We have all seen the working world change during the recent global coronavirus pandemic, which caused millions of people to work from home. But there is one job position that has always been a great fit for working from home: a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants are self-employed workers who provide administrative services to clients from a remote location, usually a home office. The usual tasks for a virtual assistant include making phone calls, scheduling appointments, and managing email accounts.
Some virtual assistants also help entrepreneurs and other business leaders with social media, website content, and marketing. Tasks can include anything a client wants and needs — helping to organize events, doing research, composing emails, providing help with technical tasks.
Check out the following tips for being a successful virtual assistant.
Here are some reasons why being a virtual assistant is a great business idea:
- Businesses need you. Virtual assistant is expected to be a fast-growing career position, especially during and beyond the recent global coronavirus pandemic. There is a high demand for virtual assistants as businesses continue to figure out how to provide products and services virtually.
- Flexibility: You have flexible choices for working when you want and where you want when you’re a virtual assistant. Most virtual assistants work in their own homes. But you can take your work with you (if you want to do so) during road trips or while visiting a local bookstore or coffeehouse. You can also balance your virtual assistant tasks with school, family time, and being (virtually or in-person) with your friends.
- Learn new skills. You might already be very organized or know how to get more followers on social media. But technology is constantly changing and you will regularly learn new and better ways to provide services to your clients.
Here are some possible challenges of being a virtual assistant:
- Unpredictable income: Some clients just need help with a one-time project. Also, different clients may have different payment schedules. This can make it difficult to budget your money and set financial goals for your own business.
- Constant marketing: New virtual assistants spend a lot of time networking, looking for possible work, and reaching out to potential clients. You will also need to continue marketing your skills, even after you get your first few clients, to help prevent running out of incoming work and income.
How to Get Started:
NOTE: Before you start your business, you should read the page on this website entitled “things to think about before you get started.” After you have taken the preliminary steps for starting any business, you can take the specific steps outlined below.
Here are some tips for how to start your virtual assistant business.
Set up your business structure. What will your virtual assistant business look like? Ask yourself the following questions while planning your business.
- What types of clients do you want to help? Are you only interested in local individuals and businesses or do you want to also work with people and companies in other cities or even other states?
- What are your skills? Do you want to offer administrative services (managing clients’ schedules, handling incoming phone calls/emails), writing services (create blog posts and other website content, and/or social media services (managing clients’ social media accounts and pages)?
- What are your work hours? What’s the least and the most amount of hours you’re willing to work during a normal week? What time of day and which days of the week will you work?
Create an online presence. Start with just one or two social media platforms. LinkedIn and Facebook are the two of the best platforms to start with since many businesses have pages on one of both of these social media sites. Create a profile on LinkedIn and Facebook that focuses on your virtual assistant services. Use these social media sites to follow businesses in industries that are interesting to you.
Also, consider setting up a website, using a free platform such as Wix, Squarespace or WordPress, to promote your business. (Note: These sites are “freemium” sites, meaning that you can create a basic website for free but you have to pay for premium features such as being able to choose the exact domain name that you want. Learn more about how freemium sites work.)
Network to get clients. Tell your family and friends that you’re a virtual assistant and talk about the type of services you offer. If you’re a teen or older, consider using freelance sites to find new clients. Fiverr allows freelancers ages 13 and older to look for work on their site. Upwork is another freelance site, but you have to be 18 years or older to look for possible freelance jobs. You can also contact potential clients directly with email or by direct messaging business leaders on LinkedIn.
Meet (virtually with Zoom or in-person) with your new client. When you get a new client, make sure you and the individual or business leader(s) you’re working with have the same understanding about how you will help their business. Some things to discuss include which services you will provide and when you will be available to work.
How much to charge:
There’s a wide range of pay for virtual assistants which is based on factors such as the client’s industry, as well as a virtual assistant’s skill level and amount of experience. Many virtual assistants charge an hourly rate for their services. For young virtual assistants, hourly pay rates can range from $10 – $30.
Other virtual assistants charge a project-based fee, especially if they’re working on a one-time, short-term project for a client. Determine your project-based fee ion your desired hourly rate and how many hours you expect to spend on that project. Initially, it’s a good idea to calculate your fee based on a slightly lower rate than you desire and a slightly lower time estimate to complete the project – better to exceed expectations than to fall short. That makes for better recommendations and referrals, which you will need to grow your business.
After doing a few jobs, you will get a better idea of how much money people are willing to pay you and how long it will take you to do projects. Plus, you’ll gain competence and confidence. At that point, you can begin to raise your rates.
Taking it to the next level:
1. Keep your eyes and ears open regularly for possible new clients.
Spend at least a few minutes daily looking for and reaching out to (aka: pitching) potential clients, especially when you’re first getting started as a new virtual assistant. This can include sending a few direct messages or emails to businesses you want to work with or searching Fiverr, Upwork, and similar freelance sites for new work.
2. Communicate with current clients regularly.
Set aside time in your weekly schedule to check in with your client, unless your client asks you to do otherwise. Do this helps you make sure that your client’s requests and questions are being answered. The weekly check-in can be about current and/or future projects, possible changes, business-related ideas, etc.
3. Make it difficult for clients to replace you.
Business leaders, especially for smaller businesses, are usually dealing with many tasks at the same time. That’s why your client will give you a project or a list of specific tasks to work on.
If you can easily handle these assigned projects or tasks, ask your client if there’s anything else you can do to make their work day, or work week, easier. Many clients will be very grateful to gain one or a few extra hours by letting you handle another task so they can focus on other parts of their business.
Image credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash
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