Become A Virtual Assistant

Beginner’s Guide to Become a Virtual Assistant

Learn what it takes to build a successful virtual assistant (or freelance) with simple but effective tips, plus pitfalls to avoid!

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Do you possess the skills to help you to become a Virtual Assistant?  Have you learned how to hack interviews with your prospective clients?  Do you really know how to maintain a professional work relationship with your clients in order to get great reviews?

In your quest to make money online, you may consider becoming a virtual assistant, but what could you be asked to do?

Your allotted tasks could be many and varied unless you possess a particular skillset. If this is the case, then you need to seek out employment that will use those particular skills. These will enable you to cater to marketers who need tasks performed that they just cannot perform themselves.

Perhaps your skillset is to be able to type quickly and accurately. In this case, you may find that an employer will dictate their missive and send it to you in the form of an Mp3 file to be typed up, rather like a secretary used to work in days gone by.

Or perhaps your particular skillset involves a high level of understanding of a program such as Excel. Although your employer may have the program on their own computer, they may not have the knowledge required to use the higher functions of the app, nor have the time to educate themselves. It’s much easier to just hire a VA to perform the task, and that’s where you come in.

Basics to Become A Virtual Assistant

Confidentiality is a must. Often the work you are given will involve being given access to privileged knowledge that your employer wants to remain secret. You need to keep their trust by treating the information as highly confidential. Don’t be tempted into the world of “insider trading”. Marketers talk amongst themselves, and any transgressions will soon be relayed to other marketers, ruining your chances of gaining further employment as a virtual assistant.

Honesty should not need to be mentioned here as it is an obvious basic requirement of the position of any VA. However, bear in mind the point made earlier. Employers often have a wide network of contacts, which can work both ways. Any hint of dishonesty could lead to the end of your career as a virtual assistant. Alternatively, if you perform well word of that could get spread around as well, leading to further jobs being offered to you by other employers, giving you higher earning opportunities.

Another aspect of the value of honesty involves the work that you take on. Employers normally have two requirements that they will ask of you. They will need a certain task performed within a definite timeframe. You should only accept any task if you know that you are not only capable of performing it, but also within the given timeframe. A lot could depend on that task being completed on time.

Although you are working online from home, perhaps to escape the 9 to 5 routine, you still need to treat any tasks you are given in the same way as you would if you were still at work. Your only priority should be the task you have been given. Only when it is completed and delivered can you relax and perform personal tasks. Should anything happen mid-task that will stop you from completing the task in time, you need to notify your employer immediately, giving them as much time as possible to get the task completed elsewhere.

These are the basics of the job of a virtual assistant. If you can satisfy these, and possess a high level of common sense, you should go far as a VA.

Required Skills to Be a Virtual Assistant

The skills you will need to possess in order to function as a Virtual Assistant could be many and varied, depending on who you are working for. Different employers will require different tasks to be performed. Therefore, it is always advisable to ask your prospective employer what tasks they will expect you to perform before offering to work for them. You should never take on a task for which you are not qualified, hoping to “learn on the fly”.

However, there are some basic skills that you will need regardless of the tasks offered.

Knowledge of Software & Applications

Being conversant with the more popular software and applications is a must. These days software can be “rented” at reasonable rates. At the time of writing, Microsoft 365, for instance, will set you back from as little as $6.99 per month, giving you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, plus others. Adobe Creative Cloud gives you access to a variety of programs at different rates, but the most popular is their Photography Plan (Photoshop, Lightroom, plus 20GB storage) at $9.99 per month. As you can see, the expense you will incur to have those programs at your disposal is small compared to the earning potential these programs can give you.

Efficient Communication Skills

As most of your communication with your clients will be both verbal and in writing, you need to be able to explain yourself and understand instructions given to you by clients. In some cases, you may be hired to handle a marketer’s support desk. You need to treat their customers with the same amount of respect and understanding as you would your own clients. Even when, on occasion, you may have their frustrations vented on you, you need to realize that it is not meant personally, keep your calm, and reply in a courteous manner.

Reliable Word Processing Skills

Many of the tasks that you will be given will require word processing skills. These tasks could include data entry and typing. If you are going to command yourself a good rate of pay you will need to perform these tasks quickly while maintaining accuracy.

A Good Knowledge of Language & Grammar

Proofreading and editing could be tasks that you are asked to perform. Many marketers perform these tasks themselves but bear in mind that this is a task that you could be asked to perform. While apps such as Grammarly will do a lot of the checking for you, you will still need to be capable of recognizing when a sentence or paragraph just doesn´t read correctly and advise your client accordingly.

A High Threshold of Boredom

One of the more popular uses of a virtual assistant is performing tasks that are repetitive and boring, that the employer just doesn’t want to perform themselves. You will need to be able to buckle down and get on with it, even though you may find the task boring.

Become a Problem Solver

Your overall task is to help your employer to further their business and grow. Always treat the work as if the business is your own. As many virtual assistants are performing their tasks in order to earn money to start their own business, you could find your role reversing if and when you set out on your own at some point in the future.

What Services Will You Offer as a Virtual Assistant?

It might seem to be a good idea to offer to carry out any service requested as a way to earn money, but this is most certainly not recommended. The services you offer should be limited to those which you can carry out competently and to those for which you have the expertise. If you attempt work other than that which you are capable of, the end result will be the dissatisfaction of the client and you run the risk of destroying your reputation and any chance of future work. As most work will come your way via recommendations, you could lose a permanent source of work.

Start Your VA Business Research

Before you offer to carry out any task you should first make sure that not only is it within your capabilities but also that you possess the necessary tools. For instance, it would not be a good idea to offer to perform numerical analysis work without the use of a program such as Excel at your disposal, together with a knowledge of how to use it.

If you are going to offer services such as proofreading and editing, you will need to have good grammatical knowledge. There is a software called Grammarly that will do most of the corrections for you, but it is not completely faultless. You can utilize their free version, so there is no cost involved.

Writing is one of the main services used by the marketing community. Many marketers do not have the necessary talent, or the time, to write all their own work, so they will farm it out to a virtual assistant. This is an area where the competent VA can expect to generate a regular income by always submitting their best work. Once a client gets to know and like your work, you can expect a regular supply.

When performing writing tasks, whatever the end product, you will almost certainly be asked to carry out a measure of research in preparation. All clients will put your work through CopyScape to check its originality, so don’t be tempted to plagiarize the work of others – there is no faster way to kill your career as a writer.

Employing Search Engines in Your Research

Using a search engine to seek out jobs as a virtual assistant will quickly educate you as to the type of work that clients are looking for. When you perform a search, you will almost certainly be directed to Upwork. The last time I performed a search at their site it returned a total of 8058 requests. I would say that there is a very good chance that you will find something there that will suit your capabilities.

The work requested is not always as straightforward as writing, editing, and proofreading. Clients also seek out persons to run departments of the business, such as their support desk. Another popular area for a virtual assistant is the running of campaigns, and client management.

Regardless of what type of work you are looking for, there is a lot of choice available. Whatever the task, if you carry it out competently and in a timely manner you can almost certainly rely on a steady demand for your services.

Planning for Success

Despite planning not being everyone’s favorite part of running a business, it is, nevertheless, an essential part. There are two types of planning that will help move your business forward.

Create Your Business Plan

First, you need to have a comprehensive business plan drawn up that covers the foreseeable future. This will give you a sense of direction while also acting as an overview of the business. It will include measurable long-term goals that can keep you on track, each with its own allotted time span. Keep everything to a sensible level time-wise.

If you try to keep up with a timed goal that hasn’t had enough time allowed, you could fail to achieve the goal. This could cause you to give up when all you needed was to allow a little more time. It could be better to allow excessive time and reach the goal early, give yourself a pat on the back and move on to the next stage. Remember, keep it sensible.

Don’t ignore the financial aspect of your business plan. The cost of any equipment and services that you will require to perform the business needs to be considered. Anticipating future revenue tends to be a tricky venture, so unless you have some contract work already promised, tread very carefully with your predictions.

How do you plan to market your new business? Will you need funds to finance advertising in order to secure those first few important orders? What are your service package rates? Try to determine what the going rate is for the type of work you plan to offer and work on that. You may need to offer slightly lower rates until you become established. Only when you include all of these items will your business plan be realistic.

Develop Your Daily Routine

The second type of planning you need to cover is your everyday activity plan. This needs to include items such as what days and what hours you will work. If you need to cater for the needs of children, then your working hours will likely need to be when they are at school or, in the case of toddlers, when they go down for a sleep.

It is not until you work out the hours you have available that you are able to estimate the amount of work you can take on, and the possible revenue that you can generate. You could also plan to work in the evenings when your partner is at home and able to take care of household matters but be aware that this could eventually place a strain on your relationship.

Once you have decided on your working hours, you will need to commit to those hours. Knowing your work rate during those hours will enable you to predict how much work you can take on, guaranteeing to get it finished in the timespan required by your client. This is a very important aspect of performing as a virtual assistant, and one that you need to pay close attention to.

You need to pay attention to all aspects of planning as this will ensure a smooth workflow and happy clients. Remember the favorite saying concerning planning: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Designing Your Ideal Work Area

If you are to take your occupation as a virtual assistant seriously, then you need to recognize that your efficiency in your work can depend a lot on your working area. The last thing you want is a cluttered area when you are trying to work. In order to produce your best work, you will need to become a decluttering specialist (have a tidy workspace). If there are any items that you may need while working, these should be close to hand and readily available as and when you need them.

As onerous as the task may be, you should always tidy up when you have finished working, leaving your workspace ready for your next work session. The last thing you need when you are ready to start work again is a cleaning and tidying task. Better to do it at the end than at the start.

You may need to make some small investment to equip your workspace. The idea is to give yourself as professional an area as possible. You could be spending a lot of time in this area over the coming weeks and months, so it needs to be as comfortable as possible while remaining practical.

Office Essentials

A desk is your first essential. It should be large enough to accommodate your computer equipment, but still leave room for any necessary paperwork. A comfortable office-type chair will see to your personal comfort while working. Will you need shelving for storage, or perhaps a cabinet? What about filing?

Some desks come equipped with a filing cabinet type drawer, but if yours doesn’t fill that need then you may need to buy a small filing cabinet. All of these things are designed to make your work as pleasant as possible while still remaining efficient and accurate.

Although a separate room in your house is the best choice to serve as your office, you may need to consider setting up your workspace as part of another room. If this is the case, then you would be well advised to screen that area off from the rest of the room. It should be made clear to other members of the family that intrusions into your workspace will not be allowed.

When you are in there, working, then no one should be allowed to disturb you except in the case of an emergency. Encourage others to understand that when you are occupying your workspace, you should be treated as if you are not there, you have effectively gone to work.

You could very well be talking to clients via a video link, so you need to present them with an efficient, practical area as your workspace. This will encourage them to have confidence in you, knowing that you are treating your work in a professional manner.

The same conditions that apply to your working area can also apply to yourself. Although it may seem appealing to work in your pajamas, you are more likely to experience a professional manner if you make that extra effort to dress as if you are going to the office.

Observing all of the above points will give you the best chance of becoming, and appearing to be, a successful virtual assistant.

Understanding Your Business Finances

Although most virtual assistant businesses require very little investment to get them up and running, it is advisable to calculate a budget for the first year of business. Taking the time to work through all the elements that are necessary to the running of the business, and thus ensuring its success, will mean that you will be unlikely to receive any monetary surprises once you begin the business.

A year’s worth of expenses is recommended so that there is no pressure on you once you begin your business. Feeling safe in the knowledge that you can cover all necessary expenses will leave you free to concentrate on the work being carried out. It will also ensure that you have enough time to bring in some revenue to support yourself and the business in the months and years to come.

You will need to allow for any software costs, whether bought or leased unless you already own them. The monthly costs of various software rental programs may be low, but they can soon add up to a sizeable sum. Some programs and services may be offered free on the web, but if you plan to use them bear in mind that their existence is at the whim of the provider, and therefore out of your control. Although it is unlikely, they could just vanish overnight. What effect could that have on your business?

Having a budgetary figure for the coming year will also mean that there is less chance of any surprises around the corner. This will be of definite help should the need arise to purchase any equipment. It will also help you to make future decisions, such as the need to maybe hire staff yourself to enable the expansion of the business in the future.

Budgeting for the Next Year

You should include the cost of any extra equipment that will be needed to operate the business. You probably already have a computer, but is it capable of handing the load that the business will place on it? Your present machine is likely good enough to begin work, but will it need to be replaced once the amount of work you are tackling starts to grow?

Will you need extra hard disks? You cannot afford to lose your client’s files, or your work should you experience a computer crash. Many people use a backup service such as Backblaze, but they still copy everything to two hard disks. One is kept on-site while the other is kept off-site. This ensures that you are covered no matter what calamity may befall you.

Your budget for the coming year should always be kept up to date so that you can allow for income and expenses which weren’t evident when you first calculated it. Your future income can be included as long as you are sure that it is going to continue on a regular basis. Remember, your budget is based on fact, not what you think might take place, either currently or in the future.

Do I Need a Website/Blog to Run My VA Business

In order to do any kind of business online, you will want to have a website. However, building your first website can feel a bit overwhelming. After all, there are so many choices. Here’s how to build your first website.

  • Determine your website’s purpose. What are you going to do on the website? How are you going to make money? This is important because some website languages, templates and platforms are more effective for certain business models. For example, if you’re building a theme-based website, you may want to use a website building service like SiteBuildIt.
  • Choose your platform. Once you know what you want to accomplish with your website, it’s time to choose your website platform. There are a number of options here. You can use website design software like DreamWeaver or FrontPage.

There are online courses and books to show you how to use both of these programs. It might take you some time to build your website; however, you’ll be able to create it one hundred percent on your own.

Another option is to use your website host’s predesigned templates. These templates are often customizable and are a pretty quick and easy way to get a website up. You can also learn a website design format like Joomla which is a content management system written in PHP, a design language.

You can also use site-building services that offer wizards and templates to help you customize a website for your business.

Using WordPress to Build Your Website

Finally, you can use a blogging platform like WordPress to build your website. And if all of this just seems like too much, you can design your website with a pencil and paper and then hire someone to create it.

Navigation and format: Before you create your website or hire someone to do it for you, you’ll want to draft your website on paper. Decide what pages you want your website to have.

How are people going to find what they need? How will they navigate your website? What categories or buttons will you have? How will you share your information and how will you promote your products or services? Figuring all of this out before you begin creating your website will help ensure it is a success.

Creating your first website is a strategic process. However, much of the work will be done on paper as you plan the purpose and layout of your website.

Once you know exactly what you’re creating, you can find the best tools to create your site and make it a reality.

How to Get More Clients Fast

If you’re a service provider or coach, you may be looking to grow your business quickly. After all, the fuller your schedule, the more you can be sure you’re financially secure. To get more clients fast, there are three sure-fire ways to go about it.

Employ a Referral System

Referrals are when someone, generally a happy client, tells another person about your business. As a service provider or coach, you can have an informal referral program or a formal one.

An informal referral program is pretty easy. You simply ask your current customers if they know of anyone who could benefit from your services. They may send people your direction or give you a few names to contact. Many businesses grow this way.

A formal referral program is a reward-based program. Anyone who refers a new customer to you would receive a reward. The reward could be a discount on your services or it could be a freebie.

For example, if you’re a writer you might offer anyone who refers new clients to you a free ten-page report or $25 off their next order. A formal referral program requires that people sign up for the program. You might send a monthly newsletter to members to remind or motivate them to refer new clients.

Regardless of the system you choose, referrals work quite well to get more clients fast because they’re coming from a trusted source.

If you ask someone where to go to eat and they tell you the name of a restaurant they like, you’re more likely to go there than to an unfamiliar place because it’s been recommended to you. You trust the information.

Create Your Own Affiliate Program

The second way to get more clients fast is to start an affiliate program. Affiliates are people who agree to promote your services in exchange for a commission. It requires a bit more work than a referral program; however, it can be extremely effective.

Affiliates market your business for you and they drive traffic to your website. For every new client, they earn a paycheck. It’s a good system. To help them succeed you may provide them with marketing content, advertisements and other information to use on their website.

Forge Successful Partnerships

The third and final way to get more clients fast is to forge a partnership with other complimentary businesses. For example, if you’re a writer you might partner with a website designer. Their clients will need content for their website and your clients may need a website redesign. It’s a win-win situation.

To get more clients fast, take advantage of your current assets. What partnerships can you forge, and what clients can you ask for referrals and recommendations?

How to Build a Portfolio the Right Way

If you’re a service provider or a freelancer, it pays to have a solid portfolio. Your portfolio will show potential clients that you have the experience and skills to handle their project. However, one of the challenges to creating a quality portfolio is gaining the experience. Here’s how to build a portfolio the right way.

Utilize Courses

There are a number of quality skill-building programs online. These programs often offer homework assignments along with professional feedback. This is an exceptional way to create a portfolio. It gives you the opportunity to work with experts in your craft. Additionally, you’re able to use the class as a source of credibility on your marketing materials.

Provide Spec Work

Spec work is work that you essentially do for free. The agreement between you and your client is that if they like your work, they will pay you for it. If they don’t like your work, they won’t pay you. It’s a good way to get around the fact that you may not have a solid portfolio just yet, because it reduces the risk for your client.

Additionally, once they’re pleased with the work – and they will be because you’re going to knock their socks off – then you can use the work in your portfolio. Don’t forget to also add their testimonial to your sales page. And if they don’t like the work, you can still use it in your portfolio if you’re proud of the results.


Volunteer work is another opportunity for you to build a portfolio and do good at the same time. Many non-profits can benefit from the work of freelance service providers. They get a service for free and you get quality samples for your portfolio. It’s great when you can reference something and show potential customers where they can find your work online too. It’s instant credibility.

As you build your client base, ask clients if you can use your best work in your portfolio. They’re most often quite proud to be shown off and it’s good exposure for them as well. Display your work in the most professional manner. If you have print samples, scan them onto your computer and save them as an image. Don’t just link to sales pages and content because those links will change. Actually, save the work you’ve done as an image or a document so your prospects can see your work firsthand.

Have confidence in your work, whether you’re just starting out or have a portfolio full of professional samples. Confidence and the courage to take a few risks will help you build a portfolio the right way.

You’re Hired!

In this article, we have proven that providing services as a virtual assistant is one of the fastest ways to generate an income online. There are so many different services you can offer – writing, graphics, and work.

As a virtual assistant, you can work from the comforts of home while working for a client or multiple clients. As a virtual assistant, you might do some writing, graphics work, data entry, customer communication, affiliate management, traffic generation, social media, and so on. There are so many options!

Undoubtedly, one of the best benefits of being a virtual assistant is that every day might be different. You’ll work on whatever it is your client wants you to work on. That can be very exciting and can take away from some of the mundane nature of being a freelancer doing the same thing each day.

Typically, the skills you’ll need as a virtual assistant are entry-level. You’ll need to know how to do some typing, how to research, how to navigate the web, and you’ll do some learning on the fly. You might be training in your job before you complete certain tasks. But you can often easily get the hang of it because the tasks themselves are usually not too difficult.

As a virtual assistant, you might work full-time or part-time. Typically, you’ll work by the hour or you’ll get paid a set amount each week or each month or whatever you and your client decide on.

Virtual assistant work is great for anyone who wants to generate extra income from home. Best of all, you don’t really need the experience to get started and there is great income potential.

Further Reading

Finding Clients for Your Virtual Assistant Business

Setting Up Your Retainer Package Rates

How to Seamlessly Conduct Virtual Zoom Interviews

22 Virtual Assistant Interview Questions & Answers

15 Essential Tools to Run Your Virtual Assistant Business

About The Author

About The Author

Ricardo is a successful Real Estate Investor, Entrepreneur and Blogger, with over 25 years of customer service experience. The bold & visionary founder of Funntripps and, he teaches busy entrepreneurs and bloggers how to successfully build and grow their business whilst having fun and living the maximized life. He enjoys spending time with his family, multi-family real estate investing and surprise get-a-way trips with his wife.

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The Productive Solopreneur

After spending most of my life believing that I was not enough, I realized that I needed to adopt a growth mindset as well as acquire all the skills and abilities I needed to thrive.  In this resource, I share how to create goals and the structure to work toward the ultimate work/life balance. I’m on a mission to change the world by helping aspiring entrepreneurs go from Side-Hustle to Boss. Steal my secrets to successful solopreneurship and living the maximized life. Learn more about it in my ebook/mini-course and receive a truckload of bonuses.

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