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In 2020, there are a multitude of ways to make money online and one of the most flexible ways is to become a virtual assistant. Being a virtual assistant is a well-paid career that also offers a great work-life balance.
Another great point about working as a virtual assistant is the pay. You can make really good money as a virtual assistant in 2020, up to $50 per hour in fact! And all this whilst being able to work from anywhere, have control over your hours and be your own boss.
Virtual assistant work is suitable for lots of different types of people – students looking for a part-time job, stay-at-home mums, millennials wanting to become digital nomads. The list goes on and on!
- What Exactly Is A Virtual Assistant?
- How much money can you make as a virtual assistant?
- Who hires virtual assistants?
- What’s it like to work as a virtual assistant?
- How long does it take to become a virtual assistant?
- What skills or tools should you know to become a virtual assistant?
- How To Make Money As A Virtual Assistant In 2020?
What Exactly Is A Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is exactly the same as a personal assistant or administrative assistant in a traditional office-based company, but instead of working in the office, the work is done remotely. From wherever you wish!
A VA’s job is to make their client’s working life easier. Many VA clients are business owners who are very busy trying to do a million tasks at once, they need help getting them all done! So, a VA comes in and does different tasks for their client that the client is too busy to do for themselves. Thereby freeing up their client’s time that they can use on other projects.
Often, as you are working for small businesses, the virtual assistant tasks are varied and you will constantly be challenged to new skills. This helps the work stay interesting while at the same time developing your professional skill set which can help you make more money in the future.
How much money can you make as a virtual assistant?
Established virtual assistants regularly make up to $50,000 a year or $25 per hour. While really successful, niche virtual assistants can even charge up to $50 per hour, which can be a salary of $100,000 a year!
When you are first starting out as a VA, you might need to charge slightly less in order to win your first clients and build up a solid reputation which will help you get more business in the long run. Therefore, in the first six months, you might have to charge more like $15 per hour.
However, $15 per hour is still a decent wage for a side hustle or full-time hustle. And the opportunities to increase your hourly rate come quickly! Once you have gained a little experience, developed your skillset or perhaps niched down to specialise as a certain type of VA, you can start to charge between $25-50 per hour.
When I first started as a VA, my first client was an events planner and I was tasked with researching venues, potential sponsors and catering companies for her. The hourly rate was only $12 per hour, however, this was four years ago now. So, accounting for inflation, the hourly rate now would have been roughly $14-15 per hour.
If you are using a platform such as Upwork to find clients, you do need to factor in the commission that Upwork takes into your hourly rate. Upwork takes between 10-20% commission, plus a 4% administration fee. This is definitely something to consider when you are finding clients on Upwork and setting your hourly rate as a VA.
Who hires virtual assistants?
The history of virtual assistance goes back over 20 years, when the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ was first coined in 1996 by Stacy Brice. She delivered administrative assistance entirely from home working for an international client.
As the popularity of the internet grew, so did the virtual assistance industry. Nowadays, with the rise of the entrepreneur and so many people working remotely, VA’s have infiltrated nearly every industry.
Bloggers, freelancers, business owners, ecommerce stores, real estate agents, social media influencers all hire virtual personal assistants.
And it’s not just small businesses or self-employed people who use virtual assistants; one of my first clients was VICE Media. I was a personal virtual assistant for one of the vice-presidents of the London office. My main responsibility was email inbox management and transcribing of meetings.
As you can see, nearly every industry or business hires virtual assistants. This is why it’s such a good idea to niche down as a VA and become specialised in one industry. It makes finding new clients a lot easier. Think about it, a life coach is much more likely to hire a virtual assistant who specialises in life coaches than a general virtual assistant, A specialised VA will understand the industry a lot better and be more prepared to jump right in to whatever task is thrown at them.
What’s it like to work as a virtual assistant?
Working as a VA is a varied and interesting job to tell the truth. The best part of the job is the work-life balance. When I was working as a virtual assistant, my favourite clients were those who allowed me to get the work done whenever I wanted to as long as it was delivered before the deadline. This meant the work fit around my schedule and other commitments perfectly.
Another great thing about virtual assistant work is the opportunity to learn about lots of different industries. One of your clients might be a fashion blogger while another client may run an online accounting firm. With such a wide range of industries employing virtual assistants, you will get an insight into different careers.
If you’re just starting out in the working world and aren’t sure what you want to do long term, then virtual assistant work is perfect to help you figure out what you do and don’t like workwise. There are so many different tasks that a VA might have to do, so the work is always varied and you are constantly having to learn new skills or tools. These will become transferable skills that you can carry with you into your next job.
The worst part about being a virtual assistant is definitely nightmare clients. Sometimes, people just don’t make a great fit working together. This is totally normal and not a big deal. It just shows the importance of having a video interview before you decide to work with a new client. You need to make sure you work in similar ways and your personalities gel.
How long does it take to become a virtual assistant?
Anyone who has a background in office administrative work can become a virtual assistant without any training. So, the answer to the question of how long it takes to become a VA would be however long it takes you to find your first client!
If you want to become a good virtual assistant then it’s a good idea to find a reputable VA course to help you develop your skills and give you the confidence needed to start a successful career as a VA.
Good training courses will also help you figure out how to find your first clients. If you’re serious about becoming a VA then I suggest you take a look at The VA Handbook. Her website is the ultimate resource in learning how to make money as a VA. There are paid courses as well as free DIY VA courses to choose from; different options to suit different budgets!
What skills or tools should you know to become a virtual assistant?
As mentioned before, virtual assistant tasks tend to be very similar to office administrative tasks. Including email management skills, good customer service skills if you are working for an ecommerce business, organisational skills.
The kind of tools you’ll need to have experience in include:
- Google Drive
- Google Docs & Google Sheets
If you don’t have experience in these tools yet, don’t panic. Most of these tools or platforms are very easy to learn. The great thing about living in 2020, is that anything you need to find out quickly, you can find it online.
Whenever you get stuck trying to work out how to use a new tool, you can quickly Google it and chances are, someone else will have already asked the same question for you!
How To Make Money As A Virtual Assistant In 2020?
Step 1: Decide on the niche you’re going to specialise in
Once you’ve decided that you want to make some money as a virtual assistant, it’s time to niche down and select the services that you’re going to offer clients.
Niching down is an excellent way to market yourself as an expert to new clients and therefore be able to charge a higher hourly rate. Working as a specialised assistant also makes marketing easier because you can target precise words and specific audiences.
Apart from higher profitability and better marketing opportunities, niching down is also easier when it comes to your virtual assistant training because it means you only have to learn a certain set of skills.
If you can’t decide on a niche straight away, try and think about any relevant past experience. For example, perhaps you are very active on social media, what about becoming a social media virtual assistant?
This niche would require that you are well versed in all related tools and platforms. And you would want to be able to show past experience, so make sure your own social media accounts are well presented and you are able to show their growth.
If social media isn’t your thing but you’re interested in photography, then why not become a photography VA. There are plenty of wedding photographers who are too busy to do their own administrative tasks, such as responding to enquiries or sending out invoices. Along with various admin duties, the photography niche would probably require you to have a basic understanding of Photoshop and other related editing suites.
When it comes to choosing a niche, there is a whole world of industries to choose from. Therefore, it’s definitely worth it to take your time deciding on the niche you would like to specialise in before you jump in.
Step 2: Get trained
Once you’ve decided on who your ideal client will be, it’s time to get trained up so you can become the best virtual assistant possible.
These days, there are lots of people trying to make money remotely, so there is competition out there. Ensuring that you are confident and competent in your skills as a VA will set you apart from other assistants and help you win and retain more clients.
You can either teach yourself with free resources available on Youtube or you can also find paid courses as well. Paid online courses are good if you are a student who needs structure and a plan to learn. But, if you’re on a budget, then don’t worry, everything you need to learn for your desired niche can be found online for free. Google is your best friend when it comes to educating yourself!
Another great tip is to join a dedicated Facebook group for Virtual Assistants. There are some great online communities around where you can find support from experienced VAs and answers to any questions you might have while you are building your skillset.
Step 3: Start finding clients
Finding clients is probably the hardest part for any freelancer, including virtual assistants. And it is also, the most important part in the plan for success!
Luckily though, there are a variety of different places to look for new clients. Once you get a system going, you will have no problem finding new clients. Then it will just be a case of consistently doing a good job so you can keep your new clients!
- Upwork – The most popular platform for freelancers to find work. Solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 Companies post on Upwork looking for freelancers so this is a great place to get looking for your first clients. Successfully finding work on Upwork can be traced back to having a professional Upwork profile and a solid reputation.
- Facebook Groups – If you are part of remote work networks or digital nomad groups on Facebook, quite often you will see people posting jobs looking for VAs. There are also dedicated groups for Virtual Assistants on Facebook where you will be able to post your services for people to find you. Virtual Assistant Jobs has over 14,000 members and jobs posted daily!
- Have A Professional Website – Any freelancer worth their salt knows the importance of having a website to showcase their services. It is the modern equivalent of a business card. A sleek looking website gives you credibility and helps gain trust with potential clients. You can post your website in VA directories and people will be able to find you a lot easier with it. Your VA website doesn’t need to be a massive website, just a few pages where you explain your services, how to get in contact with you and references from past clients.
- Virtual Assistant Agencies – There are also VA Agencies you can join that will help you find regular clients. This can be a good way to find steady work since their clients will have passed a vetting process and committed to a fixed minimum number of hours per month. To join an agency there are usually a couple of easy tests to pass, they give you time to prepare and it’s nothing too difficult. An example test might be responding to a few emails or explaining how you would arrange travel for your client.
- Emailing Entrepreneurs – If you know you want to be a certain type of VA, for example, a photography assistant. Then you could make a list of photographers that you find online and send out personalised emails to each of them, pitching your services and how you could help make their jobs easier. This is a great way to get a head start in becoming a specialised Virtual Assistant.
Step 4: Get To Work
Now you’ve found your first few clients, it’s time to get to work and start making money as a Virtual Assistant! Assistants need to be super organised and efficient so it will be vital for you to set up proper processes and systems. Tools like Monday.com will be a lifesaver for this!
As being a VA is self-employed, you will also have to keep track of your income, send out invoices, learn how to do your taxes as well as doing the work for your clients!
It might be a steep learning curve at first, but once you become settled and remain organised, you’ll find the work-life balance addictive and never want to go back to a regular job.
Step 4: Scaling Up
When you’ve been successfully making money as a VA for a while, you’ll want to keep developing your skills and learning new tools to stay on top of your game. Also, the more skills you’ve mastered, the higher you will be able to charge new clients which means you will be able to earn more!
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into becoming a Virtual Assistant. It is a fulfilling career if you choose it to be and one can be very lucrative.
Aside from the high-earning potential, a career as a VA also offers an envious work-life balance, high job satisfaction and my personal favourite – You get to be your own boss that can work from anywhere!
Phoebe is a freelance SEO consultant and blogger, running her blog Your Green Grass Project. She helps millennial women achieve their dreams of working remotely so that they can travel the world. Connect with her on Instagram.
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I’m Shruti, the founder of Indian Girling & Digital Empires. I believe in creating a life that you don’t need a vacation from.
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