Epitome of Resilience as a Virtual Assistant: Ella Pelayo

Ella Pelayo

Ella Pelayo was the first Virtual Assistant from the Philippines that I started to follow. She was being mentioned all over the place whenever I search for local online forums for VAs back in 2009.

She worked with some superstars like Bo Sanchez, Michelle Dale and Erin Blaskie. Her success as a VA business owner is impressive and one that should be modelled.

I’ve had a chance to work with her and her staff. Her staff are all professionals – respectful, helpful and resourceful. Just like their leader, Ella.

Despite some hurdles she has encountered with her business she still continues to soar and flap her shiny wings with all its glory.

Learn more about Ella in my recent blog post and find out why I consider her the epitome of resilience…

Plus! Find out how you can join her Free Live Webinars for Virtual Assistants all Fridays of October…

How and when did you start working as a Virtual Assistant?

I started working at home in 2006 when I became a first time mom. I resigned from my call center job because I realized I missed on my daughter’s first word – and I don’t want to miss out on all her first milestones. We went on a 2 weeks vacation in the province that’s when I realized, I would give up everything for my family. We went back to Manila and filed my resignation.

Fast forward to probably 2 months after, reality struck me. Having a sari-sari store won’t bring me back to the kind of lifestyle I would want for my daughter. We barely had enough to even buy milk and diapers. When an internet connection became available, I immediately looked for an online call center job. Rather, I found my first gig on Craigslist as an ad poster for a man looking for dates (yes, I know, odd job!) But my first client was actually the one who directed me to oDesk (now Upwork) and then everything came from there.

What challenges did you encounter working as a VA? How did you get over it?

When I finally got steady flow of clients, I grew so quickly, I thought of helping our relatives and family friends so I hired them as subcontractors – Big mistake for me cause when business and family mix – most of the time it doesn’t end good. So my first multi-VA team ended with heartaches and all. This is when I met Michelle Dale and fortunately got a Scholarship for The VA Apprentice.

I also went through 2 strong typhoons which shook my business to the core – the latter which was Super typhoon Haiyan, we lost internet connection, and electricity for months and running an online business with generator and mobile data running won’t be enough to provide quality service to our clients. This led me to the decision of going back working from home. God was so faithful for me, shortly a few months after, I won Marie Forleo’s BSchool Scholarship.

Most of these challenges like my recent cancer scare, losing my mom, was really a difficult time for me however it hasn’t stopped me from being the best VA I could be for our clients. It has actually propelled me to keep moving forward.

All my biggest blessings came from my biggest hurdles.

How would you define the term Virtual Assistant in very simple terms to someone who is interested to be a VA?

A Virtual Assistant is someone who can provide quality service to a client remotely. No location, race or gender boundaries. All you need is your skills, a reliable laptop and a strong internet connection.

What’s your top 3 Virtual Assistant tips to success for newbies?

Don’t let your novice knowledge outshine your true sparkle – Everybody starts somewhere. But always remember you have your own unique strengths and skills to become successful. Regardless whether this is your first month or your first year in the industry, you deserve the respect from your clients and colleagues.

Get rid of the employee mindset – You are your own boss. You decide your working hours, your workspace, work clothes, and even your rates. Don’t always agree with hagglers. Remember those who don’t respect your rates, will always be hagglers – in the end you will only feel stressed continuously adjusting your rates for them. They are not worth your time and effort.

Stop comparing yourself to others – It’s so easy for us to keep comparing ourselves to others. This has been one of my bad habit before. And it only led me to continuously question my skills, my worth. Remember that your own skills, your own experiences and your values sums up who you are. Just focus on your own journey and keep moving forward.

What are you busy with these days? Where can people find you?

I’m currently building a series of Free Live Webinars for Virtual Assistants, and women entrepreneurs every Friday at 9pm PHT for all Fridays of October. For all those who want to become a Virtual Assistant, you can check out this free workshop here.

I have another webinar coming up tonight (October 16th) which aims to help VAs and freelancers improve their client intake process. Register here –

If you’d want to get started working from home, read the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant.

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Gwenn Doria

Founder and Author at Virtual Success Avenue
Hey there, awesome! I started this blog because I understand the challenges of starting out and thriving as a professional working from home. My aim is to empower aspiring and fellow Virtual Assistants by sharing tips, inspiring stories and lessons learned about the Virtual Assistant industry. Get to know me more by visiting the "About Me" page. 🙂 Cheers!