I Make 6 Figures As a Virtual Assistant Who Specializes in Automation – Business Insider

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with LaToya Russell, a 32-year-old automation specialist living in Barbados, about her job. It has been edited for length and clarity. Insider has verified her revenue with documentation.
In 2018, when my daughter was 3, I decided that I had had enough.
I realized I needed a more flexible job than my role as an assistant general manager at a food and beverage retail company. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter without having to report to someone, and my boss at that time was very condescending and disrespectful. I took about two weeks off in June to set up my calendar properly, and I got a one-page website up to offer general admin 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.
In July, while I was still juggling both jobs, I found one client on Instagram paying $500 a month to work as a social media and community manager and a second client who paid $300.
That August, once I was fully focused on my own business, I joined a program called “Create Your Laptop Life” by Julie Stoian, and I found a client paying $500 a month within two weeks of joining. In October, I brought on another client at $1,080 a month. I would clean up emails, offer customer service, and create graphics content for course materials and reports to track revenue and expenses.
Although I had matched my former income, I realized that being a general virtual assistant wasn’t for me, because I didn’t want to be back in an administrative assistant position. When I was a general admin searching for opportunities on LinkedIn, I would filter my search by remote and contract work. I noticed that the specialty jobs had fewer applications than the general positions. So I decided to specialize in online business management.
Sarah Noked from OBM School trained me to become a certified online business manager in April 2019. In 2021, I made $175,000 in profit. 
I started getting multiple four-figure clients, 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 to 15 clients a month paying upward of $3,000 per month for services.
In 2019, I also started hiring executive and tech VAs, designers and funnel builders, and a social-media manager to help me launch people’s courses as I took on more clients. I noticed that every time I tried to hire someone to help me with setting up the tech and the automation for the courses, nobody knew how. A lot of individuals were calling themselves tech VAs because they thought that knowing how to log into WordPress, make a blog post, or create a button on a landing page was technical.
That’s when I realized there was a big gap in the industry as many people wanted automation done. I started going into the Facebook groups for business owners and VAs to see the conversations that people were having, and it was a lot of “I hired a tech VA and they said they were technical but they weren’t sure what I was talking about.” It solidified that this was an area that needed to be filled.
I had used my marketing and automation experience to create a Facebook group in 2019 that helps women and moms build confidence to start and grow their virtual businesses with a supportive community. There, I started promoting my “Quitting Corporate Toolkit,” which launched in April 2020, and ended up getting more than 5,000 people to sign up. Later that September, I launched an “Anatomy of Automation” course, which drew more than 200 people.
I started to scale back on my agency to focus on training people.
Once you tell someone, “You can automate that,” clients will gladly pay $2,000 to $5,000 or more — depending on the size of their business and if the specialist is experienced or a beginner — to have that audit done. They don’t recognize that the things their team members are doing can be automated, and that’s why they will pay a lot of money for it — to get that time back.
Clients may think they would 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 located. I found US clients mostly through referrals, Instagram, membership groups, and by searching for contract and remote positions on LinkedIn.
Once you sign a client, let them know the hours you work and convert the times into their time so you’re on the same page. You can set boundaries and check in with the client two to three times a week, so they see you’re willing to still make time to chat.
When I first started out, someone offered to pay me $3 an hour. I told him my rate was $25 an hour and he said, “I can get a virtual assistant from the Philippines for $3 an hour.”
I find that my students who purchase my course are also fearful to get on the call and suggest a higher rate because of where they live. A lot of people figure that if my competition is taking $3, they have to as well. If you feel that you can get by on $3 per hour, then so be it. If you know absolutely in your heart that you would rather have $8 per hour, set your rate and let people know that you do quality work. 
VAs are running a business and so you need to treat the relationship like a business-to-business relationship instead of a business-to-employee relationship. A lot of clients ask to interview you, but you’re getting on 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 that is corporate behavior that you’re trying to get away from.
Are you a virtual assistant who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com.
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