With millions of people losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, one 24-year-old virtual assistant in the United Kingdom, Jemma Broadstock, claims in an online article that business is booming and she’s making over $12,000 a month working from home. What’s more remarkable is that she only started working as a virtual assistant or VA a year ago.
After reading this, you might be wondering if it’s possible to work as a virtual assistant if you don’t have any experience. The answer is yes!
As long as you are willing to work hard and take on the tasks assigned by your employer, then you can definitely succeed as a VA. This article will walk you through all the things you may need to know to become a virtual assistant.
Tips On How To Become a Virtual Assistant
1. Prepare your tools
In terms of equipment, you will need a laptop or a desktop computer and a reliable internet connection. It is also good to invest in a set of headphones with a microphone and a dedicated space in your house where you can work quietly and make calls.
It is recommended that you have a dedicated email address for your VA work so that you will not miss emails from your employers or clients. While some companies may require you to have a phone number, this is not often necessary because most companies use Skype, Slack, or Zoom to communicate.
2. Develop or Learn New Skills
Learn how to use programs and applications commonly used by businesses. You don’t need to be an expert at using these apps and programs, but having a working knowledge will give you an advantage when looking for a virtual assistant job. Some of the applications you need to be familiar with include:
- Email Programs – Gmail, Microsoft Outlook
- Google Suite – Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar,
- Cloud Storage – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive
- Communication– Slack, Skype, Zoom
- Email Marketing – MailChimp, Active Campaign
- Project Management – Trello, Asana
- Website & Blogs – WordPress, Blogger
- Social Media – Facebook pages, Instagram for Business, LinkedIn, Hootsuite
- Miscellaneous – Grammarly, SmallSEOTools, Canva
You can build experience by starting with micro job VA platforms. This will hone your skills and teach you how to deal with different requests, so when you land a long-term client, you’re ready to excel.
You can also find free and paid online courses that will walk you through the ins and outs of virtual assistant jobs. In addition, you can find coaches that can teach you all the necessary skills that you need, as well as guide you in every step of building your virtual assistant career and own business.
3. Identify Your Niche and Offers
Try to find your niche, which means narrowing down your target market. For example, you can eventually turn yourself into a real estate VA, legal VA, finance VA, social media VA, or an eCommerce VA. Having a specialization may limit your opportunities, but it’s an effective way to stand out, target clients, and charge more.
When applying for jobs, especially those that will last for more than three months, look for industries or sets of tasks that you’re interested in or you have a background in. For instance, don’t overstretch yourself by applying as a virtual assistant for a law firm if you are clueless about how a law firm operates.
Identify your ideal client. Do you want to help career coaches, eCommerce business owners, bloggers, marketers, etc.? This will help you narrow down the skills and services you can offer as a VA.
4. Set Up Your Virtual Assistant Business The Right Way
Virtual assistance is also your own business, so you should decide how to run it. You can register your business as a sole proprietor or a limited liability company (LLC).
A sole proprietorship is the default and doesn’t require you to have any special setup. However, if something unfortunate happens to your business, your personal properties like your home and car would be at risk. For example, if your business goes bankrupt, your creditors can go after your personal properties to pay your debt.
With LLC, you as a business owner and your VA company are separate entities. When something happens to your business, your personal properties will be protected.
5. Set Up A Website And Build Social Media Presence
You need to promote your business and build your online presence so clients can find you. Your own website is like your storefront. It’s where you will put the details of your services and feature your skills.
Meanwhile, social media is where you can build brand awareness and connect with prospective clients. You can create a social media page to show your skills and information about your VA services.
Join Facebook groups that are relevant to your niche and where your target clients potentially hang out. Engage in posts and provide value to the group. It’s one way for prospective clients to notice you.
Just be careful not to spam the groups with too many posts and overpromotion. That is generally against group rules and admins can kick you out without notice if you violate it.
6. Do Your Best Work
When you find your first client, do your best to deliver more than what’s expected from you. Top-quality VA services will make your clients happy, which can lead to repeat clients and recommendations.
You can also ask for feedback and testimonials from your clients, which you can feature on your website or social media pages. Of course, you need to ask their permission before you can use their testimonials.
Who Are Your Potential VA Clients?
Knowing your potential clients is an important aspect of learning how to become a virtual assistant. Your potential clients are composed of small business owners and busy professionals.
They hire virtual assistants for various reasons, including reducing overhead costs, focusing on core business functions, and freeing some time to maintain a work-life balance.
When running a business, there are lots of things to do with the limited time and budget. Hiring virtual assistants makes more sense to a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals because it’s cost-effective. They also gain access to top talents from all over the world.
What Skills Do You Need To Become A Virtual Assistant?
There are several virtual assistant jobs for beginners that do not require prior experience but you will need to have some basic equipment and skills.
Here is a list of the basic skills you need to have to become a VA and grow a virtual assistant business:
1. Basic Computer Skills
This is the most important skill that you need to have if you want to become a virtual assistant. You need to know how to operate a laptop, type up documents, send emails, and use common web-based programs and applications. You don’t need to be highly technical because you can be a VA as long as you are computer-literate.
2. Communication Skills
Having strong written and verbal communication skills will be a big advantage if you want to find virtual assistant jobs. Since you’re not talking to your clients in person, you have to communicate effectively to make sure that you are able to deliver tasks.
If you’re from another country where English isn’t the first language, you need to learn to speak the language. Most clients will come from English-speaking countries.
Depending on the tasks assigned to you, you may or may not need to be fluent or have perfect grammar. You only need excellent comprehension, so you can communicate with your clients.
You can improve your communication skills with practice. You can also take free online courses to brush up on your English.
3. Organizational And Time Management Skills
Many clients hire VA because they are overwhelmed with administrative and operational tasks. As a virtual assistant, you will be assigned random tasks by your employer and you may even be required to jump from one task to another. You have to be organized in making sure you complete all the tasks on the given deadlines.
Because you are working from home, you are not surrounded by colleagues who you could, as in case you encounter a roadblock in fulfilling your task. Your client may not always be available to answer your questions so it’s up to you to be resourceful and find solutions to problems that may crop up.
Brush up on your research skills. You can find most solutions through Google search and YouTube tutorials. You just have to know how and where to find them.
While it is true that nobody is perfect, being accurate in doing your tasks is another big advantage if you want to succeed as a VA. Being accurate means not making any mistakes, being detail-oriented, and doing your tasks correctly on the first attempt. This will not only save you time, but you can also do a lot more things.
Common Responsibilities Of Virtual Assistants
It is important to have an understanding of what a VA is. A virtual assistant is not that different from an office executive assistant. VAs provide various support services to clients, but instead of reporting to a physical office, you work from a remote location. This means that even if you are working from a home office, you can do your tasks as a VA.
The tasks performed by VAs will differ depending on the industry of the client but for newbie virtual assistants, these will be mostly centered on administrative tasks.
Some of the most common responsibilities include the following:
- Data entry
- Send emails
- Schedule appointments
- Make updates on the website and blogs
- Update and manage social media accounts
- Book and purchase products and services
- Pay bills
- Send invoices and follow up payments
- Coordinate tasks with other staff members
- Manage the contact list
- Organize documents
- Transcribe recordings or make minutes of the meeting
- Conduct research
- Create reports and presentations
- Schedule travel arrangements
- Website management
- Make phone calls
The tasks listed above are considered as basic administrative support tasks. If you’re starting out with no prior experience, you will still be expected by your client to know how to do these things. Being a VA is different from just answering survey apps on your mobile and doing random online tasks whenever you have spare time.
You need to commit an agreed number of hours with your client. While you can work as a part-time VA, most people who succeed in this career usually have regular clients.
If you are working as a full-time VA, some clients may require you to be online for a certain number of hours in a day and may even set a schedule of when you need to be online. This will ensure that they can easily reach you when needed.
However, there are also clients who are more results-driven and will only give you the tasks you need to achieve in a day. This kind of set-up will allow you more flexibility in choosing the hours you will work.
Traits Of A Good Virtual Assistant
Being a virtual assistant is not for everyone. Even if you have the required skills, you may not have the ideal traits to become effective as one. Here are the traits that a good virtual assistant should ideally have.
Virtual assistants are hired to be the support system of businesses. In short, the business owners rely on VAs to get things done. You have to meet the deadlines set by employers and do the tasks as per the schedule.
If you miss important tasks, this can cost your clients a lot of money. For example, forgetting to renew a client’s website hosting package can equal to lost sales. Your clients need to be able to rely on you and trust you with the tasks without them having to check on you all the time.
Clients can be quite demanding, especially when they are under pressure. As a VA, you have to have the patience and unflappability to deal with these demands.
Many clients entrust their virtual assistants with their passwords, credit card information, and bank accounts. This is why it is very important that you can prove to your client that you are a trustworthy person. This will not be instant but building relationships can help you eventually gain the trust of your clients.
One way to show your trustworthiness is by being honest all the time. Even when you make mistakes, don’t hide it from your clients. Take responsibility and make efforts to perform better.
As a virtual assistant, you have to deal with many different people albeit virtually. Not only are you speaking with clients, but you may also be required to contact their customers and other people they do business with. This means that having a pleasant and friendly attitude is preferable.
A pleasant personality will also make it easier for your client to work with you and build your professional relationship.
You’ll have several tasks to do as a virtual assistant, so being organized will help you work efficiently. It will allow you to work on important tasks, save time, and reduce stress.
How Can You Pick the Best Virtual Assistant Clients to Work For?
When looking for clients to work for, do your due diligence. Research about the company or the professional you’ll work with and read reviews by their current or former employees.
Scams are also prevalent in this industry. Some companies and individuals would ask virtual assistant applicants to perform tasks only to go missing when it’s time to pay.
Moreover, choose a client depending on the availability and assortment of work. That also depends on your interests and skills. You should be confident that you can deliver the services that they need.
You may also choose based on whether they allow flexible work hours or a fixed schedule.
Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs for Beginners
If you want to find virtual assistant jobs from home with little to no experience, you can check out online sites to search for job listings. There are job openings for full-time or part-time virtual assistants. Some employers will also indicate if they need you only for 3 or 6 months.
Here are some sites that you can check out.
But what if you cannot find clients or you don’t get hired for job openings in the sites mentioned above? One way new virtual assistants can build experience is to try out micro job sites that require virtual assistants.
These micro job sites will often pay you per task. For example, with Fancy Hands, you get paid per task ($3 to $7 per task), and each task which will typically take a few minutes to complete.
The advantage of micro job sites is that the work hours are flexible and you can get a taste of how being a VA is without a long-term commitment. Some of the micro job sites to check out are the following:
You should also build your portfolio or proof of work as a virtual assistant. For example, if you want to help clients manage their social media accounts, you can create samples of social media posts. If you want to offer content production services as a VA, you need to have samples of content that you’ve created.
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
So, how much can you earn when you become a virtual assistant? Virtual assistants are often paid by the hour. In the United States, the hourly rate for VAs ranges from $7 up to $60.
The average hourly rate for VAs in the US, according to Payscale.com, is $15.80 while Indeed.com lists the average hourly rate as $16.50. Another site, Ziprecruiter, says that the national average is $32 per hour in the country.
In the United Kingdom, the average rate for VAs is £25 per hour ($30.60). If you’re based outside of the US, you can still apply as a virtual assistant but the hourly rate companies pay to outsource their tasks to non-US residents or non-native English speakers is typically lower, which can be as low as $3 to $5 per hour.
If you are a beginner and you only know the basic skills mentioned in the earlier section, charging $15 per hour can be a good rate to start. If you work 4 hours a day from Monday to Friday, you can earn $1,200 a month.
If you’re willing to work 8 hours a day, you can look for a full-time job as a virtual assistant or book multiple clients to fill the time. At a $15 hourly rate, this will get you $2,400 a month.
That is a good amount for a beginner if you consider the savings that you’ll get from not having to pay for transportation, office clothes, lunch meals, and other miscellaneous office expenses.
If you have other specialized skills like content writing, graphic design, website development, marketing skills, and advanced social media management, you can definitely charge more. These tasks are considered additional skills that not all VAs have.
As you become more experienced, you can also start charging more depending on the demand for your services. The reason why more experienced VAs can charge more is that they get things done more quickly and more accurately.
With other specialized skills, you can also provide more value to your clients. Experienced VAs are also more independent and they do not need to be micromanaged, saving employers valuable time, which is one of the main purposes of hiring a virtual assistant.
Are virtual assistants in demand?
Yes, virtual assistants are in-demand, especially now that a lot of businesses are moving online. They can hire VAs from all over the world and work with top talents based on the needs of their businesses.
As a virtual assistant, you can offer various services, so there are lots of opportunities to build your VA career. You also have unlimited earning potentials in your virtual assistant business.
Learning how to become a virtual assistant is just the beginning of a promising huge income and career. As you build your skills and reputation, you can find more clients who are willing to pay a premium for your top-quality services. From hourly rates, you can offer contract rates, project-based rates, or retention rates
What Are the Benefits of Working As a Virtual Assistant?
What’s in it for you when you become a virtual assistant? Here are some of the perks when you become a VA:
1. You can work from anywhere
Because VA jobs are remote, you can work from anywhere you want as long as you have your laptop and you have access to an internet connection. You can travel while working or work in a cafe or a co-working space.
2. You run your own business
As a VA, you can choose to run your own business, meaning that you’re not tied to one employer alone. You can sign up with multiple clients as long as your time allows and there are no conflicts of interest.
In general, you can have more control of your own life and do other things that you want that you can’t do when you’re tied to a 9-5 job.
3. You have huge earning potential
Being a VA gives you access to better-paying jobs than your full-time office work. You can work with clients from all over the world. As you build your experience, skills, and professional network, you can charge more and therefore earn more. You set your own rates and find clients who are willing to pay you for what you can offer.
4. You can start with a little budget
The startup cost of becoming a virtual assistant is low. You only need to invest in a good laptop and have an internet connection and you can start finding clients right away. You can invest more as time goes by, such as in courses that will improve your skills and knowledge.
Understandably, working as a virtual assistant also comes with disadvantages. If you work from home and you live with family, there may be tons of distractions. It will make working as a VA more challenging because you need to concentrate and focus.
Your income is also closely tied to the amount of work you put into. The more you work, the more money you make. Sometimes you may find yourself needing to hustle more to find new clients. You also don’t have benefits sponsored by employers, such as health insurance.
Is Being A Virtual Assistant Right For You?
If you’re looking for a career that will be able to support you even if you’re working from home, learning how to become a virtual assistant is a great option.
Being a virtual assistant allows you to work from anywhere you are, giving you a better work-life balance. You also get to save money because you don’t have to spend on the usual expenses most office workers incur.
The best way to know if this job is right for you is to try it for yourself. You can learn how to become a virtual assistant by starting small and applying for virtual assistant gigs where you get paid for every task completed.
As you get better at being a virtual assistant and having the right skill set, you can eventually transition into pitching yourself to clients and getting steady work. You can choose to be a freelance virtual assistant or establish your own VA business.