I love how Emma Read is able to provide the best value she can offer to her clients! Her daily routine is amazing, as this shows that being a Virtual Assistant does not necessarily zap you out of your personal space and time. In fact, it provides you more comfort. Also, learning is a lifelong process and Emma does it well. She is truly one superstar VA clients are looking forward to working with!
Emma Read is a Member of British Mensa and an Approved Member of the Society of Virtual Assistants. She helps small business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs avoid administrative and social media overwhelm and accelerate business growth. Emma’s passion is in helping burnt-out business owners live a better, stress-free, productive life. She provides a warm, friendly service and helps business owners identify the tasks they should focus on and encourages them to outsource other tasks before they become too overwhelmed.
What made you decide to venture into Virtual Assistance? How does this help you with your long-term goals?
My partner was my main inspiration. He runs his own business, and I knew that I wanted to join him and run my own business too. I understood how hard it was for a small business owner to manage everything; they just don’t have the budget to employ someone full-time, but need to be able to access support as and when they need it. That’s where a Virtual Assistant comes in. It really appealed to me; not only was it a business model that offered a wide variety of work but it enabled me to support other small business owners like my partner, and it also offered me the opportunity to support charities and social enterprises, helping good get done. It also appealed to me as I can work from anywhere. It enabled me to be location independent so that I can work and travel when the kids have flown the nest and move closer to my parents so that I’m able to support them as they get older.
What is a typical day like for you?
It varies significantly from day-to-day as I work with so many different clients (which is one of the things I love about being a VA). Yesterday, for example, went something like this:
7.00-8.00 – Up early to check and respond to emails and social media notifications before running the kids to school.
8.00-8.30 – Drive the kids to school.
8.30-9.30 – Check and respond to a client’s emails, book in a couple of meetings for him, arrange flights and hotels for his upcoming trip to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Brisbane and update his travel itinerary. (This client is a busy executive working in London. I’m his Executive Assistant and work for him every day.)
9.30-10.00 – Check and respond to another client’s social media notifications, search for relevant news/articles to share and post on their Facebook and Twitter pages. (This client is a charity, and I’m their Community Manager – again, working for them every day.)
10.00-10.30 – Follow up a couple of recent enquiries from new prospects and email quotations over to them.
10.30-12.30 – Process new orders for a client who sells a monthly self-care subscription box worldwide (kind of a ‘hug in a box’). (This client is a social enterprise that I work with, and I process all their subscription orders.)
12.30-1.00 – Quick lunch break and check my emails and social media again.
1.00-1.30 – Check my client’s emails again and arrange a lunch with visitors from Singapore (the executive in London).
1.30-3.00 – Schedule social media posts for a client. (This client is a Digital Marketing Specialist, and I proofread and copyedit and then schedule all the posts she writes for her clients.)
3.00-3.30 – Collect the kids from school.
3.30-5.00 – Proofread and copyedit an e-Book for a client. (This client is a Copywriter, and I proofread and copyedit all her content and also design her e-Books, social media graphics, etc.)
5.00-6.00 – Catch up on emails that have come in this afternoon and schedule in any new work. Check my to-do list for tomorrow and make sure I’m fully prepared.
6.00-7.00 – Enjoy dinner with the family and catch up on all their news.
7.00-8.00 – Go for a long walk with my partner to wind down after a busy day.
8.00-10.00 – Chill out and enjoy a bit of family time.
10.00-11.00 – Online networking in business groups on Facebook. (This is where 50% of my work comes from so nurturing online relationships is vital for the growth of my business; the other 50% is via client referral).
11.00 – Sleep…
Like I say – it varies day to day. I could also be writing blog posts, carrying out research, transcribing videos…the list is endless, but that’s why being a VA is so great. You work with so many different people in various industries and get the chance to work on so many different projects, and you learn new things all the time.
Congratulations on being a Cambridge Digital Awards Finalist! How does it feel like and how has this impacted your career?
Thank you. It meant a huge amount at the time as I had only been running my business for about six months and it helped affirm that I had made the right decision. I was completely new to digital marketing, and I was in the running with some large well-established digital marketing agencies which was such a confidence boost! It also made me realise that I was actually quite good at it, so I decided to invest some time in further training and I’m now a Google Certified Online Marketer. Digital marketing, in particular social media management, is now one of my most sought-after services and I enjoy it immensely. I particularly enjoy supporting Digital Marketing Specialists as I’m constantly learning from them and they help me keep up-to-date with the ever-changing digital world.
As someone who has a thorough experience in administrative work, what do you think are the values one should always possess when working remotely?
Communication, communication, communication… Yes, there’s much more to it than that, but excellent communication with your clients and associates is absolutely key when working remotely. In a remote setting, no one will know you’re working on something unless you tell them. You need to keep the lines of communication open at all times and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Other than clear communication, I would say that trust, accountability and transparency are the fundamental values needed when working remotely. You also need to be very adaptable so that you can align yourself with the same vision and values of each different client that you work with.
What type of work are you best at? What are you most interested in learning more about?
Proofreading is my specialist area due to my former career in documentation and my incredible attention to detail. I seldom browse a website or read a blog post without spotting a typo or a broken web link; they just jump out at me! I’m a trained technical writer and although I no longer work in documentation, the skills that I developed carry through into my work today. My current interest is the ever-changing world of social and digital media. It moves at such a fast pace that there is always something new to learn which keeps it fresh and exciting. I also love that I can put my writing skills to good use in the digital world in the form of blog posts, email marketing campaigns and social media content.
To further my skills in this area, I’m currently taking a Social Media Marketing Complete Certificate Course with the SO ME Academy, one of the UK’s leading social media training organisations. I think it’s vital to invest in training for your own personal development and also to offer a better service to your clients. Besides which, I thrive on learning new things!
What advice would you like to share to aspiring VAs who would like to build a name of their own?
Network, network, network… Whether it be through face-to-face networking events or online in business groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, or via Twitter chats, you need to build relationships with people so that they get to know, like and trust you. Don’t try and sell to people; no one wants to be sold to, instead, offer them value by helping them and providing solutions to their problems.
When marketing the services you offer, highlight how you administer your personal touch. Use language and an approach that reassures people of your professionalism, and always convey positivity. The market is saturated with VAs and people can find the services you offer everywhere – it’s the prospect of working with YOU that makes them choose you over the other VAs out there.