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  • Writer's pictureIsabelle Anderson

Virtual Assistant - The Perfect Side Hustle for an Actor?

It's been the lifelong quest of actors/performers around the world. To find the perfect 'side hustle'. That sweet spot job that allows you the flexibility to audition and take on jobs, whilst also enjoying your daily life in the knowledge that 'hey if I don't get a gig for a while I'm really happy doing this'.

When the pandemic started I was still in my final year of drama school. I was a slightly mature student (it had taken me five years to get in) and so I'd spent a number of years working 'the 9-5' in the advertising and media industry. I knew that with Covid sweeping the world, the arts were going to be in for a good beating and that in order to survive (pay my rent, let's not be dramatic), I needed to think fast.

I'm going to level with you here, I never enjoyed the 9-5 or office working. Despite being a social person, I hated the travelling, the hours and the feeling I couldn't shake of being trapped. I felt like life wasn't in my control and that I was in fact a slave to the system,

and as a self professed control freak this was somewhat troubling to me. Don't get me wrong, I was good at my job and I have some great memories of my stint in that world, but the truth is that I find that I am a far more effective and creative employee when I am working autonomously, have little distraction and more time to throw my energy into other pursuits and passions as well as work. I found though that my time was no longer mine and I was 'living to work' rather than 'working to live'. There was no life outside of the gruelling hours in the advertising industry (which was actually more like 8-8 rather than 9-5). In a world where the first to arrive and the last to leave their desk is applauded, I would say that working from home was seen as a laziness or even a taboo and certainly not viable in the professions I had encountered, despite working entirely from a PC all day.

When Covid arrived on the scene I realised that I had all these capabilities and experience, that I was a super fast learner and that there were companies out there that needed my strengths. Would I have thought to be a completely remote worker? Absolutely not. It was engrained in me that people wanted workers in the office, everyday, and did not trust those who worked from home. But with the changes we saw in early 2020, I suddenly saw the window of opportunity burst open before me as every marketing and administration role advertised for suddenly became 'remote'. As an aspiring actor I realised that this could in fact be a perfect 'side hustle' for me. Work as a consultant for several companies and need only a laptop and a good Wifi connection. It would enable me to do self tapes and auditions, take on acting jobs all over the country whilst still maintaining an income and enjoy what I was doing (I did not want to head back to working in bars and restaurants at the age of 27 and with a pandemic raging across the country the opportunity to join the gig economy was destroyed anyway).

I'm well aware it's not for everyone, many friends of mine are struggling without the social aspect of their jobs, without the change of scenery each day. However for me personally it's only aided me in my effectiveness. Avoiding the soul destroying and expensive commute, not feeling trapped within an office environment or time constraints, being in full control of my own schedule (squeezing in a workout and sometimes a nap in the middle of the day for example), making lunch when I'm hungry and not paying extortionate prices for a Pret or eating a sad soggy homemade sandwich, taking regular breaks, learning new skills with every job and finding time for other passion projects have been just some of the perks that come with life as a Virtual Assistant. And turns our....people LOVE to hire actors. They tend to be confident, fast learners as well as great sales people that are fun to work with.

Today I have a wide array of marketing and administration clients across various sectors meaning no one day is the same and I can truly say I love my job. My previous years in marketing and advertising were tough whilst I ummed and ahhed over what I wanted to do and felt the unwavering pressure of the roles I was in, but today I'm grateful that the experience within the 9-5 led me to this autonomous, creative and fantastic place. Give it a try!

So how can you do it?

  1. Start close to home - utilise previous contacts (always handy if you've already worked in an office environment or know people who may need you to come in a sort out their online systems, website, social media or admin). Ask your parents if they know people, ask your mates, make a hit list, charge a discounted price and get cracking.

  2. Pick a niche - having received actor training and having a good understanding of the world of theatre and film, I targeted companies within that sector. Working for theatre companies and arts training institutions makes the job more fun and I've managed to combine two passions. If you understand an industry and its' audience you've done half the job.

  3. Build a website - you have to speculate a little bit to accumulate. Your website is the showcase of your creativity and effectiveness as a Virtual Assistant. Make sure it's good and don't launch until it's as close to perfect as can be.

  4. Ask around - hook up with other virtual assistants, those who you admire or you think have got it sussed. Build a community!

  5. Do an online course - need to get up to speed on all things SEO? There is so much FREE content online including Google Skillshop and LinkedIn Learning. Check out this article for more advice on VA training.

  6. Research what companies are looking for - if you see that many companies need people that are trained up on Salesforce or Canva then learn how to do those things. If you're savvy with a computer it won't take long.

  7. Learn to do things you enjoy - I trained myself up on Adobe Premier Pro and Canva as I love designing and editing. This means I have extra strings to my bow.

  8. Create a portfolio - if you have design work, videos you've created, reports you're able to provide, if you're good at creating CVs or social media accounts, then create a little portfolio you can share with prospective clients.

  9. Utilise LinkedIn - network network network. It's the ideal place to find prospective clients. Many of my enquiries come through LinkedIn. Interact with companies you want to work with, repost content and find something to say. Make sure you have a warm, inviting picture and keep everything up to date. There are also skills tests you can do to showcase to prospective clients where your strengths lie!

  10. Get some decent references - reach out to old employers or if you have little experience in the world of work, try teachers.

  11. List yourself and look for work on websites such as VA Networking, Fancy Hands, Upwork as well as your standard job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn.

  12. Have other jobs as back ups whilst you're starting up. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't book 20 clients immediately. I worked as a nanny during my first few months setting up so that I had a way to pay rent whilst things were kicking off. It takes a bit of graft at first, as all good things do.

Good luck, let us know how you get on!

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