I'm a single mum working from home and I earn £200k – I don't have a degree and can choose my own hours | The Sun

AFTER surviving two separate brain tumours, mum-of-one Catherine Gladwyn knew it was time to quit her 9am to 5pm.

The 46-year-old was working as a full-time administrator, a job that required her to stick to rigid hours with no flexibility or "time for having a life".

But after first falling seriously ill in 2015, she was then diagnosed with a chronic condition called Addison's Disease.

"There was no way I wanted to give up working," Catherine told The Sun.

"But my life was just nine to five and nothing else and I needed a purpose."

She also needed a way to earn money that would fit around her health needs, hospital appointments and being there for her 17-year-old daughter.

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"I had no savings, no pension, I was a single parent and I had a small mortgage," said Catherine.

"I looked into becoming a virtual assistant and within three months of setting up I was earning the same as my full-time job and working a lot less."

Three years later and Catherine decided she wanted to help other people get into it, earn more and enjoy a better quality of life.

She started to offer training sessions, sharing her experiences – the good and the bad – so others could learn too.

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And, she said, it's really about helping people realise that they already have the skills to be a virtual assistant.

Now, with her income from training and the money she makes from continuing as a virtual assistant, Catherine's on £200,000 a year.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) helps other business owners with anything and everything.

Some of the most common tasks include taking phone calls, managing someone's diary, handling their social media, creating presentations and doing basic book-keeping.

It's well-paid, with the average VA charging £30 or more an hour.

Catherine said virtual assistants can earn £3,000 a month working six and a half hours a day with no qualifications at all.

"Many VAs take on teams within their first few years and go on to make income over £85,000 a year," she added.

If you've got specific experience or skills, you can also make use of them and potentially charge your clients a higher fee.

Catherine lists managing employees and freelancers for her clients, along with doing mystery shopping online and even writing blog posts for some of the businesses she works with.

Anyone can do it

With a laptop and reliable WiFi, Catherine said virtually anyone can do it.

"You need to be proactive, as the main aim of being a virtual assistant is to take work away from other business owners to free up their time, mind and stress levels," she said.

"You don't need any qualifications. You simply need to be confident and competent in the services you offer."

The list of things you can help with as a virtual assistant is long, and Catherine said 99% of women already have the skills.

She added that while there aren't that many men who do the job, it could be just as suitable for them too.

Why be a virtual assistant?

Catherine said becoming a VA is for "anyone who cannot or will not allow their employed role to take over the best years of their life".

She loved it so much, that in 2018 she started training other people to make the switch.

She said: "I’ve trained teachers, nurses, dental nurses, administrators, personal assistants, retail assistants, childminders and many more.

"With childcare costs on the rise, teaching jobs being low paid, nurses being overworked it is an incredibly popular option for so many women."

How you can be a virtual assistant

Catherine said you can Google everything you need to know to get started.

"But there are also courses from people like me that don't cost a lot," she said.

"Learning the basics from someone who's done it usually means it's quicker for you to get started and make decent money sooner."

There are lots of trainers advertising online but watch out for courses claiming they can make you rich quickly.

Catherine warned: "There was a swathe of virtual assistant coaches who popped up during the pandemic who have no experience of being a VA.

"Quite a few people have lost money so ensure anyone you invest in is or definitely has been a virtual assistant long enough to experience the pitfalls.

"They can advise you on how to avoid them so you’re successful."

Catherine added that there are a few things you must legally have and a couple of things that are not mandatory but are an essential part of ensuring your success.

These prices are correct at the time of writing:

  • GDPR registration: £35
  • Contracts: £60
  • Insurance: £10 a month
  • Website: £150

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"This journey can be overwhelming, so while you can Google everything you need to know you will end up with lots of different opinions," she said.

"So stick to one or two people you enjoy learning from and take their advice."

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