At a VA discussion group a question similar to this was asked. The new VA said it was a problem that every network costs to join and she wanted to find a free one or if she could have her dues deducted later once she got paying clients.
This was my response to her – and I’ve added more for the benefit of the readers here.
Those sites are run by people who spend their time, their energies and their own money running them. Charging a fee helps to recover those costs. Believe me there’s a lot of time spent running a VA network, helping the members, answering phone calls, responding to emails, and maintaining the network, let alone the marketing and other work involved in maintaining the sites and attracting clients for the VA members. So there has to be a cost – and they are usually minimal.
I should add, that the time spent doing all of those things means less time to do actual client work, so the membership dues helps to cover that time spent. Some members of my network take up quite a bit of time settling in, others a little time. I don’t mind giving my time – it is helping the industry grow and develop and I love that I can help others achieve the very things I have over the years. But I do think it’s important that new VAs recognise that someone needs to help pay for that time.
I don’t believe any of the sites requiring payment charge a great deal and I know that some charge monthly instead of annual fees. But, given that, all of them do have forums you can join that are usually free and you can learn a lot from the other members, often picking up work from those who wish to outsource or sub-contract to other VAs.
With respect to deducting from your dues – when you’re connected to a client it is direct. That is, you invoice the client and they pay you. So I’m not sure how getting your dues deducted would work since the VA networks don’t invoice the client on your behalf – that would then make you an employee and the network an employer. That’s not how it works.
As an added note, it is important to recognise that Virtual Assistants are self-employed business owner/operators. They are not employees. So in joining a VA network you are not paying to get work, nor are you being employed. The networks are like industry based organisations designed to assist Virtual Assistants to grow their businesses, learn about the industry, form alliances with their peers, gain training (through some networks) and get introduced to clients (for most networks). The network owners (or in the case of IVAA, the Board Directors) put in a lot of work running their networks or organisations and are committed to the industry – it’s doubtful they get enough remuneration to cover their time and costs. I know I don’t which is why I’m still servicing clients of my own as well.
I hope this helps explain to all curious or interested in joining a VA network, why it costs to join them. And know it is a taxable expense – just the same as it would be for any other industry based group that you join.