Want to work from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas? Or earn some extra income in addition to your full-time job?
There are lots of ways to enjoy a flexible work schedule and earn good money working from anywhere you please, as long as you have an internet connection. One option — virtual assistant work — is becoming particularly popular as many business owners seek help managing a wide variety of online tasks.
A virtual assistant (or VA) is generally referred to as an online work-from-home personal assistant. VAs help business owners, bloggers, solopreneurs, online publishers, and many others manage a number of different tasks.
I learned how to become a virtual assistant last year to diversify my income, since I was earning most of my side-hustle money from freelance writing. I only took on a few VA clients and limited my service offerings. Still, I earned enough to cover my half of my monthly rent payment, which was nice.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant: What Skills Do You Need?
Virtual assistant work is very flexible. You can take on a variety of different tasks. They may include things like managing email, sending out invoices, scheduling social media updates, assisting with webinars, scheduling meetings, doing data entry, creating newsletters, booking speaking engagements, and more.
I should also point out that not everyone can be a successful virtual assistant.
Keyboarding and computer skills are a must, as you'll do the bulk of the work online. Good communication skills are helpful if you need to interact with your client’s customers and audience on their behalf.
Determine what skills you have and which specific services you’d like to provide to narrow down your target market.
How to Find Virtual Assistant Work
There are a few job boards that specifically share opportunities for virtual assistant work. These include Zirtual, Upwork, and Virtual Assistant Jobs.
Due to the volume of people who use these sites, openings may be very competitive, so you may also want to cold pitch or reach out to your network. I found my first virtual assistant work this way after I started out helping a client with something else.
I also landed gigs simply by receiving referrals from people in my network. You can join Facebook groups, attend webinars, start a blog or website, or connect with people on social media to build your network.
Taylor Gordon, a VA I spoke with who owns the site Tay Talks Money, found her first client on Twitter. “Twitter is hands-down one of my favorite places to find VA clients because there are so many business owners and entrepreneurs there,” Gordon said. “To land my first client, I thought about the type of client I wanted to work for and participated in Twitter chats to get to know people.”
Don’t forget about cold pitching, either. It may sound scary at first, but like I said, virtual assistants are in great demand.
The best people to pitch are small business owners, YouTubers, bloggers, speakers, podcasters, and digital entrepreneurs. Connect with potential clients on social media. Maybe even send them an email introducing yourself and highlighting which services you can offer to help them. If you have an example of your work, you might want to add those to your email, as well.
Pros and Cons of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
To find out the good and the bad of virtual assistant work, I spoke with Kimberly Studdard, a VA who runs the site The EntrepreMOMer, about her experience.
“I used to work as a payroll administrator and commercial scheduler for a heating and cooling company,” Studdard says. “Then I got tired of working 65-plus-hour weeks and decided to try out virtual assistant work so I could be home more with my infant daughter.”
“Almost everything is a pro,” she adds. “I can work as little or as much as I want; schedule my business around my daughter; and I don’t have to drive an hour to work and back each day.”
The only cons of virtual assistant work that Studdard recognized was how much of a hassle filing taxes as a contractor can be, along with the fact that she doesn’t receive benefits.
For Gordon, the pros of becoming a virtual assistant include having the flexibility to work from anywhere and having complete control over her income. “You can set your rates and decide the number of clients you want to take on, so there’s no income ceiling,” she says. “A drawback I’ve found is that working as a virtual assistant for many bosses can be stressful at times.”
Studdard sums it up best when she says that, “If you love and nurture it, it will reward you. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme and it takes a lot of hard work, but the outcome is amazing!”
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