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A couple months ago, I did an impromptu Facebook Live on my Careful Cents Facebook Page. I had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head about whether I should transition from freelance writer to virtual assistant.
For the past year or so, I’ve been struggling with the direction of my business. It just felt like I was doing the work but without any real purpose in mind.
As a business owner you need a purpose for waking up every day, and an emotional reason for earning money (aside from just “earning money”).
I no longer felt connected to my “reasons” and was feeling very, very lost. So, I wondered if I should go back to being an online Virtual Assistant and Project Manager.
Little did I know that about a week after doing that Facebook Live, where I talked about my idea for transitioning back to being a virtual assistant, those words would come true. (Be careful what you put out into the universe, am I right?!)🤷
Here are my top reasons for quitting freelance writing in favor of becoming a virtual assistant — and why it makes sense for me.
Go where the path leads you
This transition obviously came about rather quickly. But as someone who likes to make decisions with finality, I’m fully leaning into my new identity.
Why? Mostly because the response to my new direction has been overwhelming positive!
Within a day or two of the FB video, a contact of mine watched it and then reached out about hiring me as a Project Manager for her upcoming launch. She wanted me to implement some business systems, as well as manage a small team, in order to make her upcoming launch run smoothly.
I did the Facebook Live on July 28th and by August 8th I had signed a contract for up to 40 hours of work each month for the next 90 days. Some of the work is VA implementation stuff and some of it’s more high-level strategy consulting.
Altogether my new contract is bringing in around $1,400 a month — not too bad for a 4:31 minute unplanned Facebook Live video! There’s no denying that I’ve had more interest, and seemingly more success, with this direction of my business than I have as simply a freelance writer.
Success is not an indicator of what’s right
One of the questions I’ve received since pivoting the direction of my business is “why?” Why am I transitioning away from freelancing writing — especially since I’ve seen such good success with it?
My answer is that success is measured in many different ways.
From the amount of money you earn, to the time you get back, or even how easy the work is, all of these factors can be measures of success. But for me, success has always equaled some level of control.
Being a successful freelance writer always meant that I was enjoying the work, feeling challenged, earning a good living, AND not feeling burned out. The tipping point came about when I was only getting 1 out of the 4 things on my list (money is great, but there are so many more important things).
On the outside, it may have looked like I was a successful freelance writer (and I am — I’m definitely not complaining). But the truth is that I was bored, burned out, and no longer loving the path I was on.
Still interested in freelance writing?
Freelance writing has been an awesome business model for the past 6+ years, so it’s still worth pursing. Take a lead from Gina’s story about earning $4,000 per month as a writer! Or read Holly’s story about doubling her income with freelance writing.
Slow burnout is still burning out
In my 6 years of being self-employed, I’ve found that being a full-time freelance writer is exhausting. It often takes a lot of (the same type of) brain power to write all day, every day. And I’m just not one of those people who can consistently perform at that high level.
As a way to slow down the burnout phase, I restricted myself to only taking on 4-5 writing assignments per week (blog article writing mostly). Not only did this limit my capacity but it also capped out my income.
And if I wanted to earn some extra money for an upcoming trip, or boost my savings, I had to work harder, and more hours. If you know anything about me and this blog, you know that’s in DIRECT conflict with my core values and my mission.
But instead of dealing with the problem directly, I prolonged my agony. I burned slowly from both ends, all the while telling myself that the direction I was going was the right one — and that I just needed to slow down and make it work.
No matter how many ways you dress it up, burning out slowly is still burning out. And eventually it will catch up with you — there’s no hiding from it. It’s time to stop lying to yourself and get real!
If the path you’re on is burning you out, you either need to ask for help or jump onto a new path. Which is what I did!
Overcome an income ceiling
This blog isn’t called Careful Cents for no reason, so obviously one of the deciding factors for making this transition relates to money. At the end of 2016, I hit the income ceiling for what most clients were willing to pay me for blog posts.
I was earning an average of $300 for an article around 1,000 words or less. And sometimes I only earned $250 for assignments half that long. At this price, and the rate of 4-5 articles per week, I could only earn around $5,000 a month from freelance writing (more or less).
In order to bust through this income ceiling, I either had to take on more work (which I didn’t feel was doable without sacrificing quality), or rates my rates (which I also didn’t feel was possible).
I kept raising my writing rates until I started getting a lot of “NOs” so that’s how I figured out I capped out the income for my niche and skill level. So, I’ve been stuck in this limbo area of only bringing in the bare minimum freelancing income without having a solution.
On the flip side, becoming a virtual assistant has the potential for earning A LOT more income than freelance writing. How?
1. Different tasks mean less brain power
Virtual assistant work allows you to do different types of tasks related to admin, strategy, editing, organizing, answer emails, and the list goes on (versus just pitching and writing all day long). Switching between different types of tasks means less fatigue on any one thing, and more room for creativity and diversity.
This was something that was sorely lacking in my business, since I only focused on writing (specifically about finances, taxes, and budgeting). I most certainly could have written about other topics, or targeted other startups to work with outside of my current niche (which I actually DID do).
But this didn’t give me the full pivot I was looking for, so I opted to stop freelance writing altogether.
2. Paid hours add up quickly
The hours you work as a virtual assistant can add up quickly! As much time you have to dedicate to VA work, is as much time it will take up. There’s an abundance of hours available for me to work right now, and I’m taking advantage of it!
And yes, I understand that freelance writing was bringing in $200-300 per hour, and VA work doesn’t usually come even close to that. But for me, this is what I prefer right now. Plus, I can build my price-per-hour in the coming months as I become a Certified Online Business Manager.
3. There’s tons of opportunity
Content strategies change all the time, and the budgets for producing paid content are constantly up in the air. With all the startups and small businesses I’ve worked for, this one thing I hate about the industry.
But one thing I’ve noticed that doesn’t change is the need for virtual assistant help (i.e. people always want to save time!). Websites are here to stay, email isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither is social media. These are three services that are in high demand for VA workers.
For where I’m at in my career right now, all the doors for freelance writing are closing but the opportunities for doing VA work are overflowing. Everyone is clamoring to create better business systems, successfully manage a team, and hire a Project Manager. So, I’m going where the juice is, y’all!
Want to get started as a virtual assistant?
Find out how I became a virtual assistant and earned $500 within my first month. Or find out what services to offer new clients so you can explode your business as a Pinterest virtual assistant.
From freelance writer to virtual assistant
Not only is being a virtual assistant a great way to earn more money, but it’s a never-ending challenge. If you’re bored or unmotivated with the same freelance writing work all the time, it might be a good time to think about becoming a virtual assistant.
I started my freelance career as a social media VA and marketing assistant. This allowed me to learn lots and lots of skills related to social media, building a community, email marketing, webinars, guest posting, and launch strategies.
Since then, I’ve managed my own blog and hired several team members to manage my blog, my Facebook group, and my email list. So, I understand what’s it like to manage a team as well as be part of a team.
Basically, there’s an endless need for virtual assistants in the small business world (both online and off), so you’ll always have something new to learn. I am much more excited and motivated than I was earlier this year and that’s because VA work is challenging but fun!
This new direction is fairly new, so we’ll see how things go in the coming months. But for now, it’s the right pivot for my business!