Welcome to another incredible Student Success Story here at Horkey HandBook!
We know how motivating and inspiring it is to read about real folks who are making things happen with their virtual assistant or freelance writing businesses.
So, we’ve decided to bring you these real-deal stories of students who are applying what they’ve learned and seeing the results!
In this post we’re featuring Rachel Severns, a virtual assistant and email manager extraordinaire. Find out how one blog post blew Rachel’s business wide open and what she’s up to recently…
Name: Rachel Severns
Website: Virtually Done by Rachel
Course enrollment date: August 2016
Started business in: October 2016
Got first client on: October 24, 2016
Hours working per week: 25-30
Current income: $2,o00 per month
Top niches: Email management and customer service. Entrepreneurs who have had some success, but now feel they are struggling as a result. My passion lies in helping people bridge the gap between struggling success and their vision of ongoing success.
Hi, Rachel! Tell us a bit about yourself.
In my teens and twenties I traveled all over the world and couldn’t get enough. In my mid-twenties, I married a military man and we “settled down” which actually only meant we slowed down on the traveling abroad.
We have been lucky enough to live and travel all over the United States because the military never seems to move us short distances.
During those years, I worked as a bank teller in a credit union, mortgage processor through the low real estate rate boom of the early 2000s and as an assistant in a financial advisor’s office. I learned a lot about the professional world – some things I liked and some that I didn’t like so much.
We now have 3 middle school-age kids. We are busy with school, sports and church activities! As a family, we love being outside, whether it’s hiking, fishing, gardening and resting or traveling – both near and far and generally enjoying the environment and culture around us.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Virtually Done is a place I hope entrepreneurs and business owners can come to find relief for the weight of their success. Too many times I’ve seen success bog down a business.
Entrepreneurs can’t recover because they are unaware of the help one single VA can offer.
My goal is to offer outstanding value for the investment made by each of my clients.
My vision is that my business will thrive by helping other businesses bridge the gap between struggling success and ongoing success. Daily tasks (such as email management and customer service) have a way of weighing a business down; the urgent things are not usually the vital things in accommodating the success (and money making) of a business.
I have the skills to alleviate this burden from a biz so that it can get off the ground and soar!
How did you decide to start freelancing as a virtual assistant?
After my youngest started school, I kept wondering what I was going to do with some of my time. That didn’t necessarily mean ‘going back to work’ but I knew I had experience and skills that could be used and were probably needed.
Since my husband is in the military and has an unpredictable schedule, I knew I couldn’t go to corporate America to find a job, nor did I want to. So I sort of just hung out being a wife and mom for those few years wondering what I should do.
I knew that I had skills that were needed and I love helping people. Now I GET to go to work every day and I LOVE working with the clients I have.
I am very fortunate that I do not need to provide financially or beneficially (health care) for my family because my husband’s career takes care of us.
However, we bought a house in Alaska and plan to stay here.
There are many home improvement projects around our house and property. Anyone who has done home improvement of any kind knows you need a chunk of change for each project! We have decided that my income will fund the home improvement. The rate at which I earn is the rate we’ll improve – it’s a great motivator! This enables us to maintain our previous lifestyle of travel, which our family loves.
How did you find 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success?
My dad and I have always had an ongoing conversation about ‘if only we could work from home and ACTUALLY make a living’.
One day, he sent me a link to this post from Horkey Handbook, Everything You Need to Know about Becoming a Virtual Assistant – I have no idea where he found it.
At that moment, we were preparing for a move from Washington DC to Alaska, so I filed the email and thought “hopefully I’ll remember to check this out on the long drive across the country.” Then I put it out of my mind.
I now know that it was meant to be, but at the time I wondered if it was because I did remember along the drive to check it out. It seemed promising, but I knew I couldn’t start until we were no longer homeless. 😉 One more tally in the ‘meant to be’ column came when I couldn’t stop thinking about it and before we even moved into our house I began the course.
What was your biggest concern before you started your business?
I was concerned that my skills were SO dated that nobody would be willing to give me a shot.
I had stopped working just before our first child was born. The way the business world functioned in 2016 was waaaay different than it was in 2005!!
How quickly did you get your course investment back?
The first month!
What was the most challenging part about starting your business?
Pacing myself. I made myself do each action step as I progressed through the course. I REALLY wanted this to work, so I challenged myself to do the work.
How did you overcome that?
Every time I wanted to jump over the action step and keep reading the course material I asked myself if I wanted to simply finish the course or actually have something to show at the end of it. Luckily this helped me slow down.
What had been your biggest success since you’ve started?
My second client needed email management in a big bad way. She had 20 thousand emails that needed sorted and filed before I could even dream of “managing” her inbox. It took several steps and a month, but I got it done. She was thrilled and I was proud! You can read about how I manage email as a virtual assistant in this post.
Since then, I have gained multiple clients in an unbelievable way.
You hear about successful cold pitching, but you don’t think it will happen to you.
First, I found a woman with a product I was interested in. So as I became familiar with it, I realized she needed proofreading and editing help. I sent her an email, just like Gina taught us, and pointed her to my Work with Me page. She emailed back asking for a phone interview and away we went. To date, she is my highest paying client and she continues to give me more work to do!
A number of other clients googled for email management help, found the post I wrote for Horkey HandBook, emailed me and hired me! Mind. blown.
What was your highest paying project?
Definitely the email management job I referred to. She wanted the job done and was willing to pay for it.
What are you looking forward to in your business?
I am looking forward to continuing to get my name and work out there so work flows in by word-of-mouth (pipe dream?!)
[Update August 2019]
What is Rachel up to now?
Very exciting things, including scaling her solopreneur virtual assistant business to an agency! 🙌
As she’s embarking on this next leg of her journey we had a few follow-up questions for her…
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am in the process of transitioning to a VA agency to help clients find the answer to their email management, social media and customer service needs.!
The work keeps coming in and I don’t have enough time in a day/week to do it all myself. I also can’t bring myself to turn these prospective clients away.
I am scaling my business while I’m helping fellow VA’s and clients do the same – I love it!
How’s it going?
So far, so good!
The most challenging part is working all of these extra hours and feeling mentally consumed while my kids are still on summer vacation. But that’s for only another couple of weeks…
I seriously want a nanny! 😀
Rachel is a Virtual Assistant who runs her business from home in rural Alaska. She’s a master organizer and is always ready to help fellow entrepreneurs & freelancers. Rachel’s husband is in the military and they have 3 active middle school-age children. She loves traveling, being outside and cooking.