A Comprehensive Guide on How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Anywhere
For many years, I have come to value my virtual assistants and they have become my right hand. With the numerous tasks that I have encountered as an entrepreneur, it was crucial to get the right help in order to grow my business.
It may seem like a straight forward job, but looks can be deceiving. There are various skills that each virtual assistant has to master and they are often the Jack and Jill of all trades.
If you are curious about how to become a virtual assistant, then you have come to the right place! We have created a comprehensive guide that will answer all those burning questions.
What is a Virtual Assistant? What do Virtual Assistants Do?
Asking how to become a virtual assistant is like asking a contractor how to build a house. With all the different angles, there is no straightforward way to do it. The same goes for becoming a virtual assistant. As a virtual assistant, you may work for a busy entrepreneur answering phone calls or be employed by a large company inputting data. The best can do any and all tasks needed, but it takes time to build up to that status. The fastest way to get hired is being open-minded, focusing on narrowing down your specialties, and continuously learning from each job that you get.
A virtual assistant does the same things as an executive assistant, except they can do the tasks from anywhere. While a typical assistant job entails managing the small tasks of a person or company, a freelancer focuses on the online side of things. Usually, an assistant will answer calls and make schedules. A person can do this virtually too. But, the biggest difference is that they will not be able to meet anyone in person. While a virtual assistant cannot shake a client’s hand or hand out paperwork, they can send emails, make phone calls, and ensure everything gets done on time. A virtual assistant may also perform specialized online tasks like website maintenance or social media management.
The main qualities needed to get started working virtually are time management, organizational skills, flexibility, and a willingness to learn. Approximately two out of three businesses rely on websites to connect with customers. And the numbers keep growing by the year. With this in mind, there is no doubt there will be a continuous need for online workers in the years to come.
What do I Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?
For those wanting to be a virtual assistant at home, the good news is that you need little to start. As you prepare your plan to secure work, it is important to have a decent computer and smartphone at a minimum. Depending on the job you choose, you may also require special tools such as a good headset or microphone.
One of the best parts of freelancing is working from anywhere. However, dedicated office space is critical, especially when you are needing to perform virtual assistant tasks from home, like answering phone calls. Though freelance, you still need to present yourself as professional and reducing background noise and distractions will greatly help you in this area. As your skills grow and you refine exactly what you do, you may also discover that investments in special programs, such as social media scheduling platforms, are necessary.
5 Virtual Assistant Services in High Demand
The job of a virtual assistant is unique because almost anything you do online is a skill that an employer may need for one reason or another. When applying to jobs, especially at the entry-level, it is best to narrow down the categories that you know you are good at and work from there. The usual responsibilities are related to everyday front desk type tasks that you will see in an office setting. Keep in mind that virtual assistant rates do vary based upon what exactly you do. Specialties are highly likely to score your higher-paying gigs. Below are a few skills in high demand that you may already be a pro at:
This is one of the most widely needed jobs and one that almost anyone can do. Everyone these days has an email address and, depending on the person, does or does not give it prompt and required attention. If you’ve ever used an email, then you are qualified. What most professionals lack is time. They do not always have time to read, reply, or organize the chaos that comes in their inbox daily. If you like tidiness and have exceptional grammar, email maintenance may be your calling.
Data entry is often misconstrued as a tedious and boring task. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is simply a matter of lacking the hours to perform a time-consuming job. Data entry can range from inputting sales numbers on a spreadsheet to entering information about potential leads. If you have ever worked with Excel sheets, then this is a simple job that would suit you well. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance here. So it is wise to only put this down as one of your specialties if you are sure you won’t make any mistakes.
Social media is key in today’s world. If a business does not have it, they probably should. But it is a job that requires a little bit of knowledge to get right. The good thing is that a little research and work goes a long way. Even better, just about anyone can pick up on it rather quickly. Tasks that a company or entrepreneur may need include scheduling, graphics creation, post writing, or simple interaction on social media platforms. If you are knowledgeable in one or any of these areas, it never hurts to add social media to your resume.
Being a virtual assistant means a lot of things. The usual notion is that you are taking over the job of the front desk, and customer support is a huge one that a lot of companies do need. Customer support may encompass email management, or answering phone calls and texts for your client.
This area can be a little more time consuming if you are on-call all the time. When working in customer support, it is important to decide on a schedule. But it’s important to remember that your client may be in a different time zone than you too. Online customer support is similar to a nine to five, with the exception that you get to work from the office of your choice.
Website maintenance is a highly important task, but it does require a certain knowledge of the web before you can add this as a skill set. Website maintenance is usually needed for sites that do regular changes. Photographers needing new photos uploaded every week or freelancers who list and sell their products online are the typical clients you will get here. Web tasks are usually easy to learn, but you should know what platforms you are skilled in before applying to work on a job.
If you do not know how to code, for example, then you won’t be able to work on some customized websites. If you do, you may be looking at a higher than average virtual assistant salary.
Here are a few platforms to look at to see if they are the right fit for you:
Shopify: learn how to input products, create product descriptions, photograph and edit and so much more!
WordPress: help bloggers and other business owners create and maintain websites by learning basic or advanced coding, creating blog posts, creating and editing photographs, and so much more.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant Without Experience
Many beginning virtual assistants get stuck on the fact that they do not think they have any experience in the field, but this is simply not true. If you have ever answered a phone call, sent an email, or put up a social media post, then you have done the job of a virtual assistant. When performing these tasks for another person, the difference is that you will need to do them as they want them done. This can mean using certain formats in your emails or simply returning calls within a scheduled amount of time. If you can learn and follow directions, then you already have the experience to get started.
The next step in the process is pricing. Most virtual assistants make between $20-$25 an hour, but this number is greatly dependent on what you do. If you have specific services that you know you are willing to perform for a certain amount, such as doing regularly scheduled website maintenance once a week, then you can give them a set price based on how much time and skill that takes. If just starting, it is always wise to first discuss the job in full before giving an exact number. Answering emails may seem simple, but if the person needs each one to be personally written, then the job could take much longer than if you had a simple copy and paste response.
If unsure of what you will be doing or there are multiple tasks to perform, it is best to set an hourly rate. What you offer in this case is largely dependent on the skill set you have. Most beginners start hourly and then work into their specialties. At this point, it is much easier to charge a set rate once you know exactly how much work each of your provided services entails.
Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
Online virtual assistant jobs are everywhere if you know where to look. There are sites catering specifically to the virtual personal assistant realm as well as those for any form of freelancer. It can be overwhelming to apply for a virtual assistant position as a beginner because of a lack of experience. Searching through a multitude of channels will give you your best option for finding work.
The key to standing out in a crowded field is to specialize in one specific area and knowing what you can do well. Specializing makes it easier for companies to find you when they need to fill a certain position. It also makes it easier for you to narrow down jobs and find openings. A range of experience in other skills will then help you to be more flexible. Listed below are a variety of top virtual assistant websites and places to find your first job.
Fiverr is a great site for those wanting to get started as a home-based virtual assistant. When it comes to Fiverr, the name says it all. The platform was created to offer jobs for $5 at a time based on the idea of offering quick services from qualified professionals at an affordable cost to those in need. As the site is not specifically for virtual assistant jobs, you will find a lot of people looking for graphic designs or writing work at $5 apiece. To find a suitable job for you, you will have to search through multiple offerings. Because of the lower starting bid, this is one of the best virtual assistant websites to sign up for when just starting out.
Upwork has been around for a long time and was one of the original sites that a lot of freelancers started on when looking for online jobs. From companies that hire virtual assistants to other busy freelancers who need a little help, you are likely to find any number of odd jobs here. The site is set up in a way that allows you to create a profile, post samples of their work, and bid on jobs and receive feedback. Though Upwork has all of the gizmos and gadgets, it is a little oversaturated and has had to limit the number of freelancers it accepts. The competition is high; however, you don’t have to underbid yourself. Even when just starting, a company will pay for needed talent when it comes to finding a good virtual assistant.
Guru is like Upwork, a website created for employers and freelancers to join, post jobs, and quote bids. As with Upwork, there are a lot of freelancers here. Because of the competition, it is important to know how to put in a bid and find the positions you want.
Both platforms are great for beginners and experienced freelancers alike because they offer safe payment methods and other tools to make sure you are covered as a freelancer. Safeguards are extremely important when working online for a random person that you have never met. Contracts through these sites are worked out beforehand with verified ways to keep track of time and pay. Both Guru and Upwork take a percentage from each freelancer project, so the fees will have to be taken into account when bidding. Overall though, for a beginner, these types of platforms are a great way to learn about the different types of options available.
This is an online virtual assistant forum site specifically aimed at connecting freelancers with interested clients. It is unique in that there are several resources there to help you to learn and improve. Instead of just looking for and applying to jobs, this one connects you to potential customers. Because the platform is only filled with virtual assistants and has so many other like-minded online workers, it is great for those trying to find more information on how to get their foot in the door.
Social Media Groups
Freelance jobs can be found in several other places besides job boards and full-time virtual assistant sites. Many new freelancers get discouraged by creating numerous profiles and getting turned down on their bids because of a lack of experience. The truth is that the best virtual assistant sites are highly competitive and it takes time to get your first job. A different approach that may yield better results is by taking a more personal stance and joining social media groups.
There are multiple groups out there created specifically for encouragement, learning new skills, asking questions, and even job postings. Searching on platforms, like Facebook, is a simple way to join a worldwide network of successful freelancers. These are particularly useful because you will not only find job opportunities, but you can also get advice on how to become a virtual assistant from those with experience.
Here are a few facebook groups that can get you started:
VA Networking – a facebook group to learn, share and engage with other Virtual Assistants.
Virtual Assistant Savvies – a facebook group that can help you skyrocket your business and sell out services.
Your Path to Becoming a Remote Virtual Assistant
Unfortunately, the need to continuously learn is going to be one of the most difficult parts of the journey. Everyone knows how to use a phone or answer an email. However, doing so in an organized and timely manner is where an online virtual assistant stands out. No two jobs are the same, and each one will require a different skillset and most likely require the need to invest time into learning a new platform. You will always be working in an ever-changing environment.
Know your skills before considering and applying to jobs. Stretching yourself too thin is an issue that a lot of freelancers have and is often a cause of discouragement. Starting small is a good way to begin breaking into the freelancing world. Think of each job as a new learning experience that will build your resume for a better future position. Then you will be well on your way to becoming a top-notch virtual assistant.