Learning how to become a virtual assistant can provide you with an exciting and flexible job that you can work from home, in your spare time, and while earning good money. I know you’ve probably heard that before about other online jobs, but this is 100% true for virtual assistants.
It’s work that’s great for all sorts of people – stay-at-home moms, side hustlers, digital nomads, and more. The work stays fresh because there’s always more to learn. And as you gain new skills, you can grow your income.
But, what is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant or VA works behind the scenes for their clients. VAs take care of tasks that don’t need to be done by the business owner, which frees up hours of valuable time for their clients.
With online entrepreneurship growing – from bloggers, freelancers, consultants, social media influencers, podcasters, eCommerce sites, etc. – there are tons of opportunities out there for work.
So, if you want to learn how to become a virtual assistant, this guide has it all:
- The four most in-demand virtual assistant jobs
- What skills or tools VAs need to know
- The qualities of a good VA
- How much virtual assistants make
- What it’s like to work as a virtual assistant
- How to become a virtual assistant with no experience (and course suggestions)
What does a virtual assistant do?
If you’re interested in learning how to become a virtual assistant, the first thing you need to understand is that there is a variety of virtual assistant jobs. There is a lot of overlap in the skills needed for different tasks, but some work will require special skills.
Here are the four most in-demand virtual assistant jobs:
1. Social media management
VA’s who help business owners with social media management work on one or a number of social media platforms. You already know the big ones – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
There are some subtle differences with each, but the gist of working as a social media virtual assistant is:
- Posting status updates, photos, pins, etc.
- Responding to comments
- Updating profiles
- Managing or moderating Facebook communities
- Running ads
2. Email management
Responding to customer emails, corresponding with clients, etc. – these things can take up a considerable amount of a business owner’s time. Some entrepreneurs get hundreds of emails a day.
A virtual assistant doing email management, or inbox management, might organize emails into folders by urgency. You might respond to simple inquiries or requests. You can even do really simple tasks like confirm appointments and renew subscriptions.
If you want to specialize in something related to email management, email marketing is pretty lucrative. You’ll want to learn copywriting skills and how to build a sales funnel to work in this niche.
3. Blog management
Running a blog is way more than just posting an article or two a week. And the bigger a blog gets, the more behind the scenes work there is to do, including:
- Scheduling posts
- Formatting images
- Editing posts
- Checking links
- Managing affiliate relationships
- Organizing and categorizing past posts
- Applying tags
- Updating plug-ins
- Paying freelancers
For a blogger, this is more mundane and time-consuming work, but they’re essential to running a successful and profitable blog. Some larger blogs have multiple VAs working as a team to support the blogger.
4. Customer service
With big, big companies like Apple and Amazon outsourcing customer service support means this is a growing and in-demand field for anyone who wants to become a virtual assistant. But, small business owners need VA customer service support too.
This job is pretty broad, but it includes tasks like responding to comments, processing orders, managing payments, troubleshooting, etc.
What skills or tools should you know to become a virtual assistant?
If any of those jobs sounded appealing, the next step to learning how to become a virtual assistant is knowing what skills you need or should start learning. The specific tools and resources you need to know will depend on your clients and what services you offer, but here are some of the most common.
Project management software like Asana or Trello
Many business owners use some kind of project management or work-flow software, like Asana or Trello, to organize their team and stay on top of work. While they’re advertised as collaborative tools, a virtual assistant can use them alone to manage multiple clients.
Both are free, and in case you’re wondering, M$M uses Asana.
Most people know Google Drive by now, but if not, it offers open-source versions of Word and Excel. Google Drive is cloud supported, which means it’s great for sharing docs and working remotely.
Know your way around a spreadsheet
Even if you aren’t using a spreadsheet for bookkeeping and adding formulas, spreadsheets make it easy to organize information.
WordPress (especially if you’re going to work with bloggers)
The majority of bloggers use WordPress for publishing articles and setting up their blogs. If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, it’s surprisingly easy to learn your way around.
Lots of business owners use Quickbooks for invoicing and payments. It’s another piece of software that might be good for your own VA business because there are time tracking functions.
The qualities of a good VA
At their core, a good virtual assistant is going to be organized, driven, have excellent time management skills, and great at communicating.
Each of your clients will have a slightly different personality, and for that, adaptability and flexibility are key.
You might have a very creative client who struggles with routine and structure – they might need a little more managing to stay on track. You can have another client who struggles to give up control, and for them, it will be imperative that you communicate about everything you’re doing.
How much do virtual assistants make?
At the low end, virtual assistants make around $15/hour. That’s for entry-level work. Once you have a little more experience, have grown your skillset, or specialized in something, you can command anywhere from $25-$50/hour.
Keep your clients happy, do good work, and make it so they can’t live without you. As long as you do those things, when it comes time to increase your rates (which you should do gradually), a good client will know your worth and pay accordingly.
Read about more high-paying side gigs at: Best Side Hustles to Make an Extra $1,000-$2,000 Per Month.
What it’s like to work as a virtual assistant
Curious about what the job is like? M$M’s ride-or-die virtual assistant and mom of four, Mel, shares her experience:
One of the things I love about my job (aside from the World's Best Boss) is the variety. Even routine tasks vary day to day, from helping with a marketing client's needs to posting on social media accounts to interacting with members of the M$M fam. Even if the list of tasks to accomplish in a week have constants, there is always something new to learn, a new contact to be made, and the freedom and flexibility to accomplish it, however, is best for us both.
My favorite part about this lifestyle is freedom – I was a bad corporate employee. I crave variety, flexibility, and autonomy. I work best when I am trusted. And I get all of that and more in this job. The bonus of not having to pay for daycare for our kids while getting to watch them grow up, and take them to do fun things during the “workday” is simply one of the biggest blessings I could've ever hoped for.
How to become a virtual assistant with no experience?
If that kind of flexibility and autonomy is what you’re looking for in a job, here are the steps to take to learn how to become a VA with no prior experience.
Step 1: Decide on the services you’re going to offer
Whether you realize it or not, you probably already have some in-demand virtual assistant skills.
- Maybe you’re trying to start your own blog. If so, you can offer blog management services because you already know your way around WordPress.
- We all have experience managing an email inbox.
- If you’ve ever moderated a FB group, lean on that experience.
After you start working, you’ll find things you really enjoy doing for your clients and others that you can’t stand. Then, as you expand your business, you can change your offerings to suit what you love about being a virtual assistant.
Step 2: Get trained
At the very least, you should research the job, tasks you’ll perform, and get more information on the services you’ll offer. There aren't any educational requirements to work as a virtual assistant, but some professional-level training can go a very long way.
Here are some of our favorite virtual assistant courses:
- 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success– This course is from Gina Horkey of the Horkey Handbook and teaches social media management, email management, project management, content production, bookkeeping, and much more.
- Pinterest VA Course– If you’re interested in working specifically as a Pinterest VA, this course dives deep into the necessary skills. It’s way more than just pinning!
Learn more about Pinterest at How to Make Money on Pinterest in 2020 (Earn $1,000 Extra Per Month)
Step 3: Start finding clients
Here are tips for finding clients. You can try one, several, all of them. If the goal is finding work, then you gotta put in that hustle.
- Start a website. Having a site dedicated to your virtual assistant business makes it easy for potential clients to see a list of your services, reviews, experience, and to learn more about you.
- Promote your services on social media. In addition to posting about your services on social media, you can start a page for your VA business, and possibly spend a little on Facebook ads.
- Use a freelancer site. Freelancing sites like Upwork or Freelancer list one-off virtual assistant jobs that are great for when you’re just starting out. The pay isn’t the best, but you gotta start somewhere.
- Use an agency. Online agencies like Fancy Hands are dedicated to connecting virtual assistants with clients. You can perform one-time virtual assistant jobs or find a long-term client.
- Contact bloggers and other online entrepreneurs. Is there someone you follow online and would like to work with? There is no reason you can’t send them an email and pitch your services. This is how M$M’s assistant Mel started – she was following the site on Facebook and reached out to offer social media management.
Step 4: Get to work
Once you’ve found a job (or several), keep track of your income, pay your taxes, and keep your clients happy.
But what about growing your business? One great way is to start specializing in different skills. VA skills. That knowledge can command higher rates and make you more attractive to bigger clients.
The final word on learning how to become a virtual assistant
Working as a virtual assistant is an incredibly rewarding job for many. There are lots of stay-at-home moms working as VAs. Then, there are people who side hustle as virtual assistants on the side of their full-time jobs.
And, learning how to become a virtual assistant opens a door to earning money in a flexible position that you can grow over time.