Lessons from a Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant who actually does the work:
Are you looking for a true side hustle? A part-time online job to help stretch your bank account balance, or to fill in extra hours in your schedule? Whether you’re already working a full-time job, are a super busy parent, or just need a little variety and extra cash in your life, you’re probably wondering if you can really be successful working the VA gig as a side hustle.
I’ve been working online in the virtual assistant world long enough to see how much success it can bring to people from all backgrounds. From military spouses like me who need a career that can move with them, to stay-at-home moms who need the flexibility of a work-from-home position.
Many of my unicorn VA students come into this online space to transform their career, whether they’re building on prior experience or jumping into a whole new field.
But maybe you’re not looking to completely reinvent yourself. You’re happy in your current career, or want to limit your hours to very part-time because you have other big life commitments right now. Can you make this VA stuff work just as a side hustle? YES. And here’s how.
Avoid the burnout…
…by limiting your scope. You only have so much mental bandwidth to use before you start to lose your sanity. If you’re a mom juggling crazy kids’ schedules, or working full-time in a career that requires a lot of thought or creativity on its own, you’re already burning through a lot of your brainpower. So balance is key.
I will always, always promote the wonders of a unicorn to business owners and new VAs. A magical digital media assistant who understands the big picture and knows a little bit about about all the things. It’s what I teach all of my students in my crash course and it’s how I’ve built my own business as a VA, even back when it was just a part-time side hustle for me. If you don’t understand how it all works together, you can’t maximize your clients’ success.
But once you’ve built that foundation, you don’t have to know ALL THE THINGS all the time. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to stay on top of everything when you have limited time.
So niching down can be your friend. Find those pieces that you love about digital media marketing and focus on those when you’re looking for potential clients. It’s ok to put some of the other skills and knowledge on the back burner for now and know that you can always pick them back up later. Hone in on perfecting your preferred skills and find clients who have needs where they can shine.
Not sure where to even begin? Jump over and take my 2-minute quiz to help you figure out where you fit best and find your digital dream job.
Working as a VA Should Be a Side Hustle That You Love
Speaking of niches, look for business clients who work in fields that you love. Because that means your passion will carry over and make the work that much more engaging. And that’s a key thing to consider about a side hustle, when you find yourself squeezing in some VA work on a late weeknight or busy weekend afternoon.
Maybe you already have a career in something that you enjoy and know a lot about. For example, I have so many successful unicorn students that have a teaching background. And many of them now work for OTHER educators as their VAs.
It makes sense because they already know the language, the goals, and the needs of their audience. It’s no problem for them to work on setting up SEO for a Teachers Pay Teachers product listing, or to organize content for a handful of lesson planning blogs. They already know the background info and just have to apply it to the online business world.
Or maybe it’s a hobby or interest that you already have. If you’re a fitness freak, match up with a client who creates workout routines and healthy diet plans. Love to craft and decorate? There are so many creative business owners looking for VAs! There are online entrepreneurs who need help with everything from art history and online dance classes, to world travel and parenting advice for raising kids. Look for the things that intrigue you.
Don’t take on a client who doesn’t excite you or spark your interest. It makes all the difference between work that feels like drudgery vs. work that you actually enjoy diving into at the end of the day. You have to WANT to do this work.
Be Realistic About What Your Side Hustle Schedule Could Look Like as a VA
If you’re going limit the work hours that you have for your clients, you need to take a hard look at your lifestyle before you commit to any specific contracts.
Some of my unicorns who have a VA side hustle work best when they can fit in short spurts of online work all week between their other life commitments. They need tasks where they can take advantage of downtime when waiting in a school pickup line or riding the subway to their 9-5 gig.
It’s not a big deal for them to check in from time to time each day and keep things moving, but they don’t want to be tied down to hours of detail work on any given day. It’s hard to find a single solid block of uninterrupted time every week.
If that’s you, focus on VA work that’s periodic and comes in short bursts, like a Facebook community manager, Pinterest account management, CRM and customer service work, social media management, or organization and admin tasks.
On the other hand, sometimes you need tasks that you can work in one or two big chunks of scheduled time each week. Maybe you’ve blocked off every Monday evening and 8 hours every Saturday to hit some VA work for your side hustle. But then outside of that time, you need to turn off the client work and focus on other life priorities.
If that’s the case, look for work that you can batch or do as a deep dive. Consider VA tasks like blog and copy writing, course development, podcast production, video editing, graphic design. They work best when you can dive in, uninterrupted, to knock out some of the work. And they’re much less likely to have the urgency that requires you to keep your phone alerts on all week.
It’s not all or nothing, though.
In reality, you’re probably going to work a mix of both. But you have to be honest with yourself when you set your schedule, or you’re going to bomb.
Don’t take on a client who needs dedicated webinar support during the evenings when you’re usually dealing with wrangling young kids to bed. Don’t commit to churning out 1500-word blog articles when you’ve only carved out 20 minute blocks of time to actually devote to VA work.
There are so many tasks out there that a VA can do. Choose the ones that actually work for you.
Build your biz by multitasking
Yes, it’s obvious. But I thought it was worth the reminder.
When you’re trying to squeeze a side hustle into your life without losing your sanity, you have to take advantage of downtime when you can steal it. And staying on top of your game is an important part of that.
Subscribe to some digital media podcasts to keep you inspired and on top of the latest news. Pop on some headphones and listen the next time you’re folding laundry or making that 30 minute commute. Shameless plug – I recommend my own Unicorns Unite podcast – it will keep you motivated in your side hustle and give you great bites of VA info from tech tips to new marketing strategies.
Ditto for biz-related audiobooks.
Keep yourself organized with simple free tools like google business apps and time trackers for VAs. Install the apps on your phone so they’re portable.
Join FB groups for networking in your niche or just follow some of your favorite online business gurus on social media so their posts pop up in your feed whenever you’re mindlessly scrolling. (And yes – I have a perfect free VA Facebook group just for that, too.)
But on the other hand, don’t forget the importance of turning everything off sometimes. Don’t get so obsessed with your new side hustle that you stop paying attention to the important things that aren’t related to your VA work. Balance is the prevention for burnout.
⚡️ Related Podcast Alert: 10 tips for starting out as a new VA
Check out this podcast episode for 10 of the best tips from my VA community for getting started in your new side hustle as a VA, freelancer, virtual assistant, or independent contractor:
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Libsyn | iHeartRadio | Listen Notes
Takeaway: Yes, you can build a successful side hustle as a VA as long as you do it intentionally.
I won’t lie and say that working as a freelancer or virtual assistant is easy. It takes work, and commitment, and yes some mental bandwidth.
So if you’re already feeling overwhelmed with everything you have on your plate, or you’re just in a stage where you know you can’t juggle one more ball, then being a VA probably isn’t the best side hustle for you at this point in your life.
But on the other hand, it doesn’t take a miracle to do this and do it well. You don’t have to start this journey by jumping in with all you’ve got, all at once.
You’re in the perfect spot to take advantage of opportunites like my crash course, which is filled to the brim with all of the insider know-how and tech teachings that you need to start working online, but is divided into bite-sized units that you can tackle on your own time.
Because if you’re a go-getter, someone who can see the big picture and is eager for new opportunities, then don’t stop here.
Go and download my list of of the top 10 tasks you could be doing online. Make sure you’re in my free facebook group and queue up some podcast episodes.
Then take a look at some of the best tools I offer to up-and-coming new VAs who want to hit the ground running and not waste any more time before they get to work with clients.
I can’t wait to see where you go from here!
– Emily, Digital Media Virtual Assistant AND Small Business Owner
“I help smart women learn the in-demand digital marketing strategies and tech skills to get hired as a unicorn virtual assistant.“
More posts you won’t want to miss:
How to become a virtual assistant – everything you need to know right now…
The top tech tools you need to get started as a successful WFH VA…
Finding a life balance when you work from home…
Find the best VA tasks for your side hustle, whatever your skills…
Before you go, make sure you grab my freebie for up-and-coming digital media freelancers and VAs:
Get my list right here of the top 10 tasks that business owners always ask for help with!
Take the Quiz: What Kind of Digital Service Business Is Best Suited for YOU?
I created a quiz to help you decide which of the VA Tracks you should look into based on your strengths and personality. There are FOUR different results, one which is clearly best suited for the VA to OBM/DOO track.
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