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Learning how to become a virtual assistant could be the answer to creating a life where you have far more control over your time and financial freedom.
After all, a virtual assistant exclusively works remotely. Therefore, you can work from anywhere, and often on your own schedule.
In this guide, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about becoming a virtual assistant, or VA, and getting your first paid work.
Here is a breakdown of everything covered:
All you need is a willingness to learn, a little patience, and a can-do attitude. And you too can take back control of your time, while earning money working from anywhere.
1 – What is a Virtual Assistant?
The common misconception is that a virtual assistant is the same as a traditional office assistant – someone who organizes activities, deals with schedules, and completes administrative tasks.
Because a virtual assistant works online, the range of skills and services you can offer is huge.
Yes, online businesses still need VAs to complete many admin and organizational tasks. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
At a high level, a virtual assistant helps with the day-to-day running of businesses from a remote location.
The services and day-to-day tasks a virtual assistant does we have covered in the ‘Services in High-Demand’ section, just below.
2 – How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
As with most jobs, your experience and the company you work for will have a big impact on how much money you can make.
A self-employed virtual assistant with many years of experience is naturally going to charge more money than a VA who is just starting out.
However, it’s important to go in with a ballpark figure. Below, we have listed the average salary and average hourly rate for virtual assistants across several countries.
What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Virtual Assistant?
The average hourly rate for a virtual assistant can range from $5 for basic data entry work to over $100 for highly specialized work.
According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for a virtual assistant in the United States. is $15.81. This increases with experience.
The hourly rate is also higher if you have more specialized skills such as billing, online research, graphic design, and project management.
|Average Hourly Rate for a VA by Location||Average Hourly Rate (Payscale)|
as of February 7, 2022
|What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Virtual Assistant in the United States?||$16.05|
|What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Virtual Assistant in Canada?||$15.90 (CA$20.21)|
|What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Virtual Assistant in Australia?||$20.81 (AU$29.28)|
|What is the Average Hourly Rate for a Virtual Assistant in the United Kingdom?||$20.45|
What is the Average Salary for a Virtual Assistant?
It’s more common for virtual assistants to be employed hourly. However, there are also certainly opportunities for full-time work.
3 – Virtual Assistant Services in High-Demand
As we spoke about in the introduction section, virtual assistants offer a wide range of services.
This makes becoming a VA a very flexible career move. You can specialize in certain areas, depending on your skills.
Here we have listed a number of common areas in which virtual assistants are highly sought after.
1 – Time Management & Scheduling
Busy executives and CEOs are always pushed for time. And when we’re under pressure, that’s when we tend to forget things and make mistakes.
If you love being organized, this could be a great route for you. Many business owners and CEOs need VAs to manage their busy schedules.
They need someone to communicate to them clearly what’s happening that day and where they need to be. Tasks include:
- Arranging client meetings and scheduling them into a calendar
- Managing daily schedules and making sure there are no overlaps
- Setting up reminders and providing necessary information for meetings and events
- Arranging travel and business trips
- Communicating the schedule to others and rearranging it accordingly
2 – Customer Service
Excellent customer service only happens on a human level. But many business owners simply don’t have the time to address every customer request and response.
This is where a VA can add so much value to a business. If you’re a people person, you can use your friendly nature and charm to provide quality customer service to customers individually. Tasks could be:
- Replying to customer emails
- Replying to customers through instant messengers, such as Facebook
- Managing email lists and sending out customer feedback forms
- Talking to customers over the phone and resolving their queries
3 – Outreach & Lead Generation
Successful businesses need to constantly make new connections and find new customers.
As with current customers, potential new customers are far more likely to use the business or service if they’re treated like a human and have a pleasant experience.
If you love the challenge of winning new business and enjoy interacting one-on-one with people, this could be a great option for you. You could:
- Compile spreadsheets of potential customers and businesses to connect with
- Cold email outreach to a list of prospective emails
- Message potential customers on social platforms like LinkedIn
- Call customers or businesses who have signed up for more information
4 – Social Media Management
Plenty of businesses know they should be active on social media, but simply don’t have the time to manage it every day.
If you love managing Facebook pages, Pinterest accounts, or Twitter accounts, or you like creating beautiful content, there’s no shortage of businesses that need someone to manage their social accounts. Tasks could be:
- Writing and researching posts
- Creating engaging visual or video content for social
- Managing and scheduling all posts
- Replying to comments and instant messages
- Researching best practices and implementing them, such as what hashtags to use to use on Instagram
You can offer these services across many different social accounts:
- Facebook pages
- Twitter account
- LinkedIn business pages
- Snapchat account
- YouTube channel
- Tik-Tok channel
- Pinterest account
5 – Website Design & Maintenance
Bloggers and website owners know how much work needs to be done to make their sites successful. Often, they simply don’t have the time to do everything.
If you too run a blog or website, this could be an excellent learning experience, while also allowing you to make some money.
Many bloggers and website owners will outsource the tasks that take up a lot of time. That way, they can focus on high-level strategy or content creation.
These skills will also help you improve your own blog or website. Tasks could include:
- Writing or researching written content
- Editing and proofreading blog posts
- Structuring blog posts and adding visuals or videos
- Optimizing posts for better SEO results
- Improving website speed and general maintenance
- Manage and reply to emails and comments
- Add affiliate links and remove broken links
- Outreach for backlinks
6 – Bookkeeping & Managing Finances
To keep on top of finances, they have to be managed on a daily or weekly basis. But so many business owners do not have the time to constantly do this.
Finance and bookkeeping services can often pay more than general admin tasks. This is true if you can bring Excel experience to the table.
However, there is also a need for someone to just organize and manage the finances of a business day-in, day-out. Depending on your experience, tasks could include:
- Documenting income and expenses in a spreadsheet
- Accounting for all expenses through receipts and managing accordingly
- Invoicing clients
- Processing payments
- Doing payroll if the company has employees or contractors
- Projecting profit/loss and assigning budgets
Naturally, a background in finance will allow you to understand more of those tasks.
But finance is an area where many business owners struggle and often need help. There are plenty of opportunities to lend your support and skills.
7 – Writing & Content Creation
Any content creator will tell you that their most important asset is time. It can take hours, even days, to create a blog post or graphic, from research through to delivery.
As businesses and websites get bigger, business owners have less time to spend on content creation.
Many of them want to stay relevant with cutting-edge, thought-provoking content on their blog.
But how many blogs have you seen that haven’t been updated for weeks, or even months? There is an opportunity there to help out.
If you enjoy writing or creating visuals, this could be a great service to offer. You could help through:
- Researching keywords and blog ideas
- Writing engaging and well-optimized blog posts
- Creating infographics, small graphics, or editing photos for the posts
- Finding stock photography and video to use
- Creating sleek-looking videos or animations for a blog or for social accounts
- Creating artwork such as featured images, YouTube thumbnails, or headers and icons for a blog post
8 – Data Entry & File Management
Businesses today commonly use tools like Google Drive or Dropbox to manage all their documents and files.
While those tools are fantastic for storing everything, keeping them organized is down to the people using them.
For many, these tasks are methodical and difficult. But if you love being organized and creating structures, this could be a great avenue to remote work for you. Tasks could be:
- Taking important data from forms or lists inputting and organizing it in spreadsheets
- Creating file structures in Google Drive or Dropbox
- Organizing all files and documents and arranging them in an easy-to-use structure
- Analyzing user data or feedback forms and highlighting trends or important findings
- Organizing inboxes and going through emails
9 – Research
Successful businesses constantly learn. They keep an eye on trends. They research their competitors. And they react quickly to changes or news stories.
If you enjoy learning new things, offering your skills as a research VA could be a rewarding experience. You could be:
- Researching competitors and identifying opportunities for the business
- Looking into new markets and understanding where the business could expand
- Researching areas where the business lacks and showcasing successful case studies
- Researching relevant and engaging topics for blog posts, social content, and other media opportunities
- Presenting findings in a clear and concise way, that will allow the business to take action quickly
10 – Editing & Proofreading
Whether it be an in-depth blog post, a company document, or copy for a sales page, correct spelling and grammar are vital for all businesses.
With so much bad content and copy online, having immaculate spelling and grammar makes a business far more creditable and trustworthy.
If you have a keen eye for detail and a love of the English language, this could be an enjoyable VA opportunity for you. Opportunities could include:
- Editing and proofreading all content for blog posts and emails
- Looking through current website copy and blog posts and correcting mistakes
- Editing and proofreading company documents, like brand guidelines or tenders for new work
- Reading through copy for flow and changing it where needed
- Writing style guides and best practice documents for content creators and the marketing team
11 – Project Management
Successful business owners need to be able to multi-task. Every day, a wide range of tasks across many areas of business need to be planned and completed.
Businesses need someone to oversee all the projects and tasks the business is undertaking, and make sure everything stays on track.
If you love the energy of many things going on at once, project management could be an excellent choice to focus your virtual assistant offering. Tasks may be as follows:
- Organizing all tasks clearly in a project management tool like Trello
- Implementing a system of feedback and progress, so that everyone knows how much of a certain project has been complicated
- Delegating tasks to the correct people within the business, depending on their skills
- Managing both the day-to-day tasks and the project at a high-level
- Keeping track of time so that deadlines are not missed
12 – Community Management
Many successful businesses will have thriving social pages or online communities.
While these communities are wonderful for brand awareness and great customer care, they do need to be managed well.
If they are not managed, people in the community will feel neglected, or that their voice isn’t being heard. Eventually, they will go elsewhere.
If you’re great with people and enjoy interacting in an engaging and helpful way, you could offer your skills as a community manager. Tasks could be:
- Writing engaging updates and posts about the business for the online communities
- Replying to comments on social pages or message boards
- Creating a code of conduct for members to adhere to
- Getting the community excited and engaged through fun content and thought-provoking posts
- Helping online members achieve their goals by talking to them one-on-one
4 – What Skills Do You Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?
1 – Attention to Detail
Being a virtual assistant means you’ll mostly be working on the day-to-day tasks of running a business. Excellent attention to detail is very important.
If you’re entering data, you don’t want to miss a field. If you’re proofreading, every mistake needs to be picked up.
If you’re attentive and spot things where most people don’t, your keen eye for detail can help plenty of businesses.
2 – Multi-tasking
If you’re a virtual assistant, it’s vital that you can successfully handle multiple tasks at once.
As a VA, you’ll be very task-driven. Rather than tackling one large project, as say a creator would, you’ll have lots of little tasks to do throughout the day.
Being able to jump between those tasks, while adding more every day, is an important skill for a virtual assistant.
3 – People Skills & Good Communication
Virtual assistants will always be interacting with people. This could be documenting the day’s tasks from your boss.
It could be interacting with customers or members online. Or it could be through outreach to potential customers or new business.
Regardless of whom you are emailing, calling, or messaging, you need to have excellent people skills.
A polite and clear tone will help people understand you and what you are asking. And a friendlier tone, rather than an abrasive one, will make sure you represent the business in a positive way.
4 – Organized
Whether it be data, files, contacts, or projects, as a virtual assistant you will constantly be dealing with large quantities of data.
Being organized will help both you and the company keep your minds clear. Just as you would a wardrobe or garage, businesses too need everything well maintained and organized.
Many people, especially if they are pushed for time, will become messy and fall behind.
If you can keep these people on track with your organizational skills, you’ll add so much value to any business.
5 – Ability to Quickly Learn & Problem Solve
Even if you specialize as a virtual assistant, there will be many times where you’ll be asked to do something you may not have done before.
If you can take the initiative and figure out how to do things on your own, you’re well equipped to become a virtual assistant.
A business owner is already very busy. They want to give you your tasks and let you get on with them. They don’t want to have to explain things.
6 – Responsive
Often, because you’re dealing with day-to-day tasks, things will come up that need to be done urgently.
If you’re punctual and responsive, you’ll be able to complete tasks and solve problems quickly.
People like quick responses. No one likes to send an email or message a Facebook page and have to wait hours or days for a reply.
5 – How to Become a Virtual Assistant with no Experience in 8 Easy Steps
There’s plenty to get excited about when it comes to becoming a virtual assistant.
The hours are flexible, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved in many areas of the business. Plus, you can do it from anywhere.
If you’re excited about becoming a virtual assistant, but have zero experience, don’t worry. Remember, everyone at some point started with zero experience.
Here’s how to become a virtual assistant in 8 simple steps. Put this plan in action, and stick to it, and over time you’ll slowly build your virtual assistant business.
1 – Decide on your service(s)
Firstly, and most importantly, you need to decide your virtual assistant services.
Naturally, as a VA you may be asked to do a variety of different tasks. But having a core focus will allow you to find the right clients for you.
Maybe you’re keen to offer your services as Pinterest VA. Or maybe the financial and bookkeeping services really excite you.
Whatever you choose, make sure your offerings are crystal clear. That way, clients won’t be expecting you to do things you’re unsure of.
2 – Decide on your hourly or daily rate
Pricing services is a sticking point for many freelancers and virtual assistants. The temptation to drop your rate to get more work is often overwhelming.
But you need to be practical with your pricing. At the end of the day, you need to earn enough money to, in the very least, cover your monthly expenses.
Use that as a starting point. Work out how much you need to make in a month, and divide it by the number of hours you expect to work in a month. You will get a good idea of how much you need to charge hourly.
You may need to take lower-paid work initially. But you should always have a limit.
3 – Create a legitimate business or set up properly as a freelancer
This is really important. You can only become a successful virtual assistant if you treat your endeavor as a proper job or business.
Most VAs are employed as freelancers. As such, you will be responsible for paying your own taxes and other liabilities that come with running your own business. You need to learn how to manage your finances, taxes, and reporting obligations accordingly.
Don’t treat this as a hobby. Take it seriously, and build strong foundations from the start. Once you grow, you’ll have far fewer issues.
4 – Create your online presence and profiles
Now that you’ve set up your business, it’s time to spread spreading the word. First, start with a simple website that lists your services and gives clients a place to contact you.
Websites don’t have to be complicated. A simple Wix or Squarespace website is enough to get started.
Once that’s done, go to your social and online profiles and fill them in properly. These could be your job website profiles (e.g. Upwork), or social channels (e.g. Facebook pages).
Making sure your online presence is accurate and clear will give you credibility and allow clients to trust you. First impressions matter!
5 – Reach out to your friends, family, and network
Word-of-mouth is still the most effective way to get work as a freelancer or business owner. And the best place to start is with the people you know.
It’s important to remember never to try and sell to people. Instead, reach out, and let them know about your new virtual assistant business.
Let them know what you do and to bear you in mind if they see or hear someone needs your services. Be friendly and human, not pushy.
6 – Network and meet new people
Once you’ve told people you know about your virtual assistant business, it’s now time to meet new people.
Networking events, in-person and online, are a great way to connect with fellow business owners who may need your services.
There are also many Facebook and LinkedIn groups dedicated to freelancers and online services.
Think about where your service may be needed. If you’re a Pinterest VA, for example, a good place to find work would be a Facebook blogging group.
7 – Build positive relationships by doing an excellent job
Referrals, like word-of-mouth, are often overlooked when it comes to getting new work. Once you land your first client, you need to impress.
Obviously, there is a line between going above and beyond for a client and letting them take advantage of your goodwill.
But for your first job, make sure you do a good job. If the client is impressed with you, they are far more likely to refer you on to other clients.
8 – Consistently blog and post about your industry
Finally, positioning yourself as an industry expert on a certain topic will help you gain credibility, authority, and encourage clients to contact you directly.
Find the time to write about your industry and services. Follow the media, trends, and create relevant and engaging content.
Post it in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn, or use services like Medium. If your posts add value and help people learn, they are likely to see you as an expert.
With all these steps, the important thing to remember is time. It could take a few days, or it could take months to get your first client.
Never get discouraged. Stick at it, and keep pitching and posting. Eventually, a paid opportunity that suits you well will present itself.
6 – Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
There are many ways to find VA work or virtual assistant jobs. Whether you’re looking for full-time work or freelance clients, there are services to help you.
Remember, landing your first job or client is always the hardest. Persistence is key. Keep applying and contacting people every day. Eventually, an opportunity will arise.
Here are seven ways to find virtual assistant jobs:
FlexJobs are a job board with a difference: they have a key focus on remote and flexible jobs, including full-time, part-time, and freelance roles.
There are tens of thousands of jobs listed on FlexJobs, and more are added every day.
For a small monthly fee, you’ll gain access to all the opportunities listed. They even have a section, especially for virtual assistant jobs.
If you want to pursue full-time and part-time virtual assistant roles, rather than freelance, this is one of the best places to go online.
One of the most popular freelance websites online, Upwork is a great place to kickstart your virtual assistant freelance business.
Upwork allows you to create professional profiles, showcasing your skills and offerings. It’s an easy-to-use website, and areas such as client contracts and payments are generally all taken care of through the platform.
Initially, you will have to build up your feedback score. But the more clients you land and 5-star reviews you receive, the more work will come your way.
Remote Job Boards
There are many excellent job boards online, focussing solely on remote jobs. As VAs are by nature remote, there are always virtual assistant listings.
The ‘Remote Jobs’ section of our Resources page lists a range of popular and established job boards, including Remote OK, We Work Remotely, and Remotive.
You’d be amazed at how many opportunities for virtual assistants there are in various Facebook Groups.
Some Facebook groups are communities of freelancers who share skills, advice, and job opportunities with each other.
Depending on your services, there are many Facebook groups where your skills could be an asset to people in the community.
If you’re a Pinterest VA, for example, joining a blogging group could be very beneficial. Remember not to go in and hard sell your service: it can be off-putting.
Instead, talk to people, make connections, be helpful, and opportunities could slowly present themselves.
The social platform for business professionals, LinkedIn is an excellent place to showcase your skills and find potential clients.
Through LinkedIn’s InMail service, you can find professionals working in certain fields and message them directly, introducing yourself and asking them if you can be of help.
While LinkedIn’s free profile limits your activity, LinkedIn Premium allows you to message as many people as you like.
If you’re willing to research and find the right people, it can be a great way to connect with these people directly.
People trust people. Often, there’s no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face and having thoughtful, helpful conversations.
Websites such as Meetup are great for finding events tailored to certain interests or skills, such as blogging or writing groups.
Online networking is very popular too. By searching online or looking through Facebook and LinkedIn groups, you’ll find plenty of virtual networking events for free.
Yes, it can be nerve-wracking at first. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful way to find work.
Outreach & Emailing Businesses
If there are people or businesses you’re convinced can benefit from your services, use a service like Hunter to find their email.
Then, you can email them directly. If done right, cold email outreach can be very lucrative.
Use a spreadsheet to track your emails, and be sure to follow up several times. Most people only reply to the 2nd or 3rd email.
Outreach is a numbers game. Don’t get disheartened if you’re not getting replies. Keep following up and emailing new people, and in time opportunities will arise.
7 – Virtual Assistant Software & Tools
The beauty of being a virtual assistant is that you don’t need much to get started.
However, there are a few handy tools you should use to help you operate efficiently and effectively.
- Accounting & Invoicing: Freshbooks
- Getting Paid by Clients & Banking: Wise, formerly TransferWiseTransferWise
- Editing & Proofreading: Grammarly and Hemingway Editor
- Stock Photos: Unsplash and Deposit Photos
- Pinterest Account Management: Tailwind
- Social Graphics Design: Canva, PicMonkey, or Adobe
- Virtual Meetings: Zoom
- Client Communication: Slack
- Online Learning & Courses: Skillshare
8 – Virtual Assistant Essentials
While working from home is great, being hunched over a kitchen table or working from bed for many hours a day is not healthy.
Therefore, it’s worth investing in some essential home office equipment. That way, you can stay healthy, productive, and work flexibly.
- Rather than a desktop computer, a lightweight laptop allows you to change location, and work out of coffee shops or coworking spaces
- A laptop stand is a simple, lightweight way to stop you hunching over a laptop for hours on end
- Getting yourself a sleek, ergonomic keyword and mouse will help you stay productive and stop wrist strain
- A desk chair is designed to keep you comfortable and supported if you need to sit and do focussed work for many hours
Our work from home office essentials guide gives you everything you need for the perfect home office.
From inspirational decor to adjustable desks, there’s an amazing selection of essentials to learn more about.
9 – Pros and Challenges of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
You have the ability to work from home or anywhere
Whether you enjoy working from home, at coffee shops, or both, being a virtual assistant gives you that choice. Plus, you’ll save plenty of time and money by not commuting.
You’ll have flexible working hours
If you’re freelance, you can create a schedule that works around your home life. Even if you work full-time, many companies won’t expect you to work a rigid 9-5 schedule.
You can do different types of work
Being a virtual assistant covers many skills. You’ll often be asked to undertake a range of tasks. This helps keep work interesting and not monotonous.
You have opportunities to learn new skills
Virtual assistant work is often diverse. As your clients or managers start trusting you more, they’ll often ask you to complete different tasks.
The more you work on different tasks, the more you’ll develop your portfolio of skills. This will lead to new opportunities.
You need to be responsive
VAs largely deal with day-to-day tasks. Therefore, you will need to be available if something needs to be done urgently.
The last thing a client wants is to email their VA only to get a reply back several hours later.
You’ll have to problem solve quickly
Sometimes, you may be asked to undertake tasks you’ve never done before. The last thing a client wants is their VA asking them how to do something.
If you love learning new skills and figuring things out on your own, you’ll thrive as a virtual assistant.
You’ll be working remotely all the time
While remote working has many benefits, it can also get very lonely working on your own. There’s no office full of people to interact with.
Therefore, be sure to change your environment. Work from a coffee shop now and again, or join a coworking space of fellow freelancers.
10 – Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Home Summary
If you’re looking for a career that provides flexible hours and can be done from anywhere, becoming a virtual assistant is an excellent choice.
Even if you have zero experience, what better time than today to start? Everyone, at some point, starts from zero.
Like anything in life, you will need to be patient. Becoming a virtual assistant won’t happen overnight.
It will take time. You have to keep learning. Keep improving your skills, and keep connecting with people.
This guide will give you an excellent foundation to work with. There are plenty of techniques, tools, and resources here for you to use.
We at Nomad Paradise wish you the very best on your journey to becoming a virtual assistant.
You can do it. Just keep improving, keep looking for work, and never give up. Take back control of your time and financial future.
Thank you for reading. We welcome any feedback on our virtual assistant guide. And please let us know how your journey to becoming a VA is going.
You Might Also Like to Read
- Work From Home Office Essentials for the Perfect Home Setup
- Work From Home Jobs and Where to Find Them
- Best Portable Laptop Stand – Reviews & Guide
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- Best Portable Printers for Your Home Office
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