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how to become a virtual assistant

Almost every day I’m asked how someone can find a work-from-home job that doesn’t require significant experience or an advanced degree.

My response is almost always the same: Become a virtual assistant.

Why? Because it’s the most realistic way to make good money from home while leveraging skills you already have or by learning ones that are easily attainable.

This article will walk you through how to become a virtual assistant, where to find your first clients, and how to scale your business to make money on the side or work full time as a VA.

What is a Virtual Assistant and What Do They Do?

Virtual assistants, or VAs, are self-employed individuals who provide administrative and technical assistance to businesses. Since all the work is done online, virtual assistants can work from anywhere they want.

Many small business owners outsource work to virtual assistants so they can focus on their company’s growth. Virtual assistants provide cost-effective solutions to completing daily and routine tasks, freeing up business owners’ time for larger-scale projects.

You don’t need any kind of degree or certification to start working as a VA. You simply need to hone in on a skill and have enough experience to do it well for multiple clients.

But what does a virtual assistant actually do? Turns out, they do quite a lot, depending on their skills, their clients’ needs, and how many hours they can work each week.

How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?

Like any job, the pay scale for virtual assistance varies. It can depend on a number of factors including:

  • Type of work performed
  • Experience level
  • Hours worked per week

More experienced VAs performing more highly technical skills can earn upwards of $60 per hour, while new VAs might start out at $20 per hour. As you grow your skills and client base, you can increase your rates and overall pay.

7 Virtual Assistant Services in High Demand

The potential tasks for a VA are limitless. As a virtual assistant, you get to decide which tasks you offer. So if there’s something you really don’t enjoy doing (like proofreading blog posts), you don’t have to offer it as part of your VA package.

This list covers some of the most popular and in-demand online tasks that virtual assistants can offer, but it only scratches the surface. When deciding what services to offer as a VA, be creative. Think about how you can use your unique skills and experiences to provide value for your clients.

Customer Support

1. Customer Support

Happy customers are necessary for the success of any business, but they can take up a lot of time. There are always questions to be answered, orders to process, and comments to moderate. Small business owners don’t typically have the time they need to provide this kind of one-on-one service.

That’s why they often outsource customer-related tasks to detail-oriented, quick-to-respond virtual assistants.

Administrative Support

2. Administrative Support

These services are pretty straightforward and usually some of the easiest tasks to outsource. If you’re looking to get started as a VA, offering these tasks is a good point of entry.

Virtual assistant duties in this category might include inputting data, creating spreadsheets, managing calendars, and booking travel arrangements.

Related: 25 Online Job Ideas to Help You Ditch Your Office Gig

Social Media Management

3. Social Media Management

Social media is a more specialized area for virtual assistants. It can be a great way to move beyond administrative type duties and onto something more creative and engaging.

Tasks can include posting on social media, responding to comments, updating profiles, and anything else you’re comfortable with. If you’re good with graphic design, you can even offer services like creating Pinterest images.

Premium services like social media management come with a premium price, so you’ll be able to charge more for these.

Website Management

4. Website Management

Don’t let the idea of managing a website intimidate you. You don’t have to have coding experience or be super tech savvy.

Virtual assistants with experience using WordPress or another CMS (Content Management Systems) can provide blog or website management services. This might include editing posts, replying to comments, updating broken links, and general website maintenance. You can even offer services writing blog posts or types of content.

Virtual assistant websites come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, you can even start your own so you can display an online portfolio of your work to potential clients as you gain experience.

Email Marketing

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing, like social media management, requires a bit of specialized knowledge. You’ll need to know things like how to set up autoresponders, segment email lists, and design email templates using software like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

This is another specialized service that many VAs might not provide, so learning this skill is a way to stand out and earn more money.

Facebook Ads

6. Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook is an easy and effective way for business owners to find more clients or customers. But many don’t take advantage of it because they don’t have time or don’t know how. This is a great way to offer a premium VA service. Since many VAs don’t offer this option, you can charge more for it.

If you choose to offer this type of VA service, you could help small business owners by creating the ads, monitoring their reach (how many people see the ad), or keeping track of the budget and time frames for the ads.

Bookkeeping

7. Bookkeeping

Business owners need help keeping track of their finances. How much they’re earning, how much they’re spending, and where and to whom the money is going. If you’re organized, detail-oriented, are good with numbers and spreadsheets, and can balance a checking account, this is a service you can offer to small business owners.

How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience

If you’re ready to start your own VA business, here are some steps for you to follow. Don’t forget to download our free checklist to track your progress along the way.

1. Take a Virtual Assistant Training Course

Starting a business can feel overwhelming. Lucky for you, you’re not alone.

When it comes to learning how to become a virtual assistant, Kayla Sloan is an expert. She started her VA business in 2014, and in a little over a year, was earning over $10,000 per month.

Once she realized how high the demand for virtual assistants is and how lucrative it can be, she put together a course to help others follow in her footsteps. Kayla teaches aspiring virtual assistants how to start their own VA business and land their first paying clients in her best-selling course 10KVA.

You don’t need to take a course in order to become a successful virtual assistant. However. if you’re looking to expedite your VA business, learning from an expert can save you time and help you reach your goals faster.

2. Determine What Services You’ll Offer

Woman researching virtual assistant services

The first step in getting started as a Virtual Assistant is to determine what tasks you’ll offer. If you’re not sure, start by making a list of the things you already know how to do.

Do you manage a website or blog of your own? If so, blog/website management might go on the list. Are you an online influencer? Then maybe social media management is a good fit for your virtual assistant repertoire. Are you quick with designing spreadsheets? Offer data entry or spreadsheet management as a service.

Remember that this isn’t your final list. It’s just your initial offerings. You can add services as you learn new skills and software.

3. Set Your Prices

Deciding how much to charge for your services is probably the most difficult part of establishing your VA business. You want to be fair and competitive, but you also want to make sure you’re making a profit.

Most virtual assistant offerings fall into four main pricing categories:

Hourly: Your client pays an hourly rate and you get paid for the amount of time you work.

Project-Based: Your client pays a flat fee for a one-time project (setting up social media accounts, designing a website, etc.).

Package of Hours: Your client pays for a certain number of hours to use over time. Depending on your contract, they can expire after a set amount of time such as 6 months or a year.

Retainer: Your client pays an ongoing monthly rate for a specific set of tasks or number of hours.

The easiest way to determine your pricing is to do some research into what other VAs are charging for similar services. Look at some of their websites, ask questions in Facebook groups, and perform a quick Google search. Average those rates, and you’ll have a good place to start.

Consider your skill and experience level when setting your prices. For instance, if you’ve been blogging for ten years but are new to being a VA, you can still charge a higher rate for that service. On the other hand, if you’ve never designed a Pinterest image before, you might want to start on the bottom of the pay scale for that service.

4. Figure Out a Business Name

Every business needs a name, and that includes your VA business. While it doesn’t have to be super creative or clever, you want it to be memorable, easy to spell, and you want to make sure it matches the brand you’re creating.

When picking a name, it helps to do some research. Do a quick Google search to find out what other VAs have named their businesses. Ask your friends and family or your professional network what they think of the name.

Find out if the one you picked is already in use or has been trademarked. Say it out loud to hear how it sounds. If you’re stuck, you can use resources like the Shopify Business Name Generator to help.

You also want to make sure the domain name for your business is available. This is what you’ll use when you’re setting up your website, and the name of your business should match the URL you use to direct potential clients. If they’re completely different, you run the risk of confusing your clients or inadvertently referring them to the competition.

Most importantly, you have to be happy with the name. It’s how you’re going to represent yourself and your services to potential clients.

5. Choose Your Target Market and the Type of Clients You’d Like to Work With

man learning how to become a virtual assistant

Once you’ve determined the services you’re offering, you need to determine the kinds of clients you’d like to have. Are they small business owners? Lawyers? Website or blog managers?

Whatever your target client is, give them a face. Create your ideal client avatar. Name them, give them all the characteristics you want your clients to have (or not have), and write down why you want to work with them.

Ask yourself if the work they do is interesting or if it’s an industry you’re comfortable with. You also need to write down how you can help them, and why they should pick you over another VA. This step is essential as it will help you create your marketing plan later on.

6. Figure Out the Legal Business Details

This is probably the hardest step in creating your VA business because it involves navigating a lot of legal language and governmental agencies. Unfortunately, though, since these form the foundation of your business, you can’t skip over this part.

A few things you’ll need to do:

  • Decide if you’re going to operate as a Sole Proprietor or LLC
  • Secure any licenses or permits
  • Draft your client contract

For this part of establishing your VA business, you might want to consult an attorney or accountant to double-check what you’ve done.

7. Create Your Website to Promote Your VA Business

Become a Pinterest VA and earn money online

While creating a website isn’t a requirement for landing your first client or starting your VA business, having a website will make you look more professional and established. And it will give you a place to direct prospective clients.

Setting up a website is easy and cheap, and you don’t need to hire someone to do it for you. Most websites can be designed with drag-and-drop tools and will look like a professional did it.

Note: You can get your website up and running today with HostGator for only $2.75 per month (save 42% with code BTOP42). Follow our website setup guide for step-by-step instructions.

8. Get Your Business Finances on the Right Track

Your clients need a way to pay you, and you need a way to track your income and expenses.

While you can do this at the beginning with a simple spreadsheet and a PayPal account, as your business expands and you gain more clients, you’ll need more robust services like FreshBooks or Quicken. You should also consider opening a bank account and securing a credit card for business expenses.

Getting organized with your money in the beginning will make everything much easier in the future and at tax time.

9. Create Your Marketing Strategy

Now that your business is ready to go, it’s time to start marketing yourself. While many people struggle with advertising themselves, this is the best and most effective way to find clients.

Fortunately, there are ways you can create a marketing strategy that doesn’t feel too uncomfortable or over the top. For instance, if you already have social media accounts, you can use those to share your services or announce to your friends, family, and professional network that you’ve started your own business.

If you want to separate your personal life from your business life, you can create social media accounts for your VA services and advertise there instead.

If you already have a blog or website and have curated an email list from that, share your new endeavor with your list. These are already people who support and follow you, so you can ask them to let their network know about your VA services.

You can also use Facebook ads or blog posts to market to online business owners. Flyers and business cards are great for advertising with potential local and offline clients.

10. Network

Network with Other Virtual Assistants

Now is the time to connect with other VAs to get tips, ideas and leads for finding clients, and feedback on your new business.

Networking is easier than you think. You can connect with other VAs in online forums on Facebook, LinkedIn, or paid membership sites offered by experienced VAs. Online conferences and summits are another cost-effective way to network with prospective clients.

Using the internet for networking means you can do it from your couch, and it can expose you to people from all over the world, making your potential client base global.

In-person networking events are a great and easy way to connect with local business owners. You can also attend meetings at your chamber of commerce or any other organization that connects community business owners.

Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs Online (and Offline)

Now that you’ve determined what you’re offering, how much you’re charging for your services, and have created a website, it’s time to find clients.

Finding clients is often the hardest part for any new business owner, and you’ll need to be proactive at first. Fortunately, there are a few places to look where you’re likely to find more success than others.

Try Freelancer Websites

Virtual assistant positions are relatively easy to come by on freelance websites like Upwork and People Per Hour. This could be a good route if you’re new to working as a virtual assistant and don’t have much experience or training.

Jobs found on these sites are generally lower-paying. So if you take this route to start, you should try to raise your prices as you get more experience and become more valuable to your clients. You can always renegotiate pricing with clients at a later date.

Social Media

Let your friends, family, and professional network know you’re open for business by sharing your list of services on social media. Networking is a powerful tool. You may be surprised at who knows someone that knows someone who’s looking for help and can connect you.

Local Businesses

Reach out to small business owners in your area and ask if anyone could use assistance with the services you offer. Virtual assisting is still a relatively new field, so a lot of brick-and-mortar business owners haven’t yet considered outsourcing to a VA.

Let them know what they’re missing out on and convince them to hire you. It’s a great way to practice your marketing skills, too.

Network with Influencers

Do you have a favorite blog or business that you follow religiously? Email the owner and ask if they need assistance in any aspect of their business. Be brief, friendly, and confident in your pitch, and make sure you tell them what services you can offer them.

If they say they’re not looking for help right now, give them the address to your website and ask them to keep you in mind for future positions. You should make a note to follow up in three months in case something has changed.

Subscribe to their email list if you’re not already on it. Online business owners advertise open virtual positions to their email list.

Network with Other Virtual Assistants

Connecting with other virtual assistants is a great way to grow your business. Not only will you get advice on pricing, services, and resources like training courses and conferences, you might find some job opportunities as well.

Often, VAs will have clients that need services beyond what they can provide and will reach out to their network to fill the gaps. They might also share opportunities they come across that they can’t take for one reason or another.

Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Home

Working as a VA is an option for anyone who wants to work from home, regardless of prior experience or education. It’s easy to begin; all you need are your skills and your computer or smartphone (and a Wi-Fi connection).

You set the rates, the services you provide, and the hours you work. Starting a virtual assistant business comes with minimal upfront costs, making it viable and accessible to most people.

While it can be difficult to land your first client, with some creative marketing and networking, you’ll find that the opportunities to make money online as a virtual assistant are abundant.

Author

Hi! I'm Megan. I'm a personal finance enthusiast on a mission to help millennial men and women understand and make more money. Along with writing and editing content, I work one-on-one with individuals as a financial and behavioral money coach.

19 comments
Virginia Nakitari

Amazing post! I used to offer Virtual Assistant services on Fiverr.com a while back. I wish I had read a post like this before I got started so as to put things in perspective for me. But, all the same, this is awesome. I hope newbie VAs or aspiring VAs can learn something here. Regards.

Thanks Virginia! Haven’t seen you around in a while — I hope life is treating you well! 🙂

Kristjan

Would you suggest an university student in Europe to try to become a VA?

Janelle Diehl

I would love to get started in the VA world!

Dmitry Clarke

Is there like a website I can apply for VA jobs? How do I find people to hire me?

Hey Dmitry,

Upwork has a virtual assistant job listing section here that has dozens of opportunities for people looking for VA work — hope this helps you land one!

Holly Sconci

Good luck Dmitry with your job search. Thanks Ben, you saved me so much time by sharing a section of job listings .

I have been searching everywhere for an list of job openings, thanks to your help. DollarSprout has changed my life with amazing advice in areas I never knew I was capable of performing.

Lisa Jones

Very good information shared here. I am looking for VAs who can work for me on Mondays and Wednesdays (EST). Those interested can Skype me – Lisajones1512. Only genuinely interested applicants need apply.

Tasha Ewing

Great post! Very useful for someone like me that’s starting an errand service in the Caribbean.

Melyssa Mobsby

I would love to become a VA and learn all of the tools to be successful!

Shileman

Thank you for all the information. I have been looking for work at home jobs and no luck. This sounds like something I am interested in trying. Wish me luck.

Awesome — good luck! VA work is the most realistic, decent paying, work from home job option for many people in my opinion. Let us know how it goes!

Rose Hale

This is something I’ve been looking at trying to learn how to get into that field. It’s always good to learn.

Agreed! I say it time and again, this is the easiest way to land a reasonable work from home job that’s 1) enjoyable and 2) pays fairly well.

Good luck with it, Rose! 🙂

Nadia

Great article! The first sentence says the #1 question is how do I get a job with no experience and no advanced degree..but what if you have tons of work experience AND a post-graduate degree, but can only work remotely and only a maximum of about 5 hours a week? What’s the best way to find this job and is there one out there that pays better than, for example, being a transcriptionist?

That one is tough. If you’re going to go after higher-paying opportunities, the remote position is probably going to have to tie back to your degree in some way shape or form. i.e. Online jobs/VA-type roles won’t pay more just because you have an advanced degree, unfortunately 🙁

What your degree in? Might be able to point you in the right direction that way!

Nikki

Thanks for the article! I just lost my job as an administrative Assistant (10 years experience) because the company is closing. I basically worked remotely for years and I can’t really see myself commuting every day to Atlanta — that would drive me crazy. I’ll definitely stick to your tips; anything else that’ll help me land my first client(s) is also appreciated.😄 Thank you!

Becky

Can I become a virtual assistant without a website of my own? I don’t have a website yet so please I wanna know.

Yes, but it’s a smart idea to have your own website eventually that prospective clients can look at when they want to learn more about your services!

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