What It's About
A military wife forges her own path as a virtual assistant, then shows others the way.
Words of Wisdom
Esther advises letting go of clients that are less than ideal and moving on. As she puts it, hanging onto toxic clients for fear of being destitute is the wrong kind of mindset and keeps people stuck in low-paying jobs.
Did you know that 63% of companies now have remote workers? 48% of companies also use freelancers, and work done by freelancers has increased 168%.
Notes from Chris
Episode 859Seven years ago, Esther Inman dreamed of having a career that allowed her to work from home, wherever "home" might be. At the time, her husband was in the Marines, and they lived with their 2-year-old son in San Diego. But Esther was supremely unhappy trying to juggle her corporate day job in software product management with being a mom and military wife. A typical work day consisted of dropping off her son at daycare at 7 am, then catching the train for her 1-hour commute to work. After work, she would pick him up after 6 pm and they would have only an hour for dinner, a bath, and bedtime. Her husband was often deployed overseas or working nights, so she had no help on the homefront. And weekends were spent running errands and doing household chores. Eventually, Esther realized this was not a life she wanted for herself or her son. She just couldn’t do it anymore, so she quit her corporate job. Needing to replace her income ASAP, she took what she thought was her dream job, but it involved a lot of work travel. With her husband was deployed at the time, this meant their son had to stay with family for weeks at a time. She toiled at this for a year before realizing it wasn’t the answer either. She then decided to try her hand at being a VA, or Virtual Assistant. She landed her first gig in the VA world through a posting on CraigsList. The job was working for an online course creation agency, and Esther was chosen out of 300 applicants! What made her stand out from the competition? First, she made a modern-style resume using a tool called Canva, which included a picture of herself. She also included a brief “about me” video. Mostly, though, she followed directions. The posting also had a few other requirements, such as asking specific questions for each applicant to answer. This is commonly used in job postings to help filter out candidates. It not only ensures that people are reading the posting in its entirety—it also shows that prospects can follow directions. Esther jumped through each hoop. One requirement was to call a number and leave a message about why she was a good candidate for the job—only 3 out of all 300 applicants bothered to do this properly. It’s the simple things, people! When Esther first started working as a VA seven years ago, she charged $20/hour, with a minimum of 30 hours per week, but she often would have the opportunity to work a LOT more. Good VAs are hard to find, so she was quite the hot commodity. Within about a year though, she raised her rates to $35-$50/hour. She was soon so booked out that she had to hire help! From there, Esther’s business quickly evolved into a Virtual Assistant agency. For several years, she led a team of twelve, primarily building online courses for clients. As her VA business grew into an agency, Esther had so many people asking her how to work online that she began mentoring and helping other women become VAs, too. From there, she then developed her own VA training programs. For four years, she ran both her agency and training programs. Eventually, she became burnt out with the client work. In the last year, Esther transitioned into running her VA training programs full time (she still offers online course consulting). Last year Esther’s business made $158,000, and this year, she is on track to make over $200,000. Now able to travel the world at any time, Esther and her family call the island of Bali home. Being an influencer in the remote work movement, having an army of women working online and saying “no more” to the old corporate ways is her goal for the future.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Virtual Assistant Internship: Now that she's mastered working as a VA, Esther is working to help others do the same. Learn more about working remotely as a virtual assistant over on her website!
- WordPress: Esther used WordPress to set up her website for Virtual Assistant Internship, and here you can learn how to install your own WordPress site in 5 minutes
- Canva: The free design platform that Esther used to create her stand-out resume. Whitney, our Content Manager, uses this platform daily and gives it her stamp of approval!
- Public Health Employee Earns Extra $2,000/Month with Salesforce Consulting: An enterprising nonprofit employee bids for consulting contracts, earning a steady second income each month
- Aussie Mom Earns $3,000/Month From Affiliate Links: After overcoming obstacles in her search for remote work opportunities, this stay-at-home mom creates her own resource website to help others. She gets paid when visitors click through to register for programs she promotes
- Project Manager Helps Cubicle Workers See the World: When a corporate employee is told she can’t take a big trip because of her daughter, she starts a company to make travel more accessible
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