Tips on How to Become a Virtual Assistant
Jomvie – Full-time Virtual Assistant from the Philippines
The true definition of a virtual assistant
When I first started working online, I never thought I would be working as a virtual assistant. For me, in my own perception, “virtual assistant” is a job I will never take because:
- I’m a guy (I’m not being sexist)
- You have to be a fast learner
- Strong personality
These are just a few of the reasons why I am not confident in taking this job. But, hey, look where I am right now—I’m a virtual assistant.
But, what is the true definition of a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a person who provides assistance or personal services to a particular person across the globe. It is like a secretary, only virtually.
You don’t have to be a girl to fit into this job description. You are only required for your:
- Easily adaptable nature for the job, and
- Dedication to your work
Being a service provider requires and demands you to give time to this job since you are rendering your services and you have to be equal to the person hiring you, because you’ll undergo a series of training and familiarizing your daily routine.
And that is why you have to be a fast learner, competitive and with a strong personality, because you are dealing with a personality that is different from yourself—yes, you have to be flexible and ready to adapt to the nature of the job.
If you will not dedicate yourself to the nature of the job, and you’ll just do things according to your will and not according to the will of the person who hired you, it’s just as good as useless.
Now that I’ve finally realized that being a service provider does not require being of a specific gender, I would really like to share this experience to those who are looking for an opportunity as an online worker.
Like me, if you want to take your first step in the online world, you should try to be a virtual assistant and you’ll never regret the experience it offers.
(Virtual Assistant from the Philippines)
As a Virtual Assistant, there are some lessons to keep in mind if you want to be successful. Here is my take on the most important “skills” you need to have if you want to be a successful VA.
I started with a blank portfolio
When I started as a full time virtual employee, I had nothing in my portfolio to show off to my future employer.
I didn’t have the slightest idea where to begin when I first started on my new career path.
Although I’ve worked in the past as a freelancer, it does not require me to sit all day in front of the computer doing some encoding and taking care of websites or making deals online.
The deal is that my friend gives me the topic and I write the article and then pass along the article after I am done.
All I had in mind when I created my profile on a particular online employee pooling site is that I needed an employer to get me started and I would take it from there.
Qualifications for virtual employee
For me, the only qualification you’ll need is
Why guts and patience?
If you don’t have the guts to pursue a new career online, you’ll get nothing at the end of the day.
If you don’t have enough patience for writing email from one employer to another, then I think you need to find a new career path outside the online world.
I am telling you from my own experience; it’s not been easy as a virtual employee. It took me a lot of pins and needles before I found a suitable employer who would give me a decent and generous monthly salary.
You don’t need long titles in the outsourcing industry. Big or small, no title or with a title, you are all the same.
And this is the reason why guts and patience are the perfect ingredients to get you going with your online career.
You don’t need to find a perfect job with lots of perks and benefits. Being a virtual employee is far from being a regular employee. There’s no perfect job in here and there’s no dream job here.
My piece of advice
As I have mentioned earlier, I have nothing to show off. I don’t have any technical skills.
But, if you dream of getting a job to justify your life, don’t be too picky; just don’t allow them to look down on you and you’ll get there.
(Francis’ Full-time Virtual Assistant)
Here’s a sample of a writing exercise in search of my voice in writing
Background from Francis:
I asked my VA to challenge himself with writing in 4 different voice tones the same sort of content to expand his horizon a bit. It was also a small test to see how he handles smaller challenges.
Every individual has its own different style and approach in writing. Some will make your heart melt, make you laugh so hard and some are informative. No matter what your style is, you can’t impose it on to anything like you want it, especially when a random audience would come and visit your site.
Yes, you have to consider some standards in writing your opinion, post or article in a way that will not offend a random audience. But, this task mainly talks about different writing styles in commenting.
Recently, I had this task about voice recording entitled, “My Voice Recording Experience.” These tasks, writing in different styles and voice recording have similarities when it comes to finding your own voice. I mean your style in writing and giving opinion of the website I am working.
For this particular site, my writing style should be cool and a little bit aggressive but not offending. Though it sounds a little complicated, but I took the challenge with an open mind.
From this period, I am still warming up in search of my own voice and supposed-to-be writing style.
As a virtual assistant, there are steps and adjustments I must take to be successful in this field. I had to adapt from the things that I am not familiar and had to bend and break some of the usual habits to fit in the puzzle.
Although this task is same as just commenting to the mainstream social media platforms, but it is still best to take some precautions to avoid conflicts later on.
Mainstream platforms are flooded with sarcastic remarks that will create a commotion and that should be avoided and this is the main purpose of my writing exercise.
Comments for Challenge for a content writer VA: Use 4 Different Writing Styles
|Aug 04, 2014||Getting you self-motivated
by: FrancisThe main goal of the exercise is to boost your self-confidence, Jomvie.You have your very own “style” but it can always be fine-tuned to be the most effective for any site you write content for.A newsletter website reads differently than a blog about puppies etc.
I like to think this exercise was a useful one.
(Francis’ Full-time Virtual Assistant)
On my previous post about “Eye Strain“, it talks about the onset of my eye strain, its signs and symptoms and how I’ve tried to alleviate the feel of discomfort, for me to be able to continue with my work.
On this second post, I am going to discuss the proper ways of caring for your eyes, eye movements/exercise and when is the right time to see your eye doctor most especially to those who are immensely submerged in-front of the monitor.
First off, this post will never be made possible without my employer’s (Francis) concern where he took a time collating a list of links for eye care and to help me alleviate on what I have been feeling the past few weeks. And this will not only help me but as well as to those who are in the same field as mine.
Eye Care Tips to avoid computer eye strain
- Proper Lighting – Often eye strain is related to excessive bright light either from outdoor sunlight reflecting through your window or harsh lightings inside the room.We can eliminate these with the use of drapes or curtains, adjust your monitor’s brightness accordingly that does not flicker and as much as possible position your monitor behind the source of light to avoid glares.
- Take a quick break – Get your eyes a quick break using the 20-20-20 rule:
- Every 20 minutes
- Take a 20 second break and look away
- At something 20 feet from you
- Quick Blink – Due to the nature of the work that requires staring at the computer for long hours, we should never forget to blink periodically to maintain our eyes moisturize.
- Use of computer glasses – If in case you haven’t had your eyes checked, meanwhile, you can utilize fashionable eyeglasses, sunglasses or computer glasses. This will help minimize harsh light coming directly to your eyes.
- Comprehensive eye exam – It is important to have your eyes checked when it is already associated with headaches and disturbing symptoms because you might (probably) need a prescribed eyeglasses and not just those fancy glasses mentioned earlier.
To those who are in the field of online job; VA, freelancer or independent contractor, even employers and those individual that requires prolonged sitting and staring at their monitor, I highly advice you take these tips by heart.
From my own experience, eye-strain is rather painful than annoying. It affects the quality of my work and output and worst is I have to compensate the long hours for the next days when I took off from work on the onset of my eye strain.
If you have anything in mind to add any tips and eye care, do jump in to the comment box and let me know 😀
Comments for Follow-up post: How to avoid Eye Strain
|Jul 31, 2014||Looking down at your screen
by: FrancisGreat tips! Here’s one more:Try to install your screen (or your chair) in a height so that you are looking slightly downwards at your screen.
The top of the screen should be on the same level than your eyes. This way, when you look down, your eyes are more closed than if you look upwards.
This is healthy for your eyes because they are kept moist.
Are you actually implementing the tips from your article? Did that make a difference?
by Francis’ Main Virtual Assistant
A Screenshot from my work diary
Green are working days
I have been asked a question by Francis (My employer) regarding my work schedule. Normally, I work 25-30 hours per week and thankfully I am very much regular with my work routine. That’s why I was asked to provide some tips and techniques about how to manage my working hours and stay productive at the same time.
Well, it was a tough question to answer because I simply don’t have a mechanism for this act specifically. But here are some tips you can keep into your consideration and I am sure these would definitely help you as a virtual assistant.
- Schedule your working hours for each week – Although it sounds simple, but yes – it’s important to schedule your working hours before starting each week. This is what I do. I aim for a target and try to catch up these hours within weekdays i.e. Monday to Friday
- Schedule your working hours for each day – Like I schedule my hours for each week, I also create a work plan for each day individually.
- Know your best productive timings – As a virtual assistant, you must know yourself when it comes to productivity. You should know at what time you’re most productive and when you are less productive.Keeping these timings into your consideration, decide which tasks require more of your brain and which require less attention to detail. For me, I found myself most productive at the start of the work and late at night. I am very much less productive after lunchtime and try to work on some no or less brainer tasks during this time.
- Take breaks from time to time – Rest is important for your daily productivity. Take short breaks within your daily work schedule, this will help you amazingly to boost up your productivity level.
- Try to achieve your target within weekdays – It is very important that you try to finish your work quota within weekdays. If you don’t finish your target within weekdays, try to catch them up as soon as you can.
- No work on weekends – At the initial span of my virtual assistant career, often I couldn’t finish my workweek within weekdays and used to prolong my workweek to weekends. That hurt my productivity very badly, I had a very strange anxiety in my mind regarding those pending hours and that feeling didn’t help me relax during the weekend even if I only had one hour pending.
Now I have decided to finish my work as soon as possible even if some working hours are still pending. After then I do rest, do some leisure activities, dine out with friends, watch a movie etc. I found this really helpful. This gives me a lot of peace of mind and re-boosts my energy level to its maximum.
I hope that these tips will help you work better as a virtual assistant. Please feel free to share other tips and techniques you use to plan your workweek and stay motivated.
Comments for How to Stay Regular and Motivated As a Virtual Assistant
|Jul 16, 2014||no more weekends’
by: JomvieI also have that kind of sentiments at the wee hours of the afternoon. And I am trying to fight off procrastinating during these hours but often I lose 😀 and often I find myself most productive at night probably because the weather is cozy and my brain works comfortably. Great tips though, will take one or two from you =D especially that “no work on weekends”
|Jul 17, 2014||Some things come with time
by: FrancisPeople are different, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. But it’s good to exchange with one another to see what tips we can “steal” from each other.For me, the setting goals – and keeping them – tip echoed most with me.We can discuss the issue of working at night too (you have a voicemail ;)), if that is more comfortable.
Interestingly, I heard this from other VAs from the Philippines, too. Perhaps when I visit the Philippines this year, I will understand why it might be an alternative to work at night…
(Francis’ Full-time Virtual Assistant)
Prolonged exposure to your monitor may be harmful to your eyes
Recently, I had this very painful experience with a nauseous feeling and light-headedness. Aside from that annoying feeling, I am required to sit in-front of the computer all day as being a virtual assistant is my full time job. So, mainly, I do everything on the internet and nothing else.
The painful experience
Just another normal day in front of my computer, as I am starting my daily task—as it is my routine. Inside a couple of hours, I suddenly felt that my eyes seem to have been stabbed with something I can’t see and was followed by dizziness.
I lied down for a while and tried to relax a bit then after a few minutes, I went on to sit in front of the computer to continue working again. Unfortunately, there it goes the nausea again. I took some analgesics for the headache but still the unpleasant feeling persisted.
Things just went worst— the stabbing-like pain in my eyes kept persisting to the point that looking into the computer hurts so much that it takes only seconds for me to get a good look on the monitor then I have to close my eyes thereafter.
After a couple of times trying to sit and do my stuff, I decided to take a rest for the day. But, I did some lifehacks on my own—I tried not to look straight at the computer whenever I am typing just look by the sides of the monitor whenever I am checking out things.
Sometimes I still have that light-headedness and vomiting-like feeling and again I applied my own lifehacks to relieve me from pain and continue my online stuff.
I decided that I need to consult an eye doctor as I am to be working for a much extended period of time in the future. In this kind of job, the tenure and the productivity strictly depends on the number of hours logged as well as the quantity and quality of the tasks done.
To all the virtual assistants out there, how would you like to let me know what your best tips are in case this occurs at some point in time during your working hours?
Comments for Experiencing Eye Strain as a Virtual Assistant
|Jul 14, 2014||Taking care of your health = Priority 1+
by: FrancisJomvie, don’t overdo it even if it is your job to work online and at the computer. Try to come up with alternatives that can be acceptable – like printing out reading materials and reading them offline, tracking your time as you go.Also, start with the visit to your eye doctor soon, and then with the list of resources researched from the internet to reduce eye strain.How did that list help you?
|Jul 15, 2014||Eye strain–care, tips and exercise
by: JomvieHi Francis, yes I tried taking off some alternative like after I spent 2 to 4 hours in the computer, I will go and rest for a while and then back again to my work or take some 5-minute break while my fingers are on the keyboard. It’s quite helpful but I still have that dizziness sometimes especially on the afternoon when the light of the sun is at its highest.I had a bunch of helpful eye care tips and exercise thanks for the links you spent time with—eye exercise is most helpful that allows my eyes to rest from looking straight for hours on the monitor.Will probably visit an eye doctor soon.. thanks!
|Jul 15, 2014||Problem with sun glare
by: FrancisIt sounds to me as if you also have a problem with sun glare.Try closing the blinds and reducing the brightness of your room. Worst case, you can test pushing your working hours to when the sun is down and test if this helps.Also you can try wearing sunglasses. It’s not only cool, it also blocks excessive lighting.
Also, did you feel any difference after using F.lux?
The eye doctor will help most, however.
|Jul 17, 2014||How to lessen sun glare
by: JomvieI guess it’s one of the main reasons for my eye strain. Actually, I covered my windows with drapes to lessen sun glare coming through the window.
Sunglasses will definitely be cool by the way 😀
And yes, I am feeling better now with that F.lux. But, I haven’t gone to an eye doctor yet. Most probably will visit an eye doctor over the weekend
Thanks big time.
|Sep 24, 2014||Anti-Glare Spectacles
by: Virtual AssistantWell, I will strongly recommend to use an Anti-glare spectacles if you use computer screen for longer hours. (Often called anti-reflected coating or AR coating eyeglasses)
When living a virtual assistant life, you cannot avoid the computer screen at any case, but its very important to take care of those precious eyes.
I was also having an eyestrain for the last few days and luckily I visited an eye specialist last week who prescribed these anti-glare spectacles for me.
I am using these glasses for the past 5 days and I can already feel the difference. Now I have less eyestrain and my vision towards the computer screen has also been improved
|Apr 14, 2015||True information is shared
by: Maria M. HartI feel really fortunate to have used your webpage and look forward to so many more fun moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for a lot of things.Great work