As an Internet marketing consultant I’ve had the opportunity to work with an array of talented individuals who assign themselves an array of titles, including “virtual assistant” and “freelancer.” Though I’ve never worked with a “freelance” admin assist, I have worked with VAs who proofread and copy edit AND freelancers who proofread and copy edit. I’ve had both good and bad results with each … uh … genre?

Semantics is a funny thing in business because on the one hand it’s, well, just semantics. But on the other hand, perception is everything when it comes to how a business is marketed. So, the big question is then: are you more interested in working with freelancers or virtual assistants? If you go searching for one, will you possibly find the other? And if so, is that okay as long as they serve up what you asked for? (And hopefully a little bit more if they’re real keeners.)

Personally, I’ve never paid much attention at all to what my subcontractors call themselves. For the most part, as long they perform the job they tell me they can within the standards I have set, it’s all good. And when it’s not good, well, it’s usually got less to do with the title and more to do with the person, if you know what I mean.

Nevertheless, I was curious how the two might be differently defined. So I hopped onto Google and did a couple quick searches. Note that the definitions I list below are exactly as I found them online:

Googling “what is a virtual assistant” brought up a link to this information:

  • A Virtual Assistant is a temporary worker who works for businesses over the internet. The employer may be at a great distance from the assistant. …
  • A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients … assistant

And Googling “what is a freelancer” brought up a link to this information:

  • a self-employed translator or interpreter who works independently directly with the clients and might as well do projects for translation agencies.
  • (freelance worker) is a self-employed person working in a profession or trade in which full-time employment is also common. …
  • The Nomad ships in-game are comprised of a light blue organic polymer, and then physcially struck produce a strange drum-like reverberating noise.
  • Default class. Unlike the Onion Knight in the Famicom version, able to use a wide array of weapons, but can only use level 1 black and white magic.
  • a writer or artist who sells services to different employers without a long-term contract with any of them
  • A freelancer or freelance worker is a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer. …
  • Freelancer is a space trading and combat simulation computer game developed by Digital Anvil and published by Microsoft. … (computer game)
  • one who freelances

Interesting! I could go on all day about the implied differences here along with how those differences might translate for different business scenarios, but alas, I am going to leave that to our loyal Commenters.

What do you think? Would you rather hire a freelancer or a virtual assistant? Or does it truly just depend on the situation? Better still, if you had to choose between a freelance copy editor and a copy editor who calls him or herself a VA, whom would you prefer to work on say, YOUR web copy?


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