In late 2011, I was an unemployed single mom of a two-year-old living in a small one bedroom apartment. Though I had a college degree from Penn State University in Professional Writing, I couldn't afford to work a full-time job and pay for daycare. Prior to completing my degree, I was a waitress -- and a fantastic one at that. I worked my way up the ladder and finally found myself working in fine dining which was great. You make great tips and a lot of money in a few short hours. But those hours ran late. It wasn't uncommon for me to close down the bars and not get home until 3AM. And when I went back to waitressing with a two-year-old, it was downright exhausting. My mother and sister and grandmother helped me watch her as much as they could, but I was unhappy. I missed her when she wasn't home because she was sleeping over at Mimi's house (as not to disturb her at 3AM) and I was obligated to work on every holiday -- including Christmas Eve and Mother's Day.
When I would see the phrase "work from home" I scoffed. That's just too good to be true, right? I would scour the Internet for those type of jobs and I was continuously let down because they were sketchy or required me to do sales. I hate sales.
My mom who was also unemployed at the time, would occasionally see a job lead for me and forward it along to me. One of those ads led me to Avdi Grimm. Again, I thought, "Too good to be true!" but I had nothing to lose so I reached out to him anyway. I asked him if we could set up a Skype meeting so we could see each other while we talked about what he was looking for in a Virtual Assistant. He hired me on the spot, set me up with an email account for his business, and started asking me to do things. At first, it was just a part-time gig. I was still waitressing and was maybe doing 2 hours of work per week for Avdi.
At one point, I felt like I was in over my head. It wasn't uncommon for me to have literally *NO* idea what he was talking about. Pair programming? Pod-whats? Ruby?
One day, I composed an email to him telling him that I didn't think I was the right person for the job. I wasn't smart enough. I was a fake. I was just pretending to understand and I needed to tell him the charade was up. But something held me back from pressing the send button.
I held on a little longer and started asking questions. I found out that Ruby was a programming language. He patiently explained to me the concepts of yak shaving and pair programming. He made me short screencasts of him completing tasks. Step-by-step he walked me through what he wanted me to be able to accomplish. Literally I had to do was copy him and that's eventually how I learned how to do audio editing.
To my absolute shock, one day he praised me and told me how much of a good job I was doing. He said I was helpful.
....Wait a minute. You mean I was doing it right?!
He then asked me if it would be ok to introduce me to other members of the software development community. I said I guessed that would be OK.
From there, Bryan Helmkamp reached to me and I started doing work for him and Code Climate.
I met Avdi IRL on his birthday in July of 2012. We chatted and he told me he was part of this group called the Ruby Rogues and that it was a podcast. He said that he loved doing the show, but it sucked because the guy who ran it, Charles Max Wood, was having trouble with a number of assistants from a certain virtual assistant agency. He said he was really trying to get Chuck to reach out to me and eventually Chuck did just that. He emailed me on my daughter's third birthday on July 29th while we were visiting an aquarium.
Meanwhile, something happened at the restaurant and my boss, who was not a very pleasant person, did something that really upset me. There was actually a sequence of events leading up to the big blowout, but regardless, I told him I had had enough and that he needed me more than I needed him and I walked out.
I immediately put the word out on Twitter that I was looking for new clients, and almost right away, I got inquiries about my services. Listeners of Chuck's various shows were super happy that they were consistently getting new and polished episodes every week. People had heard of me. People were impressed.
We joke about it now, but the week after Chuck officially hired me, I ended up in the ER and in surgery to remove my almost ruptured gallbladder. Though Chuck told me that it was OK and not to worry about work, it was not OK with me. I had my boyfriend bring my laptop to the hospital and worked from there. Needless to say, the shows weren't late.
I attended RubyNation and volunteered at the LoneStar Ruby Conference last year and everyone who I talked to urged me to start my own "agency". I smiled and brushed it off as something unachievable. I didn't and still don't have a degree in business.
A lot of people wonder about security, which I will go into in more detail in another post, but I can assure you that ALL client information is secure and only accessed by ME. I have found ways to get help without giving other team members access to passwords and personal data, and unless OK'd by a client, that is the way it's going to stay.
So that's it!
That's how I ended up here. Ask and you shall receive.