A misconception of starting a work from home career is that it requires a completely different skillset from what one acquires in a traditional job.
Skills such having a strong work ethic, problem solving, the ability to relate to others, etc…don’t matter as much when working remotely.
Ironically however, you ask many successful work at home freelancers how they got started–it wasn’t some new tech savvy skill such as Facebook advertising. Instead, it was basic skills they learned in their career that transferred well online.
One such successful freelancer is Gina Horkey.
In 2014, Gina launched her freelance career and within six months was earning over $4,000 a month. What’s more impressive was that she did this while working full-time and raising two toddlers.
More so, Gina didn’t go out and acquire a completely different set of skills to launch her freelance career. Instead, with over 10-years of experience working in the financial services industry, she went out and started freelance writing for personal finance websites.
Today Gina is thriving as a freelancer and has expanded the different services she offers (as you’ll see, this is how she defines a being a virtual assistant).
Gina is also one of the top experts online in providing virtual assistant training. In my opinion, where Gina really shines is putting together a step-by-step blueprint of how to start from zero, to having a thriving business.
With that being said, I’m no doubt excited to share a recent interview I had with Gina. I had the chance to ask Gina about how she got started, how to find work as a beginner, what you need to get started and more.
Q: What exactly is a virtual assistant?
We define a virtual assistant as someone that trades skills, time or services in return for pay from afar.
I.e. A VA is really just anyone that is able to help a client accomplish their goals in a specific capacity (think social media management, bookkeeping, customer service, etc.) from the comfort of their own home, the beach or anywhere they’re able to logon online!
Q: How did you first get started as a virtual assistant?
My first foray was as a freelance writer, writing blog posts and articles for online publications in May, 2014.
In September of that same year, I spotted a need while following an online entrepreneur, brought it to his attention and asked to be hired. He said yes, which started me down the email management/customer service path. Writing, email management and customer service have been my three main service offerings over the last four years.
Related reading: How to Start Freelancing Without Experience
Q: What sort of experience is required or helps in landing your first virtual assistant client?
It depends what type of services you’re looking to offer and what type of clients you’d like to work with.
The best way to start is by taking an inventory of your current skillset. Everyone has hard skills – whether from working in Corporate America, the hospitality industry or even as a stay-at-home parent.
Take five minutes to brainstorm what skills you currently have, ask friends and/or family members or check out this list of 150+ services you can offer as a VA.
Q: Where can you find virtual assistant work as a beginner?
The most effective way to find the right clients long-term is by building and nurturing relationships – people like to help people they like. 🙂
We cover numerous prospecting methods in 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success (our flagship course on the topic), but in addition to professional networking, one could use social media, online marketplaces (think UpWork or People Per Hour), VA agencies, cold pitching and more!
Q: What sort of startup costs are involved?
If you have hard skills, (regular) access to a working computer, a decent internet connection and are business savvy, none.
If you’re not sure how to go about positioning yourself (what services to offer, to whom, how much to charge, how to market your new biz, etc.) in the marketplace, an online course like ours might help.
Most people end up opting to start their own website/blog and invest in things like online tools and courses to continue to hone their craft or learn new skills.
Q: What are some of the best niches or services to offer for those getting started as a VA?
Great question – while our list covers more than 150, here’s a good “short list” to hone in on from what we’ve seen clients looking for regularly:
- Content writing
- Blog and/or website management (two different things!)
- Email management and/or customer service (technically different, but they go hand-in-hand)
- Social media setup and management
- Setting up/integrating technology platforms
- Sales funnels and ad generation/management
Note: This list isn’t inclusive – if nothing strikes your fancy above, but working from home (or anywhere) does, check out our more comprehensive list of services.
Bio: Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious kiddos from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook, a website geared towards helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.
Thanks Gina for the interview!
Want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant? Check out Gina’s flagship course: 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success