Becoming a virtual assistant is a hot topic across social media and other platforms. With the increased popularity of at-home work, many Americans are seeking new and individualized ways to make a living and achieve their financial goals. Before deciding whether a career as a VA is right for you, take a look at the top 5 things I wish I’d known before I became one:
1. Protect yourself and your time.
Before becoming a virtual assistant, make sure that you have a plan to ensure that you and your time are protected. At the beginning of my VA career, I assumed that every client I worked with would be trustworthy and respectful of my time. The unfortunate reality of working as a freelancer is that you cannot always rely on other people to ensure that you get what you deserve - you have to rely on yourself! Unlike traditional employment settings, most freelance jobs will not automatically include legal or other protections. This highlights the importance of having your own systems of protection in place such as contracts, legal protections, and business insurance. A good motto is to, “always assume the best and prepare for the worst!”
3. Prepare to set boundaries.
I can’t stress this enough: setting boundaries in your work as a VA will make or break your mental and emotional health. It’s all too easy in a service-based industry to put everything you have into your clients. Being a good VA centers around the ability to stay efficient and reliable. When you are feeling down or burned out it’s key to stay on top of tasks that can take a downturn. Now, I’m all for a solid hustle working 12 hour days and putting all you have into being successful is often what it takes, but making your mental health a priority is vital. Establishing boundaries between you and your clients not only helps you stay sane but also helps you be a better worker in the long run. Examples of boundaries you can set for yourself are what work you will and won’t do, what hours you are and aren’t available, how much time off you expect, etc.
4. Don’t undersell yourself.
Under-selling your actual value can be a really challenging thing to overcome when you’re first getting started in the freelancer world. From unrealistic client expectations and the low cost of outsourcing certain tasks, it can sometimes feel like setting your price and sticking to it is a losing game. However, I am here to tell you that you are worth it! When you’re planning your prices, don’t think about the things that you can’t offer your clients, rather think about the things that you can offer them and set your pricing around your experience in that area. If you’re beginning your career in general admin with no experience or education around, I recommend starting out at $12-$15 per hour and then working your way up to a higher price point from there based on your experience, education level, location, etc. In general, VA’s can and should make over $20 per hour with some experience and/or education. If you have a specialized skill like social media or graphic design, plan to price those services at a higher rate.
5. Understand how people think of “assistants”.
This was one thing that was particularly hard for me at the beginning of my VA career. As a young woman with a college degree, some people assumed that when I graduated I would start a career in a traditional field and work a standard 9-5. When I told them that I had decided to become a full-time VA, I was often met with questions like “So you're becoming a secretary?” or “Don’t you want to do something more important?” People make the assumption at times that being an assistant or VA is only something that people do when they have no other options or skills. In reality, being a VA allows for far better flexibility, pay, and job autonomy than almost all entry and mid-level “traditional” jobs. Having an understanding of perceptions people may have about VA work and being prepared to ignore or educate people who offer unsolicited advice or hurtful comments comes with the territory. No matter what, remember that what you do as a VA is undeniably important to your clients and it offers you the freedom and flexibility that a standard 9-5 never could.
I hope that these five things help better prepare you to get started on your own VA journey. Understanding that although getting started may not be easy, the long-term benefits are incredibly worthwhile is so important. Comment below if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover about getting started as a virtual assistant!
Author: Camryn Pickworth
As the head VA and owner of The First Pick VA Group I have found such great joy in sharing my experiences and top tips with other freelancers and aspiring VA's. I hope that our blog can service as a great reference for VA's and Clients alike!