You have probably heard of Virtual Assistants (VAs) but have you asked yourself how to become a Virtual Assistant with no experience or degree. You may have one or the other, or both, and neither.
However, if you think this is the right career for you, there is nothing that can stop you.
Virtual Assistants are becoming more sought-after by the minute. Changes in the business and developing remote teams require a new approach to sourcing support staff. The role of VAs comes into play here.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant is someone who supports an executive or a team with a variety of tasks online. They usually work on a freelance basis or through an agency.
Becoming a VA is one of the fastest and easiest ways to start making a full-time income remotely, even if you don’t have any experience or a degree. Virtual Assistants are specializing in different fields. We will be exploring what VAs in digital marketing do.
VA Niches You Can Specialize In
You can choose a virtual assistant niche that is relevant to your background, or you can specialize in something completely different and new. The best part? It doesn’t matter if you have any previous experience either or qualifications. All you need is an internet connection, laptop and some free time on your hands.
Social Media VA
This is one of the mot popular and in-demand specialties for Virtual Assistants. They support their clients with anything related to social media:
- Posting and scheduling posts to social media platforms
- Pinterest pinning
- Writing captions
- Managing editorial calendars
- Designing graphics and thumbnails
E-commerce Virtual Assistants specialize in platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, or other related to online shopping. Their jobs consist of the following:
- uploading products to online retail websites,
- making sure they have relevant, high-quality photos,
- SEO compliant descriptions,
- updating pricing,
- customer service and
- other things helping those E-commerce businesses to keep on growing.
Virtual Assistants specializing in blogging usually have a love for writing. They work with bloggers or websites that are consistently posting new blogs. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Editing and proofreading
- Generating topic ideas
- Researching and outlining
- Writing first drafts
- Planning social media blog distribution
- Replying to comments
General Admin VA
The general admin virtual assistants provide a variety of administrative tasks that they can complete online. They are the equivalent of traditional Personal or Executive Assistants with the difference that they work entirely online. Their duties include:
- Managing calendars
- Scheduling trips and meetings
- Filtering and distributing emails
- HR support
- Many others related to the specific field and nature of the business
Other Niche Specialties
What makes a successful Virtual Assistant
If the idea of a career as a Virtual Assistant sounds appealing to you, I have good news. You can easily start from scratch. Here are five qualities that will help you do well:
You are good at research and you seem to know your way around Google
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been frustrated with how I’ve seen people do their research. Many of them don’t know how search engines work and how to best search for stuff.
If you’ve always felt like research comes naturally to you and are pretty good at finding anything, you will do great as a VA. Because even if you do something for the first time, you will surely find out how to manage it well.
You are a good problem solver and you always find a way to get the job done
Have you ever been in a job where you had to learn everything on the go? I know I have, and to be honest, I love the process of getting to the bottom of a problem, finding the right tools, resources, and team members who can solve it. If you do, too, be sure you’ll succeed in being a Virtual Assistant.
Working on various projects for different companies as VAs tend to do, you will sometimes be thrown into deep waters, and you’ll have to figure out a way to overcome it.
If that doesn’t scare you, you can confidently go ahead with your VA career. You’ll rock it!
You are organized
If you feel more productive when you have clear plans, outlines, well-organized to-do lists, calendars and, are good at working within deadlines, and enjoy nitpicking on small details (that make a big difference), you will be a hell of a good VA.
Clients hire assistants to support them and make their life organized behind the scenes, so this is one of the most critical traits for a successful Virtual Assistant
You are a good communicator (listener)
Communication is key to being a Rockstar VA. After all, you are closely working with people that you support.
An integral part of communication is being a good listener and clearly understanding what teammates’ expectations are. Along with that, you should also communicate your needs and clearly define questions, concerns, and anything else that can make your job and processes smoother.
Time management is your jam
Virtual assistants work on their own. A VA must work independently, prioritize tasks and manage their time most efficiently. If you feel confident that you can stay on top of things even when you’re miles away from people who you work with, then you’ll be a great VA.
Where to start your VA journey
Ok, so you figured that you’d make an outstanding VA. What’s next? It depends on your experience and qualifications, of course. That’s why we’ll go through all the steps you must take if you are starting from scratch.
Be honest with yourself and make sure this is what you want
It sure sounds great to work remotely with already established teams and companies doing admin and general tasks. But are you coachable, are you organized enough, can you handle being managed? If you’re still confident you’d like to pursue a career as a Virtual Assistant, keep on reading.
Start with the basics
An introductory marketing course such as the Hubspot Inbound marketing course providing certification can be the perfect start to your VA career.
Depending on what you decide to specialize in, Udemy has some great options. The Must-Have Skills (Training) for Virtual Assistants course by Erin Booth provides extensive basic training helpful to every Virtual Assistant. On the other hand, the Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant has all the info about setting up your VA business.
Please refer to the Virtual Assistant curriculum to find out what the best and most practical courses are. Sticking with the list will help you see progress, and you’ll know it when you’re ready.
Pick your niche carefully
Except deciding what kind of VA you’d like to become – social media, e-commerce one, etc., think about what industry you want your clients to be in.
You may know right from the start what your niche would be but if you aren’t sure, think about what kind of work you have been doing until now. Have you enjoyed it? Would you like to keep doing something in that field? If the answer is no, or you aren’t sure, try taking a few clients whose businesses are related to different industries and see if you like it.
Your business can flourish working with a broad range of industries while providing the best quality services, just stay committed to whichever way you choose to progress.
The different paths you can take as a Virtual Assistant
Most of the VAs work on a freelance basis. This means you are your boss, and you can work from virtually anywhere in the world. Still, it also means that you are responsible for securing clients, billing them, communicating, and negotiating.
Starting can seem challenging if you don’t have any experience. Make sure you build solid foundations of courses and certifications to show off your knowledge and become more confident. Confidence is one of the biggest obstacles when changing careers, especially if you sell your own services in your new venture.
You shouldn’t fall into the trap of always taking the next course. Please refer to my VA curriculum for the most effective training on your way to becoming a VA. Once ready, think about your online presence. Make your bios look presentable and list yourself as a Virtual Assistant, mentioning what you specialize in.
Setting Up Your Business
Another thing you should consider is how to set up your business. You should always consult with your accountant on such matters. It all depends on how you are planning to grow. In the US, you can register as a sole proprietor or LLC. The equivalent of these in the UK is being self-employed or register a Limited Company.
The difference is that if you’re working as a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for everything. This means that if something happens to the business or your customers and they take legal action against you, it can lead to personal bankruptcy. If this is a concern of yours, then registering as an LLC would be most beneficial because, in turn, you get taxed less than being self-employed.
The decision depends on you, how you want to go forward with your career, and its speed. Make sure you consult with a licensed accountant to make an informed decision based on your situation.
Creating Your Website
If you are firm on your decision to become a VA, it might be a good idea to invest some time and money in creating a website showcasing your previous work and the services you offer. Your website will be the first interaction people have with you, so make sure it presents your skills and experience professionally.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to create a website. You can either build your first WordPress website or use one of the “drag and drop” types of website builders. You can see what’s the difference and think about which way to go here.
Creating Your Portfolio
One of the main pages on your website should be your portfolio. If you have some experience and completed projects, that’s great!
However, if you are at the beginning of your journey, creating a portfolio might be difficult. You can simply develop mock-ups of projects that you think would be interesting for your future employer. By mock-ups, I mean presenting concept social media graphics, for example, or a self-designed Excel spreadsheet that can make a client’s business more efficient. It depends on what niche you’ve decided to specialize in. Try to create an example of each one of the services you are offering.
If you’re specializing in social media, make sure you create your social media channels, that you’re active and engaged on them, and they look presentable as you know what you’re doing. That way, you can build your credibility and confidence and it will give potential employers more trust in hiring someone without any previous experience.
If you’re just starting and don’t have any clients yet, try offering your services for free as a trial run.
Working for free is sometimes controversial. There are people in the industry who say you should never work for free.
In my opinion, when you are first starting, you aren’t confident in your abilities. Offering a free package and completing a project can boost your confidence and build your skills and knowledge because practice is the best way to learn.
Once word gets around about how efficient and reliable you are at handling tasks, then there’s nothing stopping prospective employers from hiring you with confidence.
In the beginning, make sure your social media presence is presentable. A great place to find clients is LinkedIn. This is where many business owners hang out and are easily approachable.
Where to find them?
Try typing “founder OR CEO OR director OR president OR partner” (or any other relevant position that your potential client might hold.) Then make sure you’re searching for People that are your 2nd-degree connection. You can also narrow down the industries you’re focusing on. Connect with people, research them and their companies and see if you can be a good fit for each other.
Another great way to get clients is through platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork. These are websites where freelancers can create profiles and post their services and offers. Make sure your profile is detailed, clear, professional-looking, and easy to read. Do not forget to include all the technicalities, such as rates or hours. Your rates may be lower than the average initially but should increase as you gain more knowledge, skills, and experience.
Another great place to find clients is Facebook Groups. Think about what groups your customers might be members of and go there. Think about how you can contribute to the group. Read the rules, most groups allow advertising on certain days. If you are in a group full of business owners you will be happy working with, create a special offer for the members of the group. Be active, engaged, get to know them and gain their trust by providing value and being helpful. Chances are, people will want to become your clients without you asking for it.
Working with a Virtual Assistant agency
Working as a VA through a Virtual Assistant agency is becoming more popular because of all the benefits when you’re first starting.
Virtual assistant agencies are an excellent option for VAs who are at the beginning of their career. It can be overwhelming to start your Virtual Assistant career without support from an outside source. Working as a Virtual Assistant through a VA agency provides the necessary resources and training for those just starting or who have the experience but want guidance in their business.
Working with an agency also gives you access to great clients, improved communication skills, the opportunity to learn new things, and work on different types of projects that you might not usually consider.
It can be a steppingstone to a freelance career or even having your agency.
Running Your Own VA agency
Another route you can take is opening your VA agency. This is great if you want to increase your client base and your income. Running a VA business would involve hiring other VAs, managing clients and projects more than VA work.
The VA industry has grown so much over the past few years that it’s not surprising more entrepreneurs are finding success running their agencies. The demand for Virtual Assistants will only grow in the future with the world of remote working changing so rapidly.
If you already have experience working as a Virtual Assistant, running your own company would be ideal because you will understand what businesses need. Having had experience as a VA, you will need to hire and train the VAs working for you. Running your virtual assistant agency takes freelancing one step further. VA agency owners usually have extensive experience working with different types of clients on various projects. They understand what works and how to boost productivity.
How is it different than being a freelance VA?
One of the most important things about running a virtual assistant agency is choosing freelancers who suit your business needs. It means you will need to hire them, train them to work the way you’d like things done and make sure they are fulfilled with the working conditions to give 100% of their potential to their and your clients.
Running an agency, you would also need to ensure you are securing enough clients for your VAs. Finding clients, sending proposals, and negotiating with prospective clients is another separate task you would be involved in as a business owner. That’s why it is best to have your own VA agency due to a previous successful VA freelance career.
Another factor to consider is that running your own company may require some financial input which can vary depending on what type of services you offer, whether it’s done in-house by yourself or outsourced to freelancers. You may want to start small but gradually increase your capacity over time.
You should consider additional costs, such as software packages, website hosting, virtual phone service, marketing expenses, etc. It is a very lucrative niche if you enter it with knowledge, persistence, and good planning.
Who is already doing it?
An example of a Virtual Assistant successful business model is Abbey Ashley’s Virtual Savvy. Her genius approach to the world of Virtual Assistants gives her business two separate income streams – one from her client work and another one from her training and boot camp Virtual Assistant programs.
Every business model can be developed further or niched down, so if you like the idea, think about how you can upgrade this experience and take an original approach.
How much can you make as a Virtual Assistant?
One of the most critical questions is how much you can make as a VA. The answer to this question varies. But to answer the question more specifically, if you are dedicated to the process of learning and developing your skills, you can generate a full-time income as a Virtual Assistant. It’s hard to give an exact number of your potential income.
According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a VA if you’re American and/or work with US clients is about $58K and around £28K in the UK.
You’ll notice there is a significant difference and that rates in the UK are generally less. You may decide to work primarily with American customers if the projects and their requirements allow it. With all that said, keep in mind that your income is uncapped, and it will depend only on how big you want to grow.
Network with other VAs and become part of the community
Being part of a community is one way to gain experience and knowledge about the industry. You can learn from others’ mistakes, successes, or even their day-to-day operations to determine whether you want to join.
Search for Facebook and LinkedIn Virtual Assistant groups. If you find the right ones, not only will you get to network and build relationships, but it will also help your business grow. Creating connections with other VAs can also create opportunities for you if they want to outsource or have a customer they can’t work with. Being part of a community is great. It can help you feel less lost and more confident you’re on the right path.
You don’t need a degree or experience to become a virtual assistant. You just need a bag of eagerness, patience and desire. There are many advantages of working in this industry that makes it an attractive opportunity for novice professionals who seek remote work opportunities. To learn more about the ins and outs of being a VA, check out our Virtual Assistant section.
Till next time, keep on smiling!