Whenever interested in remote work, you have access to countless job opportunities thanks to the evolution of technology and globalization. One of the very interesting and popular choices is becoming a virtual assistant. This is actually the main income source for many that work from home.
The only problem is that it is not as easy as you might think to become a virtual assistant. There are many things that have to be known. Fortunately, everything that is important is presented below.
Read about what the virtual assistant does, together with what experience, training, and skills are needed. Then, continue reading to see where jobs can be found and even the disadvantages of virtual assistant jobs.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
The virtual assistant (sometimes referred to simply as VA), offers support to business owners, private individuals, or businesses through a remote setting. This is a professional that is hired in order to free up some time by doing tasks that clients cannot or do not want to do.
What skills do I need as a Virtual Assistant?
If you want to be a virtual assistant, it is important to have clerical and office skills. It is not vital that you have stellar IT skills but you do need to know how to use the tools that are utilized. For instance, you have to be able to properly use at least a laptop and software like Microsoft Office. Simply put, you have to be computer literate.
As a virtual assistant, you also need to want to learn and you need to be able to adapt. Every single task and client can be different. Brand new programs and tools have to be used all the time. You also have to work with different teams and at different hours of the day.
In many cases, tasks can be challenging because of the fact that you have to do something that you never did before. You will be faced with tasks that will challenge you since you have no idea how to get them done. Because of this, you need a strong can-do attitude and you have to be a problem-solver. Bothering the client with too many questions is always a bad idea.
Self-motivation is obviously necessary. It is possible to set the schedule you want and even your own working environment. Even so, you can be distracted. Clients always expect the work to be done in a timely fashion. This means you have to remain productive.
As a virtual assistant, you need a strong work ethic and reliability. Clients do trust assistants with important and urgent tasks. That is why excellent verbal and written communication skills have to be on your resume.
In the event that you do work for many clients, prioritizing and structuring the current workload is mandatory. High-quality work needs to be done for every single client.
Keep in mind that working with others is not easy. There are cases in which you need a lot of patience. Sometimes you need to wait for a long time until someone answers an email and there will be clients that do not understand the fact that you cannot do miracles. You need to be patient and carefully explain everything in an appropriate way. This, combined with business knowledge, helps the virtual assistant to do good work.
What Experiences and Training do Virtual Assistants need?
Virtual assistant tasks are diversified. Even so, no formal training is needed. The majority of clients will not ask for specific education.
While you do not need to go through formal training, there are always ways in which you can improve the quality of the work you do. For instance, there are numerous short-term courses that are available on online learning platforms, with Udemy being the best possible example.
Besides this, any administrative or office experience is going to be helpful. You can showcase projects that you did at a former job, like research or organizing events. Experience that is similar to the work that is to be done is always appreciated.
Last but not least, personality stands out as being vital, usually more than experience and training. Usually, you work closely with the clients. This is why, at a personal level, you have to get along. If the chemistry is wrong, everything will become demotivating and hard in the future. Most clients actually choose virtual assistants based on personal preference.
This shows that a virtual assistant position is a great entry-level remote job because you don’t necessarily need much experience.
What Equipment does a Virtual Assistant need?
It is a good option to start a remote work career with a virtual assistant position because the equipment needed is very easy to get. You just need:
- A fast and reliable laptop (alternatively, you can use a PC)
- A webcam (optional but recommended)
- A microphone or a headset with a proper sound quality
- A good internet connection
- A good smartphone (optional but recommended)
- Microsoft Office
- Time-tracking software (like TimeCamp or Toggl)
- Necessary extra software (based on the work that is to be done)
- A password manager of choice (like LastPass)
- Extra accessories needed, like an external HDD, portable power bank, or mouse
As you can see, becoming a virtual assistant is an online business that is very cheap to start.
What Tasks do Virtual Assistants do?
Before making the choice to become a virtual assistant, you want to be aware of the tasks that will have to be completed. Unfortunately, it is only possible to give a rough estimate. Tasks are always diversified and will depend on expertise, together with an agreement signed with clients.
Generally speaking, the virtual assistant will perform work in one of 2 settings:
- Personal or Private Virtual Assistant
- Executive or Business Virtual Assistant
Just as these terms imply, tasks are connected to the business owner or individual’s private life or business life. In many cases, the assistant does a combination of these types of tasks. Whatever has to be done will be done.
Usually, though, a virtual assistant does much administration work. This includes typing, data entry, transcribing, accounting tasks, diary management, travel booking, event booking, invoicing, handling emails, handling phone calls, producing reports, and dealing with requests from consumers.
It is possible to do some extra specific work. This includes crafting marketing campaigns, writing posts for blogs, managing social media channels, SEO copywriting, preparing presentations, or doing some web design.
There are many different tasks that are available for the all-rounders and for the specialists. Virtual assistants can choose what they specialize in. For instance, some mostly do Instagram work while others do mostly data entry work.
Never be surprised by the different jobs that clients offer. There are countless options, from finding lunch spots to managing profiles for personal social media accounts. You want to be creative and flexible.
How can I find Clients as a Virtual Assistant?
This can be considered as being the most important part of this job. Where can you find jobs? As with most of the field, this does vary. There are many options that are available. Think about the following questions:
- Do you want to do work for agencies?
- Do you want to do work for one company and have a more permanent position?
- Do you want to do work as a freelancer?
Virtual Assistant Agencies
Numerous recruiting and staffing firms exist that work with virtual assistants. It is possible to apply to them and they will end up placing you with an appropriate client.
The big benefit of this option is that you are often offered paid holiday days. Also, you do not have to worry about looking for a client. The disadvantage is that there is not much freedom available when referring to what working hours you have to agree with and the tasks that will have to be done.
Look at agencies like Virtual Office Temps and Zirtual to find out more about virtual assistant agencies.
The virtual assistant can also do work as a normal company employee. The same tasks that the freelancer does are on the table but there is a permanent contract signed. This includes easy-to-understand advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you get reduced flexibility but have a steadier income.
Those that are interested in permanent contracts should directly check with companies. You want to talk with people responsible and convince them of the fact that you are a good addition to the team. Job posting on sites like Indeed can also be checked.
As an extra tip, remember that networking is a wonderful way to look for new employers. You never know when the company that you did some work for in the past needs remote assistants. You can also start doing work as a freelancer. As it becomes clear that you are important for the company, you might be offered a permanent contract or you could ask for it yourself.
Most of the virtual assistants out there are freelancers. This allows you to choose your own workload and clients. At the same time, you are not guaranteed a specific income.
Numerous freelancer platforms exist right now that have virtual assistant positions listed. Freelancer.com and Upwork are the best examples of that. Just be sure that you check the percentage fee and you included it in how much you are paid.
TIP: Whenever looking for sites on the freelancer platforms, avoid the generic term of “virtual assistant.” Think about what sounds really familiar to you, like an executive assistant, personal assistant, admin support, or remote help. You can also look for terms that are really specific to the skills you have, like “social media support.”
While freelancing is a great option to start, it is always better to find clients alone. This means you should build your own website where you can display a portfolio. Do be active on social media websites and market the skills you have. Networking is very helpful when you want to land virtual assistant jobs.
How Do You Score Virtual Assistant Jobs?
There are many different things that can be said about this subject and countless articles were written with tips on how to score virtual assistant jobs. However, what is not discussed much is what clients are interested in.
There is no client out there that wants to see responses to postings that are 2 sentences long. These are applicants that are instantly dismissed.
You want to show the fact that the ad was read. Then, you want to show how your personal experience will help the client. How is the job approached and what working hours are you interested in?
Do not think that all this means you have to write a really long cover letter. You just have to include important details and avoid the standard phrases. Clients always want to be able to get along with assistants at a personal level. The cover letter is the very first way to assess this.
How much can I earn as a Virtual Assistant?
This does vary a lot from one job to the next and from one individual to another. On freelancer platforms, you will often see people coming from the Philippines or India that will charge around $5 per hour, sometimes even less. The specialist virtual assistants can easily have a rate of around $80 per hour.
How much you will be paid depends on experience, past reviews, skills, and the way in which you manage to sell yourself.
You can also sign a contract for a fixed price. However, virtual assistant tasks tend to be flexible. It is very hard to measure the work that is to be done for, let’s say, $100.
Check out this guide on how to calculate your freelance rate to find out what you can charge.
Downsides of Virtual Assistant Work
The work of the virtual assistant has exactly the same disadvantages as doing remote work. In many cases, you live in a different time zone than the client. This can easily make communication difficult and leads to confusion.
Virtual assistants often have to make phone calls. These can be expensive and you might be faced with a terrible audio connection. Also, there are clients that request physical mail handling. The logistics associated with this can be difficult.
When you start doing work as a virtual assistant, it is vital that your smartphone and laptop are secured. Do not use public internet connections without at least having a reliable VPN installed. Clients do trust assistants with sensitive data and will offer access to various business accounts. These have to all be protected.
Because of the fact that the work done is confidential, professional liability insurance can also be a good idea.
Always be up-to-date with everything in the digital landscape. Changes always appear. You will have to use new apps and tools.