Joanna Mitchell is the author of The Healthy Virtual Assistant, a book she authored from her experience founding a virtual assistant service for the health and wellness industry.

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In this episode of The Leader Assistant Podcast, Joanna talks about the process of becoming a virtual assistant/freelancer, choosing a niche, tips for improving your written communication, and making the transition from corporate to freelance.

Also, be sure to check out Joanna’s book, The Healthy Virtual Assistant: How to Become a Virtual Assistant for the Health & Wellness Industry.

JOANNA MITCHELL The Healthy Virtual Assistant


You don’t need a title to be a leader.

Joanna Mitchell profile leader assistant

Joanna Mitchell is the author of The Healthy Virtual Assistant, a book she created from her experience founding a VA service for the health and wellness industry. Today, when she’s not looking after her little boy, she works as a copywriter and marketing consultant for the health industry.

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Joanna Mitchell 0:00
Hi, I’m Joanna Mitchell. Today’s leadership quote is you don’t need to have titled to be a leader

Podcast Intro 0:12
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistance

Jeremy Burrows 0:20
The Leader Assistant Podcast is brought to you by goody. If you’re starting to think about holiday gifts for your team like I am, goody is a game changer. They have amazing gifts that people will really love including brands that give back to charitable causes. As a longtime executive assistant, I’ve always been nervous about holiday gifting season. But thankfully, goody’s platform lets you send one gift or hundreds at the same time without ever worrying about shipping details. Can I get an amen? With goodie your gift recipients provide all their shipping info, and they can even swap out your gift for another option if they prefer. It’s free to start gifting and you can get a $20 credit when you sign up. Oh, and if you mentioned you heard about goody from The Leader Assistant Podcast, goody will add an extra $10 credit to your account. Go to to start gifting today. Hey friends, thanks for tuning in to The Leader Assistant Podcast that your host Jeremy Burrows and today is episode 188. You can check out the show notes at And I’m very excited to be speaking with Joanna Mitchell. Joanna is author of the book titled The Healthy virtual assistant. And she is a copywriter and marketing consultant and all sorts of things we’re going to talk about. So Joanna, how’s it going?

Joanna Mitchell 2:01
Hi, I’m good. How are you?

Jeremy Burrows 2:04
I’m doing all right. What part of the world are you in? I’m in Sydney, Australia. Lovely, lovely. And are you from there or around there?

Joanna Mitchell 2:15
No, I’m actually from the UK, a little island called Jersey. But yeah, I’ve been in Sydney for about 12 years now. So technically Australian as well.

Jeremy Burrows 2:27
Nice, nice. Well tell us a little bit about yourself. Maybe what’s one of your favorite hobbies? And, you know, do you have kids? Do you have cats? Are you a dog person? And gives a couple of fun? Personal tidbits.

Joanna Mitchell 2:43
Yes, so as you can imagine, I’m into health. So hobbies, I guess I do a lot of walking, yoga, that kind of thing. I have a four year old boy called hobby who keeps me very active and entertained. And I have a cat as well called gather. He’s also probably just as active as hobby. Yeah, so I’m bit yeah, very busy at the moment, but yeah, life’s good.

Jeremy Burrows 3:13
Love it. Love it. Well, tell us about your career now. What kind of was your first foray into the corporate world or career life? And how did your journey kind of take you to where you are now?

Joanna Mitchell 3:31
Yeah, so I started working in human resources, so mainly for law firms. And I think I got to about 27 and just had kind of a mini mini kind of what am I doing with my life, I’m not happy, this isn’t what I want to do kind of melt down and decided to leave corporate and pursue something that I’d be a bit more passionate about. And I came across a course on health coaching. So I trained to be a health coach. And whilst I was health coaching, I needed something to supplement my my kind of new coaching business, some kind of side hustle that I could do. And I realized that a lot of the people that I’d met from doing the health coaching course in the health space, they didn’t have the same like skill set as what I had from my corporate background. I was a little bit more tech savvy, and they were up like friends were asking me, could you help me with my website? Could you help me set up this newsletter? How do you do this? I’ve seen it on this kind of thing. So I started helping them on the side with with their online business, I realized that I could actually make some money out of it as calling myself a virtual assistant. So that’s really how my virtual assistant business started because as soon as I came out and said right and my virtual assistant now for the health space in particular because I was working in that industry already, I started getting way more clients. For that work rather than coaching, I just realized that I enjoyed it a lot more. So from there, I created my business for healthy VA. And yeah, I did that for a few years. And it was really great. I had so much work, I ended up hiring local VAs as well as offshore bas. And for a time it was going great. But I got to a point where I started being like the delegator and the manager. So the work coming in, I ended up having to spend my time delegating it to a team rather than doing it myself. And I realized that I actually missed that miss being the person that did the work. So I ended up evolving my work into being more of a consultant, focusing more like marketing, because I found that that that type of work was more what I was leaning towards. And I evolved the healthy VA business into more of an educational blog in a course in our book for other people were aspiring to be virtual assistants and freelancers and specifically wanting to work within the health and wellness industry.

Jeremy Burrows 6:17
Nice. So you kind of started off doing the work had too much work, hired help to help you with the work. Yeah, decided you didn’t really want to manage a team? Essentially. Yeah,

Joanna Mitchell 6:32
yeah, more. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the book, the E Myth by Michael Gerber. I think it’s, I think it’s Michael Gerber. But he talks about when people start businesses, they, they start it because they love doing the work. And then when it grows, they, you know, naturally become the manager, and then they realize that they’re actually prefer being a technician over the manager. So it’s Yeah, I actually read that book around that time and was like, yeah, that I think, this is what’s happening. For me, I want to be the one doing the work and not having a big, you know, multiperson business. And when I started doing virtual assistants, it was still fairly like a new concept. Like VAs was more what you would think of like as offshore virtual assistants in India or the Philippines, you know, charging $5 An hour kind of thing. But so having like a local virtual assistant was still like a fairly new concept. So like, I found, what I needed to do is educate people and business owners as well about what virtual assistants can do and how they can support their businesses. And so it kind of evolved, when I changed the business to be mowing more an educational platform, it was kind of the right time as well, because a lot of other people were starting to see that being a virtual assistant could be a career option for them, too. So yeah, it was all very organic. And yeah. Nice. Way.

Jeremy Burrows 8:00
You Yeah. So let’s, let’s let’s kind of dive in a little bit to some of those learnings. So how did you, you know, pick and how do you recommend others? virtual assistants, freelancers, choose a niche, and you know, pick their expertise or pick, like focus like and did that. You mentioned that it increased your business, when you said, when you said hey, I’m a virtual assistant for the health and wellness industry, versus just in general, I’m a virtual assistant. So talk a little bit about what you’ve done, and how you’ve what you’ve seen in your career, and then how you help other virtual assistants really hone in on hey, you know what, I’m more of a specialist, you know, in the specific area versus just saying, Oh, I can do anything?

Joanna Mitchell 8:55
Yeah, I mean, the role of a virtual assistant is quite broad as in like, you can do a lot of different things under that category. So the niche by niching an industry, you obviously narrow down the market that you are talking to, but when you start to work with similar businesses, you can notice similar patterns in like the support that they need and and then the potential clients can then see that the experience that you’ve had working with other health coaches or nutritionists or the Yeah, it kind of, I mean, it definitely helps with marketing. When you niche but also whatever you learn by working with particular like health coaches in particular or any other health business, you can apply those skills to other industries. But why think niching like I recommend niching is because you tend to work with businesses and industries that you’re interested in, and that you’ve got like experience in as well. So, like I was always interested Didn’t like health and wellness. And obviously I’d done a health coaching course. So it made sense that I work with those businesses I felt aligned with. But if there’s somebody who’s, like in a previous career has worked with commercial property, like businesses or in an insurance company kind of thing, then niching in those industries might work for them, because they’ve got the experience working with them previously. Yeah, I think niching is like both what you’re interested in, but also just how helping your business be more targeted, and yeah, does that answer the question? Well,

Jeremy Burrows 10:44
yeah, yeah, that’s great. Yeah, there’s a, of course, you know, I say niche. Some people say niche. So, but this, so there’s this phrase, or, or rhyme doesn’t really work, depending on how you say the word niche or niche. But I’ve heard it said that the riches are in the niches. And it’s just this whole idea of like, Listen, you can’t be everything to everyone.

Joanna Mitchell 11:12
Yeah, yeah, that’s, yeah, you know, in charge,

Jeremy Burrows 11:17
what you need to charge to have a successful business and all that.

Joanna Mitchell 11:22
Yeah. I mean, what eventually happens as well in your niche is that you become the go to person. Like, you become known as like, the VA, for the health industry, you know, it’s like, and it’s when you can create that type of reputation, it’s just much easier to get work. Can you become more of a trusted source as well, I guess, because clients feel like, you know, them and their business. And, yeah. And like I’ve ventured out, like, over the years, and I’ve done some work for like, birth company, like a few finance businesses or FinTech companies. And I just felt like, my enthusiasm for those businesses wasn’t the same. So yeah, like for me, I need to be feeling really aligned with who I’m working with, not just on a like personal level, but just, I want to be helping them in their business, because I want their business to grow. So I think if I wasn’t interested, or like when it comes to finance, like, really understand what what it is that they do. Yeah, it’s the candidate joy that enjoy your work as much.

Jeremy Burrows 12:36
Yeah. So talk a little bit about the transition from corporate to freelance, which, in some ways people are like, oh, you know, I want to be my own boss. But then when you if you actually become a virtual assistant, you realize, you don’t really become your own boss, you just have multiple bosses. So what’s the what’s the transition? Like? And what would you recommend people consider, who are listening thinking ear, I’m tired of the nine to five going into the office or working with the same organization over and over, like, I want to branch out and travel more or have some freedom that comes with virtual work, but but I don’t know what it’s going to do to leave corporate and become a virtual assistant.

Joanna Mitchell 13:27
Yeah, it’s, it’s a complete mental shift from that employee mentality to business owner mentality. Like, obviously, as an employee, you’re confined to the job description that you are given for that particular role that you’re sitting in. And you also confined with to the salary that is paid for that role as well. Whereas when you go out and start your own thing and become a virtual assistant, you can kind of create that all yourself. So one of the things I did when I started the VA work was saying yes to everything that the client needed, within reason, obviously, but and then having to figure out what it is I actually enjoy doing what why, what do I keep one, what I want to do what I need to develop my skills on kind of thing. So I ended up creating my own job description by doing that, so I guess it’s moving from corporate, you do have a lot of flexibility, doing your own thing, but it also comes with having like, your own personal discipline, whether that’s how you liaise with the clients, what you you want to be doing, and then time management as well. And learning how to actually bill for your work. So in a lot of corporate roles that you don’t, you’re there, what nine to five and you get paid for the time that you’re in there, whether you’re sat at your desk or not. Whereas when In your virtual assistant, you’re paid for the time that you’re actually working. So having to get your head round billing for the time that you’re working and then considering the time that it’s taking to be on the phone and to be emailing clients, that kind of thing. Yeah, it’s a complete mental shift. And actually, like, I feel like it’s, it’s very hard to be a freelancer, as you know, when you’ve come from that kind of world. Yeah, like, it’s exciting. It’s exciting and very challenging. But yeah, there’s a lot so chronic consider really,

Jeremy Burrows 15:42
yeah. So you you focus on copywriting and marketing consulting now, right? Is it for, for the health industry? Still? Yes. Okay. So tell us a little bit about, you know, written communication. copywriting is such a big part of really, I mean, it’s even more so in the remote world, because you don’t you don’t have that in person, you know, verbal, verbal and nonverbal cues all the time, it’s all a lot more written communication. So, what kind of tips would you have for those listening to really improve written communication? Like, how have you done? or what have you done to improve your writing? And what’s maybe a couple tips for those listening?

Joanna Mitchell 16:35
Do you mean in terms of so writing? From like a marketing perspective? Or do you just mean communicating with clients? And

Jeremy Burrows 16:46
I think, I think a little bit of both, because if we’re honest, you know, writing it, in a market from a marketing perspective is all about, you know, story and, like, being persuasive and relating to the reader and all that, which, I mean, in any email that you send at work or any Slack message, you kind of have to apply those same same tactics to your writing, in my opinion. So yeah, maybe a little bit of both.

Joanna Mitchell 17:19
Yeah, I mean, writing, I feel is particularly Yeah, writing online is kind of where the world’s going really, especially with a lot with like remote working, going forward. And in terms of help with like spelling and grammar, there’s some really good tools that you can have in your browser. So that when you’re writing, whether it’s an email or whether it’s, you know, on a website, there’s tools like Grammarly. And Hemingway, or the Hemingway app as well, they’re pretty good tools where you actually can type in. So you’re typing an email, Grammarly will actually pick up if there’s like a spelling error, or if there’s a way that you can make that sound more concise. So I find having that quite helpful. Yeah, and just I think, like, reducing the fluff of, like, if that makes sense, like a lot, like being more concise with what you want to say, that’s one of the things I’ve tried to do is, instead of saying, like, Hey, I just wanted to ask you such and such, I’m trying to be a lot more direct and be like, hey, and then just ask the question, like, like, there’s obviously communicating with people. You want to be polite, but I feel there’s also a lot of fluff sometimes with maybe that’s like, me coming from my corporate days where? Yeah, like communicating with lawyers and stuff. To the point, yeah, it’s yeah, I just, that’s something that I’ve had to kind of be mindful of is getting clear and concise with what I want to say. Yeah,

Jeremy Burrows 19:16
yeah, that’s helpful. Yeah, I think one of my favorite quotes, I can’t ever remember I should probably look this up since I say so often, is the one where it says, you know, I would have I would have written you a smaller or shorter letter. If I would have had time or something like that. Yeah, I would, I would have written you a shorter email if I would have had time.

Joanna Mitchell 19:39
Yeah. been doing recently actually is writing on Twitter, because Twitter is only 70 142 characters, I think. So the things that I want to say like not necessarily to build a Twitter or Twitter audience, but things that I want to share. I’ve been writing them As tweets because it, it makes your forces you to be concise, and it forces you to cut out the fluff and the extra words and be doing at least like one tweet every day. And then obviously, like reading other people’s tweets that’s really helped with becoming more concise. and direct. Yeah. And creative as well, actually.

Jeremy Burrows 20:22
Yeah, I found that too, like, trying to write it, read a tweet, some thought you have, and you just like, sit there and you rewrite it like 10 times. Because I want to say this, but I don’t have room. So I gotta, I gotta restate it or say it a different way. So yeah, that’s great. Awesome. Well, Joanna, thanks for being on the show. I do want to, you know, I can’t let you go without one or two tips on health and wellness, of course, because you’re passionate about that industry. And, you know, I know, as assistants and really a lot, obviously, a lot of different roles these days. We just sit at a computer all day, and we skip lunch, or we work through lunch, or we forget to fill our water bottle up, or, you know, we don’t we don’t move like we need to. So what are some things that in this day and age of, you know, stagnant? Office or desk work? What are some tips for being healthy and well, in this world?

Joanna Mitchell 21:31
Yeah, moving. What I do when I know that, like, particularly if I’m having to write something, and I will tend to get like in a zone and lost in what I’m writing, and it’ll be like, a couple of hours before I realized, you know, I’ve not moved is I’ve put a timer on my phone, so that when a timer goes off, it kind of breaks that workflow, I guess. And just a reminder for me to get up and go. And do you know, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk, or just to go to the kitchen and pour a glass of water or something and come back, because we don’t like remember, in corporate, you’d constantly be getting up to like print, you know, print something and go and get it from the printer. And then you’d end up chatting to several people on the way back to your desk. But when you’re working from home, you just don’t. Yeah, you can just get sucked into your computer and there for hours. So definitely like setting time, like timers on your phone that will go off every couple of hours to make you move, essentially, I also I get up a lot earlier now. And I use that more that time in the morning to do movement, whether that’s like actual exercise, like a class or actually go for a walk because I doing movement earlier in the day or first thing in the morning is much better for your body, and you kind of a bit more motivated to do it. Then as well then rather or by Else, I’ll do an afternoon class. And then by the time we get to the afternoon and you’re working on things, you’re more likely to cancel it. Yeah, so movement first thing in the morning, setting a timer to get you up from your desk throughout the day. Definitely coffee. Getting a coffee in the morning just to give me your best. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 23:22
What any, any food tips or like snack tips, do you have any favorite like, you know, when that timer does go off, and you have, you know, you get up and you go pour yourself a glass of water. But then you you know, some of us are like, well, but if I get up and go to the kitchen, and then I’m going to, you know, junk food. So what’s your what’s one of your favorite healthy snacks?

Joanna Mitchell 23:42
Well, I actually try not to snack. So I found that I snack out of boredom sometimes. So I try not to do that because then I’m eating food that my body doesn’t need. So what I do instead is when I when it’s lunchtime, so I tried to have lunch between you know, the standard hours of like 12 till two. But I make myself like a sufficient lunch. Like a big meal. It’s not just like a like something small. Because having I think like having your lunch having a big lunch is good for your digestive system. And like when you’re used to working corporate, unless you packed for lunch yourself, you’re kind of a slave to the nearest cafes, which don’t always have like healthy options. Whereas when you’re working from home, you’ve got the option to make yourself a big meal big, nice, healthy, healthy lunch. So I always take advantage of that. And I find that gives you a sufficient break as well because you’ve got the time to make it cook it and then eat it and then come back to your desk. Yeah, so rather than like snacking throughout the day, I’d recommend just giving yourself a big lunch.

Jeremy Burrows 24:58
What’s one of your favorite health lunches.

Joanna Mitchell 25:02
And so I like sometimes I like having eggs, you know, like a huge omelet with lots of veggies and some like sauteed, kale and spinach.

And I tend to always have a bit of chocolate afterwards as well. Like a couple of squares of chocolate is like a dessert. A nice cup of tea for the rest of the day.

Jeremy Burrows 25:25
Good deal. Good deal. Well, Joanna, thank you so much for being on the show and sharing a little bit about your story. And little few tips and wisdom for listeners. How can they find you? Where should they connect? And I’ll put all these Lincoln’s links in the show notes. But what’s the best place for people to find you and reach out?

Joanna Mitchell 25:48
Yeah, so Twitter and Instagram. I’m Joanna. B. Mitch. Yeah, the website thehealthyVA, as well. Yeah, but I’m more active on Twitter these days.

Jeremy Burrows 26:01
Right. Well, I’ll share that link in the show notes. And you know, definitely check out the healthy virtual assistant join his book on Amazon, and other retailers and we’ll link to all that in the show notes. So thanks again. Joanna.

Joanna Mitchell 26:16
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

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