You can learn a lot from people who are doing what you want to do. That’s why I created the Behind the Scenes of a Virtual Assistant Business series. Use these interviews as inspiration to create your productive, streamlined, and successful VA business.
Learn their tips for maintaining life-work balance, the tools they can’t live without, and advice for aspiring VAs.
I decided to kick off the series by interviewing my own VA, McKella Sawyer of The Cafe Wordsmith. McKella is a content ninja and has helped me with tasks in both my business and my clients’ businesses.
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MY INTERVIEW WITH MCKELLA SAWYER OF THE CAFE WORDSMITH:
Q: How did you get started as a VA?
It’s funny, I actually started as a blogger, writing because I loved it and to promote my Etsy shop. I just learned the skills I needed to promote my own products, and I had no idea that business owners would pay me for those skills!
Then one day, you messaged me asking if I’d like to help you with your business! Something clicked in my brain and I immediately said yes. I started working with Desire to Done and taking on my own clients, and I haven’t looked back!
Q: We’d love to hear more about your niche. What do you specialize in?
My specialty and zone of genius are writing and blog management. I love to help busy entrepreneurs create, publish, and promote their blog content because blogging is one of those things that tends to fall through the cracks when things get crazy! So many business owners just don’t like to write or can’t find the time, so I love taking that off their hands.
Q: How did you prepare to become a VA? Did you take any courses, read any books, use skills from another job, etc?
I’d had a few blogs before, so I already knew a lot about WordPress publishing and social media. I’ve been a writer all my life, playing with fiction and blogging, so I guess I’ve always been preparing for that part!
Beyond that, I went through a lot of free tutorials from services I use, Googled anything I needed to know, and fiddled around with new programs until I understood how to use them. It took a long time to get good at it, so I definitely recommend getting a mentor or splurging for some good courses. You’ll save a lot of time!
Q: In your experience, what’s the best way to find clients?
I’ve had the most success with emailing warm leads and asking for referrals. I emailed people I knew or worked with to ask if they needed help or knew anyone who did, and I found a lot of clients that way.
I’ve also had a lot of luck lately with Facebook groups! I try to be helpful and answer people’s questions when I can, and I ALWAYS post in the weekly promo threads. I didn’t think anyone actually read those, but several clients told me they found my website in there. Whoda thunk?
Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a VA?
I LOVE setting my own schedule and working from anywhere. I can take off in the middle of a day for a hula hoop class or visit my family in the middle of the week. I can take things slow in the morning and start work when I feel like it. I can wear what I want, work with my cat on my lap or out on the patio, and work with my music turned up as loud as I want!
Q: What do you struggle with as a VA?
Prioritizing client projects can get really tricky! I only have so much time, and sometimes I’ll have a few urgent projects that I can’t get to in one day. It helps me to plan my week out on Monday so I make time for everything and avoid a crunch if possible. It doesn’t always work of course, because sometimes things come up at the last minute. Time management, planning, and flexibility are absolutely crucial for a VA!
Q: What do you wish you knew or did when starting your VA business?
I really wish I knew how valuable my skills are. I just thought that if I knew how to do something, everyone else probably knew how to do it too and didn’t need my help. Wrong!
So many entrepreneurs struggle to put their thoughts into words, or they get frustrated with WordPress publishing. It’s not a big deal to me, but it’s a HUGE deal to my clients. I can take that off their hands and make their lives so much easier.
Q: What’s your advice for someone who wants to be a VA?
No matter what your skills are, someone needs help with that. You might need to learn some systems to sharpen your skills, but there’s such a variety of stuff people need help with. There’s always SOMETHING you can offer as a service, no matter what you love or what you’re good at.
Remember, just because something is easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone! That just means you’re awesome at it and people will pay for that awesomeness.
Q: What tools or programs could you not live without?
I live in Google Drive. That’s where I write all my content for my clients and my own business. That’s where I keep my ideas, social media spreadsheets, and SOPs. It’s easy for me to see where everything is and if I forget to hit save (which I ALWAYS used to do), it’s no biggie!
Other tools my business would explode without Canva, Buffer, and Billie’s VA contract templates. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of those babies!
Q: What’s your favorite trick for staying healthy as a VA?
Dude, BOUNDARIES. When you work at home and don’t have a set schedule, it’s so easy to let work creep into the rest of your life.
I don’t do client work or answer emails on the weekends. I take breaks away from my computer and my laptop. I tell my clients when I go on vacation and that I won’t be available. I turn off my phone at night so I don’t hear emails.
Figure out when you will and will not work, what you will and will not say yes to, and stick to those boundaries, because your well-being depends on it!
Q: What’s your favorite thing to snack on while you work?
Lately, it’s hummus and veggies. On less healthy days, I love me some chocolate chip cookies! I like to make the dough in advance so I can just pop them in the oven whenever I want. Mmm boy.
Q: Cat person or dog person?
I love them both, but cats are one of my favorite things in the world! One of the best parts of working at home is getting kitty snuggles while I work!
Q: Coffee or tea?
Coffee! French press or homemade cold brew during the week, and lattes on the weekend. With whole milk. And an almond croissant from my favorite cafe!
Thanks, McKella! It’s been so fun to watch McKella grow her businesses, and it’s great to hear another VA’s insights!
For more information on how to start your own VA business, check out the Introvert VA Club for tutorials, templates, support, and more!
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