Invariably, the enquirer wants to know if they can replace a full time London PA salary with their VA income, and when you tell them that 45% of VAs earn less than £10,000 per annum, they rapidly lose interest.
However, the numbers don’t tell the full story – nearly 60% of those VAs are only working part-time, which drags the average income down somewhat. And this year for the first time in our UK VA Survey we had VAs earning over £70k – so it is possible!
For me personally, I earn about the same as when I worked as a PA. But I don’t have the costs associated with commuting, buying lunch every day or having to wear the dreaded suit, so my take-home pay doesn’t really need to be at the same level. Here’s where being a VA wins all round: I truly love the lifestyle it brings. If you are considering becoming a VA, look carefully at the cost of your commuter lifestyle – do you need a travelcard? Could you give up gym membership because you can escape from your desk to walk the dog every day? How much is your work wardrobe costing you each year? In other words: At what price happiness? This is what most VAs really value about the industry.
Note that I didn’t say that you can cancel nursery or fire the cleaning lady… You’ll still need childcare and you’ll still need your domestic angel if you are going to make a go of creating a proper business. Being a virtual assistant is often touted as being a way for mums at home to make money on the side – it’s really unfair to portray it that way, as it’s simply untrue for the majority of VAs. Just 38% of UK VAs have children under 12 and of those parents only 8.3% didn’t have childcare in place for when they were working. Making the actual percentage of mums working from home without childcare somewhere in the region of 3-4% of virtual assistants.
From speaking to hundreds of VAs, the number 1 thing you can do to become one of those VAs replacing a salary is to treat it like you would a real job – you need to work the same (if not more!) hours as a 9-5 job. You need to be professional (no dodgy gmail addresses please). And you need to stand your ground about domestic chores – just because you are working from home, it does not turn you into Cinderella!
Is being a virtual assistant a real job? https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/2010/09/13/is-being-a-virtual-assistant-a-real-job/
The figures in this article were taken from the 2011 UK Virtual Assistant Survey which you can purchase here: https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/va-products/