How to Be a Virtual Assistant

How to Become a Virtual AssistantWith debt being a major problem for many people these days, and unemployment (as well as underemployment) being an obstacle for many others, a lot of people are turning to the Internet to make extra money from home. One trend that has gotten the attention of many who are trying to pay off their debt faster and/or increase their income is the growing number of “virtual assistant” jobs available.

But what is it and how can you become a virtual assistant? We’ll explain below…

At its core, the term “virtual assistant” or “V.A.” just means someone whose job is to help their boss, but one who does so remotely using the Internet – in many cases the person may never even meet their boss in person! This type of job is appealing for many reasons, but particularly because it can be done from anywhere. It’s location-independent, which makes it suitable for people who need a bit more flexibility.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

A virtual assistant handles tasks common in an office environment, including:

  • Taking phone calls (special software might be needed)
  • Scheduling
  • Answering emails
  • Drafting memos
  • Research
  • Managing social media accounts
  • Managing blogs (moderate comments, add content, promote, etc.)
  • Bookkeeping
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Graphic design
  • Data entry
  • Project coordination

The exact tasks given to each virtual assistant will vary, depending on the person doing the hiring and their needs. But the list above should give you a good idea of what you might expect.

How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Make?

A virtual assistant can make anywhere between $12 and $50 an hour (or more), depending on the tasks assigned, and how proficient the assistant is.

As a virtual assistant, you can provide services to several clients at once; you aren’t tied down to a particular employer. That increases your ability to earn more income because if you want more hours (and more pay), you can always look for more clients.

What Do You Need to Get Started?

In many cases, all you need to get started as a virtual assistant are great organizational skills, a computer, and reliable broadband Internet. It also helps to have some sort of time-keeping software so that you can track how much time you spend working on each client’s projects.

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There are some virtual assistant jobs that require special skills and additional items. If you are going to perform customer service, you might need a special software package that allows you access to the company’s system. If you perform communications functions, being able to write is a plus. Those working in layout and design require some skill and expertise in those areas. If you will be handling schedules, sometimes specific software is needed.

Before you begin working with a client, make sure you understand his or her needs, as well as any extra software you might need to buy. If you aren’t reimbursed for auxiliary purchases, you can deduct the cost of your business purchases from your income for tax purposes.

Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs

One of the best resources on starting a virtual assistant business is from Entrepreneur. This article also includes information on where to find directories, as well as organizations and support groups. You can also find certification programs. While you don’t necessarily need a certification to work as a virtual assistant, it can help if you want to command a higher rate. I highly recommend you read the article, and then begin hitting the jobs boards.

While there are job boards specifically for virtual assistants, you can also find this type of work elsewhere. Freelance marketplaces like eLance, oDesk, and Guru often have sections devoted to work that can be done by virtual assistants. Realize, though, that you will be bidding on some of this work, and in some cases it’s a race to the bottom.

You can also find similar postings on freelance writing job boards and sites (I like Freelance Writing Jobs and Media Bistro) and on sites like Problogger. There are also virtual assistant job boards accessible through official virtual assistant organizations and sites like Virtual Assistant Forums and VA Networking.

It’s also worth noting that you can find gigs by beefing up your social media profiles. Create a profile on LinkedIn, and be clear about what you do. You can also tweet useful information.

It doesn’t cost very much to create a web site, either. A home on the web, with a professional look, can help you portray the image of a true business assistant. That makes a big difference when you work from home in any capacity. You might be sitting there in your pajamas, but no one has to know it from looking at your web site.

If you are looking for a way to make a little extra cash for your debt pay down efforts, this guide on how to become a virtual assistant might come in handy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that it’s the right career for you!

Image credit: elenathewise

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  • Hi Miranda,
    Virtual assistants play a huge role in the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem these days, especially with startup entrepreneurs who need tasks accomplished but simply cannot afford the overhead or investment of full-time onsite employees. Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community.

  • A very helpful post on being a virtual assistant. Those who are in such roles are surely grateful of this article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Katrina Watson

    How does a virtual assistant receive payments from clients?

    • I think it depends! The payment arrangements are up to the individuals – whether they want to use an online site like Elance or Odesk, or whether they want to send payment some other way.

  • George

    Thanks for sharing with us this wonderful piece of art! Lem work on it

  • Good post! Its a nice input to be a virtual assistant!

  • Yani Lacaba

    Good tips Miranda. Pointing out what sort of skills can the VA do, where to find jobs and what tools should he use. You may add in your article the required set of skills to become a virtual assistant. For example, the employer need a VA with great communication skills, typing, writing, research, etc..

  • Eric Hardwick

    Hi Miranda,
    Virtual assistants play a huge role in the small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem these days, especially with startup entrepreneurs who need tasks accomplished but simply cannot afford the overhead or investment of full-time onsite employees. Thanks for sharing this post