What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in that field?
I have worked for the last three years as a Virtual Assistant. While my industry is a little ambiguous at this point it is usually considered the Administrative field.
Would you describe the things you do on a typical day?
One of the things I like most about this job is that there is no such thing as a “typical day”. Different clients need me to do different things for them and in the Virtual Assistant field you could do anything such as writing, social media, data entry, scheduling, blog posting, accounting or even graphic design or web design. I focus more on writing, blog management, social media, organization and project launches. This means I often write articles and blog posts, handle WordPress, Facebook and twitter accounts, and help people stay organized and on task for projects, e-books, meetings, etc.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What would it take to unleash your full enthusiasm, talent and productivity?
I would rate my job satisfaction an 8. I love what I do but sometimes you can get clients with unreasonable requests or those who don’t give you the information you need to complete a project then demand the finished product. In order to unleash my full enthusiasm, talent and productivity it would take a VA-client relationship where we were totally in sync, like Radar on the MASH TV show where he knew what was needed before it was asked.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I had a client that would just send me an email saying “I need this_” and expect me to do it. Graphic design, web design and how to get a website to rank high on Google were all things I learned on the fly. I was new in the business then and afraid to say no or to ask more questions about how to do something. Now if I don’t know, I ask, and I find people appreciate my honesty.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
Learning how to create a careful balance with clients between having to tell them what to do versus being told what to do is something that is never taught in school. In my line of work I often have to explain things to my clients and why what they want isn’t possible. This is something not all clients handle well no matter how carefully you say it. This would have saved me a lot of grief and perhaps a lost client or two.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I was looking for a way to earn some extra money while my children were younger and I had two at home. I got on Elance and started stumbling my way around and found a few clients. Later I started researching on the Web, went back to college, and started my own business. If I had it to do all over again I would have approached this as a business. I would do my research, create a business plan, and attack everything head on and I would have most likely been successful sooner.
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
The strangest thing that ever happened to me in this job was when I had to go through YouTube videos for viral videos and found one of a Denmark commercial where a man kicks a baby. And I thought US commercials were weird.
On a good day when things are going well, can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
What makes me feel good is when a client doesn’t think something is possible and I am able to figure out a way to get it done for them. The relief and gratitude they express makes up for the bad days.
When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
As a subcontractor, I use my own equipment. Anything goes wrong with my hardware or software and it can be a whole day down the drain.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
My job is no more stressful then the typical office job. It took time to learn to walk away from the office but now I have a healthy work-life balance.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
VA’s earn anything from $15-$60/ hr. I am in the middle range now and I do earn enough but it took a while to get here.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I liked working for this one non-profit company that was helping the people in Haiti. I love when I can help other people that is one of the best aspects of a VA in my opinion.
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
The most challenging moment I ever experienced was when a client asked me to add some information to a WordPress site and I found out that it was done wrong. The programmer was a good friend of hers and she didn’t like being told the person didn’t know what they were doing and the work had to be redone. I had one very difficult client who demanded a lot, paid little, and was never satisfied. If I could, I would forget the three months I struggled to make him happy.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I find as an business owner a degree in business management helps a lot, but as a Virtual Assistant you don’t need a formal degree, just experience. You need to be able to work well without having someone looking over your shoulder all the time and have Internet experience helps. Other skills depend vary but include data entry, scheduling, office skills, graphic design and other areas where people need an extra hand.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
It is a great job but you have to be patient, work hard and take time to build a solid reputation.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I actually took my first vacation this year. That is something I am working on and don’t advise other people to do the same. Create a plan where you take time off or you get burnt out.
Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
People have little or no idea of what a VA is. We are business owners, not secretaries, and experienced professionals, not lackeys to do run errands. I would want people to understand that what we do is more like a consultant and if you handle your VA relationship right your business will skyrocket.
Does this job move your heart? Feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
I do love what I do and this is what I want to keep doing as I hone my skills and my business to establish a client base that supports my family and what I want to do in life so I can grow.
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
In five years I want to have 6-10 VA’s under me so that I can be more of a manager and spend more time with my family.
Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I did all of this as a single parent. So if I can do it you can too.