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Virtual Assistant Training lesson 1

What is a Virtual Assistant / VA?
A Virtual Assistant is the online version of an office assistant or personal assistant. Basically, VAs are freelancers, they may work full time for a single company or employer OR they may work part-time for a couple or several business owners.
VAs are paid by the hour, per week, bi-monthly, monthly, or per project basis. If your employer is foreign or based abroad, you can get paid from US$2.00 per hour (or around PhP 96.00 – more than the PhP50+/hour minimum wage in the Philippines), up to US$10.00/hour (or more). On the other hand, if your employer is based here, you can get paid between PhP2,000 to PhP4,000 per month part-time.
Advantages and Disadvantages of being a VA.
Advantages:
  • Work  from home or anywhere there’s a PC/laptop with internet access.
  • No dress code.
  • Work the number of hours you prefer.
  • No rush hour traffit to go through.
  • No scrutinizing bosses around.
  • No gossiping office mates.
  • Free from office politics.
  • Opportunity to set-up you own VA business at home.
Disadvantages:
  • No insurance, no healthcare (HMO) benefits, no 13th month pay, etc.
  • No personnel department to take care of your tax and SSS payments (you have to do it yourself.)
  • You’re on your own (No readily available office mates or supervisors to ask for help or advice)
  • There’s always the risk of not getting paid (or late payments) for the services done.
What you need to get started.
Equipment:
PC/Laptop with a reliable internet access (pref. broadband, not dial-up)
Basic Skills:
Computer skills and English language proficiency (read, write, understand English)
Internet Skills:
Email (send, receive, compose emails, etc.)
Online research  (using google and other search engines)
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Linked-in)
Online Ads posting (Sulit, OLX, Craiglist, etc.)
Blogging, forum posting, basic website making, etc.
Others:
MUST KNOW HOW TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, fast-learner, very patient, can give attention to details, organize, can multi-task, positive mindset
After reading the basics about what a Virtual Assistant is and the tasks/activities involved in being one, do you still consider to work as a VA? If you answered YES then very good!
Because we at OJP believe that all you REALLY need to earn online is the RIGHT ATTITUDE and WILLINGNESS to learn.
YOUR ASSIGNMENT:
Please visit Odesk.com HERE and explore the different jobs and pay rates available online.  This will, more or less, give you an insight of what it’s like to be a VA.
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virtual assistant training lesson-2

 
Your Home Office Set-Up:
1.   Yes you have to set-up your home office, the area in your house where you’ll be doing “home” work J.  The area should be the quietest place in your house, obviously to keep you concentrated while at work.
2.  You must have a reliable computer, one that works perfectly fine even after long hours of use (does not “hang”). Your internet connection must likewise be reliable, stable and fast (a broadband will do, no dial-ups please).  Also invest in a good external hard drive to back-up your important files, but for now a handy 2GB flash drive will do.
3.  You must have a clean work area (free from clutter), a comfortable chair, and an extra space for keeping files/documents/book/references that you might immediately need while doing your work.
4.  You must have a notebook and a pen ready, to write down things that you need to remember.  Like a “To Do” list, don’t rely on memory alone.  A hardcopy of notes is preferred than the “notepad” in your PC/laptop when jotting down important things.
5.  You must determine your work hours (morning, noon, afternoon, night, etc.).  Preferably, the hours of your regular day when there are less or no distractions (ex. when your kids are at school).  
     HOWEVER, like when it’s vacation time and your kids are most likely at home, inform them that it is important that they stay quiet and avoid asking you things while you are working.  

 

Your Online and Offline Skills:
 
Offline Skills:
 
Skills that you acquire thru school education or thru your hobbies.  Your interest/s, life and work experiences will definitely matter when working as a VA. So start writing them down – do you know how to bake, write poems, are you a health enthusiast, do you like to draw, take pictures, balance your finances, and so on. Write them down and determine which are the things you like to do most.
 
Why? Because you have to look for VA jobs that interests you or jobs that are related to what you already know about – to serve your employers better, to decrease the learning curve, and to make work more enjoyable (or bearable J) to do.
 
Online Skills:
 
These are the computer and internet skills that you already knew AND those that you need to learn.
 
Write them down in a two-column list.  On the left side – skills that you already knew and on the right side skills that you need to learn.
 
Example:
 
Computer and Internet Skills
Skills I Already Have
Skills I Need to Learn
1.     Basic computer operations
1.     Blogging
2.     MS Word/Excel
2.     Skype
3.     Email Basics
3.     Email Marketing
4.     Chat / Instant Messaging (IM)
4.     Forum posting
5.     Organize computer files
5.     SEO
6.     Facebook, Twitter, Linked in
6.     Facebook marketing
7.     And so on…
7.     And so on…
What Can You Offer as a VA?
 
This includes not only your skills but also your attitude and character.  Are you dependable? Can you easily adapt to new situations? Are you a fast-learner? Can you meet deadlines? Work under Pressure? And so on.  Employers like to know these things when hiring someone, a character reference should likewise be readily available.
 
Assignment:
1. Create your VA Resume using the list/s you made. Click HERE to view a guide in resume writing.
2. Visit gcflearnfree.org for free online lessons  (Microsoft applications, Email basics, blog basics, and other useful skills). 
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 3

 
SETTING-UP YOUR VA BLOG

If you have no experience in online work before but you know that you have the basic skills to make it as a Virtual Assistant, then setting-up your own VA blog is a must.

Your blog will be your online proof, reference, portfolio, resume, and profile – that your potential employers can readily visit online. Your VA Blog should reflect your skills – your English ability, your internet competence, your blogging know-how, and your other talents that you feel can help your future employers with their businesses.

Contents of Your Blog

1. Profile – Something about yourself – just a short info about you. (ex. engineering course graduate, formerly a call center agent, work at home mom or dad, worked for a marketing firm for 5 years.. etc..). You should also include your goals in life and the purpose of your blog in general.

2. One (1) post about your online work experience/s, if you do not have one yet, tell something about your online skills, sports activities, health regimens, hobbies, interests, etc..

3. Two to three (2-3) posts about your work. Ex. if you’re into photography, post interesting pictures and tell something about it.  If you like to sketch/draw, write poems, tell stories then you can share that in your posts.  If you like to bake, fix things, workout, you can post instructional guides, and so on. 

A “how to” guide is recommended if you can’t think of something to post. (How to create a Facebook account, how to edit email signature, how to go tagaygay, how to plan for birthday parties… etc… Each of us has our own set of  talents to share, I know you’ll surely find one or two that you can share in your blog. 🙂  
 

IMPORTANT REMINDERs:

Keep your blog contents professional, avoid putting smileys, slang words, internet acronyms (xoxo, btw, irl, etc.) and other inappropriate words/comments.

Also, include a professional-looking photo of yourself in your profile. PLEASE AVOID “wacky” pictures like with you making the V sign, sticking out your tongue, or overly posed self-taken photo taken from different angles.

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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 4

– Learning How to “oDesk” – 
(oDesk Tutorial Series) 
For those not yet familiar with odesk.com,  it is a website where online
workers and employers meet. It’s like a “job fair” center for online
workers where you can find thousands of freelance job opportunities.
At odesk.com, online
workers (VAs included) are referred to as “CONTRACTORS
and employers are referred to as “CLIENTS”.
There are a number of online
freelance  job market similar to odesk.com (ex. Freelancer.com,
getacoder.com, etc.) but oDesk remains to be the
most trusted and the most “Pinoy-Friendly” site that you could possibly find
online.
Today we are going to do 3 tasks (assignments), they are quite simple but needs
a considerable amount of time and effort on your part:
  
1st Task: Register with Odesk.com – Click HERE to register.
2nd Task: Complete your Profile! (upload a
professional-looking photo, give details on your work experience,  and as
much as possible “showcase” your online skills.)  REMEMBER, Contractors
with complete profiles are the ones that get the most job offers.  Use the
resume you created as your guide.  Include your VA Blog in one of your
portfolio projects.
3rd Task: Take the Odesk Readiness Test.  This is what we call the “Entrance
Test”, it is simply a series of questions regarding how oDesk works.
Don’t worry if you fail the first time as you can take this test as many times
as you like. (You also have the option not to show them in your profile 🙂
).
 
When you have taken and passed the
Odesk Readiness Test, you will be eligible to apply to as many as 20 jobs per week.
That’s all for this day’s lesson, next topic is “How to get your first job at oDesk”.
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 5

 

– How to Get Your First Job – 
(oDesk Tutorial Series)

 

For today’s lesson we will be reading a very
helpful article on “How to Win Your First Odesk Job”, written by a successful
Filipina Odesk freelancer named Stephanie Gonzaga:
 
You can read Stephanie’s article HERE
and view her oDesk profile
here.


One of the many things I love about Odesk is that they provide a lot of readily
available information, advices, tips, guides, blogposts, etc. about every aspect of oDesk. It’s all available at oDesk Help Center (their knowledgebase), find it >>
HERE

That’s our short instruction for the day and now for your assignment:



After you have pass the Odesk Readiness Test and when your profile is complete,
browse and bid for jobs.  Remember to bid only on clients with payment
verified records (especially if you’re bidding on a per project jobs).
Only per hour job payments are guaranteed by odesk via their Escrow system. 
How to spot clients with payment verified records?
Also, when you place your mouse/cursor over the encircled part as shown above, a few information about that client will appear such as…

  • The amount of money the client already paid to oDesk
  • Total no. of client’s job postings;
  • Total number of hires;
  • Date when the client registered with oDesk; and 
  • The client’s location.
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 6

 
– Three Ways to Earn at oDesk.com – 
(oDesk Tutorial Series)
 
 As a contractor, there are three
ways to earn:
1.  By offering your services as a contractor,
 
2.  By joining oDesk.com’s affiliate program (Click HERE to know more about the program),  and 
 
3.  By becoming an agency manager – where you can create your own oDesk team, take
in job contracts and assign work to your team members, you can build a team of
transcriptionist, online marketers, social media specialists, and so on.  
 
Click HERE to read an article on “How to create
your own agency”.
Okay, that’s our short lesson for the day! Be sure to visit the links to learn more about oDesk.
Your Assignment is to share your
odesk experience (so far) in your VA blog.
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 7

– FindingVA Jobs Outside of oDesk – 
 
There are other ways
and online/offline to find VA jobs. 
 You just have to keep your eyes open to
opportunities and possibilities.
Most Filipino business
owners need online marketing help and most of the time – they have no idea on
how it works, how to proceed with it, or even worse, they are not even aware
that they need online marketing to make their business more prosperous.
This is where we come
in >> our job is to show and explain to them the advantages or importance of having
an online presence especially when you own a business.
You have to be
creative in preparing your sales letters, present actual statistics, give testimonies, etc.. and
most of all be honest and sincere! 
 These business owners need to feel that they really need your
help to improve their business.  Most importantly, they need to feel that they are not wasting
their time and money dealing with you.
So your tasks for
today is >> to look for business owners in your neighborhood, among your
relatives, friends, friends of friends, etc… 
 and offer your services to them. (But first you have to prepare an effective sales letter. Read a  guide HERE.)
 
 
What VA services to offer?
Here are some ideas…
1.  Set-up and maintain a business blog site.
 
2.  Set-up and maintain a facebook page.
 
3.  Promote their business online. (Ex. Sulit.com.ph,
Ayosdito, online community forums, and others)
 
4.  Email support – Answer email inquiries or send
out marketing letters, proposals, etc.
 
How and how much to charge clients?
Here are a few ideas…
1.) Initially, you can offer your services at a
lower fee P500 to P1,500 per month but remember, if you plan to do this always
mention that it’s just an introductory rate for them to try out your service.
(This may sound very low but if you have 10 clients that’s still extra P5,000
to P15,000 a month).
 
2.) You can also give a money back guarantee if
they are not satisfied with your service/s. and
 
3.) You can give extra free service if they avail,
example > if they avail of your blogging services, you can include email
support for free.
Okay that’s our lesson
for the day, 
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 8

VA Resources
 
Virtual Assistant resources are the websites, software applications,
and other online tools and links that can help to make your work easier and at the same time help you improve your skills and your services.

 

Here
they are… 
(Note: Remember
to download and/or create bookmarks for easy access.)
 
1.  Blogger.com – A free site where you can create VA
blogs, promote your services, create blogs for clients, and more.
 
 
2.  Facebook.com – The best social media network where you
can effectively promote your services to your network of friends, create fan
pages for your clients, and more.  
 
 
3.  Sulit.com.ph – The
best Philippine classified ads where you can create free and paid ads for your
services or your clients’ products/services. (Especially helpful to Philippine-based
clients.)
 
 
4.  Google.com –  The best search engine for
your online research.
 
 
5.  Mylot.com 
Here’s another site that offers search engine services (alternative to Google search).  Mylot.com is using Yahoo search as reference base, it’s search capabilities is okay but not that good compared to Google search.  However, this site one pays you for using their search engine, plus they offer other earning opportunities. Register and know more about the different ways you can earn at
Mylot.com HERE or HERE.
 
 
6.  Gcflearnfree.org – For free helpful tutorials on online
skills and other internet topics.  Provides step by step instructions and videos to help you learn easily.  View
available lessons 
HERE.
 
 
7.  Blogging tools – These
are both blogging and VA tools that can help you accomplished your VA work
easily and effectively. View a blog post about it 
HERE.
 
Okay,
that’s it for today’s lesson and for your assignment >> bookmark sites, download the tools, and join the programs (sulit/mylot/claimfans/etc).
 
Have
a productive day everyone!
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Virtual Assistant Training Lesson 9

Lesson 9 – Money, Legal & Other Matters

 

 
Our lesson for today is about money matters, legal concerns & other important VA work related off-line matters, and below you will find “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) about it:
Money Matters
 
  • What are my options when accepting payment for my VA services?

 

Answer:
Most online companies based abroad prefer to pay via PayPal.com while those
based in the Philippines prefer to pay via local banks (ex. PNB, BPI, BDO, and
others).  So it is advisable for you to
have…
 
1.) An existing PayPal
Account (preferably verified), and 
 
2.) At least one (1) local bank account (preferably BPI, as they do not collect charges for
inter-branch deposits, they have a user-friendly online banking system, and now
some of their machines can process “cardless” ATM withdrawals, how great is
that!).
 
  • How can I withdraw my money from oDesk.com?

 

Answer:  If you’re based in the Philippines, you have
two options > if you want to receive your money faster…
 
1.)
You can withdraw using your verified PayPal account (processed within only 2 hours), and
2.) You can enroll your local bank account and oDesk will directly
transfer your oDesk earnings to your enrolled bank account. This is a new option called LFT or “Local Fund Transfer” where you can receive your funds within 2 to 3 days Read more about it HERE.
  • How can I withdraw my money from PayPal.com?

 

Answer:  You have to verify your PayPal Account first
before you can withdraw or spend your PayPal money.  (Receiving is different, you can receive money even your PayPal
account is unverified). 
 
*You
can verify your PayPal account with the use of your credit card information OR by
applying for a Debit Card at any Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) Branch. Required minimum amount to withdraw is $10.00 and it takes 5 to 7 days to receive your funds in your UBP account.
 
A
detailed guide about PayPal and UBP can
be read HERE.
 
Legal Matters:
  • Do you have to declare your VA income in your Income Tax
    Return (ITR)?

 

Answer:  Yes, you have to declare it when filing your ITR AND if your *total yearly income (i.e. regular job, freelancing work and/or business) exceeded
P60,000.00) then you must pay the corresponding tax dues for it. 
 
If your income is P60,000 and below, you are exempted from paying your income tax, though you still have to file your ITR for documentation purposes. 
Note:  It’s important for us to file our ITRs, not only because it’s our social obligation, it’s also our ticket to avail housing loans, credit cards and other financial services that we may need someday. 

 
  • I’m planning to do VA work full-time, do I have to
    register with BIR?

 

Answer:  YES, if you don’t have a Tax Identification
Number or TIN yet.  And NO if you already have one. You can use your
existing TIN when filing your ITR. (Read more related info HERE.)
Note:  There are many advantages for having a TIN and TIN ID. You can use it for valid identification purposes when you
apply for a driver’s license, when  opening bank accounts, and others.  
 
 
Other Matters
 
  • Do I need to be a member of the Social Security System or
    SSS?

 

Answer:
Definitely YES!  Growing old is a certainty
that we cannot escape (unless we die early :0)
and whether you like it or not there will come a time that your income will
stop.  So to help you in your senior
years, be sure to apply for an SSS membership so you will be entitled to retirement,
disability, and death benefits.
 
  • Aside from SSS membership what else can I do to secure myself & my family from financial income threats?

 

Answer:
Get yourself a life insurance! You can inquire with a licensed insurance agent or financial advisor about Variable Life Plans. This type of plan is advisable for VAs that are also breadwinners as this plan will give you an investment account packaged with life insurance, disability, accident, and health protection coverage from certain critical illnesses (stroke, cancer, etc). 
 
Contrary to popular Filipino beliefs, you get life
insurance when you don’t need it. This is financial common sense – as no
insurance company will accept you when you’re already old and with health
issues. Also,
insurance costs are lower for younger people (30’s and below). The older you
get, the more expensive it becomes.
 
 
Note: If you’re residing in Metro
Manila or nearby areas, you are welcome to  attend a free financial awareness briefing (by appointment schedule) to know more about financial options, investment strategies, insurance plans, and others. This knowledge is helpful for business owners, breadwinners, and other income earners.  We have a couple of OJP volunteers that are experts in this field, j
ust send a request email to ojpweb@gmail.com, if you’re interested. 
 
 
Okay, that’s our lesson for today and only 1 lesson left.
 
 
Stay focused, productive, and inspired!
 
Have a nice day!
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