If you decide to become a virtual assistant, you will work as a freelancer or independent contractor assisting one or more clients from your home. The most successful assistants are self-starters with the ability to perform a variety of tasks quickly and efficiently while remaining trustworthy, professional, and reliable.
Companies of all sizes have always hired office assistants and clerical workers to handle a variety tasks, but many small business owners and entrepreneurs cannot afford to pay assistants to work in their homes or offices full-time.
Outsourcing tasks to virtual assistants, otherwise known as VAs, allows business owners to get the help that they need without the cost of full-time, in-office staff; and it allows VAs the flexibility to work from home for multiple clients if they choose.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
It’s easy to think of a virtual assistant as the online version of a secretary, but VAs are often assigned tasks that go beyond answering phones and filing paperwork.
For instance, some assistants handle all social media updates and responses on behalf of their clients while others write ad copy, blog posts, and real estate listings. Virtual assistants can take on any tasks that their clients don’t have the time, desire, or expertise to handle.
When you decide to become a virtual assistant, you must also decide whether you want to specialize in one field or accept clients from multiple fields.
You’ll also need to choose whether to offer general services like answering phones and data entry, or specialized services like social media management or marketing.
Virtual assistants may handle any of the following for their clients:
- Market research
- Information research
- Creative or technical writing
- PowerPoint presentations
- Video editing
- Blogging or vlogging
- Social media management
- Organization & time management
- Scheduling & appointment booking
- Sales and sales support
- Customer service
- Receptionist services
- Data entry
- Real estate agent support
- Web and graphic design
You can expand this list with any additional skills that you have to offer. If a task can be completed remotely, there’s a chance that you will find clients interested in outsourcing that type of work.
How Much Are Virtual Assistants Paid?
Virtual assisting is an interesting career field because there is extraordinary potential for growth.
You can start out working for an outsourcing company, like Fancy Hands or eaHELP, where you may be paid a small amount per task or an hourly rate. Fancy Hands offers the opportunity to work your way up to higher paying assignments or receive a promotion to a managerial role with higher earning potential.
If you work as a freelancer, you can set your rate at whatever you like depending on your skills, clients, and what the market accepts (in many cases this may be $20 or more per hour).
As with any freelance job, the more hours you work in the beginning, the faster you can obtain more advanced skills and land higher-paying clients.
When you decide to become a virtual assistant, determine how much money you need to earn to survive and how much money you want to make ideally. You can then determine the minimum rate you will accept per hour or task.
You may start out completing tasks for a lower hourly rate, but increase it as you invest in expanding your skills and collecting endorsements from satisfied customers.
It is not uncommon for experienced virtual assistants to exceed the income they earned in previous careers.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant
Many virtual assistants are freelancers working for themselves, setting their own hours, and working according to their own terms. You will be a business owner, and you’ll need focus and the ability to market skills independently.
If you work as a freelancer, you can take on clients from a variety of fields.
You may work with a real estate agent interested in building a stronger online presence or an entrepreneur starting a new business from their home.
If you go this route, you could set up your own website and social media accounts to find clients. The more time you spend working your business, the more likely you are to find dedicated clients willing to deliver long-term work.
Outsourcing companies will help you secure clients, but you have to turn over some of your profit in exchange. When searching for a company, pay attention to where their offices are located and the type of virtual assistants they hire. Try to find a company with a long history of operation and good reputation.
These companies hire virtual assistants:
Hires executive assistants as independent contractors. You must have at least 5 years experience as an executive assistant or a similar role.
Hires independent contractors. You can work whenever you like and choose your tasks as long as work is available. There is the potential for promotion to managing other assistants.
Virtual concierge, assistant and travel service provider. It doesn’t appear that Red Butler conducts hiring campaigns, but you can always apply for the Concierge Specialist position.
Hires freelance virtual assistants with at least 2 years experience working in an assistant role. Must be willing to work part-time Monday-Friday at least 5 hours per week.
Zirtual hires both full-time and part-time “ZAs” as independent contractors.
Though you will technically be a business owner while contracted with the companies listed above, you will still be required to adhere to company polices about the number of hours you work per week, what times you work, and other requirements.
If you truly want to be your own boss, here’s a great free course to help you start your own virtual assistant business.
Written and verbal communication skills are essential for all virtual assistant jobs. Most clients expect assistants to have at least a basic command of popular social media sites and word processing programs. You will likely need a Skype account or another method of connecting with clients through real-time video streams.
A reliable computer, fast internet connection, and a business-designated phone line are essential tools for a VA.
While some virtual assistants are successful without any official training or certification, many get their start by completing administrative assistant training programs online. If you don’t have experience or transferable skills from previous jobs, a certification program will give you a sense of legitimacy when working as a freelancer.
Virtual Assistant Resources
Here are a few helpful resources whether you are looking for virtual assistant work from home jobs or if you want to start a business.
International Virtual Assistants Association Non-profit organization dedicated to the professional education and development of VAs.
Virtual Assistant Forums Active forum and networking community for VAs.
VA Networking Offers resources, networking, and training.
Do you plan to become a virtual assistant, or do you already work as a VA? Share your experiences in comments!
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