If you are organized, personable and creative, becoming a virtual assistant could be a viable next step in your career.
As a virtual assistant, you get to work from home, often set your own schedule, and focus on clients that pique your interest. Plus, Indeed.com lists the average virtual assistant yearly salary as about $40K, but some report making $40 per hour (or $83K annually) or more.
Of course the amount you make has much to do with how many hours you work. Full-time work is going to bring in more.
This post will help you learn how to become a virtual assistant. In it, we cover:
What Does a Virtual Assistant Actually Do?
A virtual assistant does much more than managing someone’s schedule and taking phone calls. In fact, there are many ways you can serve as a virtual assistant across many skills and disciplines.
Virtual assistants are generally brought on to help a client achieve specific goals like improving social media engagement, bettering a website, or aiding a part of the business in becoming more efficient with their time management.
These online secretaries of sort function like any other remote worker, having an agreed-upon set of hours where they’re logged on and reporting up to usually a manager-level-or-higher boss.
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What Kinds of Skills Do Virtual Assistants Need?
There are eight skills that tend to be the highest in-demand when it comes to serving as a virtual assistant. It’s unlikely that one virtual assistant will have them all and it may be better to specialize, becoming an expert in several of them such as typing and proofreading or social media content creation and management.
Although it may seem like everyone is a typing whiz in this day and age, those with exceptionally high words per minute — aim for more than 50 words per minute to be considered above average — offer a special skill set that is highly sought after.
Typing is the foundation of many of the other skills listed below like drafting emails, editing blogs, and providing customer support.
If you’re looking to improve your typing abilities, there are many free online resources to help you do so such as Typing.com , LearnTyping.org, and Typing.Academy.
Just a few hours a week of practice can yield results that make you a more marketable and desired applicant when it comes to virtual assistant positions.
Many companies these days have blogs or another type of interactive digital publication. These types of publications boost a company’s SEO presence and they are a way for interested customers to learn more about the brand and its mission. Helping to get this content into good shape makes a virtual assistant invaluable.
Many organizations have staff who are able to write initial blog drafts, but they may not have time to see the blog through the entire editing and publishing process. This is where a trained virtual assistant comes in.
Having a strong grasp of grammar, voice, and writing mechanics can net you $15-25 per hour. If you are drafting the blog yourself, be sure to ask for even more.
3. Formatting Pages in WordPress
WordPress is a common content management platform used by any number of industries. WordPress powers the back end of many websites and blogs, and it is here that organizations need someone to manage the formatting and creation of the actual website pages that the public will visit.
Being able to list yourself as proficient in WordPress on your resume will undoubtedly catch more than a few eyes and potentially rake in anywhere from $20-40 per hour from a potential client.
But if you’re reading this and have never worked in WordPress before, don’t fear. Udemy and WordPress 101 offer courses to get you up to speed.
4. Managing an Editorial Calendar
All great virtual assistants have stellar time management and this is a critical part of the job.
While you may be in charge of someone’s day-to-day meetings and engagements calendar, a huge part of being a successful virtual assistant is being capable of managing an editorial calendar as well.
An editorial calendar is a plan and schedule of all upcoming blog posts and website updates a site will publish. Maintaining a chronological plan as well as ideas to help boost a brand’s SEO rankings is a skill not all can offer, and can net you $30-50 per hour.
5. Social Media Management
One of the duties of a virtual assistant may be posting to social media on behalf of the brand. This can involve creating social media content, scheduling social media posts on various platforms and managing engagements. You may be the one who will respond to customer comments.
Confidence in your knowledge of the most popular social media platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook is a must-have skill. Companies will continue to rely on their online presence to attract clients and customers and keeping up with new, hot platforms will add to your cache.
Sites like Hootsuite and Buffer have excellent resources if this is an area where you need to buff. And it’s worth it to do so as this ability can cash out anywhere from $15-40 per hour.
6. Creating Landing Pages
If this immediately struck fear into your heart — no worries, you don’t need to be an expert coder to nail this capability.
Landing pages are website locations that have a specific call to action or topic. For example, a website page encouraging users to submit their contact information in exchange for a free demo would be considered a landing page.
Many landing pages are built on platforms like WordPress and are easy to edit with some help from user-friendly tools like Unbounce and Leadpages.
Becoming knowledgeable in this space is one of the best skills you can offer as a virtual assistant as you can charge between $30-60 per hour for this ability.
7. Email Strategy
Based on how many emails you get a day from organizations it shouldn’t surprise you that email formatting and strategy is a critical part of any business communication plan.
Email strategy refers to whom, when, and why you send an email. Email formatting refers to the actual layout and creation of the email look and feel.
Email strategy is easy to pick up on after a few conversations with those at the organization. You’ll want to have an understanding of the target customers and the goals of any email (i.e. to sign up for something, to purchase something, etc.) before scheduling a note to be sent.
Email formatting is also a dream to learn. Many brands use platforms like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or GetResponse, and all three have excellent preloaded templates that make sending out emails stress-free, and help you bring in $25-40 per hour.
You can ask for more money if you can, and are hired, to provide the content for the email too.
8. Customer Support
Every industry needs to be sure they have happy clients and customers. But having the right temperament and skills to keep everyone content can be hard to come by.
As a virtual assistant you may be asked to serve as a point of contact for the support line. Some examples of customer support include responding to inquiries via email or chat and answering questions that may come in via blog or social media comments.
If you can keep a cool head and offer detail-oriented responses to clients, you can net $15-30 per hour with this ability.
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Where Do I Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?
Virtual assistant jobs are like any others — they often require a job application and an interview in order to secure the client.
Freelance virtual assistants can also be short-term jobs, just a few months, or longer, like a year or even without an ending date. You can select jobs to apply for based on your interest, their contract length, and of course, how much they pay.
It’s important to be wary of bidding sites like Elance and oDesk. On these sites, organizations post about the type of work they need done and freelancers bid their rates for the job.
The danger is that in order to win a job, you often have to offer a below-market rate, which only undermines your abilities and worth — there are better paying jobs out there, rest assured.
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7 Sites to Find Virtual Assistant Work
Focus on legitimate job openings that respect virtual assistants and freelancers as well as leveraging your professional network. We’ve rounded up these seven.
While in the past TaskRabbit has been more a local in-person contract work provider, it has expanded to virtual roles including online secretaries. You must be over 21 to use TaskRabbit and live in one of the cities listed in the TaskRabbit directory.
Craigslist may come to mind as a place to try to sell used goods and renting places to live, but it also has a vibrant job market section, too, which includes many virtual assistant jobs.
While you need to exercise caution when perusing Craigslist jobs as there is no security against scams, it can be a lucrative place to connect with those outside your local radius for contract work.
VANetworking.com was founded by a virtual assistant (VA) for other virtual assistants. The site features VA services like online secretary jobs, freelance opportunities, and virtual assistant training for becoming a successful small business owner.
Although WAHM stands for Work At Home Moms, WAHM.com shares remote work opportunities for anyone, regardless of their gender identity or whether or not they are caregivers to children.
PeoplePerHour is one of the top sites for freelancers, virtual assistants, and remote contract workers. You create a profile, set your rate, share your skillset, and wait for customers to come to you. Or, you can search for jobs and submit a proposal.
The youngest site on this list, Zirtual used to be “invitation only” for both clients and VAs, but as of January, they’ve opened their virtual doors to the public.
Zirtual works as an agency for VAs, assigning them to clients. They pay a minimum of $10 an hour for part-time work; however, they only accept applications from United States residents.
7. Indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, etc.
As the need for virtual assistants has grown due to remote work becoming increasingly popular, standard job sites such as Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter now have entire sections where you can filter by virtual assistant or online secretary roles across the country.
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How Do I Get My Virtual Assistant Business Off the Ground?
Now you know what a virtual assistant is, what skills are needed to be successful, and where to find remote work. The last step is to get your virtual assistant business off the ground and secure your first few clients.
The best way to do this is to simply begin applying to jobs. Take time to curate your resume in a way that’s geared toward virtual assistant work and leverage your professional network, like on LinkedIn, to make personal connections with potential clients.
Only take on as many clients as you can handle. It’s best to start out with a manageable number of clients, like one or two, and then grow from there. Always be up-front and honest with potential clients about your bandwidth and rates.
Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on lifestyle and wellness, and making money topics. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.