There’s been a lot of interest in my work as a Virtual Assistant. And I get the appeal. “You have a work-at-home job that isn’t a ponzi scheme? You can make money in your yoga pants!? Tell me more!” While I’m still very new to this game and have much to learn, I hope that I can offer a few insights which will be helpful to those interested.
After Carson was born, I played around with a few different working arrangements to see which one suited. (Read more about that in my guest post for Modern Mrs. Darcy.) When I became pregnant with Nora, the gears shifted again. For a number of reasons, I decided to leave the company I had been employed with for the past three years to pursue my own options.
Since my prior job was in Internet marketing, I first pitched services under the title ‘marketing assistant’. Then, after sending a few inquiries, I realized I was actually pitching services akin to an administrative assistant, but with marketing savvy. I had heard the term ‘virtual assistant’ before and, after speaking with one of my clients, it was confirmed that the title ‘VA’ really hit the mark.
Here’s the super simple way I got my first clients: I asked them. Truly, it was that straightforward. I sent well-polished, friendly but professional emails to a few bloggers and podcasters that I have interacted with online. (Read more networking tips in my guest post for Brilliant Business Moms.) I explained my background, provided links of sample work, and let them know I would be happy to fill any needs they may have. Literally within hours of sending those emails, I got responses back. Some said no. Some said wait. And one said yes! Instantly, I became a Virtual Assistant!
Another way to get online work is using a website meant to connect freelancers. Website like https://www.upwork.com/ and https://www.powertofly.com/ were reccomended to me, though I do not have personal experience getting work from those sites. Additionally, don’t underestimate the power of connecting with people on LinkedIn (especially if you’ve had prior experience in a business setting and have a few good contacts) or using Facebook groups to find clients and working arrangements.
Just a side note, I also created a quick landing page on my website, which I refer interested clients to in addition to providing them with my resume. I plan to keep making adjustments to the content of the page as I develop my VA services.
If you want to pursue this work for yourself, here are a few tips. (And know that I’m preaching to myself as I share them!)
5 Tips For New Virtual Assistants
- Be a good Interneter. I first heard the term ‘Interneter’ from Jess Connolly and I love it. With such diversity in the online space, most personalities are no longer defined as simply ‘bloggers’. At this stage, many online faces got their start in social media alone. (Honest Toddler, anyone?) Keep in mind that your Internet presence can mean everything from your blog to your Instagram account. Leverage your online fingerprint by ensuring you’re thoughtful with every interaction and responsible with the content you create.
- Master the art of networking. My thoughts on networking can be found in this Brilliant Business Moms post. The gist is this, “Through helping other people with your products or services, your niche becomes a stronger part of the marketplace. The benefit to you is that your business gets to take part in that development. Cultivate growth. Become a catalyst for positive change. Foster new projects and ideas.”
- Match standards. As a VA, your work is both representative of you and of another business or brand. Your work ethic is directly tied to your name, but your end product will likely be tied to someone else’s. It is for that reason your client’s standards become your standards. Receive any critiques of your work graciously and with an open attitude. Be willing to learn each client’s unique style and match it to the very best of your ability. (I literally cringe during in those moments when I learn my work wasn’t up to par, but I try to let that disappointment fuel me to keep improving.)
- Protect your schedule. ’Work at home’ does not mean ‘work whenever I feel so inclined.’ Too many times I’ve said yes to other engagements during hours I had first blocked out for working. “Oh, I can get to these assignments later,” I would reason. If you wouldn’t give your boss at a 9-to-5 that excuse, don’t give yourself that excuse. Taking liberties with my schedule results in pushing deadlines and shoddy work. It’s not worth it. Set and protect your schedule. I’m especially committed to improving in this area during the new year. Crystal Paine shared great tips about taking yourself (and your schedule!) seriously as a WAHM–thoughts which apply to anyone working at home.
- Stay current. I easily get caught in the rut of working in my business rather than on my business. I could be the only one with this problem, but I don’t think I am. It’s worth it to pause every so often and take stock. Are there updates to your website that need to be made? Do you have a question about your business structure or taxes that need answering? Is there a new best practice or industry trend you should be aware of? It’s refreshing to lift your nose from the grindstone and have a look around.
I’m not sure why, but God has continued to allow me opportunities for growth online. (Many of which I haven’t sought out!) Because this space is getting attention, I feel that I want to be a good steward of it. Right now, that means using my online life to build an income to provide for our family. I still feel incredibly green, but I’ve enjoyed the learning process and hope this post has shared some of that knowledge. I’m not planning on changing my usual content, but if there are more questions about working as a VA I can answer, I will try to do so as time allows. Thank you, as always!