It’s rare that a week goes by where Gina doesn’t receive an email asking which course (30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success or 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success) might be more appropriate given a specific situation.
In reality, there is no perfect answer and Gina (nor anyone else for that matter) is really qualified to answer that question for someone else. What can be helpful when trying to make a decision for yourself though, is hearing about the experiences of others who have walked the path before you.
And sharing my experience is exactly what I’m going to do in this post. Hopefully, you’ll be able to glean some benefit from someone who has been through exactly what you’re going through right now.
So if you’re stuck in this decision-making process and this sounds like it might be helpful to you, read on.
The Virtual Assistant, Freelance Writer Quagmire
(Yes, I finally found a way to use that word in a post!) 😉
I suppose the best way to start this is with a short backstory, so let’s begin there, shall we?
A little over two years ago, I was looking for a way to increase my revenue and boost cash flow. By little more than chance, I came across 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success while performing a random search on Google.
Back then, the landing page for 30DOL was, shall we say… a work in progress. After emailing Gina a few times and discovering that she was pretty darn responsive to emails, I decided to part ways with just a little bit of my cash and take a chance on both her and her course.
I had absolutely no idea how I was going to make a dime as a freelance writer. I mean, I seriously disliked writing, my grammar knowledge was rough at best and I barely passed English in high school.
To be honest, I figured my chances of success were slim-to-none, but there were two factors I think contributed to my initial “success.”
(I put that in quotes because I believe success is relative and highly personal.)
- I was in serious need of smoothing out my cash flow. Web design and WordPress website management were proving to be a roller coaster.
- I needed to increase my earnings as quickly as possible. I had too many website projects that were in limbo, while I waited for clients to finish writing content or have critical photographs taken.
Without dragging this story out longer than needed, let’s just say I jumped in with both feet and got started. And within a few months, I was landing regular work in the WordPress niche, making anywhere from $75 to $400 per post (btw, that translates to .06-.15 per word in my situation).
Not amazing, but nothing to sneeze at either.
It’s important to note that this was by no means an overnight process. It took me a while to make that progression and without ongoing coaching from Gina, I’m pretty sure I’d still be stuck at the bottom end of that range.
I slowly built up my freelance writing clientele to the point where I couldn’t responsibly take on more work. I felt like my days and night were consumed with writing about WordPress.
So over the past year, I worked at building a more balanced business — expanding my skill-set and moving beyond just web design, WordPress maintenance and freelance writing. I’ve learned a lot about which services I want to offer, how to price those services and about which types of clients and partnerships are most likely to result in a win-win scenario.
And that’s sort of where I want to head with the remainder of this article: How you can use what I’ve learned to help you decide which path might work best for you. Freelance writing, becoming a virtual assistant or some unique combination of the two.
There’s no more fluff in this post. What comes next is a result of my personal experience and insight (right or wrong as the case may be). When making a decision of which course you want to take, remember, there is no perfect choice. And honestly, once you get started, you just might decide to tackle both.
Everything That’s Great (and not) About Freelance Writing
If you love or are really passionate about writing, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success might be the best choice for you. There are many positives when it comes to freelance writing. But at the same time, there are a few “negatives” — things you’ll need to give careful consideration to.
The positives seem like a good place to start, yes?
- Freelance writing lets you express your creative side. If you have a favorite passion, it’s a great creative outlet.
- Freelance writing has the ability to provide decent cash flow once your rates reach a decent level.
- You can often earn your first dollar much sooner as a freelance writer. If you do a good job, your second dollar will come sooner as well.
- In addition to your first dollar, writing is very often a recurring gig. In our current environment, there is a real need for ongoing content and the need only seems to be increasing at this point in time.
- There is little chance of scope creep. If you’re getting paid by the word or by the post, chances are slim that you’ll be asked for “just one more little thing.”
Freelance writing isn’t all roses and rainbows though. There are a few downsides when comparing writing to the prospect of becoming a virtual assistant. Here are just a few things to consider:
- Depending on your niche, competition can be fierce. If you want to earn a living as a freelance writer, it’s totally possible. You just have to be prepared to put in the work. Success as a freelancer (writing or otherwise) is as much about your people skills as your writing chops.
- You might have to look outside your favorite niche if you want to take your writing income to the next level. Sometimes the more popular niches (like parenting) are also the most competitive and lowest paying.
- Although heavily dependent on your subject knowledge and typing speed, freelance writing has the potential to be time-consuming. It’s important to allow for research time, rewrites and improving your craft.
Everything That’s Great (and not) About Virtual Assistant Work
While some people might argue that I’m not technically a virtual assistant (and I don’t refer to myself as one either btw), I do perform many tasks that are not uncommon for a general VA to perform as well.
(Psst: Gina’s definition of a virtual assistant is anyone that offers services that help a client maintain or grow their business from afar. A lot of services can fall under that umbrella!)
Virtual assistant work is an incredibly broad topic and there is really no limit to the types of services you can provide. You can read this post if you’re looking for some ideas on how you can narrow down your list of services.
In the meantime lets run through a few of the positive aspects of VA work that I’ve learned through experience:
- VA work can be diverse. While it’s not necessarily a good idea to provide too many different services, it’s nice to have some options.
- The range of price points is much greater in the VA marketplace. Not only can you price by the project, you can also charge by the hour or introduce value-based pricing.
- It can be easier to stand out as a virtual assistant — especially if you have a somewhat unique skill-set (hint: when you build your website, pay close attention to your value proposition).
- As your skills improve, you can increase your rates more easily—especially if you provide good value.
- If you “enjoy,” but don’t “love” writing, you can easily provide writing services as part of your lineup—effectively killing two birds with one stone.
“Ahhhh,” you say, “but what about the downside to VA work?” Great question. There are definitely a few things to be aware of:
- It can take longer to land your first client. In my experience, finding good clients requires the ability to build relationships and there is no substitute for time.
- If you’re not careful, scope creep can become a real problem. You need to have policies in place when the unexpected happens.
- It’s easy to become too generalized. Trying to become knowledgeable about everything rarely results in coming an expert in anything. Becoming an expert in a particular field is the fastest way to increase your revenue.
If I Had to Choose Between One Or the Other
So you’re excited to get started building your business, but undoubtedly having a tough time deciding which path suits you best.
There’s no need to worry. Just look at the path I’ve taken: WordPress maintenance to web design to freelance writing. From there, I’ve moved into email marketing, social media advertising and more. Over time, I drop what’s not working (or is least profitable) and build on what’s proving to be successful.
Like I said earlier, there is no right or wrong answer. While there are both positives and negatives to consider, you can pick either path and make adjustments as your business grows—one client at a time.
I think that if you ask Gina which choice is best, she’ll say that more than anything the most important thing you can do is to just get started in the first place. Pick a path, take a course and start hustling to land your fist client. Sure, it takes hard work, but if you’re up for that, the rest is pretty simple.
If you started with a specific path or skill-set and have made adjustments along the way, we’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.