A virtual assistant is a remote worker who provides assistance to clients across a number of fields — especially in the administrative, technical and creative industries. A virtual assistant is basically a company or person's go-to hands-on helper who doesn't have to be in the office with them.
Do you think you have what it takes to be a virtual assistant, providing remote assistance to clients while managing your own business and being your own boss?
You don't need to go to school for anymore years or take any on-the-job training to become a virtual assistant. You're running your own business, so you run the show.
Of course, having an education and/or years of experience in your field will help you to grow your business, as you'll have sharper skills with which to help your clients — plus the credentials to prove yourself to them. But becoming a virtual assistant is largely about how you define your niche, build your business structure, establish rapport with clients and cultivate your own success.
Here's how to become a virtual assistant in eight simple steps.
Decide on the field in you're interested in working. Ask yourself what your passions are and how you might best be able to help people with certain skills you aleady have.
Perhaps you're the creative type and you have a degree in graphic design; you can become a virtual assistant who helps clients with their branding needs. Or perhaps you're a natural writer and, as such, you want to help brands develop content for their websites and blog pages. Maybe you're a certified coder and can offer businesses help with taking their websites mobile.
Whatever it is that you enjoy and that you can do well, invest your time and energy into exploring that niche.
If it's necessary to go back to school to obtain a higher degree or a certificate of some kind in your industry, do it. Now that you know your niche, it's worth spending the time and energy into becoming as proficient in your field as possible.
Plus, having the credentials will help to set you apart from other virtual assistants in your field.
As a virtual assistant, you'll have to forge your own path with regards to your business structure. There's no cookie-cutter way to build a virtual assistant business, as the business varies largely on your niche, your skill level and your clientele.
Some questions to ask yourself before you get started:
You should have a general idea of what your business will look like so that you can decide on what services you're going to be offering, how often, when and from where.
Decide what services you'll be offering and how you'll be offering them. For example, if you want to offer brand consulting services, come up with the branding services you'll provide — it may be graphic design, marketing materials, social media overhauling, etc.
You'll also want to come up with your rates for these services and whether or not you'll be charging hourly, per project or in another way.
Once you have all of the information about what your business is and how you're going to provide these services, launch a websites to legitimize your business plans. You'll want to have an online presence so that clients can find you and get to know your work. You might want to consider including a portfolio on your website to show clients you've worked with before and their successes, as well; this way new clients can have a better understanding of the work you provide and for whom you've provided it before.
Start reaching out to potential clients by networking and pitching your business around. You'll want to create press releases surrounding the launch of your business, and you'll want to take to social media to start marketing your services, as well. It'd be wise to look into Facebook and Instagram advertisements, for example, so that your business ad reaches readers beyond your own network — and you can target your demographic of interest.
Let your immediate social circle know that you're now offering specific services, too, and ask them to help you spread the word.
Beyond social media networks and your immediate social circles, you should start looking into attending networking events, such as conferences, panels and more within your industry. Bring your business cards with you and introduce yourself and your virtual assistant services.
Once you start getting clients, work on building your client relationships by developing rapport with your clients. You will inevitably do this the more you work with them and build trust. It's important to keep an open mind and keep collaborative so that your clients really feel like your services and support are valuable.
Small businesses often grow faster based on referrals. Grow your business by asking your clients to refer you to anyone they know who is in need of your services. Those who are happy with your services will likely be happy to pass on the word.
Even if your clients don't know anyone interested in your services at that moment, they can also help you out by leaving you reviews. They can leave reviews on your website, on certain forums where you might be listed as a professional, and even on LinkedIn. And, of course, they can leave you endorsements on LinkedIn, as well.
"A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client's office," according to Investopedia. "A virtual assistant typically operates from a home office, but is able to access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars, remotely. People employed as virtual assistants typically have several years of secretarial or office management experience."
The skills you'll need to become a virtual assistant include effective leadership and management skills, communication skills, planning and research skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills and more.
A virtual assistant's salary varies, and that's because virtual assistants often make their own hours and work across a variety of industries and for a gamut of different types of clients. That said, a virtual assistant, on average, earns about $15.63, according to Payscale.
You don't need a degree to be a virtual assistant. In fact, you don't need any specific level of education to become a virtual assistant. That said, a high school diploma (or the equivalent of a high school diploma) and a degree might prove that you have more credentials when looking to secure clients. Any certifications necessary in your field will also help you prove yourself as a professional.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.