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Right now I’m working on a fabulous financial product. And in the course of research, the two themes I kept seeing were: cut expenses and increase income. That got me thinking about all the various freelance opportunities I see around. And one of the big opportunities for money these days is becoming a freelance virtual assistant.

In the quest for answers, I decided to go directly to the source. I got two freelance virtual assistants to spill the beans about their jobs. What their days look like, how much they make, and- most importantly for you- where to go to get jobs. And wow! There answers were very informative.

Thanks to the following VAs for sharing. Please go check out their portfolios or contact them for work!

  • Desi-Ann Gordon . Her email: [email protected]
  • JudyAnn Lorenz. Her business name is Bar JD. Her website is: website is https://barjdcommunications.com. She warns that she is barely available, though, she’s overwhelmed with current clients! A good problem to have. And great news for you potential VAs.

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If you want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant, check out “30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success” <<<Click there to check out the course. 

This course is intensive, in-depth and comes highly recommended.

How much time does it take to work as a virtual assistant?

Since jobs for virtual assistants can range from social media management to handling phone and communication, you won’t be surprised that the days of our two virtual assistants are very different.

Desi-Ann says “I work 5 hours a day from 9-2. I would do about 1 hour looking for new opportunities. I’d fit in another hour to do courses and prepare for the next day. I use time blocks to organize my days and I usually stick with the plan unless something unexpected comes up.”

JudyAnn is working at a very interesting VA position. In her words “I am an intake coordinator for mental health clinicians at the present time. I work with phones, text, chat and email. While I am ‘on call’ all day, the pure work is usually no more than three hours. Because of the home office and phone portability, I can walk away from the desk.”

Where do you find freelance virtual assistant jobs?

Desi-Ann says that “Right now most of my jobs are through Upwork. People knock Upwork but I’ve had tremendous success since I began with them in February 2017. I’ve seen my income more than double and clients are reaching out to me without me bidding for their projects.”

JudyAnn credits networking with a good portion of her work. “I have found work through other virtual assistants. The Facebook groups have been the greatest resources.  There are some off social media virtual assistant groups such as International Virtual Assistant Association (IVAA) and others. I heartily recommend Susan Merchon’s Facebook group, Virtual Assistants Tips, Tricks and Advice.  Susan has training courses for Virtual Assistants which help increase skills, opening new doors.  There is another group, VAs His Way, which has a Christian foundation.”

Part of the Horky Handbook VA course I recommended above is where to find jobs.

What is the best part of being a virtual assistant?

Desi-Ann enjoys the work itself. (Which is a great thing!).

JudyAnn says that the commute is the best part.

What are the downsides of being a virtual assistant?

Desi-Ann says that the variable income is one of the big downsides. In addition, “I would say another downside is it could be a lonely life. Your friend is your pc. So it is important to mix it up and do stuff with friends. Go out and socialize. Go to the gym or meet a friend for coffee or something. This will help break the monotony. If you have kids at home, have playdates with other parents so you can have interaction.”

JudyAnn also points out the variable income as being a downside. But another thing was “Not being accepted as legitimate was tough when I began in 2003.  Our family laughs now because our daughter in management told me “I wish you well, but I would not like to have the people in our office working away from the office.”  Now, she is working in her own home office for the same organization at a distance of a couple hundred miles!”

Advice for future freelance virtual assistants?

Both Desi-Ann and JudyAnn had some great advice for those of you who are looking to become VAs.

Desi-Ann says “Before you jump in and take any job (like I did), have an idea of the type of work that inspire you. There are generalist VAs and specialist VAs. If you like doing a bit of everything then the generalist path is for you. You may also want to go this way since you’re now starting off. That way you get a feel of what you like them zero in on specific areas.

Another bit of advice: I live in the Caribbean and I have found it challenging to get clients here. The main reason is working from home is not as popular as it is in other parts of the world. So if you are in a region where working from home is a ‘new thing’, don’t be discouraged. Chat with small businesses in your area and show them how you can offer assistance with some of their mundane tasks. Or you can suggest how you can take their business to the next level. Sell the idea of having an assistant with fewer overheads!!

Also, have a social media presence. As a freelance writer, you may not have a portfolio just yet but it doesn’t stop you from getting known. Write a few samples. Get family or friends to give you a few pieces to write and start your blog. You can start a blog for very low costs. Get yourself out there!”

JudyAnn says “When I have a ‘full-time’ gig, the marketing becomes difficult to remember, yet a VA should NEVER stop marketing to some degree. The nature of our offices leans toward isolation. People don’t see our shingle hanging out. While they might be longing for our skills, they have to know we are available.
This is not a joke. It takes self-discipline. Maybe your tasks will permit you to work in spurts and pull late-nighters, but you still have to produce.

  • Perpetually enhance your skills. Learn new software.
  • Watch trends for new things you can do for your niche
  • The trends could be the reason you change direction.
  • My current work is a subcontracting project. I applied because of my WordPress experience, but found my spot in the phone work
  • Be willing and eager to subcontract to get your confidence, but watch for your own clients. They are more paperwork, but the pay and end feelings are better. With a subcontract, you have the original contractor AND the client to please.

Show me the money- how much do you make on average? Or good rates?

Desi-Ann makes about $2,000 per month with her VA work.

JudyAnn didn’t give exact numbers but had some great advice. “Do very little pro-bono work ‘to get your foot in the door.’  That never works out well for you.  It is one thing to discount rates, but get SOMETHING in return for your work. No free work is hard when you aren’t booked because your soul wants to be doing SOMETHING.

A virtual assistant is not necessarily less costly to the client. The costs are presented differently.  If you worked in the office, you would be an employee. The client/employer would be provide tax support, office equipment, and the wage. An employee who is paid $10 per hour  costs the employer $20 in hidden costs.  When someone comes to you wanting cheap rates because they don’t want to hire a temp to do the work, decide how bad you want the work, but I recommend passing on the job.

A good hourly rate depends upon your economy and that of no one else. Remember that you are responsible for all taxes, office equipment, supplies for your business. Additionally, you may be the breadwinner for your house, so you need some money after office expenses for life. Crunch the numbers, while telling yourself that you need more money, not more work!  This will get you to your rate. After you’ve decided what you are worth, you have a negotiating place if you want to discount.  WANT is the operative word.”

Conclusion

First of all, a giant thanks to the virtual assistants who contributed to this article. You were thoughtful, thorough, and very open about your experience.

I was struck throughout by the very different experiences people had. It gives me hope for you future virtual assistants out there that there is plenty of work. Work for how many ever hours you want to work. And what rates you think the market can bear.

If you want to learn more about becoming a virtual assistant, check out “30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success” <<<Click there to check out the course. 

This course is intensive, in-depth and comes highly recommended.

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