Episode 173: Show Notes
Today on the show, we welcome Micala Quinn. Micala is a wife, mom, teacher, lifelong learner and founder of The Live Free Mama Movement. She helps moms launch their freelance business using the skills they already have so they can have more freedom, flexibility and financial stability. Our lives were very similar to Micala’s since she had worked for a bit, started freelancing from home and then started a business. A lot of moms want to work from home in the freelance world, but don’t know where to start. It can be daunting and overwhelming, but not if you know where to start. This is where Micala comes in.
In this episode, Micala shares how a mom can do things from home to create a sustainable business. If you’re out there wondering, “What is the thing I can do to bring in some extra cash-dollar bills this month?” this is the episode you want to listen to. Today, we share so many brainstorming activities and questions you can ask yourself to help pull those skills into a profitable service you can actually charge for. If you’ve ever had an interest in freelancing or VA work, this episode will sure as hell give you some ideas.
How Micala Went From English Teacher To Stay At Home Freelancer Mom
Micala’s story started out very similar to a lot of moms’ stories – she loved her job, she loved working and then had her first baby and thought, “Nope, this isn’t working”. Because she hated having to drop her kid off at school for the whole day, Micala started researching into work-from-home job opportunities, wondering how she could become a stay-at-home mom. She found a lot of options but none were what she truly wanted. She finally found freelancing work through a website called hiremymom.com. Her first client was a business coach and Micala became an admin assistant for her. As their relationship began to grow, the business coach gave her more responsibilities. Micala fell into the online world realizing there is more than one business coach out there and many people who would benefit from her help. That’s how she went from English teacher to a freelancing virtual assistant (VA).
Has Social Media Made It Easier To Find Freelance Opportunities?
There’s a Facebook community for everything in the freelance world including virtual assistants. Freelancing is the big umbrella term and virtual assistants fall under it. You can use being a virtual assistant as an entry point, doing whatever jobs crop up. For example, copy-editing, graphic design, web design etc. And from there, find your niche and expertise. There are Facebook communities where you can learn more about this way of work and then there are Facebook communities where entrepreneurs and business owners are hanging out and could benefit from freelance help. The first step to introducing yourself to the online community, starting to research and looking more into freelance work and virtual assisting. Part of that research is evaluating your own skills, experiences and what you can bring to the table. So ask yourself, what services can I sell?
How A New Relationship Develops Between Online Employer and Employee
A lot of the time, online freelance jobs start with a trial period or a small project. For example, maybe someone posts in a Facebook group that they need some Facebook graphics asking, “Who can help with this?” Then there are multiple responses and for the person they pick, that could be a great opportunity to over-deliver and get your foot in the door with that person for future help. Freelance VA work is a great opportunity to just toss yourself in, say yes and try out some things; especially if you’re unsure whether you should go into graphic design, copywriting, or whatever job you might be good at. Then, you can find out what you don’t like doing and work to find your niche. A lot of the time, a business owner will be the first to hire a VA as an extra team member since it is often a lower cost to hire a VA versus someone who specializes. In order to build a long-term relationship with a business owner, rather than do a once off project or task, Micala advises the biggest thing to do is to over-deliver on that initial project. After that, tell them about the additional services you can provide and see if there are any other areas that they need support in.
The Pros & Cons of Being A VA For One Business Versus Many Businesses
If you are a single mom, Micala suggests getting on a monthly retainer. Monthly retainers are more stable and will be less hustle for the mom. To do once-off projects, it can be really uncertain how many projects you are going to pick up each month. So if you need consistent income coming in, finding the business retainer clients is a better way to go. If you just need a little bit here and there to supplement your income, doing multiple projects for multiple businesses might suit you better. From an employer’s perspective, they will often choose to hire those VA’s that are willing to stick around on a monthly retainer, learn more about the business and show some initiative. Those are the types of people Abbie and Emylee, for example, love having on their team. In addition, it is much more cost effective for employers.
So You Don’t Have Any Qualifications: Now What?
If you’re sitting there thinking, “But I don’t have a degree in Graphic Design, or an Instagram account or any formal training in social media marketing. How can I say yes to these VA jobs?” Micala had the same questions and what she did was take a look at her experience and see how it could translate into the online space. Micala was a teacher and as a teacher, yes she could write and analyze critically, but her main expertise in the classroom was the discussions. Discussion can be translated into social media, right? Discussion can be translated into engagement and you want that engagement. If Micala could get fifteen-year-olds excited about Macbeth, surely she could get anyone interested in anything, right? That’s just one part of what made Micala a teacher and how she could apply that to the online world. Another small example is, she knew how to have hard conversations with parents. So, therefore she also knew how to have hard conversations with client’s clients. Other skills that were easily transferable were organization and planning. We so often forget the skills we are using in our day to day life as a mom, teacher and human being! Think about those skills and how they can be related to the industry you are in now. You have more skills than you realize!
Transitioning From Virtual Assistant To Business Owner
As a VA, Micala learned a lot about a little and this gave her the confidence to become a business owner. Micala hung out in mom Facebook groups a lot because being a stay at home mom, you start to miss the friendships and collaborations with your colleagues. Hanging out in these groups, Micala started seeing a lot of the same questions crop up saying, “I want to be a stay at home mom doing a freelance job but I don’t want to sell a product. What can I do?” Micala started answering these questions for people and becoming really helpful.There were about thirty moms who asked her to DM them more information. Because she couldn’t message all of them individually, she added them to another Facebook group and started to help them. She then started to monetize the skill that she had for teaching, sharing information and marketing it. This was the tipping point. Micala laid the foundation for this by becoming helpful in this arena and becoming known for that before monetizing on this expertise.
Finding The Middle Ground Between Mamma and Business Owner
Micala managed to balance starting her own business and being a stay at home mom by starting out waking up at 5 AM and working from 5AM-7AM, depending on when her daughter woke up. This is what it looked like for a while. And just doing that amounted to about 15 hours a week which is a huge chunk of time! That was one chunk she would work and then she would also take her to the daycare at her gym for two hours, slip in for 30 minutes of cardio and work in the coffee shop after. That’s another two hours a day added in, another ten hours a week. Micala would work during her daughter’s nap times between 1 PM and 3 PM and there were even more hours! This is the breakdown Micala used and you can find your own. Don’t be afraid to sneak in opportunities and multi-task to the finest degree! Micala’s breakdown can give you a reality check on how you can do this. If you’re actually strategic about your business and utilize the loopholes in your life, it can be done. That’s not to say you have to wake up at 5 AM forever, but just do it until your business is more established and your foundation is set. Protect your work time and make it happen.
The Importance of Being Strategic With Your Time Hustle
Micala likes to employ a method she calls “Mapping Your Time Makeover” where she looks at her day Monday to Friday and where she could fit in work time. Once you find the time, you have to stick to it. Really protect that work time and make it happen. This is what Micala was really worried about; being accountable and really honoring that time. To counter that, she found a couple other moms that were in the same position as her and they did a daily Zoom call check-in. Woke up, grabbed coffee, said hi and told each other what they’re working on for the day. She didn’t want to let them down and for all three of them, their businesses all took off and they vow it was due to that accountability. Find some people or groups that are doing similar work to you, hop on that Zoom, no makeup and make it happen!
- How Micala Went From English Teacher To Stay At Home Freelancer Mom. [0:04:00.1]
- Has Social Media Made It Easier To Find Freelance Opportunities? [0:06:50.1]
- How A New Relationship Develops Between Online Employer and Employee. [0:09:02.1]
- The Pros & Cons of Being A VA For One Business Versus Many Businesses. [0:11:25.1]
- So You Don’t Have Any Qualifications: Now What? [0:13:30.1]
- Transitioning From Virtual Assistant To Business Owner. [0:26:05.1]
- Finding The Middle Ground Between Mamma and Business Owner. [0:34:20.1]
- The Importance of Being Strategic With Your Time Hustle. [0:37:40.1]
- Develop clarity on what you have to offer.
- Figure out your ideal client / who you want to work with.
- Start hanging out where your ideal client hangs out.
- Utilize Facebook / social media leads.