That is the question.
A discussion at one of the VA forums I belong to raised a query about being ‘tested’ by doing small jobs for free at a site before being accepted as a VA for potential clients.
I find that sometimes clients come via my jobleads request form and attempt to do the same thing. Give 4 or 5 (or more) VAs a small portion of the task to be done just to ‘try them out’ and before you know it, they’ve gotten the whole job done free and not paid anyone.
That’s not on!
As was mentioned at the forum, you don’t tell plumbers or electricians or other tradies that you want to ‘test’ their abilities first before you’ll give them the job. You expect that they know what they’re doing, you find out their fees and then either accept or find someone else.
The same applies to VAs. No client or VA membership site should be asking you to do something for free to test your abilities. There are intern programs out there where new VAs can be taken under the wing of an experienced VA in order to gain knowledge and experience and usually for low payment or in return for training, but otherwise no VA should be expected to do something for free just to show what they’re capable of doing, at the risk of being exploited. There should be some sort of value returned for the effort the VA has put in.
Do the research and ask questions at forums. Join VA networks or organisations that you know are reputable and if you can’t find that information, then research the founder or owner of the group. If they’ve been in the industry for a few years they will show up on the web. Their reputation should speak for itself.