The Ugly Side of Being a VA

Being a VA

Being a VA is tough! I started this business back in August of 2022 and since that time, I have learned a TON! I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do, as a business owner, how to handle challenges that come up and I’ve also started to develop the idea of what I want my business to look like in the future. That’s why I’m sharing my experience, completely unfiltered. If you’re curious about being a VA, keep reading…

The Good About Being a VA

Let’s start with the good… I figure it’s the perfect place to start for a few reasons. One, I don’t want you to be scared or turned off by this work. Two, there’s so many good things about being a VA. Three, it’s the right thing to do.

Learning New Skills Every Day

First and foremost, I have learned so much about myself, the systems I work in and about human behavior. It’s even helped me identify areas for me to grow in (AKA my weaknesses). I’ve been forced to learn about the different website platforms and how they work. Watching the social media algorithm is crucial and I’ve seen it change overnight. And believe it or not, I’ve embraced AI. I honestly wasn’t a fan in the beginning, but it’s helpful when my brain doesn’t want to be creative. Now I’m not afraid to say “Yes, I can do that!” because I’m confident in my ability to learn and adapt. But I still do not call myself an expert in anything, though, because I believe there’s always more to learn.

I Know I Make an Impact

I always wanted a “job” where I knew I would make an impact. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dolphin researcher at Discovery Cove because they helped individuals with disabilities thrive, even for a few moments. While I wasn’t able to do that, I’m realizing how much my teeny tiny business is helping small business owners. My social media clients have increased their reach and engagement rates, my email marketing clients have seen incredibly high open rates and I’ve been able to use my coaching expertise to guide clients toward their goals. The impact is definitely there.

My Creativity has Come Alive

I love to color, but could never draw. And while I’m not an expertly trained graphic designer, I can create social media posts, presentation and marketing materials, and anything else my clients ask for, thanks to Canva. Now I get the spark from one thing I see and use it to create something completely different. My clients love it and I love that we don’t have to stay stagnant with anything.

The Bad About Being a VA

As someone that’s an Enneagram 1, I see everything as a priority for my clients. It’s an internal pressure I put on myself to do things now and do them well. But I’ve learned that not everything is a priority. Ultimately my goal is to produce good work for my clients because it’s a reflection on them, as well as myself.

Full Time Job, Full Time Business

Since I started my business, I’ve been running it as a side hustle. I work full time, Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 3:00pm. Then, when I get home, I keep working. Sometimes until the late hours of the night. It’s been long hours, tight deadlines and lots of stress. Have I felt burnt out? Abso-freaking-lutley! For over a year, I’ve felt overwhelmed every single day but I know this will all be worth it… Someday…

With so many things on my daily To Do list, it’s been a juggling act. I’m almost always balancing multiple projects at a time and if you look at my calendar, it probably doesn’t look like I even have the time to fit it all in. What I do to cope is space out my client work across the week. I don’t try to do it all on one day. If something doesn’t have a deadline, then I have the luxury of doing it when I can. Staying organized is how I make it all work.

Constant Changes

We are going to experience change, right? Well, as a VA there are daily changes. The social media algorithm never seems to stay the same for more than a few days and human behavior changes based on what’s going on in the world. At the time of me writing this, Kate Middleton is the hot topic of conversation. That doesn’t necessarily help my clients. So I’ve had to learn to adapt quickly and think outside the box.

Now the Ugly About Being a VA

There’s ugly parts to everything. Life, work, relationships… A few things came up, though, that I did not expect.

Boundaries are a MUST

When I first started, I wanted to say yes to everything because I thought I had to. I was building a business and needed to generate income. I allowed my clients to agree to working on one set of tasks and then add others in whenever the felt like. I basically let my personal life go to waste and lived for my clients. Don’t do this. Please! I ultimately learned and had to have some tough talks with my clients and the people in my life.

Being a VA Creates Criticism

The world portrays this perfect dream – go to college, get a job and live happily ever after. I did that and was not living my best life. I call myself a corporate dropout for a reason – I will never go back! When people hear me say that, they immediately start to criticize and don’t believe I can ever build the agency I have in my dreams. Yes, I know running my own business is hard but it’s freakin’ worth it if you want freedom. That dream that the world has is no longer and now we have to build our own dreams.

Client Expectations

Enough said. Only kidding… But not really. What I found was that clients need to be educated. There are differences between a freelancer and an employee and many business owners don’t necessarily understand that. A lot of clients also know they need a social media presence, but don’t want to put a face behind the business nor do they like trying new things. I get it. It took me a few years before I felt “comfortable” on camera. Ultimately, it boils down to providing education, helping clients understand what it will actually take to reach their goals and going according to their flow.

I mentioned it in the beginning but it’s worth saying again… This blog is not intended to scare you away from being a VA. It’s actually meant to prep you for what may be to come. This has been my experience and yours might be completely different. But if being a VA is something you’re thinking of doing, go for it!

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