How to Become a Virtual Assistant (& Make Legit Money!)

Grant Sabatier

Creator of Millennial Money and Author of Financial Freedom. Dubbed "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to over $1 million in 5 years, reaching financial independence at age 30.

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Ever wondered what it would be like to boost your bank balance without having to set foot outside?

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?

Yep, I’m pretty sure you have.

Making money from home is something we’ve all thought about – and I’ve talked about making it a reality more than once.

There are plenty of ways to make money from home, but today I’m going to delve deep into one that has the perfect balance of realistic + lucrative: working as a virtual assistant.

Make it one of your side hustles to make some extra money, or grow it into a lucrative work-from-home career – the choice is yours.

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.   

But first – what does a virtual assistant do? And what skills do you need to become one – and make decent money out of it?

Read on to find out everything you need to know. 

 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

 

In short, a virtual assistant’s job is to make 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 you 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 start a virtual assistant business in 30 days, then check out this course.

 

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?

 

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:

  • Organizational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good knowledge and understanding of all-things-internet

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 one of those transferrable job skills that’ll benefit you in any job – but that’s particularly important if you’re a VA. In short, you’re likely to have a long list of different tasks dumped on you each week – so organization is critical.

And, 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 know things like how to post on social media or create a PDF.

Or, if you don’t know how to do those things, you should know how to learn them (hint: YouTube). 

The rest of the 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 no one single answer.

One of the most appealing things about being a freelancer that you’re the boss – meaning you decide how much to charge your clients for the services you offer. 

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. 

However, with expertise and skills come the big bucks!

Same applies to work as a virtual assistant. 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 VA Services That Are In Highest Demand 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

 

One of the most popular jobs a virtual assistant can help with is customer service. Keeping customers happy is crucial to any businesses that want 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 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 their 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
  • Bookkeeping

 

3. Administrative Support

 

Admin tasks are pretty straightforward – and are probably most closely associated with virtual assistant roles. Administrative 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.

Social media management tasks may include:

  • Posting on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram)
  • Keeping profiles up-to-date 
  • Responding to comments to keep up the engagement
  • Coming up with SM 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 also 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:

  • Writing and formatting blog posts
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Keyword research
  • Making posts SEO-friendly
  • Sourcing and editing photos
  • Researching and suggesting topics
  • Creating infographics
  • Transforming business data into engaging content
  • Adding affiliate links
  • 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 package.

If you don’t know much about WordPress yet, there’s plenty of information on how to get started and you can also check out my Free 7 Day How To Start A Blog Email Course.

 

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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 m
  • 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
  • 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.

 

 

1. Decide On Your Service Offering

 

The first step in starting as 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 (that could turn the most popular social media influencers green with envy).

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 you’ll offer. 

Your services, of course, will not need to end there – you’ll keep adding new skills (as well as, say, programs you’re comfortable using) as you progress in your career as a VA.

But 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.

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 course to learn more about 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.

How else are your clients going to know about what you do if you don’t market yourself?

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 client!

 

How Can You Find Virtual Assistant Jobs? 

There are many ways to find VA gigs, but here are a few tried and tested methods:

 

1. 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! 

2. 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.

 

3. Check out freelancing websites

 

Sites like People Per Hour, Upwork or 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!

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to boost your finances or make money from home, check out these posts: 10 Legitimate Work From Home Jobs (and How Not To Get Scammed!) and 19 Quick Ways To Make Money From Home.

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 to Virtual Assistant Success for the exact blueprint to launch your own business.

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