How to Become a Virtual Assistant (With Little Experience)
Ever wondered what it would be like to boost your bank balance without having to set foot outside your home? It’s time to learn how to become a virtual assistant.
Working in your PJs, not paying for gas or parking, not having the same dull store-bought sandwich for lunch – and, perhaps most importantly, being there to take your dog out for a walk… These are some of the awesome perks of a virtual assistant job.
There are plenty of ways to make money from home, but working as a virtual assistant has the perfect balance of being realistic + lucrative. It doesn’t require much experience, just a simple set of skills you can learn quickly.
It’s also a fantastic way to step into the world of freelancing – and boost your skills as well as learn everything about online entrepreneurship.
Let’s start with what a virtual assistant actually does and the skills you need to become one.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
In short, a virtual assistant makes someone’s life easier.
Think of it this way: a small business owner needs help managing the ins and outs of her business (from updating the company’s Facebook page, to getting her finances under control). There’s too much to do, but very little time – and that’s when they hire virtual assistance to help.
But being a virtual assistant doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be an executive assistant. You won’t always perform traditional administrative tasks like organizing monthly expenses in Excel or booking in appointments (unless that’s what you specialize in, of course).
One of the best things about this role is that it’s incredibly diverse. Depending on who you work for, one day, you may be writing a newsletter and scheduling Facebook posts, the next day, you could be organizing a start-up’s conference in the Bahamas. Yes, really.
And – because it’s virtual – you can be anywhere in the world while helping someone keep their business on track. Yes, you could even be in the Bahamas yourself.
Want to learn how to become a virtual assistant in 30 days or less? Check out the course below.
What Skills Do You Need For VA Work?
While the skills and services you offer as a virtual assistant vary a lot, some essential skills would make the role easier (and probably more enjoyable). I’m talking about things like:
- Strong organizational skills
- Effective communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Good knowledge and understanding of all-things-internet
- Bookkeeping and good with numbers
As a virtual assistant, you’re likely to be communicating with different people online, so being able to find the right approach with each person is pretty important.
When it comes to organizational skills, being able to organize your time and set priorities is a transferable job skills that’ll benefit you in any job – but that’s particularly important to be a successful VA. In short, you’re likely to have a long list of different tasks dumped on you each week – so organization is critical.
Because you’ll be working online, having a good understanding of all-things-internet is crucial. Don’t get me wrong – no-one is expecting you to be an IT professional, but you will need to have some technical skills to complete tasks like writing a blog post, managing social media or creating a PDF.
To make you more desirable to a potential client (and give you the ability to charge more for your VA service), it also helps if you have a specialized skill or two to offer. For example, you might study and learn everything there is to know about the Pinterest platform. Then, you could specialize as a Pinterest Virtual Assistant, charging a higher fee for your specialized skill.
If you have little work experience or don’t know how to do these things currently, don’t fret. You can learn them quite easily with online courses or free videos (hint: YouTube).
Many skills can be gained on the job and added to your portfolio and CV as you go.
How Much Can You Earn as a Virtual Assistant?
If you’re asking yourself, “how much does a virtual assistant make per hour?”, the truth is that there’s the pay range varies significantly based on your experience and your client.
According to Payscale, Virtual assistants average $15.72 per hour with the 90th percentile making around $28 per hour, which translates into between $32,068 – $57,120 per year in salary before bonuses.
But keep in mind this data doesn’t distinguish between full-time and part-time work, so there are many part time virtual assistants who make $25,000+ working on the side. Also, these are just averages and the sky really is the limit.
One of the most appealing things about being a freelance virtual assistant is that you are the boss – meaning, you decide how much to charge your clients for your VA service.
That said, if you’ve woken up one morning and decided you want to become a freelance writer or graphic designer without any experience, you won’t be able to charge hundreds of bucks right away. Building a VA business takes time, connections, and referrals to find the ideal client.
If you don’t have much relevant experience, your initial pay per hour will probably be quite low (and could be below $10 an hour).
However, once you have some experience and a decent website which helps showcase your skills and expertise, you could be earning as much as $35+ an hour (without leaving the house!).
Sounds pretty great, right?
Top 10 Highest Demand Virtual Assistant Services Right Now
While the type of work you do as a virtual assistant varies and will depend on things like your skill set, your niche, interests, previous career and even location – some services are in higher demand than others. Offering several different services means that your clients won’t have to outsource to multiple freelancers, making their lives easier and you – a more attractive option.
Here’s a list of top services virtual assistants provide that people pay for:
1. Customer Service
The most popular virtual assistant job is within customer service. Keeping customers happy is crucial to any small business that wants to thrive – but it requires a significant time investment.
And business owners don’t have that much time on their hands – which is why they hire awesome people like you and pay you to make their lives easier.
Here are a few customer service and support related tasks you may perform as a virtual assistant:
- Handling customer inquiries
- Supporting customers in real-time (e.g., Live Chat)
- Processing orders
- Managing shipments
- Chasing payments
- Keeping records up to date
2. Finance Management
Staying on top of finances is something that a lot of people need help with – whether that’s personal finances, business finances – or both. If you have some expertise in this area and get on with numbers, you could offer financial management services to your clients, such as:
- Planning for taxes
- Managing retirement funds
- Tracking debt repayment
- Creating, sending and logging invoices
- Processing payments
- Calculating profit and loss
3. Administrative Support
Admin tasks are pretty straightforward – and are probably most closely associated with virtual assistant roles. Administrative assistant help may include:
- Booking in appointments and calls
- Managing a client’s schedule/ calendar
- Monitoring voicemail
- Making travel arrangements
- Creating reports/ PDF documents
- Drafting emails, internal communication, etc.
- Preparing PowerPoint presentations
- Managing files (e.g., DropBox, Google Drive, etc.)
- Setting up spreadsheets and data entry
4. Social Media Management
Being a virtual assistant isn’t all about spreadsheets and other shipping orders! If you know (or are willing to learn) how to manage social media accounts, companies will hire you because they need help with that.
Being active on social media as a business is crucially important today – but building a strong social media presence, again, requires a substantial time investment and some specialist knowledge.
Which is why business owners may outsource social media management tasks to people who know more about it than them. Also if you specialize in one specific niche, you can find larger clients that are willing to pay more for specific platform knowledge. For example, a Pinterest VA.
Social media management tasks may include:
- Posting on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, TikTok)
- Keeping profiles up-to-date
- Responding to comments to keep up the engagement
- Creating social media campaign ideas – and launching them
- Reaching out to new potential customers through social media
- Staying informed about promotional rules on each platform
- Knowing about social SEO and using it to optimize your posts
5. Content Production
Businesses need quality content to build and maintain engagement with their audiences.
Offering content creation services may give you a competitive edge over other virtual assistants.
Here are a few content production services you may offer while virtual assisting:
- Writing and formatting blog posts
- Proofreading and editing
- Keyword research
- Making a blog post SEO-friendly
- Sourcing and editing photos
- Researching and suggesting topics
- Creating infographics
- Transforming business data into engaging content
- Adding affiliate links to related articles
- Scheduling posts for publication
6. Website/ Blog Management
Many businesses also hand over the management of their website and/or blog to virtual assistants. So, if you know your way around WordPress, this may be an ideal service to add to your VA business offering.
Running your own blog would teach you everything you need to know, and you could also think about monetizing your blog to generate an additional source of income.
Here are a few of the website / blog management tasks you may be asked to perform for your client:
- Repairing broken links
- Setting up redirects
- Removing old, outdated or unwanted pages and posts
- Moderating and replying to comments
- Updating plug-ins
- Improving the website’s SEO
- Gaining a good understanding of the blog’s performance (KPIs)
- Reporting on hot topics and trends
- Tracking performance metrics (e.g., Google Analytics or other tools)
Want to know more about turning website management into profit? Read our post How to Buy and Sell Websites Using Other People’s Money.
7. Online Marketing
With 84.2% of the U.S. population already online (and the number of internet users still increasing!), most businesses need to do everything they can to maximize the effectiveness of their online marketing.
Connecting with audiences is the primary goal of any business – if they want to sell their product or service, of course.
Having experience in the online marketing field would mean you’re incredibly valuable as a virtual assistant.
Here are some services you could offer:
- Creating SEO-friendly landing pages
- Setting up webinars (and providing tech support, if needed)
- Creating sales pages
- Managing promotions and giveaways
- Managing new product launches
- Creating flyers and brochures
- Setting up paid advertising campaigns
- Measuring advertising effectiveness
8. Email Marketing
While some marketers are saying that email marketing is dead, statistics show that’s far from the truth. Not only are there over 5.6 billion active email accounts worldwide, but the U.S. is estimated to spend 350 million dollars on email advertising in 2019.
Here are a few email marketing services you could offer to your clients:
- Designing email templates
- Scheduling emails
- Writing and sending the newsletter
- Managing the subscriber list
- Managing product launches
- Tracking the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns (e.g., click-throughs, conversion, unsubscribes, etc.)
9. Email Management
No-one likes seeing thousands of unanswered emails in their inbox. Honestly, sometimes it gets too much, and I’m tempted to accidentally hit “archive all” – and pretend I never got them.
But that’s not a smart move. Instead, why not hire someone to stay on top of your inbox? And that’s exactly what people may hire a virtual assistant to help with.
Tasks under email management may include:
- Drafting replies (e.g., to common questions)
- Flagging important emails
- Unsubscribing from unwanted promotional activity
- Following up on important sent emails
- Managing spam (e.g., creating junk mail filters)
- Archiving emails (not “archive all,” though)
10. Outreach (Increasing Business Exposure)
Building relationships and boosting exposure is essential for any business – if they want to establish a profitable brand. And, while there are many ways to increase your visibility as a business, they are incredibly time-consuming – which is why companies may hire a virtual assistant to take care of that.
There are plenty of outreach VA services you could offer, such as:
- Starting conversations with bloggers
- Participating in relevant forums
- Contacting influencers and discussing collaborations
- Generating Leads via cold calls and emails
- Managing affiliate programs
- Writing up and distributing press releases
- Reaching out to advertisers or sponsors
How to Become a Virtual Assistant With NO EXPERIENCE in 5 Easy Steps
So, now that you know a bit more about what working as a virtual assistant may be like, you may be wondering what steps you’d need to take to get started.
First, let me tell you something: if you worry about a lack of relevant job experience – don’t.
As I’ve said before, you don’t need years of experience to get started – but you do need to get specific about what you want your VA business to look like.
1. Decide On Your Service Offering
The first step in how to become a virtual assistant is getting clear about what types of services you’ll offer.
It may be worth listing the skills you have and comparing them to the services a virtual assistant may offer (listed above).
Maybe you run your own website or blog, or know how to edit photos for social media really well. Maybe you’re the master of advanced Excel formulas that can simplify someone’s finances at the click of a button.
Spend some time thinking about what you’re good at – and would enjoy doing. Compare what your skills are vs. what people need help with – and decide what services your VA business will offer.
Your services, of course, will not need to end there – because you’ll keep adding new skills (as well as, say, programs you’re comfortable using) as you progress in your career as a successful virtual assistant.
ultimately, understanding how you can create value for your clients, and what your unique selling points (USP) points are, is a smart first step towards success.
2. Decide how much you’re going to charge
As mentioned above, how much you charge for your services will depend on your skill set, experience, and the type of services you decide to offer.
If you’re someone who has a great deal of organizational experience or has already worked as an assistant, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a higher pay per hour.
However, if you’re new to being an assistant and are hoping to build up your portfolio and skillset, you may need to start on the lower end of the scale to attract more clients and gain experience.
Couple of key things to bear in mind when setting your price are:
- You’ll need to pay self-employment tax, so make sure that whatever you charge covers for that;
- By becoming a virtual assistant you’ll also accumulate other expenses, such as website hosting, software subscriptions, and office expenses – so make sure you keep those in mind when deciding how much to charge;
- Finally, there are no benefits. No paid vacation, no sick days, health insurance, or retirement contributions. Should anything go wrong, you’ll need to cover out of your pocket.
It’s important to bear all of that in mind when setting your prices. No matter how much of a beginner you are, make sure you don’t end up in debt because you’re massively undercharging your clients.
The way around that is to think about how much you’d earn if you were to do the same job in an office – then add 25% to cover the expenses. It isn’t surprising that freelancers often make more than employees – when you think about how much extra there is to take into consideration.
I know that setting decent prices and communicating to your clients about them can sometimes be daunting if you’re new to the whole freelancing thing. But you have to remember that this is a win-win situation: your clients don’t need to spend time and money setting up for and training a new employee. So don’t be afraid to ask for a decent rate.
3. You’re not alone: Learn from the pros
Once you’ve narrowed down your focus and understood how much you’d need to charge for your services to make it worthwhile, it’s time to get some inspiration from the pros.
There are people out there who have turned this into lucrative careers and are making thousands of dollars doing it every month. Kayla Sloan is a great example of a successful virtual assistant. Try connecting with other VAs, reading thier blogs and listening to podcasts on running a VA business.
Are you only looking to make this a side-hustle? That’s cool, too. Side hustles are what helped me achieve financial independence at the age of 30, so I’m excited for you! Find out more about how to start a profitable side hustle.
You may want to take a virtual assistant training course to learn the ins and outs of working as a VA, so that you’d know exactly what to expect. Here is my favorite: 30 Days to Virtual Assistant Success
4. Build your online presence
As a virtual assistant, you’ll be providing an online service – so your clients need to be reassured that you’re good at this stuff. That means you need a strong online presence. To become visible to your clients – and to grab their attention.
If you want potential clients to know about your services, you’ll need a website or perhaps even a blog (check out my How to Start a Blog post for tips on how to kick things off).
That, of course, will depend on the type of services you decide to offer.
However, having an online presence is key for anyone aiming to build a profitable virtual assistant business.
5. Start looking for your first gig (and be determined to succeed!)
Searching for that first gig is exciting – and, frankly, quite daunting. It can feel a bit like staring across a barren desert.
The truth is, you have to expect a few ‘No, thank yous’ along the way. Or to be ignored now and then. Every freelancer goes through that. The most important thing is to be persistent – and not take it personally.
And now, let me tell you where to look for that first potential client!
How Can You Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?
There are many ways to find VA job, but here are a few tried and tested methods:
Flexjobs is a website dedicated to flexible jobs that’s reputable and updated regularly. It should be your first stop when looking for a virtual assistant job. As of this writing there are over 200 jobs listed and more are being added daily. Here’s are the current Flexjob VA job listings.
2. Belay Solutions
Belay Solutions is website dedicated to helping you find a VA job with tons of listing and support. It’s worth signing up and paying for the dedicated support to help you find a VA job if you’re ready to take it seriously. It’s important to note that Belay often requires you have a degree and a few years of previous experience.
Equivity is a legitimate company who are consistently hiring virtual assistants to work with their clients. They require a bachelor’s degree, but offer some of the highest paying positions in the industry.
4. Fancy Hands
Fancy Hands is an awesome company where you can pay a community of virtual assistants per task. So if you’re an online entrepreneur and you need something done, you don’t need a dedicated virtual assistant, you can just post the task on Fancy Hands. The Fancy Hands team are always looking for virtual assistants (pay is in the $3-$7 per task range). You can apply for Fancy Hands here.
Zirtual is a company that offers virtual assistant, data entry, and other types of home jobs. They are always looking to hire virtual assistants and you can check out all of the open Zirtual positions.
6. Check out social media sites
Facebook is a great place to look for freelance jobs in general. There are many niche groups you can join – search for anything VA work-related, and you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the number of choices.
Once you join these groups, make sure you put in some time and effort into networking: that’s a key element of succeeding as a freelancer, which is often overlooked.
Another thing you could do is post about your services on social media and ask your Facebook community to share. You’d be surprised by how many people get their first gig that way!
7. Reach out to local businesses
Small businesses are a big market for virtual assistants. So, why not reach out to a few local companies to see if they need any help managing their workload? You never know, it could be that they simply haven’t considered outsourcing.
8. Check out freelancing websites
Sites like Fiverr could also be an excellent place to start looking for your first VA gig. Bear in mind that you may need to start with a very competitive price to land your first few clients – but that’s part of the game.
Once you’ve landed a few clients, gained experience, and received some positive reviews, it’ll become easier to find work.
Final Word on Becoming a Virtual Assistant
So, there you have it. Not only is being a virtual assistant a flexible way to make extra money without leaving the comfort of your home but, if you’re willing to put in the work, it can become a lucrative career which you can pursue from anywhere in the world!
And if you’re looking to start a virtual assistant business in the next 30 days, definitely be sure to check out the course 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success for the exact blueprint to launch your own business.