Making money freelancing is one of the easiest work from home jobs if you know how to get started
As much as I love owning my own websites and the financial freedom it has provided, there is one work from home hustle that easily beats blogging for the amount of money you can make fast.
Most bloggers, myself included, start off freelancing as a side-hustle. Where it can take years to really build a monthly income blogging, freelancing pays off immediately and is one of the fastest paths I know to a six-figure income.
But that doesn’t mean starting your own freelancing business is easy.
There is a world of competition out there, much of it willing to work for $4 an hour. Being a successful freelancer is about knowing how to find clients and how to sell your work on its quality rather than the price.
I reached out to the most successful freelancer I know, Kayla Sloan, to get her secrets to launching a freelancing business. Kayla is the freelancing authority in our community of bloggers and has taught other bloggers how to start their own freelancing businesses.
I’ve transcribed the interview below so watch the video or you can read the transcription. Be sure to scroll down and take advantage of a special offer on Kayla’s new freelancing business course.
The video is part of our expert interview series on the Let’s Talk Money YouTube channel. I’m bringing you the very best experts in beating debt, making more money and making your money work for you. Click through to check out the other interviews and subscribe free to the channel.
How to Start a Freelancing Business
So today's interview is with Kayla Sloan. Now she started writing for others a few years ago just to make a little extra money, but really didn't commit to it; it wasn't a business, just something that she wanted to do.
It wasn't until years later she was talking to another blogger and found out that it could be so much more. So it really changed her mindset; she got into that business mindset. And it just took off. She went full-time with her freelancing business in July 2015, quit her job straight out. That's even though she still had $148,000 in debt.
But now she had that commitment that she needed.
Last year, she turned it into a six-figure income and she's just now started her own course, 10K VA.
Kayla, thanks for being with us and offering to share your insight into being a virtual assistant.
Kayla: Thanks Joseph, I'm excited to be here and share my story, and hopefully help your audience learn a little bit more about starting a freelancing business and making money.
Joseph: Awesome! So when did that spark go off? When did you really decide that you wanted to be a virtual assistant you wanted to try freelancing and why? What led to that decision?
Kayla: Well, a few years ago I started my blog kind of just for fun. I didn't really know that people made money online at all. And so I started it just as a hobby. After reading online income reports and seeing how these people were making money freelancing, I thought to myself, “Okay if they're doing it that means that I can do it too.”
So I really just wanted to find a way to make a little extra money on the side to help pay off debt. I started freelancing in July 2015 part-time. And it wasn't until about October or November of that year that I was talking with another blogger and freelancer and she really just planted that seed in my mind.
She, said you know, “I've been freelancing for a couple of years and I know that you can do it too because I see that you have the skills and the drive to do it.” That really is what kind of changed my mindset and made me start thinking of it as something that could potentially be a full-time job and help me earn more than I was making before at my day job.
So that's really when I started hustling my butt off and trying to find more clients and more work to build my business. I branched out from freelance writing into virtual assistant work, which is a little bit more about organization and knowing how to use tools for marketing and things like that for bloggers and small businesses.
How Much Do Freelancers Make?
Joseph: Okay. I think that's something we see a lot in the online community and blogging in particular is people start it as kind of a passion project or a hobby and really don't treat it like a business.
When their mindset changes to where they treat it like a business, they handle all the moving pieces, it can really take off and really become some great things.
But how much did you make your first month with your freelance business and your first year of doing that?
Kayla: Yeah, my very first month as a virtual assistant I made $285 that month. At that time, my day job was earning just over $2000 a month. So when I finally made that mindset shift to decide that I wanted to try and take my freelance business full-time, I knew that I had to at least replace my day job income if not more to account for things like taxes and business expenses and things like that.
So I had that number in my mind and at the time that I quit my job. Twelve months later I had grown my freelance income to match my day job.
It wasn't quite enough to account for those extras, but I knew that getting back over 40 hours per week from my commute, my actual work hours, all of those things, having that time back in my schedule would allow me to build my business faster because I could use those hours to dedicate toward my business instead of my day job.
What Jobs Can You Do Freelancing?
Joseph: Awesome! In this last year you made over $100,00 freelancing, right? Can you talk about what some of the jobs that you were doing?
How much do you make from each? Is there any one particular part of being a VA that pays really well? Or do you have to juggle and take the good with the bad?
Kayla: Sure, that's a really great question. So when I went full-time with my VA business I was not earning $10,000 a month, but now I am earning $10,000 per month consistently.
Last year I made just over $130,000 as a virtual assistant working from home. So that was pretty amazing when I added it all up, I was even a little bit surprised because I track my income month by month, but I don't always take the time to add that all up.
That was super exciting, and some of my most popular services that I offer for others as a virtual assistant are things like social media management, email management and customer service, as well as I started stepping into helping with affiliate management and advertising a little bit more here in the last year or so.
What Freelancing Jobs Pay the Most?
Joseph: Okay. Would you say the affiliate advertising or the affiliate management is a real money-maker? Or is it other tasks like email management? Or do they all kind of go together in one package?
Kayla: I really think they kind of work together. Having a basic knowledge of WordPress actually has been the biggest skill that has been the most helpful for me, since most of my clients who are bloggers or small businesses run their websites with WordPress.
That's not to say that some of the other platforms aren't just as good or just as relevant of a skill to know. But really learning at least the basics of WordPress has been probably the biggest thing that has helped me get ahead with my freelancing business.
I do earn the majority of my income from virtual assistant services. I do still offer freelance writing here and there on a limited basis. So I would say probably 75% or so of my income is from virtual assistant work and then about 25% from my own site and a little bit of freelance writing.
Joseph: Okay. So when you say virtual assistant, we're talking just kind of those day-to-day tasks that you have handle and you help bloggers and other site owners manage posting their stuff, email answering those kind of tasks?
Kayla: Yeah. And I really think as you start to offer more high level virtual assistant tasks versus daily kind of in the trenches kind of tasks, you start to earn more money too.
Some of those basic things are a great way to get started because they're easy. You might already know how to do them. Things such as answering emails, scheduling posts on Facebook. You can learn these social media scheduling tools in just a few minutes, it doesn't really take too much time to learn.
But then once you start stepping into more of that higher-level thinking such as creating content calendars or managing affiliate relationships and potentially working with a team of writers. I now act as kind of a liaison between the blog owner and their team of writers. And so just kind of managing those things, keeping them all on track, making sure that all the boxes are ticked, those kind of higher level tasks start to pay more over time.
How Many Hours Do Freelancers Work?
Joseph: Okay. So how many hours does somebody need to commit to their VA business each week maybe just when they're first starting out and they're still trying to juggle a day job? Then how much time should they spend when they really want to commit to the business and make it a success? How many hours do they need to be putting in there?
Kayla: You actually have a lot of opportunities to do virtual assistant work on any type of schedule. I've seen some people do it as like a stay-at-home mom and they'll do it while their kids are napping or while they're at play dates or preschool or something like that.
Then those who really want to take it seriously and potentially take it full-time and earn thousands of dollars at home every month, that is going to take a commitment. When I was doing it on the side, I was working 40 hours a week at my job and then I'd be putting in 2 or 3 hours in the evening or more and then on the weekends I'd be working quite a bit too.
I went into it and I knew it was going to be tiring and exhausting but I had that deadline in the back of my mind, like, “I want to quit my job within the year.” So having that to kind of motivation to keep me going when I was exhausted, is really I think the key. Because it's not sustainable to do that forever.
How Do Freelancers Find Clients?
Joseph: You have to find something that motivates you, a goal that you can work to until the money really does start working out. How do you find clients as a VA? Are there good websites you can look to? Are there any things you would avoid when finding clients?
Kayla: When I talk with people who want to start a virtual assistant business, this is actually the most common question they have because until you find your first client, you don't really have a business.
Finding that elusive first client is something that I spent a lot of time talking about with other people who want to become a virtual assistant in my course and with my coaching students.
What I recommend to them is actually to start with your existing network. If you're already a blogger, reach out to other bloggers that you know. If you're not already prominent in the online space, reach out to people you know in real life.
Reach out to any business owners that you've come across or that you're connected with or are friends or maybe your mom's friend, or whoever's in your life that could potentially need a virtual assistant.
The reason I say to start with your existing network rather than going to job boards or something like that, it's because they're going to actually be a better fit for you and your business. You might already have an understanding of how their business works so you don't have to do as much training, and they're also probably going to pay you a higher rate, rather than going through a job board that has tons of competition from people in the US and abroad.
Those type of jobs from online freelancing sites are usually going to be short term, they're not going to be long term relationships that you build with your clients and the pay is probably going to be lower as well.
How Much to Charge Freelancing?
Joseph: We know each other from a financial bloggers conference. Those conferences are gold mines for a lot of VAs and freelancers. Bloggers are always looking for help whether it's a short term contract or a longer term VA position.
Developing that trust, developing that relationship at the conferences and a face-to-face kind of way, is a great way to get started freelancing.
How does the VA decide how much to charge? Is there a range? Should they start out maybe a little bit lower? Is there some way they can say, “Hey, this is the lowest I can go,” and kind of work from there? How do they do that?
Kayla: Yeah, That’s the second most popular question I get from new freelancers. Everyone wants to know, “How much money am I going to make doing this?”
So truthfully, it's a little bit difficult to price yourself at first. When I very first started, I landed my first client for $15 an hour. And I was excited because that's about double the minimum wage here where I'm located in Kansas.
So I thought, “Okay double the minimum wage while I get to work from home, wear pajamas…” It was great! But these days, now that I do it as a full-time freelancing business, I definitely have to make sure that I'm charging more than that.
So as you gain experience you can raise your rates over time and start to earn a lot more money for your hours, as well as finding other ways to charge besides just hourly so that you're not stuck against that time clock all this time.
That's a lot of things that I work with, with virtual assistants as well. And the pay can range from $15 an hour starting out brand new, all the way up to, as an experienced VA, you could be earning $60 an hour or more, depending on what your skills are that you offer.
What are the Biggest Problems for Freelancers?
Joseph: Excellent. Yeah I think it's smart to have a bottom point. I think a lot of VAs and good freelancers go into the market, obviously these sites like Upwork and these other these other freelancing sites where people are bidding all the way down to 4 and 5 bucks an hour from other from other countries.
You’ve got to understand that your value is really in and that's worth much more than even $15 an hour, even for a lot of new VAs and new freelancers. Some of these skills you can bring to a blogger, is worth a lot more than that.
What are some of the problems? If you can name three biggest problems that VAs or beginning freelancers face, what would those be?
Kayla: I think you mentioned one just a moment ago actually and that is really figuring out, how to price yourself and how to compete against those freelancers who do charge, $4 and $5 an hour and finding the clients that are willing to pay for you. Because you know that you're worth it or at least you need to know that you're worth it.
Your skills and your understanding of how a freelancing business works it's definitely worth being paid well and so finding those clients that are willing to pay those rates. That's another reason why I say stay away from job boards.
Then the second thing I would say is, make sure you understand what you're getting into as far as setting client boundaries. I've gotten into situations before where I have had clients who didn't fully understand what they were getting into. As a virtual assistant, you're not an employee, you are a contractor, you are actually a business owner yourself.
And so you need to make sure that that's clear to your clients, especially if it's the first time they've ever worked with a virtual assistant, they may not know what to expect. So setting clear guidelines and expectations up front during your onboarding process is going to be important.
How to Start as a Virtual Assistant from Home
Joseph: Okay. So just wrap it up, if somebody is excited, they're ready to go here, what are three goals or maybe steps that someone can take? What's the first three things they need to do to truly get their VA business started?
Kayla: First of all, I would say to take a look at what skills you already have, what things you already know how to do and kind of narrow down in a giant list of opportunities into what you can offer in your business as services for your clients.
There's hundreds of things you can do; literally hundreds. Narrowing it down by your own interests in deciding what you want to offer.
Then the next step after that is going to be going after and finding those clients. So identify who your ideal client is. Where do they hang out? Where are you going to find them? Are they on Facebook? Are they on those job boards? You know, it could be different for different people who offer different services and want to serve a different need.
Find where they are and then get yourself on there. Set up a website, set up a Facebook page, make sure that people can find you. Because if they don't know you're hiring or don't know that you're looking for work, then you need to put yourself out there, otherwise they don't know that you're looking to work as a freelancer.
How to Get Started Fast with Freelancer Training
Joseph: Okay, excellent. Okay, tell me a little bit about the freelancing course here because I've heard people in the blogger community talking about it. What's the course about?
Kayla: I just launched my new course which is called 10K VA. It is a course to help you start and scale your online freelancing business.
We work through everything from the very beginning as far as, “What is a virtual assistant? How did virtual assistants come about? And what do they do?” I walk you through those steps of how to set up your business from the very beginning, teach you how to find your first client and price your services, how to offer packages so you can earn more money.
We talk about raising rates and all kinds of fun things including how to onboard clients and all of the legality things too. So I do touch on how to pay yourself from your business, how to treat your business like a business because that business mindset it's going to be so important, especially if you want to take this full-time.
Joseph: Interesting. How long would it take somebody from start to finish to really complete that course?
Kayla: It's an eight-module course and each module will be released on Sunday. So each Sunday there's a new module released. You have about a week to complete each one so it can take as little as eight weeks. But it's also self-paced so you'll have access forever; there's lifetime access to the course. Any future updates and bonuses and things like that, you'll also have access to. So you can take as little time as you want or as much as you need.
Joseph: So in eight weeks, maybe a little bit more, a little bit less, depending on how people take it. How quickly can somebody's income grow from this?
Kayla: Yeah, that's a great question. So really I'd say, you know, when you sign up for the course, you can land your first client and start working before you finish the entire thing. The later modules are going to be a little bit more about how to grow your freelancing business up over time and increase those earnings, which of course is important.
But from the very beginning stages, you can get started before you finish it. So, I mean, the course can pay for itself within the first month.
Joseph: Oh, wow!
Kayla: That’s my goal, for every student to have earned enough to pay for the course within their first month or two. Everything after that is going to be pure profit. It took me 12 months to earn just over $10,000 total.
I would say that working with someone who's been there as a coach and a mentor and taking a course that can help you avoid some of those newbie mistakes, can really help you grow it even faster than that.
Joseph: Excellent. Yeah, I see you've got a Facebook group for the students. You've got cheat sheets for a client pitch. Even earning $2,000 a month, what’s that like seven-times the cost of the course. What is it like $300 for the entire course?
Kayla: Yeah, the pro level is $397 and it also includes two one-on-one coaching sessions with me. And then you'll also have access to a client connection service.
This is going to be where I'm going to be using my own personal leads to help my course students find their first clients. That's going to be an awesome group to be a part of because I'm approached all the time by new clients and I simply can't take on any more work myself.
So now I'm able to pass those on to other people in the course and help them get a leg up on finding their first client.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a freelancing business or just need to make some extra cash each month, I would highly recommend checking out Kayla’s course. Not only do you get the inside secret to starting as a virtual assistant but you get that access to a client list to help you get started.
I want to thank Kayla for her expertise in getting started as a freelancer and for sharing how you can become a virtual assistant. Don’t forget to click through and check out some of those other expert interviews and subscribe to the YouTube channel.