Updated March 14, 2016
A virtual assistant provides services to individuals, organizations or companies, but they work online instead of going into an office. It’s an excellent work-at-home opportunity and one of the most cost-effective ways of making money online. It’s simply a matter of charging others for a skill you already have.
A lot of people hear “virtual assistance” and think of administrative assistance, like a secretary, but the possibilities are much more broad. The internet has made it possible to do a wide variety of things remotely, or, “virtually.”
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.
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.
Tips to become a virtual assistant
A few years ago, I worked as a virtual assistant (VA for short). I have since employed my own virtual assistants as well. After my personal experience, here are my tips.
1. Get a website
This is a no-brainer. People need to be able to find you, so a presence on the web is crucial. It gives you a more professional appearance, a chance to highlight some of your skills and an opportunity to explain your process.
Use my step-by-step guide to set up a website or a blog if you want to regularly add articles. (Note that the post title is “How to Start a Blog” but the same steps work to start a website with this one small tweak).
2. Read this insiders ebook
I get a lot of requests to promote ebooks, but I rarely do so. However, I bought The Bootstrap VA (as a paying customer, this is my referral link) and it is ABSOLUTELY one I recommend. I even share a bit of my experience in the book.
The finished product is packed with actionable tips. 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 with this tip
Possible social media platforms to pursue include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Blab, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn or one of many others. It will be impossible to devote enough time to all of them, so, where to start? Focus your social media efforts wherever your potential clients hang out.
Relationships are key. Being involved in social media is one of the best ways to find clients and vice versa, especially until you are established and can rely on word of mouth.
4. Be helpful
Be very careful not to come across as spammy. Mass emails or “cold” emails to people that don’t know you are rarely successful. I understand the need to make an income, but take the time to offer useful information first. This might come in the form of really useful articles written on your blog, or it might come in the form of genuinely helpful (and respectful) advice to someone you meet online.
In my case, I casually offered some ideas to a friend on Twitter and it turned out to be the start of a working relationship that lasted quite a while.
One of the most common misconceptions about working online is that it picks up quickly. This is usually not the case. This is a business. Just like any other business online or offline, it will require hustle. You can’t just build a website and watch the money roll in. Be proactive, enthusiastic and keep at it!
The nice thing about working online is that the barrier to entry is low and the cost to start is very reasonable. This allows you to make it a side hustle until you pick up enough steam to go full time.
6. Network with other VAs
Ask around, read great articles, do some googling and find 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 you get access to when you buy The Bootstrap VA.
7. Work for a VA service
If finding your own clients is not your thing, you might consider working for a company that matches VAs with clients. For some, the help received from the company finding clients is worth sharing the profits.
Some companies to consider are eaHelp (I worked with a VA from eaHelp and was very impressed), Priority VA or Fancy Hands. I don’t have personal experience with Priority VA or Fancy Hands, but have heard good things about them.
Did you find this helpful or do you know someone who could benefit from this information? I’d appreciate it if you shared it. Thank you!