We dive into what virtual assistants can do for course creators with expert VA trainer Kathy Goughenour in this LMScast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Kathy shares her journey as a program creator at Expert VA Training, and how a VA can help you with building your course or membership website.
For those unfamiliar with the term, VA stands for virtual assistant, which is someone who can help you out with various aspects of your business or life. As Kathy outlines in this episode, there are VAs with expertise in specific areas, such as video editing or inbox management, and there are also general VAs. They can fill all sorts of roles depending on what you’re looking for, and Kathy outlines how to know what to look for when hiring a virtual assistant.
Kathy worked as a marketing manager in corporate America for a Fortune 500 company, and she was not seeing the career growth from there that she was looking for. So around 2001 she quit her job and started working as a virtual assistant for real estate agents. When the 2008 real estate market crashed, she had a team of virtual assistants and around 70 clients. At that time she was earning multiple six figures.
She had been training her virtual assistants for free, and she realized she could turn that into an online course and get paid to teach virtual assistants. Kathy has been selling her online course now for over 10 years.
Validation for your online course is something many course creators overlook, but Kathy has been successful with her program, and she had started out beta testing by having nothing more than videos in a folder and a program outline. From there she has expanded based on the feedback from her beta students and grown her course to what it is today.
One best practice for hiring a virtual assistant is to hire them for a maximum of 10 hours per month and pay them hourly. This way you don’t feel you have to use up all the time, but you can use as much time up to the 10 hours as you need from them. So that would be about a budget of $250 per month if you’re hiring a VA at about $25 per hour.
Kathy has a free VA matchmaking session she offers to anyone looking for a virtual assistant. You can send Kathy an email, and she will hook you up with her virtual assistant who knows almost as much as Kathy about working with VAs. She will interview you for 15 to 20 minutes to find out what you really need, and send you over three VAs for you to reach out to directly to see which one is a good fit for you.
At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Automated: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined by a special guest, Kathy Goughenour from-
Kathy G.: That’s it! Hello.
Chris Badgett: We’ve got it… From expertvatraining.com. This is going to be an episode to watch. There’s two parallel conversations going on here. One of them is about Kathy’s journey as a program creator, but also we’re going to mine her expertise and experience and how course creators, people building their own training programs, and membership sites can leverage a virtual assistant, and we’ll get into that.
Chris Badgett: At first, just looking at your training program, Kathy, what’s in a stack? You just ran an event, you have a course, did you coaching? You help people become VAs, like the business of being a virtual assistant. What’s in the stack? I always like to know that with the course creator.
Kathy G.: Yeah. So, what I discovered, first of all, just a little bit about my background. I was in corporate America. I was a marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company. They told me I laughed and smiled too much, and that-
Chris Badgett: Get out of there.
Kathy G.: … I was never going to get promoted. So I quit, and I accidentally fell into working as a virtual assistant. I didn’t even know, this was back in 2001 when nobody knew [crosstalk]
Chris Badgett: That’s pretty early. Like in terms of internet, that was a long time ago to be a VA.
Kathy G.: Yeah. I was a pioneer of VA. And I quickly built a six-figure VA business, which, back then, nobody thought was possible. It’s one of those things where, if it hasn’t happened yet, then it’s not possible.
Chris Badgett: How many clients did you have? Was that one or many?
Kathy G.: Oh, well, yeah, no. I was a VA for real estate agents, and by the time 2008 hit, when the market tanked, by then I had built my own team of virtual assistants and I had 70 clients and I was earning multiple six figures. [inaudible]
Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s pretty awesome.
Kathy G.: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: [inaudible] that point, still 2008 is still early days for online business, really. So, you’re just a corporate thinker.
Kathy G.: And that’s when I also said, “Hey, what am I doing training all these virtual assistants for free on how to do this stuff? I need to start teaching.” And that’s when, in 2008, is when I started my own training program, so I’ve had my own online course for a little over 10 years now. I’ve just had my 10 year anniversary last August. [crosstalk]
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. I mean, that’s old-school for an online course. And that’s over expertvatraining.com where people can find you?
Kathy G.: That’s right.
Chris Badgett: And, what’s in the stack? What do you have in there? Is it-
Kathy G.: So, in this stack-
Chris Badgett: … content?
Kathy G.: Yeah. I have started off small, so, you can tell I can go every which direction. I did it the way I believe is the best way to build a course, and Chris, you and I talked about this and we’re on the same page with this, I believe, which is, I had a Beta training course, I had written nothing but an outline of what I was going to train. I brought in my first four students, paying students, and I held that live, I think it was a six-week course at the time, and recorded it all. There was no Zoom back then, so I recorded it all on audio. I stuck it in Box.com. Dropbox I don’t think it was even available yet. So I stuck it in Box.com, and shared from there. That’s how I did it, and I had my own WordPress site.
Kathy G.: And then, every time I would do it, I would improve a bit on it, record it again, and so I never did it without already selling. So, I was earning money as I created it. That’s what [crosstalk]
Chris Badgett: I think there’s a lot of wisdom to that. And here we are, at this recording, it’s 2019, and I still know course creators to this day who still validate with videos in a Dropbox folder. They’re not really concerned about the website, the LMS or like, “Let me make sure my training works and that people will buy it before I go build a whole complex platform.”
Kathy G.: Right, right. And my next step after that was then to have software. Yours wasn’t available back then, unfortunately, with my WordPress site, which, man, I loved it. I love that. I’m still a huge WordPress fan, huge plugin LMS fan, in fact, that’s what I recommend everybody get is a website, is WordPress site. So my stack is the training which now has grown to 24 lessons that drip out over six months and it’s all recorded.
Chris Badgett: How long are the lessons? Video lessons?
Kathy G.: They’re 90 minutes each. 90 minutes.
Chris Badgett: So these are in-depth. People [crosstalk] always ask me, like, “How long should a lesson be?” And I’m like, “Well, it depends.” So, you’re saying 90 minutes, and that works. I mean, if I was going to-
Kathy G.: Yeah. Mine are 60 to 90 minutes.
Chris Badgett: 60 to 90. So they’re like… I mean, these people are committed and they’re focused.
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: Right?
Kathy G.: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s good.
Kathy G.: Yeah. And each lesson… So, I want to teach in a way that I learn best. So, each lesson starts with what I’m going to teach, why you need to know it, then I teach it and then you put it into action. So, each one ends with an action item that they actually do what I just taught.
Chris Badgett: I just want to restate that. [crosstalk] So, it’s why-
Kathy G.: Yeah. Go ahead.
Chris Badgett: … what, how, and then go do something. Go do-
Kathy G.: What?
Chris Badgett: … implement.
Kathy G.: What? Why? Yeah. What, what it is. Why? Because, Chris, do you want to take the time to spend 60 to 90 minutes if you don’t know why you’re learning this?
Chris Badgett: No, that’s the most important thing for motivation. You need to be motivated. Like, “Oh, this is why this works,” or, “Why I need to know this.”
Kathy G.: Right. And then I teach the what, and then you put it into action. And my program includes six months of coaching, so when you do the action item, you send it to your coach who reviews it and gives you feedback. And each lesson also has resources so they can click on links to go learn more, and checklists, templates, contracts, whatever it is that I’ve talked about in that. If I tell them, “Send an email,” there’s an email template. If I tell them to make a phone call, there’s a script. If I tell them to fill out a contract, there’s a contract template.
Chris Badgett: So it’s almost cliché, or people don’t always trust it when they hear what I’m about to say, which is, business in a box, but it literally is… This is the business, this is how it works and everything, but also, here’s everything you need to implement what we talk about. I mean, that’s like-
Kathy G.: That’s right.
Chris Badgett: … it’s really a business in a box, plus training on how to drive it. Right?
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And coaching to make sure that you’re driving correctly, to help you correct as you go.
Chris Badgett: Wow. Very-
Kathy G.: Because no matter how good a course is, this is really how I believe, and I have been improving mine for the last 10 years, no matter how good it is, and by the way, I also provide it in three formats because we all learn differently, so video, audio, and what I call trainer’s notes. It’s somewhat of a transcript, but it’s not my little funny asides, ha-ha thing, you know the way I [inaudible 00:08:06].
Chris Badgett: I love that. You’re taking it… You’re making feel lazy for doing a transcript on this podcast. I need to step up my game.
Kathy G.: Transcript’s great. Transcript’s great. But I just don’t do the transcript. I do what I call trainer’s notes. Just like a transcript. So, if they want to read it, they want to listen to it, they want to watch it, or they can do all three, and often they do all three because I want them to be able to learn it the best way possible for them.
Chris Badgett: Wow, that’s really good. How did you get to this place where… I guess, let me say it this way, there’s a quote I love which is, “People don’t want a suggestion. They want a solution.” And I see a lot of course creators or training program creators, they create a suggestion, or their content is like, “You should do this.” It’s kind of a suggestion, but you’re actually providing a solution which is, “Here is this business.” I mean, you have a lot of suggestions in it, I’m sure, but you’re also giving them everything they need to create the solution of having a VA business. How did you go from just content creator to solution creator?
Kathy G.: I just knew that the problem… Okay, so, thanks for having me think about that, because what I realized after I did some research, so of course I’m like, “Well, I’m just going to teach people how to do what I do,” but then, after I did it for a little bit, I’m like, “You know what? I’m not quite getting exactly what it is I feel like they need.” So I interviewed some of my ideal clients to find out, what is the real sticking point here? And by the way, these kind of interviews, you know how people do discovery sessions to get people to sign up for something expensive? Well, that’s really what I did. I did discovery sessions and I recorded them and took notes on them so that I found those words, those problems, that they really had. And then that’s how I created this bigger program that encompassed what they really needed.
Kathy G.: And the words that my ideal client kept saying, was, “I need to know how to find, get, and keep clients.” And that’s it. That’s what I did.
Chris Badgett: How did you get really crystal clear on your target audience? And could you describe what, for your industry and for your niche, this is somebody who could potentially pursue a career in VA. How do you describe that customer profile or archetype or whatever you want to call it?
Kathy G.: First of all, it took me a long time to get here because, you know, this is a refinement, refinement, refinement, right? And you’re constantly refining it. And I have done a lot of testing at this point, but again, you just jump in and start doing it and start selling, right? You don’t wait. I don’t want to wait to make money. I want to make money all along the way.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: So I have made money all along the way. What I realized I wanted was VAs who are professional, proactive, problem solvers. Okay? And I wanted people to come into my program who already have that as part of who they are.
Chris Badgett: So, these are psychographics, no demographics. There are ways of being in the world. Their personality traits, they’re not necessarily women between the age of 37 and 52, or whatever. Right?
Kathy G.: I have that, too. I have that one too. But, to me, that was the most important, because, to be a VA, all you have to do is say, “I’m a VA,” and you are. That’s not what I want.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. You could just put it on your profile on the internet somewhere, be like, “I’m ready for hire. This is my rate.” Right?
Kathy G.: That’s right. My program, I call it the Ivy League of VA training, and that’s who I’m looking for. I’m looking for people who are that caliber of an individual already, who already have some professional background, like they’re a teacher or a manager or an office manager. I was a marketing manager. An executive assistant, something like that. So, somebody who’s already been in the professional field and who now wants to either have a side-hustle as a VA, or is looking to go full-time into being a VA. And they don’t even have to know which one upfront. They are women between the ages of 30 and 55.
Chris Badgett: I was pretty close.
Kathy G.: You were very close. And primarily in the United States. I don’t speak any other language, so I will work with people in other English-speaking countries, but for the most part they’re in the United States. And the reason that 55 is a really a definitive cut-off for me, not that they won’t take people over than that, I’m older than that, but my target market stops there because, again, from talking with people during the discovery calls, I discovered that after the age of 55, they don’t really want to start a business then. Most of them don’t want to. They’re ready to retire. Before the age of 55, yeah, they’re still all gung ho to start a business.
Chris Badgett: Just as a way to explore, because you’re obviously really clear on your customer/student avatar-
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: I think the obvious one is, let’s say, somebody had a corporate job and they had their child but they want to keep a toe in the workforce and want to figure out location independence so they can work from home. What are some other reasons that drive people into being a good fit for VA-style business, besides having kids and working from home?
Kathy G.: Yeah. So, it’s three F’s. It’s flexibility, freedom, financial security. Okay? And again, this is from me listening to what people told me on the phone. The flexibility, they want to be able to, whether it’s their child’s or their grandchild’s events, they want to have time to go to those. Whether it’s their child or their grandchild that’s sick at school, they want to be able to go pick them up.
Kathy G.: Freedom, you talked about travel. People love to travel. They want to travel. They want to be able to take this with them. If they’re grandparents, they want to go stay at their son’s or daughter’s house and take care of that grandchild for three months out of the year, or something like that.
Kathy G.: And then, the financial security, that’s kind of an automatic there, but one of the big things I heard them say to me over and over again is, “I want to take the burden off my spouse and I want to contribute more financially to the household income now.”
Kathy G.: So, for example, my husband, after I got my VA business up and running, he was able to fully retire and just take care of me, just, just take care of me and our three dogs. So, I make the income, he does the… whatever he wants to do. Today he’s putting in a garden.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. This is fascinating, and it shows… I mean, it’s very intentional and very iterative, constantly improving how you do things. I wanted to ask you another question that I think our listeners are thinking, is, you mentioned getting so much value from those interviews with your ideal audience and phone conversations. How did you get to those? How did you end up being on the phone with prospective people who would be a good fit for your course, before they knew about you? Or, if they did know about you, how did they already know about you?
Kathy G.: Yeah. So, primarily, what I did, because if you’re a course creator and trainer, you probably like to talk, like I do, and you like to train, like I do. So, I just tapped into that and I did free training. I did Facebook Live. Before Facebook Live I was available, “Let’s see, what’s? What webinar system?” Oh, I had to go to webinar for a long time. I used to go to webinar. And I did free training. And the thing that people love about free training, and like you and I talk in here, Chris, is, they get to know your personality. They get to see how you teach, and they start to relate to you, or not relate to you. And I would rather people immediately relate or immediately not relate.
Chris Badgett: So, you’re doing like-
Kathy G.: [crosstalk] hell, yes, or hell, no.
Chris Badgett: It’s like… It’s attraction. It’s content marketing, you’re adding value for free. Whether that’s social media or forums or blog comments, or wherever. Like you’re attracting those conversations. People are like, “Hey, you’re adding value first.” I think that’s a really awesome-
Kathy G.: Yeah. And then at the end, my call to action was, sign up for… I call mine a breakthrough session. Sign up for a breakthrough session. A free breakthrough session with me.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And that’s like… I hear people being concerned about giving their time away for free or whatever, but you haven’t even started yet. Like, what’s… Just getting somebody on the phone is super valuable, and I’ve heard it called the strategy session, you’re calling it a breakthrough session, a discovery call. Those 15-minute conversations, even if you do them for like a month and even if they fill up pretty big, that’s actually a good thing and you’re going to learn so much, it’s going to save you time and you’re just going to be all that much more relevant in whatever it is you do create in the program. I think that’s brilliant.
Kathy G.: And, Chris, here’s another thing that I did was, I did the webinars, like I had a one-hour webinar that I did live for probably 15 weeks in a row. And every time-
Chris Badgett: [inaudible] Once a week?
Kathy G.: Once a week, for 15 weeks in a row. And I tried different days of the week, and free. Different days of the week, different times of day. I tweaked the content until it got really, really good and it was converting a lot of people to the breakthrough sessions.
Chris Badgett: Was the pitch-
Kathy G.: And I recorded every one of them.
Chris Badgett: What was the pitch of the webinar? Like, how to start, or, what was the angle you took for that piece of free content?
Kathy G.: The angle I took was, are you ready… Two things, are you ready to be an expert VA, and the quick start success tips to do so, if you are ready. And I had a five question quiz that they took during the webinar to determine if they were ready or not. And if they had answered four yeses out of the five, then they should sign up for the breakthrough session because they were ready.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s cool. See, this is so much of a solution, not just good ideas. Like suggestions about the VA opportunity or whatever. It’s very targeted. I love it. Well, any other-
Kathy G.: And part of what I did in that five questions was I also talked about the amount of time that they needed to be able to commit to doing this, five to 10 hours a week minimum. If they weren’t able to do that, they shouldn’t sign up for the breakthrough session, and they should be able to spend up to 10,000 in their first year creating their business. So, if they weren’t able to do that, then they shouldn’t sign up for the breakthrough session. So, I was pre-qualifying.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. You’re qualifying the leads to make sure they’re willing to do the work and that they can afford to invest in the training and to build a business, because it takes time and investment to open a business.
Chris Badgett: Before we switch into the virtual assistant industry and how they can help course creators, is there any other advice you have for somebody creating a program, or who’s trying to make their program better, that you feel is a hard one, true of a lesson, that helped you make your program as good and continue to grow?
Kathy G.: Do it. Sell it. Sell it first. Sell it, sell it, sell it, sell it. Then, give it… because if you give it for free to everybody, they’re not going to really give you good feedback. Sell it. They need to be paying you something to take it, and then get them involved in helping you improve it. They love that. They love giving you tips. They love saving the money, and like for example with me, when I would do a Beta program, so, the first time I’m ever doing my course, I would usually charge like 20% of what my full price was going to be, and that’s how I marketed it. Was, “Here’s going to be the full price. Here’s what you get it for right now. And in exchange for getting it that inexpensively, you have to commit to giving me feedback on every every single lesson, giving me suggestions on how to improve it,” and all those things. And, I’m making money and getting help on building my training. And that’s the number one tip.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I love that idea, and I’m just going to rephrase it because I get asked this so many times. People are just unsure how to pilot or do the Beta that… If you have a $1,000 course, what you’re saying is, do not give it away for free, and ask for feedback. Sell it, it’s fine to sell it at a 80% off. So, for $200, the first time you launch it, so that now there’s some urgency there for people to buy because there’s a deal that’s going to go away, that’s never going to come back, but in exchange for the big discount, you’re not devaluing the course, you’re just saying, “It’s new. In exchange for this good deal, I’m expecting a lot of feedback from you about what’s resonating, what’s not, how I can improve it, and so on.”
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: I love it. That is a [crosstalk] rock solid tip. So, VA stands for virtual assistant. I hired my VA five years ago. It was the best move I ever did. She is based in the US and is just the dramatic, what that’s been able to do, and it’s just turned into just an awesome relationship and a great person to work with, and I’m just grateful for that. Could you describe what a VA does, and especially as somebody who’s kind of new to the online business world? Like, we have some experts and teachers who listen to that, this podcast, that are new to online business and may not even be familiar with it. So what does a VA do?
Kathy G.: A virtual assistant is an independent contractor, so they are not your employee. Now, could you hire them as an employee? Yes, and depending on where you live, you may choose to do that, or what your business model is, but starting out, I highly recommend hiring them as an independent contractor if at all possible, because they literally will work on demand. Okay? So, what I mean by that is, I recommend, if it’s your very first one, hire somebody for a minimum of zero hours a month, in other words, there’s no requirement on how much you have to use their service in any one month. And maybe a max of 10 hours in any one month.
Kathy G.: And I call that a not-to-be-exceeded monthly budget, which means, if I have 10 hours worth of work, right, you do it and charge me for it. If I don’t, and you do like three-and-a-half hours worth of work, I only pay for three-and-a-half hours worth of work. And that’s the beauty of the VA, is, they work on demand. It’s not built in that you have to pay this every month. So, that’s how I recommend working with them, and then, secondarily, I highly recommend getting a specialized virtual assistant. So if you have-
Chris Badgett: What are the specialties?
Kathy G.: Yeah. So, a specialty can be LifterLMS.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: So they can specialize in that, and I highly recommend if you use LifterLMS, that you get a VA who specializes in working in that, because they already know how to do it. They already take training on it. They already use it. If they don’t, then they’re going to give you a discounted rate while they learn it, while they’re working with you. And then they’ll be a specialist, and they’re going to know all the little ins and outs of how to use it better than you will because you won’t be using it every day. You shouldn’t be. You should be the one doing the training, not doing that back end work.
Chris Badgett: That’s-
Kathy G.: But that’s an example. Now, I have VAs who do… I was sharing with Chris, I use Zoom to do all of my training, and I record it. It records to the cloud, and then I have a VA who goes in, downloads it from the cloud, puts it into Wistia, and then all they have to do is take that link to drop it into your lesson. And all I had to do was the training part of it. I don’t have to do the rest. She also then emails everybody that’s supposed to get access to that training, and I’m onto creating my next marketing thing or my next Facebook Live or my next training that I’m charging for. So, I’m doing the stuff I love to do, not that back end stuff that I don’t want to have to do.
Chris Badgett: What else could you outsource besides website tasks?
Kathy G.: So, bookkeeping. There are VAs who specialize this. Bookkeepers… In fact, I think most of the people, Chris, that listen to you, probably want to create their own courses, but let me give you an example of somebody who might not want to. Professional speakers. As a virtual assistant, I worked for professional speakers. I would take their books and I would use the book that they had written to create blog posts, to create their newsletters, and I could create a course for them.
Chris Badgett: So, that’s a skill I would call instructional designer, maybe. If you target it to a course or you’re repurposing content, like, if there’s-
Kathy G.: Repurposing is what I call it now.
Chris Badgett: If there’s a speaker and you have a video of the speech or whatever, there’s all kinds of stuff you could do with that. Yeah. That’s brilliant.
Kathy G.: Yeah. And even if the course creator does a create the course, a lot of times they don’t want to create PowerPoints to go with it, so you can give the material that you’ve created, or whatever you have done, to the VA. The VA could create the PowerPoint, could make whatever other materials you want to go with it. Brand it for you, and do that. They can also do social media marketing, Facebook ads, pretty much you name it, they can do it. The only thing they can’t do is deliver coffee personally to you. But they can have it delivered.
Chris Badgett: What should people check their expectations on that they should not and cannot really outsource to a VA? You know, what’s outside of the bubble? You can’t just outsource your entire life and business. What do they have to hang on to, as a business owner in the course creator base?
Kathy G.: So. Yeah. So anything that should really be considered personal assistance. Okay. Like, they need to be there at your house to do it. Now, me personally, I have very little of that kind of stuff, because I have a husband who does them all. He does my laundry, he cooks. We do have a house cleaner, but even things like, I hired a virtual assistant to send out my thank you cards and to buy and send gifts, and things like that. So there are very few things that a VA cannot do. But, not all VAs can do everything. Like the one I hired to do the greeting cards and the gift giving, she’s not good at the techy stuff. So be sure that you’re matching the right person with the right task.
Chris Badgett: You can have more than one, right?
Kathy G.: Oh, yeah. I highly recommend… Start with one, like I told you, start with one, get a feel, and then you’ll get hooked because it is so freeing to turn over that work to that VA, and once you make sure that they know what they’re doing, they actually do the work. Like, I never look at a blog posting, or they’re just done. I never look at a newsletter anymore, they’re just done. I have created my own sales team of VAs and I hired a VA to do all of the commission work, so she has the spread sheet that has all my commission that I have to pay out on there, and she literally sends that to my sales people. I mean, I run my entire business with virtual assistants.
Chris Badgett: I think you also handled another objection I’ve heard about VAs which is, especially for somebody who’s just getting started in their course business. Did you say, zero to 10 hours a month, to start? So, 10 hours a month, which is basically two-and-a-half hours a week, or something like that, is not a huge commitment to start testing the waters and seeing what it’s like-
Kathy G.: That’s right.
Chris Badgett: … to outsource and expand your capacity of what you can accomplish in a day. So that’s brilliant.
Kathy G.: I recommend a budget of $250 a month to get started. So, find a VA that you can pay about $25 an hour. Have them max out at 10 hours a month. Not a requirement on any level. No minimum, no maximum. Okay, max at 10, up to 10, that’s how I should say it. Up to 10.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Kathy G.: And your total budget is $250, if they go that high. But then you don’t have to worry about, “I don’t have enough work for them this month.” It doesn’t matter.
Chris Badgett: That is beautiful. Where else can course creators use VAs?
Kathy G.: Social media. I have a VA who, like… Do you have a group? One of the great ways to get clients to come to you, to get students to join your course, is to have a free closed group in social media-
Chris Badgett: In your niche.
Kathy G.: And… Yes. And I think my group’s like 3,000 people now, and I have a VA who goes in there and welcomes everybody every week, keeps them interacting with each other, and he also does all my memes, you know, that branding with the quotes and things like that, and that goes out on all my social media platforms every week. He does all of that. I don’t have to think about it. He takes care of all of it.
Chris Badgett: Wow. You’ve mentioned blog articles. One of the things I noticed, course creators especially, they’re really time-strapped. I mean, everybody’s crazy busy, but course creators, you got all this stuff going on.
Kathy G.: Oh, yeah.
Chris Badgett: You’re so busy creating content for your training program that it’s easy to not have content on the free front end that is good for search engines and other things. How, when you outsource a blog post, what are they creating that content from? How does the VA create the blog post? Or do they invent topics on their own? Or how does it work?
Kathy G.: Here’s how I like to start out with any new blogger that I bring on, okay? I come up, I write the blog post and send it to them, and they edit it. And they load it and they SCO it, and they put a picture on.
Chris Badgett: Which is a lot.
Kathy G.: And then once I- Yes, it is. And once I see that they can do that, I might do that a couple of times, then I have them write it first. I’ll give them a topic, they write it, they send it to me, I edit it, and then they load it and do all those things I named. Okay? And then once I’m comfortable with that, that they’ve got my voice, they know what I’m looking for, then I say, “Now you come up with the topics. Send me a list of topics you’re thinking about doing, and I’ll approve them or suggest other things.” They send me those topics, I approve or disapprove, suggest, and then I tell them when I want them to go out, like every Tuesday, for example. And now they’re doing it.
Chris Badgett: Wow. That’s cool.
Kathy G.: Yeah. Yeah. And I like to pay based on the number of words in a blog post. So, if you want a short one, maybe you want a 250 word blog post, you can pay about $30 for everything I just named. If you want a 500 word, pay about 50 for everything I just named. When they come up with the topic and write it and everything. If you want 1,000 words, about $80, $90.
Chris Badgett: So, it’s not just hourly work. You can also do per unit pricing. Which is brilliant, because then, everybody’s happy. If they’re happy with what they get, and you’re happy with what you get for that price point, then you’ve got… You know, somebody’s needs to spend a little extra time and go to a coffee shop and think about it, everybody’s just happy. They know what’s coming out of the product-based pricing, or the unit-based pricing.
Kathy G.: And, Chris, that’s exactly why I do the blog that way, because brilliant writers can take super-short time. Brilliant writers can take a really long time, and I don’t want to pay different based on that. I want to pay based on the result. So, that’s why I pay that way.
Chris Badgett: Wow. That is awesome. You mentioned… I can tell you’ve been doing this for a while because you have… like, there’s different perspectives. One perspective is that you want to hire a VA who’s already a specialist. At the same time, like with your blog posts example, you want to train people as well, to get in the flow before you release them 100%. Could you speak a little bit more to those two perspectives, and how those don’t necessarily conflict with each other?
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. So, what I’m looking for in a blog writer, for example, really what I’m looking for in anybody that I hire, is I want somebody who is really good at their area of specialization already, because I don’t want to teach them how to write a blog post. I just want to teach them what my preferences are.
Chris Badgett: Your process.
Kathy G.: And that’s the way… My process, my preferences. Yeah. In fact, legally, okay, independent contractors, you cannot teach them the process. They’re supposed to know that already. Okay? Or not the process, the skill, the… I can’t teach them how to blog if they are my independent contractor. They should already know how to do that. Did you know that?
Chris Badgett: I did know that. So, there’s a couple… We should touch on this. So, you and I have been doing 1099 independent contractor outsourcing for a while, and there’s some things that you’re not supposed to do. You can’t set their schedule, I believe. You can’t [crosstalk] require meetings.
Kathy G.: Right.
Chris Badgett: You can’t set their rate. What else is out there?
Kathy G.: You can suggest it. You can suggest it. You can say, “No, I won’t take that rate,” and then they can offer something else. But, yeah, you can’t say, “I am going to pay this, and nothing else,” and they say, “No. Okay. Then it’s no.”
Chris Badgett: But you can also-
Kathy G.: You-
Chris Badgett: … be like, “I’m hiring this VA position at this…” Like…
Kathy G.: Right.
Chris Badgett: So you could-
Kathy G.: It’s kind of semantics.
Chris Badgett: Right. Right. What else do we need to know about working with independent contractors? They-
Kathy G.: You need to have a contract. You need to have a contract. Okay? And the ones that I teach, the expert VAs and virtual experts, that’s the titles that they have, they know how to write their own contracts. Here’s what I tell any VA that I’m thinking about hiring. “Don’t give me homework. I am not hiring you to give me work to do. If you’re thinking about giving me work, you’re not going to get hired.”
Chris Badgett: Right.
Kathy G.: So, I want them to take work off my plate for good, and, no, it doesn’t happen instantly because they have to learn things like what font do I prefer to use. What time… you know, like I just hired one to do all my email because I can’t keep up with my email any more.
Chris Badgett: What do you mean by that? Do you mean your personal email or your email list, to your emails or emails to your audience, or what do you mean?
Kathy G.: Yeah. So, email marketing I’ve already outsourced years ago.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Kathy G.: No, I’m talking about my personal and business email. I have it all coming in to my Gmail account, and by the time I get back there after this interview with you, I will have another 200 emails.
Chris Badgett: Okay. Why are you getting so much outbound-inbound email? Where is that coming from?
Kathy G.: Because I do a lot of advertising, and I have an evergreen webinar, you know that webinar I talked about was not evergreen, and so they’ll email me and luckily my email marketing is good enough that they think I’m really emailing them. Insane. Don’t stand me up. And they’ll email and say, “I’m really sorry, but my daughter got sick.”
Chris Badgett: Right.
Kathy G.: “Could I watch it another time?” So, the person who does my email, she knows, copy and paste, or do a canned email and send it out to them.
Chris Badgett: Very cool. Very cool. I want to touch on something you just said, which I’ve experienced before when I’ve hired independent contractors, where all of a sudden I feel like, I’m getting more work when I was trying to delegate work, and sometimes it’s my fault. Like, maybe, I didn’t realize how… I was trying to outsource something that I didn’t understand, and therefore it is kind of my fault, that, well, they need to know all this stuff so that they can do their job, and they need to explore some preferences and whatever. But other times I felt like, I’m trying to give him this piece and it keeps being pushed back to me. Can you expand on that a little bit? What does that look like when it goes, “Well, what does that look like when it goes wrong?”
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So, a couple of things. You know when you have your course that you’ve created, and somebody buys. You want to have a really good onboarding experience for that student, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: So, for example, here’s another thing you can have a VA do for you. I have a VA do this for me. When a new student comes in, immediately they get a link to schedule a Zoom session with the VA who is my onboarding VA, and she actually takes them in the back end of my membership section and shows them around. Shows them how to access things.
Chris Badgett: That’s a brilliant idea. Yeah. I love that idea.
Kathy G.: It has really increased my retention. It has really increased my retention, because they have a lot of questions, and a lot of fear, and things like that.
Chris Badgett: Or how to use the website or whatever. Yeah.
Kathy G.: Yes. Yes. So, it’s money well spent. It takes 15 minutes for her to do that session, and people love it. I tried recording it and just having them watch the recording. It did not work as well. My retention went down. So, live is the way to go.
Kathy G.: So, that’s what you should do with your VA, and if you have a professional VA who knows what she’s doing, she has an onboarding process that she will take you through, so she’ll know exactly what to ask you. I need this log in, what color do you want this in? Where is your logo? She knows all those things she needs from you, and she can batch get them from you in the shortest period of time, versus somebody who’s really new to this and doesn’t know. They’re just going to be like, “Oh, oops, I needed this. Can you give it to me now?” And that’s when it’s going to feel more like homework for you.
Chris Badgett: Right. And, also, an emergency or it’s like, now we’re getting behind, or late.
Kathy G.: Yes. Oh, yeah. One of the things you want to be really, really clear about is setting expectations on deadlines. Okay? And if you’re the type like me, in the beginning I would be like, “Well, just whenever you feel like doing it.” Well, I didn’t really mean that, right? I didn’t really mean that. So, don’t say that. Give them a deadline, because without deadlines, nothing gets done in the time frame you want it to get done.
Chris Badgett: What do you recommend for people that are working with VAs where sometimes priorities change, and you might need to reprioritize what a certain VA is working on. How do they handle that without… Sometimes, they… I just know, me working with clients, and then also me working with Vas, sometimes things change. What is the best way to navigate that from both sides?
Kathy G.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yup. What I suggest, if you prefer email, do it via email. If you prefer actually talking with somebody, have a quick Zoom session, and the Zoom session should only take 15 minutes. Okay? If you do it via email it will take even less time. So, every week, and I prefer on Friday afternoons, I want an email from all my VAs saying, “Here’s what I got done. Here’s what I still need to do. I’m not sure about this.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: Okay? Then I can do a quick, “Fabulous. Oh, my gosh, that needs to be done tomorrow.” You know… “Let’s reprioritize.” And then, “Great,” and done, move on.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s cool. I’ve heard some people say they do that. They want an end-of-day report, and that sounds a little excessive to me, but end of the week-
Kathy G.: Yeah. I don’t want it every day. I don’t want every day. That’s too much email.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Kathy G.: You could also use Black or Asana or any of those, if you like.
Chris Badgett: What about… Do you do live meetings? Or do you try to avoid that?
Kathy G.: That is a time suck. Live, in person, is a time suck. Think about the travel, and then, “How’re you doing? How’s your dog?” You know, like you can hear my dog’s barking right now.
Chris Badgett: I hope the UPS person is there.
Kathy G.: So, I do no personal… I have never done personal meetings, even if the person lives close to me, I don’t do in-person meetings.
Chris Badgett: So you try to keep it to the written word by email or to SMS or whatever.
Kathy G.: Everything is either via Zoom… I do a lot. How about you, Chris? I know you’re like me. We’re on Zoom almost all day long now, aren’t we?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. That’s what I do.
Kathy G.: Yes. So I meet people mainly via Zoom, sometimes via the phone, and a lot with email back and forth. Or, I’m really… I have never been a big techy person. I know I was a VA but I was not doing techy stuff as a VA, I was doing marketing which is my background. And so now I’m using Slack and Asana.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Kathy G.: Screaming and kicking the whole way.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. You know, I think, if somebody is listening to this and it may be they’re an aspiring course creator but they’re still [inaudible] job and they’re having a hard time just making the leap to successful course training program that replaces my income. Becoming a VA, in many ways… I kind of started as a website building VA for people, and then later I built a agency and it got much bigger and I built a product, or whatever, but it’s not that hard to hang your shingle if you have some expertize and get going. But what is… like with your program and experience working with people who want to explore VA, what are the key things that they need to get right if they want to launch a VA business, that you see go wrong if they don’t really put a lot of forethought or invest in their training with, like your program?
Kathy G.: Yeah. First of all, just let me address what you just said about what if they have a job and they need money, and they can’t get their course going yet. Because that’s really where I was. I knew I wanted to do this training, but I didn’t know how to make money at it yet. How to make serious money at it. And I wanted-
Chris Badgett: It takes a while.
Kathy G.: … serious money.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: Yeah. It does. And I was making trickle money, but not serious money. So, I did my VA business about three-quarters of the time while I built up my training business. And to me, the beauty of doing that is, as a virtual assistant, when you specialize in whatever it is that you’re going to train on, so for example, if you’re going to teach professional speakers how to write a book, well, work as a VA for professional speakers who are writing a book, because then you learn all the ins and outs of what they really need.
Kathy G.: So, I did that with real estate agents. As I said, I had 70 real estate agents, so I really grasped what they needed, and what they needed was very inexpensive blog posts. So before I ever created my course, I created a membership site for real estate agents where I sold blog posts. 20 blog posts a month to real estate agents across the US and Canada. And I was able to do that because I learned as a VA what they really needed.
Kathy G.: And that’s what you could do as a VA. You can really get inside of your ideal client, see what they really need, and then create a course of what they really need. To me that’s-
Chris Badgett: So you’re basically getting paid to basically-
Kathy G.: Do research.
Chris Badgett: … become more relevant and discover the pain points that you’re going to build a training program on.
Kathy G.: Yeah. And you can build your email list while you’re doing that. You make money. I call my VA business my cash cow because just to give you an idea, and not everybody is like this, but I can tell you my businesses were… The overhead for the VA business is of very low cost. I mean, really, a computer. And ideally if you want to make the highest amount, a website. If you don’t, if you want to stay at general admin or subcontractor, just selling ten profiles is all you need.
Chris Badgett: Wow. Yeah.
Kathy G.: Very low overhead as a VA. Now, once I became a coach and a trainer full-time… My overhead skyrocketed. Skyrocketed. And primarily, marketing. Facebook ads. Yep. I don’t know about you, but I spent a fortune on Facebook ads.
Chris Badgett: So, my last question before we wrap up, if somebody’s working with a VA, and they say they want to work with a VA in the United States, what’s a reasonable price range for that, that they should expect to pay for a high-quality virtual assistant? You mentioned $25 at one point during this call. Is that the low-end, the middle, the high-end? What is that?
Kathy G.: The average virtual assistant who specializes in something in the US, who is good at what they do, so they’re that professional, pro-active, problem solving virtual assistant, that you do want, okay? They’re $45 an hour on the average, but they have the expertise and the experience. If they are newer, they’ve specialized but they’re newer, then you can get them as low as $25 an hour. Okay? And then, they will gradually increase their rate as they get better and better and more and more experienced. If you want a general admin and sometimes that is what you want, you just want data entry or something like that, then it’s $25 an hour.
Chris Badgett: Got you. Cool.
Kathy G.: If you want Infusionsoft, $75 an hour and up.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I mean, complex marketing automation and a software tool, I mean, there’s strategy in there, there’s tech shops in there. There’s a lot of communication and whatnot, and it makes a lot of sense.
Chris Badgett: So, [email protected]. What’s the best way to connect with you? How can people find your webinar, what do you want to send the good course creators and membership site builders listening to this?
Kathy G.: Well, Chris, if you don’t mind, I’d love to offer a free VA matchmaking session to anybody looking for a virtual assistant.
Chris Badgett: That would be great. Tell us more.
Kathy G.: Okay. So, I have a virtual assistant in my group who knows almost as much as I do about working with virtual assistants, and so if you email me I’ll connect you with her, and she will interview you for 15 to 20 minutes, find out what you really need. If you’re not sure what you need, she’ll help you figure out what you really need, and a VA. Okay? You’ll like list everything you’re thinking about. She’ll go, “Yes, yes, yes, let’s fix priorities. Okay. Let me send you…” And then she’ll email you a list of three virtual assistants that fit your needs.
Chris Badgett: Okay. Not thirty. Three.
Kathy G.: Three. Yes. Yeah. Because you don’t want to interview 30. You want to interview three. And she’ll send you a link to learn a little bit more about them, and then if you want to just reach out directly to them and interview, she’ll also talk with you about how to interview them, and things like that, if you want to do that. So that’s what a freebie, a matchmaking session is, and to get one of those, all you have to do is email me, Kathy, K-A-T-H-Y, @expertvatraining.com.
Chris Badgett: And if you’re watching this on YouTube or looking at the podcast replay page, we’ll have that email down below there. Anywhere else? Anything else, Kathy?
Kathy G.: No. expertvatraining.com.
Chris Badgett: Awesome.
Kathy G.: You find me.
Chris Badgett: Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom with us, both about working with VAs but also your journey as a course creator, training program creator, because you dropped a lot of hard-won nuggets of wisdom and ideas that I think people are going to get a ton of value from. So, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it.
Kathy G.: Well, if you don’t mind, I just want to end with two things. One is, I’ve never been as fulfilled in my life as I am now doing my course creation and coaching and training. I love it so much. I call it my baby. It’s my baby that I have given birth to, and not only do I love it, I never feel like I’m working. I’d rather do this than anything else that I do. I used to have hobbies. Now I don’t even care about them anymore because this is so much fun, because as a course creator you’re really helping other people. You’re helping them so much, and there’s nothing more fulfilling to me than that.
Kathy G.: And then, finally, I want to say thank you to you, Chris. I really appreciate you having me on here today.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, you’re very welcome. I get to ask you one more question. In the course creator space, I see that people are often driven by either impact, kind of like what you’re talking about, or at least that fulfillment, or income like making money and need to build a business, and I’m not saying one’s right or wrong, they both work together.
Kathy G.: Right.
Chris Badgett: But, what is it for you that makes this kind of work that you do, what makes it so fulfilling? Is it the money, is it the impact changing lives, is it connecting with all the people? What is it?
Kathy G.: Well, first of all, the money to me, I have to make an income. I have to make a living. I have to pay my bills. And I am the breadwinner in my family.
Chris Badgett: You’re the sole breadwinner. Right?
Kathy G.: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: Yeah. My husband, you know, takes care of me. So, and to me, I have fun. You know, it’s like self-competition to see how much I can make. How many times over last year’s can I… Like I just did a live event I was telling you, and last year’s live event compared to this year’s live event, we 10-exed it. We 10-exed it! In one year. Whoa.
Chris Badgett: That’s the cool thing about VAs. You can scale. There’s literally, I mean, when you’re outsourcing either through people, processes or automation, there’s really no limit to what you can scale. I mean, I don’t know if you want to manage 700 instead of 70 VAs or whatever, but, yeah, there really is…
Kathy G.: And you can hire VAs to manage those VAs.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kathy G.: Okay. I have project managers who manage… I have 21 VAs that work with me, and I have three project managers who oversee all of them.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah.
Kathy G.: And, yeah. So, that is like the fun. The money is the fun, I have to have it, and it’s fun, but it’s short-term fun. All right. The fulfillment, watching the people who take my course, who change their lives, who have more fulfilling lives, who are financially secure, who are able to leave jobs. I mean, do you know how many people out there are in the corporate world in soul-sucking jobs, where they’re being mistreated? Or how many people do you know at the age of 50 have been suddenly let go for no reason? They were great a employee, but your number’s up.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Kathy G.: And to watch those people increase their confidence, to start more money than they’ve ever earned before. I mean, you have to feel that, too, Chris, watching people create courses and see how much money they can earn, and how they can leverage. I mean, that’s what I love about being a course creator, too, is the leverage that you can have.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. I think that’s it. I think you nailed it because basically what you do is you take what fulfills you and then you give it out to literally an unlimited number of people, and then when you see it happen for them, them, them, them, and then you have your crazy runaway success stories, the people who are doing average, the people who are struggling, that makes you want to improve your program or whatever… It just grows. It’s like a exponential thing which is awesome.
Kathy G.: Yeah. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Kathy, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it, and the offer for the VA matchmaking is awesome. So thanks for doing that. That’s [email protected].
Kathy G.: That’s right.
Chris Badgett: I hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll have to do this again sometime.
Kathy G.: Chris, you’re a great interviewer. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Automated: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging results-getting courses on the internet.