If you’re looking for a flexible way to work from home and earn good money doing so, then learning how to become a virtual assistant may be for you.
There’s no question that this really can be one of the more lucrative online jobs, especially once you build up a reliable client list – which doesn’t take long at all – allowing you to really start to earn solid money as a VA.
It also has the added benefit of having all the flexibility that you’re probably looking for in considering a work from home job.
But figuring out just what’s needed to start your very own VA business can definitely be a bit daunting. So don’t worry: we’ve done the hard work for you!
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is someone who provides administrative services to clients, which are often small businesses, in a remote setting.
This means that they’re a win-win for everyone: for you, as the potential VA, it’s the perfect work from home job as all you really need to do this is an internet connection (and, ideally, a few other things that we’ll get to shortly).
And for businesses, it’s a great way for them to be able to hire someone to help them with aspects of their work that they would otherwise have to get a full-time staff member to do in an on-site office. With more and more businesses shifting online rather than paying for office space, hiring a VA can solve a lot of problems at once.
- The fastest way to get started as a VA
- How to get the right clients to start earning money ASAP
- The one thing most VAs miss when they first start out
What exactly does a virtual assistant do?
A virtual assistant typically provides administrative services, such as managing email accounts, responding to customer queries, making travel arrangements and doing data entry. However, they can also specialize in building a client’s online presence, such as by creating and updating their website’s content and managing social media profiles.
The range of services that a VA can offer can really vary depending on both what your clients need and what services you wish to specialize in.
For example, some VAs focus exclusively on social media management, like creating Pinterest pins or Instagram posts, including through researching things like which hashtags to use and tracking engagement.
Others, however, keep things more general, to essentially act as a “one stop shop” for their clients.
Both of these can have their pros and cons, including based on how much you can earn, which we’ll go into a bit further below. Overall, however, it should be pretty clear that you can definitely find services to offer that both interest you and are in hot demand by potential clients.
How to become a virtual assistant
The process of how to become a virtual assistant isn’t hard at all, although there are a few steps you should take to make sure that everything is in place before you start taking on clients.
But as you’ll see, what’s great about starting a virtual assistant business is:
- It’s very quick. In just a few steps, you’ll be able to have your VA business up and running.
- It’s incredibly affordable. While starting any business has its costs, this one is much cheaper than others, especially as you probably already have a computer and internet connection.
- You don’t need any formal qualifications. As we’ll show you, soft skills are often much more important.
- It’s flexible. Most people choose to work from home due to the flexibility and, as a VA, you can choose to work as much or as little as you want.
- There’s a huge demand for VA services. Given the nature of this role, your clients can literally be based anywhere in the world, so there’s never going to be a shortage of work.
1. Figure out which services you want to offer
Your first step is going to be having at least an approximate idea of which services you want to offer. As shown in the massive list of VA services we mentioned before, there are literally hundreds of services you can provide when working in this kind of role, so it’s a good idea to know which ones you want to focus on.
Of course, you can always change this down the track, whether it’s expanding your offerings or refining them more to focus on a certain area. But having some understanding of this at these early stages will help you when building out the rest of your VA business in the next steps.
2. Build your online presence
Putting your best face forward is important in most jobs and the same is definitely true here. In particular, given that your work is being done entirely online, it’s important to have a strong online presence that shows exactly what you’re offering.
The first part of doing this will be launching your own website, which is incredibly easy to do.
It’s also a good idea to lock in your social media handles. Here, it’s better to keep things simple – that is, rather than aiming to post on every social media platform ever invented, stick to where your clients are. This will usually mean Facebook and probably LinkedIn.
3. Select your business structure
One of the main questions people have when asking how to start a virtual assistant business is how to set up the legal side of things, especially when taxes come into play. And the answer, unfortunately, is: it depends.
The best thing you can do here is to speak to a professional, whether that’s an accountant or a lawyer, as they’ll be able to provide advice based on your personal circumstances. This includes whether you should set this up as a sole proprietor, an LLC or one of the other company structures available where you are.
Yes, this will cost money for advisory fees, but it’s worth it in the long run to make sure everything is being set up correctly. It can also actually help to save you money overall, as there may be certain tax deductions you could be eligible for. This is why we’d always recommend getting professional advice at this point.
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4. Set your fees
Setting your fees can actually be the hardest part. Are you charging too much and turning people away? But what if you charge too little and don’t get what you deserve?
This is another aspect where keeping it simple is usually the way to go so you can just get started. You can debate yourself for hours as to whether to charge an hourly rate (the most common one, at least at the start) or a set fee per service, not to mention just what that rate should be.
It’s for that reason you should set an initial fee and move on, with a good starting rate generally being around $20 to $25 per hour. And don’t worry, you can always increase it later once you start to get some clients and build your expertise.
5. Build your client list
It can be pretty daunting to find virtual assistant jobs for beginners when you first get started, but once you cross the hurdle of finding your first client, you’ll see that it will start to get much easier.
This list of virtual assistant websites will give you some options for where to market yourself. For example, in the case of major freelancing sites like Fiverr and FlexJobs, simply create a profile on each site for potential clients to find you.
These can be great for helping you to build your portfolio of work allowing you to use this to help secure more clients going forward.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that some of the websites at that link are more exclusive than others. For example, you can only be linked up to a client as a VA on Virtual Assistant Finder if you’re a student in the Fully Booked VA course.
Some other tips to keep in mind when looking for VA clients include:
- Figure out who your target clients are so you can start to figure out where to look for them
- Start to build a relationship with them. For example, if you’re targeting bloggers, contributing to Facebook groups where they also hang out can be great for showing them the value you could add to their business.
- Create your pitch. You’re going to have to do some cold pitching, at least at first, and while this can be effective in the end for getting clients, it can be uncomfortable for some people. This is why it’s important to craft an effective pitch.
- Keep in regular contact with your clients. Once you get a client, holding on to them is key. This is why staying in regular contact to know what they expect from you and how you can improve your services will be critical – even if it’s just through scheduling a call once a week.
- Propose a trial period. Offering your services for a reduced fee for a short period can help you and a client see if you’d be a good fit. It’s also a good strategy for attracting clients who may be unsure if they want to go ahead with you or not.
6. Network with other VAs
Getting to know other VAs is good from a professional standpoint, as you’ll be able to learn about what’s worked for them – and what hasn’t! It’s also a good way to find out about things like new technologies that can help you work or simply to trade stories.
However, it’s also a great idea from a personal point of view. Working from home can get lonely, as you won’t have the face-to-face interaction that comes from working somewhere on site.
This is why building a network of VA friends can really help you. Start by checking out any Facebook groups that serve this exact purpose, as there’s often a real sense of community there.
How do I become a virtual assistant with no experience?
It’s very simple to become a virtual assistant with no experience, as you’ll learn most of the skills you need on the job. This is why it’s so important to just get started as a VA. As outlined above, the steps you’ll need to follow are:
- Determine which services you’ll offer
- Create your online presence
- Choose your business structure
- Figure out the fees you’ll charge
- Reach out to clients
- Build your VA network
Of course, having some experience or virtual assistant training can definitely make sure you hit the ground running and will help you start earning more money quicker.
This is why I recommend the Fully Booked VA course. It was created by Gina Horkey who built her own VA business from the ground up. In doing so, she:
- Secured her first client within one month of becoming a VA
- Was earning $4,000 a month on the side of her full time job within six months – with a baby and a toddler
- Earned enough that she quit her nine-to-five job after eight months
So she’s definitely qualified to teach you how to do the same!
How long does it take to become a virtual assistant?
You don’t need formal qualifications to become a virtual assistant, so the process of becoming a VA can take just a few weeks. This includes if you choose to complete a training course before starting, as the two can often be done in parallel.
That is, once you’ve gotten professional advice on your business structure, the other steps (such as starting your website) really won’t take long at all.
And while you may think that doing some training beforehand will delay how long it takes you to start earning money, the opposite is actually true. For instance, courses like Fully Booked VA are designed to walk you through the process of how to become a virtual assistant from the ground up.
This means that the aim here is to do the coursework at the same time as you’re setting up your VA business. This means that having this guidance along the way could actually make the overall process faster for you.
What skills do you need to become a virtual assistant?
When it comes to the question of what skills does a virtual assistant need, soft skills are often more important than others. That said, there are some basic technical skills that can help.
Broadly speaking, the most in-demand virtual assistant skills are:
- Time management – When you (ideally!) have multiple clients, all of whom have multiple tasks that must be done today, time management is going to be critical.
- Self-motivated – One of the benefits of being a VA is that you’re your own boss! However, it also means that the only one who fails if you don’t do the work is, well, you. This is why being self-motivated is a good skill to have as a VA to ensure you keep up with everything.
- Communication skills – Whether it’s communicating with your clients, your potential clients, your clients’ customers…or, well, anyone, keeping things clear and positive is important, especially to avoid any misunderstandings that can occur when you aren’t speaking face-to-face.
- Organized – Being organized is one of the main attributes that clients look for in their VAs – after all, you’re often being hired to do the organizing for them! This is why keeping on top of everything at all times will be very highly valued by clients.
- Basic computer abilities – You’ll need to have a solid understanding of how to use Word or similar applications, like Google Docs, as well as standard mail clients, like Gmail or Outlook, as a lot of your work will revolve around these. It can also help to know how to use other programs, depending on your tasks – for example, if you’re doing social media management, knowing how to use things like Canva can really help.
- Client-oriented – This may seem obvious, but your job ultimately is to make your clients’ lives easier, so it’s good to keep this in mind when you approach your VA tasks.
- Ability to take (and apply) feedback – Each client will inevitably have a different way of doing things or have different outcomes in mind. Keeping a clear, regular line of communication open with them will help you to understand what these are – but making sure you’re able to apply any feedback you then get is equally as important.
Take a look at this FREE webinar on the three simple principles you need to become a successful VA to see if being a VA is right for you.
(And if you’ve missed the live session at the link by the time you see this, don’t worry, the replay is available for free there too!)
How much money can you make as a virtual assistant?
On average, a virtual assistant based in North America can make between $35 to $50 an hour, although some who provide more specialized services report earnings of up to $100 per hour.
This means that when it comes to how much a virtual assistant makes per year, a standard full time virtual assistant salary can easily be several thousand dollars each month.
And to see whether virtual assistants make good money from when they first become VAs, check out how much Gina Horkey (the creator of the Fully Booked VA course) earned when she first started as a VA:
Where can I find virtual assistant jobs?
You can find virtual assistant jobs on any general site where people can find freelance work, like FlexJobs, Fiverr and Upwork. There are also a number of sites that are solely for people to find virtual assistant jobs, including Virtual Assistant Finder and Time Etc.
You can find a full list of virtual assistant websites here, which will give you a great starting point for where to find VA jobs.
However, it’s also worth mentioning that tracking down your own clients can also be a really lucrative way to work as a VA, especially as you’ll likely earn more with that kind of work. In fact, it’s when you start to build your own client list that you’ll see why becoming a VA is one of the highest paying online jobs.
This is why sites like Fiverr are good initially for things like building a portfolio, but they’re often better for doing one-off tasks rather than establishing a longer term client-VA relationship. It’s also because of this that a big part of finding work as a VA is going to be pitching clients.
Do virtual assistants work from home?
Virtual assistants work remotely from their clients and certainly can work from home. In fact, the majority of virtual assistants do work from home, although some work for virtual assistant agencies so may be located in an office that’s nevertheless separate from their clients’ offices.
For most people though, the ability to work from home is one of the main benefits of working as a VA. This is especially the case when you consider that all of the standard virtual assistant duties can be done from home, as long as you have a reliable internet connection.
(And if you’re ever feeling lonely or missing working in something resembling an office environment while in your stay at home job, you can always work from a coworking space in your city on any days that you feel like getting some face-to-face interaction!)
How do I become a virtual assistant at home?
The process of becoming a virtual assistant at home is exactly the same as the steps we outlined above to become a VA – especially as most VAs work from home anyway!
- Decide which services you’ll offer
- Create your online presence
- Choose your business structure
- Figure out the fees you’ll charge
- Reach out to clients
- Build your VA network
You can read some success stories here of VAs who work from home – including just how much money they’re making from this.
Are virtual assistants in demand?
According to Freelancer.com, demand for virtual assistants increased by 95% over three years and, globally, there was a 156% increase in the number of virtual assistant jobs being posted over the previous ten years.
This makes it clear that virtual assistants are definitely in demand. Which, when you think about it, makes sense.
After all, as more and more businesses move to an online setting, they’re still going to need help with their various administrative and other tasks. But hiring someone to sit in an office and do this just doesn’t fit this business model anymore.
At the same time, employers know that the workforce is shifting more towards remote and freelance roles. In fact, Upwork found that 69% of people report being happier when freelancing compared to working at a traditional onsite job.
When you combine all of these points, it’s no surprise that virtual assistants are in demand, with that demand growing more and more every day.
Is being a virtual assistant hard?
Being a virtual assistant isn’t hard as long as you have the ability to remain organized to ensure your clients’ needs continue to be met and you can balance your competing priorities. It can also be difficult if you lack self motivation, given you will be working for yourself.
That is, like most jobs where you work from home, you often end up being your own boss – which is great! In fact, it’s one of the main reasons people pursue these types of jobs.
However, it also means that self motivation will be key to making sure you actually do the work that needs to be done. With no supervisor breathing down your neck, it’s going to be entirely on you to get the job done.
Similarly, some people can start to have difficulties once they take on multiple clients. This is why being clear about their (and your) expectations is important from the start, so that you know exactly how much time each client will likely need so that you’re not accidentally spreading yourself too thinly.
How many hours a week do virtual assistants work?
A minimum of at least five hours of work a week is a reasonable starting point for virtual assistants, although you’re also free to take on as many hours as you believe you can manage.
You can read about some specific case studies of the kinds of hours that some beginner VAs have here – as well as what they earn with those hours.
Clearly, the more hours you work – assuming you’re charging an hourly rate – the more you’ll earn, so it’s definitely in your best interest to increase this where possible.
At the same time, many people look for a part time online job so that they can reduce their hours while still earning decent money, which is more than possible to do when you become a virtual assistant.
This is why you can essentially work as much or as little as you like as a VA. In fact, you could easily treat it as a weekend job if you need extra cash on the side of your main job.
It’s also why having a solid idea of your clients’ needs is important from day one. That way, you’ll know that you’re not biting off more than you can chew (or more than you want to chew, if you’d rather stick to working part time) when you take on a new client.
Who hires virtual assistants?
It is generally businesses that hire virtual assistants to support them in the administrative tasks they may need done in their day-to-day work or to scale up operations. This can include anything from sole proprietors operating as a small business to larger companies.
In fact, when it comes to who needs virtual assistants, the answer is basically any sort of business entity, especially given the breadth of tasks that VAs can work on.
For smaller businesses, they may not have any staff that actually work in an office or don’t have quite enough work just yet to bring someone on full time, so hiring a VA is a natural fit to that sort of mode of operation.
But the same can also be said for larger companies. Whether they’re looking to shift some of their workforce to a virtual setting, prefer to hire a VA rather than an “actual” staff member or have a short term need for someone to do this kind of work, companies of all sizes have a need to hire VAs, so your clients could literally be any such type.
I will say that it’s more common to be hired as a VA by small businesses, including people like bloggers or those running other online-only businesses. For example, those who run e-commerce shops often like to hire a VA to help them with all that’s involved in keeping their websites up to date.
This means that while it’s not the absolute rule, expect most of your clients to be businesses around that end of the scale.
Is being a virtual assistant worth it?
Being a virtual assistant is definitely worth it if you’re looking for a flexible work from home job with the ability to easily earn a full time income. As long as you have the ability to stay organized, self-motivated and clearly communicate with your clients, becoming a virtual assistant is a great option to work remotely.
Like any job, it’s not always going to be wonderful. Especially at the start when you’re first hustling for clients, you may find yourself working more hours than you expected. It can also be frustrating to pitch clients and then get a rejection – or, worse, hear nothing at all.
You may also have to deal with picky clients or even clients who don’t know what they want and expect you to figure it out.
But that’s the name of the game in a lot of jobs and, with experience, you’ll quickly see how to navigate situations like those.
At the same time, you’ll also see just how flexible working as a VA is as well as the benefit of being able to choose which services to offer based on what interests you or what you’re good at. All this means that deciding to become a virtual assistant to earn money online is often a good idea for a lot of people.
Final thoughts on becoming a virtual assistant
As far as work from home jobs go, starting a virtual assistant business is definitely a good option for many people.
Given you can choose your hours based on the number of clients you opt to take on, it’s great for allowing you to work around your existing schedule. This is actually why it’s often mentioned as one of the most popular online jobs for stay-at-home moms – although can easily be a stay-at-home dad job too!
And the fact you can make a legit income doing this also makes this a solid choice when it comes to remote working opportunities.
While there are a few steps to get started, these aren’t particularly difficult and have the added benefit of being incredibly inexpensive. This means that as long as you take the time to go through the steps needed to become a virtual assistant, you’ll be well on your way to seeing success as a VA.
About the author
Anna is the founder of LogicalDollar and a personal finance expert, having been featured on Forbes, HuffPost, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, CreditCards.com and many more. She’s committed to helping others get on the path to financial freedom using the experience gained from turning $60,000 in debt into a six-figure investment portfolio. Find out more.