I WROTE this article over five years ago and found it still relevant to those wanting to start as a full-time or part-time freelancer. So I tweaked it a bit and re-publishing it now.
Way back in 2009, I was at the point of choosing between becoming a full-time journalist or a virtual assistant. I chose the journalism track. But a few months later into being a journalist, knowing and feeling how little the seemingly thankless job pays, I decided to go back to working part-time as an online virtual assistant.
In the world of freelancing, many look down on virtual assistants, not knowing that some of the most successful Pinoy freelancers (those earning six-figures or more) in the industry today have started as virtual assistants before finding their niche. Virtual assistants are often called jack-of-all-trades and master of none as they perform whatever tasks a client asks. From writing speeches, replying to e-mails, fixing calendars to booking hotels and flights, VAs have done it.
Even with a regular job in a newspaper, I toiled as a virtual assistant maintaining at least one contract to make ends meet. There’s nothing non-human in being a Virtual Assistant.
Simply put, a virtual assistant is a self-employed individual that provides professional, administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office through the internet. Some would do admin work while others would handle secretarial, web development, content writing, data entry and spreadsheet building, e-commerce and marketing, medical, legal, and other tasks similar to an executive assistant to an online businessman or corporation.
Now how do you distinguish between a virtual assistant and a personal assistant? Well, this is a no-brainer. A personal or executive assistant is often office-based and performs different working tasks that are assigned only by the management of the company.
Meantime, a virtual assistant is an internet entrepreneur. The virtual assistant often works independently from a home-based office and thus his physical presence in a business office or the company is not compulsory. He virtually offers remote support via the internet.
While many Filipino virtual assistants seem to be inclined to handle only one employer, this is not the case for most Pinoy freelancers who have found the job as an opportunity for growth and to upskill. Some virtual assistants accept more than one client and do a multitude of tasks one can imagine.
Now moving forward to 2015, I finally decided to become a full-time freelancer as I was earning more from my online clients than what I earned as a journalist. And from being a virtual assistant, I was able to learn new skills that helped me venture into other online freelance work such as Search Engine Optimization, Content Writing and Editing, Digital Marketing, Social Media Management, video and audio editing among other skills that I was able to offer to various clients.
In the past years, I was able to gain clients based in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Finland, UK, Singapore, and many others because I was able to use all the skills learned from being a virtual assistant. I finally found my niche in the freelancing industry as an SEO Content Writer and Editor.
Believe me, it was not an easy journey. I had bad clients that dumped more work than what was agreed on contract but most of them so far have been pleasant and encouraging to the point that it motivated me to continue being a freelancer. My final advice? Give freelancing a try. Learn many skills along the way. Find your niche in the industry. Start with a job you don’t really like but master the skills you get to learn along the way. There’s no harm in trying. Happy freelancing!