Hey there, I’m Sarah, I’m a VA for Frenchie at Aroha Knits, and I’m going to share some of the surprising extra benefits of working with Frenchie.
There are several advantages to doing VA work in my “spare” time.
The most obvious is the steady paycheque.
As a beginning designer, pattern sales aren’t bringing in much yet, so this is a good way to supplement my non-existent income! I’m also a stay-at-home mom, and this job has allowed me to bring in some extra money while working from home – and I can work around naptimes, or school drop-offs, or whatever else comes up. This has been pretty great!
The best parts of working for Frenchie, though, are the less tangible benefits.
I feel like it’s more of a mentorship or apprenticeship than just a job. I’m working with someone who is a few steps ahead of me in the designing world, and I can watch and see what she does for things like email campaigns and product launches … as well as how those campaigns are received!
What do customers respond well to?
What do they complain about, and what do they just ignore?
I learned about the “Pro” side of Ravelry, and even helped other designers with things like coupon codes, before I ever published a pattern.
When I started working at Aroha Knits I started at a lower wage, but there were other benefits available.
For example, Frenchie enrolled me in her Swatch Studio Course for free! A great bonus for me, and it didn’t cost her anything extra. She also gives me access to all her patterns (I just wish I had more time to knit!).
So if you’re thinking about working for a designer, don’t *just* look at the dollar value of what you’re being paid. There might be other benefits to working with someone more experienced in the field!
I like to think there have been a few benefits for Frenchie, too!
First of all, we do get quite a few “standard” customer service emails (like having trouble downloading a pattern). It only takes a few moments to deal with, but once you add them all up, they take up a lot of time! By letting me deal with those kinds of questions, Frenchie frees up her time for designing and other “big picture” projects.
Plus we’re in totally different time zones (she’s in Japan, and I’m in Canada), so it’s nice to be able to cover the whole clock, more or less.
Best of all, as a more impartial member of the team, I can deal with the mean comments & emails so she doesn’t have to. When we put a design or other piece of art out into the world, there always seems to be a few people who have to rain on it. Since it’s not my personal bit of art, it’s that much easier to respond to them with my “Customer Service Voice” rather than my wounded self.
This is a huge advantage in business, I think!
The question I get the most is “How did you get such an awesome job?! How do I become a VA?!”
I’m sure there are more professional routes to becoming a VA, but I seriously fell into this job 😉
I was in a Facebook group with Frenchie (it might have been the FiberBoss group) when Frenchie posted something like “aaaahhhh, I’m so frustrated! Does anyone have a VA?” I happened to post early on and said something like ’haha, I don’t know anything about having a VA, but I’d love to BE your VA!”
We ended up talking, I sent her a resume (I do have experience as an Administrative Assistant, and in retail), and we agreed to try it out!
And here we are!
I know there are people who actually decide to become a VA, and train themselves accordingly – for example a VA could specialize in social media (and specialization within this such as Instagram/Pinterest/Facebook/LinkedIn, etc), website design, analytics, copy writing. Basically anything there is in a business, there’s going to be someone who would rather outsource than do it themselves! But if you’re thinking of becoming (or hiring) a VA for a fibre-related business, I think it’s invaluable to have someone who has experience in the industry.
It’s much easier for me to help Frenchie and her customers because I know what it means when people don’t know what size needle to use or what a gauge swatch is!
I know a bit about what’s going on in the knitting world, a bit about what is popular, because I hang out in these groups in my spare time!
I feel like most people can learn to answer emails or to be diplomatic. It’s easy to like photos on Instagram.
It’s harder to train someone on how to leave genuine comments, or to understand a craft that isn’t their passion, and that they don’t want to play around in during their down time.