Pros and Cons of Working as a Virtual Assistant: Top Things to Know

Have you ever dreamed of making money while sitting on your couch and typing on your computer while your kids play in the next room?

Do you love helping people? Are you highly organized and responsible?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you might want to consider working from home as a virtual assistant.

Working as a virtual assistant comes with a lot of advantages, like a flexible schedule, the ability to pick your services, and unlimited earning potential. However, it also comes with disadvantages, like the necessity of constantly finding clients and needing to be motivated and driven enough to succeed.

When you’re choosing a business idea that will help you make money from home, you want to make an informed decision from the get-go. Understanding both the pros and the cons of working as a virtual assistant will help you better decide if this is the right job for you.

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woman typing on computer working from home as a virtual assistant

Advantages of Working as a Virtual Assistant

Without a doubt, there are a lot of perks when it comes to working as a virtual assistant. Here are some of my favorites.

1. You Get to Be Your Own Boss

The best part about running your own virtual assistant business is that you get to call all the shots. You no longer have to worry about sucking up to a boss or impressing management. When you work as a virtual assistant, you’re the one in charge.

Want to take the day off? No problem.

Really don’t like dealing with a client? Hate doing a certain task? If you don’t love what you do or who you’re working with, there’s no one forcing you to keep at it. You’re in charge of deciding if you want to ditch a bad client or rearrange your service package so that it better correlates with what you like to do.

Running a virtual assistant business is not like working as an assistant in-house somewhere. In that instance, you’d likely find yourself doing all sorts of menial tasks you can’t stand.

Instead, your role as a virtual assistant is to provide targeted help to business owners and entrepreneurs who need it. Instead of doing a variety of random things, you’ll offer specialized services to help lighten their load. In this way, your clients are relieved that their important tasks are being performed by a professional, while you get to do what you love.

In my book, this is one of the absolute best advantages to working as a virtual assistant.

2. You Can Work From Anywhere

I’ve been working from home for 10 years, and I still appreciate how nice it is to get up in the morning, grab my cup of coffee and get to work without leaving the house.

I am still so thankful that I don’t have to leave my home at an early hour and sit in traffic for my morning commute (which is what I used to do).

The flexibility of working as a virtual assistant is awesome, because you actually don’t need to be sitting in a home office to do your work. In fact, you can work from just about anywhere!

I’ve done work while sitting in the car waiting for my kids soccer practice to end, or while traveling to visit my parents in another state.

As long as you have a laptop and access to Wi-Fi, you can work as a virtual assistant from just about anywhere.

This is a huge perk. Not only do you no longer need to spend money on gas, nice clothes, and regular lunches out, you also get the chance to make money while you’re traveling or home with your family. For a busy mom like myself, this is a huge bonus.

3. You Can Choose What Services to Offer

I touched on this a bit above, but it’s worth mentioning again – as a virtual assistant you can choose exactly what services you want to offer. In fact, it’s even more flexible than most of the other popular freelance jobs like writing or editing.

As a virtual assistant, there are an unlimited number of services you could offer your clients. Popular tasks range from proofreading and content creation to graphic design or social media management.

As a virtual assistant, there’s no way you could offer all of these services. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Niching down is a great way to attract clients who want you to specialize in something that they need. When you do this, you can choose exactly what you want to do and offer that in a package that’s attractive and compelling to potential clients.

So, don’t get nervous if you hear about virtual assistants who write blog posts or update Twitter feeds if those are things that would make you break out in hives. You certainly don’t have to do those things if you don’t want to.

Simply focus on a few needed services that you enjoy and are good at doing. Pinpoint tasks that your clients need help with and then figure out which ones you like the best. This gives you the power to get off the hamster wheel of endless mundane tasks and allows you to do what you love.

4. You Have Unlimited Earning Potential

The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much money you can make. This is a huge perk of working as a virtual assistant. You get to set your own rates and find clients who are willing to pay you what you’re worth.

No more working for a set hourly wage or salary. Now, the work you put in is directly related to the income you receive. That is, the more you work, the more money you make!

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to put in hours and hours of work just to make a decent wage. In fact, it often means you can do far less and get paid far more.

Over time, many of the best virtual assistants figure out a way to streamline their processes so that they can provide the same, high-quality work to their clients on a fast and efficient level. This makes it easier to provide regular services without putting in lots of time and effort.

There are many virtual assistants making six figures a year just by working from home. This isn’t an anomaly – it’s a reality. This is a huge advantage to working from home.

As you scale your business, you’ll be able to work faster and smarter while raising your rates. This earning potential is far more than you’d ever get in a 9-5 job.

5. Start-Up Costs are Low

You don’t need a lot of fancy and expensive hardware or software to get started as a virtual assistant. In fact, the only thing you’ll need is a good computer and Internet connection.

Over time, you might find it useful to invest in certain tools depending on what services you’ll offer. For instance, if you provide social media management you may like to purchase a subscription to a scheduling service. Or, if you offer Pinterest management you may like to invest in some pin templates.

But absolutely none of this is necessary, especially when you’re just starting out. Take some time to focus on finding clients and figuring out how you want to structure your business. Once you start making money, then you can invest some of it into making your business more efficient.

woman working from home while watching her kids play

Disadvantages of Working as a Virtual Assistant

As with any job, working as a virtual assistant isn’t for everyone. It’s important to be prepared for the disadvantages of working as a virtual assistant before you get started.

1. You Need to Hustle to Find Clients

The hardest part of starting a business is finding the first paying customers. This is true for working as a virtual assistant, just like many other jobs.

As a beginner virtual assistant, you’ll need to work hard to find those first clients, especially if you don’t have customer testimonials and an established portfolio.

Unfortunately, the need for that hustle never really goes away, even after you’ve established yourself as a pro. You’ll continue to need to reach out and pitch to prospective clients. After all, if you don’t work, you don’t make money.

This isn’t to say it’s impossible – every virtual assistant has to start somewhere, and even the most successful VAs need to work to find clients. Still, the constant chase for work can be exhausting, and it’s something to keep in mind as you consider this job.

2. Working From Home Comes With a Lot of Distractions

Working from home is a dream come true for a lot of people, but others find it extremely difficult.

If you’re hoping to do this job so that you can be home with your kids during the day, that’s great! I highly recommend this as one of the best jobs for moms. Still – working from home with children is never easy. You’ll constantly feel a pull on your time and attention as you struggle to balance work with childcare duties.

It also can be extremely difficult to work when you know your favorite Netflix show is just a click away. Or your best friend wants to take you out for lunch.

It’s especially hard to work from home when you have friends and family nearby who don’t really understand what it is you do. If you’ve always been available for park play dates during the middle of the day, they probably won’t understand why all of a sudden you have to work during these hours.

Finding the motivation to resist these distractions and focus entirely on work when you have the chance isn’t always easy, but it is vitally important for success.

3. Working as a Virtual Assistant Can Be Lonely

If you’re used to the camaraderie that comes with working in an office and having coworkers, you might find things hard to adjust to when you start working as a virtual assistant.

This kind of job is often hardest for extroverts who need interaction with others every day. As a virtual assistant, you may not have that. Or, if you do, it will likely look a lot different (think Zoom calls with clients or customers).

This can be a big adjustment, and it’s one worth careful consideration if you are really are a people person and crave that personal interaction.

If you think this will be difficult, it doesn’t mean you should avoid this line of work altogether. Instead, you may just need to look for more creative ways to get your social interaction. This could mean going to Starbucks to work for a few hours everyday or joining an exercise class at a gym with a friend. You could even volunteer at a soup kitchen a few times a week.

Think outside the box and see if there are other ways you can get that personal interaction that’s so important.

4. It Can Be Hard to Separate Work and Home Life

There’s something to be said about clocking out at the end of the day and leaving work behind.

When you work outside the home, it’s generally a lot easier to separate your work and family life. You don’t have your computer staring you in the face every second of the day.

Some people who work from home find it hard to ever stop working. The allure of the idea that working more equals a higher income can be too much to withstand. However, in the process of all that work you lose quality time with your family and friends, and relationships may suffer.

Even if you aren’t spending all your time on work, it can be hard to relax as a business owner. You’re constantly thinking about your VA business, worrying about the next paycheck, or thinking about how you can best serve a client. You might find yourself feeling guilty if you take time to do something like relax and watch a movie, or spend the day at the park with your kids.

While it can be harder to separate work from home life, it’s vitally important to do so. Burnout is real, especially if you’re working from home.

Instead of feeling guilty for taking time off of work, you need to remind yourself that it’s important to step away regularly so that you can feel refreshed and reenergized. Still, this is a skill that doesn’t come easily to many people and you may have to work at it over time.

5. There are a Lot of Moving Parts to Running a Business

As a freelance virtual assistant, you’ll be a bona-fide business owner. This means you’ll need to take care of things like paying taxes, invoicing clients, and other mundane bookkeeping tasks.

You also need to keep tabs on all project management tasks, especially if you’re working with multiple clients and have a variety of different deadlines.

It’s imperative that you keep your accounting in order. If this is something you aren’t used to, it may take an adjustment.

If you aren’t highly organized, it can quickly turn into a disaster. Luckily, there are software programs and tools you can use, especially for the project management aspect of your business. Still, this is something that you may see as a disadvantage, especially if it doesn’t come easily to you.

6. There are No Benefits

When you run your own business as a freelancer, you don’t get perks like company-paid health insurance and a 401k plan. If you want these things, you’ll have to pay extra for them out of your own pocket.

Likewise, you don’t get any paid vacation time or days off. Of course, you’re free to take off whenever you wish, but you do need to figure out how to compensate for lost wages while you aren’t working.

Generally, these things aren’t a huge problem, because many virtual assistants are able to make far more money working from home than they were in their day job anyway.

Final Thoughts on the Pros and Cons of Working as a Virtual Assistant

Most people will agree that the benefits of working as a virtual assistant far outweigh the disadvantages. As with any job, there will be aspects of it that are a little challenging, but it’s generally considered to be one of the best work from home options out there.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out some of my other top virtual assistant articles:

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