A virtual assistant also known as VA is a person who is self-employed and provides professional administrative technical or social assistance to clients remotely from the comfort of their home.
They are also known as virtual office assistants.
They are your typical office assistants but the big difference is that you communicate through online work spaces, the internet, phone-call conferences and fax machines and never meet personally.
They work as per the specifications provided by the client and offer a surfeit of affordable services.
Virtual assistance work might just be your cut especially if you like such administrative work but do not fancy the office life or you want to spend more time with family.
It may seem a little puling why people would need a virtual assistant if they could just hire an office assistant to come in everyday and work but the list of services that a virtual assistant can offer is pretty diverse.
They are people who offer services to other business owners from afar in exchange for an agreed upon fee.
They can also act as the hidden weapon of entrepreneurs by providing a variety of services while remaining honest and reliable.
The list of the services they can provide is endless though depending on the nature of the business. Some of the services they offer include:
- Processing online orders and refunds.
- Website design.
- WordPress maintenance.
- Graphic design and layout.
- Calendar management and travel arrangements.
- Content creation for blogs and ghost writing.
- Editing and proofreading.
- Content research.
- Keyword research.
- Data entry.
- Managing product launches.
- Performing outreach.
- Lead generation.
- Editing videos.
- Social media management.
- Community management and moderation.
- Customer support.
The list is endless! For most hirers, the most tasks you can do, the better.
Since they are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits except if those indirect expenses are included in the VA’s fees.
Clients pay for 100% productive work saving themselves the problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies.
The clients can work with virtual assistants individually or in multi-VA firms to meet their needs.
Virtual assistants are commonly hired by small business owners especially who are still growing their business and have no extra space but VAs can also assist busy executives.
They may not even work in the same city or state as their employer but still be able to get the job done.
One can choose to work solo or work for an agency that fills job openings or requests for virtual assistants.
Those who choose to work independently without the help from any firm mostly have acquired some experience either as working as a virtual assistant or office assistant before.
With the number of virtual assistants growing your expertise now runs the gamut making it easier to be found by the hirers to fit their organization.
Businesses are looking for highly skilled professionals who can work over virtual platforms and deliver the service they need on time.
As a virtual assistant, you can pro-actively start your own business by aiding global entrepreneurs a variety o tasks that need specific skills efficiency, professionalism and reliability.
If you are a beginner make sure you do a lot of research on the job, you will be required to work more and have patience with the job.
Tips on how to become a successful virtual assistant
Assess your skills.
Before looking for any job or position as a virtual assistant, make sure you have the basic skills necessary to be one.
If you have history of working as an office assistant, a secretary or administrative assistant, then you have a good starting point. You ill need to be sure to meet the following criteria:
- Type 45+ WPM
- Have excellent organization and scheduling skills
- Understand the basics of email marketing and newsletter creation.
- Work within a Windows or Mac environment comfortably.
- Use the internet and search engines effectively.
- Understand basic social media marketing practices.
Work with a company first.
Virtual assistance has become a very in-demand field since 2007 and is steadily growing each year.
With the growing rate of business done online it is no surprise that several virtual assistance companies have been birthed.
These companies hire men and women from all across the world to work remotely and offer clients the online support they need.
The companies guarantee you a steady stream of work, steady paychecks and professional support and training in the field.
This will help you especially if you are a beginner to gain ground and you may become a strong assistant very quickly and then from there you can decide if you would prefer working under a company or branch out independently.
Just be careful not to sign a non-compete agreement if you plan to eventually go solo.
Assess your equipment
You will need to be sure that you have the necessary equipment to complete the work functions of a virtual assistant.
Do not be too hard on yourself if you do not have them since this can be improved with time but it is essential to at least have these basic ones before you begin:
- A Mac or PC with at least 100 GB of storage.
- 1MB of RAM.
- An email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird.
- A cellphone or landline.
- A printer and scanner.
- A high-speed internet connection.
Decide hat services to offer
Deciding whether or not to work exclusively for one business or many clients plays a part in what services you an to offer.
Hence you choose to work for one company you choose to be constrained by their business needs but also get the opportunity to specialize in one or two areas making you an expert.
If you choose to work with several clients you can have more versatility in the services you give.
This is a good way to keep your option open especially if you worry of loosing your one client and losing their business.
Create a schedule
It is important to create a set schedule for yourself and stick with it.
It really does not need to be a 9-5 schedule.
Many assistants work evening or night shifts to work around their family schedules and some may even work split shifts and choose to take Monday off.
Make sure to set a schedule, stick to a routine and train yourself to be working during the same time each work day.
Be prompt and courteous
Clients can sometimes be impatient and you can find them sending a task at 9am and start following it up at 10am asking why you have not finished yet.
At the start of every client relationship, make sure you are clear on even writing, the kind of communication and task completion turnaround the client should expect.
For example, all emails and calls are responded to within 1 business day and tasks are usually completed within 2 business days unless they are very large or complex.
Also be sure to respond to calls and emails in a timely fashion and avoid responding outside your usual business days and hours.
Develop a specific field
The term ‘virtual assistant’ can actually mean being a Jack of all trades but for a beginner this may not be the case.
They cannot possibly be an expert in all areas of online business because it takes time to grow that niche.
Therefore, it is beneficial to you and your client as you start out to become an expert in a set skill, market or set of programs.
Some of the fields you can choose to focus on are: social media guru, email marketing expert, sales copy, SEO and SEM, travel and schedule organizer.
Since you are an out-sourced business partner for your clients, focus on becoming the best in one are of support to give them the kind of service they ill pay top dollar for.
Get yourself an office
Working at home does not sound as a bad idea but for example you are a parent and your children are at home it might be a hustle working around them since your attention will be divided.
You could choose to train them that just because you are at home it does not mean you are available by establishing your working days and times and letting your family know not to bother you unless it is absolutely necessary.
If this wouldn’t work for you, you can choose to work in a separate room from them with a locking room from them.
This could be your unused den or the basement to help give that feeling of having an office and being ‘unavailable’ to everyone when you lock yourself there.
It will also help when you are receiving calls from clients to avoid unnecessary noise.
- You can decide to take online courses which are feely available or require you to pay an amount for example $10k VA course. Sometimes paying for an online course is okay since some free ones don’t give the best value. Make sure you are investing the best on your skill set.
- Get yourself in a virtual assistant group or forum which offer great discussions, tips, coaching and networking options. Such guidance can come in handy when you approach unfamiliar situations.
We’ve established what kind of work virtual assistants do and how to better one’s skills when joining the business as a beginner or wanting to just grow your skill. Next we are going to look at why businesses really hire virtual assistants.
Hiring a virtual assistant offers many advantages to business owners and individuals. Some of these advantages include:
- To lower costs:
Any successful business has to manage its costs and this is one of the reasons a business may hire a virtual assistant.
It is far cheaper to pay someone by the hour to do the specialized work that would have cost you more to hire a full-time employee and may be the work does not really need a full-time employee.
No benefits have to be paid to contract a virtual assistant lowering the costs used to get an employee.
Vacation pay, sick leave, health insurance, retirement plans and other benefits are not included in the contract.
Since they don’t clock in the office, the clients do not need to find space for a desk and supplies for work reducing the overhead costs.
Another advantage for the client is that the get to maximize their time by passing off the tasks that can be done by others to focus on other tasks he/she has more expertise on and pay you to do the mundane tasks.
There is also less time lost due to office drama for the business owner because he/she won’t have to deal with that.
You will never catch a virtual assistant taking long lunch breaks or gossiping on company time or coming late.
Regular employees can’t offer flexibility to the clients like virtual assistants can.
A virtual assistant may work over the weekend or during evening hours to get a project done unlike on the other hand where their work ends when their shift ends prolonging the completion date of the task.
Of course, you may have to pay more for the extra hours given by the virtual assistant but ensuring it is completed sooner.
- Honest feedback:
Employees in the office ma sometimes fake it so as to please their employee or do things because they are afraid of their boss.
However, a virtual assistant may not feel pressured to please anyone since they likely have other clients paying even more for their services meaning they are less threatened by potential job loss for honest feedback.
Having honest feedback s quite important for the client because it helps them avoid costly mistakes at times.
Sites that offer freelance VA work
The best way to find freelance work as a virtual assistant especially as a beginner is to check out online job resources. Below are some sites that can help you find VA jobs without much tussle:
Is one of the most popular freelance job websites where you can find thousands of different types of freelance jobs.
The site has a huge number of clients looking for virtual assistants. All you have to do is register and create your account on the site and browse through heaps of virtual assistant jobs.
Is also an online job board for workers where you can find various virtual assistant jobs such as accounting administration work, copywriting and all that good stuff.
WAHM stands for “Work at Home Moms” but the site is open to others too regardless the gender.
This is a young up-coming site which was using “invitation only” for both the VAs and clients but has since opened up to the public. It works as an agency for Vas where they assign them to clients.
They pay a minimum of $10 an hour for part-time work and are only open to residents in the United States.
They also help clients with both professional and personal life tasks from managing inboxes and expenses to scheduling or planning travel.
If you are over 21 and live in a city listed in TaskRabbit’s directory then you are eligible to apply for any work they have on the site including of a Virtual assistant.
They specialize in connecting people locally though are only now offering limited remote work which is an advantageous for a VA.
These were initially two different companies which merged in late 2013.
On each site clients post their needs and then wait for freelancers to “bid” on a chance to work for them.
This may take a lot of time to get a job since bidding is also work in itself.
The site contracts virtual assistants’ virtual bookkeepers, content writers and webmasters.
The company as the name suggests empowers virtual assistants to support clients’ businesses.
The company is based off Biblical principles but the employees do not really have to be believers.
The site is a good place to get connected with your first-ever clients.
It is a platform, marketplace and community that enables freelancers to manage and grow their business.
Is one of the biggest online sites and has more than 12,000,000 jobs posted to date.
Their method is simple where you are required to create an account, browse posted job listings and place a bid for those that make the cut. If the client is impressed with your profile, you get the job.
Is an online platform where you can find paid virtual assistant jobs including writing, translating, collecting data and researching.
One is required to sign up, create a profile and then complete a qualification assessment test.
Once you pass the test you can then bid for jobs. Some popular clients on the site include Honda PayPal and Groupon.
This is a virtual assistant job board as well as a social network for virtual assistants.
You don’t have to bid for virtual assistant jobs instead you are matched with interested clients.
It is one of the best sites especial for virtual assistants starting out on the job since it provides resources on how to improve your VA business.
Other ways to get Virtual Assistant jobs:
- Word of mouth
- Networking events
- Professional organizations
- Online and offline advertisements
- Online Yellowpages and directories
- Craiglist: In this setting, you work directly with the client with no middle-man like the above sites. If this seems better, save your searches and receiving alerts on your email for new positions that meet your search criteria.
- Twitter: This is a channel that is loaded with possibilities for finding jobs as a VA like @VAssistant. Twitter can also help you learn more about the job on articles posted on virtual assistance that may help you nail your pitching process.
How much are virtual assistants paid?
If you work under the sites that we saw above, your pay may be quite subsidized since the company is taking a portion of it as their profit for “hosting” you and exposing you to clients that trust that they can find talented and reliable workers on their site.
This ill probably be the story of your life as a beginner but as you continue getting used to the work, you may decide to go sol and be an independent contractor.
When that time comes you ill need to have insight on how much you should be paid depending on the following things:
Your experience will speak for you since the clients believe that if you have been working in a specific field for an amount of time then you must have mastered the how-to-dos of the job.
You have an advantage of charging bigger bucks and no one will question you for it. For the recent grads or people starting out in the business, they mostly charge less just to get their feet on the door.
- Type of service:
Virtual assistant work may vary and some tasks are tedious than others.
The pay for data entry will not be the same for copywriting which requires much work and time. VA’s charge different rates for different types of services so consider what you are doing and evaluate your rates.
When the client will need the work as soon as possible, then it is in your best interest to charge more since you have to concentrate on it alone.
- Hassle factor:
Sometimes clients can be a pain and may give you a hard time.
For example, calling every single minute anting to know the progress of the work despite settling on a deadline. Many VAs charge depending on how the client treats them from the onset.
Virtual assistants charge anywhere from $1 to $100 per hour and sometimes even more. Generally, it is between $15 and $30 per hour for executive assistant services and $40-$75 per hour for higher level marketing or financial tasks.