How to start as a VA or a Freelancer is the most common question of Filipinos who have no experience and who want to pursue a career change. Although nowadays few are still skeptical about it but no doubt that a lot of successful Filipinos in 2018 are appearing now in social media.
So, how does or what does a Filipino need to start as a virtual assistant or a freelancer?
I think there’s no definite answer to this as we all have different sets of skills, attitude, and mindset but when it comes to things you need, it’s definitely an internet connection and a laptop or PC.
What you Need First When you Transition to Working Online?
This is the first question you need to ask yourself or ask those who have experience. Remember, you don’t need to have a good laptop and a strong internet speed to get started. The important thing when working online is for you to get started to earn and slowly buy what you need.
Don’t worry if you don’t like the job, what’s important first is to earn and slowly buy a better laptop which you can actually pay (this is to be sure you can still pay even if you lose a job while finding another client) or a stronger internet connection then change to an online job of your choice.
In my case, I started only by using a Dual OS (Windows 8.0 and Android 4.4) Cherry mobile tab alpha morph which cost 5,000 php and a pocket WiFi (not LTE) 800 plus php. I bought a cheap keyboard and a 5 in 1 USB slot so that I can connect the tab with the keyboard and mouse. I don’t even have a computer table and chair. This the only thing I have as I bought an LG smart TV 32 inch from the 13th month pay of the last work I attended on the second company I worked with. It was a sale from 24,000 php to 14,000 php if cash ( I just grabbed the opportunity).
The last money I have is around 30,000 php, and I didn’t show up to work anymore as I was sick and was terminated anyway on the 4th day, you know and understand this if you have experience working on a call center.
Some of you may judge me or think that I should have saved my money and find a new work but I was depressed and burn out from working. I’m sure a lot of you can understand or relate to this especially if your account is sales.
The reason I bought the TV was for me to have an inspiration or that mindset that finally I bought a TV and damn I need to work hard as I have little money left.
Note: Don’t copy what I did as we have different styles on how we handle ourselves.
Anyway, I have divided it for you to know where you’re currently at.
If you’re currently working in a corporate office (office based)
While working, you need to assess yourself first; this includes if you have the money, laptop, and internet.
Don’t quit right away, either save money (a lot of times it’s impossible when you’re working from a call center). For me just save for 3 months then quit if you can’t take it anymore.
My suggestion is;
-don’t quit yet,
-go home right away,
-research about working online (a good place is social media, especially Facebook)
-Apply for work online
-If you get hired, don’t quit right away. Wait for the first salary of your work online and salary from your office job. If you get already your salary from your office job then ask for a 3-7 days leave when it is almost your payday online or 7 days left when you will be paid. This way, you won’t be tired so much and you can get back to your office work incase you are not paid online or worst scammed.
-When accustomed, find additional clients until the maximum you can handle
If you’re not currently working or was recently terminated from office based work
This is hard to suggest as we have different situations but if you have a relative who has an internet connection then I recommend from there, try to research and learn how to work online. In worst case scenario that you don’t have a laptop, then go to an internet cafe and try to apply. It’s good to pick a non-voice job as we all know that internet cafes are noisy. Also, good thing if you know the owner as you can just pay later.
I know its hard but I promise you that it is worth it when you get hired and started earning. I remember that I have less than 500 php on my wallet at that time but I was hired after a week (16 hours everyday) of online research and reading. If I was able to do it without experience, then definitely 100% you can do it also.
Is experience really needed to start working online?
This is not always the case. To tell you honestly, I have no experience in SEO and content writing when I first started. I just read online and learn from people. It started out as a content writer position as it was a non voice job and it was the only job that my pocket WiFi can handle.
I just watched videos which are free and subscribe to website where I can get a free PDF. While learning and reading, I applied everyday and observe every response and understand why that is the client’s response.
Note: Experience is not needed but the will and attitude to work is important as skills can be taught.
Do you think a certificate is a necessity to be able to work online or get a high paying job?
Again this is not always the case, If you just research online and ask people who have experience then answer your client based on what you know. Tell them honestly that you don’t have any experience yet but have the knowledge and you’re willing to work.
Note: Willing to work but not work on a very low salary.
To get a high paying job, this depends on how you negotiate with your client. If you know how to position yourself and answer the question then you will definitely get it. It may not that totally high like $1000 a month but for a start this will serve as your portfolio when you apply for a high paying job.
While you are hired, just get some free certificate online even though it seems its not a need anymore to get a certificate. This maybe useful to other clients and for your own personal growth as you may learn something new.
Is it necessary to have a laptop or a PC with high specs?
When you’re starting, its not necessarily needed. Just work on what you have and slowly progress from there. If you decide to venture on graphic designing , web designing and the likes, then a higher specs will definitely be needed (laptop with graphics card).
Note: Don’t buy a high specs laptop/PC like what others do. Only buy what you’are able to pay for and scale from there. It’s not good to brag on something you have but you don’t have any clients or earning this much only.
Best Freelance Websites to Get Work as a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants offer entrepreneurs, organizations, and companies a diverse range of administrative support from clerical jobs to highly-specialized tasks. However, such qualifications will depend on skills proficiency, acquired training, and relevant industry experience. And you can even become more in-demand if you can offer specialized VA services to prospective clients.
If you’re interested to pursue an exciting career as a virtual assistant, you may find many work opportunities from freelancer websites. Online job marketplaces for freelancer’s post thousands of vacant virtual assistant positions, which you can match with your current skill level and expertise. You may enhance your qualifications even further when you learn other valuable skills, including copywriting, ecommerce, inbound/outbound sales and digital marketing. Find your dream job in one of these popular job platforms below:
- VA Networking
- People Per Hour
- Working Nomads
- Fancy Hands
- Assistant Match
- Skip The Drive
- Amazon Mechanical Turk
- Monster Philippines
- 2nd Office
- Big Outsource
- Virtual Done Well
- Virtual Staff Finder
- Pepper Virtual Assistant
- Star VA
- WebFocus Solution
With these job platforms, you can create a professional portfolio where you can highlight your VA skills and work credentials. You may also directly communicate with staff recruiters and clients in relation to the vacant position and its job descriptions. Remember that you are able to increase your chances of getting hired when you focus on improving a more specific VA service.
Here are some VA services you can specialize in:
1. Social Media VA
This person closely works with the social media manager in producing engaging content based on the social media strategy of the company. In this position, you are expected to keep social media channels active and brand focus while discovering new ways to connect with the audience.
Key responsibilities include:
- Learning new social media platforms that can become beneficial to the client
- Managing different social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more
- Creating social media contents that encourage interaction and increase brand awareness
- Creating interactive videos and compelling articles
- Optimizing social media contents according to SEO and PPC principles
- Developing large-scale social media marketing campaigns
- Providing assistance to social media management and corporate events
- Monitoring social media campaign performance and engagement
- Distributing email newsletters, welcome note, and digital offers
- Developing fresh social media contents and strategies with the social media team
- Keeping audience interaction with content planning and development
Bloggers are assigned to produce engaging content that is promoted on the company website. They utilize the contents to generate new ideas, promote products or services and monitor interaction of online consumers. As a blogger, you need to develop interesting articles that will initiate conversation while expanding the company blog viewership using direct emails and social media channels.
Key responsibilities include:
- Generating new articles from research and customer engagements
- Promoting contents through social media platforms, email blasts, and online advertisements to generate new readers
- Inviting contributors, bloggers, and industry experts to share their expertise on the website
- Informing readers about new promotions, products, and services
- Improving site traffic with the use of keyword research and SEO tools
- Managing content responses or comments posted on social media platforms and websites
Due to the competitive nature of online shopping sites, entrepreneurs will definitely need some serious help in running their eCommerce stores. Ecommerce virtual assistants perform different eCommerce-related tasks which often include order updates, product listings, shipping management, after-sales service and customer care service.
Key responsibilities may include:
- Adding new inventory, removing unsalable items and updating current product listing
- Performing product research related to consumer profile, market profile, inventory organization, and competitor analysis
- Monitoring how your competitors are performing on the market
- Delivering category management tasks, such as competitor analysis, consumer and sales analysis, and price tracking
- Managing keyword optimization through research and SEO application
- Optimizing workflow and business processes
- Organizing sales records, delivery status, and other process documents
- Performing inventory management activities, like monitoring stocks and updating the details of the eCommerce store
- Processing orders and shipments, payment refund, product exchanges, and order tracking
4. General VA
Except for preparing coffee, general VAs will organize various files, respond to emails, answer inquiries, create sales presentations for the client. This can be a good option when you are just getting started to work as a virtual assistant. As you gain experience, you may develop your own VA expertise by learning new management suites or skills from experts.
Key responsibilities include:
- Responding to emails, client calls, and customer queries
- Preparing reports, client database, and supplier listing
- Organizing correspondence and business communications
- Keeping records of employers, clients, and suppliers with a high level of confidentiality
- Assisting clients in creating business presentations and research
- Managing social media accounts, email accounts, and website activities for the client
- Transcribing client/business meetings, interviews, and product presentations
- Arranging meetings with clients, hotel accommodations, airfare tickets and meeting venues
- Preparing payments for suppliers, business trips and utility expenses
- Updating business documents and file records
5. Content Writer
Virtual assistants that work as content writers help businesses and client retain their online presence. You can become a professional copywriter to handle the content marketing strategies of your client.
Primary responsibilities include:
- Creating press releases or public statements for the client in order to expand online reach
- Drafting newsletters, email brochures and marketing ads intended for distribution through email and subscription pages
- Producing web contents for the home page and service pages of the client’s website
- Releasing fresh blog posts containing important information to announce any new products or services
- Creating different written contents, including but not limited to eBooks, news articles, editorial, how-to-guides, promotional materials, product descriptions, service descriptions and a whole lot more
6. Finance (Bookkeeping, Payroll & etc.)
Virtual bookkeepers handle a broad range of finance-related duties for the client, like maintaining books on accounts payables and receivables and preparing invoices, payroll, and financial reports. They often work closely with operations managers and HR personnel when carrying out their accounting tasks.
Key responsibilities may include:
- Producing accounting documents, such as monthly financial reports, general ledger entries, payment records, and sales reports
- Providing assistance to HR staff with regards to employee benefits, insurance claims and workers’ incentives
- Ensuring legal compliance with regard to business taxes and appropriate labor compensation
- Maintaining current and previous financial reports and transactions
- Enhancing bookkeeping procedures and fiscal policies
- Performing check-and-balance to general ledger entries
- Maintaining a core strategy for the financial management system of the company
- Providing leadership among other members of the finance team
- Ensuring quality control over financial transactions and reporting
What Type of Jobs will I choose?
Assess yourself first by checking the equipment you have and the strength of your internet connection, and the skills you currently have. Its not important what your compatible job now as you will learn what you like along the way. The important thing is to earn first.
Non-voice or Low internet speed (5mbps below)
-Social Media Management
Voice or High Internet Speed (10mbps-100mbps)
-Graphic designing and multimedia
How will I Know if It’s a Scam or Not?
Its hard to tell sometimes especially if you’re new at this online work. My advice is to join some groups in Facebook and look at posts of companies or clients scamming people. You will also know the template they use, how they will scam you and more.
What Payment Method will I Use?
The most common is PayPal, I suggest to create an account if you haven’t had one yet. Other payment method will be Transferwise, Western Union, and Bank Transfer. There might be other payment methods but this will depend between you and the client’s agreement.
What Bank or Card Should I Use to Connect with my PayPal Account?
Do you Need a Great Cover Letter?
You may or may not need. What I mean about that is I never have a good cover letter but I know how to talk with clients. So, this really depends on you on how you position yourself. I have great confidence due to my GF brought it back, I lost it due to my previous relationship.
Also, I develop that skill when I was working at my 2nd call center company (sales account).
Note: Stop making excuses and just do what you can
Never Stop Learning
Always read on your free time so that your work will be much easier as days go by and for you to be kept updated. This is beneficial also as a lot of Filipinos are venturing working online so the competition may be fierce.
Have the Right Attitude and Mindset
Do you wonder why Filipinos aren’t getting the result they expected?
Results, meaning getting clients? The reason for this is that in my opinion most of us forget what we need to improve and mistakenly just focus on earning money. See the whole picture and look for where you lack and improve it. We may see this if we compare what you went through and what that successful person went through to get where he is now.
Note: Don’t ask clients to other VA or Freelancer but work your ass off and apply for one. Be proactive and research what you want to learn. If you can’t find it then politely ask someone to give you a link or guide for you to read.
Also, remembering difficulties, regretful past are effective as a wake-up call when lazy and burned out.
Lastly, is Working Online Easy or Hard?
You hear a lot of people say that they have the freedom and you saw or hear others say otherwise. The answer in my opinion is both. Naturally, when you’re just starting then it is difficult but along the way you will learn more then that will be the time it will be easy as you will have tools to help you.
What I mean about the tools to help you can be referred as equipment or people you hired to help you. You will understand this along the way.
Owner at Be Visible Media
Dale Basilla is a content writer for various niches, SEO (Off-page & On-Page), and lives in a location where there are lots of beaches in the Philippines. He loves to watch anime, TV series (mystery and solving crimes), and movies. In his spare time, he plays chess, plays the guitar, and spend time with his ever busy girlfriend.