Who needs a big boost of positivity this week? If the pandemic is taking you down a road that feels heavy and full of worry, then you might just find the inspiration you’ve been looking for from this week’s Whin Big Podcast guest.

This week, Katie meets self-employed virtual assistant Sarah Garnham, who leapt into self-employment after the pandemic forced a redundancy. She shares her experiences with Katie and advises on how others might keep a positive mindset in the face of adversity. They also discuss the excitement, joys, and challenges of marketing your business online, creating podcasts, finding the right social media platforms, and being pushed out of your comfort zone into something you love.

It’s a busy episode, so let’s get started.

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Virtually Minded – Sarah’s business journey

Sarah started her VA career after a chance conversation with her cousin – a busy published author who was in need of virtual support. Sarah offered to help and began working for her in an ad-hoc way on the side of her part-time job in marketing.

At the start of the pandemic, Sarah was made redundant from her job which gave her the final push into setting up as self-employed. In a short time, her client roster moved from 1 to 5 clients and she’s since set up an inspirational podcast and coaching package.

The positive spin on redundancy

Sarah’s part-time marketing job fitted perfectly around her family life but the idea of moving into a VA role was in the back of her mind as something she’d like to explore. Redundancy gave her the push she needed to move out of her comfort zone and into doing something she absolutely loves.

“It’s important for people in a similar situation to hear the positive stories that go along with redundancy, and to hear that within all the difficulties there are still opportunities and windows for success.” – Katie

The excitement of uncertainty

Sarah’s experiences of turning something negative into positive has given her the confidence to share her story and inspire others. She does this by hosting a podcast where she talks to business owners and writers about the power of change and seizing opportunity in the face of adversity.

Sarah’s advice to existing business owners who are worried or anxious during this challenging time would be:

Look at your existing skills, and what you do right now. Then look at businesses that do something similar to you and ask ‘what are they doing differently? What can I do to move into that space?” – Sarah

Sarah suggests looking at ways to upskill in some way – even if it’s a small way like watching some YouTube videos or reading blogs. She believes people would benefit from thinking about how they can innovate, change what they’re doing or find a gap in the market. Her belief is that everything can be an opportunity and giving yourself space to think things through is a great way to move out of feeling worried or anxious and into something more hopeful and positive.

How Sarah markets Virtually Minded

Sarah combines several methods to promote and market Virtually Minded.

Social Media

Sarah’s main platforms are Facebook and Instagram, where she shares motivational quotes and content to engage her followers.

Testimonials

At the end of every client project, Sarah asks for a testimonial, which she turns into social media posts to promote her services. She’ll often get requests about her services after posting a testimonial so she sees it as a vital part of her process.

Podcasts

Sarah interviews clients and like-minded business people for her weekly podcast. She sees it as an extra tool to add value to her audience, while growing an engaged audience and keeping her her services and business at the forefront of people’s minds. For Sarah, podcasting is her main source of content and is an integral part of her marketing strategy.

Website

This is where Sarah stores everything and she shares the link to her site in her social media posts. She also hosts her podcast episodes here so people can listen directly.

Approach clients directly

Sarah has written ‘cold’ marketing letters to potential clients. She recommends aiming high and being bold with the clients you approach. Sarah’s had some really great responses after approaching clients she’d like to work with and recognises it’s always worth taking a shot.

“We all have something to offer people. Some are gifted in selling their services while others shy away from it. Just take a step away and think ‘how can I serve you?’. You start to believe in your product. Once you believe in it, you radiate positivity about what you’re selling.” – Sarah

Marketing areas for improvement…

Email: Sarah’s aware of the benefits of having an email marketing list and regularly runs email campaigns for her clients through Mailchimp and Mailerlite. She hasn’t built a list of her own but has plans to start as a way to market her own coaching business.

Twitter: Sarah’s clients do incredibly well on this platform, and she advises clients – particularly the authors – to be active on the platform. However, she struggles to take her advice. It’s something she wants to improve on, but hasn’t worked how to do that.

Sarah’s marketing plans for the week ahead

Sarah has just launched her latest podcast episode, so a lot of her marketing activities will focus on that. The guest was a Virtually Minded client, so that will include posting a testimonial.

She’s keen to record more video to post – talking about her coaching services and finds engagement is high from the video format.

The Virtually Minded strategy for Instagram and Facebook

Knowing the importance of fresh content, Sarah posts different types of content on both platforms. When posting her podcast to Instagram, she uses an app called Headliner, which converts audio into a waveform video.

For Facebook, she’ll post a long-copy post, introducing her guest and detailed descriptions about the conversation and podcast episode.

She makes sure her linktree links are up to date with correct calls to action and direction for every piece of content she posts.

Sarah’s Bookshelf

Sarah’s business inspiration comes from self-development and self-help books. Here she shares the books that have helped her in her life, and her business.

* The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

This is about learning to be in the present moment. A lot of creative business people have busy minds. This book helped Sarah clear her mind and build clarity, to make good business decisions.

Keep in touch with Sarah & Virtually Minded online:

Virtually Minded on Instagram

Virtually Minded on Facebook

Virtually Minded website

Virtually Minded Podcast

Resources from today’s podcast

Quarantalks Whin Big Podcast: Managing your Time with Sarah Vanderkam

Become awake now! Russell Brand and Eckhart Tolle interview

* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!