Even before COVID-19 and the global lockdowns it triggered, the work-from-home market was soaring, with more and more people seeking the freedom remote work offers. More than just a temporary solution, remote work offers the freedom and flexibility we all deserve while simultaneously promoting happiness and engagement for employees and productivity and profitability for employers.
If you’re ready to get involved in this workplace revolution, there’s never been a better time to begin your journey. Though more and more people are hunting for work-from-home jobs, this is being met by an increasing number of opportunities by companies who were already shifting to remote-working models.
One of the best places to start is as a virtual assistant. According to Statista, the global outsourcing industry is at $85 billion and growing. Virtual assistants are a part of this sector, and as the benefits of outsourcing become more apparent, the job offerings are increasing too.
What is a virtual assistant?
As a virtual assistant, your mission is to streamline life for your clients.
Depending on who you end up working with, this could mean updating social media pages, replying to comments and messages, scheduling meetings and seminars, data entry, keyword research, and in some cases, helping with financial matters.
What your daily work-life ends up looking like will depend on the skillset you come with (more on that in the sections to come). So, one virtual assistant may spend their days doing website updates and design work, while another may do social media and marketing tasks, and yet another may handle scheduling and simple administrative work.
Though you may end up working for a large company, it’s likely that you’ll be teaming up with small businesses and entrepreneurs who need secretarial services on such a sporadic basis that having an in-house staff member would be overkill. Because of this, the work tends to be diverse and interesting, making it perfect for people who enjoy getting things organized, are detail-oriented, and who like variety in their workday.
Though you may be working strictly from home until the pandemic lockdowns are lifted, you can look forward to being able to work from anywhere in the world in the future.
How much money can you (realistically) make as a virtual assistant?
According to PayScale, the hourly rate for virtual assistants ranges from US$10.17 to US$28.24.
To check on the average pay rates outside the US, you can head to the PayScale Virtual Assistant page and enter the region you’re interested in.
If you’re wondering why the pay range is so huge, keep in mind, your rate will be dependent on your skills and experience and the tasks you’re doing. A virtual assistant who’s doing data entry and social media updates will be paid a different rate to one who’s handling bookkeeping or coding and graphic design.
What skills do I need to become a virtual assistant?
Given how broad the definition of a virtual assistant is, there are many skills that could prove useful in this career. To help you out, we’ve broken them down into a set of core essentials and then a list of additional skills that may help you in your quest to become a virtual assistant.
Essential virtual assistant skills:
- Word processing – ideally 80-100 W.P.M with 100% accuracy (test your typing speed here)
- Tech-savvy – you need to be able to pick up new systems and software in a snap
- Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal
- Self-motivated and disciplined – you will be the organizing force for your clients, so you must be organized yourself
- Excellent problem-solving skills – you’ll need to be able to think quick and work things out for yourself in order to effectively help your clients
- Fast and effective learner – no matter how much experience you come with, you’ll need to hit the ground running with your clients’ processes and systems
Valuable skills for a virtual assistant:
- Data entry and transcription
- Social media scheduling and management
- Email management
- Email marketing
- Content writing
- Backlinks and guest posting
- Proofreading and copyediting
- Content and keyword research
- Website performance tracking
- Online marketing
- Community outreach
- Customer service
- Project management
- Scheduling and calendar management
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Photoshop and image editing
- Video editing
- Retail management
- Generating leads
- Bookkeeping and finance management
How do I find clients?
Your first step is to assess your skills and experience against the two lists provided above. From here, you can develop a profile of what kind of virtual assistant you are going to be.
Are you an admin superstar who will keep life running smoothly for your clients?
Are you an online marketing guru who will boost customer reach and sales?
Are you a content creation genius who will expand and beautify websites while pushing them to the top of search engine rankings?
By grouping and assessing your skills, you’ll be able to find a theme that you can use as a unique selling point when offering your services to potential clients.
From here, you can start hunting down clients in the following ways:
- Create a website and social media presence to bring them to you
- Advertise your services on freelancing platforms
- Search online job boards for opportunities
- Reach out to potential clients directly
To set these pathways up, you’ll need to dedicate some time, research, and upfront work. The section below will get you started.
Essential tools for starting a new virtual assistant business
To streamline the process of attracting your first clients, we’ve collected all the tools you’ll need to use in the categories below.
Website building and social media:
- Squarespace – a website builder that’s super user friendly with professional results
- WordPress – for more experienced website builders
- Facebook business pages
The best freelancing platforms for virtual assistants:
The best job boards for virtual assistants:
Companies that regularly hire virtual assistants:
How to pitch your services as a virtual assistant
One of the best ways to get your first client as a virtual assistant is to pitch your services to local businesses. You can start with people in your personal network – either asking if they need help or if they know anyone running a business who could use the services you’re offering.
You can also search for small businesses and startups and create a proposal for how you could help them. If your specialty is social media marketing, for example, you could assess their current pages and create a proposal outlining what you would do and, crucially, the projected benefits they would get from your work.
Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Instead, think of it as a numbers game – the more people you pitch to, the more likely it is that you’ll get a bite.
If you get tentative interest from someone you cold pitched to, consider offering an obligation-free trial period at a discounted rate. This will give you an opportunity to prove your worth and see how well you work together while taking the fear out of the exchange for the client by allowing them to not feel “locked in” to a professional relationship.
Socializing with other VAs and remote workers is another great way to find work. Since each VA’s skill-set is so different, they may be able to connect you to clients they know who are looking for the services you offer. Facebook is a great place to start establishing your network as there are plenty of remote working and virtual assistant groups where you can meet people, share advice, and find new job opportunities.
I wish you all the best in launching your new career as a virtual assistant. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.