The most flexible types of jobs are those which you can do from home. And it’s becoming easier than ever to start your career as a remote worker.
While you can find all kinds of jobs online, one position that always seems to remain in high demand is Virtual Assistant.
Despite having great job security and pay, becoming a virtual assistant requires no experience. And with more companies switching to remote, the need for virtual assistants is only growing exponentially.
If you’re thinking about trying out virtual assistance, you couldn’t have picked a better time. This blog is meant to be your gateway to the world of virtual assistants and we’ll get you up to speed on how to get started today.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an online worker who helps companies in their day-to-day operations. This includes a wide range of tasks such as checking emails, managing social media, scheduling appointments, data entry, preparing documents, writing blogs and so much more.
Job descriptions can vary greatly from company to company so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what a virtual assistant does. Basically, someone who can help reduce workload stress.
It’s almost exactly the same as an assistant sitting in the office. But since most of today’s work is done on a computer anyways, a virtual assistant fills the role extremely well. Several major companies are beginning to realize this and have begun shifting to the work-from-home model at a rapid pace. This is why we predict that demand for virtual assistants is only going to go up. It’s not a question of ‘if demand will increase’, but a question of ‘how much will it increase’.
Skills Required to Become a Virtual Assistant
Most virtual assistant jobs require you to have the following:
- Stable internet connection,
- Good typing speed (around 50-65 wpm)
- A decent computer
If you have these, then you already qualify for most virtual assistant positions.
But like most people, you should always strive to do better than expected. So let’s talk about some other easy-to-learn skills that can improve your chances of getting hired as a high-level virtual assistant.
Helping out with general administration is probably the closest thing to what many view as an ‘assistant’. Checking emails, handling meetings and reminders, preparing documents, answering phone calls, you name it. High level managers are usually swamped on most days and wholeheartedly welcome an assistant who can do something even as little as read emails for them.
Glassdoor has a great guide for job seekers on which skills to learn for administrative work. But rather than raw skills, most employers are looking for someone with the right personality. They want to hire someone who is forthcoming, honest, communicative, and most importantly hospitable since you might need to talk to important clients.
Even if being an administrative assistant isn’t your dream job, it’s a great stepping stone that could lead to some exciting opportunities in the future.
Publishing blogs, press releases and social media posts is something almost every business or entrepreneur is doing. Posting fresh content consistently on so many platforms can become overwhelming, and that’s where virtual assistants come in.
If you can help someone create high quality content on a daily basis, then your skills are in high demand. It’s not just about writing, sometimes you will need to proofread and edit content appropriately. If you’re willing to take it to the next level, learn some basic graphics design skills and you can serve as a social media manager. Online tools such as Canva make it extremely easy to put together a compelling graphics that matches the quality of a professional graphics designer.
Managing finances is extremely important to ensure smooth daily operations and companies need all the help they can get. More virtual assistants are now being hired to lend a hand with payroll, recording transactions, managing invoices, processing payments and so much more.
Most of these tasks require basic understanding of working with spreadsheets such as Excel or Google Sheets. But even without those skills, you can go a long way by just helping out with number crunching. In fact, most companies have already created their financial documents and just need someone to do the busy-work of filling them in.
All companies with a digital presence will need someone to constantly check on their websites. You don’t need to be a professional web developer to take on this duty, you just need to be familiar with the platform.
The world’s most popular website builder is WordPress. Chances are that the company who hires you as a virtual assistant will already be using it for their business website so go ahead and familiarize yourself with it. The best way to do this is to actually build your own WordPress blog which is completely free. Even better, WordPress themselves conduct regular webinars which teach beginners how to use their platform, all free of charge.
Who is Looking for a Virtual Assistant?
Almost anyone with a digital presence is looking for virtual assistants. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, youtubers, anyone with a website and so on.
Larger companies have also built their digital channels using a crew of virtual assistants who are working from different parts of the world on different time zones.
Most who are willing to employ VA’s are very flexible with who they hire. Some of them are even aware of the fact that new virtual assistants may not have the necessary skills to take on the job. That’s why they offer in-house training or a grace period to allow virtual assistants to learn everything they need to handle their tasks confidently.
3 Steps to Becoming a Virtual Assistant
IdeasUnlimited has helped shape hundreds of remote workers into confident virtual assistants capable of serving all business niches. Based on our experience, we have developed a very simple checklist for aspiring virtual assistants to set them up for success.
Decide a Specialty
Feel free to scroll back up and re-familiarize yourself with what a virtual assistant does. As you’re reading through, find things you are most comfortable with. Perhaps a skill that you already know or a task that you have prior experience with. It can even be something you find interesting and wouldn’t mind learning.
The goal is to develop a focus. You could very well offer a wide range of services as a virtual assistant, but we highly recommend sticking to just a few.
In our experience, virtual assistants should strive for LONG-TERM relationships with their clients. In order to achieve this, you need to focus on a few tasks that you deliver extremely well. If you try to accomplish many things at once, you risk underperforming and even losing your client.
Create an Impressive Portfolio
A portfolio is doubly important for virtual assistants who want to focus on content creation. Most clients demand to see a portfolio from virtual assistant candidates and you should therefore be prepared to present one at a moment’s notice.
If you’re looking for ideas for an eye-catching portfolio, be sure to skim through Pinterest for some inspiration from millions of content creators.
Items that could be added to your portfolio include social posts, graphics, website snapshots, blogs, articles and so on.
Even if you haven’t worked as a virtual assistant, we highly recommend using your free-time to craft a portfolio. For example, you could start a WordPress blog (which is free of charge) and begin submitting content on it for your portfolio.
We’ll discuss later how to find your first client as a virtual assistant. For now, it’s important to understand that you need to put time and effort into outreaching. Not just applying for jobs, but sharing with others that you are actively seeking work as a virtual assistant.
Talk to your friends and family. Join online forums, groups and chats with other virtual assistants. You need to actively participate in the virtual assistant community and make yourself known. Even something as simple as leaving a comment below is a great way to start!
Let everyone know about your skills, expertise, interests and anything else that someone might find interesting. This step isn’t just crucial to finding a work from home job. It’s an exercise to help you get comfortable with selling yourself to others as a capable worker. Be confident and opportunities will soon follow!
How to Find Clients as a Virtual Assistant
Have you finished our 3 step plan? If so, it’s time to find your first client!
Let us begin with some websites where you can apply for a variety of virtual assistant jobs.
Upwork, as of right now, is the world’s largest freelancing website. In the US alone, almost 53 million people have signed up to the website looking for work. It’s a great place to start.
The site has a simple interface to help you set up your profile and also a simple to use search function to find job opportunities in your field. Upwork also comes with a chat function and most clients will use it to reach out to you while they are hiring. Be sure to always check your notifications and messages and respond quickly.
Here’s a hint; upload a great profile picture! Even Upwork themselves say that a nice profile picture increases the rate of freelancers getting hired. It’s a small suggestion but we highly implore you not to ignore it.
A word of caution, Upwork has made substantial efforts in screening applicants with stricter rules. If you don’t set up your account properly, you risk having your profile purged. When creating your profile, be sure that it’s 100% finished. Leaving it incomplete could prompt one of the moderators to flag your profile, preventing you from applying for jobs.
Fiverr is yet another great platform for those who are looking to work from home.
One way Fiverr differentiates itself from others is with it’s ‘gig’ approach. It allows you to tell potential clients exactly what you can do for them by offering a gig or a job. When creating a gig, remember to state very clearly how many hours you are willing to work and list down all the tasks you are capable of doing.
When posting gigs, be clear and specific about yourself. We highly encourage you to look up other gig posts. Some freelancers have even made videos about themselves and what they offer and we encourage you to go the extra mile and do the same.
This is another well established site that has a great focus on helping anyone find remote work. Much like Fiverr and UpWork, FlexJobs is a job board built both for clients and freelancers.
We highly recommend that you go through the FAQs for FlexJobs as it will help you understand what makes this platform unique. To put it simply, FlexJobs focuses on helping freelancers find high-quality jobs through a subscription service. While other job finders are mostly free, you get a lot with FlexJobs subscription-based model. Mostly it’s the ability to quickly find you the right kind of work from trust-worthy employers that can offer more stability in your job. Plus while you wait for a job, FlexJobs will keep you busy with career coaching and training that can help you further your professional life.
One More Thing…
Becoming a virtual assistant, especially when starting from scratch, can seem daunting at first. IdeasUnlimited has worked with hundreds of remote workers who have shared their stories about the early days of their journey.
One of the biggest challenges of starting a work-from-home career is staying mentally strong. It can be demotivating not hearing back after interviews and or watching other freelancers who might seem much more skilled than you are.
But in the same vein, IdeasUnlimited is also home to amazing success stories where remote workers have built wonderful lives for themselves by working from home. Just remember that it takes time, effort and patience. Be positive and trust your abilities. Also, be open with other freelancers and share your stories as we’re all in this together. You can start right now by leaving a comment below!
Anyone can start their journey today to become a successful virtual assistant! Simply follow our plan, find your niche and stay positive. As the world is shifting to a remote workforce, building your career from home is only going to get simpler. Why not embark on your journey with us? Head over to careers.ideasunlimitedonline.com where you can find remote jobs and guidance from our recruitment team on being successful as a remote worker.