Did you ever own a Swiss Army Knife? They truly do come in handy– most of the time you could have used the many functions of a Swiss Army Knife and didn’t even know it. Well, Virtual Assistants, or VAs for short, are the Swiss Army Knife of remote businesses. Most of the time, online business owners don’t even know they could benefit from such an indispensable individual.
Photographers, other creatives– like writers, real estate agents, online course creators, etc. These are all businesses that can benefit from having a VA on their team. In this episode, Emily talks to special guest, Jen Mullen, to break down what it is that makes VAs so useful for the modern day entrepreneur. Tune in to find out more!
Jenn is an Enneagram 1, the owner of a virtual assistant business, a suicide attempt survivor, a mental health advocate that promotes self-care and truly believe in the power of a good, strong coffee. You can connect more with her here:
The Happy, Healthy, Mindful Podcast
Jenn has offered us an amazing feature from her website, the Organize Your Life eBook- get your copy here!
The Swiss Army Knives of Remote Business Transcript
Well, hello, and thank you so much for being here for another week of the No Mercy business podcast. I'm your host, Emily Woodruff, and I am super excited to share our guests with you Jen, why don't you tell us about yourself? Hi, guys. Jenn Mullen 0:43 Um, so I'm Jenn Mullen. I am a executive admin for a real estate office but I also do virtual assistant work on the side and I worked with photographers, early education providers, a beauty salon, clients and a life coach so I'm kind of all over the place, but I love the creative side. So I kind of love my photographers and even the beauty salon. woman. She's super creative. So I got into this because I had worked in corporate for 14 years and was just burnt out. And I knew the skills that I had there were translatable, so I just looked for an admin job found one at the real estate office. And then for the past five years, I basically set up their systems set up their social media, figured out ways to make them work a lot more seamless. And then I got the bug to try and do it on my own. And I said, You know what, let's try this and my first client, believe it or not, was a photographer, someone I didn't know I found her from a networking group on Facebook. And ever since then it's taken off and I love it. I love what I do. And I love working with clients and figuring out what it is they need to kind of organize their businesses and get them like to keep going on the upward scale. So that's a little bit about me. There's so much more but I'm sure you don't want to tangent. Emily Woodruff 2:15 Oh, that's great. That's great. So we right now we're talking about on the show photographers specifically in working with virtual assistants. So, so you mentioned that you find a lot of your clients through you know, network marketing or through social media. Are there are there like any tricks that you have for that or how how does that look for you? Jenn Mullen 2:40 So I'm in a couple. So I'm in Massachusetts, I'm south of Boston. And so I joined a couple of networking groups for women specifically in business, not that I don't want to work with men, but I, I like working with them. And so I joined those groups and just kind of kept my eye out for posts that would say, I'm looking for a VA or I'm looking for an assistant with XYZ. And if it felt like it was something that would fit, I would like to post comment, like, hey, I'll shoot you a direct message and I would direct message that person because I feel like in the world of social media, things aren't necessarily super personal. And so even if you didn't know the person, and I'm a big introvert, and I may not seem it on this podcast or this but talking with somebody in a direct message, I feel like you can still be personal and get a conversation going. And I think it's more about that than just, hey, here's my website, go check it out, because I'd rather have a conversation with somebody before. I even know if we're gonna Jive because why send them to my website and have them fill out a client intake form if I don't get a good, like cultural feel with that person. So that's, that's one thing I would totally recommend is, don't just throw your link out there all willy nilly. Like actually start a conversation and get to know the person that you want to work with and figure out why like what interests you about that person? And go check them out, like the people that I've always gotten? As clients, I scope out their website, I look at their social media. Yeah, I like my background is in fraud investigation. So I do a lot of snooping, but that's more for like, so I can know that person I can get like what they do now. So those are two things I would totally recommend. Emily Woodruff 4:38 That's great. And that's exactly what I do in mind. So the last two clients that I have signed with, I literally just put in you know the specific topic that I was looking for the type of photographer I wanted to work with. Yeah, I went in mind to be local, not because they have to be, but I just thought it would be neat to be able to hire or to be able to work more with people that are in my area instead of dealing with time zones and dealing with you know, all of the extra things that come with it. You certainly can work with anybody, anywhere. But it's I find it's a lot simpler when you're in the same timezone. And you're not shuffling hours back and forth. Yeah, I agree. Yeah, and that's my Jenn Mullen 5:20 answer on the East Coast, which I am very grateful for right now. Emily Woodruff 5:23 Yeah, I have. So two of my clients are not in Michigan with me, but we're all in the same timezone. So it's good enough for me, it makes it makes it so simple. Yeah. I had somebody that we were working like four hours apart, and it was just like she was off when I was on and it just wasn't my it was cool, but it wasn't my favorite. You know, it poses more Jenn Mullen 5:47 of a challenge to like, if you need something for them, you gotta wait for hours or whatever, like for the back to you and like, yeah, that can be tough, Emily Woodruff 5:56 for sure. Well, and especially when you work like we do, you have a regular job and you do this on the side, right? Jenn Mullen 6:04 Exactly. Yeah. So I try to like cram it in whenever I can. Emily Woodruff 6:07 Yeah. So you're like, you go to work and then you come home and you work in the evenings and then some weekends, that's the same thing as me. And if you're not available, when I am it's like well I guess my three hours are up. So we'll work on this tomorrow, you know, but most Yeah, yeah, Jenn Mullen 6:24 it's so true. And I always feel bad and some clients as you know, need more than others and waiting that waiting game is so so challenging. So yeah, if you could work with people on New York Times, I would I would recommend that do. Emily Woodruff 6:40 How do you What's your preferred method of communication with your clients? Do you use like a task manager? Or do you just email back and forth or so it Jenn Mullen 6:49 depends on the client to be honest, I personally I am a lover of slack and I love slack and the channels and you can keep everything private and you can upload docs and like you can like I don't know, it just keeps it nice and organized and everything's there and then your email or text messages aren't blowing up throughout the day if my phone just damned if you could hear that on my watch. I'm sorry. So I love that but not every client knows how to use that or wants to use it and I'm okay with it. And so I choose slack first, but then, you know, emails mine too. I have one client that solely talks to me via text and follow on in send stuff by email a couple of times here and there, but not so often. And then I have another client that works by Marco Polo, which Oh, I haven't actually never heard of until she brought it to me. Oh, this is actually kind of cool. I like this. So I have a chat with her. And some of the people that work for because I need to work with them too. And I love it that I can it's a video app where I can just flip my screen around show them what I'm working on and say guys, this is exactly what I need help with, you know, yeah, I love that too. So I'm pretty flexible. I know there are some other bas out there that are like Nope, this is how I how I communicate. That's it. And I just don't want to be that person. I like to push my clients one way so we just keep it consistent. We're not going to four different places to figure out a conversation. Yeah, um, but that doesn't always work for everybody. So I feel like you have to be flexible with it, you know, Emily Woodruff 8:28 for sure. And especially I find like with creatives, it seems like every, every single one of them is different. You know, we're all very unique. We all have our own methods and means of how to get things done. Some some photographers make me laugh so hard because they're, they're phenomenal behind the camera. Yeah, but if you get them in front of a computer, they like hardly know how to navigate an email system. It seems like and like it's okay, you can mail me a letter if you need to. Jenn Mullen 9:00 You know? Yeah, I feel like a lot of people in the creative space have those big ideas and those big goals and see like the long term game, which I do too, but the technical side is sometimes so hard for them to grasp, which that's why we're here Emily Woodruff 9:17 and that's so when I do onboarding I've noticed since I've kind of niched down and started working specifically with photographers. A lot of them just feel the overwhelm of like I call everything admin work pretty much yeah, things that are not like fun for other people. Yeah, tedious stuff. So I try to explain to them like, here's these things, you know, tell me what's on your plate, tell me what you're looking to offload. And they'll always say, you know, my website or my copywriting or my, you know, they need to get a CRM into place and it's the same conversation with every single client. And what I try to tell them is you are not alone in this. This is absolutely the right conversation to be having. I have this conversation with every client of mine. Yeah. And that I think, is what I'm trying to get across with this little series that I'm doing is just that there's such a need out there. And there's so many people who are like, they feel like they are just so overwhelmed. And they have so many things that somebody couldn't possibly take care of their list for them. But it's the stuff that you and I do every single day and it's stuff that we love to do and are good at doing. Yeah, and it's fun for us. Sometimes, like I know, when I get to help somebody with a landing page. Jenn Mullen 10:35 I love it when they're like, can you create this graphic in Canva for me, and I'm very like, there's so many things you can do in Canva but I'm just like, let's make it basic and let's make it pop make it hard, you know, but when somebody asked me to do that I'm just like you. I just get like, Okay, let's do it. Like super excited about it. Yeah, Emily Woodruff 10:54 I'm making three separate branding, branding guides right now for different clients. I love it so much fun. I feel like all I'm doing is just crafty like stuff that they hate to do. And they're super excited. And in my case you I used to be a photographer, so okay, I understand a little bit more than I think some VAs might from the creative side, but it's not just like I can go in and I can plug and play the photos for them. One of them says, I just I love my work and I have a hard time narrowing it down to know which image is going to sell. I'm also a marketing director for my nine to five so I'd love to please these images for you and you know that's perfect. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Jenn Mullen 11:41 that lines up kind of what I do for the real estate office is that I work very closely with our in house Marketing Director of so what you just said about like, oh, I don't know which photo to choose for this particular situation. I like pulled a lot of that from him. So like, I think they just, they see all their work. And they think that it's beautiful and it is but then trying to narrow it down is where they get stuck Emily Woodruff 12:05 in because they have the personal relationship with that person where I'm like, Oh, our elbow looks kind of funny or already been used like in three spaces on this page. Let's do a compliment you know Yes. Sometimes they have such a great eye when they're in the moment but then to pull themselves out they need a third party to be able to do it so yeah, that's that's one of my favorite things to work on. I love their brand and guides and styling guides and yeah, Cetera you know, yeah, it's it's been a lot of fun for me to try to find things like that, that are the stress points for them. And learning how to and then at the end once I'm done, if it's like a new skill, I'll teach them how to do it. Yeah. So that's really empowering too. I work specifically with women also, because I kind of get the same thing like I guess I wouldn't say no to a male client but that's who I seek out anyway. And Jenn Mullen 13:01 I feel like that women building well, but women kind of thing like not that I'm a feminist, but like, I love to see women business owners. You know, Emily Woodruff 13:09 I'm a woman business owner. So I love people like me, and I love to, you know, I can understand their mindset a little bit more. So it's really neat to be able to teach them something and leave them with something. I've started doing like loom recordings, and I'll tell them like, like I have a client that uses sprout. I hate sprout, but I'm doing it for her. I'm a dubsado lover. Unknown Speaker 13:34 Okay, but I have two clients that use dubsado and they love it. They Emily Woodruff 13:38 Yeah, it's a lot to take in. But once you get it, it's fantastic. Yeah, so now I go through and if I learned something new, I just like creating videos as I go, like, Hey, here's how you do this. So then at the end, she'll have this full log of tutorials with me, somebody she trusts instead of just their website, you know, and she loves it and that's just like a little extra way. She connects with me visually and virtually instead of doing it like just reading a textbook, you know? Jenn Mullen 14:08 Yeah, it's funny you say that because I actually started doing that recently too for like, all my clients so I have a Frequently Asked Questions page for them. But not like okay for the people that that want to use Slack but don't know how, like let's do a video that shows them all the pieces that are just like the basic stuff. So yeah, I think that's super helpful. Like you said, it's coming from you is your voice. It's not from somebody who knows the system. Right? Throughout it's I mean, yes, you know it but it's, it's it's more on like a lower level. So it's, like just easier. It's not those big words that I think some of those tutorials Emily Woodruff 14:49 it's a lot less scary. Like, you know, I have like one of the things in Slack I was having an issue and I just kept oh my gosh, not slack. I'm sorry. It's, it's, yeah, they're all the same but I'm in the route. And that's what's hard for me is that they're they're all the same tool. It just looks a little bit different. Yeah, route does this thing and if you add clients to an email list, they're automatically green. And in order for them to be added to the list, you have to turn them red. And I got on a video chat with their support. And he said, I know this is backwards and I said, Yeah, green means go non stop. Exactly. Red is not something I ever want on my screen. Oh and I'm having to like, retrain my brain. Yeah, it's very weird. Like I redid this three times, because green means go. That was wrong. Yeah. So I imagined being in thirsty and a photographer seat. It was like I don't even have time to try to learn this system, let alone when it does the opposite of what everything else tells me. So it's just it's been a fun journey for me. How long have you been a VA? Jenn Mullen 16:05 So I actually just started this past May June last year like officially Yeah, it was just was like I'm going to try it. I'm gonna jump in. I said I'm gonna give myself a year. See how it goes. And in the past six to seven months. I I'm blown away by a how many people need help Yep. Be how much interest there is in somebody just just just here. Take my stuff. Just here. Just do it. You know what I mean? So I'm like, okay, maybe I don't need to give this a year. Maybe this is like real deal. And I love it and I don't mind right now having both jobs. I will say it is a little challenging. I work nine to three there. I happen to just have today off and I work nine to three there, come home, eat something really quick. And I work for two, whenever so sometimes it's 10. Sometimes it's 1130s. Like sometimes it's nine. But in the past six months, six to seven months. I'm just it's fun. Like it's been so fun. No matter how frustrated I get. Sometimes we'd like trying to explain something so something makes sense in their their brain. Yeah, or like the late nights it's it's awesome. So if anybody is I want to tell everybody if you're ever thinking about doing this, just give it a shot. No harm in trying it and then sure. Violet officially when you're ready to go and then and then go for it. So yeah, that's been super fun. I loved it. Emily Woodruff 17:40 Did you go through any courses or trainings or anything to become a VA? Nothing? Nope. I Jenn Mullen 17:45 joined a group Emily Reagan's, not the paid version but the the non paid version just to kind of sit in there and why I started listening to her podcast and I feel like you can learn so much free stuff from listening to a podcast or just like chatting with you Transcribed by https://otter.ai Want more? Visit moxieassist.com