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How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Home
July 2, 2020
Whether you’re looking to start working remotely so you can spend more time with your kids or you want a role with more flexibility, a virtual assistant job can be the perfect solution. One of the best things about this position is that as long as you have an internet connection and can communicate well, it’s well within reach.
In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to become a work-from-home virtual assistant.
What are the benefits of becoming a virtual assistant?
There are a number of reasons to consider becoming a virtual assistant. Maybe you prefer working remotely or you’re curious about exploring new opportunities in your career. Or you may be interested in making your own schedule so you can work the hours that are best for you. That’s a particularly big selling point if you need to work from home to be a caregiver to your children, parents, or others.
Being a virtual assistant provides a number of benefits that are unavailable to working in a traditional office environment. Because the role tends to be more flexible, you can take on as much or as little work as you would like while managing to find time for your hobbies and other activities.
Choose your own rate
Another benefit is that you can often choose your own rates depending on your experience and the type of work you do. If you do a lot of research or technical tasks, then you can charge more than for other types of work.
Over time, you can scale your income to work with your hours and to make it more profitable. You can also create more positive work relationships than those you may make working in an office or for a big company.
Pick a business structure for virtual assistant work
As a virtual assistant, it’s up to you to determine how you want to work, which skills you have that you can successfully market, and how you want to find work and remain in contact with clients.
Every virtual assistant does things a little differently, such as billing by the hour or by the tasks that are completed. Having a structure in place before you begin diving into this career can be a big help before you start to work with clients.
Determine your hours, which deliverables you can offer, your pay rate, and how you will market your skills and services. You will have to do a bit of outreach to attract your first clients, or you may want to think about joining one or a few virtual assistant-centric platforms to help you get started.
Consider this list of virtual assistant websites and platforms:
- Magic: A TaskRabbit-like system that allows virtual assistants to sign up as “magicians.” You then go through a customized training program and provide assistance via text message on a variety of tasks.
- Time Etc: Virtual assistants must perform an interview and skills test to evaluate what services they can provide through Time Etc. Those services include scheduling, sourcing, blog writing, and more.
- Virtual Staff Finder: If you're looking for a more permanent position, consider this platform. It helps companies and individuals connect with virtual assistants through a database, which includes a testing and vetting process.
- Fancy Hands: This platform connects virtual assistants with clients through task-based requests. It also allows for permanent hiring, which is a good incentive if you’d like to make this into a full-time gig.
What does a virtual assistant do?
A virtual assistant can perform a variety of tasks depending on the industry you choose. It’s a good idea to offer more than one option for services so you’re more likely to reach a bigger number of clients. This means that you may need to learn a few new skills, either by taking online courses or by reading up on how to do certain tasks that could prove beneficial for your new business.
Communication skills are key
If you only do one thing to increase your likelihood of getting hired, make sure it’s improving your writing skills. So many virtual assistant tasks center on communication and include services like email management, blog writing, and outreach, so this is one way to jumpstart your career.
You will also spend a lot of time on a computer (and you may even be hired to fix some minor technical issues), so it’s never a bad idea to get more familiar with your personal tech.
Here are some tasks you may perform as a virtual administrative assistant:
- Word processing
- Email scheduling and management
- Travel arrangement and planning
- Data entry
- eBook creation
- Social media management
- Video and audio editing
There are certainly other tasks you can perform, and exactly what you do will depend on your experience and if you’ve got the skills to perform the task. For nearly every type of industry, there are jobs for virtual assistants to do online.
Things to keep in mind as you start your new role
After deciding on your business structure, narrow down the types of tasks you can offer clients and which you’re willing to perform. This will then narrow down the clients who will be a good fit for you, which makes it easier to find a job you’ll actually enjoy.
You also need to think about your pricing structure and the rates associated with your services. Make sure to do some research into how other virtual assistants price their services and whether those rates seem reasonable to you. When you are first starting out, you’ll likely charge less than veterans in the space, but don’t undervalue yourself.
You can also raise your standard rates over time, or charge higher rates for new clients as you expand your client base and skillset.
Taxes and benefits
Remember that you’ll be in charge of your own taxes as a subcontractor. You will have to track what you write off as business expenses, and we recommend that you hire an accountant to handle your taxes. Make sure you check your state, county, and local regulations for any licensing you need to be self-employed.
As a contractor, you also won’t have health insurance and other typical job benefits, so make sure to plan for those. Retirement plans for the self-employed range from SEP IRA, to IRA, to Roth IRA depending on your level of income and your business model.
Finding new clients
Networking and pitching are two crucial elements to success when you’re starting out but also when you’re building your portfolio. If you’re new to the role, prepare a pitch that outlines what you’re capable of and include any relevant past work. Make sure to redact confidential information in your portfolio from past employers so future ones trust your discretion.
And as you gain clients, determine who you want to work with. One of the best parts of virtual work is the ability to decline a contract. Make sure to pitch to companies and professionals who fit into your scope of an ideal client.
Knowing who you want to pitch will help you narrow down your list. You can find these potential clients by searching sites like LinkedIn or Facebook for relevant groups where people may be looking for virtual assistants.
Boost your profile with an online presence
One of the best ways you can reach potential clients is to have a website they can visit to get to know you better, see which services you offer, and to sign up for a free trial if they want to get an idea of the quality of work you offer.
But don’t spend months creating the perfect website. A minimal web footprint can give you as much business as a custom-designed masterpiece for a fraction of the expense.
You can also consider building out a blog section of your site that discusses how you like to approach different tasks. Additionally, if you have previous clients, ask them for testimonials to demonstrate that you’ve not only had clients before, but that they were incredibly happy with your work.
You should have professional accounts on social media platforms, too, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, so you connect with potential clients. This also lets you showcase a portfolio of past work so clients can get a better idea of your capabilities.
Becoming a virtual assistant can be a fulfilling career change, and it can provide a number of new opportunities for you. If you’re thinking about how to get a virtual assistant job, it’s important to know your worth in this role.
Also, consider learning new skills and make sure you have a proper work-from-home setup. After that, be prepared to start the search for your first client. Good luck!
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.