What is a Virtual Assistant?
If you’ve spent considerable time online, you’ve probably come across your fair share of pyramid schemes. There are countless advertisements for work from home opportunities scattered all over the internet. While most of us take these promises of starting to earn 5-figure salaries in a few days with a grain of salt, it’s not hard to see the appeal. After all, who doesn’t want to work at their convenience and start earning easy money, fast? We all want a miracle solution to our problems. Though that wasn’t possible many years ago, the internet changed everything. Global connectivity like never before opened avenues we could never have imagined. And among these was the holy grail: online freelancing.
Online freelancing opened up a world of opportunities for employers and employees alike, ripe for the taking. This would normally be a good thing since there was now a niche for anything and everything. But there was a downside: choice overload. People just couldn’t seem to find something that fits. This ended with them being stuck in the same old traditional jobs with no room to grow. If this sounds like you and you’re ready for a change, you’re in the right place. Virtual assistance is something that can be for anyone, and if done right, it can be IT for you. By going through this article, you will be able to understand how virtual assistance works, what you need to succeed at it, the steps you should follow, and how this could be your ticket to the big leagues.
Virtual Assistant: Defined
Getting straight to it, a virtual assistant is exactly what its name says it is: an assistant who offers their services online. It is someone who independently handles outsourced tasks for clients. This is probably a big concept for you so let’s break it down. When we think of an assistant, we usually think of a person handling the nitty-gritty everyday tasks of their employers. They’re the backbone of their bosses, making their lives easier by taking some of the load off their shoulders. That is precisely what a virtual assistant (VA) does. Now while assistants usually deal with administrative work, that’s not all they can assist with.
Virtual Assistant's can have specialized as well as general skill sets, which is something we’ll explore more in the next section. They can be hired on a contract or for a short period. They can be asked to handle a great many things or just one particular task, like bookkeeping. The point is, there’s no limit to the flexibility of a client-VA relationship and the nature of each is different. After all, that is what appeals to a great many people just starting in this industry: the freedom to customize their job to their convenience.
Everything from their time and income to the nature of their work can be decided to a VA’s liking, and best of all, all from home! Because the assistant is online, you do not have to be physically present at the site of your client’s business. This means you can offer your services to someone in the next city, country, or even on a different continent.
What Services Can You Offer As A VA?
There is no shortage of services that you can offer as a virtual assistant. Where there is demand, a supply will be needed to fulfill it, and there is always a demand for services. This is where you as a virtual assistant come in. The tricky part here isn’t not being good at anything, but being good at too many things. Remember the choice overload we mentioned in the beginning? Well, this is the part where it becomes relevant. However, before we can decide which services you should offer, let’s see the kind of services you can offer.
Website management- includes everything from making sure the website is up-to-date and secure to optimizing the efficiency by making it more attractive and user-friendly.
2. Customer service- engaging with a business’ clients by answering their questions or giving them product advice. Customer service reps operate online anyway, so this is just seizing an already existing opportunity.
3. Email management- one of the most mundane yet necessary tasks ever. Virtual Assistant's can sort and label emails, reply to them as deemed fit, and even manage email lists.
4. Event organization- whether it is a virtual event like a webinar or podcast, or a traditional one like a product launch, Virtual Assistant's can keep up with the details to make sure everything is set and ready for clients.
5. Social media management- creating pages or profiles for a client’s business as well as managing and interacting with the relevant audience by sharing (and creating) content.
6. Blog maintenance- regularly updating and scheduling content, replying to comments, coming up with ideas for new blogs.
7. Digital marketing- executing and sometimes even coming up with a marketing strategy to convert online users into consumers.
8. Report and analytics- analyzing online traffic, business models, and strategies to compile reports about the market’s consumer trends, for example.
9. Running ads online- be it Facebook or Google, online campaigning is a part of almost all businesses and is usually delegated to Virtual Assistant's.
10. Data entry- an administrative task, this can include a broad range of things such as managing calendars or even transcription for certain businesses.
11. Technical support- usually reserved for Virtual Assistant's who are tech-savvy and provide technological assistance for clients or the clients of clients.
12. Editing- formatting text for a variety of media such as blog posts or E-books.
13. Research- this one can include many things but to give you an idea, think of researching the competition and finding niches for your client to grow their business in.
14. Content creation- traditional content writing for websites or ghostwriting.
15. Monitoring and moderating interactive platforms- this can refer to Facebook groups or other online communities that manage a lot of content. It is a very real need for ecopreneurs- people with businesses based entirely online.
Essential Skills For A Virtual Assistant
This list is, by no means, exhaustive and you can find ideas for 100’s other services online if none of the ones we’ve mentioned resonate with you. Any way you look at it, it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what you’re willing to try. Essentially, the only three skills a VA needs are
1. Grasp on computer and internet use,
2. Willingness to learn and adapt, and
3. Communication skills
The first is self-explanatory, you cannot carve out a niche for yourself in cyberspace without having basic information on how to navigate it. On top of it, if you’re willing to be flexible and adaptive, there’s nothing you can’t take on. Paired with effective communication, you can establish a relationship with your client and talk every step of the way so that you both walk away happy. Almost none of these services are mutually exclusive and you can try your hand at any number of them to see if they’re the best choice for you. You could offer certain services to one client and different ones to another as you see fit. The ability to choose is one of the best things about VA work after all, and you should take full advantage of it!
What Businesses Should You Target?
Now that we’ve talked a bit about the services you could offer, it should be easy to see that virtual assistants can be a good fit for every type of business and client. Growing businesses need Virtual Assistant's to ease the burden on their employees and make sure everything runs smoothly. Overall, the cost of hiring a VA is much less than taking on a full-fledged employee since you have to include things like benefits in the latter. Therefore, many people prefer virtual assistants to regular ones and would take on a VA if the need arose. Where could such a need arise?
For starters, start-ups and new businesses have great use for Virtual Assistant's since there are a lot of things that need to be handled at once to establish the venture. Without experienced professional help to assist you, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the workload. For small business owners, hiring a Virtual Assistant's is the equivalent of having more time for themselves, their family, and the growth of their business as opposed to its maintenance. As an aspiring VA, these are the business you should be targeting: where you could make the most impact with your involvement.
Apart from that, as the list of services shows, all potential clients and businesses can see the need for a virtual assistant if marketed correctly. Law firms can benefit from having someone to help with transcription, digital stores need someone for the online processing of orders, content creators require editors, celebrities need someone to manage their social media, motivational speakers need someone to handle their engagement dates, and reach out to clients. These are all people, among many others, that you should treat as prospective clients if you decide to give being a VA a try.
Virtual Assistant Rates
As for pricing, here are many things you need to consider before deciding on your virtual assistance rates. An important marker of the viability of your business model is pricing. Therefore, it deserves careful thought and research. At the same time, you cannot overthink this. The problem with pricing is that you cannot undercharge and you cannot overcharge either. If you charge too little too often, you will not be able to grow or be happy. If you charge too much, you risk putting off clients. So how do you find the perfect balance?
To be honest, there is no hard and fast rule. Pricing depends on the nature of the work (is it hourly? Fixed?) as well as your experience (how qualified are you for this particular job?). On top of that, Virtual Assistant's need to deal with the“overhead” expenses of running a business, such as marketing costs, since they are technically self-employed. A good rule-of-thumb is to charge about 25% more than the price you’re thinking of charging. This ensures you’re leaving enough space for yourself to grow and quoting a suitable price.
5 Easy Steps To Start Earning Money
So if you have decided to be a VA, how do you start earning money? Well, it may sound cliche, but getting started is the only way. The first step is the hardest but the most rewarding. Often, the biggest obstacles in our path are mental. Till we get down to business, they will continue to seem big and scary and hold us back from success.
Even more importantly, there is no substitute for experience. Until you put your hand to it, you can’t fully understand what it means to be a virtual assistant. And how can you know if it’s for you without trying it out? Generally speaking, these are the basic steps of the process you’ll go through as a VA.
First thing first, in this gig-economy, you should have a killer COVER LETTER.
You may be a rockstar VA, but if you are not telling the right story in a proper way, chances are you may miss out on opportunities.
A cover letter is an overview of your skills, experience, and why are you a good fit for a job. Unlike a CV, the cover letter is short and sweet and lets the reader focus only on the highlights. Ideally, it should not be more than 100 words, must be engaging, and based on the type of the job and client — it could be formal or casual.
Sites that offer opportunities for gigs such as FlexJobs, Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr are hubs for both employers and virtual assistants. They may be occupying different nooks and crannies, but these sites are where you can expect potential clients. You cannot expect to be noticed and offered jobs without being present and active around your ideal clients.
All of these sites are unique, and you need to use their uniqueness to your advantage. For example, Fiverr offers plentiful opportunities for fast and easy work, but which are probably on the lower range of pricing. As such, it is a good place to start and build your portfolio, but you shouldn’t aim to confine yourself to it long term. FlexJobs requires a small monthly subscription but it weeds out scams so you know any work you get here will be legitimate.
You can be on one or all of them. Some freelancers like to stick to one platform while others don’t like putting all their eggs in one basket. So, whatever you do, consistency and hard work are what matters.
Apart from the above-mentioned sites, social media also plays a very important role in establishing yourself as a VA. You need to have a distinct online presence in places like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook, anywhere your ideal client is likely to be present. Your profiles then serve as your resume where you can list down all your skills and narrow down the search for employers.
You’ll increase your chances of being considered for hire by interacting with your pool of target clients by offering help and building steady relationships. However, once you’ve established yourself on these platforms, the next step is building a website for yourself. This website should be custom themed, user- friendly, catchy, easily discoverable, and market you effectively. This will increase your reach to potential clients and make sure you keep getting a steady stream of work.
This builds on point 2 and what we discussed about pricing. When starting, it is often a good idea to target the low-hanging fruits or the lower-priced bids. This is so that you are building your resume while working, which is more important than the income you’ll be generating. Don’t say no to any job that will lead you to learn something.
After you’ve gained sufficient experience, start increasing your price and be more selective in the jobs you take up. The principle is to slowly land better and better jobs. We want to avoid getting stuck on a plateau.
Tip: This is very important. Try to bid on projects that specifically mention newcomers to gain 5-star feedback.
After you’ve completed a few VA jobs, your effort should speak for itself. Focus on maintaining strong relationships with your old clients and establishing lasting ones with your new ones.
Create a network of your old and prospective employers so that you get references and new clients automatically come your way through word-of-mouth. Needless to say, it is imperative to always do a good job and receive good feedback. Once you’ve built a good reputation for yourself, your business will gain momentum and see an exponential increase.
Tip: Always remember to weed out clients that you are not comfortable working with. BUT, do it in a professional (and if possible) in a sugar-coated style.
Don’t get discouraged as growing your own company or brand is likely to take time. That is why it is good to start on platforms I mentioned above and always tend to remain there.
It’s important to remember one thing: businesses are made by administrative employees as much as they are by CEOs. Without people on the ground dotting i’s and crossing t’s, such as virtual assistants, businesses can’t succeed. Because of this, there’s unlimited potential for virtual assistants. You don’t have to worry about the profession becoming obsolete because the need for assistants isn’t going away any time soon, especially with the rise of online businesses. The internet puts the virtual world at your fingertips, it’s now up to you to make the most of it. The career of your dreams may just be a few clicks away. What are you waiting for? If becoming a Virtual Assistant is what you want for your future visit BusinessBossBesties and join the free Membership Business Lounge and download the Virtual Assistant Bundle to help you get started today.
Once you join the free membership lounge and log into the membership page you can download the Virtual Assistant Business Bundle for Free. This is what it includes.
1. 60-page presentation in .pdf format that will guide you on the steps necessary. Not quite a crash course, nor a long "fluff" book, but more of a "let's get your Virtual Assistant business up and running" presentation!
2. You will also receive a Client Welcome Pack it includes everything you need for your clients.
9 pages (in .pdf and also instructions on how to download the template in Canva) of carefully and beautifully designed pages for you to give your potential clients all the information they need to hire you. Show your clients just how professional you are. This Client Welcome Pack can be used over and over again and can be updated in Canva. Remember they do offer a free account so you can add your logo, content, change images, change fonts, and colors. Best of all they can be used for each new client. The pages are cover page, table of contents, welcome page, package & pricing, timeline & estimate, the process, pricing schedule, FAQ, and next steps.
3. Lastly, you will also receive an 18 page Tools & Tips which includes: Questions you will be asked when applying for VA positions, Networking handout sheet, how to manage difficult clients, termination agreement, last payment request, 30 Blog Post titles for Virtual Assistants, and a list of services you could offer.