How “The Happy WAHM” Became a Successful Work-at-Home Mom and Virtual Assistant Biz Owner

Marge Aberasturi_1

Marge Aberasturi, a.k.a, “The Happy WAHM”, our expert speaker and mentor this February 28 for the #SuccessfulWAHM WAHMderful Workshop. Want to learn her success secrets? Register here.

As momentum builds up for our WAHMderful Workshop this February, we’d like for you to get to know your WAHM mentor and instructor for the #SuccessfulWAHM event on the 28th! Meet Marge Aberasturi, an established owner of a virtual assistance business, VA Support Pro, a full-time work-at-home mom and homeschooler. What’s more, she has been able to build up her brand in the work-at-home niche and really capture a market that values her skills and expertise. Get to know more about our #SuccessfulWAHM, in this exclusive interview!

Who is Marge Aberasturi, the virtual assistant and entrepreneur? Please let our WAHMs get to know you better.

Everytime an interview questionnaire is sent my way, the most difficult to answer is always this question. Who am I? However much I want to give a profound answer, I simply can’t. Because I’m a Lotus123. Plain WYSIWYG.

My online brand, however, aptly describes me. I’m The Happy WAHM. I’m living my brand. I have built a career on my chosen niche, which is virtual assistance, and I have fully embraced the WAHM lifestyle, with homeschooling thrown in, too. This is my happiness. This is the niche that I want to build my tribe in.

Marge, the Virtual Assistant, is best described here. That’s who I am. That’s what I do.

Please tell me briefly about your VA business, VA Support Pro? What prompted you to start it and make it a WAH biz? 

VASupportPro is a product of my diligent research when I first decided that I need a domain name to create my online resume. From the early days, I have understood right on the need to have an online presence, so I wanted to get a domain name that 1) will successfully encompass who I am and what I do, and 2) can compete in the searches.

VASupportPro means Virtual Administrative Support Professional. Virtual assistant and virtual assistance keywords were already returning millions of result, so I wanted a keyword that would have a chance to compete, and at the same time, be totally descriptive of my niche. So after a long study, I bought this domain name.

Then in 2009, three years into WAHMing, I felt that I wanted to make it a legitimate business so I could hire people, or subcontract my spillover projects, so I went ahead and registered the business. My WAHM venture was supposed to be just for two years, the period that my son would be declared out of the woods, but I immensely enjoyed the new-found career, so on the third year, my husband and I decided that I would register the business and start to take on project management gigs, on top of my regular retainer account.

What kind of character qualities must a WAHM have, if she wants to move on from being a hired service provider to being her own boss, like you have done?

The can-do attitude for one. Acting on ideas. Acting on your passion. You have to find the source of your happiness. Your purpose. I’m admittedly ambitious. When I was in corporate, my goal was to be Vice President for Credit Management. But that was cut short when I had to resign in favor of motherhood. Did my dream end there? No. I moved on. I started a new career that welcomes hands-on mothering. I started out as a transcriptionist. I trained for it. I got certification for medical transcription. But I did not sense growth in that niche. I could think of a dozen ways I could have made it grow, but I didn’t see myself being happy with any one of them. So I explored some more, finding my core. Discovering possibilities. Creating opportunities.

MargeAberasturi site screenshot

I tried out to be a virtual assistant. And I set out to learn new skills. I enjoyed learning, and I enjoyed being exposed to the nuances of foreign businesses. So I studied other online businesses. What do they do? How do they grow? Where do they go? I learned that growth can stretch my processes, my time and my resources. So I decided to just expand my reach without having to add anything to what I already have. So I re-assessed myself. Realizing my strengths, acknowledging my weaknesses. That’s important. The willingness to acknowledge that you don’t have it all, don’t know it all. And I found me a partner, who has my weaknesses, and lacks my strengths. Collaboration. It’s a gem to be in. It allows you to do what you are great at, and let others do what you don’t know

Virtual assistance has one of the broadest job descriptions in the WAH marketplace. How can a WAHM make her offerings stand out in such a big pool of service providers?

Your value proposition, which in my case is the entrepreneurial mindset. Because you work alone, and you work unsupervised, there is always that danger of being complacent and lazy. And that will mean lower productivity and sloppy output, which can result to loss of credibility and loss of projects. Client feedback is king. Regardless of your skills and credentials, if one unsatisfied client decides to spread a bad feedback, you’re done. You can only hope that you can recover.

Another thing about being entrepreneurial is when you put yourself in your client’s position, think of the client’s business as your own, then you start to think outside the box. You start to think from the business owner’s perspective, not from the VA’s. So you examine the processes, you examine the effects of your productivity to expense and revenue, you think about growth. You don’t sit in front of your computer thinking about accomplishing your tasks. You sit there and work thinking of how your tasks affect your client’s business. And with that in mind, you do your best, you deliver more than what is expected. You are asked to create a document, and you add relevant images, or add clickable links, without being told. That is showing initiative, and that is your value proposition.

In our upcoming WAHMderful Workshop, you will be sharing your own “blueprint” for work at home success. Could give us some teasers on what we can look forward to?

I’ll be talking about the steps I took to get to where I am now. From a transcriptionist queueing for a project, to operations manager of a limited liability company thousands of miles away, and an entrepreneur. I’ve been a VA for almost nine years. I’ll be celebrating my 9th WAHM anniversary on May 26. And in all those years, I only had three major clients. So I’ll be talking about how in my almost nine years, I only had to apply for a position twice. Yes, that’s three clients, two applications. The one in the middle found my site, and inquired for my services. This is a funny experience, one that I will talk about lengthily during the workshop. It’s a good example of value proposition and at the same time creating opportunities.

You can sign up for Marge’s #SuccessfulWAHM Workshop on February 28: Real Ways to Be a WAHM: Set Up Your Virtual Assistance for Success!

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Marge’s workspace and “work-at-home central” in her home office.

I’ll talk about my source for long term engagements; how I managed to invest in a school just from my WAHM salary; how I stayed sane with all the pressure of online work and homeschooling; how to survive nine years without househelp. It’s going to be a long day, I believe. I’ll also do a demo of some of the tools I use daily as a VA. WordPress, Trello, Hootsuite, IFTTT, all things Google. How to set up your home office and manage to keep it separate from your household. How to create other income streams from your chosen niche. I’ve mentioned that I invested in a Science high school, so I think I’m also going to share how to invest your hard-earned money. Or how to manage your finances to have some left for investment.

Our vision for 2015 in the WAHMderful Life Community is #SuccessfulWAHM. Please tell us, in your own words, what this “success” means for you?

Success is being able to truly enjoy WAHM life, and when I say truly enjoy, it means not having to rant about how difficult WAHMing is, because in truth, it IS difficult. When you are spiritually at peace with where you are, emotionally stable to openly and warmly embrace all the difficulties and celebrate the small things, financially comfortable that you go to bed at night without worrying where the next rent money will be coming from, professionally confident that you can survive the stiff competition, and be completely present for your family, that’s when I say, I have succeeded.

To know more about Marge, visit www.thehappywahm.com and margeaberasturi.com. “Like” her updates on Facebook at Facebook.com/HelpforWAHMs. Sign up for the #SuccessfulWAHM Workshop on February 28, 2015: Real Ways to Be a WAHM: Set Up Your Virtual Assistance for Success!

UPDATED: WAHMs Garage Sale at the WAHM Expo, Oct 25, 2014!

The WAHMderful Community of Work-at-Home Moms is having a flash Garage Sale next week at the Work-at-Home Weekend Expo this October 25th, at Insular Life, Makati. We’ll have eight (8) WAHM sellers who are armed with lots of pre-loved, used-but-good items, as well as some brand-new items, too!

What’s for sale?

Craft Supplies (unused, old stock from craft supply store)

Craft supplies – polymer clay, beads, cabochons, etc.
Handmade accessories
Mini tabletop dress forms
Wrapping paper books

 

 

Books (Php50 – 150!)
Entrepreneurship books
Christian living books
Homeschool manuals and books (U.S. sourced)
Parenting books

Pre-loved items for kids (as low as Php30!)
handmade dresses for little girls
Baby clothes
Legwarmers
Dolls
Books
Baby gear: tub, toys, etc.
One (1) SaYa Baby Carrier Light Blue Size 2
One (1) Crib Couture diaper bag
One (1) Gia Simplisse Nursing Pillow
1 lot Lansinoh milk storage bags

Pre-loved items for moms (as low as Php40!)
Bags
Mommies maternity clothes
Assorted dresses and clothes, male and female
Everyday wear, ordinary clothes
Party and date night clothes for moms
Shoes (imported)
Xbox -1pc

Brand New Items
One (1) Merrel Shoes
One (1) Bobbi Brown Surf Eyeshadow Palette
One (1) Ikea Laptop Pillow
Brand new items for kids like shoes, headbands.
Wrist watch for moms- brand new
Dress for moms -brand new
Konjac Sponge items, discounted for WAHMs: Face sponges at P350 (P380 SRP); Body sponges at P400 (P450 SRP); Baby sponge at P360 (395 SRP)”

Buy your WAHM Expo ticket now to shop!

Those who attend the WAHM Weekend Expo need to only pay Php100.00 entrance fee to shop at the Garage Sale, as well as the WAHM Bazaar. The Garage Sale will be held at the lobby of the Insular Life Multi-Purpose Hall, adjacent to the session hall where we will have our talks and sessions.

Entrance Fee (will not attend any talk; fees apply to those who are
21 years old and above only. Children are free to enter): Php 100

Workshop pass (need not pay entrance fee separately):

  • Php 350 to attend 1 class/topic
  • Php 900 to attend 3 classes/topics
  • Php 1,500 for an unlimited class pass  (Outstanding value!!)

To register for the WAHM Weekend Expo, go to Manila Workshops: http://manilaworkshops.com/2014/07/the-work-at-home-weekend-expo-2014.html

WAHM life, this is my calling

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This is a guest post by Jennyfer Tan of The Techie Mom

I am writing this while waiting for my son to come out of his class.

I’ve brought him to school, went back home, fed my three year-old daughter her breakfast, helped her with her “homework” (tracing, coloring, etc), bathed her, put her down for a nap, gave her lunch, brought her to school and then went straight to my son’s school to fetch him, and it’s just 1:30 PM.
I still have to bring him to the barber shop for his haircut, go home to check his assignment notebook, tutor and help him with his assignments. Then I leave him to work on it while I fetch my daughter from her school.
Good thing it’s just three minutes away!
The few minutes that I have “free” will be spent answering email of clients, the urgent ones first, then start on my “to do” list, hoping to get some work done. My “to-do” list may consist of cleaning up excel spreadsheets, troubleshooting errors on websites, or starting a WordPress migration project

By the time both kids are sleeping tonight. I will normally finish my work around midnight to 2 AM, depending on the difficulty of the projects/tasks that I have pending.

Tomorrow, I will wake up at 5:45 AM to do the same things again; some days with my son’s piano lessons and other extra curricular activities that our kids need to attend to.

This is the typical day of a full-time work-at-home parent. I AM a working parent, too.

We might not have the physical offices to go to, a boss to report to, but we are working just as hard as corporate parents do, oftentimes more.

I want to break the misconception that we have the luxury of time and just lounge around and enjoy coffee breaks any time we want. These precious minutes are actually our “time to get our sanity back”. We actually NEED these times because we would really go insane without that precious break, but actually having those breaks is another story. (Good luck to us most of the time.)

Compared to other parents, I actually have it easy. I have a supportive husband who’s also a work-at-home parent. He prepares our breakfast, acts as my “reliever” every other day so that I get the chance to sleep 30 minutes longer while he gets to do the chores that need to be done. We have an agreement that whoever has the higher priority project gets to stay at home and actually work on that project while the other parent is the driver/yaya/slave of the day.

I salute those who are full-time, stay-at-home parents who are homeschooling their (three or more) children, whose husband/wife needs to leave for work, who does the household chores because they don’t have household help while they also work so that they can help out in the family’s finances, like my friends TheHappy Wahm, Michelle Padrelanan, etc.

Many people think we are living the good life. We are.

We are doing the best that we can with what life has given us, and, although sometimes I feel like I’m actually standing between sanity and insanity, if I was given a second chance in life, I would still choose to be a full-time, work-at-home mom.

This is my calling. This is what I am supposed to be.

I have to go. My son’s is now beside me, waiting for me to send this so we can leave the school premises and start on his homework.

I’m Jennyfer Tan, wife to a freelance graphic artist/art director, full-time mother to two kids, age 10 and 3 and a multi-tasking, tech-oriented Virtual Assistant and WordPress Migration Consultant, online friends lovingly call me “The Techie Mom”. Connect with her: www.thetechiemom.com. “Like” her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetechiemom

A WAHMderful Weekend – Inspired and Blissed Out!

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The WAHMderful “WAHMies” who attended the weekend celebration and learning day last Oct. 27. Photo courtesy of MR Lightworks Photography

It was an awesome day last October 27! The ladies of the WAHMderful Community got together to celebrate one year of the WAHMderful Workshops, and to learn as a sisterhood from some of the most passionate mentors in the work-at-home community.

I cannot express my joy enough at how the event wrapped up one beautiful year in a metaphoric “bow.” To give a brief rundown, here’s what comprised the last 12 months of this community:

  • We’ve had a wonderful year of events with Manila Workshops, who make each workshop possible. Even some of our WAHMs in the community have begun to work in Manila Workshops, like Patty Cuyugan, our tireless and “Darna” event director for each WAHMderful Workshop!
  • We’ve made friends within the community, some of which have borne fruit in terms of collaborations and partnerships, like Marge Aberasturi a.k.a The Happy WAHM and Jennyfer Tan, who are now partners in business through VA Support Pro.
  • We’ve become channels of blessings to other WAHMs within the community. We’ve helped our fellow sisters in the WAHMderful life to get hired as virtual assistants, writers, community managers, graphic designers, and more. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some WAHMs, like Veronica Cosio, Rigette Osoteo, and Sammy Tan, who are also members of our community.
  • We continue to grow and impact the local social media sphere as one of the most active and authentic online communities for work at home moms in Manila. (I do hope we grow and branch out to touch other countries!)

We don’t just support one another. We truly love one another! And this was evident during the WAHMderful event last Sunday. As the emcee for the day, I was doubly blessed to be able to meet the wonderful ladies who came, and to be able to give a talk as well. It was all a blur to me when the day ended (because I still blank out when I give talks, though people said they liked my talk!). But as the days have passed, and the post-weekend “high” has lingered, I’ve been able to take a step back and see that, yes, it was a great day for the WAHMs.

I’d like to thank —

  • Ginger and Patty of Manila Workshops — You ladies are awesome. These events for the WAHMs in Manila would never have been possible without the Manila Workshops team! I am SO looking forward to our workshops for 2014, which I know will rock the house as they did in 2013! Thank you for your tireless work to make things happen!
  • Our speakers, Apa Alviar, Yeng Remulla, and Ginger (again!) — Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insights. We were SO filled up, and we can’t wait to act on what we’ve learned. Thank you, Apa, for teaching us to discover our core, our heart as WAHMs, and for challenging us to firm up our missions. Thank you, Ginger, for the practical tips on entrepreneurship; you are truly a woman of many talents! Thank you, Yeng, for stirring us up to start something amazing as WAHMs; we’re all the more challenged to take action and really start a revolution, both as a movement and in our lives as mothers, as work-at-home moms.
  • Our “Huddle Up” coaches, Marge Aberasturi, Jenn Tan, Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag, Jayme Gatbonton — Thank you, ladies, for sharing your knowledge freely and generously! You are some of the most inspiring WAHMs, and we learned so much from your consultations, your personal experiences, your struggles and challenges as WAHMs. We’re all the better for knowing you all!
  • Our sponsors — DSM, Unilab, PLDT, Alta, CalChews, Xend, Insular Life, Toccare Spa, and our booth sponsors Kooky Loopy, A La Mode, Happy Finds, Pamper Me Pink: Thank you so greatly for supporting this event and making it happen! Your partnership made everything work — and work splendidly! Thank you especially to MR Lightworkz Photography for capturing our event so vividly and candidly: We would not have been able to enjoy the memories without you!

Finally, thank  you to ALL the ladies who attended the WAHMderful Weekend. Without you, we would not have a community; without you, we would not have been able to forge on with the mission to “make a living while making a home.” It’s because of ALL of you, dear participants, that we exist, that these workshops are what they are.

Here’s to your bliss, your “starts”, your missions, your “aha” moments, and your bliss!

Stay tuned to Manila Workshops’ newsletter for the latest events in the WAHMderful Life! Subscribe at www.manilaworkshops.com

 

 

 

 

Sayonara, Steady Income! (Part 1) – WAHM Survival Tips

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Photo Credit: ahans via Compfight cc

The following is a post by WAHMderful contributor, Patricia of Mrs. C’s Sugarcoated Life.

Being a WAHM is something that I do by choice. Becoming a WAHM, meaning leaving my job and actually taking the plunge, was something that I had to do by chance. Let me explain.

A few days before my son turned a year old, back on 2007, I started working for a top telecommunications company here in Manila. Four years after starting that job, I moved on to work in a shopping mall that was close to home, but followed a 6-day work week. I was beyond burned out, and seriously missing important moments with my kid. His well-being was never something that I needed to worry about, because I had my mom at home caring for him, taking him to school, making sure he was clean, fed and happy. At that point, I wanted to focus on motherhood, and maybe find something that I could do from home, more for myself than for him. I wanted the opportunity to be a mom.

I was lucky because my husband was all for it. He saw the value in one of us being at home to help mold our son into the kind of person we know he has the potential to be. And he agreed that it was gonna be me. Thing is, I was scared about so many things – losing my steady income, not being a good enough hands-on mom, making mistakes, getting bored at home. I knew I had to try before I would know for sure, but just the thought of trying scared me. Then one day, I was forced to do it. [Read more...]

Real WAHM: Ginger Arboleda of Manila Workshops, Mommy Ginger & more!

Ginger_Profile_PicName: Ginger Palma Arbodela

WAHM Occupation: Entrepreneur; Consultant

Website: gingerarboleda.com, manilaworkshops.com, manilareviews.com, manilafitness.com, mommyginger.com

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

Hi, I’m Geraldine Anne Therese P. Arboleda, but my friends call me Ginger. I’m married to a wonderful man named EJ and we recently had our first born, a beautiful baby Girl, named Zeeka. I am a work-at-home-mom. I’ve been working from home since October 2012.

As a work-at-home-mom, I actually do a lot of things. I’m a mompreneur — I have my two businesses, Manila Workshops and Mis Cosas. I am planning to start two other businesses, which you will know about soon (fingers crossed!).  I am a professional blogger. I’m the blogger behind MommyGinger.com, ManilaReviews.com and ManilaFitness.com.

Among all of these though, a lot of my time is spent on expanding Manila Workshops and building the brands of my blogs.

I never thought I would be a work-at-home-mom. I graduated with an MA in Communications Major in Integrated Marketing Communications, hoping that I would become a product or brand manager in a multi-national company. After graduating, I got to work for an Advertising Agency, for our family’s business and then in one of the universal banks in the Philippines. I had my longest stint as a product manager in the bank that I worked for. It was a dream-come-true for me, since this was what I really wanted. [Read more...]

Real WAHM: Jennyfer Tan, Virtual Assistant and Consultant

jenn_tanName: Jennyfer Tan

WAHM Occupation: Virtual Assistant/VA Consultant

Website: www.jennyfertan.com , www.thetechiemom.com

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

My name is Jennyfer Tan, I’m a Virtual Assistant/VA Consultant, I’ve been married for 10 years (going 11 this August) to Oliver, a graphic designer, and a full time mom to 2 kids, Daniel, age 9 and Anaiah, age 2.

I used to work as IT for a tobacco company, I was doing the “manual” stuff like fixing the computer, troubleshooting hardware, software and network problems.  Then I had to resign to help my mom manage our family-owned garments business until she passed away (due to complications from leukemia) and we had to close down the business to pay for the medical bills that we incurred. After that I  became a partner in a small retail clothing company, but I had to “let it go” to concentrate on being a full time mom to our (then) 3-year old boy.

2. What made you decide to become a work at home mom?

It happened by accident actually.  When we decided that it is best for our family for me to be a stay at home mom  with our 3-year old (2007), we were living as a single income family.  For 2 years, we tried to stay as a single income family, but with our son growing up, the needs of the family increased.  I have always been, and still is, a “computer” person. I have a degree in Computer Applications/Business Administration and I am always ‘in the know’ of anything “techie”.  Around October 2009, I was surfing the net to find some online jobs until I stumbled upon Odesk (www.odesk.com).  I spent around a week just reading everything about it and learning all the processes  involved.   [Read more...]

Real WAHM: Julia Jasmine Madrazo-Sta. Romana, freelance writer and virtual assistant

481354_10151295042896722_492850055_nName: Julia Jasmine Madrazo-Sta Romana
WAHM Occupation:Writer/Virtual Assistant
Website: http://www.wailingsofawahm.com/

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

My name is Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana and I’m a writer/virtual assistant based here in Davao City. My wonderfully supportive husband, Jam, works as a trainer in a BPO company and I have a little girl, Justine Bianca, who is about to start school this June. I am a native Dabawenya, but I went to college in UP Diliman, worked in Makati for 5 years and met my husband through an unusual set of circumstances. I was actually a scientist by education (Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, what a mouthful) but writing is my true passion.

2. What made you decide to become a work at home mom?

There were several factors that made me decide to become a work at home mom. First was my difficult pregnancy. The commute to and fro between Makati and Quezon City was taking a serious toll on my health. My work as a Medical Information Analyst as a Makati KPO at that time allowed me to telecommute but I know this situation wasn’t going to last once I had my baby. [Read more...]

Real WAHM: Janice Lim, Online Writer and Virtual Assistant

DSC00467Name: Janice Lim

WAHM Occupation: Freelance Writer / Virtual Assistant / Blogger / Social Media Manager

Website: Janice Lim (Professional website), Roller Coaster Ride (Personal blog)

 

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

My name is Janice. I am a work-at-home mom to three kids – Zoe (11), Ziya (10) and Ziggy (turning 2 on Feb. 28). Together with my boyfriend, Jon, we have been a blended family for almost four years now.

I used to be a full-time working mom. Aside from helping out in family businesses, most of my work experiences involved working for non-profit organizations such as the Figaro Foundation Corporation (social service arm of the Figaro Coffee Company), the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) and most recently, the Philippine Coffee Board. I specialized in the fields of events and project management, marketing and communications.

Currently, as a WAHM I wear many hats. I work [Read more...]

Real WAHM: Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag, Writer and Consultant

tg pixName: Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag

WAHM Occupation: Book Author, Freelance Writer and Editor, Management and HR Consultant, Blogger

Website:  Mommy Bares All and When My Bridegroom Comes

1. Hi! Thanks for being a WAHM guest on the WAHMderful Life. Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your family, and what work you do from home.

I’ve been married for 5 years now and I have two little boys, a four year old and a 15 month old. I breastfed both of my kids. I breastfed my eldest until two years old and I plan to do the same for my youngest. I used to be a very busy working girl when I was still single, travelling to different locations weekly (in the Philippines and in Asia) to conduct trainings and workshops to the managers and supervisors in my previous company. I was a Training Manager then. I chose to slow down a bit when I realized that it would be hard to get married and start a family with that kind of lifestyle.

Shortly after I took on a job (HR Manager) that didn’t require much travelling, I met my bridegroom. I authored the book When My Bridegroom Comes when I was still single and was a member of the No Boyfriend Since Birth By Choice (NBSBBC) club. I met my husband in my book launch which was also a Valentine’s party for the singles in our community. [Read more...]