One of the most common questions people are asking, especially in today’s economy: What type of work-from-home job is there that pays well and doesn’t require an advanced degree or extensive experience? Thankfully, there is one job that fits the bill and is a valid way to make good money, while working from home. Yes, even without having an advanced degree. Here’s the answer: become a virtual assistant.
Why Become a Virtual Assistant?
You can work from home and make money, without having a host of skills or advanced degrees. You can leverage the skills you do have and then learn the ones that would be helpful to advance your career as you make money. This article is a comprehensive look at how to begin a career as a virtual assistant, how to find clients, and how to price yourself in order to make a decent amount of money as a virtual assistant.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants, known as VAs for short, are self-employed professionals who provide technical or administrative assistance to businesses. All their work is done virtually, so VAs can work from anywhere they desire. Small businesses will often outsource work to VAs to handle various administrative or technical tasks, freeing them up to focus on other aspects of running their business. This is a cost-effective solution for many businesses. Outsourcing to VAs allows them to move their focus from mundane daily tasks to larger-scale projects that pull in revenue.
There is no degree requirement for virtual assisting, and you don’t have to obtain a certification of any kind. All you need is a skill you can market that you can successfully use to help multiple clients. This skill can encompass many different talents or abilities. It can cover a wide scope of clients’ needs and can vary in hours it requires. When you become a VA, your schedule if truly your own.
How Much Can You Expect to Make as a VA?
As with any other profession, many factors go into the pay rate a person might have. For example, what you can make as a VA will depend on the following factors:
- How many hours you work throughout the week.
- Your experience level.
- What type of work you perform.
As outlined above, you don’t need specific experience to pursue a career in VA. However, if you do have experience, especially those of the technical variety, you can expect to make more money when compared with another VA with less skill. For example, if you have extensive technical skills, you can make over $50 an hour. If you are just getting started, though, and don’t have that skill set built up quite yet, you will likely pull in around $20 hourly. Thankfully, as your skills grow, you can easily adjust your rates to reflect your expertise. In general, according to ZipRecruiter, a great deal of VAs make more than $60,000 yearly, with the majority of VAs banking $31,500 annually.
VAs can make as much as $130,500 or as little as $15,000 annually working from home. Therefore, as you can see from the numbers, your potential pay range varies greatly and depends mostly on the factors listed above. The more experience you have, the more hours you work, and the longer you work as a VA, the more you can expect to make.
Virtual Assistance Services in High Demand
By choosing to enter the VA world, you are opening yourself up to limitless earning potential. You can reject any offer you aren’t happy with and opt for higher-paying gigs. You also can specialize in tasks you enjoy and avoid those you dislike. The following are some common VA services that are in the greatest demand, presently. Keep in mind, though, this list only scratches the surface of the many ways you can utilize your skills to work as a VA.
Seven of the Most in-Demand Services for VAs
- Website Management: Let’s face it, in today’s society, a business must have a well-designed and updated website to thrive. As a VA, you can help with this task. Don’t worry, though, this doesn’t mean you have to be super tech-savvy or know how to code. No, you just need experience with either Content Management Systems (CMS) or WordPress and you are good to go. Some of the services pertaining to website management could include replying to comments posted, editing posts, updating broken links, and other general website maintenance tasks. If you can write well, you can even offer to compose blog posts or incorporate other types of content into the site to improve its value and attract potential customers.
- Customer Support: Remember the adage, “the customer is always right,” well even if that isn’t exactly true, when it comes to running a successful business, good customer service and support is of paramount importance. You can help a business with this as a VA by providing this much-needed service. Do this by answering customer’s questions, helping them place orders, or moderating comments. Small businesses are often overwhelmed with all the many tasks they much do daily to keep things rolling. By handling the customer support for them, you will ensure their reputation remains stellar and their customers feel valued and heard. That is why customer support is a common task VAs are given, especially when working with small businesses that don’t have the staff to respond as quickly as they should to their valued clientele.
- Social Media Management: This VA skill moves beyond administrative duties and into a more specialized field. VA tasks could include responding to social media comments on the businesses page, posting updates on social media, updating a business profile, and more. VAs can even create Pinterest images for businesses. This is considered a premium VA service and as such, it should bring a premium price, so VAs can charge more for this type of specialty.
- Administrative Support: These tasks are often the easiest for businesses to outsource to a VA, making it a good service to try if you are just getting started as a VA. Duties in administrative support include booking travel arrangements, managing calendars, imputing data, spreadsheet creation, and more.
- Bookkeeping: All businesses need to manage their money well to stay afloat and profitable. After all, the point of opening any business isn’t to spend the time of day producing a product or performing a service for no profit. To ensure a profit, many business owners need help keeping track of all their expenditures. Therefore, if you love crunching numbers, you can become a VA who specializes in bookkeeping. Your tasks could include balancing the business’s checking account, creating spreadsheets, and more. Nearly all small businesses could use this type of help, so it is in great demand.
- Facebook Ads: As mentioned before, today’s businesses must have a digital presence to succeed. While some mom and pop type businesses can survive on reputation and word-of-mouth alone, any upstart business needs to go digital and even those who have been around forever can reach new customers by incorporating digital advertising into their marketing strategies. Therefore, if you offer VA services like Facebook ads, you can create these ads, monitor their reach, determine if they are having the desired effect, and keep track of the budgeting for the ads and the time frame in which they are running. This is a premium service that does require a special set of skills. If you happen to understand the nuances of Facebook ads and can offer this particular service as part of your VA package, you can charge a premium price, because many VAs simply don’t offer this option to their clients.
- Email Marketing: This is yet another specialized service you can offer if you understand how to use software like ConvertKit and MailChimp, how create and initiate autoresponders, generate email lists, and/or create email templates for businesses. If you don’t already know how to do this, you can learn and add it to your list of skills to make yourself more marketable. Although many mistakenly assume email marketing is something of the past, it is still very much part of today’s advertising campaigns and an important facet of any well-rounded advertising initiative.
Keep in mind, although the seven specialties are the most in-demand services currently trending for VAs, you can offer any skill you can do well to clients and negotiate rates and find success in other fields, offering varying services.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant: Even With no Experience
So, you like what you are reading and are interested in taking the next step. You think becoming a virtual assistant might be a great way for you to earn a living. Now, what? Well, to work towards your goal of becoming a VA, do the following:
Take a Virtual Assistant Training Course
Admittedly, starting a business, even one where you work from home, can seem overwhelming. If you feel this way, you are far from alone. Most people get a bit anxious when they start something new. Thankfully, you don’t have to enter the world of virtual assisting alone. You can take an online training course that will teach you all you need to know about running a successful VA business.
Of course, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to complete a course to start a VA business. You can do it all on your own if you so desire. However, if you are looking to expedite the learning process and bypass some trial-and-error experiences, you can learn from a person who has been there done that and has the t-shirt. However, it will likely improve your chances of reaching and achieving your career goals.
Figure Out What Services You Need to Offer
After deciding to become a VA, your next step is considering what tasks or services you will offer. To get a good idea what these tasks should be, make a quick list of what you are good at, and already excel at doing. For example, do you already write blog posts? Do you understand website management, perhaps you oversee a website for yourself or a family member…are you already an online influencer? These skills would point you in the social media management direction or website services. Are you good at data entry, can you make a mean spreadsheet? These skills indicate you could be great at administrative management or bookkeeping. Remember, this quick list isn’t set in stone, you can alter what you like to do and what you would rather avoid as you gain more experience as a VA.
Price Your Services
In this step, you will determine how much your services are worth. There are three basic ways most VAs breakdown their services. These are the typical pricing categories:
- Project-based: This means your client will pay for one project via a predetermined fee. A good example of this type of service would be setting up or designing a website, creating a social media account, etc. You do the task once and it’s over.
- Hourly: The client would pay you hourly for your services. This would be best when working on an ongoing basis, where you always handle their finances or work to organize schedules or book trips.
- Hour Package: This means your client commits to hire you for a specific set of hours they can use overtime for one price. You set a contract with a business set to expire at a specific time, usually six months to a year. Then, the client has that much time to “cash in” your services.
- Retainer: With this pay classification, a client pays for your services on a monthly, ongoing basis, almost as if you are a regular employee (you aren’t, but it’s regular income). You will have a set number of tasks you perform regularly for this business.
The best way to price your services is to research what other VAs are charging for similar services offered. Do a quick Google search, check out other VAs websites, ask questions in any group you are a part of, etc. Take the average of the rates you noted on other VAs sites, and start there.
Of course, if you have skills that are superior to those of other VAs, don’t underestimate your worth. Charge for your skills. It’s also important to think about more than your time alone when setting your pay rate. Consider the fact that an in-office full-time job will likely offer benefits like insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, pay employer taxes, and often provide free tea or coffee and work supplies. Now, all that is coming out of your own pocket. Take all these factors into consideration when you set your VA rates.
Choose a Business Name
Every business needs a name, and a work-from-home VA business is no exception. Choose a name that matches your brand, what you want to convey to clients, or would-be clients. It doesn’t have to be overly clever or creative, just simple. Don’t overanalyze this step, but do spend a bit of time on it, don’t just throw something out there. A quick Google search will help you find other VA businesses out there. Check out what they are named for inspiration. Ask your trusted friends and family members for their opinions.
Once you have a business name in mind, check to make sure it is free to use by seeing if its already trademarked, and determine if the domain associated with the name is available. Obviously, for simplicity’s sake, you want to make sure your website’s URL matches your business name, so this is an important factor to consider. If you choose a business name whose obvious domain is taken, you run the risk of confusing potential clients looking up your business by its name. They won’t be able to find you easily, which of course does you no favors starting out as a VA.
If you are stuck on this step and simply have no idea what a good name for your business would be, use tools like Shopify Business Name Generator. Above all, make sure that you like the name. After all, you will be stuck with it once you get some clients on board, so be passionate about whatever you choose and make sure it is a good fit. It’s also the first thing clients will see or learn about your business, so make sure it’s professional and fits your style and business goals.
Narrow Down Your Target Market: What Type of Clients Do You Want?
What type of clients do you want to attract? Are they small business owners? Large corporations? Lawyers, doctors, etc.? Once you narrow this down, give the potential client a persona. This means you create the “ideal” client you want to attract. Write it out, what characteristics should they have? What services will they want? Creating your ideal client persona is a great way to narrow down your scope and focus on the right businesses when trying to market your services.
Consider the Legal Business Details
This is probably the most complex aspect of beginning a VA business. You have to determine what your business will look like and operate as, legally. You also need to make sure you have a contract you can give clients when you begin working together, so you have legal protection if they refuse to pay you for services rendered. Here are some notable legal aspects you need to decide upon before beginning to ascertain clients:
- Are you going to classify your business as an LLC or do business as a Sole Proprietor?
- Do you need any permits or licenses to perform your service? If so, what will it take to get them?
- Do you have a client contract in place, and does it cover all potential service options?
Although it might require investing a bit of money, it is a great idea to have an attorney help you with this part of the process. Ensuring you are legally on solid ground starting out is well worth the investment upfront.
Make a Website for Your VA Business
Although you don’t have to create a website to have a VA business, having one will look more professional and communicate to clients that you are an established business. It will also give clients somewhere to go for more information about your services or to see examples of your work.
Thankfully, this part of the process is pretty easy and affordable. You don’t have pay another person to create one for you. Most websites have a template feature, allowing you to drop or drag in various images and text to easily create a professional-looking website you are happy to show off. HostGator offers a service costing only $2.75 a month.
Get Your Finances in Order
To make a profit, you must ensure you are properly tracking your expenses and your income. The simplest spreadsheet is through PayPal. However, once you build your business up, this might not be adequate to stay on top of your finances. Eventually, you will need to upgrade to a more robust service like Quicken or FreshBooks. It’s also a good idea to open a separate banking account and credit card for your business alone.
Create a Marketing Strategy & Network
Once you have everything in place of your business, it’s time to create a marketing strategy. Use your social media accounts, your networks, your family, and friends to share your services. If you aren’t comfortable advertising for your business on your own social media accounts, create a separate social media presence for your business. Use Facebook ads, advertise locally with business cards or flyers. Contact other VAs and get ideas, leads, tips, etc. on how to find clients. Connect with potential clients globally through LinkedIn, Facebook, or forums. Attend conferences to connect in person.
Where to Find VA Jobs
Now that you know VA is a job you want to try, it’s time to find work and potential clients. Here are the best ways to do just that:
- Freelancer Websites: People Per Hour and Upwork are just two examples of this type of site. Although it is a good place to start, be aware that pay is often lower on these sites. You can; however, renegotiate rates if you make a connection with a client who appreciates your work.
- Local Businesses: Reach out to small businesses in your area. Ask if they could use your services. VA is a new field, so many people simply don’t know it exists.
- Network with Influencers, Share on Social Media: Networking is key in building your VA business. If you have a favorite business or blog you follow, email the owner, and ask if they need help with any aspect of their business. If they don’t require help, ask if they will simply pass along your name within their network. Share your business on social media platforms. Get your name out there.
- Connect with Other VAs: Many VAs have encountered clients who need services they simply cannot do, so by connecting with other VAs, you open yourself up to getting in contact with those clients. Many times established VAs are more than willing to help you out as you get started by sharing what they know and even sending you clients if you are up-front about what you are doing. Don’t ever try to steal information or clients behind their backs. Be transparent and ask for their help.
Becoming a virtual assistant is a job anyone can do from home, no matter their experience education level. Of course, you can expect to make more if you have marketable, in demand skills, but the job itself is open to all. Hopefully, this information has helped point you in the right direction in terms of getting into the VA industry. Good luck!