Got an email invite regarding the VA Success seminar by Marge Aberasturi (seminar title: My VA Success Blueprint: A Re-Run). After giving it thought, I signed up. It is a paid seminar but I don’t really mind playing around and adjusting my budget to pay for anything educational. Also, the seminar was a whole day event so I personally think the payment was worth it.

My main reason for attending is that I want to know how others started their online gigs and what they are doing to sustain it, to network with like-minded individuals, and to draw inspiration from others who were successful in it.

Things I’ve learned: (I’m writing this days after the seminar so out of the many topics covered, these are the things retained in my memory)

  1. You have to set goals in every aspect in your life. Your goals have to be clearly defined. Why? Because these goals are supposed to inspire you to keep on going every time you feel like giving up.
    2. Virtual assistance is a lifestyle. Once you embark on this journey, it becomes part of your life.
    3. You have to transition from an employer-employee mindset to a professional-client mindset. Why? Because your clients are technically not your employers. You are not under their Payroll. They get your services to take care of some parts of their business operations, hence you are a vendor providing VA services and they are your clients.
    4. VA is not all about having an internet connection and a computer. It entails a lot of work to be good at the craft.
    5. In relation to #4, there are a lot of tools you need to learn to be successful in this area. Personally, this is my next goal – learn the tools.
    6. There are general areas and specialized areas of being a VA. You have to have the skills to become one. If you don’t have at the moment but you really want to become one, then learn some skills. You should also know at what area you want to focus on.
    7. Working space is important. While it is nice to have a home office the moment you transition to working at home, the lack of it for the meantime should also not stop you from transitioning. Marge shared that she started with only having her desk at a corner in their living room. Others from the audience also shared that they have the same setup and it’s working for them.
    8. Your online office/presence is also important. It is advisable to have a website with your own domain where you can showcase your portfolio. It’s the first step to getting yourself out there. It also becomes your brand so make sure it is something that clients will be attracted to.
    9. In relation to #8, be careful with what you put in your social media. Employers or potential clients nowadays tend to go to social media for their background check of potential people they aim to work with.
    10. There are different types of pricing. Know your worth and don’t go below your rate just so you can get clients. There are online communities of VAs in the Philippines and they are trying to establish a standard pricing for all.
    11. Know your value proposition. What can you offer your client that others can’t or won’t even think of doing?
    12. Make it your business to learn your client’s business so that you can do your job with as much error as possible, and you can do more than what you are expected to do, hence you leave a good impression to your client.
    13. Be reliable, trustworthy and committed when doing business with your clients. It goes a long way.
    14. It is possible to achieve your goals while working from home. Marge shared that she was able to become part owner of a science high school in their province out of her earnings as a VA.
    15. There will be good days and bad days. You may experience a love-hate relationship with your clients but just strive to keep things on a professional level. For Marge, one of her long-time clients already considers her part of their family. She would occasionally receive emails from her client or his wife expressing how much they appreciate her for all that she does to help them in their business.
    16. Your family’s support is important. You have to communicate with them all that entails working from home. Set rules and boundaries. On shared that she trained her kids to stay quiet during her work hours, so every time they see Mommy on her headset, it’s their queue to avoid making noise. One of her kids is 2 years old and he’s able to follow so don’t underestimate the ability of kids to comprehend what’s happening or what needs to happen at home. Others may also be new to this setup and they may think that you have all the time since you are just at home. They have to understand that you are still working, only at home.
    17. One of the perks of working from home is that you are able to dictate your time. Create a timetable that works for you and the family but make sure that it is flexible enough to accommodate changes. If you’ve allotted 15 minutes to do a household task, then stop the task either completed or not, after 15 minutes. Continue with it when the next 15-minute schedule comes. This is to ensure that you don’t jeopardize missing on deadlines related to your work. As Marge said, it’s ok to have a messy house. BUT, one of her tips is to always clean your own work space so it becomes more inviting and inspiring to work.
    18. The work at home setup allowed Marge to home-school some of her kids and allowed her to not hire a helper.
    19. Share what you learn.
    20. While not related to VA, Marge also shared that you can earn from your hobbies. One of her hobbies is doing crochet. She just started this because her daughter got interested in this and requested for lessons as her birthday gift. So along with the lessons, they also bought yarns. But just like any kid, her daughter changed her mind and became uninterested in the craft. Left with too many yarns, Marge took the lesson, and now, she’s selling some of her finished products. I am personally amazed because heck, I’ve learned to do crochet back in grade school because of required projects but never had the mindset of earning from it and then here comes Marge, who just learned the craft recently, and now earning from it. The most valuable lesson I learned from that story? I guess if I truly want to shift to entrepreneurship, I should start training my mind to think of a potential business opportunity out of ordinary things.

It’s a long list but I know there is more. I’ll update once I consult my notes.