Virtual assistants have the freedom of working from home, finding their own clients, and making their own schedules.
With the ease of communication in the twenty-first century, executives and high-level professionals don’t necessarily need personal assistants sitting outside of their offices. It’s also possible that they only need assistance with certain tasks during certain times of the year, so it doesn’t make sense to employ a full-time year-round employee. This need has caused a demand for virtual assistants—contracted, freelance personal assistants.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is a contracted assistant that helps clients with administrative, organizational, management, and social media services. Working as a virtual assistant means you can dip your toes into a variety of fields, helping executive and mid-level clients with administrative tasks and coordination.
Like freelance writing jobs and other remote work, the virtual assistant field has grown in recent years because of improved virtual communication systems like web conferencing and social media.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
A virtual assistant works on administrative and program coordination tasks for their clients. Potential clients are individuals or businesses, including online businesses that are accustom to working with remorse contractors.
Some virtual assistants work on full-time temporary contracts with one client at a time while others work several part-time contracts with multiple clients at the same time. Virtual assistant services are broad: the beauty is in the range, variety, and flexibility of the profession. People with many different skill sets can thrive as virtual assistants.
Administrative and Communication Tasks
Virtual assistants often focus on email management and other communication management. It is also very common for virtual assistants to work on bookkeeping and clerical tasks, like payroll for their managerial clients, for example. With training, some virtual assistants may even do data entry and database management in virtual database programs.
Social Media Content Creation
It is hard to run a business of any kind without a robust social media presence. Some small business owners or managers don’t have the time or the skills to post the kind of content necessary to maintain a solid social media presence. Virtual assistants with social media, graphic design, and content writing experience may work as freelance social media managers.
One of the most common virtual assistant functions is scheduling and booking. This kind of assistance means spending a lot of time managing a client’s schedule by booking meetings, flights, hotel stays, and more. A scheduling virtual assistant may work more consistently with the same client for a more fixed-term contract.
Essential Virtual Assistant Skills
Understanding of Technology
Since virtual assistants need to be able to communicate and deliver projects virtually, they need strong computer skills and a solid understanding of certain programs and platforms like Microsoft Office, project management systems, and depending on the project, social media.
Communication and Customer Service Skills
It’s incredibly important that a virtual assistant communicates well with her clients. Expectation-setting in a virtual environment can be difficult, and communicating clearly and accurately helps virtual assistants make sure that their clients are satisfied with deliverables.
Since virtual assistants often send emails and other communications on behalf of their clients, they should have strong written communication skills.
Organizational Skills: Time Management and Prioritization
When you’re managing a schedule or an inbox, organizational skills are essential. This is even more important when you’re doing this on someone else’s behalf—you don’t want to make a mistake that will harm someone else’s work. This is why you will need to make sure you stay organized and pay close attention to detail.
Virtual assistants who work with multiple clients at a time or who work on several projects at a time with the same client will need to have strong time management and prioritization skills. This is so that all work gets done on time and meets client expectations.
Virtual Assistant Salaries and Job Growth
Salaries in virtual assisting vary depending on many factors, including the amount of work, the project, the client, and the assistant’s experience. Some virtual assistants charge hourly rates while others charge project rates or milestone rates.
If you are hustling as a virtual assistant in addition to working a full-time job or pursuing a degree, chances are you will work part-time and charge hourly.
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average annual salary for a full-time work-from-home virtual assistant is $67,115.
There are many opportunities to become a virtual assistant, either freelance or with a more long-term contract. There are many opportunities to work as a virtual assistant, especially as so much of the workforce has gone remote.
Many businesses are adjusting to new limitations and are seeking out virtual support in a variety of different areas. It takes learning about what the market demands and positioning yourself well to offer your services.
The good news is that there are many short and long term opportunities in virtual assistance. If you start one three-month contract, you know to lookout for a new project at the end of that contract. You can also decide to prioritize long-term or short-term projects according to your schedule. As long as the freelance market continues to thrive, virtual assistants will have a lot of flexibility.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Virtual Assistant?
You can become a virtual assistant quite quickly, but developing the skills you need to become a virtual assistant may take longer.
If you have email management and scheduling experience, position yourself as an administrative virtual assistant and focus on providing those services. On the other hand, if you have social media management experience, you could get started as a freelance social media manager right away.
The important thing is establishing yourself working as a VA, which could take a few months or even a few years. It’s all about creating a presence, offering your services, finding clients, and establishing yourself as a virtual assistant. You will want to create profiles on different freelance platforms and job boards, including well-established marketplace Facebook groups.
Jobs listed on these sites may start out paying low, but the more jobs you do and the more experience you can put on your profile, the more you will be able to charge for your services.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant: A Step by Step Guide
Here are a few of the key individual steps you should take to launch your flexible career as a virtual assistant.
Step 1: Identify Your Services
Before you do anything, you have to identify your skillset and decide where you can best break into the virtual assistant job market and meet demand. It’s best to get started with the skills you already have. Then, if you decide you want to specialize in other services, like social media, take a course or get some training before you add that to your service offerings.
Step 2: Establish a Web Presence
This is one of the most essential steps. Without a strong and purposeful web presence, you will have a hard time finding clients. Make a strong resume and website to position your services as valuable. It’s also a good idea to make profiles on freelance job boards where potential clients can find you.
Step 3: Find Your Client Base
You can find your client base through your online presence. As soon as you get your first client, focus on doing an excellent job. Then if you get positive feedback, work on building your network through your clients. Though freelance job platforms can be competitive, they are a great way to meet clients and build your network through word-of-mouth.
Should You Become a Virtual Assistant?
There has been an explosion in virtual and remote work opportunities in 2020, as most offices have had to make their work remote. This shift in how people work led to more openings for virtual assistants.
FAQ About Becoming a Virtual Assistant
To become a virtual assistant, you need a few essential skills: strong communication skills, organizational skills, and a solid foundation in using technology. If you are working in social media, you will also need social media and content management skills.
A full-time virtual assistant can make an average of $67,115 per year. Freelance virtual assistants and part-time virtual assistants will have varied salaries based on how much work they do and how they charge, either hourly, per contract, or by milestone.
There is no single way to train to become a virtual assistant. You can train to become a virtual assistant by gaining professional experience in administrative, communications, and social media capacities.