How Samantha Started Her Virtual Assistant Career with Blog, Social Media and Email Marketing Skills
Samantha DenBleyker first started getting skilled up in online software systems to manage the web presence for her traditional business, a seasonal kids consignment event in Alaska called Bella Kids.
Her virtual assistant career began in early 2015 when she decided to take that base of skills, extend them with some further study to learn new software tools, and then offer what she'd learned to other business owners through blog, social media and email marketing support services.
Samantha is an absolute whiz at blending her VA work with her adventurous, entrepreneurial life, whether that's getting on top of client work in the car while waiting for the kids to finish a class, or taking her laptop and projects with her on a Caribbean Sea family cruise (see above and below for the pics!).
I asked Samantha if she could share a little of the backstory to find out how this career change 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?
There are a couple of reasons that I got started working online.
The first is that I would like to travel more with my family. (Personally I'd love to eventually be nomadic at least part of the year, but I don't know that my family will go along with that idea.) But I have always wanted to see more of the world and to take my kids and husband along with me. And to be able to have a work opportunity that is location independent is very important.
The second is so that eventually my husband can quit his day job. We have a few other side hustles and we hope that eventually, with all our combined hustles, we will be able to replace his income and be free to pursue other ventures as we will not be tied to a location year round.
Did you have any skills or experience from your past offline work history that you’ve been able to draw on in getting started?
I acquired a few of the skills taught in The Online Biz Skills in one of my side hustles. This prompted me to start thinking about how I could use those skills outside of my seasonal business. Some of those skills were (and still are) working in MailChimp, WordPress, and social media.
How did The Online Biz Skills training help?
The Online Biz Skills course was invaluable in setting in motion what I'd been searching for (in regards to online, location independent work). Without this course I would still be floundering. This course gives step by step direction in not only software, but also in how to gain and keep clients.
Any particular part of the course that you’ve found the most useful or enjoyable?
The entire course is great, but I would have to say the most useful section was on how to Be Irreplaceable. It has so much information that is vital to using the skills taught successfully. I have already had a client tell me that my showing up and being consistent (a basic business practice really, but one that is not always followed) is more then their past VAs had done for them.
Side note from Danielle - what Samantha mentioned here about the feedback from her client reminds me of something Paul Jarvis shared in an interview recently, and it's a common sentiment you'll here from clients and your freelancing colleagues. As a new VA, especially before you have experience, this can be a huge factor for setting yourself apart. Watch the 3:30min video snippet with Paul below...
How did you find and connect with your first clients?
I found my first clients via Upwork and now have begun gaining clients via word of mouth.
What kinds of services are you helping your clients with at the moment?
What has been the best part of working online so far?
The best part is the freedom. I gained a little taste of the freedom just last week (the end of February) when I went on a cruise. Even in the middle of the ocean I could access wifi and get work done for my clients. It was exhilarating and so freeing knowing that I didn't have to be tied to a location.
The flexibility is also fantastic. As a mom of 4 it is wonderful to be able to work whenever I have the time and not be subject to a 9-5 job.
What was the most challenging part of getting started? How were you been able to get around it or work with it?
I would say this is two-fold for me.
Time was a big one when first starting the course, finding a balance between getting through the course and family life. (I don't know about others, but I was so excited about this course I wanted to keep watching and moving through it!) This involved working late at night, after the kids were in bed, or getting up before them so that I could complete the course.
When searching for clients the biggest challenge for me was confidence. Having the skills is important, but having the right mindset is VITAL. I had to believe in myself and step out, even while afraid, to acquire clients.
Where do you usually work from? What’s your absolute fave place to work?
I typically work on my laptop from my kitchen table or the desk in my room. My favorite place locally to work (outside of my house) is either the library or a local coffee shop.
My favorite place so far that I have done work has been on the 11th deck on a cruise at the end of February, talk about an amazing view while working. The sun was shining across the gorgeous blue water of the Caribbean Sea. Being able to work while traveling was thrilling and very freeing!
The joy of being able to use my phone has a hotspot! This is on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.
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 a business owner or established VA team leader looking for an awesome person to help you in your business? Get in touch with Samantha through her website right here.