I’ve always fancied the idea of working from home and having a career that I actually liked. I’ve had many jobs that I excelled at, but let’s be honest, they were not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I decided to see what career choices were available that I could do from home. That's when I discovered virtual assisting. Once I found out how to become a virtual assistant, I couldn’t wait to get started.
If you have ever thought of working from home and starting your own business, then becoming a virtual assistant may be the career for you. There has never been a better time to start a work from home career; in fact, remote work has increased by 44% in the last five years!
The great thing about becoming a virtual assistant is that you don’t need a degree to get started, and you can make a lucrative income if you do it right. You more than likely already have skills you can utilize to become a virtual assistant. Check out these key steps on how to become a virtual assistant.
What does a virtual assistant do?
A simpler question would be, what do virtual assistants not do! But seriously, a virtual assistant provides services to business owners that range from administrative tasks to social media marketing. There are hundreds of services you can offer as a virtual assistant that are in demand. Depending on what your skills are or you are willing to learn can determine what services you will offer. Some popular services virtual assistants offer are:
- Email management
- Calendar management
- Social media management
- Content creation for websites & blogs
- Data entry
- e-Commerce store management
- Customer service support
There are so many options when it comes to what services you can offer. Be sure to pick something you know or can learn and that you don’t mind doing!
Benefits of becoming a virtual assistant
I love all the benefits of being a virtual assistant. One of the best things about being a virtual assistant is the ability to own your own business and be your own boss. The start-up costs are pretty affordable, and you get to work from home (this can be especially helpful if you are a mom).
When I realized how much time out of my life I spent just commuting to work, I was shocked. The average commute time in America is 26 minutes one way to work. This means that if I commuted five days a week for a year, I would spend about 223 hours of my life in one year simply driving back and forth to work! Working from home gives me more time and less stress from commuting to work.
Another amazing benefit of being a virtual assistant is the ability to make my own schedule...to an extent. Depending on your clients’ needs, you have the ability to work a schedule you decide rather than the 9-5 grind. Of course, you should always communicate with your clients their expectations to be sure you deliver your work on time.
Working remotely also means you can work anywhere. If you decide you need a change of scenery, you can head to a local coffee shop and work there instead. Many virtual assistants work while traveling too! I bet once you learn how to become a virtual assistant you will be eager to have a career with the flexibility that you actually enjoy.
What virtual assistant training do I need?
Like you, I wondered what do I need to become a virtual assistant? The wonderful thing about becoming a virtual assistant is you don’t need an expensive degree or expensive virtual assist training to get started. You can utilize the skills and knowledge you already have to determine what services you will offer and what tasks you can take on.
For instance, if you have customer service experience, you can use that to offer services such as customer support for businesses. Are you a social media buff? You can offer to manage businesses’ social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Think back to your previous jobs and pull from those experiences to use as skills for your new career.
If you would like to learn new skills and offer particular services there are many ways to attain virtual assistant training for free. For example, if you enjoy creating brochures, graphics, and things of that nature, then you can take free courses at Canva Design School. Google actually offers free courses and certifications on social media, content marketing, and more. You can also find free virtual assistant training videos on YouTube!
The amazing thing about being a virtual assistant is you can learn as you go. You start with the skills you already have and grow from there to gain more experience and increase your income!
How much do virtual assistants make?
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. We all want a career we enjoy, but it’s even better to have a career we enjoy that brings home the bacon! So, how much do virtual assistants make anyway? Well there’s a wide salary range depending on a variety of factors. Depending on your skill level and whether you work for a company or yourself, you can make anywhere from $10 to $60 an hour!
You will make less working for a company than you will working for yourself. However, it can be challenging at first to find clients. So you want to keep that in mind when transitioning into your new career. You may want to start part-time and move to full-time depending on your financial situation.
Working for a virtual assistant company
If you’re not confident enough to start your own virtual assistant business yet, you can always start out by working for a virtual assistant company. Here are a few companies that hire virtual assistants:
The good thing about working for a company is you don’t have to search for your own clients. The bad thing is your hourly pay is capped at a lower rate than it is if you start your own business.
Working for yourself
When you work for yourself, you can make much more hourly because as you gain more experience and clients, you can increase your rates. There are a few ways you can charge your clients for your services. The first way is by the hour, when you first start your business, you may charge $15-$25 per hour depending on your experience and the services you offer.
The second way is to create packages and charge by the package. For example, I offer social media packages for Pinterest and Facebook that include exactly what services are included for a lump sum. The third way to charge for your services is by charging a monthly retainer. This is where you charge a flat fee for the entire month of work. Be careful with this option because sometimes you will have what is known as scope creep from clients meaning that they start to add on additional tasks for the same price.
The idea is to eventually charge by the package or a retainer so you can earn more per hour. The faster you complete your tasks, the more money you make because you are getting paid per task rather than by the hour. Let’s say you charge $250 for a package that takes you five hours to complete; that equals $50 an hour! The more experienced and faster you get, the more money you can make as a virtual assistant.
How to get started as a virtual assistant
You may be wondering what do I need to become a virtual assistant, and how do I get started? Try not to let this process overwhelm you; with proper planning, you can launch your new business efficiently.
The first steps to launching your new virtual assistant business are deciding what services to offer, pricing your services, setting up your business legally, creating your website and social networks, and finally finding clients and networking. Let’s look a little closer at each of these topics to help you get started.
Deciding what services to offer
There are hundreds of services to offer as a virtual assistant, but you will want to choose a select few to offer your clients. Why? Because when you niche down and learn a few key services, then you position yourself as an expert rather than a general virtual assistant. People pay more for a specialist than they do a generalist so trust me, this will pay off and prevent you from overwhelming yourself with options.
You could choose 3-5 services to start with and see how you do with those. For instance my own services include:
- Social media management
- Web design & copywriting
- e-Commerce shop management
You can always add to your services or change them as you go. Remember this is YOUR business, and you get to choose what you do!
Pricing your services
Before I could price my services I had to research how much do virtual assistants make? After researching what other virtual assistants were charging I found that the suggested beginner hourly price was $25 per hour.
I suggest researching other virtual assistants’ websites and packages to get an idea of how much to price your services. You want to keep it simple for your clients but have a variety of options and rates as well. I find 3 to be the magic number when offering package variations on your services. This is enough of a variety to choose from but not so many that they feel overwhelmed.
For example, I have three different packages for my Pinterest Packages. Think of it as a bronze, silver, and gold package. This gives the client an option based on their budget and needs.
Whatever you decide, you need to remember that you will need to deduct your own taxes from your income. Be sure to set up a dedicated savings account for this, so you have the money to pay your taxes when they are due. When pricing your services, try to think of what you want your net income to be, which is your take-home pay after taxes.
Setting up your business
When setting up your business, you need to be sure you take the proper legal actions. You need to decide if you will be operating as a Sole Proprietor or as a Limited Liability Company and also secure any licenses or permits required to operate your business. Sometimes you may want to consult with an attorney and accountant to be sure you have everything in place to make your business legal.
You also want to create contracts for your clients to be sure you both agree to the terms and conditions of the services you are offering and that you get paid on time as well. You may also want to check on business insurance to protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit. One of the most important steps on how to become a virtual assistant is making your business legal.
Creating your website & social media networks
Some say it’s not necessary, but I’m a firm believer that it’s majorly beneficial for your business to have a virtual assistant website and social media networks. In my opinion, by having a website, you look more professional, and it’s a great way to showcase your business. You can also list your packages and pricing and let clients find you!
Social media networks are one of the best ways to market your business. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are platform powerhouses that you can utilize for free to search for clients and set up business pages that attract clients to you. If you’re interested in becoming a social media virtual assistant, this is the perfect way to show your skills.
Finding clients & networking
Once your business is all set up, it’s time to start finding clients. This may seem daunting at first, but it gets easier with practice. A huge part of learning how to become a virtual assistant is learning how to find clients. You can start by announcing your new business on your personal social media profiles and inviting your friends and family to your new business website and profiles. You’d be surprised who your family & friends may know that are in need of services you are offering.
You can reach potential clients by contacting small businesses locally or online. Check out Manta to find small businesses and their contact information to start getting clients! A popular way to get clients is cold-emailing, which is when you contact businesses via email to introduce yourself and offer your services to them.
You can find virtual assistant jobs on sites such as Upwork and Indeed too. Upwork has a ton of jobs, but they do take a 20% fee from your pay. You can also set up a free google business page to list your services for clients to find you.
Look for opportunities everywhere you go when launching your business. I was at my children’s book signing and met another author that was in desperate need of a virtual assistant; she just didn’t know it yet. She was a busy mother of two and a best-selling author that needed help with tasks she didn’t have time for.
I gave her my card, and she hired me to catch up on some tasks for her! You never know who will need your services, be proud of your new business, and seek out potential clients when the opportunity presents itself.
When it comes to your virtual assistant business, there are some tools that you will need to operate your business efficiently. One of the main tools you will need is a decent computer. You will need a computer that can perform at optimum speeds for programs such as Zoom and Skype. To save money, consider purchasing one pre-owned if you don’t already own one. You also will need to have the internet to be able to work remotely.
There are multiple programs you can use as a virtual assistant, such as Google Workspace, Slack, and Trello. These programs help with communicating with clients, organizing your tasks, and more. Many platforms offer a free version, and you can start with these to save on start-up costs.
Managing time as a virtual assistant
One of the things I had to research when I was learning how to become a virtual assistant was time-management. I always say time is money, and in order to make the most money, you need to use your time in the most productive way possible. I use to pride myself in saying I was an excellent multi-tasker until I found out that multitasking is actually less productive than focusing on one task at a time. The key is to batch your tasks to use your time efficiently.
So, if you provide email management and social media services then you would do all of your email tasks in a set session and the social media in another batch session. This reduces time switching back and forth between various tasks and increases workflow.
You should also use the time-blocking method when creating your schedule because it optimizes focus and productivity. Time-blocking is when you block off sections of time to complete your tasks. For example, I will block off 9:00 am to 11:00 am to complete my social media tasks, This time is totally dedicated for this task. You will time-block everything in your day to keep you focused and on task.
I love using Google Calendar to create my schedule because you can use different colors to color-code your time blocks. It’s also free to use, so it’s a win-win!
You can have a successful career as a virtual assistant!
Now that you know how to become a virtual assistant and that you don’t need expensive virtual assistant training you can get started with your new career. Remember it takes perseverance to operate your own business but the benefits are totally worth it. Don’t forget to create a financial business plan and set your financial goals so you can be a financially successful virtual assistant!