the way, but I have built up a small clientele now that I get steady work from, and in a couple of months I’m thinking of adding another one.

Did you ever want to quit or give up?

There have certainly been days that I want to take off and do nothing but work on some crafts – and those days, that’s exactly what I do!

But so far I’ve never wanted to quit. When I find things are getting tough, I just remember why I’m doing this. I look at my son and remember that I’m doing this work for his future, to be able to stay home with him and to be able to watch him grow each and every day.

What were you struggling the most with when you ran into Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Career?

I was getting some jobs, but had to constantly reach out to new clients to try and get enough money to make my monthly budget (which never seemed to happen).

I wanted to find something that would be a bit more stable. I came across Gina’s free VA course and thought to myself, “I’ve done a lot of this type of work before for myself and for the companies I’ve worked for, so why not try and see if I can do this on a regular basis from home?”

What are some big successes you’ve had recently?

After completing the second lesson of Jumpstart Your Virtual Assistant Career, I applied to two different virtual assistant jobs on Upwork. I never heard back from one of them, but the other I was shortlisted and asked to do a paid interview.

He sent me a few different tasks that he wanted me to complete and track how long it would take me. All of these tasks were new to me, and I told him as much.

I would check out the different programs he set me up on and figure things out on my own, or I would do a quick Google search and find out how to do the tasks. Even though I was new to many of them, he was impressed with what I was able to do and how quickly I was able to learn.

And for him, his biggest want was someone able to follow his instructions. I.e. he didn’t want to have to go back and double check my work – he wanted things to be done right the first time.  

About a week after the paid interview, he offered me the job – for as long as I wanted it. He let go of the other people he was interviewing and kept me on instead. He has since stated that no matter where he will be working in the future (he’s a salesman), he will never again work without someone like myself, and he wants to keep me for as long as I want to work with him. That was nice to hear!

What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?

  1. Put yourself out there and go for it! The worst thing that could happen is that someone would say no. But the best case scenario is that I would get a new client and a great working relationship for years to come!
  2. Take each no that you receive and learn from it. Learn how to approach potential clients and make future proposals that much smoother. Treat prospects with respect, but also in a casual/professional manner. Not many people want to be talked down to – they want help, not criticism.
  3. When you’re writing your proposals (or pitches), treat your prospect as if you were sitting down having a cup of coffee. Like you’re chatting in person. They’ll respond to genuine sincerity on your behalf, so make sure to make that emotional connection.

Even though you found success through the free course, you decided to enroll in version two of 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success – why?

I’m really interested in some of the new course material that’s coming out with the second version of 30DOL.

I want to get into social media, not only for other companies, but also for my own  side business. I’m also very interested in seeing what’s in the email management lesson. There’s so much new material in version two that I can’t wait to get into it!

What are you most excited about for your business in the next six months?

Within the next six months I’d like to pick up at least one more virtual assistant client and to grow my own side business some more. I’ve already reached my monthly goal of $800/month – last month I made $1,800!

So for the next six months, I want to see if I can get that figure up over $2,000/month and keep it there. This is higher than what I was making as a manager and with less hours.

CalyieCalyie Martin is a military wife and a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys going for long walks with her baby and dog. When she’s not proofreading or doing virtual assistant work, you can find her busy quilting.

18 thoughts on “Virtual Assistant Student Success Story with Calyie Martin”

  1. Congratulations Caylie! I wish I had this opportunity when my kids were young. I haven’t really considered VA work until now but hearing your story (and that you are also in Canada) has tweaked my interest. I really enjoyed Gina’s other course so I’m signing up for her VA course. Thanks for your story!

  2. Thanks Sophia. My VA client is actually in North Carolina, and my furthest full time client is in the United Kingdom. So even though it’s sometimes harder for us Canadians, it’s definitely not impossible, and many people like our friendly nature and willingness to please.

  3. Congratulations Caylie. I am very glad to hear that you are having success. I have just finished Gina’s introductory course and I can only hope to have the same response as you had. Way to go girl.

    • My biggest advice to you Barb is just to go for it, wat’s the wrose that can happen? As Gina says “why not you, why not now”

  4. Hi Caylie,

    Congrats on finding your purpose and portable career (as an expat -partner I know only too well ;o).

    Loved your comment on treating your prospects/pitches as if your sitting down with them for a coffee!
    Much continued success!

    • Thank you Mariken.

      I have found the informal settings really help to set the client at ease and it increases your likability. Making sure you add some authority to this as well will increase your chances of being hired.

  5. Caylie, Loved reading about your story. I’ve signed up for Gina’s VA course a couple of days back and hearing about your success is a great motivation to keep going ahead. Wish you continued success!

  6. Hi Calyie,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m a mom of 3 and a homeschool. Can I ask how many hours you put in a week.

    • Oh Amy, that’s really hard to say. I guess it really depends on the amount of work I have to complete and the deadlines that are coming up. Like last night I was up till 3 am cause a past client came to me at 10, as I was getting ready for bed, he was really upset and needed help. So I stayed up till 3 to help him, went to bed and was up at 6 with the baby. And then there’s other days that I have nothing better to do with my time then clean the house and work on my quilt stock.

      So my advice, if you’re looking to manage your time, figure out how many hours you can invest into your business and when those hours are. Then find work that will support that. Being your own boss means you get to call the shots. So figure out what works for you and stick to that.

  7. Hi Calyie, Thanks for sharing your story and offering great tips. It has inspired me to push myself and make my freelance venture as a VA work. Wishing you much more success in your career as a VA.

    • Thank you Michelle, and here’s to you and all of your future successes. Can’t wait to read your success story.

  8. “There have certainly been days that I want to take off and do nothing but work on some crafts – and those days, that’s exactly what I do!” I needed to hear that, today. Definitely needed to hear that. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Laura if you’re anything like me you work like ALL the time. So being able to say, “no, it’s a me day,” is exactly what you should be able to do, take the time to recharge and you’ll notice that life is better and you’ll be able to serve your clients better too.

  9. Awesome story Calyie. So happy for you. This is something I definitely want to try. You are an inspiration.

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