Virtual Assistant with laptop

Take that laptop anywhere, even to the woods! You’re making money as a virtual assistant, and you can work any where, any time.

Here is where your skills shine! There are actually dozens, or even hundreds, of ways to make good money at home as a virtual assistant.  I know too that it is one of the fastest growing fields throughout the whole country, all of which makes this a great business to pursue.

So, what is a virtual assistant?  Well,

..Do you (1) type accurately, and fast? Yeah!

…Can you (2) write a solid report? Double yeah!

…Do you(3) know medical terminology?  or (4) legal terminology?  or (5) know how to write a press release?  Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!

More cheers for (6) creating PowerPoint presentations, (7) entering statistics with colorful charts, (8) creating a marketing brochure.

The “VA PLUS”

Then there’s the “VA PLUS”, that amazing virtual assistant who can deal with the technology of running a business, especially an online business.  Ohmygoodness, this entails just so much.

  • How to set up GMail for professional use (i.e., “yourname@yourcompany.com”);
  • How to act as the set up and live assistant for webinars via Easy Webinar or any of the other dozen or so webinar companies;
  • How to write enticing emails for webinar participants;
  • How to manage a large database of email subscribers;
  • How to set up and manage FaceBook ads;
  • How to create and manage a PR program with Instagram, Twitter, or any of the dozen or so other social sites;
  • How to create images, in proper sizing, for a plethora of promo sites, especially using Canva and/or specialized photo software;
  • How to manage a membership website;

… and the list goes on.

These skills are all part of being a virtual assistant.  Simply put, a virtual assistant is an assistant on call.  Just as an admin assistant can be anything from a receptionist to a full fledged marketing pro, so too can a virtual assistant create her own niche.

And the bottom line is simple:  The more sophisticated your knowledge, the more money you can command.

So first decide what kind of VA you want to be.

The bottom line question is:  What are you good at?  Whatever it is, that is what you need to focus on.

Getting Started Making Money At Home As A Virtual Assistant

This is often a career than you can begin part time, holding onto your full time job until you grow into your new position.

So, when you’ve decided what you have to offer, go look at sites like oDesk and Elite Office Support and ProBlogger.  Find out what skills are in demand, and what the going rate is.

Checking out these sites is also a great way to plan on other services that you might offer, some that might even pay more than what you had originally thought of.

Remember that an hourly rate of $25 may sound great, BUT you are the one paying your Social Security, your insurance, your holidays, your equipment, etc.  Really take some time to analyze what you are getting yourself into.  It may work out great, and it may not.

To Certify Or Not?

Many websites (especially those run by VA certification programs) highly recommend that you get certification as a VA to “prove” what you can do.  I am not so sure of that.  Were I hiring someone, I would look a lot more closely at

  • Education
  • Prior positions
  • Samples of work
  • Enthusiasm and commitment of the VA

I am not personally a big fan of testimonials — there are just too many ways to fudge them.  So I don’t look much at testimonials.  But what a person has already done is a Biggie.  If I am hiring someone to write press releases, I need to know that she can knock it out of the park.

How To Prove You Have The Skills Of A Virtual Assistant

Here is where a strong website comes in.  It needn’t be flashy, or have a sophisticated slide show.  But it does need to look professional.  This site is a good example.  There is nothing too “techy” in this site.  It is just a solid, well constructed site.  This is the kind of site you need.

It is possible, too, to create a site in your interest category, like antiques or Philadelphia.  Then put a “Hire Me” tab on top so potential clients can get in touch with you.  Such a site gives them a superb opportunity to really take a look at some of your skills, no small accomplishment.

What To Charge As A Virtual Assistant

Reviewing the sites noted above will give you a good idea of the going rate for different projects.  Personally, I would start out on the lower end of the scale, and raise my prices as I got busier.  You may want to start the other way around, especially if you have a lot of experience: Start high and see if there are any takers.

I’ve had bids from VA’s from as low as $15 per hour to as high as $75 per hour.  I don’t necessarily hire the cheapest — I want the best work for the best price … and a smile goes a long way too.

Time And Money And Virtual Assistants

It seems to be common knowledge that the more time you are willing to devote to your virtual assistant style business, the more money you will make.  There is the feeling that if you are available to your clients 18 hours a day that you will earn more than if you are available 8 hours a day.

I take exception to that.

As with any job, there is only so much time you can put into a task before you simply burn out.  Yes, there are 24 hours in a day, but most of us only really worked 4-6 of them, even when we worked for someone else.  The other time is consumed with simple tasks like emails, coordinating with others, cleaning up your desk, etc.

Having said that, I know there are times when I worked 18 hours a day, and I image that you have too.  In retrospect, I probably did it more than I needed to, thinking that I was accomplishing just soooo much by working so long.  Now I work smarter.

So if I were a virtual assistant working at home, I would block out times of my day.  Perhaps I would have an hour or so in the morning for checking emails, etc., with a similar hour or so at the end of the day.  In the middle I would “do” the work, probably in a 3-6 hour glump of time.  I could only bill for that 3-6 hour glump of time, so that really needs to figure into my “can I do this” calculations up above.

On the plus side, that 3-6 hour glump of time can be any time of the day or night — you choose.

Getting Paid As A Home Based Virtual Assistant

This “getting paid” part is a real stickler for a lot of home based entrepreneurs.  Here is my general process:

  • I talk with the client and mutually decide on the task(s) and the price.  I also talk about the terms of payment with the client before beginning.
  • I figure out what will be billed ahead of time, in the middle, and at the end.  If it is a short, quickie project, I ask for payment up front.  Medium and large size projects I break into 2 or 3 payments.  I make sure the client is ok with all this.
  • I bill the client via PayPal.  If the client wants to begin immediately, she pays via PayPal.  I also accept checks, but then I wait until I receive the check before beginning.

When the project is over, I always ask for an evaluation from the client, especially if she is a new client.  She may have spotted something I can do better, and I always appreciate the feedback.

There you’ve got the basics of being a home based virtual assistant.  If you have done work as a freelance VA, I’d love to hear from you below.  What has been most rewarding, or most troublesome, for you?  Should you have other questions, do jot them in the form below.