So you want to be a virtual assistant?
Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you want to find a balance between earning money and enjoying life.
That might mean escaping your 9-5 or getting to stay at home with your kids.
Whatever the reason, you’re probably wondering:
What is a virtual assistant?
And is it possible to learn how to become a virtual assistant with no experience?
So let me answer those questions and help you decide if this career path is right for you.
What is a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants provide services to businesses while working from home or wherever they have internet. There’s a running joke that Virtual Assistants (VAs) can do anything a regular assistant can do…except deliver coffee.
What skills do you need to become a virtual assistant?
In the virtual assisting world, the highest-income earners have 3 traits:
Trait 1: They’re willing to learn.
For example, a client might ask you to manage their Pinterest account.
You aren’t familiar with Pinterest? No problem!
You’ll create a profile and learn the ropes. You might read a few articles on creating click-worthy Pinterest images. Then you’ll learn how to write Pinterest descriptions.
Here’s what it comes down to:
Are you willing to learn the skills it takes to be great at your job?
Trait 2: They’re Self-motivated
The wonderful thing about working from home is that you can be your own boss. You choose how, when, and where you work. You also set your own pay.
You have to be self-motivated. While you might not have set work hours, you’ll still have to meet deadlines.
So be prepared to ask questions. Make sure you understand exactly what the client wants. And if possible, meet and exceed deadlines.
Trait 3: They’re Organized
Successful VAs are well-organized. This is especially true when you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.
Things will go smoother if you’re organized from the start. So whether you use a desk calendar like this or Google Calendar, you’ll need to keep track of your daily assignments.
How much do virtual assistants make?
Have you seen headlines that say, “Make $80/hour as a Virtual Assistant”?
We all have. And they leave you wondering:
…but what’s the typical virtual assistant salary or hourly rate?
The truth is, it depends. Some VAs charge upward of $30 per hour, but we’ve found that most VAs charge $20-$30 per hour.
And the most successful VAs that I’ve seen usually work between 15-35 hours per week with one or two companies.
On average, they charge $20-$25 per hour in the beginning. As they gain more experience, they up their rates to $25-$35 per hour.
VAs that complete “one-off” jobs tend to charge higher rates. For example, if a business needed you to complete graphic design work that takes 3 hours to complete, you might charge a higher rate of $50-$100 per hour.
What types of virtual assistants are out there?
Most virtual assistants fall within these 6 categories:
1. Virtual Bookkeepers
A lot – if not most – business owners struggle to keep up with their financial records. Between entering expenses, sending invoices, and paying bills – it all adds up quickly.
More importantly? Great bookkeepers are hard to come by, so it’s a major selling point as a virtual assistant.
Ben Robinson, a CPA who teaches people how to become virtual bookkeepers through his Bookkeeper Business Launch course, says this:
“What I soon discovered is that great bookkeepers are hard to find. And, when I did find a great bookkeeper, they were buried with clients and had long waiting lists.”
You don’t have to be a CPA to do this. You just need to take a bookkeeping course to teach you everything you need to know.
“None of the great bookkeepers I’ve trained have even been accountants, much less Certified Public Accountants,” says Robinson.
As a virtual bookkeeper, your tasks may include:
- Having access to the businesses financial software – like Quickbooks or Freshbooks.
- Sending invoices
- Posting financial transactions
Accounting software – like Quickbooks – allows the business owner to add users to their account. This will allow you as the bookkeeper to handle everything remotely.
For example, let’s say you’re working for a business owner who sells products on Etsy. In this case, you might be responsible for handling the weekly activities that come with that business.
Don’t be intimated by the financial software. It’s entirely possible to become a virtual bookkeeper even if you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.
You just need the right training.
2. Administrative Virtual Assistants
These types of VAs are the Jack(ie) of all trades.
As an Administrative VA, your tasks may include:
- Scheduling appointments
- Responding to emails
- Booking flights
- Data entry
- Setting up meetings
They’re sometimes called General Virtual Assistants. Instead of specializing in one area, they’re responsible for several small but important tasks.
Taking a job as an admin assistant can be a smart first step when you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.
3. Social Media Virtual Assistants
Are you well-versed on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube?
Businesses know they have to be on social media if they want to connect with today’s smartphone-happy consumers.
According to one study, small business owners spend an average of 20 hours per week on social media marketing. Social media VAs allow the business owner to get back to actually running the business.
As a social media VA, your tasks may include:
- Creating and staying active on social media profiles
- Finding share-worthy articles
- Responding to social media messages
- Creating monthly reports on social media metrics like engagement and followers
4. Blogger’s Virtual Assistant
Did you know that the Huffington Post started as a blog?
Yup, and some of your favorite sites on the internet were started by bloggers.
And just like many small business owners, bloggers wear many hats. They’re responsible for creating content, managing email, social media, and bookkeeping.
So what do they do?
They start outsourcing to a VA.
As a blogger’s assistant, your tasks may include:
- Scheduling and posting social media updates
- Responding to reader comments and emails
- Creating click-worthy marketing images for sites like Instagram and Pinterest
- Helping the blogger research new blog post ideas
- Drafting, writing, and editing blog posts
5. Real Estate Virtual Assistants
Virtual Assistants allow real estate agents to handle what they do best:
These VAs handle all the back-end stuff.
As a real estate assistant, your tasks may include:
- Listing properties online and writing descriptions
- Managing clients contact information
- Take incoming calls/emails from interested buyers and sellers
- Scheduling appointments
As a real estate VA, you’re not required to make sales or negotiate prices with potential buyers and sellers. That’s left up to the licensed agent.
Instead, you handle administrative tasks that fall under the real estate umbrella.
When you’re figuring out how to become a virtual assistant with no experience, real estate is a great option.
6. Technical Virtual Assistants
Technical virtual assistants help business owners with the technical skills they don’t have.
These types of VAs are common in online businesses, where a business owner needs help with the maintenance, design, or creation of their website.
As a technical virtual assistant, your tasks may include:
- Managing WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix sites.
- Fixing technical errors
- Updating plugins and software
- Writing software code
For this job, it’s beneficial to know your way around WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix sites. You might also familiarize yourself with macOS and Windows operating systems.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant With No Experience
So by now you’re probably wondering:
Where do I start? And how do I get hired?
Here are two tips for getting started:
Tip 1: Search Online Job Boards
Upwork is a great place to start. It’s a website that connects freelancers (writers, graphic designers, VAs) with business owners.
When you have no experience, you should start by creating a business owner profile. That’s right – as if you’re a business owner who is searching for a virtual assistant.
Once you create that profile, you can search for “virtual assistants” and scroll through the profiles to see what other VAs offer. This will give you ideas on what services you can learn to provide. It’ll also show you how to fill out your profile.
Below is an example of a VA profile on Upwork. We’ve covered her name and picture for privacy.
She has a great profile because she goes into detail about what she offers. You can see her hourly rate is $25 per hour, and she’s earned over $30,000 since joining Upwork.
Here’s an example of what not to do:
He says he’s great for entry-level tasks – but what does that include?
Is he proficient with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint? Is he good with responding to emails and scheduling appointments?
His profile isn’t specific enough.
Tip 2: Get Training
Now you’re probably thinking:
Okay, I’m interested in this. I want the freedom of working from home and I want to make good money…but I don’t know what to offer.
99% of VAs will tell you they had that exact same feeling before they started.
Thankfully, there are plenty of resources online that’ll help you go from no experience to full-blown subject matter expert. Here are a few recommendations:
The creator of this course, Gina, joined the VA world in 2014. Within 6 months, she was making $4,000/month.
Her program is the most comprehensive course on becoming a Virtual Assistant that I’ve found.
It gives you the confidence to know exactly what you’re doing and learn the skills needed to make money.
You’ll go from trying to figure out how to become a virtual assistant with no experience to a professional VA.
You’ll learn things like:
- Social Media Management
- Email Management
- Project Management
- Content Production
- How to interview and get hired
The program has 15 modules. At the end of each module, there’s a quiz that checks your learning. And there’s at least one action item for each lesson.
Joining the program also grants you membership to her Virtual Assistant Facebook group. You can ask questions and share ideas with other VAs who’ve taken the course. The group currently has over 500 members.
She also posts VA job leads in the FB group that you can apply for. And finally, she offers ongoing support in the group through live office hours.
If you’re serious about earning a full-time income from home, then this course is for you.
Want to know the one task that business owners dread doing?
In a survey by TD Bank, business owners said the best part of owning a business was the flexibility. The worst? Yep, you guessed it – bookkeeping.
Not only does that put virtual bookkeeping in high demand, but it gives you job security. Bookkeeping is a perfect way to launch your career when you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.
If you’re serious about knowing all there is to know about becoming a virtual bookkeeper, Bookkeeper Business Launch is your go-to.
The course is broken down into 6 units. It’s a mix of both video and written content.
The first few lessons talk about how to take the course and study hacks you need to know.
The next few lessons cover the ins and outs bookkeeping. Here are just a few things you’ll learn from those units:
- Introduction to income statements
- Cost of goods sold
- Introduction to liabilities
- Introduction to accounts payable
- Demo for entering bills
- Demo for paying bills
- Payroll liabilities
- Use and sales taxes payable
At the end, Ben teaches you how to market your services and get hired.
The course also shows you how to use QuickBooks – which is the most popular financial software small businesses use. And you can even become a QuickBooks ProAdvisor which has its own training.
You’ll also get access to his bookkeeping Facebook group, where you can talk to current and former students. The Facebook group currently has over 4,000 people who have successfully learned how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.
You don’t need to be a Financial Expert or CPA to become a bookkeeper. You just need to put in the effort to take the program.
A transcriber is a professional typist who listens to recorded or live audio files and types what they hear.
There are two main types of transcribers:
1. General Transcribers ($45,000/year average salary)
2. Legal Transcribers ($60,000/year average salary)
The demand for transcribers is high. Since the exploding popularity of video from all over the internet, many online videos need to be turned into written documents so they can be used for training, marketing, eBooks, or articles.
Does transcription sound like something you can do?
Janet Shaughnessy created a course called Transcribe Anywhere where she teaches you how to launch a successful transcription career.
Transcribe Anywhere offers a free mini-course so you can try it out and decide if it’s right for you. Once you join, you’ll get access to the community Facebook group. The group currently has over 5,000 students.
Proofreading is the process of correcting surface errors in writing, such as grammatical, spelling, punctuation and other language mistakes.
The average Proofreader makes $51,322 per year.
Similar to the Transcribe Anywhere course, Proofread Anywhere offers a free intro course to help you decide if it’s right for you.
When you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience, it pays to get a professional skill under your belt.
The course includes 8 modules:
Module 1: Introduction to General Proofreading
Talks about who uses proofreaders and the skills needed.
Module 2: Get into the Proofreading Mindset
This module teaches you the different ways you can specialize as a proofreader.
Module 3 & 4: Proofreading Basics & Methods
These modules cover everything you need to know about Proofreading. It also gives you practice worksheets to test your skills.
Module 5 & 6: Turning Proofreading into a Business
This module teaches you how to set your rates and get hired.
Module 7 & 8: Once You Get the Job
You’ve landed a gig. Now what? They’ll teach you how to network and bill your clients.
Module 8 also shows you how the typical proofreader schedules their day, plus how to build your confidence and thrive as a freelance proofreader.
Where do I find legitimate virtual assistant jobs?
There are several sites to find clients. Here are a few that I recommend:
You sign up for a free account, fill out your profile, and apply for VA jobs.
Here’s an example of a VA Job posting on UpWork:
Clients can also find you directly by searching through profiles. This is why it’s important to fill out your profile completely. It’s your online “resume” and serves as your first impression for potential clients.
2. Fancy Hands
Fancy Hands is a unique platform that pays you per task. Tasks are short (between 15-20 minutes) and you get paid between $2.00-$7.00.
Some examples of the tasks include:
- Making phone calls on behalf of people. Like for canceling their cable (harder than it sounds)
- Tracking down the best price for something
- Finding hotels that meet certain criteria
- Scheduling appointments (doctors, business, etc.)
Besides Upwork and Fancy Hands, there are dozens of job sites for VAs wondering how to become a virtual assistant with no experience. Here are a few more:
Most VAs rely on sites like Upwork to find jobs, but they forget that business owners and recruiters scan LinkedIn like crazy.
Joanne Munro, Founder of The VA Handbook, has a very detailed post on how to set up your LinkedIn profile as a Virtual Assistant.
Facebook groups are a great place to start if you want to work for bloggers. I recommend joining 2-3 Virtual Assistant Facebook groups.
You can also join a few blogging Facebook groups. When bloggers need VA help, they often reach out on the group.
Here’s an example from one of my groups:
What tools do I need to become a virtual assistant?
Every good VA needs a few tools under their belt. Here are a few:
1. A Paypal Account
Because you’ve got to get paid, right?
Paypal is the most universal payment gateway. When you sign up for sites like Upwork, you’ll be able to link your Paypal account to your profile for easy payment.
(But if you prefer another payment method, you can use that too)
2. Personal Finance Toolkit
VAs earn a lot of money from a lot of different places. To keep things organized, we recommend using a budgeting app or our Easy Money Spreadsheet.
Our Easy Money Spreadsheet makes budgeting, tracking your bills, and saving money easy.
(Above: The Budgeting Template from our Easy Money Spreadsheet)
(Above: The Savings Tracker from our Easy Money Spreadsheet)
VAs do a lot of typing – and Grammarly is a free tool that corrects spelling and grammar errors in your writing. Here’s how it works:
4. A Desktop or Electronic Calendar
Being organized is one of the best things you can do as you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience. If you’re organized from the start, it’ll save you a lot of headaches later.
Taking the steps towards a new career is always scary. There are a million doubts that’ll pop in your head.
Take baby steps. Read a few more articles. Join a few Facebook groups with other VAs. Take a training course.
Start making tiny choices.
That’s how change begins.