I’m a huge proponent of lifestyle businesses, and I talk about them all the time. That’s because launching your own lifestyle business can really transform your life by providing you with the flexibility to live the life of your dreams.
One of the best things about lifestyle businesses is that there a lot of different ways to start one. You aren’t limited to just blogs.
One of the fastest growing lifestyle businesses is virtual assistance.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
For starters, a virtual assistant is…well, virtual. Virtual Assistants work remotely by offering services and expertise to clients and businesses.
Defining exactly what a VA is can be difficult because there is such a wide variety of fields and tasks that they span.
For example, a VA can have a specialty in copywriting and monetize that skill. They can be accountants who do virtual accounting for a client’s business. They can be personal assistants who manage the day-to-day operations of a person’s life, an admin, or a general VA that does a bunch of different tasks.
Virtual Assistants are admins, graphic designers, web developers, writers, artists, project managers, personal assistants, event planners, and so much more. If it’s a service that can be performed virtually, it falls under the VA umbrella.
As a VA, you’ll mostly be doing tasks that your clients don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. Your function is to support their business.
What all VAs have in common is that they provide their services in support of a client or his/her biz in whatever capacity is agreed upon.
Why Become A Virtual Assistant?
Being a virtual assistant has so many advantages. For starters, you work remotely and you can make your own hours which gives you total control over your career and schedule.
Work as many hours as you want, whenever, and wherever you want. This makes being a Virtual Assistant incredibly flexible.
That’s why Virtual Assistant positions are able to make great side hustles and full-time careers for different people.
If you need extra income, you can pick up a couple of hours of VA work in the evening. Or, you can pick up as many clients as you need to provide a full-time income.
The ball is in your court.
Plus, you can offer whatever services you’re best at or enjoy most.
So, how do you become a successful virtual assistant? Here is my list of 7 tips you need to become a virtual assistant.
Identify Your Skills
The first step you need to take to become a virtual assistant is to make a list of all of your marketable skills. What do you have experience in or a talent for?
These don’t have the be things that you’re an expert in. They just have to be things that you’re good at. What are you qualified in?
Expertise comes with time, and you’ll build expertise in whatever you choose. If you are an expert in something, that’s great. If you’re qualified to offer a service but still have room to grow and learn, it’s still fair game.
Maybe you have a successful background in graphic design or digital marketing. Then, that’s a great skill you already have that you can use to offer as a virtual assistant.
On the other hand, if you’ve been working on photography or writing as a hobby, but don’t have significant professional experience in it, that’s still a worthy avenue to pursue.
In fact, you can use being a virtual assistant as an opportunity to turn that hobby into a career.
Consider Your Passions
Now that you have a list of skills you can offer, consider which ones you want to offer.
Remember, being a Virtual Assistant is about giving yourself control, so you don’t want to get stuck doing something you find boring or unrewarding just because you can.
If you have skills as a copywriter, but are burnt out or don’t even enjoy it, then your VA work is going to become a source of dissatisfaction and stress.
We all are probably good at some things that we don’t particularly enjoy.
Find the items on your list that you’re able to do, even if you aren’t an expert at them, that you’re excited about doing or find rewarding.
Those are the services that are going to be sustainable for you in the long-run and make your experience something you look forward to and not dread.
Identify Your Goal
What are you looking to accomplish by being a virtual assistant? Identifying your goals can help determine the best way to pursue obtaining work.
Are you looking to supplement your full-time income or are you looking to turn it into a career?
How much time do you want to commit, and is that plausible for you? How much do you need to earn to cover your cost of living?
Are you looking for long-term clients or would you rather work on short term jobs?
Use The Web
Getting your first few clients when you become a virtual assistant is always the hardest because you’ll be starting out in unfamiliar territory.
That’s why using the web can be advantageous. There are many job sites dedicated to connecting freelancers with clients.
Of course, you can always market your services or spread the word throughout your network, but I find using job sites to be the most straightforward way to attract new clients.
My favorite freelancing site is Upwork. It connects freelancers with clients looking for all sorts of virtual work from full-time employees, to part time workers, and even project to project.
Upwork is great because you can create a profile and send proposals to potential clients, or they can invite you to apply to their posting.
You can filter by project type as well to find clients looking for services that you offer. The only caveat is that Upwork takes a percentage of your commissions, so you need to price accordingly to cover your expenses after the commission cut.
If you don’t want to use job sites to find clients, you’ll need to find another way to market your services. Often, that includes creating your own website and constantly promoting your VA services to the online community or through your own professional network.
I find job boards to be much easier, but it really depends on your goals. If you want to build a brand, you’ll need your own site. If you’re happy being a traditional VA, I think it’s just simpler to use an online job board.
Use a Time Tracker
Being a Virtual Assistant most often means you are charging for billable hours. Unlike a regular job, if you run to the restroom or grab a snack, that time is not included in your hourly or annual rate.
The time you are actively working on a project is billable time. That’s why using a time tracker is necessary. You need to be able to track how much time you’re spending on different tasks and clients so you can invoice accordingly and properly manage your time.
Aside from streamlining your billing process, using a time tracker can help you plan your work day for optimal efficiency.
Tracking your time regularly will also help you project if you have the time to devote to taking on new clients.
If you use Upwork, it has its own time tracker you can use. If you work outside of Upwork, you can use Time Doctor which offers different payment tiers or Time Camp which offers both a free and paid version.
The best part of being a Virtual Assistant is having control over your career. When you’re talking to potential clients, it’s important to be honest with them and with yourself about what you’re looking for.
If the two of you aren’t on the same page about work styles, hours of availability, or services, the relationship probably isn’t going to work.
All jobs have challenges, but you should be compatible with your clients in terms of expectations and needs.
You don’t have anything to lose by being honest about how you like to work and what kind of working partnership you’re looking for. However, entering a working relationship with someone who isn’t on the same page as you can affect your workflow and your ability to get excited about doing the work in general.
There’s no need to make snap decisions. Just enter conversations with potential clients with respect and honesty and you’ll eventually attract the right clients for your services.
Of course, nothing is black and white and you may have times when you try out a work relationship and soon discover that it isn’t right or isn’t working.
The ability to sense whether a client is right for you comes with time, and sometimes our instincts are wrong, so if you do find yourself in a situation where you take on a client and it isn’t smooth sailing, use it as a learning experience about what you do and don’t want in future situations.
The average VA in North America charges between $35-$50 an hour on average. In my experience, I’ve seen way broader ranges.
On freelance sites, I’ve seen Virtual Assistants price their rates as low as $15 depending on location and services.
I personally wouldn’t advise charging below $20 an hour as a minimum. The fact that you are working virtually does not make the work you do less valuable. In fact, time differences and a lack of physical location presence can pose unique challenges that make the work you do more valuable.
Plus, there are additional benefits for your clients because they don’t have to provide employee benefits or pay employer taxes because you aren’t an employee. You’re an independent contractor.
Those money saving benefits alone are just one more reason for you to price your services competitively.
Don’t low ball yourself, but definitely take your own experience in consideration in order to offer a fair rate. If you have limited experience in social media, but a passion for offering that service, charging $35/hour maybe isn’t a realistic price point until you get more experience under your belt.
Alternatively, if you’ve been an Executive Assistant for 5 years, charging $25/hour doesn’t really correspond with your level of experience given the amount of work it takes to be a good EA.
If you need experience, price a little lower and then you can always increase your rate to correlate with your added experience
Some VA’s even charge a monthly fee versus an hourly rate, so the format is really per your discretion.
Being a virtual assistant is a great opportunity to create a career or side hustle that provides location independence and control over your own schedule and rates.
It’s flexible and can help you turn a passion into a career opportunity. To become a virtual assistant is a learning experience, but hopefully these 7 tips will help start you off on the right foot.