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“So, what does she actually do all day?”
Ok, so one has ever out-and-out asked that question, because people generally try not to be rude. However, whenever I need to tell someone I’m self-employed, or work from home, or write/market/blog, they tend to look baffled and a little confused. Although the internet is opening up all kinds of doors for location-independent labor, it’s still pretty new, and for most folks, pretty foreign.
My go-to “job title” is “freelance virtual assistant/social media coordinator/writer.” But honestly, that doesn’t really clear things up for people who have never even considered a virtual assistant. And in reality, “virtual assistant” covers a vast array of specific jobs! So for people wondering what I do and how they too can make a full-time income working from their living room, here’s a glimpse into a typical day in the life of Natalie:
Virtual Assistant Job #1 (8 hours/week)
This is my most recent gig. More or less, this is a research job with a dash of writing. I work for a solo female travel blog, and help research all kinds of women travel-related topics, from what to wear on a rainy day in London to community-based tourism in Taiwan to teaching English in Italy.
This job is really cool because I’m researching something different every day, and learning A LOT about the world. It requires oodles of Googling, reading articles, gathering facts and putting them in spreadsheets. (Weirdly, I have this crazy obsession with spreadsheets). Sometimes my client then asks me to write the articles after I’ve thoroughly investigated the topic. She is a former journalist, so she’s all about the facts — and about all the facts — which I really appreciate.
Virtual Assistant Job #2 (20-ish hours/week)
I’ve been working for a tiny house blog now for a full year! I got this gig on a whim — I was reading this killer website and I love tiny houses, so I thought, “Maybe he needs help?” Turns out he did! I started out writing a couple posts a week and responding to reader emails, but now I do way more.
I start by responding to comments, questions and messages on Facebook. Then I do the same in our help email account. After that, I schedule posts on Hootsuite for our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Next, I respond to comments on our website (This can be interesting! You’d never think tiny homes were so controversial!). Then, I format and write about four posts in WordPress about new tiny homes. Finally, I work on other projects like e-books filled with Tiny House resources (this is new, and very fun!).
Those two jobs take up the bulk of my work week. They are my “dependable” gigs, because I can expect at least 28 hours/week of pay! 🙂 When you’re self-employed, guaranteed income in the BOMB 🙂
Marketing/Content Writing Job (0-6 hours/week)
This client recently said he’d been sending me more projects, but for now I clock in a fairly variable amount of work from week to week. The thing is, his business is creating marketing strategies for a number of businesses, so he has clients just like I do! This work tends to come in waves.
His clients run the gamut from law firms to auto repair shops to schools, so I’ve learned a ton about industries I knew very little about! I’d say 70% of my time is spent writing/formatting blog posts, posting them to social media and analyzing the results in Google Analytics by creating reports. Another 30% is creating newsletters in Constant Contact. Then from time to time I work on unusual things, like fixing WordPress issues, or researching a particular topic.
Freelance Journalism (1 project/month)
For the past two summers, I had a great internship at The Cape Cod Times in Hyannis, MA. I absolutely loved my editors, and they were nice enough to keep me on as a freelancer even after I moved abroad! I always really enjoy these projects because they are “real journalism,” which is something I’ve really strayed from since I started relying on my freelancing to subsist.
I write for the Feature’s department, and usually for a special weekly section called Cape Week. In December, I wrote a piece on an epic train display at a local museum, and I just got done with a piece on a wonderful orchid show. Plus, this is great “ego” work, haha. All my work for Job #1 and Job #3 is anonymous, and even though my posts for Job #2 sport a byline, I’m not writing detailed stories. So this is my chance to keep my name in print, which every writer secretly (or not-so-secretly) savors.
Pinterest Graphic Designer (1 project/month)
Since offering this service for the first time in November, I’ve had one client a month, which is about 4-6 hours of work. Basically I create beautiful Pinterest images for bloggers who either don’t have the time or desire to make their own. I honestly LOVE this part of my job. It’s the most creative portion of it, and it always feels like a treat rather than work.
So if any of you out there want to outsource Pinterest to me, please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
There you have it! Altogether, I work somewhere between 30 and 40 hours a week. Obviously, the 30 hour weeks rock and make the 40 hour ones feel super long, but who doesn’t love 10 more hours worth of pay? 🙂
Whenever you freelance, there are good months and bad months. December was a GREAT month! January will end up being pretty average. But we make enough money to live comfortably, and that’s a huge blessing.
You can check out my professional website too if you’d like, and feel free to contact me if you’d like to get into working as a virtual assistant.