How to overcome anxiety of becoming a Virtual Assistant? (or any freelancer really!)
So you have been watching the world of bloggers grow, you’ve been researching business ideas that would help you to gain financial freedom, until you’ve come to a tip to become a virtual assistant from home. Maybe you even niched down some more – to becoming a Social Media Manager such as Pinterest Marketing Assistant. If you’re like me (and many others!) it was a combination of living your dreams and the necessity to earn. Maybe your day to day job sucks the life out of you and you feel like you spend 70% of your life exchanging hours for money and 20% sleeping it off, leaving barely any time to actually live life. Or you’re a mum too and even though you enjoy your career enormously, you are now raising small children and don’t want to leave them for a job. If so – working as a virtual assistant or an online freelancer is a great choice! But! How to overcome anxiety of becoming a Virtual Assistant?
The figuring-out phase – which business ideas work for you?
Working as a virtual assistant is great. This is one of the tree aspects creating my brand. Virtual assistance gives you chance to schedule your own daily tasks, you learn to be more organized and focused, you feel good about helping other business owners grow their brand too. Mostly, you gain freedom that allows you to raise your children and focus on what you find important in life.
When I became a mum I felt stuck. I loved my nursing career but I didn’t want to leave my boy and sink in my job (which nursing just does to you!). It didn’t make sense to work so I can pay a stranger to watch my child grow. I wanted to be there for him myself so I figured out business ideas that suited my personality, suited my options I had and also my passions. But the beginning wasn’t easy, I’m not gonna lie. When you’re just starting out it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by the fear of failure. I’ve been there, trust me, looking at work of others literally thinking ‘Gosh, I’ll never be able to match these guys, look at all this perfection… By the time I get to this stage there’ll be no place for me on the market… What if I underdeliver and let people down…’. I am here to tell you that this is completely normal and that you CAN succeed! And here is how I did it.
Begin with thorough research
First, I did a research on business ideas from home which would be suitable for stay at home mums. Looking at my list of what I have to
offer, I saw computer skills, passion for art, proactive and thorough, fluent in English, have a wifi, can work at night, can draw…. All my assets written down. I brainstormed until figuring out what would give me the space I needed, earnings necessary to run a home, and a field that I could imagine working in long term. During this time it was also my mum wondering about options to work from home. At the end I had two very vague ideas – making clothes and doing some sort of design online.
With my mum, we began by running a small online shop on Instagram selling vintage and preowned clothes. Eventually some handmade knitwear and accessories made by my mum. It did better than I expected! My mum was very skillful but dropped out (yep, from overwhelm and discouragement that she’s not good enough) but I was thrilled! I built a small following of lovely women who loved the same things, grew my artistic skills and eventually opened my own Handmade Clothing shops on IG and on this website.
I then took a course to become a Surface Pattern Designer and watched my ‘textile art and handmade fashion’ dreams being more and more defined. I still can’t believe everything that is possible online. Having to figure out ways to market my handmade work on the internet has even lead me to becoming a Pinterest Marketing Assistant! I took great courses on Pinterest by Anastasia or Kristin & Gina, and added Pinterest Virtual Assistance as a service to other creative business owners and aspiring designers like me.
You can do it too, you really can! The only things you need are your goal, passion, discipline and time. Over two years I grew my online business and it completely transformed my present and future. But let me go back to the beginning. To the anxiety and overwhelm that there is no chance to succeed, and tell you my tips on overcoming the fear of failure.
You figured out what you want to do, now what?
You have decided what is the right path for you, and maybe you chose to be a Pinterest Virtual Assistant as well. But what next? You have your goal, but how to get there? Is the overwhelm stopping you from diving in? Do you fear that you don’t still don’t know enough? Here is what you can do to combat your anxiety and progress to living the freedom you need:
Feel fear and do it anyway
This is one of the most genius quotes I’ve ever come across. It teaches you two very important points in one sentence – feeling fear is normal and it can be overcome. Feeling fear is completely natural. Especially when we care. I’ve noticed that the more I don’t want to disappoint somebody the more stressed I am, because I fear that I will not meet their expectations, that I will look like an incompetent fool, that they will never know how much I cared or how hard I tried. This is completely normal, trust me. And also surprisingly common!
The key is not to let this fear control you. Fear is an emotion that we have to protect us. It gives us a signal to become alert. However, when it becomes paralysing we’ve allowed it to come too close. What is best to do is let the feeling of fear come….. and go. It may take some time for the fear to pass, it may even require practice. But the more you do this the more confident you’ll become in controlling your fear, as opposed to allowing it to control you.
What is it that you are most scared of?
Ask yourself some questions. What will really happen when it comes to your most scary scenario? Rationalising your fear will help you to gain healthier perspective on what is really happening or going to happen. If, after all you do find yourself dealing with what terrified you – you will cope. And you will do very well!
There are different kinds of things that you could be scared of as a Virtual Assistant. I was most scared of not performing up to my clients’ expectations and them becoming mad at me for charging money for services I am not competent to complete. To my surprise – I was most scared of something that actually never happened! Firstly, most of your clients will be lovely people. This is one of the aspects to consider when YOU ARE CHOOSING whom you’d like to work with. Secondly, when it does come to a situation where the client is disappointed, you can always explain the steps you took and demonstrate that you care. You can find ways to compensate your client to show you care. You will find that just like you – most people are very decent and respectful. Besides – human error happens!
Gain knowledge and experience, ask questions
Often times, we are most scared of things we don’t know. When we fear of our child choaking, this fear can be significantly reduced by learning the technique how to help in such situation, and by knowing that we are not alone – just need to dial 999 to get help and guidance. The knowledge alone is very powerful and will greatly affect how we face the fear when we feel it, because it gives us confidence and some sense of control. It’s very similar with Virtual Assistance – knowledge is key!
When I first started working as a Pinterest Manager I didn’t even like to use the word ‘manager’. To be honest, I still prefer to type the word ‘assistant’ because it seems less scary. It seems like that is the kind of knowledge I can reach. However, I’ve learned that how I feel about what I know is often not what others feel about what I know. While I feel like there is so much to learn, my clients are amazed by the information I can pour out into a single email. Humility is good in business, I don’t believe in snobby over-confidence. However, remember to see yourself with optimistic eyes too! You’ve gotten on this path to help your clients, most probably you also have some training behind you. Use it! And then grow your knowledge further.
After completing the Becoming a Pinterest VA course by Kristin and Gina, I felt like I fully grasped the freelancing side of Pinterest Marketing Management. I felt like I know how to grow a business. However, I felt like I should deepen my knowledge of Pinterest itself. So I completed a number of webinars (there are great FREE Pinterest courses available when you sign up for Tailwind), Pinterest Business page is also great for keeping up to date and learning the latest best practices. There is a number of thorough Pinterest related courses that you can do, beginning with one of the best I took by Anastasia, there is also Carly, Vanessa Kynes, Melissa Griffin or Angie Gensler. You can read more about my recommendations on the Blogging Resources page.
The point is!
The point is – grow your knowledge and experience. The more you learn and the more you practice, the smaller your fear will become. There is not other way to get around practical experience than by actually going through it. You will feel the fear but do it anyway. Gain experience and next time you will know better. Believe me, it gets easier and most times your clients will be supportive. What they want to see is taht you have the keen attitude to learn for everyone’s best. Sounds quite obvious but you’d be amazed how many people don’t even make the first step, trying to figure everything out beforehand.
This brings me to the last point of this tip – ask questions. And if you still don’t understand – ask again! This is where my nursing background comes in really handy. Among nurses there are only two conclusions that your mentors will make about you if you don’t ask questions – that you know it all (which is never good news since it’s impossible!) and that you don’t know anything at all so you can’t even ask any. In Virtual Assistance I have found that clafirying actually comes across as wanting to do the job thoroughly. Of course I don’t ask the same thing in twenty different emails, I admint that this perhaps does seem a little incompetent. But I do use the basics of active listening – ask your client questions about the work they want you to complete, when they answer, reflect on their answers for confirmation. Usually, you won’t have to ask much more after that.
(This article may contain affiliate links. To learn more about affiliate programs please read the disclaimer here.)
Expect setbacks, they will happen
Setbacks are natural part of any progress. This means that you can also expect them in your journey to financial freedom. As mentioned above, it is not possible to prepare for every situations in advance. Life happens, people react, things occur. When you face a difficulty with your client – have the courage to face the situation for what it is, do your best to resolve the issue, and then move on. You are not a failure at everything if you make a mistake, every reasonable client will understand this. Being a Virtual Assistant doesn’t mean that you have gained divine superpowers, it means that you have gained training in helping people with administrative tasks online, tasks that are related to their business.
Whether you are trying to find new clients through cold pitching, or you are working with existing clients, make sure that your expectations of yourself are reasonable and realistic. Because when an error occurs – and it will – you will not feel paralysed with embarrassment and overwhelmed with feelings of failure. Also, make sure that the goals you communicate to your clients are realistic as well. Don’t over promise because by doing that you are setting yourself up to fall.
Start small consistently
Consistency is key for growth on Pinterest, it is also key for growth in our own personal and professional lives. If you feel overwhelmed by the bigger picture, start small. Make a plan by setting small tasks for yourself to complete every day. Because I promise you – before you know it you will reach big goals! We can all feel struck by the results we need to get to. But don’t let this ever discourage you, rather do a little every day because ‘little by little’ leads to bigger achievements!
I had this feeling with both – my textile designing/handmade clothing dreams and as a Pinterest Marketing Assistant. Every day till this point has felt like I am not doing much. But looking back now I see how far I have come, how much I’ve grown in my knowledge and skills. You can do the same! Just start where you are. Start today. Make the first step. You have time!
Discipline is very important when you want to achieve your goals. If it was possible to achieve dreams doing only what we enjoy, we would all be living a dream! But it isn’t. Growing a business also intails completing tasks that are not so enjoyable or even ones that we flipping hate. I find that I really don’t enjoy things that I don’t understand, but rather than telling myself over and over how much I hate XYZ, I search for people who do enjoy this topic and actually – it’s intoxicating! I used to really not like analytics but then I found people who enjoy them and teach on this topic (have to go to Anastasia again here!) in with great enthusiasm and it really helped me to change my view! Sometimes it’s just a matter of learning about what we don’t particularly like, in an enjoyable way.
When I parent my son I teach him that in life there are things we love and things that we don’t love to do so much, but all need to get done. And they need to get done properly. This very much reflects in Virtual Assistance, there will be tasks that you will almost be scared of because you just don’t enjoy them at all. Try to stay focused, complete them as best as you can, don’t run away. Then see where in your service packages you can make adjustments to eliminate tasks that are the biggeset source of anxiety for you. We don’t all enjoy the same tasks and that’s okay!
You may even want to consider networking with other Pinterest Virtual Assistants and agree on referrals for tasks that the other doesn’t enjoy. Just a suggestion!
Enjoy how far you’ve come!
Lastly, reflect and enjoy your growth! After you’ve progressed through the points mentioned above, remember to look back and appreciate your efforts. It’s so easy to get stuck on what we fear, to play in our minds over and over that we are not good at this, that and the other. After you achieve one goal new seems to arise, and bigger than the first! But try to welcome these challenges because they help you grow and develop your expertise and skill. With each new client you are making a progres. You may be at the beginning now but if you make the first ste – tomorrow you will already be one step ahead of those at the beginning. And who knows – in the future you may decide to change your Virtual Assistance career to teaching how to become one!
(This article may contain affiliate links. To learn more about affiliate programs please read the disclaimer here.)