Editor’s Note: Like the work of administration and project management but not the hours and, worse, the need to be physically present? Check out the story about being a virtual assistant.
The idea of being a virtual assistant when I started was virtual non-existent. Of course, there were plenty of people who needed an assistant on their team, but they were more likely called Administrative Assistants where you had to go to an office and perform your tasks. After a few months of juggling the idea, I started seeing more about becoming a virtual assistant as part or full time. The major benefit was starting my own company as a virtual assistant. The possibility of working from home, setting my own hours, charge the price I thought was necessary for my completed services was astounding. With any work from home job, there are rules, but it doesn’t stomp out the VA parade. Let’s at how to be successful and earn a full-time income being a virtual assistant.
WHERE TO START?
There are several platforms to get started as a virtual assistant. Some that have great potential for anyone starting out are Upwork, Fiverr, VA Network, and LinkedIn. These platforms allow freelancers to show off their skills and set your own price. Depending on your skill set it doesn’t hurt to do a little research and see where your profit margin for services should be. For example, if you are great at handling social media accounts, setting them up, doing promotional marketing, moderating, etc, then you can charge $60 or more an hour. That’s only one of the many industries to pull off that hourly rate and more.
When it comes to platforms having your own blog or website to display your skills is another way to go. When I first started, having a website was the main pressing topic. Here is where you may need a little help if you’ve never built a website or done your graphics. Luckily, nowadays there are so many tutorials on how to get your website started and how to design your own graphics without the headache. No website? No probably. Remember social media. Being active on a social media platform is the number one way to get clients. They are everywhere looking for the right fit and the right fit could be you.
When it comes to clients, skip the hassle and desire to quit them by making sure you two are a perfect fit for business. This is very important because there can be a lot of headaches down the road if you two are on the same page or even in the same book. Make sure you have guidelines written out on how you conduct business and compare it with the clients you choose to work with. There can also be a contract that you draw up so there is no miscommunication in the future.
All of this sounds great, right? There are some cons that come with picking your platform and being visible to potential clients. When it comes to LinkedIn, be aware of scammers that are taking a liking to those that would prefer to stay at home or start their own business. The idea of money is the draw in and if anything throws red flags at you as in put this in your bank account today to get started”, run for the hills. There should be no money in bank until services have been completed. When it comes the platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, some job may not be for you and will pay next to nothing. If doing a micro VA job to get your feet wet is something you want to consider then there is nothing wrong with that.
For me, I wanted the freedom to pick and chose as well as how much I made that was respectable for my clients. I was doing it wrong at first. Just picking anything and not having a “This is why you need me” neon sign above my head. Once I discovered that what I was offering was truly needed, I stopped picking up anything thinking that it would get me in front of more people. Think about why your clients need you. Why that company needs you? Why you need to do this for yourself.
HOW DO YOU GO FROM PENNIES TO DOLLARS?
You’ve decided you like the idea of being a VA. You have the skills, the creative thinking, the problems solving and you’re just good at what you do. So, your first few jobs or clients may be under that glorious top hourly you are aiming for. That’s okay. I experienced that as well. I was making around $12/ hour performing my tasks before I started my own business and took up Instagram to really get noticed. There are tips and tricks to shoot you toward your goal faster.
Be flexible. That’s a no brainer, right? Sometimes it isn’t all that easy, but this is ideal because your clients are looking for someone who is flexible. Many do understand that life comes first, so don’t take being flexible as not going to that first home game of the season for your child. Be flexible as in your talents. Build up more and research. Being a virtual assistant also means having the ability to self-learn. Everything that you’ll come across as a VA will be self-taught. Now, there are books that’ll give you insight on what to go after, but rarely will they say do this, this, and this just like that.
Once I put a few more skill eggs in my basket, I started charging more. I was seeing VA’s that were charge accountant prices. That would be $150 and upward. Now, there are projects that do cost that. A tip if you will. If a client asks for a project and you know it’ll take a few hours, make it a set price instead of hourly. Charge $300 for that project. Depending on what is asked, time, a little of your money may have to go into the project, research dedicated, proofreading, editing, reediting, and all before the final draw up. Pricing in the VA world can be a lot like markups when shopping. Want a great price, but also great quality.
The best way to go from pennies to dollars is being providing quality work and backing up your skills with just that. Be a professional outside of the paper or digital resume. Take jobs that you know you can spark through. It never hurts to ask for referrals and give discounts to your clients if they do. This not only spreads the word about you as a VA, but also gives you the ability surpass $50/ hour even on a part time basis.
BUILDING A BUSINESS
Starting your own business as a VA can be overwhelming at times. It seems that there is so much do that and you’ll as if you need an assistant. Break down everything you want to accomplish. I went feet first into starting my own business. I took care of the website because I knew how to code, the logos because I did graphic design, and set up social media. I did all of this for under $7 dollars and over the course of a weekend. It can be done! The idea to start my own business was because I personally wanted to showcase what all I do. I was able to say, “I made the website, I did the graphics, here is more of work, etc.” Put up a portfolio and even a blog if you want to start your own business venture. There was no overthinking about starting the business. I knew I wanted to help more people and put my administrative skills toward more. Think about what you want to name your business and have a 6-month to a year plan drawn out. Will you need printing paper, ink, update on software to use, new programs that’ll help that you can invest? Whatever it may be put it into your plan. Those are business expenses that you can write off during tax time.
ARE YOU READY TO BE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?
The main question to ask yourself. There are so many benefits to becoming one. But of course, everything will have a con lined up with it. You may get someone as a client that doesn’t pay on time, or adds more details that were outlined in the beginning but refuses to up the price. It is all apart of the world to go through a few tribulations while doing this work. Making a full income on a part time basis as a virtual assistant is not hard at all. Charging $60 or more for your quality work is not far-fetched. In fact, if you charge less you’ll end up with no business. The cost is linked with quality. See the pattern? To be successful, deliver what you promise. That way you are able to charge the prices that you do because you can deliver without hesitation and on the mark every time. This will draw you more clients and give you the opportunity to work-less. Yes, you have more clients and still work less once you get into your groove.
I choose to work only four days out of the week, but I still keep my business hours which are from 9am to 7pm. I do this because I know how I work. I have multiple devices on me at all times. A laptop and a touchscreen netbook, ipads, smartphones, and tablets. I can work from anywhere. Waiting in the drop off line, favorite Pho or Chinese restaurant, the park after school. This is something you can do anywhere with the right devices and frankly, just having a smart phone would do the trick and still earn you what you want. Fly out to Italy for a week. You can still work. When it comes to getting paid, this is something that should always be discussed up front.
Whether monthly or weekly is ideal for you, have it in writing. Never take a VA job without discussing all the terms and that includes payment. Majority clients will do a bi-weekly schedule where there are some that will do monthly. For monthly, these are normally other VA’s that you work with under their company and when they get paid, so do you. Don’t shy away from working for another VA as this can be a way to skip a few steps to the top with you own business. You might even get a free puppy. It has happened. Do right by your clients and you just may end up with a farm. I love my farm by the way! So, don’t overthink your new part time gig as a virtual assistant, just do it.