Virtual assistant

I make 6 figures as a virtual assistant specializing in automation

  • LaToya Russell is accertified online business manager and automation specialist in Barbados.
  • She started out as a general virtual assistant, but found her niche after seeing a gap in the industry.
  • Here is the story of his career, told to writer Somdyuti Datta Ray.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with LaToya Russell, a 32-year-old automation specialist living in Barbados, about her work. It has been edited for length and clarity. The insider verified his earnings with documentation.

In 2018, when my daughter was 3 years old, I decided that I had had enough.

I realized that I needed a job that was more flexible than my role as Assistant General Manager at a food and beverage retail company. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter without having to report to anyone, and my boss at the time was very condescending and disrespectful. I took about two weeks off in June to properly set up my calendar, and created a one-page website to offer general administration and inbox management services.

I had done a lot of research to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried multilevel marketing and Forex trading before I stumbled upon being a virtual assistant.

As soon as I got back to work I quit and said I was leaving in August

In July, while I was still juggling the two jobs, I found a client on Instagram who was paying $500 a month to work as a social media and community manager and a second client who was paying $300.

This August, once fully focused on my own business, I joined a program called “Create Your Laptop Life” by Julie Stoian, and I found a customer paying $500 a month within two weeks of joining. In October, I brought another client to $1,080 per month. I would clean up emails, provide customer service, and create graphical content for course materials and reports to track income and expenses.

Although I matched my previous income, I realized that being a generalist virtual assistant was not for me, as I did not want to return to an administrative assistant position. When I was a global admin looking for opportunities on LinkedIn, I would filter my search by remote and contract work. I noticed that the specialized jobs had fewer applications than the general positions. So I decided to specialize in online business management.

Sarah Noked from O.B.M. School trained me to become a certified online entrepreneur in April 2019. In 2021, I made a profit of $175,000.

After getting my certification, I immediately found my niche in launch management

I started having multiple four-figure clients, ranging from people paying $1,000 a month to $2,500, $4,000 and more to help launch their offers, coaching programs, and courses. From 2019 to 2020, my agency had 10-15 clients per month paying over $3,000 per month for services.

In 2019, I also started hiring executive and technical virtual assistants, funnel designers and builders, and a social media manager to help me launch courses for people as I took more of customers. I noticed that every time I tried to hire someone to help me set up the technology and course automation, no one knew how. Many people called themselves tech VAs because they thought knowing how to log into WordPress, create a blog post, or create a button on a landing page was technical.

I had to train everyone who came into my world to help me with automation during a launch

It was then that I realized there was a big void in the industry, as many people wanted automation to happen. I started going to Facebook groups for business owners and VAs to see the conversations people were having, and it was a lot of “I hired a tech VA and they said they were technical but they didn’t know what I was talking about.” He confirmed that this was an area that needed to be filled.

I had used my experience in marketing and automation to create a Facebook group in 2019 that helps women and mothers build their confidence to start and grow their virtual businesses with a supportive community. There I started promoting my “Toolbox for leaving the company“, which launched in April 2020 and ended up attracting over 5,000 people to sign up. Later in September, I launched a “Anatomy of Automationcourse which attracted more than 200 people.

I started to scale down my agency to focus on training people.

Once you’ve told someone, “You can automate this,” customers will happily pay between $2,000 and $5,000 or more – depending on the size of their business and whether the specialist is experienced or just starting out – for this audit is carried out. They don’t recognize that the tasks their team members do can be automated, and that’s why they’ll pay a lot of money for it – to recoup that time.

People always asked me how I had clients in the United States when I didn’t live there.

Clients may think they’ll never be able to reach me because of our time zones, but I’m only one to three hours ahead, depending on where my clients are. I have found US clients primarily through referrals, Instagram, member groups, and by searching for contract and remote positions on LinkedIn.

Once you’ve signed a client, let them know the hours you work and convert the hours to their time so you’re on the same page. You can set limits and check in with the client two to three times a week, so they see you’re always willing to make the time to chat.

Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re working on the cheap

When I started, someone offered to pay me $3 an hour. I told him my rate was $25 an hour and he replied, “I can get a virtual assistant from the Philippines for $3 an hour.

I find that my students who purchase my course are also afraid to answer the call and suggest a higher rate due to where they live. A lot of people think that if my competitors take $3, they should too. If you feel like you can get by on $3 an hour, so be it. If you absolutely know in your heart that you’d rather have $8 an hour, set your rate and let people know you’re doing quality work.

Virtual Assistants and Online Service Providers Are Business Owners Too

VAs run a business, so you should treat the relationship as a business-to-business relationship instead of a business-to-employee relationship. Many clients ask to interview you, but you get a business-to-business call, so take control of it.

Don’t let people ask you questions like, “Why did you apply for this job?” Where do you see yourself in three to five years? Why should we hire you? because it’s a corporate behavior you’re trying to get away from.

Are you a virtual assistant who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at [email protected]