What even is a VA? What do they do? Who works with them? And ultimately, is this a remote career for you?
When you’ve been in the online business space for a while, the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ (or VA for short) is commonly known. While awareness of this field is trending upward, it’s easy to forget that when talking to those outside the online biz bubble, virtual assistance is often a completely new concept still. Over my 8 years in this industry, I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve explained everything that I’ve finally decided to put together below.
So here it is! Tada!
I’ve written this blog post firstly as an easy resource to direct said folks to, and secondly, to showcase why this is one of the BEST ways to start working for yourself remotely. I’m demystifying virtual assistance to give you the scoop on what it is, the types of people who might need a VA, the kinds of services VAs offer, and of course, how to get started.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Virtual Assistant?
The answer is simpler than you might think! A Virtual Assistant is a self-employed individual who works to support people and/or businesses remotely by providing professional administrative, technical and/or creative assistance to their clients.
I like to flip the name around, if you ‘assist people virtually’ you could be considered a VA. I also like to view the term ‘VA’ as an umbrella term for all individual service providers online, whether you call yourself a VA or not is entirely up to you (and that’s a whole other blog post!).
What do Virtual Assistants even do?
Like I mentioned above, VAs most notably do admin, tech, and/or creative tasks. Most VAs will fall more heavily into one category than another and they may choose to specialize in something specific within that category too. Such as a creative VA specializing in creating beautiful pins for pinterest. Many VAs will have a couple of overlapping skills, like being an administrator with some technical know-how.
There’s seemingly no end to the type of services you could offer! Take a look at the chart below for just SOME ideas, or even have a look at these 100+ VA tasks you could perform.
Ultimately, the scope of what a VA can do is vast and varied and often changing depending on your client’s needs, new tools being introduced, and your interests. If you have experience and skills in a particular area, there’s a good chance you could offer those services as a VA to get started.
What’s really important to note is that you DO NOT need to know all of the above things to succeed. Most don’t! You can get started right away with something as simple as helping people manage their calendar. You could then branch out into other admin areas as and when you please! I repeat, you do not need advanced technical skills to become a VA.
Consider for a moment ANY type of business (online or offline, both can benefit greatly from hiring VAs) and what might go into their current online presence – literally sit with a pen and paper and brainstorm this and you’ll quickly realize the sheer amount of tasks it takes to run a business online. Much of which can be outsourced! This task can really help you start thinking outside the box when it comes to what you personally can offer potential clients.
Which brings us to…
Who hires Virtual Assistants?
Primarily, business owners and entrepreneurs who are juggling way too many tasks that it’s pulling valuable time and attention away from the things they need to focus on. As a VA, you’re there to step in and lift the burden from their shoulders, taking over responsibilities that they no longer want to do, don’t have time to do, or don’t know how to do.
These are your clients, and they can appear in more forms than you might imagine.
A local boutique or restaurant that wants to start marketing on social media. A business coach who needs someone to handle their logistics and booking flights to conference events. A fashion vlogger who needs a video editor to help increase their upload schedule.
These clients don’t have to be distant strangers either. Oftentimes, a VA’s first clients are found within their own circle of family, friends, past employers aka their existing network. The aunt who wants to start a blog sharing all of her favorite recipes but doesn’t know how to build a website. The friend who needs a cool logo for their new rock band. That old college friend who’s starting a consulting business and needs someone to keep them organized and on time for appointments.
As VAs gain more experience, glowing reviews and a larger network, a lot of clients come through word of mouth, aka referrals, but there’s plenty of other ways to land clients too, we talk about this in depth in our courses.
Potential clients could be everywhere, and many Virtual Assistants create opportunities for themselves by staying visible, being of service, and marketing in the right places.
What can you earn as a VA?
Like most freelance/self-employed workers, Virtual Assistants can set their own rates.
Annually, your income could range from a little extra spending cash, to a six-figure salary or more.
This largely depends on the type of services you’re offering, your experience/skill level, the number of clients you serve, how you package your services, and of course, how many hours you choose to work per week.
When starting out, pricing is often done on an hourly rate, moving into retainers for long-term arrangements, and then you have project-based pricing too, depending on the task. There are several platforms on the internet (I won’t be naming any names) where people try to hire VAs for ridiculously low rates. But I firmly believe in ethical hiring and for paying skilled workers (because exactly that’s what VAs are) a living wage that they deserve. Even entry-level VAs can start at a MINIMUM of $12-15 per hour. The average hourly rate for VAs outside of the platforms we do not speak of, is $30-35 per hour, but with plenty of room upwards too. Remember, when you become a VA, you have the abilty to design a career with limitless potential.
The subject of pricing is an important topic that honestly deserves a blog post all to itself… and that’s exactly why I’ve written one! To get the full details on what you should be charging, check out this post below:
Why this is a no-brainer option for anyone wanting to work for themselves online:
There are so many benefits to becoming a Virtual Assistant, including working from home (or anywhere you have an internet connection – hello, digital nomad life), setting your own hours, and the ability to choose your clients and projects. The freedom that this career path can grant you is incredible! But if that’s not reason enough, here’s just a few more perks that make this a no brainer!
Low barrier to entry – Getting started can be pretty easy. If you have a laptop, a stable internet connection and a willingness to learn, then you’ve got everything you need to get started – you don’t need a degree related to the services you’re offering, but good organizational and communication skills will take you a long way!
Learn on the job – Many VAs find themselves learning on the job. This could be insider knowledge in the industries their clients work in, or being introduced to new online tools that can make their workflow more efficient. If you’re a quick-study, you’ll find yourself absorbing new and beneficial skills like a sponge!
Grow a bountiful network – By connecting with potential clients, as well as your fellow Virtual Assistants, you can build an incredible network full of creative and innovative minds. Having a broad and varied circle of ambitious people will not only help keep you motivated, it will enhance your career! This can manifest in shared knowledge and resources, as well as referrals that can keep your biz booming!
Upskill and earn more – Is there a service that you’ve been keen to offer? Do you want to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop, or learn how to make powerful Facebook ads? Perhaps you want to help people with Podcasts? Taking the initiative to learn new skills and offer new services relevant to your client’s needs can be a huge boost to the value you bring as a Virtual Assistant – and your rates can grow to reflect that value.
Endless growth opportunities – The sky’s the limit to what you can earn and where you can go in this line of work. Many VAs choose to level up in their chosen field of service and become specialists charging premium rates. Some add income boosting services to the mix that don’t take them much time. Some transition from being a VA, to project managers or OBMS and others gather so many clients that they start their own agency, assembling a full team of subcontracted VAs to assist their clients.
Yeah yeah yeah, but what are the cons?
Like with absolutely any career path, it’s never all roses and I’d be lying if there weren’t less desirable parts of being a VA.
Discipline and self-motivation are key – A Virtual Assistant needs to be extremely disciplined and self-motivated. Since you’re working from home, there can be a lot of distractions (Netflix, anyone?) and it can be easy to push off work for another day. Setting boundaries for yourself and maintaining a regular work schedule is essential – note, this is something I personally have struggled with, so it’s not to say that if this doesn’t come naturally to you that you’re doomed. These skills can be learned! The best thing you can do for yourself in terms of motivation is to have a very clear picture of why you have chosen this career path – you can find help uncovering this in our free training here.
Starting can be tricky – You’re probably thinking “Hey, I thought you said getting started can be exceptionally easy?” Well, it can also be quite challenging, as with anything new. There’s a lot of mindset shifts you’ll need to make to succeed, mostly related to getting out of the ’employee’ mindset and into the ‘business owner’ mindset. You essentially become a business owner when you become a VA. But thankfully, unlike many of the other self-employed career paths, there’s no shortage of people looking for VAs right now. Plus, there’s great resources out there to help you get started stay motivated and on track (more on that below!).
Landing clients (and keeping them!) – Patience and determination are your allies, because filling your books with enough clients to generate your desired income can take some time. Finding and maintaining clients can be an artform all its own. Marketing isn’t a one-and-done scenario, social media is a fast-paced stream of content and information, so you have to stay active to keep yourself at the front of people’s minds. You must nurture your network, provide an awesome client experience, and generally remember that you’re in charge of your direction!
You’ve become a business owner – You’re no longer an employee with a set amount of sick days and paid vacation. Being a business owner comes with a lot of responsibility. When it’s you in charge, it can feel daunting when things like tax time come around, when dealing with health insurance, or when things just go awry (because they will sometimes!). Be prepared to take the highs with the lows.
From my own experience, and that of over 15,000 people I have trained, these highs FAR outweigh the inconveniences that come with running your own show. In time, they iron out and the rewards I wrote about above are well worth it!
How to get started as a Virtual Assistant?
Okay so you’ve got the laptop, got the internet connection, you’re ready and willing to learn… but seriously, where do you go to get started? Especially if you’re still not sure this whole VA career is for you.
Here at Digital Nomad Kit I’ve trained over 15,000 students to become VAs, from beginner to advanced training, and this is notoriously one of the best places you could find yourself if you’re looking to learn.
Best of all, if you’re looking to take a peek behind the curtains and see what all the commotion is about, you can sign up for our completely free 5 Day VA Challenge!
In this challenge, we give you five days of tasks that will help you get a little taste of what it’s like to be a VA. It includes tips and tricks from our coaches, worksheets, and access to an exclusive Facebook for participants for networking and supportive feedback!
Hopefully you’re feeling a little more knowledgeable about all this VA stuff and excited to dive in and learn more. Still have questions? They’re probably answered in the free training – but if you simply can’t wait, leave a comment below and feel free to join our Facebook group right here.