Today, we have an interview with virtual assistant, Mara Woosley, of Woosley Virtual Assisting. Mara began her entrepreneurial journey in 2017 after taking Horkey Handbook’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success and is now working as a full-time VA.
In this interview, Mara tells us about her inspiring journey, from breaking it off with a client who wasn’t a good fit, to landing the work she needed to in order to quit her nine-to-five job.
If you’ve been wondering how to become a self-employed virtual assistant one day, you will definitely find some great tips in this interview about how to transition and the merits of figuring things out as you go and never giving up!
Over to you, Mara!
Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get started working from home?
I’d been working at a small university since 2010 and while I loved it at first, things hadn’t been great there for a while. Low enrollment, lots of restructuring, and a takeover were planned that would outsource my department.
I knew I didn’t want to go to another company that would control my income and time so I started researching jobs that I could work from home.
What made you decide to take 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success?
I had already completed Proofread Anywhere when I stumbled upon one of Gina’s video ads for 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. I attended one of her webinars and realized how many random, marketable skills I actually had. The cost of the course was really reasonable so I dove in!
How long did it take you to land your first client?
I actually landed my first client a few months after completing the course. The client would have actually replaced my income, but it wasn’t a good fit and I ended the job during the trial period. It was another 7 months (Oct. 2018) until I found my first steady client. I left my full-time job in March 2019, signed on two more clients by May and another one this month. I’m a little over halfway to replacing my full-time income.
While I was looking for clients, I also had an online part-time job with Lionbridge. Since going full-time VA, I’ve let go of that, but it was nice to have to build up savings and as a backup when I made the transition. I also have an account with UserTesting and edit scientific papers from time to time.
How does your business fit in with your schedule?
I set my hours based on client deadlines and things I want to get done during the week. I’ve taken some time off to visit family since I’ve been a full-time VA as well, and it’s worked out great.
What services do you offer as a VA, and how did you come to choose them as your area of specialty?
I do a variety of things for my clients and I’m honestly still exploring what I want to do/like to do best. I started off thinking I would mostly do website and blog updates, proofreading, editing, and maybe some social media.
But now, I research and write outlines for blog posts and lead magnets, ghostwriting, proofreading and posting website copy and blogs, social media graphics and management, keyword research, and I research potential new clients as well as guest posting opportunities.
Before the housing crash, I did primarily AutoCAD. I had a side AutoCAD customer that I did odd jobs for until 2015 and honestly kind of forgot that I could market that skill! I have a friend that has her own VA business, and just so happened to need help the first week I left my full-time job.
What’s the hardest part of being a virtual assistant?
I’m finding the hardest thing for me is to prioritize working on my business. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing for my clients and enjoying not working as much as I did when I had a full-time job and a couple of side hustles. I’m trying to focus more on marketing my business and scheduling clients’ tasks.
What skills or characteristics make for a great VA?
Obviously being organized is important, especially when you have multiple clients. Always be learning and willing to take chances. You need to be able to communicate with your clients and be proactive when helping them.
If you can, explore new ways that you can help your clients succeed that maybe they haven't thought of.
Is it ever a challenge to find clients/steady work?
It was for me when I got started. All of my clients except one have come from the VA Leads Facebook group. I’ve been lucky to have enough warm leads to focus on that I really haven't done any cold pitching.
My next strategy is building my LinkedIn and Alignable presence. My newest client actually reached out to me on LinkedIn.
Has virtual assisting helped you achieve any certain financial goals?
Just leave my full-time job so far. But, working from home and for myself is amazing!
Do you feel that virtual assisting might be a good work-from-home career option for stay-at-home parents with young children?
Yes, as long as they are able to prioritize and work around the kids' schedules. I’m sure it takes more planning than my situation, but I’ve read a lot of testimonials from parents that love being a VA.
Any advice for someone who’s thinking about becoming a virtual assistant?
If your family is dependent on your income, I would recommend starting your business as a side-hustle and start saving to build up a money buffer for when you’re ready to go full-time VA.
Another thing I did was really take a look at our budget and find the number of clients I needed to take my VA business full-time. You might not need to fully replace your current income to be successful. And don’t give up! It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
How Can I Get Started Learning How to Become a VA (and Make Some Side Money Right Now)?
Mara’s story is the perfect example of how you can become a full-time virtual assistant if you’re willing to keep working at it and put yourself out there!
The 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success is now part of the #FullyBookedVA program (where you can become a VA ninja that everyone wants to hire).
Part of the program includes giving you hot leads looking for VAs with your skills (that they also teach you how to do).
Check out their $19 mini-course, Jump Start Your Virtual Assistant Business to see if it's a good fit for you.
Or if you're ready to go all-in and become the ultimate in-demand virtual assistant, Freelance University has an entire section dedicated to it (email management, calendar management, customer service, managing virtual teams, online business management, effective systems…just to name a few).
Sign up for their workshop on the MOST in-demand skills (and which business owners need them the most).
Do you have any questions about how to become a self-employed virtual assistant? Let us know in the comments!