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Digital Nomad Cafe Podcast | Online Business | Blogging & Remote Work

EP57-How To Create A Superstar Virtual Assistant Business with Hannah Dixon

EP57 – How To Create A Superstar Virtual Assistant Business with Hannah Dixon

Learn how become a happy, well paid Virtual Assistant by using these methods

Welcome to another episode of the Digital Nomad Cafe Podcast.

Today’s guest is Hannah Dixon. Hannah is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Matchmaker, and Founder of one of the largest and longest-running VA training platforms, Digital Nomad Kit.

She’s trained over 12,000 VAs who go on to work with top entrepreneurs and thought leaders. Hannah focuses on creating standards of excellence in the remote workspace with regards to ethical pay, diversity, and creating meaningful communities. This has elevated her position as the go-to person for hiring ethically and intelligently. After 13 years of continuous travel, she’s a staple in the digital nomad scene and has been featured in Forbes, The James Altucher Report, iNews, Thrive Global, DNX, and numerous other media outlets and stages on travel and entrepreneurship. You can usually find Hannah in a hammock ‘window shopping’ for tech she doesn’t need. 

If you want to learn how to become a successful Virtual Assistant then this is the episode for you!

Sign up for Hannah’s Upcoming FREE 5 day VA Challenge here (Sept 27-Oct 1)

Topics we discuss:

  • How to Become A VA
  • Using Transferrable skills to start online
  • The freedom of running your own business.
  • How to get clients
  • How to stand out
  • Using Facebook groups to get business

Thank you for joining us in today’s episode. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast and give us a Review on iTunes & a Follow on Spotify. Digitalnomadcafe.com for more episodes.

Transcription:

Adam Finan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the digital nomad cafe podcast. I’m here today with Hannah Dixon. How are you, Hannah? I’m good.

Hannah: Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Adam: Hannah, I’ve been following your content for I feel like years at this point. While you’re out there travelling the world having a crack, you’ve run the website digitalnomadkit.com. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do over there.

Hannah: Sure. So I’ve been nomadding for about 13 years, eight of them digital. Before that, I was kind of working on farms and doing the whole wolfing, that kind of stuff. Then I discovered working online and was like, “Cool! I can travel forever and walk on land. This is awesome!” And I think, similarly to yourself, I had experience back then in SEO and web development. And I kind of started a company back then, which didn’t work out very well, because I had very limited business sense at that time. But what I did find was that those clients that we had for the SEO and web development company needed other help. They needed social media help, they needed correspondence, customer support, a whole range of different things they needed help with. And I just started helping them. I didn’t know that the term virtual assistant existed. I didn’t really know what a digital nomad was at that point. I was just kind of like taking these gigs on. And it turned out I was really good at it. I started a community myself online, which was just called Digital Nomad Kit. I had a very different vision back then for what that was going to be. It was going to be, I don’t know, where I send people to buy the right bags, or the right equipment, laptops, all that kind of stuff, like an affiliate model. So that was the intention with that. But I started the community because I wasn’t seeing many people like me out there doing this. So I wanted to meet more people like me, particularly women, queer people, I just wasn’t seeing many in the space. So I started a community and I was sharing what I was doing at that time, how I was working with clients. I very quickly moved my way up to earning between $5,000 and $10,000 every single month. Five was sort of the standard I was making them. Beyond that was project based. And people were like, “This isn’t typical. Your results aren’t typical.” And so I was kind of like, “Well, that’s sad.” I’m finding this easy, and I’m not sure where I’m finding this easy. But I decided I’d put together a training for everyone. Skip forward five years, I’ve now trained 12,000 virtual assistants to start their business and make it truly sustainable and profitable. So Digital Nomad Kit is a training academy for virtual assistants. It didn’t start that way, but you gotta be open to what comes your way. And I realised that I had a real knack for that. And that’s where I am today.

Adam: Yeah, you’ve done a real testament here. You’ve created a really vibrant and engaged community who love to share and interact with each other. Look, sometimes what you thought it was gonna be isn’t what it’s gonna be. And you’re not being rigid in your ways and being flexible, being agile, being willing to pivot, and then, like you’re saying, not pigeonholing yourself as well and, ‘I do this one thing.’ It sounded like you were doing really well at providing a service. But I feel a lot of people, there’s a cap to that. There tends to be a cap income wise, because you’ve only got so many hours you want to work. And then on the flip side, you can only probably charge so much. There’s eventually going to be a tipping point where people aren’t going to pay for it. So there’s kind of two ways to look at it, isn’t it? Really. One is like, fill your box to suit the lifestyle that you want. You charge whatever per hour that you value and then you have the lifestyle that you want, which for some is like in the digital nomad space, it’s to travel, to live in different countries, to have different experiences. It’s funny what you’re talking about before like, I did the work in Australia. I did it in New Zealand. I worked on farms, I drove tractors. I was in Germany, picking fruit. I’ve done all sorts of random things. But I was into being a backpacker when I was younger. And I didn’t buy my first laptop when I was 24. So I worked in Irish bars in Spain. And the two seasons, that’s actually where I met my partner who’s now the mother of my child. We’re working in a bar in Spain for the summer. That was before, but now, it’s like I was working for like, four euro an hour and I’m working 12 hour shifts and like, you tell people now, “You can make 15-20 quid an hour as a VA.” Like if you’re an English speaker, from my perspective, Ireland, UK, you can easily make that sort of money. And so I kinda like to talk to you about that. Your accent, is that New Zealand or is it Australia?

Hannah: It’s actually England. I’m a Londoner. I haven’t lived at home in 13 years and I feel like it’s probably changed with the travel.

Adam: I’m hanging around with the Aussies. I thought you’re an Aussie.

Hannah: Everybody does.

Adam: Let’s unpack this a little bit. Why is it a good idea to become a VA and how do you narrow into what you offer? Because I feel like there’s hundreds of things you can offer. So if somebody is listening to this, if you’re curious, maybe you work in hospitality and hospitality is in trouble. And they’re looking for something that they could do online, somewhere where they can move to Mexico or Portugal or Spain or whatever, for a couple of months and work online. How do you start? Like, help me to understand how do you start taking somebody on that journey?

Hannah: What I always tell people is to start looking at what you’ve already done. And it doesn’t have to be just professional stuff. So what have you done in your life? What have you achieved in your life? And honestly, I think that the reason that this is such an exciting career path is that so many people have access to it. Whether they know that or not, is another story, and that’s why I do what I do. But most people have access to this because most people have skills that can be transferred digitally. So even if let’s say you worked in a supermarket, for example. You have customer service experience, you have money handling experience, you have people skills. All of that can be transferred online, it’s just about figuring out how. So then what I asked people to do is look at what they’re interested in. And I always say, you will see a lot of coaches out there saying, “Find your passion and you’re going to be in the money.” I don’t really subscribe to that. Because I think that finding your passion is like this very big daunting concept for a lot of people. So I say, what are you interested in? What are you just interested in? Even if it’s just temporary, like, “I’m really into yoga, right now. I’m really into painting.” If you’re really into yoga, for example, and you’ve got customer service experience, you need to start looking at how you can marry what you’re interested in and what skills you have. So you could very easily start approaching yoga studios, telling them that you can help them with their social media outreach, or their customer support, or their booking systems. And I think that a lot of people dismiss what they’re interested in, because they still treat this like a job. So it’s really getting out of that mindset of, ‘I’m an employee, and I get told what to do, and I don’t really have much say.’ into, ‘I can design this to work for what I’m interested in.’ Because why the hell else would you do this if you don’t make it work for you? And you often will have people in your immediate network if you look at what you’re interested in. So if you’re interested in yoga, again, you probably know the local yoga studio owner, you probably know some instructors, you probably know other people who are really into that. And those are going to be the first port of call for getting those clients in. And you can literally reach out and say, “I’m interested in taking my skills online, would you be up for doing a trial month with me? Or would you be up to doing a five hour package with me? I’ll see what I can do for you.”And getting those first testimonials in. I always think that’s the first port of call. What have you done already? Don’t dismiss anything. Don’t dismiss your experience at school, don’t dismiss things you’ve done for charitable organisations. Your work offline doesn’t disappear because you start working online. So take that, write a running list of things you’ve done, then you can maybe even write another list of things you actually enjoy doing from that. Scrap the rest because there is no point anymore. And then a list of what you’re interested in, see how you can marry that up. That’s always the first thing that I tell most people to do, because I think people don’t realise that they have opportunities in their immediate circles already.

Adam: That’s a really good way to approach it, I think. It’s not necessarily following your passions. Nobody’s saying go and start a yoga clothing business or a channel. It’s rather, if you’re into yoga, how can you serve that market? If you’re into CrossFit, how could you serve that market, because even just touching on some of the other things we talked about, like blog content, video editing, uploading and doing stuff on YouTube. There’s so many things that you can learn within a couple hours. Like, chop it all. Get on YouTube, and just like, how to upload YouTube videos, how to upload blog posts. It’s not rocket science, but it’s work that people need done. Like, I can’t get people to publish enough content on some of the affiliate blogs that I have. All that I need them doing is Canva, upload, and publish in somebody else’s writing and feeding that machine. And it’s just like, that’s all virtual assistants, you know what I mean, who are helping me to get that stuff done.

Hannah: I always say that. If you look at just the word virtual assistant, and you flip it, you’re just virtually assisting someone, that leaves the scope of what you can do. It’s so wide. That’s why I say don’t dismiss anything because there are people hiring people for the weirdest stuff online, that you’re going to have the obvious creative tech and administrative type tasks. But there is like a whole lot of weirdship people will hire you for online. And I have a list on my website, like over a hundred services you could offer as a VA. And that’s not exhaustive, I’ve done so many weird things. So don’t feel like there wasn’t a space for you. Because I think that the biggest thing is about making a space for yourself based on what you have. There are always going to be people hiring. In fact, more than ever, because of the pandemic, everyone’s going digital. People are realising it’s more cost effective to hire someone for a specific task for a specific skill than have them full time as an employee in person. So this is only growing and you can definitely get started with what you have.

Adam: You touched on a point earlier about potentially offering packages. So I’d like to just kind of unpack this a little bit about let’s say, offering packages versus hourly on Upwork or fiverr.com, or something like that. So can you just kind of tell me what you think is the best way for people to approach, because all of them work to a degree like you can be an hourly Freelancer on Upwork. Yes, you can. But it’s a marketplace. It’s like Amazon, easy come easy go. You know what I mean? Whereas, I see in Facebook groups, a lot more people seem to sell packages. You know what I mean? Like, in all these virtual assistant Facebook groups that are out there, people are five hour 10 hours, 20 hours, and for a virtual assistant, I imagined it would be better to have like, 4-20 hour clients that you knew was packed in rather than kind of the hourly uncertainty that come, “Yeah, I need you all now. And I don’t need you then for a month.” Tell me about your experience with that.

Hannah: Yes. I always say that there’s multiple ways. As you said yourself, there’s no right and wrong way. All of them work to a degree. The way that I’ve seen work the best after training over 12,000 people is to really start treating this like a business. So that means I always have this phrase that I really love, which I made up, of course, which is, ‘Stop applying for jobs and start creating opportunities.’ And the whole concept behind that is that while all these platforms like Upwork, and freelancer, and I don’t even know what they are anymore, because that’s how much you don’t pay attention to them, while they can work and they do work to a degree, you’re fighting in a very, very busy crowded sharky marketplace where a lot of people are going there. It’s like 50-50. Some people go there to hire because it’s the first thing that comes up when they Google hire someone for whatever. I’d say the other half of people that go there are going there because they’re looking for the cheapest price to get the thing done. They’re not necessarily going there to build a relationship with you, to have a long term commitment going on with you. Or to get to know you in any capacity that means anything. So I feel like the people that are building their businesses off of those platforms who are doing the attraction marketing, putting out funnels for themselves, networking their asses off, showing up in these groups, helping people getting their name out there, getting known in the industry they want to be working in, those are the people who are getting those long term contracts. And so, hourly and sort of project based retainer is what I would say is a sort of holy grail for a lot of VA. Hourly is fine. I think most people start with that and there’s nothing wrong with it. I just think that moving to a retainer as quickly as you can, once you know that this is a long term relationship is better for both parties. It’s better for the employer because they know exactly what they’re getting every month. They know how many hours they have. It can either be on hours or deliverables. It depends on the circumstances with the client. But you know what you’re getting every month, you know what you’re paying every month, and you have that security of knowing you’re supported. The VA has financial security and exactly knows what’s expected of them. So that’s really the holy grail. I would say, for anyone who’s just starting out, one of the things I recommend is, if you’re having a conversation with a potential client, offer them five hours. It’s low cost, it’s low commitment, they pay you up front, you see how you like each other because you have to like them too. You’re not applying for a job, you’re also qualifying them to work with you. See how you like each other. And from there, you can start talking about retainer situations. If it’s not immediately evident how long things will take, work a couple of months and hourly, but then quickly move into that conversation of, ‘Let’s get this onto a retainer so I feel safe with this.’ I think that that’s the way to go. Of course there’s other things like project based where maybe you’re just setting up a website, you have 50 upfront, 50 at the end. That’s separate. But for ongoing work, retainers is really, I think, holy grail.

Adam: It is. I’m even thinking like, I remember my assistant Maria, she got like, she was sick. I was like, “You got sick days.” I think about like, “You can have a holiday too. It’s all good.” Not that I’m the best employer, I’m a bit scattered and all over the place at the best of times. But that’s where I hire somebody to help keep me organised. You know what I mean? I think when you get a good relationship with somebody, they will look out for you, you know what I mean? And I just interviewed even the SafetyWing founder, Sandre, and there’s this like remote health stuff now. And we’re like, ‘Okay, that’d be a good idea.’ Like, get health insurance for your assistants. A good employer will think like that. And for their security as well, like you’re saying, they need to know that we’ve got X amount hours for the month, because you’re not the only client while you deal with them. And maybe they’re your only one and only VA, let’s say. You’re not their only client. And if you’re only giving them 10 hours a month, well, they’ve got a lot of hours in that month they need to fill up. So I think it’s good for them. And it’s good for you as well to know where you sit and what worked for you.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I just want to add one more thing there as well on the payment. I found, like for myself, personally, a lot of my graduate community now, when they’ve been working with people sort of a year, two years, they’re getting into a position where they’re doing these launches with their clients, and they’re actually getting a cut on the launch as well. So while they’re getting their retainers, they also have agreements where they can earn more within that business, because that becomes such an integral part of it. So there’s always opportunities there. And of course, if you work with someone, they love you, they’re going to give you referrals. And building those relationships is a key, I think.

Adam: I think so too. And you touched on something else I want to talk about. I don’t know how you’re gonna feel about this. But the word virtual assistant, you mentioned about people going to Upwork and they’re looking for the cheapest because I feel like, because I’ve been in this space now for like 10 years there abouts. It started out, a virtual assistant or somebody for like $2 to $3 an hour from the Philippines or from India. Like, truthfully, that was the way all these people marketed it. But now it’s very different. But it still has that kind of connotation with it that people expect a virtual assistant is maybe just a cheap person from a less developed country. So how do you think that’s kind of changed? And what’s your thoughts on that?

Hannah: I think it’s changing rapidly, actually. I think that especially during the pandemic, we had a lot of social justice issues coming up and they still are, and I think that’s super important. And I’ve noticed myself personally, people coming to me to hire VAs in an ethical way, because it’s important to them now. So I think that that sort of atmosphere is changing drastically. And I think, again, it depends on where these people are and where they are in their businesses, because you have people who are doing six figures, seven figures, they don’t have a problem paying someone $25 an hour, $35 an hour. But if they again, if you’re finding them on Upwork, these clients, they may not be as open to that. They may not have their eyes open to this new way that a lot of people are working now. There are a lot more people that it’s more important for them to hire in a way that makes their VA feel good and valued. And based on their skills and experience, not on their location or nationality. So I do see a massive shift in this. And the way that I teach my VAs, most of them never come in contact with these people anymore. Of course, it still happens here and there. But I think where you hang out is what you’re going to get. So I think it’s really important to look at your immediate circle and how you’re showing up for yourself. I think it also takes the VA being able to say no to things. Because I see it from the other side. You see employers say, “Well, if they’re willing to take that, then that’s fine.” But I think it starts from educating the employers and then empowering the VAs. It’s a combination. It works both ways. But yeah, I think as long as you’re in the right circles, you’re not going to come across that too much anymore.

Adam: Yeah, and look, I’m not gonna lie. When I started out years ago, I was hiring the cheapest of the cheap and those people are flaky. And they were like, if they get $1 an hour or more, that’s like a 30% pay raise. So they just jump anywhere. Whereas now, like you’re saying, when I hire VAs it’s usually out of these groups. I don’t necessarily hire them off Upwork. That’s more for like, technical stuff, like to be honest, web development, or SEO. But hiring a virtual assistant, I always post in those groups. And like you’re saying, people apply and if anybody comes in there cheap, somebody else is always there to go, “Don’t charge that much. You need to charge your worth.” There’s always some smartass that says, “I charge $60 an hour. You shouldn’t get out of bed for any less.” You’re like, “Chill out, man.” These people are starting, like they’re happy with 10 bucks an hour, like, simmer down.

Hannah: I mean, I’ve done research over the years. I’ve been in this industry for long enough that I’ve seen every type of pricing situation, every opinion out there. And after all the research I’ve done, no matter where in the world, I always say to people, if it’s under $10, question it. Question it both ways. And that’s a real minimum that people should sort of adhere to. And that’s my opinion. I know that other people will have other opinions, but one of my big points is ethical hiring. So that’s kind of where my research has taken me.

Adam: Brilliant. I agree with you. I could put my hand up guilty and say, “Look, when I started out, I was looking, but that was because I didn’t have any money either.” So I was just trying to hire help for like two bucks an hour but you end up doing the work yourself anyway. So, look, is it hard to get clients as a virtual assistant nowadays in 2021? And is virtual assistant what people call themselves? Or is it online business manager? It’s this new phrase that I seem to come across a lot, you know what I mean?

 Hannah: People would call themselves a range of things. OBM, online business managers tend to be the next level. They’re kind of managing other VAs potentially. Whereas the VA is still more of someone who executes on the things that need to be done. So the online business manager is normally more like an overview person. They can even act somewhat as a project manager. People are calling themselves all kinds of things. I don’t see that there’s an issue calling yourself a virtual assistant. Like I said, if you’re hanging out in the right communities, and you’re networking with the right people, there’s no problem with that. What I do see a lot of, for example, with my graduates, I see them moving into creating their own agencies as they move into agency owner positions, or they specialise so they get really specialised and perhaps they end up calling themselves a sales copywriter, or a web developer. So they’ve got so good at that one thing that they do that they drop any of the other tasks that they’re doing, and they become known for that. And you can do that through virtual, that you could even call yourself, for example, a podcast VA, for example, you help someone edit their podcast, distributor, all that kind of stuff behind the scenes. So you could call yourself a podcast VA or a Pinterest VA, or a Facebook ads VA, or you can just drop the VA inquiries on the Facebook Ads Manager. Either way, I’m not saying that it negatively impacts anything, it’s just really a personal preference, I think at that point.

Adam: I recently started working when we did a web design project for somebody using Kajabi. Kajabi is this all in one business platform. It’s your funnels, your email, your website, the whole lot. And in the group, the official Kajabi group and then one or two other groups I joined, because I don’t know why, I just noticed these things. And it’s like, so many people asked him for Kajabi help. So few people are offering that. And it’s like the same two people just get tagged all the time. And you can just tell like they’re flat out and they’re not cheap, either. That’s a high value skill. So this comes back to like, Kajabi is not hard, I figured it out in the day. I basically went in there in a day. I figured it out, playing around, it’s not hard. Just go on YouTube to learn anything. There’s one, like you’re saying, there’s a niche. It’s very specific. And I’ve seen what you’re talking about where people say, “I’m a virtual assistant to a course creator.” a virtual assistant to whatever it is. Cool. So that’s kind of like, try to maybe find your niche or your area that you’re going to specialise in. And that makes it easier too, because you’re not pitching ecommerce stores and agencies. It helps you to narrow your focus of who your ideal client is and where to find them. Speaking of, like you mentioned a couple of times, hanging out in the right circles being around the right people, where should people hang out if they’re looking for support and community and also to try and find business, in your opinion?

Hannah: So if you’re looking for support, I have a community. It’s called Next Level Virtual Assistants. You can go hang out in there. We have lots of free trainings and all kinds of fun stuff in there. If you’re looking to find work, it is quite important, I think, at least in the way that I trained to look at who you might want to start serving now. And I’m going to give a disclaimer. Like I said with the example with the yoga thing, if you’re interested in that, go with that because it’s a foot in. You need to take a step in order to take the next step, and the next step, and the next step. You don’t have to be tied to that forever. Your niche will change. It absolutely will change. It will change numerous times over the years until something lands with you. It did for me. It does for most people. You’ll feel trapped by that choice. But it’s a start and a start is better than no start at all. So I would say find communities where those people are hanging out. So maybe you’ll find a Facebook group that’s called yoga, business owners support, something like that. You can join that community, you can be of service, you can start building relationships with people. In fact, I’m going to give you a really cool tip. One thing that I did, and I suggest if you can find a way to do this for yourself is fantastic, I always say when you show up and you help people I know it sounds cliche, but it’s true. You show up when you help people, you demonstrate your ability, that’s when people start reaching out to you and saying or tagging you on posts like, “This is the person you need to go to.” And one way to do that in a way that you’re not continuously helping people for free and spending all your time just networking for little reward is you can go into these Facebook groups where your target audience is hanging out. You can go into the search bar. So let’s say for example, you’re offering email marketing support, and what tools they’re using, ConvertKit for example, you can type in ConvertKit and you’ll see all the questions people have about ConvertKit. Then write down the top 10 questions, answer them with a long form blog post or a YouTube video or something. So if you have a resource you didn’t have to then, every time someone asks that question, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel by answering them, you can just say, “Hey, I have a resource for that.” And on their resource, you have a call to action to work with you because most people still won’t want to implement it. So I had for example, I had a video on how to integrate Divi and MailChimp because Divi was really hard, MailChimp was really hard. Everyone was asking the question. I had a YouTube video so every time that question came up, I’d jump to the YouTube video. People were like, “Oh my God, that’s the best.” And anytime someone had that issue, ‘Can someone help me?’ Hannah Dixon got tagged. So there are ways to help people in a way that helps you as well so you’re not continuously doing that. But yeah, it’s finding those communities where they’re hanging out. Where is your audience hanging out? Are they more on Instagram? You probably want to be on them, or are they on LinkedIn? Most people should be on LinkedIn anyway. I think it’s the bare minimum professional presence. But Facebook groups, I think, they’re a goldmine. They really are. And if you get it right and you join the right ones, and you show up meaningfully not in a spammy way, you will get known. And I also think another thing to note here as well, because I would be lying if I said I didn’t use this in my business, there’s also paid programmes. If I would join a community, I would sometimes pay for a programme to be a part of that network.

Adam: Always. Yeah, I do. I do courses all the time. I spend at least 5-10 grand a year on courses. And largely it’s the network of the people who are doing the courses. Well, not that I care more about, but like the course obviously usually has some stuff that I want to learn, but at the same time, it’s about connecting or who’s in the room. I’ve always paid to be in a room. Don’t be afraid to pay to be in the right room. Because like you’re saying, I’ve done so many of these Jill and Josh course creator bootcamp. I’ve done Adam Enfroy blog engine. I’ve done Authority Hacker, Authority Site Pillars. I’ve done all these SEO courses. If you do one of these SEO courses, and you’re a blog writer, like let’s say you’re a freelance writer, I swear to God, go and join SEO groups. Because the one thing you’re always crying out for is, “I can’t get writers. Can’t get good writers. Can’t get enough writers.” Because what do SEOs need? Content. You know what I mean? That’s their number one problem is that they can’t find reliable writers, good writers. So if you pay and do one of these little courses, and then you’re in that paid Facebook group, you’re not in the 10,000 group where everybody, to be fair, you notice better than me, but police in those groups is a job in itself to avoid all the spam and self promotion. But when you’re in the like, 300 people who took the course group, you can put in your videos, and you can write some good questions. All of a sudden, you’re like, oh, who’s this person here? You know what I mean? Like, I’ll work with you. I think it’s a massively underrated way to get out there and get yourself some business.

Hannah: Yup. And I guess on the flip side of that, as well as if you’re willing to invest in your business, people will be willing to invest in you. You have to give a little, you get a little, that’s kind of how it works, I feel. Of course, you don’t have to do that. But I find it incredibly beneficial. Like I joined a programme. I’m not sure if you know, Kimber Luna, I joined her programme a few years ago, Be True Brand New. It wasn’t cheap, but it paid off. It paid off a hundred times over. It was a business building course. And people were stuck all the time and needed a virtual assistant. I became the go to person.

Adam: But like you’re saying, this is actually good. I didn’t think about this before we talked about it. But now that we’re talking about it, even the course creators bootcamp, when I did that, it’s largely talking about launching a course. So it’s Facebook ads, it’s ClickFunnels, Kajabi. If you can do any of those things as your virtual assistant, I guarantee you, you do that boot camp, you’re coming out of there, most likely with a client if you know what you’re doing. Because like you’re saying, people are Googling and you’re looking around. And you know how to do it but pretending like, “I don’t know a fucking thing how to do that. Who could just do it for me?” And that’s where, like you’re saying, creating resources that you can just direct people to, to answer the most common questions related to the services that you’re offering. It’s a pretty solid idea with that call to action. Hannah, you use free challenges, right? I’d like to talk about this, just kind of round up the episode because this is more like the American side of things. Why do you do it? What does the free challenge look like? And how effective has that been for you and for digital nomad? 

Hannah: The first time I ever did any training for virtual assistants was through a five day challenge. Honestly, the truth is, when I started, people were doing them and it seemed like the hard thing to do. So I gave it a whirl and it worked really well for me. What I found was that, I think a five day challenge or any type of challenge works really well if what you’re offering is what people want. Because I see a lot of people failing with this model, too. And so I think having a good hook, like, for me, it was always you could find a client in five days if you took the challenge, and many people have. So in the challenge, you give snippets, you give insight, you inspire people, you show how other people have managed to make this work themselves. And you give them something that gives them an instant win without giving them everything. So you’re giving them an instant win. You’re proving that what you do works. And then essentially that’s an easier way into my programme. I mostly launched via this challenge. I have random little other launches, Black Friday things, all kinds of things throughout the year. But the challenge is my staple. I do that every sort of two to four months. There’s no real structure to it. It’s when I’m feeling like I have the energy to do it. We have a few thousands people sometimes taking part. So it’s a big process for me. Emotionally as well, it’s very, it can be quite draining. So I have to be prepared to do it.

Adam: You have to perform. You know what I mean? Because you’re the presenter, isn’t it? So you have to be energised, and you have to perform to a degree. You have to be there and show up and stress as well related to it, customer service  and staffing, and managing groups. And really, there’s a lot of work. Running the ads and making sure everything you fill out that pocket. But like you’re saying, so you do the challenge, are these free challenges or paid?

Hannah: Free challenge.

Adam: Free challenge. And then you help people solve a specific problem, which is typically how to get a client in five days in an ideal scenario, and then I imagine the upsell is like, “Well, here’s actually my course that you can take, if you want to take this to the next step and delve in a little bit deeper.” And it’s worked really well for taking people through our funnel and into your course. 

Hannah: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t working. Yeah, and I love it. And one of the reasons that I love this model, as well, is because, of course, I might get 2000 people in the challenge. Not all of those people want to convert. In fact, it’s much less than that. But I really like it. It helps me get my name out there. They bring people next time. I like being able to help people who can’t afford my pay programmes. I give a lot in the five challenges. So I like that I have an impact that goes beyond my wallet. So I really enjoy that aspect of it as well. And that’s, in between the challenges, I’m supporting my paid community, of course. So then I have to build the energy up to do it again. But it’s always worth it. For me, it’s always worth it for people to take part. Whether they end up buying or not doesn’t really matter to me. It works for me, and it works for them. So I really enjoyed this model.

Adam: It seems like it’s going well, because I do see you when you promote it, because all of a sudden, it’s all over my Instagram. I must be your ideal client.

Hannah: I actually don’t do ads. So you just must follow me a lot.

Adam: I do, yeah. Just hear the stories and stuff like that. You don’t do ads. Wow! I can’t not unpack that a little bit. So how does it work? How are you getting 2000 people into a free challenge without running ads?

Hannah: Most of my existing students will promote as well. So their experience is testament to how it works. For some reason, I’ve built this awesome community of people who just love what I do and love sharing it as well. Of course, on my network that I’ve built for years and years, I’m really big on networking, which is why this is such a big part of my paid programme as well is because I see the power in it. It takes me 10 days to promote a challenge. So in 10 days, I know I can get sort of between 800 to 2000 people consistently. And that’s based on me showing up in certain communities where I am already known, and people are going to jump on and go, “Yep, this is the one you want to do.” “Yeah, this is what you would do.” And then they want to share it with their communities. And then they want to share it with their communities. And then my students want to share it with their family and their friends. And people who have had results. And I think that’s what it means, if you have a good product, and people do get results, people will share it too. So it needs to be good. It can’t just be a crappy challenge. You have to give. You have to give generously without giving everything, which is a balance, I had to change the content a few times. But now we’ve come to a point where I’m like, it works consistently for everyone involved. And that’s what I’m happy about.

Adam: That’s so awesome. I’m genuinely, massively impressed. Because like I said, I’ve done these other courses and often, what they do is a paid challenge, and I won’t call it the last leader, but the idea is that you cover the ads by the entry. So even if it was only seven bucks or 20 bucks or whatever to enter the challenge. It wasn’t free. But the idea being you want to spend, let’s say 10 grand on ads, but you would have made that back in the initial entries. And then the upsell. So I’m just like, wow. That’s class. That just shows you the power of building your network, of having a good network, and having a team of people who then help to promote and obviously, people who’ve taken the course as well that they would go out there and promote it. And that would help to fill that up for you. And that’s awesome.

Hannah: I will add one more thing to that, actually. I think that the reason that this has worked so well for me is that before I started training anyone, my focus was building a community. So I already had a very large community that I had grown completely without any sort of intentions to sell anything to, really. I’d built a community that had already been following me and was kind of loyal to the brand. So that’s obviously helped as well. So I don’t I don’t want to not disclose that. 

Adam: Yeah, no, no, fair enough. But look, that’s a good point. I mean, I think all of that is a testament as well, why it works and why your paid course works as well as like, it’s not just the course, it’s community and people. You have a unique tribe, and it’s a cold tribe, and it radiates with positive vibes. And it looks like it’s one of those places where, “Look, it’s a cool party over there. I want to go join.” Like, “What’s happening over there? Can I come in?”

 Hannah: When I’m launching, some of my alumni students come into the group and they’re like, “Join us. We have cookies. We have parties.” And like, “Hey, there’s also a course, you know.” It is a really wonderful place and I’m really proud of the community that we have, to be honest. So I think that’s one thing that really sets us apart is the community. I get a lot of people who have taken a lot of programmes, and they come to us and they’re like, “I’ve never been in a community like this. I got work from this community. I make friends. I got married from this community. I got married from my own community as well.” So yeah, it’s very engaged and fun. It’s a really cool place.

Adam: It’s class. Look, I’m delighted and I wish you every success with it. I think you’re in the perfect place at the perfect time. This business, the business of training people to earn a living online is nowhere near its peak. It’s only ramping up. Lots of people who would have never considered it are entering it. I think it’s just going to get bigger and bigger moving forward. And I really hope you just continue to do well, and everything goes well for you.

Hannah: Thank you. I appreciate that. I think as well, just one more last thing is as this is getting more and more commonplace, more people have heard of this kind of work or freelance work in general, I also think it’s really important that it provides opportunities for people who otherwise can’t work in person. We have a lot of people who are differently abled, whether it’s psychologically or physically, who are able to do this kind of work. And I just want to stress that again, this is so accessible because there’s so many things you can do based on what you have already. And so I just really think that’s important to note that it really is an accessible way to start working for yourself and it can branch into so many different directions. It’s just a start.

Adam: Yeah, that’s class. Hannah, It’s been a pleasure. Where can people connect? Where would they go if they were to look for you on the internet?

Hannah: Most of my handles are over digitalnomadkit.com. Digitalnomadkit on Instagram or just Hannah Dixon? Actually, on Twitter, it’s different, Hannah Dixon DNK. But that works, too.

Adam: Ah, I’m just going to try this. I’m trying out Riverside, which is my software for recording. Here we go. Yeah. I’ve never done a screen share before. But I was like, I should probably start using this. Yeah, it works. Yeah, there you go. It works. You’ve been seen everywhere. As I said, I’ve seen everywhere too. So you’re good at the VR. Thank you. digitalnomadkits.com, if people want to check out. When is the next challenge?

Hannah: Literally just wrapped one up. I don’t have set dates, but likely two to three months from now. You can sign up at the website and you’ll get updates and you’ll get lots of fun stuff in the meantime, anyway.

Adam: Lovely. Thank you, Hannah. Appreciate it.

Hannah: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been great.

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