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Virtual assistants help smaller companies that can’t afford to hire a fulltime secretary, or that merely needs to delegate administrative tasks from time to time. As a virtual assistant, you have flexible work hours, no commute, and you can earn up to 300$ a day. You can make money from home! Does that sound like something for you? Then read along here.
If you have a little experience with administrative work, this may be the best way for you to become an entrepreneur and make money freelancing.
One thing to be wary of is organizations that want you to pay a fee to be listed with them. Organizations that ask for payment are often just crooks that will not give you the opportunity to make your own money. If the organization really wants to help you, it won’t ask for payment.
What’s the job about?
A virtual assistant is someone, who works as a secretary from his or her computer at home. Not everyone can handle the job – You must have some experience in the field, before jumping into a job as virtual secretary.
The job can involve a wide variety of work tasks, from simply taking phone calls to sending e-mails, to planning meetings, etc. The more specialized your abilities, the more you will be able to charge for your work, and the easier it will be to find great online jobs. If, for instance, you have five years’ experience in marketing and have extensive knowledge of Microsoft Publisher, you can sell yourself as a specialist in this area.
Companies hire virtual assistants, if they don’t need a fulltime employee. This way, they can save both money and office space. A virtual assistant is not a part-time employee, but rather a professional entrepreneur, handling his or her own taxes, expenses, and equipment. As a virtual assistant, you yourself will be responsible to find clients and promote your services.
In order to be successful as a virtual assistant, you need to have certain IT skills. Although you may be on top of the basics, you also need to be able to handle if your computer suddenly crashes in the middle of your workday. Unlike working in an office, at home you will not have an IT department ready to assist you.
Before starting the job as a virtual assistant, you will need to obtain certain necessities to your home office. First, you will need reliable internet service that will not slow down due to having many programs running at the same time. Next, you need a work phone, a computer with all the necessary programs, and a headset, so you can easily stay in touch with your clients. Most of these things will be tax deductible.
The need for virtual assistants is on the rise, since more and more companies are requesting temporary employee solutions. Depending on the agreement and the workload, you may choose to charge per day or per hour. A typical hourly compensation will be between 20$ and 35$.
How you become a virtual assistant
Step 1: List your competences
Before jumping into the job as virtual assistant, you need to make a list of your competences. Try to make a list within each of the following categories:
- Competences and programs you have experience with and are good at. This could be things like Microsoft Word, Excel, meeting planning, etc.
- Competences and programs you have no experience with or are not very good at.
- Competences and programs you would like to learn.
- Competences and programs you like to use, and competences and programs you don’t like to use.
Once you have created lists for these areas, you should be able to establish how you want to specialize.
You need to be familiar with various text-editing programs, e-mail, and programs for contact and planning.
The hallmark of a good virtual assistant is always being accessible. Calls should be answered within the first three rings, and e-mails and letters should always be answered the same day.And, yes, many clients call you, just to check on your efficiency.
Will you need any special education?
Clearly, the most important thing when becoming a virtual assistant is experience. Most would say that you should have at least five years’ experience in the field, preferably having held positions with a certain level of responsibility.
Furthermore, you will need to master all Microsoft’s programs and preferably Apple’s programs too. You can take courses for this, however, if you feel your knowledge needs to be updated.
The best platform to take courses in our experience is Udemy. This is an online learning and teaching marketplace with over 100000 courses and 24 million students. Learn programming, marketing, data science and almost anything you can think of!
Step 2: Check out the market
As in all other cases, when you want to start a business, you need to check into what’s already on the market. Are virtual assistance in demand? Are there already too many virtual assistants considering the demand? How much do others charge for their services? You really need to think the job through in every way and get as much information as possible.
One of the best ways to do this is through Fiverr, a freelance job portal where you can both sell your own skills, and buy the skills of others. These skills might be: graphic design, writing, programming, and more!
The best thing about Fiverr is how easy it is to get started: You just make a profile, apply for jobs or wait for people to request your service, and you’re making money!
Step 3: Take the leap!
Find a name and become registered
As an entrepreneur, it is incredibly important for you that your business have the right name. This is the first thing the client hears, and it should convey a positive impression and be memorable. Of course, you could choose just to use your own name, it’s all up to you. Do remember, however, when you choose a name, to check that nobody else has the same name.
After this, you need to establish yourself as an entrepreneur and register your business.
Insurance and taxes
Your homeowner’s insurance may not cover you working from home. You need to check this with your insurance company, since you will most likely have to upgrade your insurance.
As an entrepreneur, you alone will be responsible for handling your taxes. Therefore, make sure you keep track of your annual tax return and check regularly if your expected workload corresponds to your actual workload. If you are unsure, whether you can handle it yourself, you can consider getting help from a tax professional.
Financing and start-up expenses
Before jumping headlong into entrepreneur life, you need to make sure it is economically feasible. Until you develop at solid clientele, finances will probably be pretty tight. Can you afford to be in the red for a few months? You need to consider the worst-case scenarios and whether you can handle them.
In order to get started, you will need an extra room (or at least an empty desk), a phone, reliable internet, and a computer with the necessary programs. Try to calculate how much you need to earn to cover these expenses and turn a profit long-term.
Step 4: Find work
Sign up with an agency
Your first step toward getting clients is to sign up with a reliable agency. Lots of agencies out there stand in line to take your money in exchange for facilitate client contact. Don’t pay. No legitimate agency would ask you for money in return for you working for them. Don’t fall for things like administrative fees or various other fees, because as soon as you pay, the most you will get in return is probably a single e-mail.
Similarly, you should avoid sites that make get-rich-quick claims like ”earn up to USD 10,000 a day” and similar. If these offers really worked, obviously everyone would use them. Your best bet is to sign up with agencies like VOT, which doesn’t ask you to pay anything, but helps you by facilitating contact with companies worldwide.
It may also be helpful to join Society of Virtual Assistants, which is a free site that helps you with all aspects of your position as a virtual assistant. At SVA, there are two types of members: standard members and approved members.
- Standard membership is for those who are interested in the virtual assistant job. As a standard member, you can access various forums, where you can get your questions answered and learn more about the job.
- In order to become an approved member, you need to be actively working as a virtual assistant. Your homepage and e-mail will be checked by SVA, and if you are approved, you will be allowed to use the site’s logo and be added to the site’s job database, which will hopefully result in paid work.
It can be frustrating that the job databases are inaccessible, until you are approved as a member, but the system is arranged that way, in order to encourage new virtual assistants to do it properly, thus contributing to improving the industry.
Getting signed up with an agency is the first step on the way to a customer base, although that’s not to say that being with an agency guarantees you work. There will always be people out there that are more experienced and talented than you are, so you can’t assume work will start pouring in from the first day. Initially, you will probably need to use the Yellow Pages, friends, and family in order to get your message out there.
Getting the message out there, is precisely the hardest part about getting started. Getting the message out to the companies that need you is not easy, but once you get your first clients, the world will soon spread.
In order to get your first clients, you need to know which companies you want to target with your services. You can’t just write that you are addressing “small and medium sized companies” – that is far to nonspecific! Keep in mind that the response rate from companies is only about 1-2%. Do you think, then, that you will get very much response to such a vague message?
The best way to do it is by making a list over all your competences and narrow down which ones are strongest or preferred by you. Then consider which companies need precisely the competences you offer to the highest of standards.
Ask yourself why they need your services, what you can do to strengthen their productivity, how your competences are an asset to the company, and what separates you from the crowd.
In order to find the right advertising media for you, you need to consider the following:
- What literature do these companies use/read?
- Where are their networks?
- On which network will you most easily contact them?
- Other ways to advertise your services
If you can, make a homepage about yourself and your business. It’s not as difficult as it may sound. You can use simple blogger software (such as Blogger or WordPress), which are extremely user friendly.
A blog is a great way to create sort of a digital resume, where you can sell yourself and your experience. You can even learn how to make money with your own blog and you may want to post a few comments and descriptions from former jobs.
If a blog sounds a little overwhelming, you might also consider creating a LinkedIn profile, where you also have the option of writing with colleagues and other contacts.
If you are very ambitious, you may also go to town with social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is an especially ideal place to gather both personal and professional contacts.
By now, most companies have a Facebook and/or Twitter profile, making that a good place to make them aware of your existence. Some companies even advertise job offers on their social networks, which you obviously won’t want to miss.
And of course, we can’t forget good old face-to-face communication. You never know, who you’ll run into, so make sure you make up some personal business cards ready for distributing if need should be.
Step 5: Create a system!
This may not be so important in the beginning, when you have just a few clients, but if you all of a sudden have to keep track of many, a solid system is essential.
A big aspect of this is having a reliable way to manage your tasks and your time dedicated to it, so you know exactly what you need to do and when! We would recommend checking out TimeDoctor, a tool used to manage and track your tasks and time very accurately. You can sign up for free using this link.
Step 6: increase your competences, increase your earnings
It goes without saying that the more services you can offer, the more you can charge for them. Therefore, don’t hesitate to take on new challenges, since this can only increase your value.
How much can you earn?
This obviously depends which services you can offer, and whether you are paid by the day or by the hour. Agencies can charge up to 215$ per client per day, while you will typically charge between 20$ – 35$ an hour.
- Earn money on Freelancing
- Earn money on Fiverr
- Earn money from home
- Earn money on translating
If you would like to know more about earning money as a virtual assistant, you can take a look at our guide about freelancing.