If you’ve found yourself asking, “Should I become a virtual assistant?” or “What does it take to become a virtual assistant?“, it means you need to change your career path. Whether you’re looking for a better balance between work and personal life or a job that you can do at your own pace and from your place, you’re here because you’re wondering if life as a virtual assistant is the right place for you.
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything on how to become a virtual assistant in 2021.
The best part? In this guide, you’ll also find information on how to become a VA with no experience, what skills you may need, how to get clients, what are the best ways to get clients, and more.
Use the table of contents below to navigate the guide, or keep reading this in-depth guide to discover if working as a virtual assistant may be the right choice for you.
Table of Contents
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant, or a VA, is a person that offers support to a business remotely. Imagine a traditional secretary in an office, and replace the office with your home or your home office to get the perfect picture of what a Virtual assistant is. You may end up helping small and medium businesses.
Still, it’s not uncommon to help also individuals and freelancers that want to focus on their business and leave the administrative burdens to someone else.
What exactly does a Virtual Assistant do?
On a superficial level, a VA is in charge of office and administrative-type tasks: checking and answering to emails, update the calendar, organise invoices, and stuff like these. But since the market is getting bigger and bigger, VAs can do way more than just these things. You may assist with content creation and blogging, bookkeeping, graphic design, social media, and more.
These are some of the most common tasks a Virtual Assistant do:
- Calendar and schedule management
- File and document organization
- Email monitoring
- Answering and directing calls
- Billing and accounting activities
- Writing and maintaining records
- Vetting potential clients, projects, partnerships, etc.
- Maintaining or updating a client’s social media or professional profile
On top of these, there are a plethora of other services a professional Virtual Assistant can offer. Every VA offers different services and for this reason, the job is a VA do can hardly be classified or explained, because it can cross multiple fields.
What skills do you need to become a Virtual Assistant?
Aside from having specific skills that can help in getting specialized and finding a remote job easily, every Virtual Assistant must-have skills that are considered mandatory. We can identify the following mandatory skills for a VA:
1. The Ability to Plan and Strategize
No matter what’s your specialization and what services you offer, you need to be able to plan everything strategically, both for yourself and for your clients.
You need to be able to create plans that will allow you to scale your business efficiently but, at the same time, be prepared to plan for your clients for a better organization of your workflow and their business.
2. The Ability to Focus
A VA has to be able to focus on a task and complete it without distraction: multitasking is a virtue for many reasons, but Virtual Assistants must have the ability to focus on one thing at a time to make sure the job is well executed. Sometimes and for certain aspects of your job, you must be multitasking, but to work well, it’s a good idea to plan on the things to do and do them once at a time.
3. The Ability to Automate
The point above leads to this one: the ability to automate. The more you get used to working as a VA, the more you need to develop skills and knowledge that will allow you to automate what you do.
If you’re a Pinterest VA, you need to know how to create designs in batch or how to schedule pins in batch: this will help you save a lot of time, and will also be the best way for you to accomplish more by doing less. [Tailwind is a good resource for you if you offer Pinterest services]
4. The Ability to Communicate Efficiently
Working from home may mean wasting time in meaningless conversations. To prove that you are working, you may be tempted to keep organizing calls and meetings. The truth is that the more sessions you will be involved in, the less you will be working on tasks. Make sure you plan strategic meetings and use online tools to plan and manage your time and your work.
Select the best project management tools you can use and get your clients and every other stakeholder you work with on the platform to improve communication efficiently.
5. Be Accountable
Once you start working for clients, you need to be seen as accountable and trustable. Especially at the beginning, it is essential to show commitment and create a trusted relationship with your clients. Without losing control of what you do and your business, make sure you do your best to facilitate your clients and help them reach their goals.
Do not save on giving advice, even if it’s not in your domain, and make sure you’re diligent and available during the time you’ve agreed to work together. At the same time, establish rules, and don’t break them, clarify your duties, and be transparent on your hours of working to avoid problems.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Virtual Assistant
If you want to become a VA, these are the step-by-step plan you need to follow.
1. Decide which services you’ll offer your clients
As soon as you start looking into the business, you need to have a clear idea of the services you want to offer because this will have an enormous impact on your capacity to find clients and making sure they will be happy with you. Don’t constrain yourself with the basic things a VA does, but think outside of the box.
Analyze your skills and abilities to offer your potential clients something that they may need; as for every business, the more unique is what you provide, the more valuable you will be. And the more useful you’ll be, the more you can charge. Make sure you only offer services you can and know how to do, because it will affect your brand reputation.
The more you will progress into this career, the more you can refine your skills to offer even more services, within the same niche.
2. Define your Business Plan
Business Plans are not just for companies, and they are actually one of the best tools you can use to give your business a structure.
Your business plan should include the following considerations, on a strategic level:
- How much do I want to earn?
- How much do I want to work daily?
- What type of clients do I want to work with?
- What is my personal risk tolerance?
On a financial level, you need to decide what type of business you want to set up to avail of the best fees and taxes; it’s worth consulting with an accountant to have a better view on this and plan accordingly. In regards to this, whether you will be using an accountant or a bookkeeper for your invoices, it’s a good idea to select one or two tools that you can manage to send invoices and also take track of your expenses.
Last but not least, make sure you think about how much you are willing to invest on your business to start:
- How much do I want to spend to buy tools and furniture for your office?
- How much do I want to spend to plan some advertising campaign for my new business?
- How much do I want to invest on my personal development?
The best thing you can do with all this information is to collect them and create a document that will become your playbook and your “user’s manual“: it will be your guide, and it will help you decide for the best. Consider this as a “live document,” meaning that you may need to revisit it periodically based on your business goals and also your renewed interests/dependencies.
3. Decide on Your Pricing Structure
Once you have your business plan ready, you’ve decided what services you want to offer, it’s time to set your rates. Once again, you need to measure your desired outcome against the job you want to do and, at the same time, if you’re starting out you need to take into account your “lack of experience”.
Before putting a number to each of the services you offer, remember the following things:
- You are not an employee and you have to pay all your taxes by yourself;
- You aren’t entitled to any benefits (aka: if you go on holiday, nobody pays you);
- You have fixed things to cover every month (a website, a software subscription, etc).
These three things are important when you price your services, because you also need to include the costs for things that may not be visible to your employer but are part of what you do.
Setting your rates is a personal decision, and it’s up to you not only how much you want to charge, but also how much you want to charge based on the specific project: the “one fits all” approach doesn’t work at all, because every project is different and so must be your rates.
Vet your standards against what you want to earn monthly and yearly, your experience, and your expectations: and remember that your rates will change, and have to change, always.
4. Create your website and show your skills
If you’re going to be working online and providing virtual assistant services, you need to have an online presence. The best thing to do is to create a simple website where you can showcase your skills, your services, and testimonials.
A blog can also be an option because it can be the first touchpoint between you and your potential leads, and will show clients what you can do and your skills.
We’ve extensively covered the reasons why every freelancer should open a blog, regardless of the industry, as a way to show off expertise and abilities.
If you’ve decided to start your own blog for your VA business, these are a few recommended resources:
- NameCheap or Domain.com: to register your domain name;
- BlueHost: to host your blog (it comes with WordPress installed);
- WpEngine: another hosting, and in this case you can go for the managed or the unmanaged one;
- Premium WordPress Themes: you can choose one for your blog;
- Weebly: if you want to use a ready-to-go platform and just focus on content
5. Start pitching
As soon as your website is ready, but in reality, also before, get things moving: identify your ideal clients and get in touch with them in every way you can. Use your contacts to let people know you’re in the business or just cold pitch potential leads by offering their services. Remember that when you first launch your business, nobody even knows what you do, so it’s up to you to pitch daily and find streams that will potentially generate leads.
How much do Virtual Assistants make?
Based on all the things we’ve discussed, the pay scale varies. According to ZipRecruiter, the average yearly salary for virtual assistants checks in at just over $60,000 per year.
The average wage of a virtual assistant in the US is between $15 and $40/hour, depending on services and experience. Rates also depend on location.
Best Virtual Assistant Training Courses
If you want to become a Virtual Assistant, you can enroll in one of the many training courses that will help you to expedite your VA business and save time. We’ve selected a few online classes that you can enroll directly from your home. Make sure you check the syllabus of each session and check what are, if there are, skills that you’ve to have to attend one (or more) of these.
1. Work From Home as a Virtual Assistant
Learn how to launch your own business providing services via online technology with this online course. Determine if being a virtual assistant is right for you. Set your business policies and set yourself up for success. This course is designed to give you the edge, sharing processes proven to help build a successful virtual assistant business.
2. Become a Virtual Assistant
With this course, you will learn the digital skills of both large corporations and small business entrepreneurs who are looking for a virtual assistant. Discover where to find and apply for virtual assistant positions. Make your resume stand out with technical skills that make you eligible for the high-paying jobs.
Despite not being mandatory, it’s also recommendable to learn how to become more productive and how to manage your time. These are two online courses that can help you with that:
3. Productivity and Time Management for the Overwhelmed
A complete productivity and time management course designed to help you reduce your overwhelm and increase your results. You will learn how to improve your productivity by implementing new strategies throughout your day and how to take control of your mindset and energy levels to increase your productivity.
4. Working Remotely: How To Succeed In The New Workplace
With this course, you will learn how to communicate and collaborate more effectively with your colleagues when working remotely. Learn how to establish effective daily routines when working remotely, how to beat procrastination, and motivate yourself to achieve more each day.
If you’re looking for more resources on how to become a Virtual Assistant, this is one I personally recommend (aside from the courses above, that I think you should attend):
5. The Savvy School Members Club
The Savvy is a club for all the Virtual Assistants out there where to find advice, resources, and a lot of discussions. It’s also a great place to find new clients. It’s even more valuable if you put things into perspective: you’re going to be alone in your business, and you need someone to discuss ideas, get, and give advice. The Savvy Club is the place for you, and it can make your daily job way better.
How do Virtual Assistants get clients?
For others, it’s their website that brings in clients and leads. Others use Facebook and groups. A lot of Virtual Assistants also avail of word of mouth.
Last but not least, each of these methods work even better if you plan some marketing campaign to get visibility: paid advertising on Facebook, on Linkedin, on Google Adwords, and also on Pinterest.
Make sure you use a smart approach: calculate how much you want to spend on your advertising and evaluate what your return will be. If you spend 100 euro on Facebook Ads and you will only have one inquiry submission, it means that there’s something wrong with your campaign. The help of a professional is very much needed in this case, perhaps another VA that is well versed in PPC and with which you can team up to get results.
What software tools do Virtual Assistants use?
At the risk of repeating myself, let me reiterate a fundamental issue: a Virtual Assistant has to be savvy, and perfectly organized. Clients expect to have everything ready to go, not to waste time in providing tools and software to their VAs. Unless your client has specific needs or use particular software and you don’t have access to it, you need to have access and be able to use at least the following online tools:
- Google Drive (or similar tools, such as Dropbox)
- LogMeOnce (or a similar tool, such as LastPass)
- Trello (or a similar tool, such as KanbanFlow)
- Skype (or something similar, such as Zoom, Meet, etc)
It goes without saying that the more specialized services you offer, the more specific tools you need: for example if you are a Pinterest VA you need access to Tailwind because it will help you schedule your pins in batch and also monitoring them.
Is it hard to be a Virtual Assistant?
Being a Virtual Assistant can be hard work: you need to move from one client to another, and make sure they’re all happy with your services. You need to properly schedule your time and plan all the tasks carefully and attentively, or your daily routine will be completely messed up.
You also need to become a salesperson because, unless you land a retainer contract, you must have a backlog of clients to reach out to for when times are not suitable for your business.
Also, you need to be willing to keep learning and refine your skills: competition is fierce, so the more specialized and unique you are, the easier it gets to find clients and become invaluable for them.
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