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The skill-based economy is knocking on the door. Making money now doesn’t require fancy degrees, VC-backed startups, or a shark tank idea.
All it requires is a skill. You can literally lend any of your skills as a service and get paid. In fact, service-based business is the most popular side hustle today in the United States.
Virtual assistance is one of the best services to offer because there are no start-up costs apart from a laptop and an internet connection, little to no overheads, and high earning potential. Also, almost anybody can do it.
It is a service that is currently in demand and will probably stay so because of the work-from-home culture that is here to stay.
While many people see it only as a side hustle, it has all the potential to out-earn your day job and provides you with that life of independence.
Today, we’ve Lauren Golden of The Free Mama movement to talk about how to become a virtual assistant. And not only a virtual assistant, but a highly paid one.
Who is a Virtual Assistant
The most commonly used definition of a virtual assistant is someone who is a freelance contractor and provides administrative services to their clients.
While the definition is true, it is limited. The work of a virtual assistant is not limited to just administrative tasks, though it is the most common one.
You can be a technical assistant, creative assistant, legal assistant. Basically, any support work that you can do can be counted as a virtual assistant’s job.
Mostly, busy entrepreneurs, top-level management executives, small business owners are the people who need virtual assistant services the most.
Why Being a Virtual Assistant
A lot of people become virtual assistants to earn money on the side, while others pursue it full-time to be able to leave their job and enjoy the perks of working remotely.
While there are numerous benefits of being a freelancer, such as income flexibility, independence, and workload control, there are also demerits that come with it.
The biggest one is missing out on the benefits that come with a job. Yes, you might not like your job, but your employer contributes to your 401k, your health insurance, and all the other employee benefits.
These are the things that you will have to sacrifice while being a self-employed individual. Also, you have no security of income because you never know when you’ll run out of clients.
So with all these pros and cons, is being a freelancer or virtual assistant worth it? Well, the answer is it depends. It depends on the kind of person you are and what you value.
If you like control, independence and flexibility more in your work, then you can buy a health insurance from a private broker or an exchange as well.
If you value security, employee benefits and consistency in your work, then you might not find freelancing that enjoyable after all.
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How to Become a Virtual Assistant
So if you’ve decided that virtual assistant is a career that you want to pursue, then the biggest question is how to become a virtual assistant and how to get paid enough.
Getting paid enough is equally important because freelancers are often expected to work at sub-par rates, which should not be the case.
Stop Wasting Time on Freelance Sites
It might sound counterintuitive because sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com are where you’re supposed to find work as a freelancer, right?
Most freelancers, gurus, and coaches will recommend you to open an account on these platforms, but not Lauren. She will ask you to stay away.
Because when it comes to these freelancing sites, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. The biggest drawback of these sites is that you’re always competing on the prices.
You have to compete with people from all over the world, including third-world markets where you can find a virtual assistant for like $3/hr. No disrespect to them, but for someone in the United States, that is not even worth leaving your bed.
Also, the competition is far too high for any newcomer or inexperienced freelancer to get a client without working for pennies. People with years of experience are ready to compete with you.
On most of these sites, you’ll find yourself spending much more time writing proposals, building a portfolio, applying to jobs rather than doing the actual work that pays.
How to Get Clients
The best approach for any beginner with little to no experience is starting out with the network you already have.
A lot of clients, instead of going to sites like Upwork, prefer to ask their network for leads when they need a freelancer.
When you work with a client, you get access to their network, When you recommend someone else, you get access to their network. When you connect with someone, you expand your network.
Clients who’ll come to you through a network will also be much better than those you’ll find on Upwork because they’ll trust you more, give you more freedom, and pay better.
If you’re an experienced freelancer with an established portfolio, you can directly reach out to clients via email or platforms like LinkedIn. Also, you can apply for some high-paying jobs on freelance sites that we just talked about.
Do Not Hustle and Hustle and Hustle
Again, sounds counterintuitive, right? But do not mistake hustle with hard work. You need to do hard work but need not do blind hard work, which is hustle.
Hustle only sounds good in Garyvee’s quotes, not in real life. You should be very intentional about how you want to spend your time working.
Whether you want to spend time building a fancy portfolio, writing professional proposals, applying to different jobs, or wanna work on things that actually pay.
One of the major benefits of freelancing is freedom, but a lot of people end up doing more work than they would do otherwise in a job.
Doing a little bit more work till you get sufficient clients is justifiable but do not make hustle a part of your daily life.
How Long Will it Take to Get Your First Client
It is the most common question that comes to the mind of anyone who’s just starting out with freelancing.
And, while it is a very genuine question, it is very much hard to answer because it is one of those questions that you can only answer with “It depends.”
It is like investing in an asset and asking how long will it take to get a return, or going to the doctor and asking how long will it take for you to feel perfectly healthy.
How long it will take for you to get a client depends on factors like what skillset you’re bringing to the table, what experience do you have, what your current network looks like, and a lot of other things.
If your skillset is strong and you’ve got a network that can refer you to a bunch of people, then you might get a client in less than 2 weeks.
But if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for more than 20 years and don’t know a bunch of people already, then it might take you more than a month or two.
At the end of the day, all that matters is how much confident you are in your skills and ability to deliver value. Because today or tomorrow, clients will come. If you do good work, then chances are that you’ll get a referral, and then it’ll keep getting more and more easier from there.