How to Become a Virtual Assistant

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If you’re looking for a flexible work-from-home opportunity that allows you to work on projects that you enjoy, working as a virtual assistant may be the right fit for you.

Working as a virtual assistant (VA) is an excellent option regardless of whether you’re looking for a little extra money from some part-time work or a full-time income. There is plenty of work available, and it’s possible to get started with no previous experience as a VA.

As a VA, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to choose who you work for, when you work, how much you work, and where you work. 

In this article, we’ll look at all of the details related to job, as well as how to become a virtual assistant.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

“Virtual Assistant” is a broad term that can cover a wide variety of things. Essentially, a VA provides support to a client from a remote location. In most cases, the client will be a business or business owner, but some VAs do work for individuals as well. 

Many small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on virtual assistants rather than hiring employees to handle certain tasks in-house. Virtual assistants are often contractors or freelancers, making it more convenient for small businesses or solopreneurs who wouldn’t be able to hire a full-time employee for the same responsibilities. By hiring a VA, the client is able to get help that allows them to operate more efficiently without the need for on-location workers.

Kayla Sloan, an experienced VA and creator of 10K VA, said, “Many entrepreneurs and small businesses (and sometimes even corporations) love working with VAs because they can often be cheaper to hire than an employee, even if they’re being paid more per hour. VAs are flexible, offer expertise in areas employees may not have, and more. Businesses may be able to hire a part-time VA instead of a full-time employee to get everything done that they need in their business. Plus, they don’t have to provide a computer, office supplies, or office space for a VA, which saves them money and is a great incentive to hire a VA instead of an employee. Even as an admin VA, you could save an entrepreneur/business owner SO much time on the ‘little things’ that they do day-to-day. ”

What Does a VA Do?

There is really no limit to the services that could be offered by a virtual assistant, but some common services include:

  • Social media management – Many bloggers and businesses hire VAs to manage their social media profiles. Some VAs specialize in services like managing Pinterest accounts.
  • Writing and content creation – Some VAs will write articles and blog posts, or create other types of content.
  • Customer service – Many website owners and entrepreneurs need help managing customer service requests, and this is an area where a lot of VAs find work.
  • Graphic design – If you have some design skills, you could create graphics. Many bloggers and podcasters hire VAs to design graphics that will be used with their content and on their social profiles.
  • Administrative tasks – There are all kinds of stuff that could fall into this category. One common example would be editing and preparing blog posts.
Free Workshop - 5 Steps to Become a Virtual Assistant
If you're interested in making money from home, be sure to check out this free workshop from Kayla Sloan. She shows how to use the skills you already have to start making money as a VA.

How Much Does a VA Earn?

You may be wondering how much money you can make as a virtual assistant. The truth is, the income can vary a great deal from one VA to the next (which is the case with just about any type of freelance work). Just like opportunities for freelance writers and freelance web designers, jobs for virtual assistants can pay a little or a lot. There are definitely VAs who work for very low rates, and others that are able to make a six-figure income as a VA.

Most of the lower-paid VA jobs are outsourced to people outside of the U.S., but don’t let that fool you into thinking that all VA jobs are low-paying. Some VAs are able to make more than $100 per hour and have plenty of demand for their services.

According to PayScale, the average hourly rate for a virtual assistant is $15.80. However, ZipRecruiter reports the average rate of $32 per hour. As you can see, there is obviously a wide range in terms of the rates of virtual assistants.

Some of the higher-paid VAs have chosen to take a specialized approach that allows them to charge premium rates. While there are many different types of services that you could offer as a VA, specializing in one particular area makes it possible for you to brand yourself as an expert and justify higher rates. For example, clients may be willing to pay more for a VA who specializes in managing Pinterest profiles and has a proven track record of getting results for clients. If you’re looking to maximize your income as a VA, going the route of specialization is probably the right choice.

Setting rates can be a challenge for new VAs. Kayla Sloan says, “Many new U.S.-based VAs start at $15-$20 an hour (or even more, depending on what skills and experience you already have). As time goes on, and as you increase your skills, you can charge more.” 

Why It’s a Great Opportunity

When it comes to making money, there are plenty of side hustle ideas and ways to make money that you can consider. Even with plenty of different options, working as a VA stands out as an excellent choice. Here are just a few of the reasons why you may want to consider it for yourself.

Flexibility – Working as a virtual assistant offers flexibility in a lot of different ways. You can work part-time or full-time, choose the hours that suit your schedule, make money from home or anywhere with an internet connection, work on the types of projects that you enjoy, and choose the clients that you work for.

Plenty of Work – Because there are so many different things that a virtual assistant can do, there is plenty of work available. A lot of the common services offered by VAs involve managing a website or blog. With so many new blogs being launched every day, and so many bloggers and businesses looking to use social media for exposure, the demand for these services should continue.

Recurring Work – As a VA, most of your work will probably come from clients who hire you to do repeat jobs for them. You could be managing their Pinterest profile on an on-going basis, providing customer support every day, or doing some admin work each week. Recurring clients are great because you won’t need to be looking for new clients constantly. With just a few regular clients you can have a nice, steady flow of income.

Good Income Potential – With some VAs charging more than $100 per hour, there are plenty of opportunities to make money. While those rates are not typical of what most VAs earn, there is plenty of potential to earn a comfortable full-time income.

Paid for Your Time – When it comes to side hustles, blogging and online business seem to get the majority of the attention. While those are great opportunities, service-related side hustles are ideal for many people. As a service provider, you’ll be paid for your time and you can start making money quickly.

Limited Requirements to Get Started – You don’t need a college degree or any special certifications to work as a VA. You will need some skills related to whatever services you offer, but you can choose your services based on the skills and experiences you already have.

Ability to Scale Up – Working as a VA is a perfect part-time job, but it also gives you the potential to work your way up to a full-time income if that’s your goal. As you get more experience, you’ll be able to increase your rates. And as you land more clients, you’ll see your income rise and you can turn it into a full-time business.

Two Options for Working as a VA

If you decide that working as a virtual assistant sounds like a good option for you, you’ll need to decide if you want to start your own business as a freelancer or if you want to work through a company or agency that matches VAs with clients. 

The easiest option is to find work through a company or website that specializes in VA services. There are many of these companies, like Zirtual for example, that offer VA services to clients and then contract VAs to do the work (see our list of the virtual assistant jobs for many more options). Some of these companies will hire VAs as employees, but in most cases, you would be working as an independent contractor.

As an independent VA, you’ll be responsible for finding your own clients and growing your own business. You’ll benefit from the ability to choose who you work with, determine the exact services that you want to offer, and set your own rates. It’s a little bit harder because you’ll be on your own, but you’ll have the potential to earn significantly more money. 

Both options have the potential to be a good fit depending on your situation, but the benefits of going out on your own can be pretty significant. If you’re willing to put in some extra work to get your business off the ground, you’ll be better off with the added flexibility and higher earning potential. For that reason, I recommend the independent approach for most people.

That being said, working through an agency may be the better fit if you need to find work quickly or if you’re looking to get some experience before starting your own business.

On the subject of choosing between these two options, Kayla Sloan said “When it comes to starting your own business vs working for a VA agency, there are some pros and cons to each. First, if you go out on your own, you do have more responsibility for finding your own clients, deciding your own rates and services, providing your own contract, etc. But you also get more flexibility because you can earn more (instead of the agency taking a significant cut of the money) and you can probably have more flexibility with how many hours you work and when you do the work.

“You can also change your services as you see fit if you decide you don’t like something after trying it out. Going out on your own has a ton of benefits,