The virtual work industry is booming! Virtual Assistants (VA) support all types of work from office administration to technology and marketing, even to executive leadership. Every hour it seems that more people are looking to start a virtual career. Who can blame them? Having the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world is a serious perk! Plus, schedule autonomy allows work to happen around personal commitments and family schedules. Sounds perfect, right? So why isn’t everyone doing this?


This is one of the most competitive industries I have observed in my career. There are individuals from all over the world vying for the same job opportunities. It is much tougher than a traditional, localized search. 

If you have ever searched for work in your geographical area, you know its a daunting process. You do your research, apply for jobs that match your background, hopefully get an interview, and then…. Depending on response and qualifications, wait for that job offer to come in. Your salary opportunities are moderated by the available talent pool, but the range will typically be average to the region.

Things are slightly different in the VA industry. Opportunities are found online in freelancing search platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, as well as in social media groups. Competition is fierce, with candidates coming from around the globe and responding within mere seconds of the post going live. Time zones and regional rates make it difficult for many to compete. You have to sleep, after all; and while you are resting, someone in a time zone ahead of you will have already responded to the job posts you are interested in.

Even if you do get to respond before the post closes, you now are at the mercy of rate disparity. I have seen job posts for general admin and social media support with hourly rates that range from $3 to $50 USD. This is not necessarily indicative of the candidate’s experience or skills. It’s literally the difference between average wages in the US versus those in the Philippines (as one example), or another country with a similar cost of living. Countries such as the UK, US and Australia have more similar rates, which levels the field a bit and makes it easier for the hiring firm to evaluate candidates based on experience without having to first figure out monetary value.

Once you successfully land a job, the next hurdle is keeping it. VA clients know there is a pool of other talented candidates who are ready to work at a moment’s notice. This can lead to less patience for a learning curve or human error. In addition, many individuals in this industry are not well-versed in client contract negotiations, so they may not be properly protecting themselves from work cancellations. This opens the door to a bigger issue.


Contracts, business savvy, client loyalty, work quality, accessibility, brand awareness… these are all factors that influence one’s ability to attract and retain clients in the VA industry. Sound familiar? These are the very same issues that businesses of all shapes and sizes have been up against since the birth of commerce centuries ago. The only difference is how small the VA world really is. Technology and the world wide web have broken down borders and opened the market to millions of job-seekers from around the globe. We truly have become one unified world, even if we didn’t realize it.

So I used the “E” word in the title of this blog…Epidemic. You might be wondering why.

As a business consultant and coach, I work with many clients who are in this industry. As a matter of fact, I too live in the virtual industry! Many of my business development efforts start online. This means I can empathize with the plight of those on both sides of this (sometimes) overwhelming job search: the business leaders looking for someone to support them, and the individuals looking to provide those support services.

“Why am I not finding clients? I mean, my Facebook profile says I’m a VA. Isn’t the internet working?”

As I watch and engage in various industry groups across social media platforms, I’m noticing a trend of common questions.

  • “I’m here and ready to start working. Where do I find clients?”

  • “I landed a client who needs “x” type of support. I’ve never done this. What does my new role actually do?”

  • “What should I charge?”

  • “I quit my job on Friday. What type of business should I start on Monday?”

  • “Why am I not finding clients? I mean, my Facebook profile says I’m a VA. Isn’t the internet working?”

Shocking, but not fiction. 

These statements and questions are being posted daily, even hourly. There seems to be a common belief system that all it takes is a profile update to start an immediate flow of work opportunities. It takes so much more…

A job search (both online and offline) requires research, observation, resumes and referrals, regardless of where the client or employer may be found. Differentiation is key among businesses and job candidates. This holds true in the virtual industry as well.

Wait, so how is this an Epidemic? 

According to the Google Dictionary, an epidemic is “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time”. We can easily apply that here.

Infectious Disease: The desire to work remotely and autonomously, and the belief that the VA industry is easy to enter.

Community: The online world that supports virtual work.

Particular Time: Now.

To be clear, I am not speaking ill of the virtual world at all. I live in and love this world – competitive landscape included. I simply believe there is an education opportunity here… one in which job seekers learn what to expect, and employers / clients learn how to find and evaluate talent. It’s something I address every day, one post at a time.

Change is Gradual.

So let’s start a meaningful dialogue that can help and educate our fellow members of the world… How do you view the virtual work world?

Do you need help navigating this industry? Contact me at