One of my favorite parts of December is reflecting on my year, thinking about what went well (and what didn’t go so well) and dreaming up what I want to do in the coming year!
As I was looking over my business for 2019, I realized how much things have changed since I first got started. My business looks COMPLETELY different than it did five years ago!
I’ve gone from doing primarily client work to focusing a lot more on my digital products and passive income streams. Instead of doing everything myself, I now have an amazing team to help me grow my business.
As a Virtual Assistant, you have options. Client work doesn’t HAVE to be your only income stream.
I wanted to give you this behind-the-scenes look at what my business currently looks like and give you ideas for other options of making money in the future.
This article may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, I get a small percentage at no additional charge to you. See my disclosure for more info.
MY BUSINESS MODEL:
My first year in business (end of 2014-2015):
In my first year of business, I focused mostly on Online Business Manager (OBM) clients. I also wrote my first ebook!
That year, almost all of my income came from client work with a little coming in from digital products.
- OBM Clients
My business in 2016-2018:
This is where things start to look really different! I started diversifying my clients and focuses while I figured out where I wanted my business to go next.
In 2016, I created a new Pinterest Management service and in 2017 I started doing a variety of VA projects.
In 2018, I was still making most of my income from client work, but I started to see a lot more moolah from my digital products.
I also started doing some affiliate marketing after taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. (Affiliate marketing is when you promote products that you like in exchange for a small commission from the company you’re promoting).
- OBM clients
- Pinterest Clients
- Variety of VA clients (I helped with Etsy, website redesign, customer support/payroll assistance)
- Affiliate Marketing
My business in 2019:
I made a big pivot in my business this year and decided to focus on digital products more than clients. I let go of all my clients except for one!
Instead of making most of my money from client work, I saw the most revenue from my digital products, courses, affiliate marketing, the Introvert VA Club, and my new digital product, The Creative Boss Planner. I even launched an Etsy store, called Introvert Unicorn, in December!
- OBM Clients (wrapped up this year)
- Pinterest Clients (only 1 now)
- Retainer VA Client (wrapped up this year)
- Ebooks/ courses
- Affiliate Marketing
- Introvert VA Club Membership (launched 4/19)
- The Creative Boss Planner (launched 11/19)
- Introvert Unicorn Etsy Shop (launched 12/19)
WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR:
Membership – This year I stepped away from the majority of my clients to focus on other streams of income, including my membership program the Introvert VA Club. I started creating it in January and launched it in April. (I couldn’t have done it without the training and support in Membership Academy, btw. They helped me build the membership of my dreams!)
This was an awesome and fun challenge because a membership is different from any other digital product I’ve created in the past.
I was a bit nervous that it would take up too much time and energy (I am an introvert, after all). But it doesn’t!
I have someone who helps me manage it, the members help answer questions, and I have set times that I usually pop in and see if anyone needs help with anything. It’s been such a joy hanging out with other introverts. I love my unicorns so much! I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone to make this happen!
Etsy Shop – This actually wasn’t on my radar until some of the Introvert VA Club members said they’d love to have IVC merchandise, like mugs. I thought that was a brilliant idea! So I decided to take it even further and start a shop with products for introverts. I launched Introvert Unicorn in December.
I had an Etsy shop before becoming a VA, so I was already familiar with how it worked (which really sped up the process).
The scary part was working with a print-on-demand service. I knew that I wanted to design the products myself, I just didn’t want to make the end product. I decided to try a POD service that prints and ships the products for me. After lots of research, I decided to try out Printify. The product listings automatically upload to Etsy too so it’s a win-win!
MORE BIG CHANGES
I grew my team this year too. I now have 4 VAs that help me regularly with these tasks:
- Blog formatting, Pinterest
- Website edits, membership management, email and newsletter management
- Instagram and Facebook management
- Etsy shop assistance
In addition to the above, I also have someone who backs up my sites regularly.
Other tasks I hired out this year:
- Logo design for membership
- Opt-in freebie design
- Brand photos
I LOVE outsourcing and I’m so grateful for my awesome team of introverts!
My expenses this year started to shift as well. In years past, I spent a lot on education so I could DIY things. Now I’m investing more in help and having them be the experts. This frees me up to create other income streams.
I currently pay for:
- Tools/apps (ConvertKit, Canva, Teachable, Tailwind, Google Suite, DropBox, Divi, SiteGround, DPD, ScreenPal)
- Education (courses, ebooks, books, membership)
- Membership Tools (MemberPress, iPboard, eLearnCommerce, Vimeo)
- Photos (Ivory Mix)
WHAT I LEARNED THIS YEAR
This year has been a blast! And also scary! I reached outside my comfort zone and continued to follow my heart.
1) Pivoting away from clients to passive income is scary…but also rewarding! Yes, my income took a big dip but I’m okay with that because I’m working on building it back up.
Why did I pivot from client work to passive income? Because I felt it was time. I really enjoyed working with my clients and a couple of them I had been working with since the beginning. But I felt it was time to build my fempire! I wanted to do more mentoring and I wanted the time and energy to create new things.
2) Multiple streams of income are important. When I first decided to create a membership site, I thought that I could just have a membership and I’d meet my income goals if I just put everything I had into it.
But after a few months, I realized that that’s not the case. I’d need other ways of making money, at least for now.
Yes, I’m getting new members monthly and the recurring income is so lovely to have, but members also leave. It’s just the nature of a subscription type product.
I ended up getting rid of the ebooks and courses I had prior to starting the membership so I needed some new products. I don’t regret getting rid of them because I started to get new ideas that I wanted to implement.
3) Pinterest is still my #1 referral. I put a lot of work into Pinterest and bought a lot of trainings. It has really paid off. I also work on my website SEO and find that a lot of people find me by searching on Google.
What’re my best Pinterest tips? Create beautiful pins, pin often (using Tailwind), write really good blog posts that people want to read, and redirect people to your product, service, or freebie within your posts.
4) I could not do what I do without my team. I absolutely love my team! I have a VA in Utah, Tennessee, Scotland, and Texas. We’re all introverts and they love unicorns and rainbows just as much as I do.
5) Proper time-management is the key to getting things done and not feeling overwhelmed. I’m constantly working on my time-management skills, and it has changed over the years.
Two techniques that have helped me:
1- Mapping out my day hour by hour and then writing out what actually happened. That way, I can get a realistic idea of what I can do in a day and easily weed out time-wasters!
2- A 10/60/3 technique where I schedule only (3) 10-minute tasks, (2) 10-60min tasks, and (1) 1-3 hour task. This has squashed my overwhelm and has made me feel accomplished AF!
6) Focus is the key to productivity. Focus is my word of the year. I chose this word because I found that I was bouncing around too much from thing to thing. It was exhausting and I felt like I wasn’t being as productive as I could be.
The truth is, I’m great at starting things, just not always great at finishing them! I have so many ideas! But if I can just focus on only 1 course and implement things…I see great results! Focus on only 1 book…I can actually finish it! And focus on creating only 1 product…I can launch it sooner!
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING
My business has evolved in the last five years and I’ve learned a ton!
Your business will also grow and change with you and will probably look completely different in five years too.
One day you might want to try something different in your business, and that’s a good thing! It means you’re growing and learning!
- Client work is awesome, but that’s not your only option. There are tons of other ways to create income, whether you decide to do it early or later on in your business.
- Multiple streams of income are important for a healthy business. You’ll probably have to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s SO worth it!
- You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start your business. Allow your business to change and morph. Follow your gut and try new things!