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Weird and wonderful

There are some days when I think that I have “weirdos apply here” tattooed on my forehead. It might just be me, but I do seem to attract the eccentric and barmy clients and tasks on occasion. I blame myself for the most recent one. I put an advert in my local village newsletter, mainly to support it because it’s cute and I think it’s important to keep these local things going. My little ad next to the latest news and views from the WI, the vicar and the Horticultural Society’s Spring update. What could possibly go wrong?!? Mainly Albert and Vera, that’s what can go wrong! In a huge swing away from my usual B2B client base and talking to very serious corporate entities, it seems I now have on

Freelance Love

So then. After all that is miserable and awful about freelancing, let’s look at the good bits! Because there are many. I can pick my hours. Yup, if I want to start work at 10AM every day I can. If I only want to work 3 days a week that is my choice. If I fancy getting started at 6AM so I can have a POETS day of a Friday, no one to stop me. In fact, I can have one anyway, just because I say so! It is my choice how and when I work. Clearly, if I only want to work Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 and 2 then I’m going to be broke pretty fast, but the choice is mine to make. And, I can change my schedule as I see fit. I always have a plan for a day, but some days the world screams “DUVET” and I

A confession

I have a confession to make. I hate new clients. Or at least have hated them at some point. My clients are remarkable, intelligent and kind people to man (& woman) but I do have a problem with almost all of them. For the first 3-6 months of working with almost any new client I live life in terror. It doesn’t matter how nice they are. Why? Well, because they are new! And I have to learn new ways of working and get to grips with their business, their systems, new software potentially and all their preferences on how they like to work. And with a few exceptions, I find that ludicrously stressful. During the early months of every new working relationship, I go through the following stages: Con

Sometimes it's a bitch

This is a ranty blog. An “I’ve had it up to fucking here” blog. Sometimes, being your own boss sucks. It just does. Most of the time it doesn’t but there are days when you just want to say “bollocks to this” and go work on a checkout in Tesco. Then you remember all the really annoying people and their even more annoying screeching children in Tesco and backtrack wildly. But you could. It could push you that far. The roller coaster of finding and managing your own work is a biggie in the stress stakes. One day, a VA will wake up and say “I have the perfect amount of work to complete this week in the allotted time and it is going to pay me handsomely”. You will then see Peppa Pig and her porci

Radiators and Drains

“Er, you do this stuff all the time don’t you? Can you just show me how to set up Mailchimp / Hootsuit / Infusionsoft / Capsule / Dropbox /Outlook / the entire inner workings of the White House staff office”. A freebie no less. Of course, we’ve all done it. The mate that is handy with a drill that just happens to be invited round for coffee when your shower screen is hanging on with nothing but duct tape and fervent prayers. The neighbour that you casually run into on the street (well, stalk), when you need a washing machine lugging into the car and onwards to the dump. There’s friendly and neighbourly freebies and favours for those we know and love and then there is taking the mick. I don’t

Client Type: Penny Pinching

Everyone loves a bargain. Of course they do. But beware penny pinching behaviour because it will make life really awkward, These ones quite often self-filter I find. They get in touch, we talk, I give them prices, they run away. Job done. If I have suspicions, then I give them higher prices – you can always negotiate down but getting prices back up is a real challenge. It’s usually not the ones that can’t afford it that are the problem, it’s the ones that can afford it but just have an innate need to be as tight as a nun’s knicker elastic for the sake of it. I had one client (briefly!) and I did some onsite work for him. He had me send back a windscreen wiper blade because in the time it to

“Well, it’s just like being a freelance PA…”

Lots of people in the PA world at the moment are thinking of making the move to being a VA. I love it and would genuinely recommend it if you think you have the right skills and mindset. But it may not be what you expect…. When I decided, more or less on a whim, to try this VA malarkey, I really thought that as a PA it was just a matter of working in a different way, freelancing instead of being employed. And on paper this is entirely the case. However, the reality is that I didn’t have a CLUE! Not a Scooby about how different it would be. There are a million ways in which working for yourself is different. Some are, without doubt amazing (working in PJs, getting to have a dog, not having an

Adventures in Networking

Everyone needs to network, including VAs and sometimes we have to put on actual clothes and go out in the world to do it. #shudder If you’ve never done this before, here’s some things probably not to do. So what to wear? It is never an easy call this one. You need to feel comfortable but mostly arriving in PJs is considered a bit off. The key thing is to have somewhere for your business cards if it's a stand and mingle event. The misery of trying to juggle wine, canapés, cards and a conversation is intense. You need a pocket. I now have a networking dress style with pockets. This is not say that whipping a card out from my bra to give someone wasn't a conversation starter, just that it start

Other People (are very annoying)

Left to my own devices, I am very good at being organised, hitting my billable hours target (that’s a whole other blog) and generally being the efficient and calm human I can be. But what can throw a spanner in these works is other people. And more specifically, what other people think working at home means. People think that because you are at home you are available, probably watching This Morning and drinking pots of tea. I’m not really talking about clients although goodness knows some of them do seem to think I sit by the phone twiddling my thumbs waiting for the phone to ring so I can work on their stuff. This is friends, family and others. As the homeworker in your family you pretty so

I am Minute Dock’s slave

To the uninitiated, Minute Dock is my current time recording software. There are many others. I like Minute Dock, they are Kiwis and will gently abuse you if you don’t record any time during any given day. I like software that amuses me. And it has lots of reporting elements to feed into my obsessive data need. I was thinking of moving to a new accounting system with built in timesheets and got very excited – right up to the point where I looked at the timesheet element and saw how basic it was. No targets? No graphs? No daily tallies? No nothing? I came out in a cold sweat and resigned myself to continuing to pay for timesheets separately. Billable hours have become an obsession. I’ve talke

Remote Working

The wonderful world of remote working is made so much easier with today’s technology. Skype, Zoom, Gotomeeting, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live. Wherever you are, as long as you have some Wi-Fi you can talk to your colleagues, clients and buddies. It’s easy! Oh, so easy… to cock it up. Mostly skype is used an alternative to the phone in my world. You can share your screen and that makes it like working with someone, showing someone how to do stuff, what your problem is with some software, all that. Sometimes, people like to use the video. This is quite rare (because I avoid it like the plague!) and therefore throws me almost every time. I have one client who always does a video call. I don’t

Client Type - Always on ‘Arry (and behaviourism in action)

One of the most challenging aspects of being a VA for me is managing client’s expectations on time. If you are paying me for 10 hours a month, you can’t realistically expect me to be at my desk waiting for your call for 40 hours a week. It’s not logical. You pay me for 10 hours, I’ll maybe check your emails twice a day and chunk time to do your work twice a week. I cannot drop everything to respond to each email within 10 minutes. I have meetings, other client work, onsite work and so on. If you want someone at your beck and call fulltime then there’s a word for that – employee. Fulltime employee in fact. And even they take lunch breaks, holidays and go and pee! I often have this conversatio

 

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