You don’t Have to Live in Mumbai to Be a Successful VA

About 3 years ago, I took a big decision. I left a promising yet successful career in marketing and advertising to become a virtual assistant. The idea was actually brought by the owner of this blog, who is also my brother-in-law.

At the time, I was going through more downs than ups at my job and really questioned my future in the marketing field. Not that I didn’t like what I was doing, but it’s a highly competitive world in which you MUST work like an idiot for many years before you start enjoying life. I would have had the potential, no doubt about it. However, I had another big project in mind: starting up a family. A family with whom I wanted to spend more time than 2 days per week.

That’s when my brother-in-law told me about what he was doing with his blogs, what projects he had in mind, where he wanted to go with it and that he needed someone to work with him at it. I got interested, very interested. I could work from home, have flexible hours and still be in touch with Marketing, Advertising and Communication? Wow! A dream come true!

Nothing is As Simple

Let me tell you the very first thing I’ve learned: it’s hard to make a dream come true. Each opportunity comes with its challenges. Thing is I knew nothing about the World Wide Web reality! There are tons of VAs out there, tons of blogs and bloggers. Financial blogging is a close community though, but virtual assistants are often not considered as part of it.

I had to learn to be invisible and work behind the scenes. I had to learn to not count on others to recognize my work. Only thing that mattered was to be proud of what I was doing and make the persons who hired me satisfied.

It all started with simple tasks. First, I read. I read A LOT! I read Pat Flynn’s EBook and many others, I read blog posts and I read about the basics of finance at the same time. I was monitoring advertisement deadlines, did some basics accounting tasks, commented on some blogs, posted things on Social Medias, formatted posts and an EBook and did some basic writing. Nothing too fancy, but it was learning and adapting period for me.

Working from Home is not Working…

Most people think that working from home is not a real work. Many persons in my entourage still think I have plenty of time to make my laundry, wash the dishes, take care of the kids, clean the whole house and have supper ready for 6 o’clock each night… Well, that’s not true.

To me, working from home does come with flexible hours. If I have a doctor’s appointment for my son, I can take these two hours back at night. And yes, during my lunch break, I sometimes start supper preparation or fold over some clothes. But if I interrupt my work each time I think of a household task to be done, I simply won’t work anymore.

Staying work focus in a home environment is quite a challenge! You truly have to set a schedule just as if you were working in a regular office. You have to avoid too many distractions like phone talks, household tasks and this dear Facebook I love and hate! 😉 My solution was to allow me 2-3 short breaks per day. I use these 5-10 minutes for Facebook time (what I now call my colleagues!), quick phone calls or simply moving time (you have no idea how climbing the stairs 2-3 times helps gaining energy back when you spend your weeks at home and sitting!).

Getting the Blues

A quick side note. Autumn and winter are also though periods for many home workers. Having no one to talk to and spending the whole week in the same place surely bring depressive attitude or thoughts. Working from a coffee shop once in a while and organizing outside activities for the weekend surely helps beating that feeling.

The Key to Success as a VA

Once I had my schedule truly set-up and understood the basics of my job, I wanted more. I didn’t come and say: I deserve more. Instead, I showed I was able to do more.

I started to truly involved myself in the main company I worked for. I brought some ideas and comments. I even had some long debates on things I truly thought were worth it. I asked questions, many questions. I asked what the projects to come were and if I could help in some ways in the process. I did not hesitate to exchange emails during nights or weekends, from time to time. I even managed to stay informed while officially on maternity leave.

Another very important thing was that I always put quality over quantity. I could have offered my services to many others and start working for them. Instead of charging lower and having lots, I decided to focus on the quality of my work. Result? I didn’t even have to negotiate for higher rates! 😉

Evolving with the Internet

Last point, but so not least, is to be able to evolve with the Internet. That’s quite hard I know! As a virtual assistant, you have to always adapt yourself to new projects, new ways of doing. You just can’t keep writing posts like you did 2 years ago, you have to offer more. You have to be versatile and open minded. Since the Internet can evolve greatly in a matter of a couple hours, you have to always be ready to make some changes in what was more than fine the day before.

Three Years Later

Even though clerical tasks are still part of my routine – and probably always will – I’m now included, directly or indirectly, in almost all the company’s decisions and projects. I’m in charge of more complex projects, like Everyday Minimalist Newsletter and was even invited to the last FinCon Conference in St. Louis as a member of the company. This was definitely an experience to remember!

I’m not sure what future holds for me, as things can change real fast in the “blogosphere”. As some of you might know, doing plans for the next five years with Internet is like trying to guess what your grandchildren will look like even before you start thinking about your own kids! 😉 However, I like what I’m doing right now and still hope to be able to work from home for the next at least 5 years. I’m a curious person who likes learning new things and who needs some challenges to move forward. I’m certainly served with the team I currently work with! I’m not sure I’m made to have my own blogs company, but I would definitely enjoy being the “brain” behind some profitable projects for both the company I work for and I.

Hi! I’m a 30 year old woman, mother of a son and another one to come, I live in Québec, Canada and I make a decent living being a successful VA, 4 days a week! 😉

Images credit: Dream Job, Working from home desk, Work Interfering, Computer

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