How to Make Money as a Virtual Assistant

I find that so many businesses these days are shying away from traditional workspaces. More and more of our responsibilities are being handled over the web. Old office work is overflowing beyond the cubicle and into new and exciting avenues of remote administration.

So, how can we capitalize on this frequently shifting industry? How can we build our skills to adapt to an increasingly decentralized office?

Well, those of us with administrative skills will find it quite easy to transfer their expertise into a remote workspace. Many businesses nowadays are opting for remote Virtual Assistants over traditional administrative professionals.

Moving the administrative responsibilities of an office assistant into a versatile remote workplace gives many companies a viable (and lucrative) new possibility for their administrative needs.

In this article, I hope to give you the tools you need to understand the world of remote work and get yourself out there to start making money as a Virtual Assistant.

I’m sure many readers will have their fair share of anxiety about this new and relatively unexplored realm of possibilities. I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing to worry about.

Establishing yourself as a Virtual Assistant and making money is easier than you might think! With this article, I will be covering what a virtual assistant is, how to get started as a virtual assistant, how to progress your business once established, and what kind of things clients will expect from you as a virtual assistant.

Hopefully, by the end, I will have dispelled any fears you may have of self-management and any questions about the job itself. What clients might expect from you, how it is important to keep tabs on the expectations of clients, and the importance of personal motivation will all be discussed.

Also Read: 50 Legit Ways to Make Money from Home

This can be a very lucrative and comfortable career choice once established, and I’m sure you’re ready to So let’s get started!

What is a Virtual Assistant?

To put it simply, a Virtual Assistant is an administrative assistant who performs their job remotely, over the internet.

Many workplaces are finding that decentralizing or outsourcing their administrative tasks to freelancers or contracted remote workers has become a very viable option. Some virtual assistants working online can even outperform traditional administrative assistants present in the office!

Besides being able to work online with comfort and versatility, a virtual assistant has complete control over their workspace. This allows them to completely customize their environment to their own work needs.

Many businesses have found that this versatility and comfort allows their virtual assistants to work free from distractions and contingencies typical of a traditional office. Aside from this, the logistics of hiring a traditional assistant all but disappear when considering a virtual assistant!

There are many advantages to keeping your administrative responsibilities remote and virtual!

So what are these advantages?

  • The most obvious advantage is the ability to work from the comfort of your own home. Realistically, a virtual assistant could work anywhere that fosters a positive and productive work environment!
  • The relatively low cost of hiring a virtual assistant makes it very attractive to smaller businesses and businesses with fewer administrative capabilities.
  • Since most Virtual Assistants function as independent contractors, there are many interesting particulars about employment. For example, Businesses who employ Virtual Assistants are not responsible for tax or insurance information. Most Virtual Assistants simply add these indirect expenses to their fees.
  • Virtual assistants require no additional office space or supplies provided by the business which employs them. The company need not worry about the logistics of providing for you!
  • Cost of entry into this industry is even lower than that of becoming a traditional administrative assistant! All you need is a computer and an internet connection!
  • The ability to market yourself to multiple clients based on your own capabilities allows you to expect higher pay from companies competing to hire you.
  • Working for multiple clients can also allow you to learn and compare different expectations from different types of clients.
  • Being in control of your own administrative equipment and software means you can experiment with different tools which companies might be reluctant to test with a traditional assistant.
  • Personally negotiating rates give you the opportunity to earn higher pay than the set wages that most businesses will pay a traditional assistant.

All of these factors help to make being a virtual assistant a very attractive option with many lucrative possibilities. But the question remains to be answered:

What about the disadvantages?

  • Even though negotiating your own prices can be very lucrative, things such as taxes and vacation pay must be handled personally. This can be mitigated somewhat by including such indirect expenses in your fees. However, keep in mind that you won’t be getting any paid vacation time!
  • The flexibility of your workplace can be distracting. It is up to you to make sure your environment is free from distracting elements and contingencies. Many people find the temptation of television or other time wasting activities in their home environment to be too distracting. Still, if you practice a good work ethic, this shouldn’t be an issue.
  • Mundane tasks normally handled by the employer must be done personally. Things like tax filing and general bookkeeping are necessary realities for a virtual assistant.

So, as you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages to virtualizing your professional administration skills. The real test lies in balancing these attractive qualities with mitigation of the less attractive ones.

An avid professional with a good work ethic should have no problem turning their home office into a virtual administration powerhouse!

How do I Get Started?

Many people find it easy to become enthusiastic working from home. After all, who doesn’t like the sound of being your own boss and negotiating your own clients?

While the advantages and comforts are undeniable, they can also easily become pitfalls. Self-regulation is key, and many people used to work in more formal office settings may find it difficult to remain motivated or focused.

The idea of managing your own clients and bookkeeping can be a very daunting task to an aspiring VA. However, there are plenty of tried and true methods for exposing yourself to the professional world for the first time.

The easiest place to start is through third-party freelance websites such as Upwork, Freelancer, or even listings like Craigslist. Be warned, however, that these sites may expect a cut of your profits!

It might seem unfair to give a portion of your earnings to a third party when you’re just starting out. Remember, though, that sites like Upwork are promoted heavily to people seeking to hire remote freelancers.

Getting yourself established on platforms like these will help you build up a portfolio of good client reviews to get you seen by the people you want. These kinds of services also offer negotiation and mediation tools to help you manage your business as best you can.

Once you have an established portfolio and lots of shiny five-star reviews, you can start experimenting with listings and other ways of finding clients.

Remember that networking is key! Keep asking your clients from Upwork or Freelancer if they have new jobs for you.

Ask them if they have friends looking for virtual assistants. The more people who know your name and what you’re capable of, the more offers you will get and the higher prices you will be able to demand.

Some of my most reliable clients are ones whom I met doing my first jobs on third-party freelance websites!

Keep in mind that you will have some difficulties starting out. Clients will want to pay you next to nothing, and people won’t want to risk hiring you at a reasonable price.

You might even have clients who lead you on and refuse to pay! But if you stick it out and really wow a few clients when they really needed it, your revenue stream will quickly snowball.

This process of building a reliable portfolio is key. The third party freelance sites are equipped with great tools for negotiating and making contact with clients, so you’ll be able to focus all of your energy on learning the skills you need to progress as a virtual assistant!

In addition to networking, remember to always be in tune with what your clients need and expect. Let yourself learn new techniques or new software when working for people, and your work will become more valuable as you progress!

Eventually, you will have an established network of clients from which to build a steady revenue stream, as well as the skills and specializations necessary to satisfy and wow them!

As always, experience as a traditional Administrative Assistant is always a plus!

So then, how do I progress as a Virtual Assistant?

Once you’ve got your name out there and you’ve got a steady stream of work and pay, where do you go from there? Could I be making more money? Could I be attracting larger clients with more specialized work?

Many freelancers find that they hit a kind of ‘ceiling’ with their work. In order to stay competitive and keep those profits rising, the best freelancers learn early on to learn as they work and stay ahead of their competition.

Any aspect of your professional assistance that sets you apart from somebody else will work to your advantage. The range of specified knowledge is vast and could include anything, such as:

  • In-person availability for select tasks
  • The ability to speak more than one language
  • Experience with cloud-based software such as Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Experience with communications software such as Slack or Salesforce
  • High WPM and experience with document composition

It’s always important to make sure your skillset stays up-to-date and relevant. The more roles you’re capable of fulfilling, the wider the range of clients will be who want to hire you!

The best way to improve and find your niche is to learn while you work. Certain clients will want you to learn how to use specific software or communicate on a certain platform. Every keystroke is a learning experience, and the best virtual assistants always remember to keep their skill set grows.

Once you’ve gotten into the groove of matching your skills with your client’s expectations, you can work on exceeding those expectations. More powerful software with more versatile engagement will allow you to work faster and take on more work for higher pay.

Once you’ve scaled your business up enough, you can even start to outsource some tasks such as accounting!

Another important step in expanding is establishing your own website and social media presence. Eventually, your expertise will outgrow your Upwork profile!

It’s important for virtual assistants looking to expand their influence and potential clients, to manage a healthy online presence.

Remember that as a virtual assistant, your online presence is the face that is presented to your potential clients. The healthier your optics are, the healthier your revenue stream will be!

But the key is keeping the workload matched to your skillset. There’s no sense in taking on a million clients that you can barely manage. And there’s even less sense trying to understand new software that your clients may not need.

The key to avoiding these dead-ends is to remember to take it slow. Make sure you understand your responsibilities and skills before moving on.

Most importantly focus on the client. You’ll have a hard time doing wrong by your clients if you listen closely to their expectations.

The easiest way to do this is to maintain a healthy network of business relations. Keep in mind these may not simply be clients!

They can be any professional who helps you find what you need to succeed as a virtual assistant. You can easily make old clients into new contacts and have them introduce you to other potential clients.

This process is key to staying ahead on the expectations in the industry. The more you get shown around and the more clients you’re in contact with, the more you will become acquainted with what people will expect of you, and how those expectations will develop over time.

Okay, so what are these expectations?

Very good question! You’ve probably pictured in your head the traditional administrative assistant sitting at her desk. Maybe she’s answering the phone, screening calls, or maybe even typing up a memo for the workplace.

There’s no shortage of tasks around an office for an administrative professional to do. That being said, a traditional office can be stagnant; both in its capabilities and expectations.

Working as a virtual assistant, however, you can expect a much wider range of expectations. After all, you could be doing work for a remote client in India, or Peru!

The types of software, languages, and tasks that clients will expect from you will be vast, and the best administrative assistants always keep tabs on the expectations of the industry.

Modern virtual assistants can be expected to perform traditional duties such as:

  • Answering calls and emails
  • Typing up documents, letters, and note-taking
  • Serving as a gatekeeper for the business correspondence
  • Handling other administrative tasks such as scheduling

These skills are kept fairly in line with what you would expect from a traditional administrative assistant as well. That being said there are a number of specialized roles that virtual assistants can offer.

Remember that as a virtual assistant, your clients will expect more capabilities and versatility than from the everyday administrative professional sitting outside their office.

You’ll have to pull up the slack, and fortunately, there are a number of niche skills that a good virtual assistant could pick up:

  • Personal administration such as booking travel arrangements
  • Marketing tasks such as creating presentations or managing an online presence
  • IT or Tech support such as server management or website maintenance
  • Sales tasks such as creating promotional materials or engaging customers

In short, while there are a number of set tasks which clients will definitely expect you to fulfill, the list of possible niches is endless.

The most important thing is to always remember what your client may expect, or what you can do to meet the expectations of your client. One of the best strategies for identifying possible niches is to picture yourself as a client.

What type of client might I be? How am I different from other clients? How do my needs differ from other clients? How is the assistant I’m looking for different from the assistants I’ve seen?

Another thing to keep in mind is your competition. Being established with reliable clients is all well and good, but how do you stay competitive in an increasingly volatile niche?

Luckily enough, putting in your time as a novice assistant, and really making an effort to be in tune with what your clients want will always make you stay a viable option for reliable clients. If you always take care to do your best work, sometimes it’s not always necessary to outperform the competition!

I think I can do this!

The industry has never been more open to jobs like these. The power of the web to connect people across the globe continues to make interesting ripples in the business ecosystem.

Moving administrative tasks into a remote environment is a natural step for those in need of professional assistance, and those willing to fulfill that role. If you want to work from home, and you have the drive to motivate yourself outside of an office space, then you will take beautifully to this career choice.

The sheer versatility of expectations and niches will allow an avid professional to build a skill set that could easily branch off into other aspects of administrative professionalism!

The low cost of entry and streamlined management of a remote environment make this a versatile and potentially lucrative option for anybody with the drive to self-manage. Especially if you’re an administrative assistant who always felt you were suited to more responsibility or more versatile tasks; virtual assistance will allow you to shine!

Managing clients, networking, building an administrative skill set, and being one’s own boss are all easy advantages a virtual assistant has over traditional. And remember the most important guideline: Keep your client’s expectations in mind.

Another important thing to keep in mind is finances and bookkeeping. Remember that you will have to handle the necessary tax and insurance information by yourself.

It’s also a good idea when you’ve moved on from using third-party sites, to familiarize yourself with any relevant laws about freelance and remote work. You will have to manage these things yourself!

I’m sure this is a lot of information to digest. The perfect virtual assistant is simultaneously an administrative assistant, copywriter, researcher, bookkeeper, and so much more.

It seems like a daunting task, but anybody with the will to learn these skills, and the motivation to practice them to mastery, will find their journey into being a virtual assistant quite rewarding.

I only ask that if you choose to go down this path, just remember that no matter how hard it gets, it will be worth it. There’s no doubt that being in control of your own workplace, and bringing the tools of a virtual assistant to the workplaces of others, is a serious task. That’s why you need to be a serious candidate to master it.

Lazy or half-baked assistants might be able to fulfill the role of a glorified secretary, but the serious virtual assistant will strive to be so much more!

If you think you fit this description, and if you know you have the tools and the motivation to become the virtual assistant of somebody’s dreams, then you have the power to start right now!

Remember that the key to being a virtual assistant is putting in your time, and keeping your skillset effective and matched to your client’s expectations! Don’t get discouraged, don’t get lazy, get out there and take control of your administrative future!

Updated on: November 21, 2018