Virtual Assistant Job for Beginners. Learn to blog while getting paid. Providing help to other bloggers who need help to grow and profit. We don't offer virtual assistance, nor do we generally hire virtual assistants. However, we once made the exception and took on Sandra, who was kind enough to provide some information regarding the work she does.
Sandra, like us, is a nomad who has been traveling for over five years. With her five clients (including us), she was able to earn $2500 a month to contribute to her finances allowing her more time on the road.
The beauty of being a virtual assistant is that Sandra could be traveling around South America while her clients, (or us, in this case) could be in Australia, and our business relationship can still be active. We remained in regular contact with her during her travels via email, providing information regarding what we needed to be done for the week. From a distance, Sandra would oversee it all. She provided blog updates, social media promotion, and email correspondence. While other clients only utilized her social media abilities, we put her to the full test and thus were her biggest client.
One thing is for sure: Sandra was worth every penny.
For digital nomads, bloggers, or travelers who need a substantial, regular income to keep you afloat, then consider becoming a virtual assistant.
We took the time to ask Sandra a few questions about Virtual Assistant jobs in hopes of helping nomads like yourself in getting from point A to point B. Here is what Sandra passed on to us about her experiences.
The Best Part of Being a VA
When you have a Virtual Assistant job/business, you're your own boss of sorts. You take on the clients you want and decline the ones you don't want. You are able to call your own shots and put your own price tag on your services.
It can take a little bit of adjustment to get your head around this since most of us are used to being under the thumb of an employer. Many new VAs, myself included, feel the need to take on any client that comes their way, and thus can find themselves in unsatisfactory partnerships at first. However, once you learn what kind of clients are right for you, you can be more selective about who you work with.
When you're a VA, you make your own hours, so long as they fit the deadlines of your clients' needs. This allows the freedom to do those things you couldn't otherwise do because of the hours requiring you to be outside the house. For some, it could mean that you would finally be able to get a dog because you would not be stuck in an office all the time. Sure, it isn't easy, and there will still be days or sometimes weeks when things go quieter than you'd like. However, the hard work makes up for itself in the freedom in your schedule and pay you will receive. And that's what it's about: quality of life.
While it might be a slower process at the beginning gaining enough clients to sustain you, that's the worst of it. Taking the plunge into a Virtual Assistant job/business means that you have more freedom for yourself.
However, be warned that you only get back what you put into it. You have to promote your business and do the work. The upside is that this develops self-discipline, much needed in this line of work, and the benefits are worth the tediousness that can come with business development.
The Pros of Starting Your Virtual Assistant Job/Business
Here are some of the advantages of starting your own Virtual Assistance job. There are so many advantages, we will limit this list to just a few top benefits.
1. No Overhead for Startup
This makes being a VA an affordable, even free, business startup.
2. No Degrees Required
While you should have a basic understanding of writing, grammar, spelling, etc. to provide professional services to your clients, you don't need a degree to back you. A Virtual Assistant job/business uses the skills you already have at hand to apply to the clients you choose to work with.
There are so many different types of virtual assistant services out there that it really is an industry that is easy to break into. It allows you to offer and work the skills you already have and enjoy using, whether it's research, administrative duties, or social media output. The choice is yours.
3. Flexible Hours
Because the work is all online, it means that you can work at your own pace and in a schedule that fits you. This means you can work around another job if you need to, or you can work only at night, or only weekends, or only between lunch and when the kids get home from school. Once you quit the job you were initially working around, you will be able to treat your new Virtual Assistant job/business as a 9-5 venture, leaving your weekends and evenings free. In your own VA business, you can work as much or as little as you want.
4. Work Remotely
Again, because your work is all done online, you can work from wherever there is an internet. With smartphones now providing the option of using it as a hotspot, you can connect wherever there's phone service.
This can be the beach, a coffee shop, on the train, in bed, or in your office, wherever that might be. Just as long as the work gets done, remote work means you can even work in your pajamas.
5. You Set Your Own Prices
When you work freelance, you can set your own rates. You can charge as much as your clients are willing to pay. There are some virtual assistants who charge upward of $45 an hour!
Likewise, because you're freelance, you can change your rates at any time. You don't have to wait for a raise. You know when you deserve one.
6. Get Paid to Learn
There are many opportunities to expand your skillset while you work as a virtual assistant. Some clients will offer free training so that you can provide the service that they need for their business. Other times, you might decide to take a course or buy a product that can enhance your skillset.
While the latter won't necessarily be free, you'll be able to take the time to dedicate to learning. Likewise, this new course will be beneficial to your business as it means that you can charge more for your services, thus paying for itself. (and it's tax-deductible)
PRO TIP: Enroll in an exclusive resource and training program for Virtual Assistants. VAinsiders. Your membership includes a Job Board, Group Coaching 2X Month, Training Tracks, The Template VAult (Business templates, worksheets, checklists & bonus resources) PLUS other VAinsider Perks!
The Downside to Starting a Virtual Assistant Job / Business
Of course, with all the pros, there have to be cons. Nothing is that perfect, or everyone would be doing it. We don't want you to think that it is all sunshine and rainbows, because there are some difficulties. For the sake of full disclosure, we'll let you in on some of the trials of the job.
1. It Can Be Tough Getting Your First Client
When you don't have any feedback, getting your first client can be a challenge. This is especially true if you don't have an online network such as a bloggers group, that you can reach out to and pull from. If you're introverted, then cold pitching (reaching out to business who might want or need a virtual assistant without advertising) can be very difficult.
The good news is that once you do manage to get that first client, the second and third clients are easier to come by. When you bag the first client, then the ball is in motion.
2. When You're Self-Employed, There Are No Employee Benefits
It's true for any freelancer or independent contractor: there aren't any medical or dental benefits. No holiday pay, no sick pay. The exception to this is if you work for a VA business agency that might offer employee benefits.
3. You Have to Deal with Your Own Taxes
Again, because you're independent of an employer, it means that you are in charge of your own taxes. This means having to register your own business license under which you file your taxes. If you've never had to budget for taxes before, this can be a difficult adjustment. This means that you've also got to remember to send in your quarterly or annual payments to the taxman.
It can be an exhausting process. This means hanging onto invoices, receipts, expenses, etc., and figuring out how to claim as many deductions as possible. It's a learning process, but one that has to be done.
4. It Can Be Lonely
Working from home can be a lonely business, especially when you need other people to talk to outside the computer world. However, the upside is that because you can make your own schedule, you can leave yourself time to go out to meet people, like the gym, yoga classes, the park, music events, etc. It's just a matter of finding the balance.
There are more positives than negatives when it comes to delving into the business of virtual assistance. Knowing the whole scope of the business is important so as to avoid disappointment when your rose-tinted glasses turn out to be cracked.
Many of the downsides of being a freelance VA can be resolved, like keeping a part-time job that provides benefits. However, other cons of the business are more challenging and are just things you will have to get used to if you want to pursue this path.
10 Steps to Start Your Virtual Assistant Job / Business
Now that the basic benefits and downsides of being a freelance virtual assistant have been addressed, let's get into how you can start your own business.
1. Choose Your Business Name (SBA article)
For simplicity's sake, you might be tempted to use your own name as your business name, which is fine. Likewise, so is developing a catchy name that might get the eye of potential clients. It's all in how you want to build your brand. Neither approach is better than the other.
The only advice we have is to keep the catchy name simple and easy to pronounce. This means it can be more easily remembered, and thus, people can search easily for it. This is essential when you first start.
2. Decide on Your Services and Rates
When considering what to charge for your services, ask yourself what you're good at. What specific services would you like to offer over other services?
When you first start your virtual assistant job/business, stick to what you know and enjoy: social media series, technical assistance, and blog management services. As you get more comfortable in your role, you will be able to narrow what you offer and work to enhance your skill set in specific things to enhance your pay. For example, work on project and team management services.
When you're getting started, go for what feels the most comfortable. As you get used to being a VA, you can always adapt and grow how you need to.
This advice is also applicable to your rates. Many new virtual assistances choose a starting rate of $15-20 an hour. However, the key thing to remember is that you are a business owner, and as such, you need to take into consideration your business overhead, technology expenses, taxes, and living costs — just to name a few things. With this in mind, consider what you need to survive on, and give yourself an extra $5-10 an hour on top of that, to allow for savings or other necessities you might need.
3. Get Everything Legal and Above Board
Every location has a different requirement for business licensing. This can vary from country to country, state to state, town to town. However, if you're making money, then you need a business license. When researching what you need for your virtual assistant job/business, be sure to look up all three regional requirements.
Pro tip: if you do decide to use a name for your business other than your legal name, you will also likely need to fill out a Doing Business As (DBA) form.
While you can fill out this paperwork yourself, you might find that you want a layer to help you out, and thus, it makes for a good time to consider the structure of your business. A lawyer and CPA can be helpful during this time to ensure you create the right business frame that is nestled within the tax system and legalities of your area. The best position to start from is as a sole proprietor. However, many VAs are happy to start up their business as an S-Corp or as an LLC.
4. Plan Your Business
This is where your creativity gets to shine. Many people think that business plans are long and boring, but it doesn't have to be. This is the part where you can get excited for what's to come, and create a few points, such as the services you provide, the contract you'll supply to clients, how you will fund your business, and why you are more hirable than other VAs. Here you get to brainstorm how you pitch yourself, and what makes you unique from other virtual assistants.
5. Develop a Marketing Strategy
A marketing strategy includes how you'll get your message out. Will you just use social media? What about creating a blog? How about an email list? The question you have to ask yourself is how best are you going to let clients know that they need you?
Taking all this into consideration is going to help you hone in your personal pitch to get clients, which will only make it easier down the road.
6. Reach Out to Your Network
After you've got all the above steps sorted out, it is time to network. Reach out to an existing network of VAs. Even if they're not falling into the same niche as you, they will still be rife with information. You can draw from this and they may even be able to point you in some beneficial directions for your virtual assistant job/business.
Likewise, networking is a great way to meet and gain clients. The ease of this means you can stay within your comfort zone.
7. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
Networking isn't the only way to find new clients. The tried and true method is advertising. This doesn't mean standing out on a corner handing out fliers, but can be as simple as creating social media advertisements or posts, using your blog to get your word out, or even creating YouTube videos, to name a few. You never know where your next client might be hanging out. No matter what service you offer, advertisement is going to be an important aspect of getting clients for your virtual assistant job/business.
Another method you can try is creating a “Hire Me” page, or generating a portfolio of work you've participated in to display your quality services. Be sure to include a sure means of contacting you as well on your pages.
8. Keep Your Clients Happy
Once you've taken on your first clients and your business starts growing, it is essential that you keep your clients happy. After all, you don't have a business if you don't have clients who are willing to stay with you.
Keeping your clients happy is simple: finish what you set out to do in time, communicate, and go above and beyond for your clients. These things won't go unnoticed, and it can leave your clients feeling that you care about their company, and thus will be more willing to refer you to other potential clients if they don't keep you on themselves.
9. Ask for Referrals and Testimonials
You know you've done a good job, and if you truly have done, so do your clients. When they're happy, they'll be willing to grant you testimonials and referrals for your virtual assistant job/business. You just have to have the gumption to ask.
You can ask them to write something on your social media account, record a video of them sharing the work you've provided, or even a PDF letter that you can upload to a website. It isn't out of line to ask them to refer you to other people in the business they know, or in their network, either.
The quality of work you will give your clients will mean that you won't need to look for new clients for years. Your clients will do networking and advertising for you via the best method out there: word of mouth. This comes down to doing the work well and asking for a referral. That's it.
10. Use the Right Tools
There are so many tools that you can use when starting up your virtual assistant job/business, but knowing what the right tools are can be the tricky part. And it is essential that you have the proper tools at hand that fit your needs.
Another beneficial investment is time with a coach, or at the very least, taking an online course to pick up the pace of your business. Either of these can mean that your rates can increase and thus, your revenue increases quicker. VAinsiders will help with that.
Now you know the pros, the cons of starting a virtual assistant job/business. We've loaded you with 10 steps you need to take to get the ball rolling. As with any new business venture, it will take time, but with adequate planning and preparation, it doesn't have to be complicated!
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