A few months ago I wrote an article about how I made money working at home as a typist for medical students. Many of you were very inspired by this story and flooded me with a lot of questions on how you could get started as well. I did my best to answer these questions but I still had a nagging feeling I could do more for my loyal subscribers.
I grappled with this for a few months and as fate would have it, I received an email from a fellow work at home professional that wanted to share her success story with me. Initially I was a bit skeptical. I can't tell you how many times people are trying to pitch their so called opportunities to me. But most of the time they fall short of my standards. But Lisa Taliga was different. She really wanted to provide real insight and information. Any one that's been a long time subscriber or visitor to my blog knows that's what I'm all about.
In any event, Lisa happens to be a VA or Virtual Assistant. (You'll learn more about what that is in the interview listed below.) We exchanged some emails back and forth and it dawned on me that my typing work at home job was basically a Virtual Assistant opportunity. I was just too stupid to figure out the proper terminology at the time. In any event, I learned that Lisa was still a VA and a very successful one at that. This rang a bell in my mind.
I thought why not interview Lisa and pick her brain to give you guys some insight on how you can make money at home providing typing, word processing or other services to various companies. Unlike me, Lisa had a lot more experience in the field and is still living comfortably doing it, I might add. She's been so successful that she's helped other people become Virtual Assistants like her. So read the interview below. I think it should provide you with some further insight.
Before you do I would like to say this. A lot of my success has been a direct result of me learning from the best.
Too often we take advice from people who aren't successful in what they're giving their advice on. I always joke with my wife, that women shouldn't get advice about men from other women. It's dumb. If you want to learn about men ask a man.
As a young buck, I was really in tune with women because 90% of my friends were women. My few dude friends either hated on me for this because they didn't think it was cool for a dude to be just friends with girls. And then I had my other set of guy friends that thought I was "The Man!". Regardless of their point of view, I totally benefited from hanging out with women because I learned to understand them better than my male counterparts. This lead to me dating a lot of women that should have been out of my league considering my awkward and severely skinny exterior. lol
The same can be said with work at home. You don't want to take advice from bitter non-successful work at home seekers. You need to get advice from people that are successful and I think when you read the interview with Lisa Taliga you'll see what I mean. So sit back and get comfortable.
1. What did you do before working at home?
Lisa: I worked as a 9 to 5 Personal Assistant/Secretary for over 10 years, mainly in the banking and finance field.
2. What finally pushed you to work at home? Bad boss, tired of the commute, weren't making enough, wanted to spend more time with your children or all of the above?
Lisa: A number of factors finally pushed me to work at home. I was commuting for a total of 2 hours a day to work, and sometimes couldn't get a seat on the train, which made it worse! It wasn't so much that I had a bad boss, it's that I don't get on well with taking orders and having to do what others tell me all the time!
I also felt that I wasn't making the most of the skills I had. When you're working in an office for someone else, you get pigeonholed into a certain role, and I felt I was only doing a fraction of what I was really capable of.
I don't have children, but I know that if I did, that would be even more reason to stay at home and earn money. I definitely wouldn't want to battle into work every day if I had kids.
3. What type of work at home jobs did you try initially?
Lisa: I went right for the work at home opportunity of becoming a Virtual Assistant. I've been doing that since 2002.
4. Were you ever scammed?
Lisa: No, I'm glad to say I've never been scammed!
5. What was the work at home job that you landed that finally gave you your freedom from the rat race?
Lisa: Becoming a Virtual Assistant finally gave me my freedom from the rat race. As a Virtual Assistant, I work at home from my own office, with different clients all over the world. Basically, if a task can be done in your own home without having to actually sit with the client, you can offer it as part of your Virtual Assistant services. I love the fact that I have control over what work I do. For example, I love doing Power point presentations, copy writing and designing newsletters. There are so many things you can do as a Virtual Assistant. You can type and format documents, do research, data entry, transcription, editing and proofreading, copy writing, Power point presentations, design newsletters, fliers, logos, book meetings, organize events, update and design web sites. Those are just some examples of what you can do. You don't have to do all these things, you're free to offer whatever services you're comfortable with.
You can even specialize in certain fields. There are Virtual Assistants that only work with real estate agents, authors, actors, lawyers and so on. So you can really tailor your business anyway you want.
6. How did you find work as a Virtual Assistant?
Lisa: I created my own opportunities, by finding clients in my local community first. I set up a web site, got business cards printed, and went along to local business networking organizations to meet other business owners who needed help with their businesses.
We're only just touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential of this business. Most of my clients hadn't even heard of Virtual Assistance before they met me. Once they realized what I do and how their businesses would benefit, they jumped at the opportunity. So, imagine how many potential clients there are just in your home town! Then, when you realize that because of the Internet, your target market is actually worldwide, it's very exciting.
7. Were you successful right away?
Lisa: Within a year I was doing this from home full-time. I started my Virtual Assistant business while I still had a full-time job, then gradually made the change to working from home full-time, by getting a part-time job and balancing that with clients. When I had enough clients to work from home, I quit the part-time job. That was a great way of making the break. It's unrealistic to expect to get a full set of clients right away as it takes time to build things up. But it's well worth it once you get there.
8. What do Virtual Assistants typically earn per year?
Lisa: Ah, yes! The million dollar question. I saw this article by Entrepreneur.com called ‘Starting a Virtual Assistant Business' which gives the average income of Virtual Assistants. Bear in mind, that article was published a few years ago in 2004 so the figure is higher now. And it's referring to average figures, which means some earn less than this, while others earn more:
According a survey by the Virtual Business Alliance, a global consortium of virtual assistant trade organizations, the average full-time virtual assistant working in the United States grossed $39,452 in income last year.
To give you an idea of hourly rates, I charge between $35 and over $100 an hour, depending on what I do
9. What type of training do you need?
Lisa: Well, that depends on your existing skills. If you've already got good secretarial and computer skills, you probably don't need training. At a minimum, you'll need to be proficient in Microsoft Office.
If you don't have existing skills, then yes, you'll need training in those areas before you can think about becoming a Virtual Assistant.
There are VA Certification courses available, and some are very good. They don't tend to teach computer skills though, it's more about handling clients, negotiating rates and so on. You don't actually need a certificate to become a Virtual Assistant though.
10. Were there books and courses that you acquired? Do you have any suggestions for educational and home office material that should be acquired?
Lisa: When I started out, there was limited information available. I pieced it together myself, and found my own way. Of course I made a lot of mistakes but I persisted, learned my lessons and kept forging ahead until I became successful.
Then I started getting a lot of questions from people about how to become a Virtual Assistant, so I figured, why not write a step-by-step guide? Why not share my experiences with others so they don't make the same mistakes I did? I knew it was possible to piece together the steps you need to take to work at home, because that's what I did, but I also knew that people really could benefit from a step by step manual to save them time figuring it out the hard, long way.
So I wrote an ebook called ‘The 5 Key Steps To Your Successful Virtual Assistant Business Freelance From Home!' which has since evolved into a Toolkit, helping people every step of the way. I've had wonderful testimonials from people all over the world who have successfully become Virtual Assistants as a result of following the Toolkit. It really saves a lot of time and heartache figuring it out for yourself. I'm based in Australia but I've written the manual so that anyone anywhere in the world can get started as a Virtual Assistant. It's not specific to a certain country.
I'm also not concerned about making ‘competition' for myself. I already have a steady client base, and as I said before, I know that there are many more clients out there who are so far unaware of Virtual Assistance. All they need is for you to come along, give them a little education, and they will realize that they need your services!
11. How easy or difficult is it for others to get started?
Lisa: It's as easy or difficult as you make it. To be successful working at home, a lot of it has to do with your attitude and mind set. If you focus on what you CAN do, and are prepared to be persistent and face your fears, you'll make it. Making any lifestyle change, such as working at home is going to involve facing some kind of fears along the way.
If you don't want to face fears or take risks, then you should stay in your office job. I knew I couldn't face working for someone else forever, so I was prepared to make it happen.
Of course, having the right skills is important, but don't let a lack of skills stop you. If you're really determined to make this a success you can always learn and improve your skills by taking online courses, courses at your local college or even teaching yourself.
12. Do you have any suggestions for our readers on how they can mimic your success or find jobs similar to what you're doing?
Lisa: Get out there and mingle in the local community first. Let everyone know about your business. A lot of work comes to me through word of mouth, so start that word of mouth as soon as you can. It really does snowball. One of my first clients came from putting an ad in the local paper. Call your local university, and ask about putting up an ad to type student papers. Put up flyers at your local library. There are dozens of ways to get your name out there, not just offline, but also on the Internet. Look at online networking. On the Internet, you can get clients without leaving your house – how exciting is that?
13. Do you have a web site or email address where people can contact you with further questions?
Lisa: Sure. My Virtual Assistant web site is www.VirtualPa.com.au and email is email AT virtualpa DOT com DOT au . I'm based in Australia.
14. Are there other options where people can find VA jobs rather than setting up your own business?
Lisa: Yes, for example, there are freelance websites and websites where you can find VA job leads. This can be a good way of getting work at home if you're just starting out. You'll find that the hourly rates will be lower than if you started your own business as a VA, but I know that starting a business is not for everyone. If you start your own business and get your own clients, you have more control over what you charge your clients. As always, there are pros and cons in everything!
15. Any final thoughts or final advice for our loyal subscribers?
Lisa: Again, I have to go back to mind set. But don't think you have to get your mind set perfect before you start. Work on yourself as you go along. For example, I was always quite a shy person, so you can imagine I didn't feel comfortable meeting new people or ‘selling my services'.
If I had waited to become super confident before starting my business, I wouldn't have done it. You know that saying ‘fake it until you make it'? It's so true. I faked it until I made it. I forced myself out there.
I also learned to change my perception of situations. No longer am I ‘selling my services' but I'm providing a genuine service to other people. I help other businesses expand and grow by providing my VA services to them. When you change your perception like this, it's amazing what happens to your confidence.
If you want to check out the Toolkit that I've created for those who want to become a Virtual Assistant, it's at www.VirtualPABusiness.com. I also write an ongoing motivational newsletter and blog to keep people enthusiastic and in a positive mind set about working for themselves. You can find out about that on that web page too.
Sorry this article was so long. But considering how I short changed you guys with my typing article, I wanted to air on the side of providing way more details. By the way I read Lisa's ebook over the weekend and all I can say is WOW! Talk about being detailed oriented. I was a bit embarrassed with my typing article after reading her ebook because she provided a step by step way of getting started which is where I failed you. So if you're interested in typing at home, or doing word processing, customer service, etc but without dealing with all the competition of scams. I would strongly suggest that you pick up Lisa's ebook. It really leaves no rock unturned in terms of any questions you may have.
You guys know I don't really recommend a lot of paid products but I think this Virtual Assistant ebook is a must especially because so many of you have continuously asked me about making money typing or doing data entry. So I think this information is worth the minor investment. At the end of the day if you don't think it was worth it, which I think is nearly impossible there is a money back guarantee with no questions asked! Furthermore Lisa is very responsive unlike so many people that sell products. As you can see she makes her email available and doesn't hide her info.
So for all of you that were interested in my typing at home job, I strongly encourage you to pick up Lisa's ebook because it covers a lot more than I did in my article. Let me guys know what you think. I would love to hear your feedback about her ebook.
Many of you have been following my journey of becoming a first time Dad and have asked me to keep you updated. So the latest is that my wife is finally on maternity leave! So I don't have to worry about her driving to and from work anymore. And we just came back from the doctor and she's "dilated" some. The terminology that is used to describe this whole process is a trip. But I'm very excited. A new member of the Salomon and WorkAtHomeNoScams.com family may be here in a few days or few weeks. (You parent veterans knows how that goes. lol) If you don't hear from me for a while then you know why! Wish me luck guys!