Q&A on How to Become a Virtual Assistant

For me, the road to becoming a virtual assistant was not anything I intentionally planned, and I never said: “I want to become a virtual assistant.” I wasn’t happy at my job. I was working from home and telecommuting one day a week. I knew there had to be other legitimate work I could do from home.

Knowing there had to be work from home opportunities out there led me to find online jobs that sounded too good to be true. I eventually spoke with someone that was working as a virtual assistant, and that planted the idea in my mind.

Q. What was the single biggest challenge when learning how to become a Virtual Assistant?

A. Information overload! There is a lot more information on the internet now than there used to be about getting started as a virtual assistant. More information can also be overwhelming to determine what applies to you and what is going to help you. Sorting through all the information and programs on the internet can be one of the biggest challenges. It all depends on if you are choosing to be a general administrative assistant or if you have a niche. For example, one of the first webinars I attended said the average rate a virtual assistant charged was $50 per hour, so I thought that is what I’m supposed to charge.

Then I found out nobody was paying that. Looking back that information was wrong, and a VA’s rate depended on what their expertise and experience were. This is just one of the many examples of information overload, and how difficult it can be to know who to listen too when getting started.

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

~Zig Zigler

Q. How has an online business is changed?

A. Online business is changing and so is the attitude about a virtual assistant. When I first started five years ago, a lot of online businesses were looking for a virtual assistant that did everything. They wanted you to wear many hats, and while you could gain a lot of experience, it was also very stressful.

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to start an online business, and many of these online entrepreneurs are realizing that they need help and the solution is outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant. Business owners are looking for the right fit rather than particular experience: impeccable personality and learning fast are not things you can not teach someone. Qualities such as being detail-oriented, problem-solving, and time management are also in demand. Many business owners are willing to teach software programs or invest in training for their VA.

Q. How do you build credibility starting out?

A. Back when I started potential clients often wanted a resume and someone willing to do it all, but now many don’t require it. I still suggest you have a resume ready, but highlight skills you gained from existing positions. For example, I handled a lot of money at one company, and I did that for just over three years. Something I highlighted is trust and detail oriented rather than the task of handling the money.

Getting potential clients to understand trust, being detail oriented, and time management skills are what it took to do my job every day will most likely be more memorable and impressive. A potential client would then be more willing to teach something you do not know if you point out the skills you learned from your work history.

I tell all the people I train to have an information document (what I call a one-sheet) that lists your skills and any online programs or software that you know how to use. When you are trying to build credibility, think of how you will be able to explain your experience and how you can benefit a client’s business. It’s how you communicate it than what experience you have.

Q. How do you get your first few clients?

A. There are many ways you can go about getting your first clients, but I’ll touch on the easiest ways for now. Building your network is important, and Facebook groups are a great way to do this. Join and participate in more than one group like mom’s in business online.

Create a profile on freelance websites such as hiremymom.com and upwork.com. Just know that you need to pay for a subscription to Hiremymom.com. Upwork is free, but I was informed they are not accepting new profiles for virtual assistants because they already have so many listed.

Build your online portfolio. All you need is to update your LinkedIn page and keep your personal and professional social media pages reputable. Make sure your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest posts and pictures are free from anything negative or inappropriate. Having your public profile drama free is important to companies you might represent.

I also tell people in my training to wait on building a website. You don’t need to spend a ton of money and time creating an excellent website to get started. Once I did create a website, I was changing it so many times because I was still figuring out what it was I wanted to do.

Q. How many clients can you work with at one time and still keep the work & home life balance?

A. It depends on the kind of work you want to do and how much income you want to bring in. You can work project-based, hourly, or on retainer. Some clients may need assistance for a single project, but others may require long-term support for ongoing tasks. Look at financially what you need to bring in and divide that by your rate to find out how many hours you need to work. Moms that go through my VA training program finish with the skillset to charge 25 dollars per hour. I also coach moms in my program on how to create pricing packages as part of their proposal to potential clients.

When I was working as a virtual assistant, I was told you could have as many as five to ten clients at a time. There are several factors to consider when setting your schedule and availability. The more clients you get, the more they need communication to talk about projects. Get clear on how you want to work, when you want to work, and how you want clients to communicate.

In the interview process, I tell clients my working hours and how I prefer them to contact me with some degree of flexibility. At the end of the day, my son will remember if I went to his school party and nobody will remember that I wasn’t at a meeting. Nobody dies and says I wish I had more meetings, worked more hours, etc.. You have to think about what is most important to you when setting your time boundaries.

I hope you find this information helpful in becoming a virtual assistant. I want you to learn from my experience so you can have a successful VA business.

If you want to know more about becoming a virtual assistant you can grab my free 3-part Virtual Assistant Starter Kit here. It goes over the top 10 programs you need to know for online business, covers the nine mistakes VA’s make and how to avoid them, and the number one tip on being a successful VA.

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