If you do in fact choose to work from home as many virtual assistants choose to do then you may find yourself at the mercy of many potential distractions. Things like snack breaks, playing with your pets, television and other aspects of your home run the risk of distracting you from your work. If you aren’t able to discipline yourself into working properly then you run the risk of falling behind deadlines and upsetting clients.
Holidays and breaks aren’t paid. While it is true that being able to freely take breaks away from work is nice and can do a great deal to combat stress, you are hurting your bottom line by doing so too frequently. As is the case with all self-employment you are responsible for how large your salary is through your work. Time spent not working is time not earning. Make sure you can find a healthy balance.
You now have to handle all business aspects on your own. As an employee of a company all you have to worry about is your assigned job role and tasks. Your employer handles all other aspects of the business such as your taxes. When you are self-employed, you are your own employer and have to handle all of those sides of the business on your own. Handling taxes can be confusing and dull and will be a major turn off for many people.
Modern work life can be very tedious and dull. Claustrophobic office cubicles, hectic morning commutes, and apathetic co-workers can create a soul-draining daily routine. Many people enjoy the technical aspects of their job but have the experience tarnished by the environment they find themselves in. If you’ve ever felt this way and want to return some sense of control back into your life, then becoming a virtual assistant may be for you.
What is a virtual assistant
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is someone who provides online services and support to businesses online. Virtual assistants can fill any number of positions within a company from clerical work to marketing. Many entrepreneurs and online businesses have been using virtual assistants to expand. Advancements like stronger and faster internet connection and the advent of online-only businesses have made this more feasible in recent years.
As a virtual assistant, your job could involve any number of things. You could be a specialised assistant that handles one key area with a unique skillset. Or you could cover a brand range of roles within an industry sector.
As a virtual assistant, you aren’t officially an employee of any one company and would instead be classified as a freelancer. Sometimes you may be brought on to a contract to work on an extensive project for a company. Usually, will you be working with a company for a short period of time before moving onto the next one, but in some instances, you may develop close relationships with companies. If a company is particularly impressed with your work, then they will be more likely to hire you again.
The idea of becoming a virtual assistant can be extremely appealing. Being a virtual assistant offers a multitude of benefits of simply being hired full time by a company. These benefits include:
- The environment that you are working in is in your control and much less stressful than a standard office. The majority of virtual assistants work directly from their homes and can freely create their ideal work environment. Having a less stressful work environment is beneficial for your long term mental health.
- You have the freedom to set your hours and adjust your schedule to suit you. Rather than doing the typical soul draining 9 to 5 routine, you can work whatever hours in the day are the most suitable to you. If you need a break or holiday, you don’t have to worry about scheduling it weeks in advance or having a limited number of days that you can take off. This is especially appealing if you are a night person and prefer working much later in the day than most people.
- Freedom to choose who you work for/with. Being your own boss and having a breadth of potential customers opens a lot of opportunities. If there are companies that you don’t want to work with, either for personal reasons or if they have a bad reputation, you can simply ignore them. Working as a member of a larger company full time robs you of this freedom.
While all this makes it seem like being a virtual assistant is a dream job. Why would anyone take up a traditional job when this is an option? However, there are other points to consider that perhaps shatter the idealistic illusion of the perfect job.
Best virtual assistant sites to sign up for
Once you have decided that you are dead set on becoming a virtual assistant and have decided what area you want to work in, you will need to start attracting business. You could set up your own website and work independently, but that’s not advised. You would be much better off signing up for one of the many freelancer platforms online. Here are a few of the best options for you to consider.
Upwork is a very large and well-known freelancer platform. According to their latest statistics they have over 12 million registered freelancers. It can be quite competitive but the opportunities that Upwork offers cannot be understated.
- Upwork has a very large established customer base. There are plenty of potential users to work for.
- Building a strong reputation with one client is highly rewarded without punishing you for working for others as well. The fee that Upwork charges for transactions is gradually reduced as you build rapport with a client. Once you have received a total of $10,000 from a client, Upwork’s cut drops down to just 5%.
- It is easier to build and maintain a positive reputation for your profile then it is on other platforms. Once every 3 months, you are allowed to remove 1 negative review from your profile. If you get an unreasonable, spiteful client you can remove their review of you. Of course, this doesn’t work if you get negative reviews from many different clients.
- The platform is very competitive. While there are millions of clients available on Upwork, there are also millions of other freelancers on the platform. So at the beginning when you have no reviews it can be very difficult to compete with other freelancers at the very beginning.
- You are discouraged from working with multiple different clients. Since you are encouraged to work closely with a client in order to reduce Upwork’s cut you are consequently at a disadvantage by not doing so. This is at odds with wanting to spread the word about yourself and get positive reviews for your profile. Also, if for some reason you can no longer work with a client (bankruptcy, break down in communications, etc.) then all your progress was for naught.
Fiverr is a very large platform that companies use to find virtual assistants. While most platforms have freelancers bidding on job listings posted by companies, on Fiverr you can tell clients exactly what you can do for their business. Initially, the idea behind the platform was that all jobs were $5, but in the years after their inception they have expanded, and jobs can now go up to $10,000.
- Fiverr is a very broad platform with a lot of different tasks that virtual assistants can do for clients. Anyone can earn money through Fiverr as technical requirements are practically non-existent.
- Data security. All transactions are fully handled by the platform and all financial data is kept under tight control. This ensures that there is no risk of either side getting compromised.
- You can complete several much smaller tasks on the platform at a time rather than committing to large projects.
- You have no control over denying clients. If someone accepts your job posting, then the system automatically logs it and you are committed to working for that client.
- You have to endure a 14 day waiting period before you are allowed to withdraw your payment for a completed job. This is supposedly for safety reasons, but that doesn’t change the fact of just how frustrating it is.
- Getting your first few jobs can be quite difficult as you have to compete with other more established virtual assistants.
People per hour are a really popular freelancer platform in the UK. They offer both freelancers and clients a great deal of freedom.
- When a job is completed both parties get to give ratings of each other. This allows both of them to develop their reputation and expand their business.
- You can add a portfolio of your previous works to showcase your skills to potential clients. You can upload files, embed links, add videos and more. Only a few sites, like YouTube, are compatible with this feature.
- Clients receive 15 free job listings per month, encouraging them to upload several job listings and create a lot of opportunities to earn money. You can also complete several from one company because of this and develop a close relationship with them.
- The fee that the service charges is quite high. People per hour charge 20% on the first $500 you earn and then 5% after that. This rate resets every month which is really rough on people who don’t earn a lot through the service, such as newcomers to the site.
- If you are paid in a different currency from your nation’s currency, then you have to pay a fixed exchange rate in order to change the funds. This discourages freelancers from taking jobs outside there own country, so UK citizens won’t be able to fully utilise the American market.