Heather seems to like the liberty of being able to work on her own time and pace — perks of being a Virtual Assistant! The flexibility it offers allows her to be most productive and helpful to her clients, whilst enjoying the variety of what she does. Great job, Heather!
After more than fifteen years as an administrative and executive assistant, Heather Bokon decided to take the skills she had developed and make them work for herself instead of someone else. She built up her business on the side, working nights and weekends until she was able to leave her 9-5 and focus on her clients full-time. She lives in the Midwest area of the US with her husband and two rescue dogs, where she reads a couple hundred books a year, drinks red wine, and binges on Netflix whenever she has time.
What are your core skill sets and services? Can you also name a few that are outside your scope?
I offer both executive virtual assistant services and more specialized social media management and author services.
What is a typical day like for you?
I try to keep to a standard 8-5 schedule, though that’s not always possible. My executive virtual assistant clients usually involve tasks that go on throughout the day – checking emails, updating calendars, scheduling appointments, making phone calls, etc.
My social media clients are different, though. I spend Mondays creating, writing, and scheduling their updates, posts, etc., then each day, I’ll just pop in to each platform, make sure everything is posting the way it should, check the stats, see how the posts are performing, and make any adjustments that need to be made.
I also try to find at least an hour or so a day to learn something new or work on developing a new skill. At some point during the day, I always find time to work out for at least half an hour as well. Since I work from home, I find that making sure to get some physical activity every day is extremely important. It’s really easy for me to get wrapped up in what I’m doing and not realize how much time has passed without me getting up from my chair. I treated myself to one of those desks that can be adjusted for either sitting or standing, and that helped a lot, too.
What kind of virtual assistant services do you provide to writers and authors? How do you help them achieve their business goals?
Most of my author clients need help with their social media. I’ll create and schedule social media posts, quote graphics, images using their book covers (I don’t actually design the covers, though), and countdown to release day posts. I’ve developed an extensive list of book bloggers in various genres, and I’ll contact any of them who are appropriate and ask them if they’d like to read and review the book before publication to try and generate some early buzz. I also offer beta reading, proofreading, and editing services, though those are usually only needed by indie authors.
How do you market your work and build your network?
I find that social media is the best way for me to market myself and find people to network with. I spend a lot of time in Facebook groups and on Twitter, or other social media platforms talking to other VAs, talking to authors, promoting my own blog posts, etc. And, of course, word of mouth. I always ask my clients to recommend me as they feel comfortable if they know of anyone who needs a Virtual Assistant or social media manager.
What kind of branding do you usually develop for your clients?
I don’t usually do branding. I use the branding my clients already have in place when I’m creating images, graphics, etc.
What do you think is the impact of social media to your generation, and the way people communicate and would do business in the future?
The impact of social media cannot be overstated. Especially here in the US, where there’s a different scandal every day, and most of our information is disseminated via social media. It’s had a huge impact on how people do business, especially. If I have an issue with a business, if something happens, the first thing I do is tweet about it. And I usually get a response from them. And it happens everywhere on a much bigger scale.
Businesses can’t make a misstep without it being spread all over social media and causing a much bigger splash than it ever would have before. People see how some of their favorite businesses treat their customers on social media and make decisions on whether or not to continue doing business with that company based on what they see. Social media is the main way people communicate anymore, whether that’s Twitter, or Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram. It’s how we find people who think and feel the same way we do, it’s how we recommend books, and movies, and restaurants to each other. It’s the first place most people turn to when they’re looking for information.
Where do see yourself and your career in the next 5 years or so?
In the next five years or so, I fully intend to still be plugging away at this. I love my virtual assistant business and my clients, and I love the life that I’ve built with it. My business won’t look exactly the same, but that’s ok. One of the things I like so much about it is the variety of what I get to do, and the fact that no 2 days are the same.