The 5 Biggest Downfalls for New Virtual Assistants (And How To Avoid Them)

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Downfalls for new virtual assistants

Setting off on a new career path isn’t easy, and starting your virtual assistant career isn’t any different. Becoming successful as a VA and building the life you want is going to be hard work, but it’s totally possible if you have the motivation and put in the effort. 

We’ve seen people work and grow, but we’ve also seen people try and fail.

Failing doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you use it to learn and grow. Don’t let a setback stop you in your journey. It’s very rare to be perfect on your first try. Making mistakes and taking time to figure things out is part of the process. 

So we want to give you a leg up. Why fall into some of the most common traps, when you can learn from people that have been there before you? 

We’ve gathered the 5 biggest downfalls VAs face at the beginning of their career and tell you how to avoid them. Use this knowledge to set yourself up for success! 

1. You Run Into Online Work Scams

Scams are literally everywhere on the internet, and they can be really frustrating as a new VA. When you’re just starting out, it’s hard to know what to look out for. 

You might get a LinkedIn message from a ‘recruiter’ and get all excited you just found your first client! But no, it was a scam. We know this can be very demoralizing. 

Once you know how to recognize a scam, it’s quite easy to avoid them. 

  • If the job posting is too good to be true, it’s usually a scam. Those postings where the pay is extremely high for only a few hours of work? Scam! Working online isn’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s a legit career that takes time. So don’t fall for these! 
  • If there’s no phone or video interview prior to hiring, it’s nearly always a scam. Anybody hiring ALWAYS wants to talk to the person that’s going to work with them. They want to know a little bit about you and about your work. How else will they know they’re not getting scammed? So yes, a legit job always has an interview process!
  • If they want to send you a check and have you transfer money back or to someone else, it’s ALWAYS a scam! It’s usually a bad check that your bank will accept and then decline a few days later, so you lose the money. 
  • If they want you to do a lot of work prior to paying you, it’s usually a scam. In the online work world, it’s very common to either get paid upfront or to receive a deposit before you start working. If your potential client doesn’t want to at least pay a deposit or agree to a very short trial period after which you’ll be paid, it’s very likely they’re not planning to pay you at all. Don’t fall for this and move on if you can’t agree!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of different types of scams nowadays, so we can’t go into them all. 

Keeping an eye out for these 4 signs will help you avoid a lot of them, but if you want to learn a bit more about this topic, we go into more detail on scams and how to recognize them in this podcast episode

Woman working online with notebook

2. You Have No Online Work Experience

Actually, you FEEL like you have no experience. In our experience, that’s usually not true at all.

We challenge you to look back at the jobs you’ve had in the past, the volunteer work you’ve done, and the hobbies you have. Even as a stay-at-home mom, you’ve probably organized some events for your kids or volunteered at school.

If you really think about it, you’ll find that you actually have a lot of skills already. 

Do you know how to type and use email? Congrats, you can answer and manage a client’s email. It can really be that simple. It’s quite easy to qualify for jobs like customer service, but the pay is usually very low.

So what if you want to make this into your career? 

You’re going to need some marketable skills if you want to land some higher paying jobs and really make this into your dream career. 

The one skill you should have if you want to become a VA is problem-solvingIf you are a problem solver, you’ll see that not knowing a certain program or skill is actually just a problem you can solve. 

Google and YouTube will become your best friends as a virtual assistant. You can also take courses and classes to learn more if you want to really level up. 

Once you’ve done all the research you can, it’s time to get some hands-on experience. A great way to do that is by doing an internship. 

You can do an internship in exchange for a testimonial and sometimes for a discounted rate. Internships are a great way to learn in the field. The best thing about them? If you do a good job, you could be hired or referred to other potential clients! 

Just make sure you clearly define how long your internship is, what your tasks will be, and what you’re getting in return. You want it to beneficial to both your client and you. Set clear boundaries so nobody takes advantage of you.  

Take a look around for job postings, figure out what you’d love to do, and then make it happen!

Woman working online on laptop

3. Your Mindset Is Holding You Back

Now that you have the skills to work online, you’re starting to look for clients. You know how to avoid scams, so you can recognize those legit job offers. Facebook groups and networking are great ways to find clients. 

Now you might be faced with a new problem. You might find that seeing a list of requirements in a job posting gives you pause or even freaks you out, even after doing skills training or an internship. 

Are you telling yourself you’re not qualified, even though you tick at least 70% of the boxes? Or maybe you’re thinking they’d never pick you out of the 30+ applications? 

That is your mind holding you back. 

Your mindset is extremely important if you want to become a successful VA. That little voice in your head that’s telling you that you can’t do this, that you’re not good enough? Let me tell you a secret. Everybody has one! 

Your brain is wired to keep you safe. If you’re trying something new, your brain will give you all the warning signs, because it’s facing something unknown.

Once you’re aware of this fact, you can work with this and rewire your thoughts into seeing new things as challenges, not impossible tasks.

While you start your new career, keep working on your mindset too. You can do this by reading books, listening to podcasts, or by taking a mindset course.

Just make sure that you’re not stopping your own progress because you’re scared. You CAN do this, you might just have to convince your brain to believe that too.

Woman working online with a messy desk

4. You’re Undercharging

Once you’re looking for clients, you’re going to have to decide on what you’re going to charge your clients. Setting your own rate is one of the great things about being your own boss, but it’s also pretty scary. 

You’ll notice, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience yet, you might have a hard time deciding on how much you’ll charge. And even once you’ve set your rate, you might still doubt yourself and want to lower it. 

When determining how much you want to charge, make sure you look at:

  • Your skills
  • Your experience
  • Your monthly expenses
  • How much you want to make to be happy

Don’t forget to add a percentage for taxes; how much depends on where you live. 

If you want some more information on how to determine your rate, we go into more detail in our pricing guide, where we give you all the tools to help you calculate your hourly rate. 

And once you have determined your rate, stick to it! Don’t start doubting yourself just because you think other people can’t afford you. You’ll be surprised by what business owners are willing to pay for good help.

Set a minimum rate that’s acceptable to you, and never go below that! Sometimes a client just isn’t a good fit because of pay, and that’s okay.   

Undercharging is the easiest way to start hating your new career. You want to enjoy this new path, so make sure you keep that in mind when quoting your new clients. Never undersell yourself!

If you do find you’re always undercharging, you might have to some mindset issues around money. The good thing is, you can work on that with books, podcasts or a money mindset course. Rewire that brain to be able to charge and accept more money!

Woman working online with flowers

5. You Didn’t Niche Down Your Online Services

Another common problem we see a lot is when new VAs don’t determine who their ideal client is before accepting jobs.

When just starting out, it might seem to make sense to accept any job, because it will give you experience. Right? 

Well, not exactly. You still want to enjoy what you’re working on. If you just accept anything because you need the money, you’re not actually working towards creating a sustainable life for yourself. 

When you’re starting out, it’s best to figure out what you services you want to offer and who you’d like to work with. Do you want to work with travel bloggers, coaches, authors, shop owners, restaurants? We could go on and on, the online world is huge! Your ideal clients are out there, so dream big!

It’s just a matter of getting a clear image who they are, so you can market yourself in that niche. You want to become an expert your ideal clients can’t wait to work with! 

Again, one way to get started in your preferred niche is by offering an internship if you have no experience yet. If you do have experience already, you can pitch your services straight to your ideal clients. Many business owners haven’t even thought of hiring help, even though they’re up to their ears in work. Your message could be a lifesaver! 

Get clear on your goals for yourself and make them happen. Don’t just accept any job, but focus on your preferred niche or jobs that will help you get there. You’ll thank yourself later! 

Woman working online with a clean desk

Set yourself up for success working online

We want you to set yourself up for success when you’re starting your virtual assistant business. You might have noticed a lot of the obstacles we mentioned relate to your mindset.

 Your brain can either help you do amazing things or hold you back and stop you from reaching your goal. Make sure you’re aware of this and that you actively work on helping your brain understand and accept your new journey.  

And remember! There is absolutely no shame in making a mistake and learning from it. It can be an amazing learning experience! Just don’t let a mistake stop you. Keep working hard and keep moving ahead until you reach that goal (and beyond, dream big!). 

Once you’re clear on your dreams, you’re going to start applying to jobs and pitching to clients. Unfortunately, your old sturdy word resume isn’t going to do the trick online.

Remote companies and online business owners are often not impressed with a traditional resume. They’re looking for something extra, something special, so you need to stand out in your application! And one aspect of that is your remote resume. 

That’s why we’ve created the Remote Resume Blueprint. The Blueprint has everything you need to know on what your remote resume needs, how to write a good cover letter with a template AND contains 5 remote resume templates you can use straight away! 

It’s going to elevate your resume and, with that, your application or pitch to a whole new level. A good remote resume will help you on your way to landing clients and building the life you’re looking for!

We can’t wait to see you rock your virutal assistant career!



Katinka van den Berg headshot

Katinka van den Berg is a virtual assistant here to help online businesses create a consistent online presence based on providing value to their customers. When she’s not assisting environmentally conscious businesses with their content creation, blogs and social media management needs, she loves to travel and explore new places.

She’s a member of 90 Day VA and assists with everything from content creation and repurposing to social media and blog management.

To see all the services she offers and how she can help you, check out her Facebook page here.


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