Featured Freelancer: Jennifer Williams, Virtual Assistant

Our latest Featured Freelancer, Jennifer Williams, took to freelancing after being made redundant and wanting more flexibility for herself. This is a common reason many turned to freelancing throughout the community, but everybody’s story is different. Read Jennifer’s story here…

What is your name and what do you do?

Jennifer (Jen) Williams, I run a Virtual PA business called Exec Support Solutions


How long have you been freelancing and why did you decide to become a freelancer?

I launched my business two years ago, so I’ve only been a freelancer for a little while! I decided to be my own boss after being made redundant from my last employed role and wanting the flexibility of working for myself.


What strategy do you find most effective for attracting new clients?

Networking!!! It’s hands-down the biggest source of new clients and prospects. I have a very personal approach to the relationships we build with our clients therefore it’s important that people buy into me, especially.


What app or social media platform could you not run your business without, and why?

LinkedIn. I have come to love it so much more since launching my business and now it’s invaluable for creating connections, engaging with prospects and keeping abreast of what everyone else in my sector are up to!


Do you research prospects before a call or meeting? If so, what information do you look for?

I always give their website a once over as well as looking them up on LinkedIn. I will also see who we both know and whether there’s already common ground between us in terms of networking events we attend or places we’ve worked/visited.


What do you do to help maintain positive mental wellbeing?

Ha I’m not sure I do sometimes! But I have built up a great network of peers who are always at the end of the phone for advice and support. I’m also lucky that if I’m having a shit day, I work from home with a big garden I can take five in, or go for a walk.

The freedom to take myself away from my laptop and out of the office is golden. Sometimes just taking ten minutes to hang the washing on the line is enough to reset the mind.


Is being a freelancer what you expected? Do you work more hours (or less) than what you had first anticipated? 

I work WAY more! I never really anticipated how much time it would take to actually run a business. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy those elements because I really do but there are days when I have to question what I’ve actually achieved because it feels like nothing, when in reality I’ve done loads towards marketing my business, or prospecting and networking.


What are the most common objections you’ve had from potential clients? How did/do you overcome them?

My biggest one is an easy one to recall! As my business has grown and I’ve built a team of associate VAs who I work alongside, I’ve often not won work on the basis that it wouldn’t be me working with them. Flattering, sure, but I am only one person and only have the same number of hours in a day that anyone else has, therefore I can’t be the VA to everyone!

I’ve had to retrain my brain to talk about ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and ensure that I’m always marketing the business as a team-effort instead of talking about myself.


Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why and how did you do it?

Definitely! If the personality fit isn’t there, or if we just don’t get excited about the work on offer, we’ll politely decline. All of us are ex-corporate PAs, so the personal element of forging a client relationship is key to us and if we aren’t going to get along, there’s no point grinning and bearing it.


What do (would) you do when a client ghosts you?!

Currently going through that and I don’t take it personally. I give it a period of time before moving on and securing new work. Simple as that. Unless a client is willing to keep paying for our time, we can’t hold the time open for them hoping they’ll put work our way again.


Are your motivations now the same as they were when you started freelancing?

I think so, yes. They’ve just grown and escalated!


What is it about being a freelancer that you enjoy most?

Always being able to say yes to my daughter’s preschool activities without needing to ask for time off. Putting off work in the day because I’m not in the mood and knowing I can pick it up in the evening when it suits me. Getting to work from home and not always put makeup on or wash my hair!


What do you enjoy the least about being a freelancer?

I rarely feel lonely even though I work on my own, but there are definitely times when I miss the sociability I had with my last employed role. The morning cuppa with your friends, the pointless office sweepstakes and fundraising efforts.


What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?

You’ll never stop thinking about your business!! It’s on my mind 24/7.


What is your ONE top tip or piece of advice you would offer to other freelancers?

Just go for it! Each day brings a new adventure and every failure is the chance to succeed elsewhere.

You can find out more about Jen on her website, as well as join Jen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Visit our other Featured Freelancers here and, if you’re a UK freelancer, join us in our Facebook group.