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.
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, but also more responsibility.
“For me, the benefits far outweighed the additional responsibility of going out on my own.”
How to Become a Virtual Assistant
After reading about the details of the job, you may be wondering how to become a virtual assistant. If you want to work for an agency, the process is pretty straightforward. Check out our list of the best virtual assistant jobs and apply to one that interests you (you may need to apply to more than one). However, my recommendation is to start you own business so you’ll have greater control and higher income potential. In that case, you can follow the steps detailed below.
Step 1: Determine Your Services
Because there are so many different types of services that can be offered, it’s important to think about the specific things that you want to do. What types of services are you going to offer your clients?
Promoting your services will be much easier if you have a clear definition or description of what you can offer. Some VAs will even create packages that make it easier for clients to know what they’ll be getting. For example, if you offer services as a Pinterest VA you might have different packages that include creating a certain number of new pin images per month and scheduling and a certain number of pins.
Think about the skills and experience that you already have. What could you start doing right away that would bring value to your clients?
You may not have any experience working as a virtual assistant, but you probably have some valuable experience and existing skills that could be put to good use for clients. For example, if you have experience with WordPress and managing your own blog, you could offer blog management services to clients.
Or maybe you’ve had a marketing job in the past and you could use those skills to offer some sort of marketing services for your clients. If you’ve had administrative jobs in the past, you could focus on those skills.
Your experience can also come from other places aside for past jobs and work. For example, maybe you have experience growing your own personal Instagram profile. That is a skill that could be used to help clients.
Step 2: Get Training to Run Your Business (Optional)
While it’s not completely necessary, taking a course or getting training can be extremely helpful. You may find that you get stuck with certain aspects of getting your business launched, and quality training can help you to get past those barriers and to run your business the right way.
The training will be an investment in your business, and it can easily pay off as soon as you start landing clients. The best training available is 10K VA by Kayla Sloan. This course covers everything that you’ll need to know to start your own business, choose your services, set your rates, start landing clients, and manage your business. Kayla is an extremely experienced VA that has earned more than $10,000 per month and she shares techniques that will help you to land high-paying clients. I’ve personally gone through the material covered in 10K VA and I feel confident recommending it to anyone who is looking to earn a living as a virtual assistant.
You can also see other options in our article on the best virtual assistant training.
Step 3: Create Your Website
Next, you should set up your own website that will be used to promote your services. This may sound intimidating if you’ve never set up a website, but it’s really quite easy. I have an article that shows how to set up web hosting and install WordPress that walks you through the simple process. That article is geared towards blogs, but the process is the same for setting up a website to promote your services.
On your website, you should create a page that clearly lists the different services that you offer, along with an explanation or description. Make sure you also give visitors a way to contact you if they’re interested in learning more.
If your goal is to grow your business over the long-term, your website should be a key part of your business. You won’t get floods of traffic to your site right away, but with some consistent effort, your site can become a good source of leads that turn into clients.
One of the best ways to maximize the impact of your website is to include a blog on the site (which can be done very easily with WordPress). Write and publish blog posts related to the specific services that you offer so you can attract the right types of visitors to your site and demonstrate your expertise. If you offer services related to managing social media profiles for clients, write blog posts about increasing traffic with social media. Visitors who arrive at your site may be interested in hiring you to do the work.
Step 4: Look for Clients
The last step before you can start making money is to find your first client, or a few clients. Here are some ways to do this.
Start with Your Own Network – Chances are, you already know or have connections to some people who would benefit from your services. This could include family, friends, people you’ve worked with in the past, and any professional contacts that you have. Starting with people you already know is a great idea because it can be an easy way to quickly find a client or two.
Promote Your Services On Your Blog – As I mentioned in the previous step, a blog can be very helpful for landing new clients. If your blog is brand new you’ll need to promote it through social media or ways like writing guest posts, but with some effort, it can become a great asset for your business.
Use Social Media – Use your existing social media profiles to find potential clients. Your personal profiles can be perfect for this since you already have friends and connections. Simply mention the services that you offer and give people a way to get in touch with you.
Facebook Groups can also be an excellent resource, just be sure that you’re not violating the rules of the group by posting about your services. Search for Facebook Groups that would be used by the target audience for your services and start to connect with people in the group. For example, if you specialize in offering VA services to real estate agents, find Facebook Groups related to real estate and get involved.
Cold Emails – You can also identify people or businesses that you could help, and reach out to them through their website to offer your services. You’ll have a much better chance with the people in your network, but if you’ve exhausted all of the options in your network, this is a decent option.
LinkedIn – Instead of using cold emails to find clients, you could work on building up your LinkedIn profile and offering your services to your connections. The approach would be pretty similar to sending cold emails, but if you’re connected to people on LinkedIn it won’t be 100% cold.
Keys to Success
If you decide to give it a go as a virtual assistant, here are a few factors that can have a big influence on your success.
Start Broad, Then Specialize
The highest-paid VAs tend to focus on specific services rather than offering a bunch of general services that aren’t really related. Focusing on a specific type of service, or even a specific niche, can help you to brand yourself as an expert. Taking a more focused approach also helps you to improve your skills by getting more practice, which also makes you more valuable to clients.
However, when you’re first getting started, you may want to take a more broad or generalized approach. Kayla Sloan said “I don’t recommend specializing at first. I actually suggest starting with a wide net and then narrowing it down over time. If you’re new to being a VA, try out a bunch of different tasks and services. That way, you can decide on what you like and what you can become an expert in. It also helps you have a wide variety of types of clients you can and may work with.
“Once you figure out what you’re really good at and enjoy doing, then I suggest offering that as a specialty service for a premium price. That way you can earn more money in less time and brand yourself as the expert in what you offer.”
Quality Over Quantity
In general, taking fewer clients for bigger projects will be a better approach than trying to take on a larger number of clients for small projects. Managing a lot of different clients can be a challenge, so if you’re able to manage just a few clients, it can make your life a lot easier. Some of your clients may start with small projects, but you can offer them more work, related services, or larger packages in order to grow that relationship.
Provide Amazing Service to Your Clients
As a VA, many of your clients are likely to come by word-of-mouth. If you provide great service to your clients, they’ll be likely to recommend you to other business owners who might benefit from your services. Over time, this is the best way to grow your business.
It doesn’t matter what type of business you start, getting training and support from someone who has had success with the same type of business can be a huge advantage. While it will cost you some money, getting professional training can pay for itself by simply helping you to find one extra client.
If you’re interested in working as a virtual assistant, be sure to check out Kayla Sloan’s course 10K VA. It’s an excellent program that has produced many success stories and can help you to get your own business off to a fast start.
Interview With Kayla Sloan
While her work as a VA originally started by accident, Kayla Sloan has been working as a VA since 2014 and she regularly earns more than $10,000 per month. I reached out to Kayla to see if she would be willing to answer a few questions about working as a VA, and she kindly agreed. The questions and her responses are below.
How and when did you get started as a VA?
My first virtual assistant gig was something I actually started by accident. I had been blogging as a hobby and to hold myself accountable as I was paying off debt. Then a friend and fellow blogger reached out to me and asked me if I’d be willing to help her out with a few things for her website (since she was making money with her blog) and she offered to pay me for my work.
She asked me if I was open to “some VA work” and I was like, “What is that?”. But after she explained a little bit more of what she needed help with, I decided I was willing to give it a try because I wanted to make extra money to pay off my debt.
From there, I took on more and more responsibility working with her and started to get a couple of other clients thanks to her referrals. A few months later, I had fully replaced my day job income, allowing me to take my business full-time.
What types of services did you offer?
When I first started, I offered quite a few admin services (checking emails and such), plus freelance writing and blogging tasks since I was a blogger at the time. The next thing I dove into was social media.
How did you find your first few clients?
After working with my first client, I gained the confidence to pitch myself to other people in my network and to ask clients for referrals. Most of my clients have come from word of mouth and referrals from other happy clients.
How would you suggest new VAs go about finding their first client?
There are so many great ways to do this. You can pitch to people and companies directly via email or their social media channels. You can join virtual assistant Facebook Groups and pitch when someone posts that they need help. You can also work for virtual assistant companies to learn some new skills. However, I never recommend job boards. There’s so much competition and the jobs tend to be low-paying. Some overseas VAs on job boards charge as low as just $2-$5 an hour, which makes it hard for US VAs to compete on job boards.
What are the most important skills that a VA should have?
You really don’t need many skills besides good communication and organization, determination, and dedication. If you can do a few simple things online, like manage an email account, or upload documents, you can be a virtual assistant. Other skills like social media, tech, and more can come with time and investing in your skills.
There are a ton of learning opportunities when it comes to specific skills like email marketing, project management, social media, sales, and more. For example, one perk I offer to Lifetime members of my $10K VA program is the ability to learn new skills and tools to stay up to date in the industry with our regular live training.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a virtual assistant, you may be interested in Kayla’s free workshop, 5 Steps to Become a Virtual Assistant.