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Shortly over one year ago, I found myself looking through job postings during a pandemic, feeling more hopeless as each interview passed. It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn't cut it. The only jobs that would call me back were robot-style customer support jobs and I knew I wouldn't be happy with that sort of position. I've worked as a customer support robot for years, and while I always did a good job, I was always limited by my employer.
I did what everyone does; following posts about people who freelance or work remotely, wishing I could make money while also being free. Consequently, this also made me feel terrible about myself, since I had failed at being self employed in the past. I continued to apply for jobs left, right and center, and kept holding out hope I would find something.
By chance, I stumbled across a job posting for Virtual Gurus, a marketplace where you can connect with Virtual Assistants. I had heard of Virtual Assistants online, but wasn't sure it was for me. I applied, went through the interview process, and was so relieved that I was offered a job after so many months of failing at interviews!
Since then, everything in my career has been AMAZING! After learning the ropes and getting my first few clients, I gained confidence in my abilities. I got oodles of positive feedback from my clients and the Team. My stress levels lowered significantly. I was working at a job where I was doing well and the community was amazing. I was even named VA of the Year, which was an amazing honor.
Over this year, I've learned some important lessons that I wanted to share, especially to anyone considering becoming a Virtual Assistant.
While deciding to be a VA, you need to sit down and decide what services you want to offer... and that is OVERWHELMING. I don't know about you, but being faced with sitting down and writing out what I know how to do makes my mind go completely blank. This can also lead you down a road of feeling like you don't know as much as you do.
My best advice here is to stop and take a breath. Ground yourself and take a look at something solid... like the apps on your phone. Got Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok? Consider what social media skills you may have to offer. Are you managing multiple emails on your phone? Maybe you can offer people email management. Take some tangible things you can see, and start writing them down. After a few minutes, you'll find you know a lot more than you thought!
Have faith in your skills.
When I was younger, I always thought that networking was this strange, nebulous thing where business people talked about business stuff. It's CEOs talking about a bunch of acronyms in a big board room. Not something I really aspire to.
Since becoming a VA, the idea of networking has changed into something way more fun. I've been fortunate enough to meet so many amazing VA's through this year, all with different skills and ways of life. Networking as a VA isn't some stuff, awkward process either... it's professionals relying on each other.
Since I'm fortunate enough to work with Virtual Gurus, I have quick access to fellow VA's if I have questions, concerns or need suggestions. If you're independent, there's tons of helpful Facebook groups too. My experience has been that Virtual Assistants are some of the most helpful people out there!
So as a VA, network the heck out of your job! The connections you make will make a huge difference.
This one is a hard one for me, since I'm an overachieving perfectionist that wants to make everyone happy. When I first started, I wanted to say yes to every job, yes to every offer, yes to everything! I feel like this is a pretty common thing, but as time went on a realized that is not the best way to do things.
We all have things that we really just don't like doing... and if you don't like doing something as a VA, I say outsource it! Grab yourself a partner in crime who likes doing that thing you don't like. Sure, you COULD do those accounting tasks even though they make you want to pull your hair out... but is that really how you want to spend you day? If the answer is no, OUTSOURCE.
Stick to doing what you enjoy and you will have more energy to put into those things, and do a better job for your clients.
I find this is true for most things in life, but living the life of a Virtual Assistant means lots and lots of learning. There's a learning curve when you become a VA, there's a learning curve when you take on new clients and of course, you always need to keep up with what's new in the systems you use. Things rarely stay the same.
I find this skill a particular challenge as a social media VA... systems can make changes that can throw your plans out the window at any time. What's popular changes like the tide. Being willing to keep track of that, and learning as you go is critical.
I've also taken so many great courses over this year to expand or bulk up my skills. (I have a bit of a Udemy issue...) You can never know everything, but I think that being a lifelong learner is a huge benefit.
Being a VA can be a double edge sword... you get way more freedom and control which is AMAZING! But with great freedom comes great responsibility. As an overachieving perfectionist people pleaser, this can get out of hand really fast. It's a good thing to want to get your client's work done and make them happy, but if you aren't careful that can morph into working really long days.
After a short time as a VA, I decided that while being an overachieving, perfectionist, people pleaser sounds good on paper, that I need to take a step back to take care of myself.
Taking care of yourself is just better for everyone all around. When I take care of myself, I'm more creative for my clients. I am better at keeping track of my tasks and deadlines. I lean more into being myself. I send more pictures of my cats. It's just better.
While I'm not yet perfect at taking care of myself (hello again perfectionism), it's a learning process. Somedays it's hard to keep the boundaries is place. Everyday gets a bit easier. So take care of yourself!