- Hannah Dixon became a virtual assistant after wanting a more stable career and better income.
- She developed her skills online using blogs and courses.
- Here is his professional journey, told to the writer Robin Madell.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Hannah Dixon, a 34-year-old virtual assistant based in Bangkok. The insider verified his earnings with documents. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I always say that I “fell” into the virtual assistant role. Now I make six figures a year doing it.
I started creating my own path from an early age. University didn’t seem like a decent or nurturing path for me, so I left school before going to university and ended up working at the luxury fashion house Karla Otto in the West End. from London, where I was part of a small logistics team, only by convincing my employers of my ability to “understand things”.
I only stayed a short time, long enough to save a good chunk of change and go around the world. That was 14 years ago, and the journey never ended. Whenever I ran out of money, I would go back to the UK, where I grew up, work two to three months in a bar to save some money, and then go back out into the world.
This turned into long-term work exchanges, where I worked in bars, farms and hostels. I even worked with sled dogs in Austria for a while, all in exchange for food and food.
But eventually, I decided I needed a change. I wanted money. I wanted to be able to afford a few little things that I had been missing, like new clothes or my own place to live. I decided to go back to the UK, find a job and live like everyone else seemed to.
That’s when I met someone on an online dating site who told me he worked from home doing SEO and building websites.
I didn’t need to hear anything else: I was already sold. I could work from home or anywhere with Wi-Fi and still travel. I could keep the freedom and flexibility that I had grown accustomed to.
She and I worked together, and she generously taught me as much as she could. I volunteered to take over some of the administration (like email correspondence) for its existing operations and helped us attract more customers through social media outreach efforts.
I learned a lot from blogs like Social Media Examiner but mostly trying things, failing a lot and trying again. At the time, I wasn’t thinking intelligently, I just thought it was a numbers game. I tweeted (a lot!) about our services, used all the hashtags the experts told me to use, started commenting on posts from potential clients and sent emails. -cold emails. It was complicated, but it was my start.
Ironically, I didn’t know what a Virtual Assistant was until one of my clients called me her ‘VA’
That’s when I realized there was a whole industry around what I was doing.
Kimra Luna, a business strategist, was one of my greatest sources of knowledge, and she gave me a full scholarship into her paid business start-up program because she had identified me as someone who was a useful member of his free community. This program – in addition to teaching me the essentials of how to market and grow my business, build a brand and improve my skills – became a huge source of referrals, as it was buzzing with entrepreneurs who were doing big waves and needed support the whole way.
Thanks to the growth of my business and my appreciation of the power of communities and mentorship, I created a Facebook group. My group members started asking how to attract good customers and earn the kind of money I was making. That’s when after three years as a virtual assistant, I turned my attention to coaching others as a virtual assistant coach.
Here are three things I did to hit the six-figure mark:
1. I followed the money
It was more than just “pick a niche and stick to it”. I specialized in money in mind, got into entrepreneur communities, both free and paid, and networked my way to the top. I haven’t used gig sites as a source of clients throughout my career, and I firmly believe that building an abundant network is the way to have freedom, flexibility, and complete control over who you work and how.
I found communities to network in by using Facebook’s search function and typing in keywords – for example, “e-commerce”, “entrepreneurs”, “virtual assistants” and, over time, others more niche-specific like “coaching”.
Facebook’s algorithm starts giving you lots of relevant group suggestions when you’re already active in other groups. Many of the entrepreneurs I was learning from also had their own free and paid groups that I was able to join. I started keeping a spreadsheet detailing which groups were most engaged, which ones they were targeting, and if they had dedicated “promo days” — days when you can talk about your offerings.
One simple thing I did to help people was create content that answered their most common questions. In this way, whenever recurring questions arose, I was able to become a reference person for this type of task. People started tagging my name when questions related to my areas of expertise came up. I was showing up online for an hour a day, meaningfully, and work was coming.
A referral from a reputable entrepreneur to my first medical client really started to change. This client very quickly referred me to other well-established physician friends for high paying short and long term projects.
I then decided to work exclusively in the medical and wellness field, and my content and online presence was redesigned to speak to my target audience: female doctors. It was probably the most impactful thing that made me earn six figures. Everyone was winning, and it felt so good to support powerful women who were literally changing people’s lives.
2. Took fewer clients and provided better service
Eventually things got so busy that I had to streamline to avoid burnout and ensure I could deliver high quality work. I have had candid discussions with each of my clients about what the future of our working relationship might look like. In fact, I let three clients participate in this process because the workload had become so sporadic that it was taking up unnecessary brain space.
During these discussions, we mapped out everything: the work I’ve done for them, their upcoming needs, and turnaround and communication expectations. I told my clients what I liked best to work on and turned my attention to the more technical and creative tasks where I excelled. I threw myself into learning advanced tools and light coding to really justify my increased prices.
Previously, I worked on an hourly model, charging each client in blocks of 10-15 hours at a time for tasks ranging from very simple to extremely complex. We ditched hour counting and agreed on monthly installment prices that seemed fair to everyone involved.
Switching to monthly installments gave me a sense of security knowing how much money was coming in on average and allowed me to plan my schedule accordingly. I also felt more compelled to provide a tactile experience for my customers in response to their trusting me without tracking hours.
I worked with my four regular clients who paid between $500 and $3,000 per month. With each client, I had dedicated half or full days when working on their business.
My highest paying clients naturally had more of my time – the $3,000 client had me 2 1/2 weekdays, with occasional overtime for weekend launches, while my $500 client was on an ad hoc basis and consisted of short assignments. with turnaround times of 24 hours.
I have received additional income through high-level, project-based work resulting from referrals from existing clients. I also started offering one-time calls for those who wanted to DIY and earn an income as an affiliate. Virtual assistants are uniquely positioned to generate excellent side income through affiliate marketing.
3. I let myself fail
As someone who has trained many virtual assistants, I have found that inaction due to perfectionism, self-doubt, impostor syndrome, and general fear of failure are the most common obstacles that prevent success.
Virtual assistants work in a space where the will and ability to figure things out is often far more valuable than education or even experience.
I found myself doing a lot of things that I had no experience in, but I was learning by doing. I moved fast, failed fast, accepted feedback graciously, and was able to learn so much in just one year that I radiated confidence.