For several years now, the term Virtual Assistant has been making the rounds as some hazy notion that no one seemed to quite understand. But if you’ve ever wondered what exactly a virtual assistant is or what they do, I’m here to explain it. I’m also thrilled to tell you exactly why I think it’s a viable career option for stay-at-home moms everywhere.
My hope is that you’ll be able to understand the concept of VA work and start brainstorming through your own skills to figure out how you might be able to make money by becoming a Virtual Assistant, yourself.
Any job that has the term “virtual” in the title seems like it could be a scam, right? Virtual literally means “almost, or nearly, but not completely.” So a Virtual Assistant is basically almost or nearly an assistant? Well, kind of.
What IS a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant, or VA, is a person who works remotely doing tasks for a business or entrepreneur. These tasks can be anything from social media management to ghost writing to diary management to answering telephones.
A VA is like a Siri or an Alexa or even a Jarvis from Iron Man. The difference is that it’s a real person doing real things. But the concept of asking someone you can’t see to make something happen for you is the same.
What exactly does a virtual assistant do?
Virtual Assistants exist in every industry. Companies all over the world utilize VAs for a number of tasks. Their reasoning is simple. A VA can cost a lot less than a full time employee, and they don’t have to pay benefits. Even if a Virtual Assistant charges a higher per-hour fee, the company doesn’t have to worry about the extra overhead that comes with taking on a new hire. Nor do they need to worry about whether or not they will fit in with the company.
VAs are hired for projects, and once the project is done, or if the VA isn’t working out, the company can simply end the relationship.
A VA may also choose to work one-on-one with clients. For instance, there’s a huge need for VAs in the world of blogging. Many bloggers utilize VAs to run their Pinterest accounts, schedule Facebook posts, edit photos and more. If you are a great writer or photographer, you can sell your skills to bloggers in the form of ghostwriting or product photography.
What skills do you need to become a Virtual Assistant?
Because VAs work in a variety of industries doing a variety of things, there is no specific skill set needed to become a Virtual Assistant. In fact, if you can pinpoint your own unique talents, you’re likely to be able to turn them into a marketable skill you can offer as a VA.
In general, though, if you want to get started right away and be able to appeal to the widest variety of clients, there are a few basic skills it would be beneficial to have.
This is probably the most important skill you can have, no matter what you intend to do as a VA. You’ll need excellent communication skills for everything from your initial pitch through your final sales. You’ll be emailing, talking on phones, creating invoices, possibly creating your own website, and selling yourself every step of the way. You’ll need to make sure your writing is excellent (or at least excellently proofread) and your speaking is eloquent.
Again, not only will you be selling yourself all the time (after all, every interaction is a chance to win over a possible new client), but you may find that a big part of your job will require you to have basic sales and marketing skills. Being able to “talk the talk,” so to speak, will only work in your favor.
Working as a Virtual Assistant is going to require you to be able to focus on more than one task at a time. You’ll need to be able to concentrate on work for large chunks of time, even if you’re distracted at home. It can be difficult if you are, for instance, a mom with young children. You’ll also be wanting to take on more than one client at a time in order to make more money. Each client will want 100% of your attention all the time. You need to be able to make them feel like they’re getting it. It’s also going to benefit you if you can combine activities from multiple clients to streamline your workflow.
Planning and Strategizing Skills
Planning and strategizing will benefit you at every level of your professional career, and it is especially appealing to potential clients if you can claim expertise in these categories. Being able to show them a clear way forward for a problem they are having and your plan to solve it in a certain amount of time will give them more confidence in your skills and more reason to hire you. You’ll be able to charge a higher price knowing that you have the skills to justify it.
Basic Accounting Skills
Accounting is nothing more than math. If this is an area you struggle with, make sure you brush up on it. As a Virtual Assistant, you are running your own business, which makes you responsible for filing your taxes, invoicing clients, and figuring out your profit and loss. Accounting skills are an absolute must. But more than that, having some basic accounting knowledge can give you a leg up on other VAs and is a marketable skill that clients are willing to pay for. Once again it is all about selling yourself.
What is a virtual assistant salary?
According to the most recent information from Indeed.com, as of December 2019, the average Virtual Assistant makes $16.04 per hour. This information is self-reported and also based on average salary offered in job postings.
Most VA jobs do not last very long, however. Many are project based, offering a fixed price for a completed job, and both parties agree on this in advance.
If a per-hour price is agreed, the expectation from the buyer is that the VA will work as quickly as possible so that the price stays low. This can be frustrating for the VA because if they end up needing more time, they know they have to charge the client more, which can end up losing future business.
With a fixed price model, the VA has more motivation to work quickly because they are getting paid the same whether it takes an hour or ten hours.
Whether you choose to work on a per-hour or fixed price business model is something you’ll need to decide for yourself. Each has its pros and cons, and it is something to be considered carefully before moving forward.
What services does a Virtual Assistant offer?
There are endless services a VA could offer, but just to give an idea of some themes, Virtual Assistants can work with the categories of Social Media, Editorial, Administration, Finance, Writing, Audio Visual, Graphic Design, and even Web Development.
VAs are freelancers, so they work doing whatever they feel like doing in that moment. One day they may be writing copy for a huge supermarket, the next they may be editing videos for a gaming Youtube channel, the next they could be creating Pinterest graphics for an up and coming blogger. See a typical day in the life of a Virtual Assistant here.
The more skills a Virtual Assistant learns, the more marketable they become.
How do I become a virtual assistant?
This is the very best part. Becoming a Virtual Assistant is as easy as deciding to become a Virtual Assistant. It’s a great option for moms who have children in school or who want to set their own hours working from wherever they happen to feel most comfortable.
For most of us nowadays, a lot of time is spent wasting time mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds sharing content, crafting the perfect shareable quotes, or even taking classes on places like Skillshare. Becoming a VA could turn this time into a productive money-making venture instead of wasted time.
If you can commit to personal and professional development and be self-disciplined enough to set “office hours” where you can put the time and effort into your business, there’s no telling how far you can go or how much money you could make as a Virtual Assistant.