Case Study #3 - Personal Brand

How I recreated my image?

The Case
“You can’t serve two masters at the same time.” This is so true. I’m marketing myself as a creative virtual assistant. Before, I was creating art plus serving as a virtual assistant. So, I decided to hybernate my creative talent for a while. Now, portraying my role as a successful virtual assistant. Why?

Two years in a row my creative career online wasn’t progressing. In fact, it plateaued into the midst of melancholy, not making sales. I have done everything to portray my image as a visual artist online. This ‘everything’ are networking with artistic people, managing a hi-stat artistic blog, joining art groups online and offline, participating from invitations of various gallery exhibitions worldwide online, etc.

This made me wonder why. My art is not in question cause I could say its good and other critics appreciated it. From mentions of various art galleries and blogs online to multiple awards.

The Choice
It’s a tough decision to make cause I love doing both. But I have to give up one and go on with the other. So, I chose the path of becoming a successful virtual assistant. Why? Honestly, I’m a man with limited resources so I needed a stable career to live.

But, what is personal brand?
Basically, it’s a strategy of marketing yourself as a brand. Not literally selling yourself but your skills or talent. This trading strategy is being practice then and now. Successful personal brands are actors/actresses, business owners, etc. Example of which are Donald Trump, Justine Bieber, etc.

How I recreated my image?
When I decided to be a VA, I planned within a few weeks on what to do. First, I rebranded my website. I mean given up the old blog and now designed and managing a personal VA website and even this blog. I also reshaped my networks into right people who have the same interest, which is virtual assistance not art. I have already established successful freelance portfolio on Fiverr, oDesk, and Elance. So, I interconnected everything even my social media.

The Result
Success! The choice I made now defines a brighter promising future. All the hardwork pays off. I’m already earning. I haven’t reached the status I really want on my online career but I will get there soon. And when I reached that level, it will be helpful not just for myself but also for my loved ones.


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Here’s Mine, What’s your Verse?

Every person has their own story to tell either online or not. Awhile ago, I was surfing the Apple Store on my iPad. On first glance at their website, I’ve seen this article. It is called ‘What will your verse be?” To my curiosity, I browsed this interesting article stories. I got inspired to what I’ve read and seen. These are testimonies of various types of people. They’re showing how they are using their iPad.

I’ve learned that this gadget is very versatile. It can be used for all types of profession. Like Yaoband from Beijing who composes techno music using an iPad. Inspiring travels of Cherie King and useful explorations of Emily Harrington and Adrian Ballinger. Also, creative video shots of Feroz Khan. Lovely compositions of Esa-Pekka Salonen and a lot more. Because of this, I wanna share with you ‘my own verse.’

Why iPad?
I acquired my own iPad Mini Retina a few days ago. That was August 15, 2014. Why? Honestly, my eMachines netbook laptop is a bit slow now. Yes, it’s sturdy and old and very slow when browsing the internet. I’m finding it difficult to multitask now unlike the first few months I had this. With my kind of job, I really need a fast and reliable machine. Actually, I wish to own a Mac Air but I can’t afford it. It’s really too expensive. I don’t have enough resources to buy it.

Plan B
As an alternative, I decided to use “plan B.” What is my plan B? Well, it goes like this. I will set aside my decision on buying a Mac cause I can’t afford it. So, I bought an iPad. And what’s the plan? Simple, I’ll hang on to my old eMachines laptop and incorporate my iPad with it. What I mean is instead of using one laptop I will be using another machine while on work online.

As a Result
And it works! Yes, it does. It took me a few hours to ‘get use to’ on how to use it. All I can say is ‘wow.’ This machine did impress me. Honestly, I hated Apple cause there products are too expensive. But, now I came to realize that I was wrong. I am able to multitask using this as an extension to my work. As a virtual assistant, you are required to use a lot of softwares and tools. It made my work easier.

My simple routine goes like this. First, I’ll check all emails. Second, do tasks based on received messages from my online bosses around the globe. Third, open and use useful tools to complete the tasks. Finally, send the accomplished task to clients, my bosses. Await for response such as comments and/or further instructions regarding the tasks. Simple isn’t it? Honestly, not. For my years of experience ‘it is’ but for beginners like you it’s not. It will take of experiences on various types of skills doing my kind of work.

A Glitch
One day my internet reception was a bit slow. That was Saturday. So, I decided to go to a nearby caffe to log online via wi-fi. It’s a great thing that I saved some important links and useful apps on my iPad to use. Okay, I admit, there are certain things I can’t do on my iPad that I can do better on my laptop. But, at least, my time at work for the day wasn’t wasted. More or less 60% of which I accomplished that day.

And My Verse Is
It’s very simple. My own verse is a continuous process of discovery and usefulness. It will be fun and worthwhile. A journey that me and my iPad will enjoy and cherish for a long time.

Here’s a photo of my iPad. So, what’s your verse?


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

As long as I am living, I’m still in the process of making a mark. It only ends when I die but will continue to linger if it’s worth remembering.

– Paul Hafalla


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Skills Aren’t Enough, You Also Need These

“Hi Paul, I have been in the business for many months now. Also acquired almost all of the skills noted on your article ‘6 Virtual Assistant Skills That You Can Easily Sell Online.’ Though this makes me feel like jack-of-all-trades or skill hoarder, I love being a VA. I do have my own blog and I’m also socially active online. I have been posting some gig offers to almost every freelancing websites online since. Though I’m getting few clients but earnings are still minimal and inconsistent. This is quite frustrating though and I was thinking of quitting now. Why I’m not getting any regular clients yet and my earnings are still what I haven’t aspire to be?”

I have read this message from one of my avid Tumblr blog readers. I wasn’t sure who the person was since it was anonymously sent. But, he gave me a thought to ponder about for a week. I can’t really decipher his situation since the initial message is insufficient. I need more facts perhaps a little chat maybe. Sometimes you really need to dig more in order to give a genuine helpful advice.

Instead of sharing my thoughts about it to one, I decided to share to all. Here’s my stand on this query. “Sometimes skills aren’t enough you also need these.” “These” I’m pertaining to are as follows:

Polish It More: “The shiniest object always captivates the eye.” Okay, let’s just assume you have all the basic skills of something. But, this isn’t enough. Always think about this. The virtual assistant career is massive worldwide and online. So the competition is very, very huge and tough. You will be judged according to what you present or deliver to your clients. The only way to ‘shine’ get on top of the game is to polish your skills. How? CONTINUOUS LEARNING IS A MUST in order to mold your skills better. You can either do this on your own time and pace or with other people. There are so many resources online such as eBooks/books, articles/blogs, magazines, etc.

Right Network: “Connecting with the wrong hub or port is highly unlikely.” Almost all of us have a website, blog or social network nowadays. It became an epitome of our ‘virtual’ existence right? Since you have one of these the question is, “Are you in the right network?” What I’m asking is are you connected or interacting with the right people online. If not, now is the time to sort things out and make a change. Why? If you’re connected with the CORRECT NETWORK, getting hired or landing a job is easier. Also, referrals and group work projects are very likely. Sorry to say this but you need to say goodbye to some of your networks now. How? Join with the right social media groups and pages. Befriend and interact to people with similar skills as yours both online and offline. Never forget to include on this list potential businesses or clients in your network. Of course, excluded on this rule are your family and close friends.

Positive Attitude: “The level of your success is in direct proportion with your attitude.” Sometimes but not often, people who achieve greatest success in life are the ones who had the BEST ATTITUDE not necessarily the smartest. Honestly, I am not a smart guy and I never was. The only key ingredients that defined my success are these disciplines. I am eager to learn and know new things. I focus and value my time on what is important to my online VA career and personal life. I am very independent but can also work along very well with a team or group. Regarding a job or task, I am very open and honest to my regular and new clients if I can or can’t do the job. If I can do it, I always ensure high quality work and on time. Once a client handed me a task, I work really hard to complete it. Sometimes but not often, if I screw a task or job I will correct it. If I can’t, I seek out help and advice with my networks and friends online.

Listen and Communicate Very Well:What you write or say defines who you are.” Yes, it does. You need to have proper decorum in talking or writing to a client. This can be in a form of what you say or what you have written about. Good listening skills and verbal plus written communication will help you and the client get the job done easily.

You must learn English both written and verbal. The primary language in the online world is English. In the virtual world, almost everything we see, read, or hear are based on this language. So IT IS A MUST that you know this language very, very well. If not, start to learn it today with a teacher or self-help manuscripts, eBooks/books, articles/blogs or video tutorials.

I’m not a firm believer with the saying, ‘You can’t teach old dog new tricks.’ The truth is you really can. No matter how old you are as long as you love what you do and willing to make a change it is possible.

In conclusion, getting regular or new clients is really tough nowadays. But, it always boils out to ‘these’ 4 essential elements. These elements are what clients really looking for in a suitable candidate. So, it’s never too late to make a change and start over. Though you will spend a lot of time polishing these 4 elements from now on, it will be worthwhile. Trust me!


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Case Study #2: Transcribing an Interview

Unpaid Fixed Rate Service

Sad, worry, depress, angry and miserable. These are my feelings when a client didn’t pay. Did you also felt the same way when someone makes you feel stupid? After completing the task and submitted it, all you get are ignored messages and forgotten payment.

The Client & Task

I logged into a website one day checking for messages and recent job posts. This site is one of the leading freelancing website named oDesk. While browsing pages on this site, I came across a ‘transcription’ gig. This was posted by an Australian client. His profile in oDesk seems trustworthy. It has reviews and previous hires with rates. So, I read the task and proposed my rate. He picked me out of all the 20 people who proposed. We agreed to a specific rate and terms. One of which is without initial payment and to be completed in 3 days. Eventually, I completed and sent the transcript in MS Word format. Of course, I submitted this document through oDesk.

I am aware about the fact that this was a FIXED RATE GIG. I also read the pros and cons of ‘fixed rates’ in oDesk. One of their policy is that oDesk have no control over ‘fixed rates’. It means that they cannot guarantee if a freelancer will receive payment or not.

How I Resolved This Problem

I came to the point to file a complaint in oDesk Help & Support. Why? I have already sent multiple messages to the client regarding the payment. To my dismay, I haven’t received any replies or payment. After a few days, I received a reply from oDesk regarding this issue. Sadly, as I expected, they can’t resolve the problem. I requested for that client to be banned in oDesk which they refused to do.


I have so many regrets when I’ve transcribed this client’s audio transcript. In fact, it was almost 98% accurate I mean with high quality transcript. One of my regrets is that I should have at least required an initial payment. If I have proposed this request maybe the client will not ignore to pay.

Learning from this experience, I decided ‘to be picky’ from now on. Specifically when it comes to fixed rate jobs in oDesk or other freelancing websites. This is one of the major problems with freelancing websites. There’s no guaranteed payment for fixed rate jobs. In some cases, even if the client sent initial payment still there’s no guarantee. You can’t ensure if they will pay you the remaining balance.

Regardless of the risks involved in online work, I do love transcribing. In fact, I just recently transcribed a video interview from a trustworthy client. I converted the MP4 video into MP3 format to easily transcribe it. Why? I’m using a transcription software, it only requires MP3 format. It makes my transcription life easier using this software or tool. Of course, this is a TRUSTWORTHY oDesk CLIENT. What I meant is he completely sent the payment for my services.

I hope you learn something from this case. As a piece of advice, be very careful when it comes to fixed rate terms. Did you also experience this in the past? What did you do to resolve it? I’d love to hear your point of view.



I think as popular as oDesk and Elance and all these other freelancing websites are, there really is still the risk of coming across these dishonest types. And they aren’t just from the freelancer side of the camp either, as you yourself experienced with this client that made off with your work without paying. Did you push through with your freelancing on oDesk after that incident? Do you think oDesk themselves should be held accountable for such instances? - Edsel Mendoza of Bolton Group, LLC on August 26, 2014

I’ve learned from my mistakes. Because of that incident, I am ‘very choosy’ and careful now in doing business either with these freelancing websites or direct clients. Of course, I’m continuing business with these websites. It’s the trend! Besides the ‘little’ value I’m gaining from it now, I still offer my services with them though. - Paul (reply)


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

How to Create an Email Address?

On the internet, obtaining an email address is basically a prerequisite or requirement nowadays. Why? It will be your ‘key’ in order to interact with people online and access any website. As a virtual assistant, you are required to know the basic and advance usage of an email. We will discuss that later on but for now let’s focus on how to create your very ‘first’ email address. First, let’s discuss its history.

What is an email?
It is commonly known as e-mail or email. It is referred to as electronic mail. This is the generic term for electronic document transmission according to history. During the early times both email sender and recipient are required to be online at the same time in order to send, receive and read an email. Nowadays, we only need an email server in order to do this process. We can now send, receive and read an email at any given time. An email message basically has 3 important components. Same components are used then and until now. These 3 message components are envelop, header and body.

In the digital age, an email is a form of transmission and communication of information. In order to transmit a digital message, it uses technological software platforms. This software is called an email server. The most popular ones are Google’s Gmail, Yahoo’s Yahoo Mail, and Microsoft’s Outlook and Hotmail.

Types of Email Servers
There are 4 varieties of email. These are Webmail, POP3, IMAP and MAPI. A webmail or web-based email is the most popular. This includes Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail. In order to send, receive and read an email you need to sign in with your email account. A POP3 is short term for Post Office Protocol 3. Emails can be deleted by the mail server. Sometimes a message is difficult to view on other devices. IMAP known as Internet Message Access Protocol is an opposite of POP3. You can use any devices to read messages and you can access the message folder on the mail server. Message Application Programming Interface or MAPI is used by Microsoft’s Windows.

Now we know a little bit about the history of an email, it’s time to create an email address. First, we must choose an email server. You can choose any of the email servers stated above. In the meantime, we will create an email address using a webmail specifically Google’s Gmail.

Creating an Email Address
How to create an email address? There are 4 easy steps on how to do this.

First, you should visit an email server (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail) that offers email service. Me, I chose to create an email address using Microsoft’s Outlook. This is my primary email address for all emails. Though I’m familiar and have active accounts with other email servers, I primarily use Outlook. Its efficient connectivity with MS Office is one of the few reasons why. This is one of the features that I normally use when I need to access MS Office via Outlook or OneDrive.

Secondly, once you have decided what email server you would like to use, go to their website and find out where to sign up. We will use Gmail as an example.

On your desktop, open your favorite browser (Google Chrome, Firefox or IE) then type www[.]gmail[.]com without brackets into your browser’s search box. This will directly link you to Google’s Gmail log in page. While on Gmail’s log in page, look for ‘Create an Account.’ Click that text link. This will lead you to a new page ‘Create your Google Account’ page.

Thirdly, while on ‘Create Google Account’ page fill out ALL necessary details. This will be as follows: Type in your first and last name on the Name boxes. On ‘Choose your username’ box type in your desired username. If your desired username is already in use “Someone already has that username. Try another?” a text warning will appear with suggested list of available user name via Available: (example). Once your username is accepted, you need to type in your desired password on Create a password and Confirm your password. After doing this, you need to complete the rest of required information such as Birthday, Gender, Mobile Phone Number, Your current email address, Verification box and Location.

Lastly, after filling up all the necessary details you must read, understand and check the box regarding Terms, Services, and Policies. After doing all these, click ‘Next Step’ verification page will appear. To verify your account, phone verification is used. Choose your current country then type in your phone number. Then choose ‘text or voice message’ to confirm your account. Once you clicked the verification button, you will receive either a text or voice message stating your verification code. On ‘Verify your Account’ page, type in your received verification code from your mobile device then hit ‘Continue’ button. ‘How You’ll Appear’ page will appear next. Add your photo then hit ‘Next step’ button. Finally, ‘Welcome’ page will appear that confirms successful creation of your ‘first’ email address. Click ‘Continue to Gmail’ in order to open your Gmail account.

Importing Contacts
Tell your new email address to friends and families. Get their email address and add them to your contact list.

Sending an Email
Log in to your Gmail account using your username and password. Once you’re logged in, click ‘Compose.’ A message box will appear. Type the recipient’s email address on the ‘To’ box. Type the title of your email on ‘Subject’ box. Then type in your message on the large message box. Once you’ve completed this click ‘Send’ button to send your email.

Responding to an Email
While logged in to your Gmail account, click or open your inbox. Click any message in your inbox. While on that message, click the ‘arrow’ reply icon to create a reply message. Or, simply scroll at the end of the message and find ‘Click here to Reply or Forward’ links. Click the ‘Reply’ link and type in your reply message. Once you’ve finished typing in your message click ‘Send’ button to send the reply.

Creating an email address or email account is very easy to do. Following these easy simple steps will surely guide you through. Creating email address or account on other email servers (Yahoo Mail, Outlook and Hotmail) is almost similar to this instruction. Don’t forget to save or memorize your ‘exact’ email address and password in order to access your new email account. Never expose this online or to anyone else you don’t trust or don’t know.


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Imagine you’re in the bus station waiting for a bus. Now, there may be multiple buses coming and going all the time. But, if you wanna be successful and get home you gotta get on the bus that got your number on it. Jump on any bus, you’ll be going anywhere.

– Paul Hafalla


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

6 Virtual Assistant Skills That You Can Easily Sell Online

In the virtual world, you can truly profit from your skills. Almost any type of skill is possible to sell online. These skills are commonly known as services, gigs or micro-jobs. As long as you know the basics of each of these skills, it is fine. But, it would be your greatest advantage, if you have a thorough knowledge of such.

List of Skills
Here are some of my best skills that I’m offering to clients then and now. These skills are good startup when establishing your own home-based business. These are writing, typing, administrative support, social media, web research and technical skills. Honestly, when I started my VA career all I’m capable of doing was to write. Way back then, I struggled very hard to know each of these skills. Because I am passionate about this career, I studied very hard in order to learn each of these. How? I have no formal training in such. I’m just a self-taught. I studied each of these skills by reading articles, blogs, tutorials, eBooks, videos, etc. online. Through practice, I successfully gained the basics and advance knowledge of each. As a result, I am now capable of doing all these skills. I became a touch typist. I’m continuously gaining profit from my skills. I met and became friends with various people around the globe online.

  • Writing

This is the most sellable skill online. This includes writing an article for websites, blogs, publications, etc. In my own opinion, an article is a written form to convey information about anything. This can be tips, tutorials, ideas, guides, lists or how-tos about something. Another writing skill that you can easily sell is writing a press release. A press release is a ‘formal’ type of writing that follows certain writing style. The most common example is what you read on a newspaper. You can also offer content writing for a client. It is commonly known as website or blog content. These are content for the homepage or pages such as About, Testimonials, Portfolio, Product/Services, Contact, etc. You can also sell to write eBooks or books. This is known as electronic books. By using a software or eBook reader, you can download then read a book you like. Most sellable to clients are niche eBooks such as guides, tutorials or tips.

  • Typing

Yes, it is possible to earn by merely typing online. Most common of which is data entry. Example is typing data from excel sheet list into a website. This list contains data about a product, price list, names, address, contact details, etc. Another example is typing a manuscript from a pdf to word document. I advise that you must propose your desired rate to your client before doing a data entry. Why? You can offer hourly or fixed rate. For hourly rates, you must think how many hours or days it will take for you to complete the job. Then multiply this with your proposed rate. Honestly, data entry is tasky. It consumes a lot of time.

Another sellable typing skill but required certain advance skills is transcription. Transcription is the process of listening and accurately typing audio transcripts into text in a Notepad, Word document or client’s template. This requires advance keyboard typing (touch typist) and English (vocabulary, spelling, grammar, etc.) skills. There are 3 types of transcription. These are general, medical and legal transcription. General refers to podcast, videos and webinars that involve seminar, symposium, panel discussion, meeting, etc. Medical transcription is an advance form of transcription. Why? It requires a thorough knowledge in certain field of studies related to health and wellbeing. Examples are drugs, anatomy, medical terminology, etc. Legal transcription is also an advance skill. It requires knowledge in terminology related to Law. In order to learn transcription here is my advice. First, polish your typing skills. Secondly, read a lot of reference materials especially those related to medical or legal transcriptions. Lastly, improve your English writing skills. You will need a lot of patience, reading and studying and continuous practice but it will be worthwhile.

  • Administrative Support

For this type of skill it is commonly known as virtual secretary or secretary. Think about what an office secretary usually do. This will be your role even if you’ll be working remotely on your computer. You must know some basic computer skills. This includes MS Office or Desktop Publisher. Organizational and multitasking skills are highly required. Sometimes you’ll be talking to your client’s associates so proper phone etiquette is needed. Writing is also required since you’ll be assigned to write minutes of meeting, letter, etc.

  • Social Media

Managing a social media account is also profitable online. Social media are websites that fully enhanced social interaction online. This includes Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin or bookmarking sites like Reddits, Pinterest and Digg. Managing social media requires a thorough knowledge about it. You will be required to update a client’s social media. Updating means posting content, link, like, tweet, reply, message, etc.

  • Web Research

This is also known as internet research. Basically, you will be researching certain topic required by your client on the internet. You will input the data of your research either on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet.

  • Technical Skills

Knowledge about Graphic Design and Photoshop, Web Design, html are some of the most common sellable technical skills. Graphic Design and Photoshop requires a passion in creating art. Most of the time, you will create banner, logo, editing photos, etc. Web Design is a highly profitable technical skill. It requires certain knowledge especially in html. You will build or create a website for a product or services of your client.

Before You Start Selling Any Skills
First, you must assess your skills. Grab a pen and paper or open your computer’s Notepad or Sticky Notes. Brainstorm what skills are you capable of doing. If you can do one or two of the skills stated above, jot it down. It is advisable that you offer a gig that you’re truly passionate about. Why? It will be beneficial for you and your potential client. I believe that if you’re passionate about something, you will do your best to accomplish the job.

After listing all the skills you are passionate about consider this. Within your listed skills what possible type of skills that you can offer? Write it down. For example, you assess yourself and you realized that you are good in writing. Possible types of skills in writing are article, press release, or eBook. After your assessment, start practicing. Continuity is the key in order to master it.

Remember this golden rule. “Never ever sell a skill that you aren’t capable of doing.” Because if you do, this will have a lasting negative impact to your client. It will lead to having a bad reputation and lesser profit.


Thank you for reading this. Hi! I'm Paul. As a seasoned virtual assistant, I'm privileged to help you start up your own work-from-home business. I'm here to share with you my knowledge towards becoming a successful virtual assistant. Follow me or pose your point of view about this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.