Lessons from a Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant Who Actually Does the Work
So many people come to me and ask how to get started in a new career as a VA. Or to get advice from me about how to grow their digital media business into a thriving success. And one of my most common answers: take a course! Invest in your skills and know how to perform client services. But a lot of times, the response is, “I just can’t afford it!” So here are my top five tips for how to pay for the professional courses you need when you just don’t think you have enough money.
This blog may contain affiliate links for programs, tools and courses that I recommend. If you purchase these programs, I could receive a small commission. Thank you! I only recommend vetted programs and tools I use myself! Please check out my tool & resources guide here.
Courses are the Fast Track
There’s no doubt that e-learning and online digital courses are huge. And that’s not stopping anytime soon. In fact, they’re going to be a $325 BILLION business by the year 2025.
You can take an online course for everything now, from astrology or house flipping, to dance fitness and business marketing. Instead of traditional college classes, many people are turning to online niche courses to get the results they need in their careers.
But this can get expensive. If you look at some of the big names in digital media and online business strategy, the cost of their most popular courses can start around a thousand dollars, and go up a lot more. Amy Porterfield, Pat Flynn, Jennifer Allwood, Stu McLaren, Rachel Miller, Tarzan Kay, and Marie Forleo…
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
And if you’re just starting out, I know it seems overwhelming. But just focus on getting started, and go from there. These tips will help!
Re-Invest In Yourself
Let’s face it. Every professional career requires you to invest in training. Not only to get started but to keep your skills up to date. Look at teachers, nurses, and real estate agents…they all have to do professional training every year. They have to prove that they know their stuff and that they aren’t falling behind.
And when you’re working online, it’s easy to fall behind. The platforms are changing constantly. One year you have a great social media strategy and you’re getting lots of followers and likes and sales funnel opportunities. Then the next year, the algorithm changes and if you aren’t going to change with it, your success is going to drop. Plus there’s always something new to learn and try out.
I keep telling everyone that digital media is an open field right now. There is plenty of work out there for people who are motivated and eager to work online and run their own virtual assistant business.
But let’s face it. More people are turning to online work to find a better life balance. And working VAs are getting smarter and offering more niche services to set themselves apart from the crowds. It can be intimidating to get started and find your place in the online space.
Invest in Skills via a Course
Want to know the best way for you to get yourself right into the game and stand out from every other new VA? Yep. Take a course.
First, don’t forget about all of the free opportunities out there. You don’t have to invest a lot of money all at once to get the skills you need. I offer training and a community of support in my free Facebook group: Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant Lab.
I’ve been working in digital marketing for years, and I’ve learned a lot of great info. And now I’ve made it a goal to help others like you to break into the online space and help these clients who are desperate for a unicorn VA to join their business team.
I also offer free masterclass sessions to new VAs. And those are just the free training that I personally offer. You can find even more free opportunities with a quick google search.
Bottom line: Invest in yourself. Both with your time and your money. You’re worth it. And if you’re a go-getter who takes a course and takes action with it, and hits the ground running, you’ll get all of your money back. And then plenty more after that.
Ready to take the next step to level up your own VA digital marketing business? Get on the waitlist for my Unicorn Digital Marketing School now! The course only opens a few times a year and the go-getters on my waitlist get the first opportunity for a spot.
Will there be an ROI on the course?
A course that you will finish and implement is WORTH investing in.
But make sure the course:
- Will help you get your goals
- Is taught by someone who has done the work (watch out for instructors who did it once for themselves, years ago when algorithms were way different)
- Is updated and relevant
But the bigger question is: Will you take action on the course? Can you trust yourself to move forward? Are you a serial learner and not a doer?
There are a lot of people who buy and hoard courses and never watch or complete … let alone implement them. If this is you, STOP. You may not need another course. Take an inward look here!
But maybe that course wasn’t really what you needed either.
I designed my Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School to be fast-acting. Meaning you can get in there, jump on the job leads and sign clients as quickly as possible. This means you start paying back the fee right away. Some of my students sign clients within the first week, others take more time.
Here is the math I do to calculate the ROI and Payback period for any skills course:
I encourage you to do the math and have an investment mindset. When I designed the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School I wanted it to be less that the cost of one college credit course. (Makes you think twice about a four-year degree in marketing, no?!) And the payment plan fee could be covered by just 2 hours a week in paid client work. Makes it doable when you break it down like that!
The cool thing about your ROI? It’s even bigger over the span of 1+ years because you don’t stay charging ‘assistant level’ hourly rates. You get better and wiser and get your clients results, then you charge more. SO it’s not always simple math at the 1, 3, and 5 year projections.
What is an Investment Mindset vs an Expense Mindset?
It’s the difference of a glass half-full vs half-empty mentality. Investment minded knows you will get back what you put in … and MORE. This is the reason biz owners hire us as teammates in the first place. They realize if they keep doing it all themselves, their business will stay stuck and small. So hiring a VA not only saves time in tasks, but frees them up to create an even bigger return when they focus on true needle-moving, money-making projects, and opportunities in their business. Here you see investments as the gift that keeps on giving.
An expense mindset is truly a scarcity mindset: thinking everything just costs you money and will have no reward, or exponential return. Seeing a dollar as a dollar and nothing more.
But if you look back at my ROI calculator… clearly there is a return that increases over time.
5 Ways to Acquire Funds for VA Courses
If you’re motivated to take the next step and INVEST in yourself, and launch yourself into a successful digital marketing and freelance career, don’t get bogged down by the initial fee of the courses. Here are some of my best tips to make it easier to afford the training you need:
1. Get a Sponsor
Especially if you’re already working as a VA, or know someone that would love to work with you in the future. Ask them, “Hey – would you help sponsor me for this great training?” Even just $50-75 from a client will add up. Some of the best classes I took early on were sponsored by my clients.
Because if you have established that trust and relationship, they know that you are loyal and eager to learn. They know that if they invest in your knowledge and skills toolbox, they’re going to turn around and see a big benefit for their own business. And they’ll know you’re a keeper.
Businesses all over the US are investing big bucks into their employees for professional development. It’s no different for clients and VAs. The same benefits are there. And you’re worth the investment to them.
2. Find a Scholarship
I already have someone who is eager to sign up for my next course as soon as it opens. So she found a local scholarship for women who want to further their education and careers, and applied. And she got funds to take my course!
Look around your local community. Not every scholarship requires a formal degree program or on-campus college courses. Look for scholarships for women in business, or new entrepreneurs, or any other group that might fit your demographic. And if you don’t find one right away, reach out to local business groups and associations and ask!
3. Gather Your Cash
Sometimes we don’t realize how much money, or potential money, that we actually have. So make a plan now to set aside extra money where you can find it.
Gather some things you can sell for consignment. Marie Kondo your house and plan a spring garage sale. Get an old-fashioned coin jar and stick your spare change and leftover $1, $5, $10 bills inside of it. Set aside a little bit from each paycheck or month’s budget, and tuck it away into a special savings account.
Look for those deal apps that let you earn instant rebates from your grocery store purchases. Sign up for a credit card that gives you cashback. And instead of using your Christmas money from your grandpa for a one-time splurge on a spa trip, add it to your savings account this time.
It might take a little time, but those small savings really add up. And unlike a travel fund or down payment on a new car, this money will end up bringing you even more profit in the long run.
Pick Up Odd Jobs:
I also recommend getting creative with other services: babysitting, cleaning, lawn mowing, pet sitting, and doordash. I am the queen of odd jobs. I’ve worked a gazillion random little jobs: from fireworks stands to baseball concessions. Where there is a will, there is always a way.
4. Use a Payment Plan
Most courses offer a payment plan. And I’ll be honest – it feels a little bit risky as a business owner. We don’t want to lose out on money and don’t usually have the extra resources to regularly follow up with people who flake out of their payments.
But I want people to take the course and get into this business. And I trust that the kind of people who are interested in my course are legit and are going to follow up with the plan.
So take advantage of a payment plan when you find one. Because if you spread it out, it helps. For example, in my course, you will probably already be working with new clients by the time you make your next payment. And then you will have that extra income to cover that last part of the course fee.
5. Line-Up Clients Now
How good would it feel to have clients, who wanted your new skills, lined up before you started the course? Do it! This will give you a boost of confidence and motivation. Plus you’ll already witness the ROI.
So many biz owners are looking for VA help, and they want eager go-getters. So think about what you can already do and offer right now.
For example – I already knew how to write press releases. So I could find local clients and charge $75 each for a couple of press releases. Then I could take the class and go back and tell them, “Now I’ve learned these extra skills like SEO, social media management, email marketing, etc. So how can I help you more?”
Be transparent about where you are in your journey. Tell clients, “I’m starting this course and by the middle of the course, I will have learned XYZ…”
In my November course launch, one of my students already had several clients within 3 weeks. She earned back the course fee right away and quickly found herself making a profit. Tabitha, another of my students, had a big client already lined up before she finished the course.
So take advantage of what you can do already, and let people know about the skills you will be gaining very soon. There’s a good chance you will be working and earning money before you’ve even finished the course.
Find Paying Clients via the “Indirect Ask”
⚡Related Podcast/YouTube Alert
Want to learn more? Make sure you’re an insider member of my Facebook group and then watch the live video I did on this exact topic! (Plus, look for my fun little outfit hack for doing live videos from home – ha!)
Recorded Infosession with Emily Reagan
for stay-at-home moms, military spouses, teachers and career-changers
Don’t Let Money Be a Reason to Miss Your Opportunity
I’m always reassessing my business needs, and reinvesting in myself. And that means spending and investing my money on courses to learn more about what I need to know. Like I wrote in this post, it was the #1 thing that made the most impact in my success as a virtual assistant. And because of it, I have grown so much from that first VA job.
So use these tips to pay for the opportunity you want, and get into the courses you need. The investment is worth it.
Are you ready to invest in yourself? To make the commitment and reap the results? Because very soon I will be opening the doors to my own Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. This is the course you need to get started working online. Whether you’re a total beginner, or you’re eager to take your current VA biz to the next level, this course is jam-packed full of all of the insider secrets and techie tips that you need. We will cover everything from online business strategies, SEO, social media management, email marketing, affiliate programs, webinar support, and project launches.
See you in the online space!
-Emily, Digital Marketing Consultant and Implementer
“I help smart women learn the in-demand digital marketing strategies and profitable tech skills to get hired as a unicorn digital marketing assistant.“
3 ways we can work together:
1. Do you need to acquire digital marketing implementation skills and build your workflows so you can solidly put yourself out there for work? Check out the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. (It opens twice a year so jump on the waitlist now!… I also share job leads with my students so it’s a gateway for anyone who wants to build a freelance business that gives them flexibility and meaningful work).
2. Already doing the work and have clients? But need more clients and a better referral network? Apply for my Digital Marketing Workgroup. This is a tight-knit community of freelancers like you, supporting each other. Plus I’ve shared 1,500+ job opportunities with this community.
3. Need to hire a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant? Submit your job opportunity here. I’ll share with my workgroups totally free.
Yes, you really can work online.
Feeling overwhelmed and not sure how you can work from home and build your own online digital marketing business? Take a deep breath – you can do this. Start here with my list of 10 popular tasks that online businesses need help with the most!
These are the tasks that new clients are constantly asking for help with, and skills that they really need to find in a virtual assistant. Get access to this free download right now. Then make sure your own VA toolkit is up-to-date and relevant, and decide where you might need to invest in new growth and development for your biz.