So, 2020 was pretty wild, and many people discovered that working online might be a real possibility for them. I’m one of those people.
I graduated from college with an Administrative Professional Certificate during the beginning of the very first COVID shutdown. I tried looking for office jobs for months after graduation, but (needless to say) it wasn’t the best time to look for jobs — and for many people it’s still not.
Unless you switch your focus to the online world.
Many brick-and-mortar businesses have had to shut down the in-person side of things, and focus on earning most of their revenue via the Internet instead.
This means that many office jobs have relocated from the traditional cubical / water cooler experience to remote / work-from-home opportunities, and that’s a BIG deal.
I stumbled on the remote office assistant world around the middle of summer last year. Originally, I was researching web developer jobs and coding boot-camps because I assumed those would be the hot ticket to a life working online.
I discovered that there’s more to the internet than just creating websites. In fact, I found Abbey Ashley’s online course for becoming a remote office assistant. Or, as they’re better known: a Virtual Assistant. This was a gamechanger for me.
Abbey teaches women (and men!) how to take the skills they already have from all their other work experience and turn those skills into services they can offer businesses remotely.
She takes you step-by-step from “What IS a virtual assistant? What do they do?” to “These are the skills you have; here’s how you can package them into a service-based business that can earn $5k, $10k, or MORE — per month!”
Along the way, Abbey’s Virtual Savvy course teaches you how to brand your business. How to register your business name, and plan for taxes (because you will be a contract worker, not an employee). Abbey even has a separate add-on that teaches you 40+ different platforms and tech-y things you’ll want to know if you want to give your virtual assistant business the best start you can (like What is Asana? What do Real Estate Virtual Assistants Do? How do I Use Tailwind for Business?).
This was my journey towards becoming a virtual assistant, but WHY would somebody choose to take this path? Why would you choose to stray from a stable W-2 employee position to become a freelance business-owner (and in THIS ECONOMY!) who seems to always be looking for work?
Let’s take a peak at three of my favorite perks of the job:
1) Work From Home
This is the most obvious perk. You don’t have to deal with hour long commutes anymore. Or irritating co-workers who microwave tilapia in the company kitchen. Or a work schedule that you have no say in creating.
You don’t have to pay for childcare because you’ll be home. You don’t have to pay to park at an office because you’ll be home. You don’t even have to pay for office clothes if you don’t want to, because you’ll. be. home.
There’s a second part of this perk too: less stress.
Because you’re not giving up hours of your week commuting to the office, you have more free time to indulge in hobbies or spend with family (my pet rabbits are blessed to have extra free-range time and more cuddles than ever before).
You get to set your hours now. Instead of dicking around from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. because that’s the amount of time you’re scheduled to be “at work”, you only need to be “clocked-in” during the time you’re actually WORKING. If you finish a project at noon — you can just log off. You won’t have to find busy work to fill the remaining five hours.
2) Set You Own Rates
Let’s say the average administrative assistant earns between $40,000-$50,000 salary. That’s not bad. But what if you had the ability to increase your rates when you wanted?
If you’re a virtual assistant, that can be a reality.
Since you are a contract worker, you’re not tied to a wage set by a company or a manager. YOU are the manager, and this is YOUR business. You are responsible for setting your own rates.
The wages that VAs set for themselves have a huge range; from $3 per hour, up to $60 (and higher!). Why the disparity? These numbers depend on the “going rate” where the VA lives, their skills and experience, and how they market themselves (i.e. “beginner” or “expert”).
It’s important to remember that VAs will probably charge more per hour than a traditional in-office employee. This is because they pay the full amount of their taxes themselves, instead of letting an employer deduct a portion of their taxes out of their paycheck.
This means that hiring a virtual assistant actually saves money for the business owner who hires one because they will not have to pay for things like employee training, health insurance, or PTO.
I recommend not selling yourself short if you decide to become a virtual assistant. You will be providing valuable services to your client, and you should charge according to the value you offer.
3) Choose Your Clients & Services
Speaking of valuable services, YOU get to decide which ones you want to offer.
Unlike an employee, who doesn’t have much say in which parts of the job description they’re interested in performing, a virtual assistant takes a personal inventory of their work experience and skill set and MARKETS those that they actually ENJOY doing.
Remember what I said earlier about the potential to have less stress at work? Yeah, that applies here too.
I’m not the gal for customer service or bookkeeping. I don’t scream for joy at the thought of hosting webinars. So I don’t market myself as the person for any clients that need those services! I stick to MY zone of genius, and I find clients that have problems I would enjoy helping them solve.
But here’s my favorite part: if you ever have a client whom you DREAD seeing their name in your inbox, or a client who’s ultimate pastime seems to be leaving rude voicemails for you every week, you can ditch them!
You get to create a work environment for yourself where you are respected as a business owner who partners with other businesses as a solution to their problems.
Many VAs have about 6 clients. So if there’s one that’s causing you constant stress, you can end the work relationship and replace them with a different client. And don’t worry — you’ll still have those other 5 clients, so the temporary decrease in your income will be manageable.
Eventually, when you continue on with your VA journey and figure out what you love doing and which types of clients you prefer, you can even niche down the services you offer and become a specialist.
Instead of offering general services like data entry or customer service, you can dive all in on your favorite platform or niche. Learn everything you can about it, and market yourself as the high-skilled expert that you are — and charge accordingly 😉
There are Pinterest VAs, Real Estate VAs, Shopify VAs, Wedding Industry VAs, WordPress VAs, and virtual assistants who solely focus on creating branding and logos. The sky’s the limit!
I love being a virtual assistant because of the freedom it offers and the endless possibilities there are. Just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; I get to choose who, when, and how much.
I also get to choose my own fortune. Do I want to scale up into an agency? Do I want to niche down and become a high-paid specialist? Do I want to only work a few VIP days each month and charge $4k for each of those days? None of these ideas have to be outside the realm of reality anymore.
Women across the globe are launching their own successful careers as business owners, and they’re doing it by dipping their toe in the Internet’s job pool as virtual assistants.
They’re learning how immense the opportunities are for remote workers. They’re learning how to earn an income that reflects the value they provide. Best of all: they’re empowering themselves to ditch what isn’t lighting them up, and grab hold of all the things that ARE.
About The Writer
Hey there! I’m Stacey Guest. I’m a virtual assistant who focuses on content writing (with emphasis on content that takes a bite outta the patriarchy). I live in Alberta, Canada with my husband and two rabbits. If you have a feminist project you need help with, I’d love to chat!
Find me on Facebook @WorkWithStacey, or Instagram @stacey.d.guest
Here’s my affiliate link for Abbey Ashley’s Virtual Savvy course (currently open for enrolment): https://TheVirtualSavvy.samcart.com/referral/partnersavvysystem/b6vHuK4GjNluif1S