Every few months a fellow coaches’ wife asks about streams of income other than direct sales and I pull out my blog
The more moves you have under your belt the more challenging it becomes to find a job.
It’s important to know that VA opportunities are not all equal. If you are considering pursuing a career as a Virtual Assistant there are a few things to consider such as how to market yourself, what certifications may be helpful, and which industries you are best capable of serving.
The Benefits of Virtual Work
The biggest benefit of virtual work for me is that I have the ability to flex my hours. I’ve been blessed to connect with amazing clients who trust I will complete my work by the deadlines they request. This affords me the flexibility to take time in the middle of the day to meet with friends for lunch or attend a weekly Bible study if I feel I have the time in my schedule.
The other thing I love about virtual work is that every minute I am working is work. When I was an administrative assistant at a small college the summers were absolutely miserable. There was nothing to do for 7 hours a day and all I wanted to do was go home and clean my house. I hated that my job felt like a waste of time not to mention my skills and abilities.
Speaking of cleaning my house, another benefit of virtual work is that in-between tasks I can hop up and switch a load of laundry or start dinner. I’m home in case our boys miss the bus, have a day off school, or aren’t feeling well. I can even take time for a Walmart Grocery pick up in the middle of the day without it impacting my “office hours” or PTO.
I usually work in yoga pants or workout shorts because there isn’t a reason to dress up. This is convenient in case I want to squeeze in a mid-day workout. Because I don’t have to commute I can flex my schedule and sleep in rather than wake up early. If my nieces call during a break in their day I can usually pause to chat over a video call with them without concern of bothering a coworker. I’m able to flex my time for doctor appointments as well.
Essentially, working virtually eliminates everything that frustrated me when I worked in an office. The external stresses that were unnecessary because of inefficient wasted time are eliminated by the opportunities to multitask from home.
The Challenges of Virtual Work
Most VA’s are 1099 contractors meaning they don’t have paid vacation days. While we are able to flex our time, extended vacations may require skipping paychecks to accommodate travel or working a few hours while on vacation.
Virtual work requires a lot of additional communication. It’s important to make sure your clients know that you are working. Additionally, since you are likely working on contracts with specific hour allotments, it’s important to understand the details and scope of a project before you work on something incorrectly and waste both time and money.
There are always new ways to do things, and often virtual work includes finding the balance between convenience and cost. While it may seem more cost-effective to have newsletters printed, hand stuffed, and mailed, when you combine the cost of the work plus materials it may be better to outsource the project. It often falls to you as the Virtual Assistant to assess these tasks and help your clients make informed decisions.
Many times a VA becomes the catch-all. Especially when working for small companies the line between work and personal will blur. A VA may find themselves booking vacation reservations and work travel on the same day. As a company grows your client will likely need you to grow with them. Job security for a virtual assistant exists in your willingness to continue to learn new things, adapt to new technology, and look for more efficient and effective ways to accomplish tasks.
So, how do you find clients? There are companies that recruit clients and match VA’s according to skill sets and there are many Virtual Assistants who work on their own. If you are just starting out, I encourage you to consider working with a company that will match you with clients for a few reasons. First, the company will vet the client for you, so you will know that you will have some assurance that the job is legitimate. Additionally, if many times the company will ensure you are paid. Second, if an issue arises you have someone to back you up and work through the conflict rather than handling things on your own. This can be helpful as you work through learning how to best communicate virtually.
Once you have a better understanding of how virtual assistants work, don’t be afraid to network and go out on your own. For one thing, you will have the opportunity to negotiate your contract and can include your preferred hourly rate.
Companies to check out if you don’t want to freelance as a Virtual assistant are:
- Belay Solutions
- VaVa Virtual
- Virtual Works LLC
- We Recruit Well
- Virtual Employee
- Hire My Mom
My two favorite resources for learning about Virtual Assistants are VA Elevated and Belay Solutions both are ones I’m personally familiar with so I trust the content is accurate. There are plenty of others out there, but I encourage you not to pay for anything.
If you are choosing to freelance as a Virtual Assistant it may be necessary to pay to join a group at some point for job leads, but not at first. Learn about the industry, build up your resume, see what you can do for free.
This article was updated for freshness and accuracy 5/19/2020