How to Become a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant offers help to individuals, organizations or companies over the internet. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a great work-at-home opportunity and something many people could do.

how to become a virtual assistant

A lot of people hear “virtual assistance” and think of administrative assistance, like a secretary. It can mean that, but that’s not all. Here’s a big list of possibilities. I bet you’ll see something you could do.

Types of things virtual assistants do

There are countless services you can provide virtually, like writing, ghostwriting, graphic design, researching, editing, tutoring, desktop publishing, counseling, audio/video/photo editing, coaching, consulting, bookkeeping, copywriting, social media management, project management, transcription, programming, data entry and anything else you can do without having to be in the same physical location as your client. Call it “virtual assistance.”

At rates ranging anywhere from $15 to $100+ an hour (depending on your skill), it’s a great option for those who want to work from home. After my own stint as a virtual assistant (VA for short), here are my tips.

1. Get a website

You have to do this. People need to be able to find you. Your own presence on the web is crucial. It gives you a more professional appearance, the chance to highlight some of your skills and an opportunity to explain your process. If you’ve seen my step-by-step guide, you’ll know you can be up and running in as little as 15 minutes. (Note that my series talks specifically about blogs, but it applies equally to regular websites. After setting up, just follow the instructions in this post.)

2. Buy The Bootstrap VA* by Lisa Morosky

the bootstrap vaI get a lot of requests to promote ebooks, but I rarely do so. However, I bought The Bootstrap VA and it is ABSOLUTELY one I recommend. I share a bit of my experience in the book, but oh my goodness, the finished product is jam-packed with actionable tips. For $12.99, it will be the best investment you’ll make. Seriously. It’s like taking a college course. Lisa has worked as a virtual assistant for many years and after reading half of her ebook, I was so impressed, I hired Lisa to be my own virtual assistant. She knows her stuff.

3. Get involved in social media

This would include Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whichever social media platform your potential clients hang out. Commenting on blogs can be good too. Relationships are key. Being involved in social media is one of the best way to find clients and vice versa (at least until you are established and can rely on word of mouth).

4. Be helpful

Some people looking for work as a VA come across as spammy. In my case, I had offered Crystal (MoneySavingMom.com) some ideas about her website in a casual conversation on Twitter and that was the start of our working relationship.

5. Check out what other VAs are doing

Ask around, read some great articles, do some googling and find some people who are already VAs. Check out their websites, see what they offer and get an idea of how it might work for you. A perfect place to do this is the free Facebook group that you get access to when you buy The Bootstrap VA.

Conclusion

I’m asked all the time how to make money online. There are many ways to do so, but one excellent idea is to take a skill you already have and turn it into a service you can offer online. I’ve done this myself. Many people have done it. The internet has made it possible to do so many things remotely, or, “virtually.”

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for your advice. We have found that your point, “Get involved in social media” is very useful.

  2. says

    Hi, many people have misconceptions about virtual assistants and they think this work is limited to personal secretary but, your article really helps to understand what it really means and the list of works you have mentioned gives a deeper thought to those who want to work from home.
    Thanks for the article :)

  3. says

    I like how you discussed about VA work being spammy. It’s a common impression, but communication goes a long way in establishing great business relationship. These are great tips and something anyone can follow in entering this industry. :D

  4. says

    Hello Amy,

    This is my first time commenting on a blog other than the one I’ve had to build for my class in college. I am hoping to start my own VA business later this year. Thank you for the tips on becoming a VA and for the book referral. I am going to research it a little more before I purchase it.

    Angela M Singh

  5. says

    Hello all,

    I agree this is not easy money, you must build your business just like any other business you would spend time building. You need a business plan, marketing plan, a blog. Link up with other virtual assistants so they can tell you how they got started and the in’s and out’s. You can build a great business from this but it of course takes time. Thank you :)
    http://freelancersforbusinessffb.blogspot.com/

  6. says

    Becoming a virtual assistant is my passion. Currently I’m being following closely some of my friends who are involved with good organizations from other countries to help solve their various works through internet. Although here educative information also enrich my knowledge significantly about how to become a good VA. Thanks for nice contribution.

  7. ExPhilippinesVA says

    Sorry but now for some reality….I applaud all who want to become VA’s like myself but any who think it is ‘easy money’ walk away now. Here’s some straight up facts for you:

    1. You will be competing against those who can SERIOUSLY underbid you. I’m talking people who can, are willing and committed to work for $3 an hour. Unless you also live in a third world country or the employer is searching for an ‘english native’ you WILL be passed over for a cheaper alternative.
    That’s not racist or any other form of ‘ist’. I myself was hired while living in the Philippines and managed to negotiate an Australian wage when we moved to Aus 6 months later. I asked my beloved MD & GM if they would have chosen me if I’d been subject to Aus wages from the beginning and they honestly said ‘No’. That’s no reflection on anything, that’s just maths.

    2. You HAVE to care more about their business succeeding than anything else. Most of these people will be start-ups or those looking to save a buck because admin can be done by any dummy (yes I’m rolling my eyes). If you don’t care then you either need to get a regular 9-5 or you haven’t found the right employer.
    How do you know if you care…so simple. Is it outside of your ‘working hours’? For those who are truly committed/workaholic the quotation marks around working hours are permanent. You have them but at the same time they don’t really exist. Your boss/es will message you 24/7 because they rely on you, love you and know you can deliver. For the cynical, translate that as take you for granted, abuse their power or are the devil wearing Prada.

    3. Underpaid what? Yes welcome to administration. If you truly ‘run the show’ (and you know who you are), you will constantly be in charge of hiring and administrating the employing of those who earn two to three times more than you. Often times you will also do the main of groundwork for them. Like I said, welcome to administration.
    If you can’t handle playing second fiddle…bow out now!
    As an addendum to the above, if you feel that you have no power as admin than you’re not running the show.

    So how to overcome all three?
    1. Be awesome at what you do
    2. Wait for your moment
    3. Make yourself indispensable
    4. Strive to be better than yourself

    Welcome to the club!

    • Newbish says

      Dear ExPhilippinesVA,

      Thank you for being ridiculously honest!!

      I’m very qualified but have had limited success in the past and your post has opened my eyes as to why.

      Please keep posting!!!!!

  8. says

    As the new year approaches, a lot of us have goals of switching careers or deciding to go into a business for ourselves. Amy, I love this post because it allows your readers to get an overview of what it takes to get started. I am a new Virtual Assistant and I know exactly how it feels to be at a lost sometimes. The Bootstrap VA has been an incredible resource for me. At the end of the book, Lisa provides a 30 day action plan that will have your busines up and running in no time.

    Thanks for another awesome post!
    http://www.withcareservices.com

  9. Darnicka says

    I was rear ended in a car accident, although unfortunate it made me miss being home. I’ve been googling this va thing it sounds great, I just am confused on what my first step should be.

    • Kaliegh Brunette says

      I am in the same situation. I am going to take the advice in this article and do the steps in the order advised. I think this article provides clear and helpful information and tips, and I now feel confident that I know enough to start my journey to be a successful VA. Don’t overthink it. Everything you need to know to begin is in this article. Where are you located?

      • says

        Hi Darnicka & Kaleigh & anyone else who wants to listen to my ramblings,

        I have been a VA since July this year (oh my gosh it’s almost over!) and when I first started I was in the same boat as you. I had no idea what to do and how to set everything up.
        I did a stack of research and came across a place called 121 Temps, their motto is pretty much one to one support. And that is exactly what they give, Liz who created 121 temps, is really cool. You can get on skype at any time and ask her a question and she will respond. Or you can ask the other VA’s within 121, since we are all on skype and we can help you out.
        The first thing you should do is write down your skill list, and I mean everything from when you first started working to now. Once you have done that decided which tasks on that list you like the most and that is what you can offer your services as.
        I hope I have managed to be of some help to you, and please feel free to drop me a line, if you have any questions. You can get me at http://www.localva.net, Facebook: Bec Amy, LinkedIn: Rebecca Amy, Skype: localva.
        Nice to meet you.
        Cheers.
        Rebecca :)

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