How to Become a Virtual Assistant: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making $25+/Hour
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Almost every day I’m asked how someone can find a work-from-home job that doesn’t require significant experience or an advanced degree.
My response is almost always the same: Become a virtual assistant.
Because it’s the most realistic way to make good money from home while leveraging skills you already have or by learning ones that are easily attainable.
This article will walk you through how to become a virtual assistant, where to find your first clients, and how to scale your business to make money on the side or work full-time as a VA.
What is a Virtual Assistant and What Do They Do?
Virtual assistants, or VAs, are self-employed individuals who provide administrative and technical assistance to businesses. Since all the work is done online, virtual assistants can work from anywhere they want.
Many small business owners outsource work to virtual assistants so they can focus on their company’s growth. Virtual assistants provide cost-effective solutions to completing daily and routine tasks, freeing up business owners’ time for larger-scale projects.
You don’t need any kind of degree or certification to start working as a VA. You simply need to hone in on a skill and have enough experience to do it well for multiple clients.
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
Like any job, the pay scale for virtual assistance varies. It can depend on a number of factors including:
- Type of work performed
- Experience level
- Hours worked per week
More experienced VAs performing more highly technical skills can earn upwards of $50 per hour, while new VAs might start out at $20 per hour. As you grow your skills and client base, you can increase your rates and overall pay. According to ZipRecruiter, the average yearly salary for virtual assistants checks in at just over $60,000 per year.
7 Virtual Assistant Services in High Demand
The potential tasks for a VA are limitless. As a virtual assistant, you get to decide which tasks you offer. So if there’s something you really don’t enjoy doing (like proofreading blog posts), you don’t have to offer it as part of your VA package.
This list covers some of the most popular and in-demand online tasks that virtual assistants can offer, but it only scratches the surface. When deciding what services to offer as a VA, be creative. Think about how you can use your unique skills and experiences to provide value for your clients.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience
If you’re ready to start your own VA business, here are some steps for you to follow. Don’t forget to download our free checklist to track your progress along the way.
1. Take a virtual assistant training course
Starting a business can feel overwhelming. Lucky for you, you’re not alone.
When it comes to learning how to become a virtual assistant, Gina Horkey is an expert. She started her VA business as a side hustle and now runs a seven-figure online business.
Once she realized how high the demand for virtual assistants is and how lucrative it can be, she put together a course to help others follow in her footsteps. Horkey teaches aspiring virtual assistants how to start their own VA business and land their first paying clients in her best-selling course VA Foundations.
You don’t need to take a course in order to become a successful virtual assistant. However, if you’re looking to expedite your VA business, learning from an expert can save you time and help you reach your goals faster.
2. Determine what services you’ll offer
The first step in getting started as a Virtual Assistant is to determine what tasks you’ll offer. If you’re not sure, start by making a list of the things you already know how to do.
Do you manage a website or blog of your own? If so, blog/website management might go on the list. Are you an online influencer? Then maybe social media management is a good fit for your virtual assistant repertoire. Are you quick with designing spreadsheets? Offer data entry or spreadsheet management as a service.
Remember that this isn’t your final list. It’s just your initial offerings. You can add services as you learn new skills and software.
3. Set your prices
Deciding how much to charge for your services is probably the most difficult part of establishing your VA business. You want to be fair and competitive, but you also want to make sure you’re making a profit.
Most virtual assistant offerings fall into four main pricing categories:
Hourly: Your client pays an hourly rate and you get paid for the amount of time you work.
Project-Based: Your client pays a flat fee for a one-time project (setting up social media accounts, designing a website, etc.).
Package of Hours: Your client pays for a certain number of hours to use over time. Depending on your contract, they can expire after a set amount of time such as 6 months or a year.
Retainer: Your client pays an ongoing monthly rate for a specific set of tasks or number of hours.
The easiest way to determine your pricing is to do some research into what other VAs are charging for similar services. Look at some of their websites, ask questions in Facebook groups, and perform a quick Google search. Average those rates, and you’ll have a good place to start.
Consider your skill and experience level when setting your prices. For instance, if you’ve been blogging for ten years but are new to being a VA, you can still charge a higher rate for that service. On the other hand, if you’ve never designed a Pinterest image before, you might want to start on the bottom of the pay scale for that service.
4. Figure out a business name
Every business needs a name, and that includes your VA business. While it doesn’t have to be super creative or clever, you want it to be memorable, easy to spell, and you want to make sure it matches the brand you’re creating.
When picking a name, it helps to do some research. Do a quick Google search to find out what other VAs have named their businesses. Ask your friends and family or your professional network what they think of the name.
Find out if the one you picked is already in use or has been trademarked. Say it out loud to hear how it sounds.
If you’re stuck, you can use resources like the Shopify Business Name Generator to help.
You also want to make sure the domain name for your business is available. This is what you’ll use when you’re setting up your website, and the name of your business should match the URL you use to direct potential clients. If they’re completely different, you run the risk of confusing your clients or inadvertently referring them to the competition.
Most importantly, you have to be happy with the name. It’s how you’re going to represent yourself and your services to potential clients.
5. Choose your target market and the type of clients you’d like to work with
Once you’ve determined the services you’re offering, you need to determine the kinds of clients you’d like to have. Are they small business owners? Lawyers? Website or blog managers?
Whatever your target client is, give them a face. Create your ideal client avatar. Name them, give them all the characteristics you want your clients to have (or not have), and write down why you want to work with them.
Ask yourself if the work they do is interesting or if it’s an industry you’re comfortable with. You also need to write down how you can help them, and why they should pick you over another VA. This step is essential as it will help you create your marketing plan later on.
6. Figure out the legal business details
This is probably the hardest step in creating your VA business because it involves navigating a lot of legal language and governmental agencies. Unfortunately, though, since these form the foundation of your business, you can’t skip over this part.
A few things you’ll need to do:
- Decide if you’re going to operate as a Sole Proprietor or LLC
- Secure any licenses or permits
- Draft your client contract
For this part of establishing your VA business, you might want to consult an attorney or accountant to double-check what you’ve done.
7. Create your website to promote your VA business
While creating a website isn’t a requirement for landing your first client or starting your VA business, having a website will make you look more professional and established. And it will give you a place to direct prospective clients.
Setting up a website is easy and cheap, and you don’t need to hire someone to do it for you. Most websites can be designed with drag-and-drop tools and will look like a professional did it.
8. Get your business finances on the right track
Your clients need a way to pay you, and you need a way to track your income and expenses.
While you can do this at the beginning with a simple spreadsheet and a PayPal account, as your business expands and you gain more clients, you’ll need more robust services like FreshBooks or Quicken. You should also consider opening a bank account and securing a credit card for business expenses.
Getting organized with your money in the beginning will make everything much easier in the future and at tax time.
9. Create your marketing strategy
Now that your business is ready to go, it’s time to start marketing yourself. While many people struggle with advertising themselves, this is the best and most effective way to find clients.
Fortunately, there are ways you can create a marketing strategy that doesn’t feel too uncomfortable or over the top. For instance, if you already have social media accounts, you can use those to share your services or announce to your friends, family, and professional network that you’ve started your own business.
If you want to separate your personal life from your business life, you can create social media accounts for your VA services and advertise there instead.
If you already have a blog or website and have curated an email list from that, share your new endeavor with your list. These are already people who support and follow you, so you can ask them to let their network know about your VA services.
You can also use Facebook ads or blog posts to market to online business owners. Flyers and business cards are great for advertising with potential local and offline clients.
Now is the time to connect with other VAs to get tips, ideas and leads for finding clients, and feedback on your new business.
Networking is easier than you think. You can connect with other VAs in online forums on Facebook, LinkedIn, or paid membership sites offered by experienced VAs. Online conferences and summits are another cost-effective way to network with prospective clients.
Using the internet for networking means you can do it from your couch, and it can expose you to people from all over the world, making your potential client base global.
In-person networking events are a great and easy way to connect with local business owners. You can also attend meetings at your chamber of commerce or any other organization that connects community business owners.
Related: 189 Best Side Hustle Ideas for 2024
Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs Online (and Offline)
Now that you’ve determined what you’re offering, how much you’re charging for your services, and have created a website, it’s time to find clients.
Finding clients is often the hardest part for any new business owner, and you’ll need to be proactive at first. Fortunately, there are a few places to look where you’re likely to find more success than others.
Try freelancer websites
Virtual assistant positions are relatively easy to come by on freelance websites like Upwork and People Per Hour. This could be a good route if you’re new to working as a virtual assistant and don’t have much experience or training.
Jobs found on these sites are generally lower-paying. So if you take this route to start, you should try to raise your prices as you get more experience and become more valuable to your clients. You can always renegotiate pricing with clients at a later date.
Let your friends, family, and professional network know you’re open for business by sharing your list of services on social media. Networking is a powerful tool. You may be surprised at who knows someone that knows someone who’s looking for help and can connect you.
Reach out to small business owners in your area and ask if anyone could use assistance with the services you offer. Virtual assisting is still a relatively new field, so a lot of brick-and-mortar business owners haven’t yet considered outsourcing to a VA.
Let them know what they’re missing out on and convince them to hire you. It’s a great way to practice your marketing skills, too.
Network with influencers
Do you have a favorite blog or business that you follow religiously? Email the owner and ask if they need assistance in any aspect of their business. Be brief, friendly, and confident in your pitch. Make sure you tell them what services you can offer them.
If they say they’re not looking for help right now, give them the address to your website and ask them to keep you in mind for future positions. You should make a note to follow up in three months in case something has changed.
Subscribe to their email list if you’re not already on it. Online business owners advertise open virtual positions to their email list.
Network with other virtual assistants
Connecting with other virtual assistants is a great way to grow your business. Not only will you get advice on pricing, services, and resources like training courses and conferences, you might find some job opportunities as well.
Often, VAs will have clients that need services beyond what they can provide and will reach out to their network to fill the gaps. They might also share opportunities they come across that they can’t take for one reason or another.
Become a Virtual Assistant and Work from Home
Working as a VA is an option for anyone who wants to work from home, regardless of prior experience or education. It’s easy to begin; all you need are your skills and your computer or smartphone (and a Wi-Fi connection).
You set the rates, the services you provide, and the hours you work. Starting a virtual assistant business comes with minimal upfront costs, making it viable and accessible to most people. Don’t be afraid to invest in your knowledge and take an online course like VA Foundations.
While it can be difficult to land your first client, with some creative marketing and networking, you’ll find that the opportunities to make money online as a virtual assistant are abundant.