Have you ever considered becoming a virtual assistant for teachers, TpT sellers, or former teachers turned entrepreneurs? As a current (or former) classroom teacher, you possess so many skills that would make you perfect for this!
My friend Melanie Ramos, from Melanie Ramos Creative, is chatting with me today about how she successfully transitioned from burned out classroom teacher to thriving teacher entrepreneur thanks to her career as a VA.
She shares how this option is ideal for teachers who want to find a side hustle or career outside of the classroom that will bring in money relatively quickly by using skills you already have. In fact, as Melanie has learned, this is a viable business choice that can easily replace your full-time teaching income.
Hi, my name is Melanie. I’m a former Texas Teacher with 15 years of elementary teaching experience. Now, I help teacher-authors build a cohesive, branded look with eye-catching graphics and photos so they can “stop the scroll” and get their resources into the hands of as many teachers and students as possible! Find me on IG @melanieramoscreative.
Important points from this episode
How to become a virtual assistant for teachers
Melanie’s background and teaching experience
I’ve always worked with kids. Growing up, I was a counselor with the YMCA and I knew I wanted to work with kids. So, I went to college to become a teacher, graduated, and started teaching at 22 years old.
I taught upper elementary for 15 years when I started feeling completely burned out. Everything had begun catching up with me and I was super-tired all the time. So, I started looking into ways that I could possibly exit teaching while using my skills.
I took some courses and business classes on the side. As an Enneagram 5, I like to learn everything I possibly can first, almost to a fault, before taking action. I was listening to podcasts and audio books on my walks, before and after school, on the drive to work and on the way home.
Then, COVID happened.
I was about to get married and we were planning a family, which meant we had to make sure I was being extremely safe. I knew I was already completely burned out and I just decided this was it! This was the perfect time.
What types of things did you do to make money?
The summer before the 2020-2021 school year, a friend reached out asking if I would be interested in teaching two first grade students in an in-home learning pod. I was already tutoring and figured this would be a great way to match my pay in some capacity. I loved it!
But after teaching in this learning pod for a year, I knew this was not going to be an option moving forward because not a lot of people were looking for all day in-home tutors. So in March of 2021, I started looking into other options where I found virtual assisting.
I had joined some Facebook groups and had been doing some poking around, trying to figure out what else I could do. I knew I could do TPT and write lessons, but at the same time, I knew I had to get a lot of resources out there quickly in order for that to be anywhere close to replacing my teaching income.
Between March and June, I still had a steady paycheck with the learning pod, but I decided to dip my toe into the world of being a virtual assistant.
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What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, or VA, is someone who helps a business owner in some capacity with the business. There are tons of types of VAs, and you could work for literally anyone or any business.
Your job description will look different depending on the client and what tasks they are paying you to complete including…
- writing blog posts
- creating content for them
- graphics or photography
- social media management
- Pinterest management
- and more…
What made you decide to be a virtual assistant for teachers?
I knew I didn’t have a ton of time to build a TPT business. However, I wanted to stay within the TPT world because I’d already done a ton of research on it, I had taken classes, and I just naturally wanted to use my teaching experience.
I was thinking, “If I can find x number of clients, I can match my teaching salary. I need to work this many hours, complete this many projects, or provide this many photography packages and then I can match my salary.”
I realized this would be a much quicker way to exit out of the classroom.
So I ended up working with teacher authors and just started out by offering my services.
I would say things like, “Hey! I have 15 years of classroom teaching experience, and whatever you need I’ll do it. I’m really good at being creative, and I’m a really good writer. I can create content because I know what’s expected in a classroom. I know the objectives and how to run a lesson, so I can do this for you.”
“I know how to write a lesson. I know how to write about how to set up your literacy groups in a blog. I know how to put together a SEL lesson.”
I ended up posting my services in a couple of Facebook groups and got most of my clients that way. Actually, initially offered my services for free to add to my portfolio. So I created those things for them and used them for my portfolio later.
At first, I started out with blogging for others and that has now shifted into creating social media graphics and doing photography. So I either take the lesson they have created or make the lesson, and then photograph it for them making it look really professional when they post it on TPT, their website, or wherever they are selling their resources.
What skills prepared you for being a virtual assistant for teacher sellers?
Teachers just come with lots of skills. There are so many things you have to manage within a teaching day, and it’s very similar to running your own business.
There are all these things you have to make sure you are doing on your end including staying organized and managing all your different clients similar to all your different students. Each client has different needs.
Teachers are also great writers, communicators, and creators. How many times do you create your own lessons? Think of the cool slideshow you made last week. You can turn that creativity into making social media graphics for someone.
We are also lifelong learners. The truth is, you can learn about anything because you know how to learn. If there’s something you want to try but you don’t know how to do it, find a podcast, read a book, find a course someone is offering already and take it.
There are so many things that teachers can do because we come with a set of skills unlike many others. And that’s why any former or current teacher makes the perfect virtual assistant for teachers.
What specific virtual assistant tasks do you complete now?
I used to do just a little bit of everything; basically, anything that people needed. I did social media scheduling for one client, blog post writing for several clients, and graphic design for many.
I tried all the things intentionally because I wanted to see what I was going to like doing long term. I really wanted to enjoy what I was doing so I didn’t feel trapped in any way, and I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself into one niche.
For instance, I was good at writing blog posts, but I didn’t like the process. I felt like it was going to take too long to get to the point where I would make enough money to replace my income because I could only write so many blog posts in one day.
Therefore, copywriting was probably out. I think I tried Pinterest management for a minute, and I was like, “This is a little bit overwhelming.” I loved the data and analytics, but it was going to be more to learn before I could apply the information completely.
Then I started thinking about all of the creative aspects and realized I needed to narrow my focus to just those tasks. At one point in college, I was an art major, and as a certified art teacher. So I finally determined those were the things that make me the most happy, that was what I was looking for.
When I was teaching, I was feeling very, very stressed out and burned out. My focus now is trying to create a life where I feel more relaxed and happy while I enjoy what I am doing every day.
Do you have any encouragement for someone who is scared of stepping out there and trying something like this?
Yeah, I would say first of all work on your mindset; we can do hard things and if you fail that is okay you will get back up.
Just like we tell our students…you don’t have to get it the first try. That’s why becoming a virtual assistant for teachers as a side hustle while you are still teaching is a safe option. You have margin to make mistakes and recover quickly and easily. That is usually the safest way.
The second thing I would say is just start.
I spent a lot of time just soaking in all the information because I wanted to know everything so it was really safe for me to step out and do it. But, I wish I hadn’t spent so much time learning all the things because you are going to learn so much as you go.
For example, when you first put yourself out there and offer your services, you are saying, “These are the things I am good at. I’m good at writing, editing, social media, designing things, etc.” Then you will get a client and learn a ton from that one relationship.
Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that we are really moving the needle forward because we are learning. But learning can be a crutch to never taking action.
When we were in college, we learned about being teachers. However, we used about one one-hundredth of what we learned when we actually got into the classroom because it was theoretical and not application.
The same is true here. Yes, it’s important to learn and strengthen our areas of weakness, but experience is going to be our best teacher.
Tips for becoming a virtual assistant for teachers
1. Leverage the Internet and social media
Start by searching social media and facebook groups. There are several free facebook groups you can join (this one is perfect if you want to work with TpT sellers), and even some free courses you could take to figure out what to do.
Personally, I invested in a couple of courses for myself because it speeds up the process. If you have the means to do that, find a course that teaches you step by step what to do and how to start a VA service. Then go from there.
There are also tons of podcasts, audiobooks, or regular books on starting a freelance business. Just make sure you leverage the free content that is available and then consider investing in your areas of weakness including hiring a coach to help you.
2. Offer your services for free (or at a very low cost) for a few clients.
Reach out to people (through Facebook groups, Upwork, or Fiverr) and offer your skills for free or at a reduced price.
After you complete the resources, graphics, photos, or whatever you did, ask your clients if they would be willing to write a testimonial for your services. Then put these recommendations along with the projects you completed into your portfolio to gain clients later.
I don’t recommend doing it for a 100 clients, or anything crazy like that, just maybe 3 or 4 people. This will provide the social proof others need in order to feel comfortable hiring you.
3. Figure out what you like to do and do more of that
As a virtual assistant for teachers, you have the option to do whatever tasks you want. In other words, you can set yourself up as “the VA to have” for a specific set of skills.
In my case, I only do social media images, pins for Pinterest, and photography. This allows me to work within my zone of genius.
When you first start out, it’s a great idea to try lots of different things in order to discover which things you like and which ones you don’t like. Then as long as you have completed any contracted work, you have the power to say yes or no to any future work offers that are sent your way.
Be sure to follow Melanie on IG @melanieramoscreative, and also check out her new stock photo membership for teacher entrepreneurs @schoolhousestyle!! Then hop over to my IG @classroom_exit_strategies and share any takeaways from this episode.
I’d love to celebrate with you and help you find success as a VA. If you think you would like to find out more about whether this would be a good fit for you, sign up for a FREE 30 minute Zoom call with me.