How Louise Created a Thriving Virtual Assistant Business and Digital Nomad Family Freedom
Virtual assistant Louise Morris and I are neighbors... almost!
When you take it on an international scale that is, her home base is just a couple of hours up the road from where we are here in Bali. We haven't had the opportunity to meet up for a good ol' masterminding session just yet, but that's just because she was flying out for a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Thailand (with her husband and two gorgeous little peeps) as we were flying in. The time will come!
I first started to get to know Louise through our course Facebook group less than a year ago, and there was one particular thing she shared early on that I'll never forget. She was stepping up, skilling up and looking for proactive ways to grow her work volume and increase her rate. She'd put together a full PowerPoint presentation for an existing client, reviewing the work she'd supported them with up to that point, the investment, the benefits and then carefully thought-out suggestions for how they could extend on the collaboration from there.
Oh my goodness... who does this?!
Louise does. :-)
Despite moments of uncertainty and the 5am Skype calls (being on the other side of the world from her clients at the moment) Louise is just always ready and willing to take that next step forward, and that's exactly how she was able to launch My Business Jedi Virtual Assistant Services to serve her client base with other awesome VAs to support her.
Let's hand it over to Louise, so you can find out how this career transition came about...
Learning new digital skills to start working online takes some serious motivation and action. What was your big reason ‘why’ for getting started?
I’ve always been fiercely independent and had a means of making money from a young age and then having trained as an actress, one of the the things I learned was to be resourceful whilst I was 'resting' as they say in the business. So one year after having my second baby, having moved from my home country of the UK, given up all I knew to follow a dream of living the good life in rural France, I found myself having to think outside of the box to earn money.
There wasn't much work for a non French speakingmother of two in the French countryside and we had quickly spent all my husband's redundancy which was to see us through for a year, so I started to think of how I could earn money online, drawing on all those skills I had gained from previous work in customer service, marketing and sales whilst I was 'resting'.
Did you have any skills or experience from your past offline work history that you’ve been able to draw on in getting started?
Yes and no!
At first, I felt like I had no skills at all. I never really had a typical PA job or worked directly in a role where I was responsible for say online marketing. I knew only of social media from what I used personally for fun and I had started a plethora of quickly abandoned blogs (I had an in/out love affair with WordPress for years).
I then started to realise, of course I did have transferable skills and most importantly I was a great communicator and liked working with people. I had experience in traditional customer service roles on the telephone and face to face, I had some essence of administration type work using Windows packages, databases and in my life as an actress I had some experience of writing plays, poetry and marketing myself too for work, so I felt that I had a good bag of skills to hopefully transfer to the online world.
How did The Online Biz Skills training help?
The Online Biz Skills training was the single most important factor to my most recent successes. Without it I would have not been where I am today and potentially would have wasted a lot of time not knowing how to focus myself and potentially given up before I had even started.
The course was affordable and helped me learn fast the packages and tools needed to succeed as a VA and in a tangible way that felt really accessible to me as a mother of two small children. Also I have to say, in the early days, when you are trying to figure out 'how can I make money online?', you really undervalue yourself, because you feel like you don't have enough experience to be charging for the services you think you can deliver. So I was able to work and learn at the same time, which helped make some money, if only a little in the early days.
The course allowed me to organise myself and absolutely gave me an abundance of confidence to start treating my work professionally. For me it wasn't just a case of changing career, I needed to earn money fast to survive, so the training tooled me up and allowed me to escalate my earnings rapidly. I learned how to use a lot of previously unknown online tools fast, without having to make a massive investment.
Any particular part of the course that you’ve found the most useful or enjoyable?
This is a hard question. I love to learn new skills, I call myself the master of many tricks, so I found the whole course very useful and interesting.
The structure of the course, having access to all the units all the time is very accessible so depending on how you approach it, you always feel like you have gained a new skill after finishing each unit.
The sections on how to get your first client, create your online profile and how to be invaluable to your client have been my biggest asset, because that is one of the biggest hurdles at first. With Danielle's advice and approach to treat yourself professionally and deliver added value with your work, I have been able to double my fee in less than 6 months, gain two main clients who value my work and build a great profile for future work, whilst earning. All this using skills I never had six months ago.
The private Mastermind Group is such an amazing place to get support after the course. The webinars were really helpful too for those extra questions that pop up whilst training.
The sections on WordPress and landing page creation are some of the most sought-after skills business owners seek today. I had no skills at all in these areas so these have been the biggest asset to my current work.
How did you find and connect with your first client?
I found my first client on Elance (now Upwork). I decided to use this platform only and really try and ace my profile and send out lots of proposals. It was tough to get a client at first with no previous work history. I sent out a lot of proposals, maybe 25, and it took two months before a publisher from the US hired me to write a complete e-book study guide for $200. I was shocked at first that someone actually trusted me to write a book for their business and was going to pay me! The business owner said he liked my proposal;
'I wanted to take a minute and write to thank you for your proposal. You seem to be very qualified and I'd like to choose you as a finalist for this project.'
I completed a short writing test and then he gave me the work. It's embarrassing how proud I was of that moment and I will always remember him for taking a chance on me.
What kinds of services are you helping your clients with at the moment?
Currently I support startups and business owners with a mixture of content marketing, social media management and copywriting. These are where my skill sets lie. I have two big clients and I provide very different services for both.
One client is very busy with their own role as marketing manager for a large cosmetics company, that they have no time to organise personal affairs, so I assist him with everything from booking flights, restaurants, researching holidays, organising his shopping, designing his wedding invites, a real mixed bag of stuff really and I love this role, it's very fun!
My other client runs a property startup and I assist her in marketing and customer relations. This heavily involves weekly social media curation and scheduling, blog updates, designing flyers, designing posts, setting up mailing lists with MailChimp, running email marketing campaigns, content writing for her website and blog and lots of research tasks.
This particular role I am very proud of as it started out as a few hours a week doing ad-hoc marketing and general admin and over the past six months I have crafted my own workload and continued to offer other services I can manage for her. Just recently she has given permission for my hours to be increased between 12-30 hours depending on the tasks and I managed to negotiate my rate to double my original fee!
I have found myself in the great but challenging position of being very busy this past 6 months, so that is when I decided to launch My Business Jedi, to be able to work with more talented VAs and exciting new clients.
What has been the best part of working online so far?
It has allowed me the flexibility to be with my children as we home school and it has given me and my family the freedom to travel the world. We currently live in Ubud, Bali Indonesia.
I support my family with a full-time wage and I can work the hours I choose, wherever I like in the world. I forget I am a business owner too, so I am my own boss, no office, no set hours and I get to take time out to go swim with my kids, go to Yoga, go on day trips, as long as there is an internet connection I can work.
What was the most challenging part of getting started? How were you been able to get around it or work with it?
Really the mindset change is the biggest hurdle. Breaking away from this idea that the only way to make money is through an employer in an office or having to be stuck in one place.
It took a while to take myself seriously and really treat myself as a professional, but when I did that, I allowed myself to really go get what I wanted, to plan and organise myself to be productive and proactive in getting work.
Getting your first client is tough and feeling that you can't charge too much is also tough. Danielle really helped me realise, if I am providing someone with a service then people will pay for it and pay well if you give added value and treat yourself professionally.
For me, telling myself I am worth $$$ amount and that my work is important to the business owner, otherwise they wouldn't be prepared to pay for it, gives me continuing confidence and lets me remember my value.
Where do you usually work from? What’s your absolute fave place to work?
My life is insanely dreamy right now, but also hectic. I live In Ubud, Bali, where everyone is a digital nomad it seems. There are a whole town's worth of amazing cafés and co-working spaces catering for freelance digital workers, with amazing healthy foods, great internet, good atmosphere and some stunning tropical forest views.
I have a few special spaces to work from and I will be joining Outpost Co-working space soon to get more focused and have 24 access to great internet and office space for those 5am Skype calls. I can't really work from home as my children would just want to play with me all day so I go somewhere else and then I can focus better and return quicker for a swim.
Are you new to this world of online work? Get started with our free training series here to get clued up on how these online business support skills all fit together.
Are you an entrepreneur looking for an amazing virtual team you can reach out to for support with online marketing implementation and strategy? Review Louise's range of services and get in touch with her via her website right here: My Business Jedi Virtual Assistant Services.