Welcome to another interview in the Design Your Dream Life series!
If you’re new here, this is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream life. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
I am soo excited to have Laura Pennington on the blog today to share her story of designing her dream life through her online business.
Side note – I’ve had Laura on the blog before when she shared her story of how she built her business. You can check it out here.
Here’s a look at Laura’s bio, to give you some context: Laura Pennington is a virtual assistant, freelance writer, and coach to other freelancers. She blogs at www.sixfigurewritingsecrets.com and www.betterbizacademy.com and enjoys traveling with her husband, John.
Here’s a a look at how Laura answered my questions…
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
I knew I was living my dream life when I was able to take a three-week vacation a couple of years ago and not have to stress about any of the materials I deliver to my clients. I have been so organized in only selecting my dream freelance writing clients and virtual assistant clients that I was able to step away from my business and enjoy a three-week vacation in Europe in which I ultimately ended up engaged. This gave me a great deal of freedom and flexibility and is something I still reflect on to this day.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
In 2011, I was working as a middle school teacher in Baltimore. It was the hardest career year I’ve ever experienced.
The working conditions were awful and there was little to no support from the administration.
As a result, I gave up my entire adult life plan of working towards a career as an educator. I resigned my position and googled “how to become a freelance writer.” I’ve never looked back, and I believe it was the best leap of faith I’ve ever taken.
What’s your lifestyle like?
I currently work from home and I travel regularly.
We usually take 4 to 6 weeks of vacation every single year. If I have my laptop and Wi-Fi, I can work. Sometimes I choose to work in other places such as a library or a coffee shop just to get some variety. I also alternate between sitting and standing.
How many hours per week do you work?
I currently manage a fully booked freelance writing business.
I have courses and coaching sessions with freelancers aspiring to hit the next level or to launch their business and I am writing my PhD dissertation. So the hours I work are influx as a result of that.
I commit 15 to 20 hours per week working on my freelance projects for my clients and the remainder of the time gets distributed between having a life, my coaching and course creation business and my dissertation.
How do you make money?
I make money through affiliate marketing, selling my own products (e.g.: Your Way To VA), strategy sessions and coaching for freelancers who are looking to start their business or those who are looking to go to the six-figure level. I also make money from serving as a virtual assistant project manager and freelance writer.
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
As a virtual assistant and freelance writer, I made $1000 in my second month altogether.
I started in the middle of June and racked up nearly $800 in that first month. It is definitely possible to make a great deal of money as a virtual assistant, project manager or freelance writer.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
I was initially fired from my day job after I had been running my freelance business part time.
In less than 18 months, including the 12 months I spent part time and the 6 months working full time, I hit the six-figure mark. Since then my business has been on a growth trajectory. In 2017, for example, I increased my business by 67% and 2018 is on track for a 30% increase, even though I’m working fewer hours than previous years!
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
It’s very difficult to make the transition from working as an employee to working as a business owner, but it’s also an exciting transition to make.
I wish I knew when I started that I didn’t have to take every freelance writing or virtual assistant client who came my way and that I could instead be more selective and choose to only work with my ideal clients.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
The most important advice I can give to you is to find a mentor who will work with you personally or provide you help through courses and other materials to build your dream life.
Finding someone else who has already built something you want to have is extremely important for articulating your goals and ensuring that you have a proven path to get there.
Working directly with a mentor has been instrumental in helping me start my business and in doubling it in recent years. Focusing on choosing a mentor who has built the exact business model I intend to have was extremely helpful for me and I know it is extremely helpful for everyone who will consider using this method.
A Final Note!
I LOVE Laura’s advice about finding a mentor. It is just absolutely perfect. A mentor or coach can change your life. I think it’s totally undervalued in our society.
THANK YOU so much for being a part of this, Laura!
Have you thought about working from home as a VA? Does Laura inspire you? Let her know in the comments!
P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few free resources…
- How To Start A Blog (blog post)
- The Ultimate Guide To Blogging (page with all my blogging posts)
- How I Made $45K Blogging While Working Full Time (free eBook)
You can also get 5 days of a free blogging course sent to your email – just add your email to the form below!