Around here, we’re big proponents of having a website to showcase freelance services and projects. That’s why we’ve published an easy step-by-step tutorial to help you get a website up and running in seven days.
And we cover what pages you could add to your website in the 30 Days or Less courses.
But too often we see people who are so intimidated by getting their website published that they never even start. No matter how well a virtual assistant or freelance writer career would fit them, they give up before they even try. Sometimes, not having a website is used as an excuse to never pitch, never try to get clients, and never really give freelancing a chance.
We want to dispel that fear and overwhelm, so we’ve invited Esther to share how she freelances without a website. And she makes a full time living as a virtual assistant, so she knows what she’s talking about.
You know what they say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
I have no professional internet presence. My business cards do not have a website on them. My Facebook is very personal. I make over half my income from Social Media management, and I have no professional social media presence. This sounds ridiculous. Honestly, I think it is ridiculous, too.
However, it has (literally) never come up when I talked to a client.
How I Started to Freelance Without a Website
My first social media client was local. I went to her business; I sat with her; I talked to her; I sold her my skill. My other clients are either referrals from existing clients, or people I meet in person. This is how I ensure I work with people I like. I have relationships with all my clients that feel like friendships. This means the world to me.
My journey has been scary, fun, interesting, a huge learning experience, and something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
And somewhere along the way, I learned a few lessons.
Lesson 1: Does a dream job exist? It does if you make it.
One day, while scrolling through Facebook, I came across a feature by The Penny Hoarder for the Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success.
That would be the perfect job, I thought to myself! Finally, something that will challenge me in ways that my day job was not, keep every day different, allow me to work from home, and empower me to be my own boss.
There was only one catch. I had to create this business from nothing; and this seemed impossible.
I pitched and pitched. I wrote personal and personalized emails, and spent hours sitting in front of my computer sending them … with no reply. As a virtual assistant managing my client’s inbox, I now know that a “template” email automatically gets archived. That’s why I advise anyone to spend some time writing well-thought-out pitch letters.
Eventually, my dream client (one of my first pitches) wrote back, almost six weeks after I had sent the first – and only – email to them.
We set up a Skype meeting to determine how we could work together.
I was very honest. I had no virtual experience to speak of, no website, and a full-time job.
But I had ONE thing to my advantage: years of knowledge of his business, as a customer.
I could relate to his product on a personal level. I sold him on my customer service and management skills (from my day job), and how they would translate to help his business.
If you’re still not sure what virtual assistant services you can offer, we’ve put together a list of over 150 services that webpreneurs need help with.
Lesson 2: Know when to take the plunge.
After one month of working for this client, and continuously pitching, I was (mentally, not financially) ready to leave my full-time job.
I knew that if I didn’t give the hours to my business, the work I was doing would plateau. There was no way I could grow my freelance gigs if I didn’t invest my time. (Yup, I still didn’t see the lack of a website as something that was holding me back.)
I asked to go to part-time at my day job, and was refused. It proved to be a rather risky ask. Once they felt that I was not 100 percent committed to their business, they started looking to replace to me (despite the fact that I wanted to stay). They had no desire to keep anyone on staff who was not going to be in it for the long haul.
Lesson 3: Work on sounding confident. You can figure it out as you go.
My husband, who I lovingly refer to as my “marketing department” is constantly talking up my services to everyone he meets.
He managed to get me a face-to-face meeting with a new venue in town, and they were in dire need of a social media presence. (Their presence was zero.)
I was so nervous during my meeting!
I was shaking under the table, and trying to sound as confident in my skill as possible. I had no experience in social media management. I only knew what I saw other businesses doing (and what I thought worked, and what I thought didn’t). But I managed to convince them that I’d do a good job. I also raised my rates and reduced my trial-period to one week with this second client.
Between these two clients, I was able to make a living. It wasn’t “comfortable” at that point, but it was mine.
Lesson 4: Life changes. Embrace the change.
Life has changed is so many ways over the last 14 months of being a Virtual Assistant. I have learned to conquer a lot of fears.
Starting my own business was scary. Leaving a comfortable, well-paying job for the “land of no security” was crazy. So was “throwing away” my education, or at least not using it any longer.
These are simple things to get over. Once your business is successful enough, you’ll stop worrying about all of these things. If anything, you may regret you didn’t give freelancing a chance sooner.
I found a lot of self-confidence in myself over this last year. I had to learn how to speak about myself in a strong and confident manner.
I have learned what I am capable of, and that I am not anywhere near reaching my full potential.
I still get nervous every time I pitch a new client. If it is in person, my legs shake under the table. I question the emails I write, and it takes me days to write business proposals. I’m getting better, stronger, and faster at these things the more I do them. I’m not perfect, but I am successful.
These challenges have taught me to be a new, and strong woman. I found a new part of myself through this journey and I wouldn’t change one scary second of it.
Oh, and I still don’t have a website!
Esther Brown is from Memphis, Tennessee, currently spending her time enjoying the beach and the sun in sunny South Florida with her husband and 2 dogs. After 15 years is customer service and management, she decided it was time to venture out on her own, use her acquired skills, and create her own business. She enjoys running, cycling, and cooking. She has completed 2 marathons, 2 half marathons and one triathlon. She has been following a vegan lifestyle for the last 5 years, and has found success in the vegan “blog-o-sphere” with podcasters, bloggers, and web-entrepreneurs.