Angela opened a new browser window and typed, start a virtual assistant business.
The first 4 results in her search were adverts from popular platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and Udemy.
As she scrolled further down the page she saw results from popular sites such as Time Doctor and Business Insider.
She spent some time quickly reading through each result one at a time.
Angela quickly took notes as she read and digested the content.
She was listening to a podcast on her way to work and she heard about someone like her who makes $5,000 a month online.
This person was working as a virtual assistant (VA) and Angela never heard of this role before.
Let me know if you can relate to any of these.
- You’ve always wanted to be a virtual assistant but you’re not sure how to get started
- The thought of leaving your secure corporate job scares you to death
- You’re not sure if you have the skills to succeed as a VA
- Fear of failure is your number one barrier to getting started
If only there was a way to safely dabble and become a virtual assistant part-time just so that you can try it out.
In this post, you’ll learn the pros and cons of becoming a virtual assistant and what it actually takes to get started and become successful this year.
What is a Virtual Assistant
In case you’ve never heard of a virtual assistant before let’s spend some time looking at who is a VA.
According to Wikipedia, a virtual assistant is also known as a virtual office assistant. They are self-employed and provide professional assistance to an organisation.
Another name for them is administrative assistants for online businesses.
The services they provide can be administrative, technical or creative in nature.
Generally speaking, these assistants provide support while working from home.
This kind of administrative support can include calendar management, inbox support, email management, customer support, issuing invoices and client management. People who provide this support are normally called personal assistants.
While the phrase technical support may seem obvious a VA can assist with answering technical queries, troubleshooting software, software migration and technical set-up.
For those who prefer the creative side of the business, their services can include social media management, graphic design, social media strategy, copywriting and marketing.
You might be surprised because none of the services provided by a VA is new or different from ordinary jobs.
What makes virtual assistants unique is the fact that they mainly provide support to digital businesses compared to the familiar brick and mortar businesses.
Virtual Assistant Pros
So, let’s spend some time looking at the advantages of becoming a virtual assistant.
Looking at the VA pros will give you the motivation you need to step out in faith.
- Be your own boss
- Work your own hours
- Decide your rate of pay
- Live anywhere in the world
- Choose your clients carefully
Spending some time on each of these items will help you understand the possibilities better.
1. Be Your Own Boss
As you can imagine being your own boss is a lot of fun because you get to decide on the work rules. Yes, it can be scary at first to have so much responsibility but if you run a sole proprietorship this is how life goes.
It does take a lot of discipline and responsibility to be the CEO of your own business. You’ll have to make a number of important decisions.
2. Work Your Own Hours
Just because you run a business doesn’t mean you have to work the same hours as everyone else.
In fact, as the CEO you get to decide what time your start and when you finish each day.
When you first get started it may mean working long hours to secure your first set of clients.
However, when you get booked up you get to decide how many hours and days you’ll work each week. Setting your own schedule is exciting.
3. Decide Your Rate of Pay
Hello, 6-figure salary. In your 9-5 job your boss decided how much you were worth but now as a virtual assistant you get to make that decision.
It may sound scary initially but over time you’ll understand why this makes so much sense.
Of course, you’ll have a lower rate to get your first client but when you’re booked out, you can increase your rates or charge higher rates for new clients.
4. Live Anywhere in the World
The one thing that attracted me to being a virtual assistant is the fact that I can live anywhere in the world.
More importantly, you can become a digital nomad spending years just travelling around the world.
If you have the travel bug, like me, this can be your ticket to getting the time freedom that you’ve always wanted.
5. Choose Your Clients Carefully
Did you know that you have the ability to fire your client as a virtual assistant?
Yes, if your client is treating you unfairly or their expectations doesn’t align with the way you work you can part ways.
It’s important to have contracts in place to protect both parties in case things don’t go according to plan.
Virtual Assistant Cons
As with everything else in life, there are downsides to being a virtual assistant.
Unfortunately, there is nothing perfect in this world so you need to decide what type of role aligns with your dreams.
Here are the disadvantages of being a VA.
- Work in Isolation
- No Employee Perks
- You do the Taxes
- Getting Your First Client is Hard
- VA Life Can Be Stressful
While these cons are not the end of the world, they give you some insight into the reality of being a VA.
Working in Isolation
If you enjoy working your full-time job in an office because of the ability to socialise with others then you’ll find VA life hard.
Of course, you can join a VA program with other VAs on the same journey as you.
Being part of a community really helps you to feel like you are part of something bigger.
Take care of your mental health by meeting with friends and family regularly.
No Employee Perks
I believe that this is the hardest part of being a VA. Working as an employee gives you attractive perks like paid time off, health insurance, dental insurance, sick pay and bonuses.
As your own boss, you don’t have these perks and your clients will only pay you for hours worked unless you’re on a monthly retainer.
This is why it’s important to set your rates high enough to cover health, dental and holiday expenses.
You do the Taxes
If you dislike bookkeeping or financial accounting this may be the one thing you’ll dislike about being a VA.
Unfortunately, it is your responsibility to file your taxes every year. You can also hire an accountant to take care of this for you.
As soon as I could afford it I hired an accountant to handle this side of my business. Yes, you’ll still need to submit your expenses and income statements, so keep track of everything.
Being a VA is Stressful
I have to admit that being a VA can be very stressful. It’s important for you to set boundaries with your clients at the start of your engagement together.
I’ve heard of nightmare stories where clients contact their VAs at all hours of the day and night as well as on weekends.
Also, some clients expect you to do everything including stuff that’s not in your contract.
Please push back and politely decline and remind them of your hours and what you agreed to do for them.
Getting Your First Client is Hard
When you first get started as a virtual assistant you’ll be faced with many clients saying no to you.
The client to VA relationship is built on trust so it’s obvious that you’ll get many people saying no before you get your first yes.
I’ll give you some tips and tricks inside my VA coaching program showing you a few simple secrets on how to get your first client in 30 days.
It’s not easy but you can do it. Join the free Masterclass to see how.
Start a Virtual Assistant Business
Now that you have a good understanding of what it’s like to be a virtual assistant let’s dive in on the necessary steps to get started.
Before I go further there’s something that you need to know.
The biggest reason why many VAs take long to get their first client and get more clients is due to a lack of confidence.
They believe that they are not good enough, don’t deserve success and cannot make it as a VA.
Let me tell you this if I can do it, so can you. You’re probably thinking the following:
- You’re too inexperienced
- People wouldn’t hire you based on your location
- Your race or cultural background is a problem
- No one wants to work with you because you failed
- You’re too young or too old
I can think of many more reasons why you believe that you will not succeed. However, I can assure you it all boils down to confidence.
Step 1 – Choose Your Services
The first step is to decide on the type of services that you would like to offer potential clients. Even if you’re not sure right now spend some time looking at your skills.
Ask your family and friends what they believe you are good at doing.
This initial step can be difficult especially if you don’t have any obvious skills that digital businesses need.
Before I became a VA, I worked in sales while I was in corporate but I knew that I didn’t want to offer this skill to digital businesses.
However, I had a keen interest in marketing as well as technical implementation so I learned everything I could to become a Tech and Marketing VA.
Research your target audience by looking at their social media accounts and understanding their struggles.
You’ll be able to offer a service that has high demand that you can do as remote work.
No, you don’t need a college degree to offer VA services or to own a VA business.
Quick Tip: The best VAs are those who enjoy what they do every day of the week so it’s essential that the service that you offer is something that you’re passionate about.
Step 2 – Set Up a Resume/Portfolio/Website
In order for clients to take you seriously, you’ll need to set up a resume or portfolio showcasing your services.
You’re probably thinking that I’m crazy but I can assure you that this works really well.
You’ll need to outline your skills, past experiences as well as the list of packages available.
Remember to include a way for people to have an initial chat or discovery call with you. Using Calendly or Squarespace Scheduling is an easy way to get started.
Also, integrate Calendly with Zoom so that you can have a professional conversation with them.
Quick Tip: Make it really easy for potential clients to book time in your calendar so that you can get in front of more potential clients.
Step 3 – Get Testimonials
This may sound like a chicken and egg scenario but you have to trust me on this one.
Get testimonials from previous bosses and colleagues and add them to your resume or portfolio.
Do some initial pro bono work for an hour or two in order to get a testimonial.
While this may sound scary it is the one thing that will separate you from other new VAs who are just getting started like you.
There are a few clever places where you can offer your services in exchange for a testimonial.
I give these tips to people who join my VA coaching program. You can sign up for the free Masterclass to learn more.
Quick Tip: Remember to add these testimonials to your resume with a photograph and title of the person giving the testimonial
Step 4 – Pitch Your Services
Just because you have a resume, portfolio or website doesn’t mean that clients will suddenly start flowing in.
You’ll need to go out and find clients using these three methods.
- Cold pitching
- Applying to open jobs
Let me explain each of these to you so that you’ll understand the differences.
If you make a list of your ideal clients then you can find their email addresses on their website and contact them by introducing yourself and your services.
This method is called cold pitching because you don’t know them and they don’t know you but they might have a need for your service.
Remember that you can also do this cold outreach on Instagram but it’s advisable that you build some rapport first.
Applying to Open Jobs
There are tons of small business owners that need your services and they advertise their jobs on places like Facebook groups, Instagram, LinkedIn, Job Boards and Indeed.
The only issue with this is that there are lots of other people applying for those jobs just like you.
So, there’s a lot of competition and you’ll need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
I have a whole list of places where you can apply inside my VA coaching program but I’ll mention a few of them later in this resource.
Knowing the difference between Facebook and Instagram will help you a lot with networking.
Instagram is the place where small businesses go to show off their skills.
Facebook is the place where these same small businesses go to ask questions.
It’s important for you to offer your assistance to them on Facebook so that they can see your authority in your area of expertise.
Quick Tip: You’ll need to do a combination of these pitching activities regularly in order to get your first client.
Getting Paid As a Virtual Assistant
One of the most important questions you probably have when it comes to getting paid as a VA is your rate.
What you should charge as a virtual assistant depends on several factors.
These include your revenue goals, your experience, services being offered and your expenses.
Your Revenue Goals
You’ll need to sit down and decide what is your monthly revenue goal as a VA.
If you are currently making $50,000 a year in your corporate job and you want to replace that figure then break it down into manageable chunks.
$50,000 divided by 12 equals $4,166.67/month.
It is advisable that you spread that figure across 3-6 clients. For example, you can offer 5 clients a monthly package of $850.
What can you offer a client that will be worth $850 a month?
The average hourly rate in the western world ranges between $15 and $20 an hour. However, you can still charge $25 an hour.
What’s Your Experience?
At this point, you’re probably thinking that you have no skills or experience to offer anyone.
Many skills that you already have in your corporate life can be used in the online business world.
For example, project management, product management, office management, receptionist, customer service, sales and operations are all transferable skills.
You can add these to your resume together with the testimonials you obtained and you’ll be ready to charge a minimum of $25 an hour.
Services Your Offer as a VA
If there is one thing you need to remember is that clients pay more for specialist skills.
A general VA who offers inbox management, client onboarding, calendar management and note-taking during meetings can expect to charge $15 to $20 an hour.
When you specialise as a social media manager, Tech VA, marketing assistant, client success manager, graphic designer and web designer.
You can expect clients to pay $25 to $35 an hour for your services.
Offering a monthly retainer of $2,500 without discussing hours is where your hourly rate can range from $50 to $100 an hour.
Your Expenses as a Virtual Assistant
The most important thing to consider as a virtual assistant is your monthly expenditure.
How much are you paying every month to keep your home office and business running?
Consider the following list of monthly expenses.
When you know your monthly expenses you’ll be better able to decide how much to charge your clients.
I’ve just entered prices based on my experience which will not necessarily reflect your current situation so adjust it to suit you.
Let your accountant assist you with what you can claim as business expenses.
What Payment Platform to Use
Depending on where you are located compared to your clients you’ll need to use a payment provider that works with your bank or business bank account.
The top four payment providers at the moment are Stripe, Paypal, Wise and Square.
However, I’ve also heard of Venmo, Xoom and Wave.
Also, take time to consider which one works well with your CRM or platform that you use for client contracts.
Personally, I use a combination of Paypal, Wise and Stripe depending on my relationship with the client.
Quick Tip: Make it easy for your clients to pay you by using Paypal for the first few payments. You can always switch to something more cost-effective later on.
What to Use for Client Contracts
One of the scariest things when it comes to running your own business is client contracts.
What if your client sues you? How do you know that your contract is watertight? What should be included?
I had these same questions running through my head when I first got started.
If your biggest concern is not having $1,500 to hire a lawyer to draw up a contract for you then I’ve got good news.
I did not pay a lawyer to develop a contract for my business.
There are several resources available to help you with contracts.
Dubsado and Honeybook are CRM platforms designed for Freelancers like you.
These two platforms come with example contracts that you can use until you can afford better contracts.
I go through this area in comprehensive detail inside my VA coaching program.
Quick Tip: I am not a qualified lawyer or solicitor so please seek legal advice where necessary to ensure your business is in good standing.
21 Services You Can Offer as a VA
Many businesses need help to grow their business or just to outsource overwhelming tasks.
Here are 21 roles where you can help an existing business by offering virtual assistant services.
- Graphic designer
- Digital Business manager
- Operations assistant
- Marketing coordinator
- Social media manager
- Pinterest manager
- Web developer
- Web designer
- Facebook Ads manager
- Freelance writer
- Travel agent
- Branding strategist
- Project Manager
- Content Manager
- SEO Specialist
- Copy Editor
- Tech VA
- Marketing Strategy
- Executive Assistant
You may need to develop the required skill before offering it as a service.
In my VA coaching program, I have developed relationships with several vendors who teach many of these specialist skills. Check out the free Masterclass.
A good example of this is real estate agents who are looking for someone to help them with administrative tasks.
Where to Find Clients
Whether you are a project manager, social media manager, web designer, graphic designer or a general VA you need clients to make money.
So, where can you go to find these clients?
Well, where are your clients hanging out online?
A great place to find potential clients is on social media platforms like Facebook.
Other places include Instagram, Upwork, Fiverr and many other places.
As a service provider, it would make sense to join Facebook groups where your clients are already asking questions.
Here are 10 Facebook Groups where you can find a list of job opportunities or potential clients 365 days a year.
- Virtual Assistant Savvies
- How She Did That
- The Virtual Entrepreneur
- Thrive: A List Building Community
- Women In Marketing
- Freelancing Females
- Digital Nomad Girls Community
- Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board
- Virtual Assistant Jobs
- The Virtual Assistant Connection
In order to get potential clients to book discovery calls with you, be sure to have a portfolio or resume outlining your packages and pricing.
Also, make it easy for them to book time in your calendar by using a service like Calendly, Squarespace Scheduling (my favourite) or Dubsado.
Quick Tip: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a business plan to start a virtual assistant business. Anyone who says this has no experience being a VA so don’t believe them because it’s possible that they don’t have their own virtual assistant business.
I would love to tell you that the journey to starting a virtual assistant business is easy but it isn’t.
You’ll feel nervous, unqualified, inadequate and terrified but the truth is that it is doable.
For a while, I tried to do it on my own but quickly realised that I needed help, guidance and a community to help me get my first client.
If you are still wondering if this is for you or how to start a virtual assistant business successfully then sign up for the free Masterclass here.
In the Masterclass, I’ll tell you about the key secrets to standing out from everyone else online.
How to set your prices when you’re just getting started as well as how to track your progress.
When you join the Masterclass I’ll also give you a killer resume template that you can customise to suit your needs.
At the end of the Masterclass, I’ll also answer your burning questions so that you’ll be able to take the next steps on your VA journey.
Over to you, what has been your experience getting started as a VA?
Have you subscribed to the Success Unscrambled podcast yet?
If yes, then what about leaving a review? Leaving a positive review will help me to understand what’s working as well as how I can produce more value for you as a listener.
One thing I learned on this entrepreneur journey is that you need to be intentional about what you do in your business.
It is only by taking consistent daily action that you’ll be able to go from working a 9-5 job to finally becoming your own boss.
I started this blog in 2017 because I had a burden on my heart to reduce women’s illiteracy globally.
Because this is a huge undertaking I have decided to help 1,000 women over the next 10 years to become wildly successful in their online businesses through simplified marketing strategies.
That way we can build a strong business network of women who can donate 1% of their profit and together we can help reduce women’s illiteracy worldwide.
Would you like to be part of this movement? Shoot me an email using alvern (at) successunscrambled (dot) com.