LEGIT How to Work as a Virtual Assistant

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Naomi

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How to Work as a Virtual Assistant.jpg


I’ve been working as a virtual assistant for a couple of years now. I still do a variety of online earning activities like completing surveys and reading emails, but my virtual assistant gig has become my bread and butter. It’s such a great, steady job that I can’t recommend it enough.

The job is just the right mix of challenging and fun. And best of all, it pays pretty well. If you’re up for the challenge, here’s my guide on how to become a virtual assistant!

Wait a Sec. What is a Virtual Assistant, Exactly?

I get asked this a lot - so much that I used to joke that one of my biggest tasks as a virtual assistant was explaining what a virtual assistant is! People sometimes think that the “virtual” part means I don’t really do anything. Well, I may not be there physically (most of my work is done online), but the benefit and service I provide is very real.

Okay, to answer that question, a virtual assistant is just that - an assistant. We assist people in their work and daily lives. The virtual part is there because we work through the internet. We’re not physically there to pick up to take your kids to soccer practice or line up to get you concert tickets. What we can do is book a vehicle for your kids, or shop online for those tickets.

The job description for virtual assistants varies greatly from client to client. One of my old tasks was logging into a client’s Facebook account daily and greeting all birthday celebrants that day. It was a pretty odd task - but also fun, in its own way. But for the most part, I did regular stuff like setting meetings and making reservations for restaurants and hotels.

But before you agree to work for someone, I suggest two things: asking what your potential client’s needs are first, and being upfront about what services you can provide. Below are lists of common tasks for personal and professional assistants.

Virtual Assistants (“Personal”)
  • Booking hotels
  • Booking airline tickets
  • Buying concert tickets
  • Making restaurant reservations
  • Arranging vehicle rentals
  • Shopping on Amazon for client
  • Organizing photos
  • Paying bills online
  • Ensuring payments for online services such as Spotify and Netflix are up to date
Virtual Assistants (“Professional”)
  • Arranging business trips
  • Answering emails
  • Managing client’s work calendar
  • Writing official emails
  • Transcribing dictations
  • Helping create PowerPoint or Keynote presentations
  • Reserving conference rooms
…those are just the common tasks. Like I said, your actual tasks will vary from client to client. (See: my boss who asked me to greet all his Facebook friends.) And if you’ll notice, there’s a bit of overlap with the tasks for a person’s professional and personal lives. You can book a hotel for both work and personal trips.

Being a Virtual Assistant is just like any other job: you need to put everything on the table and know

What Skills and Qualities Should a Virtual Assistant Have?

These include basic office and administration skills, and business writing. If you know how to do basic graphic design, or how to make great slideshow presentations, that would be a big plus.

Those are the skills. Below are the qualities, or personality traits, I think you should have to be able to do this job effectively:

Pleasant to be around - Just because most of your interaction with your client and other people will be via internet and phone, that doesn’t mean you can neglect personal manners. You’ll be working closely with your client in various aspects of their life, so you’ll have to be pleasant to interact with.

Organized - Being organized means a lot of things. It could mean being on top of your client’s schedule, not losing any important emails or files, or being able to process online payments.

You will also have multiple tasks on your plate at once. Since multi-tasking is a surefire path to disaster, you will have to know how to prioritize your tasks. Determine which ones are more pressing and tackle those first.

Being organized also means being able to accomplish time-sensitive tasks. Most of your tasks will be time-sensitive, such as booking a hotel room for a specific date or making sure a care is there to pick up your client at the airport. You will have to be able to manage both your schedule and your clients - and that’s a very challenging thing to pull off.

Details-Oriented - Tasks are like nesting dolls: they have multiple sub-tasks, which have sub-tasks of their own. As a virtual assistant, you will have to be able to have a good grip on all the tiny details and sub-tasks that need to be addressed.

Unflappable - I’ll be upfront: sometimes, this job can get stressful. There are simply so many things you’ll have to juggle. But I keep reminding myself that in this job, I do not have the luxury of having a meltdown. When I have a meltdown, my client’s entire schedule shuts down. If you want to make a career doing this, you’ll have to be able to process and work through a certain amount of stress.

Discrete - You will be privy to a lot of personal details, such as credit card bills, vacation schedules, and the other ins and outs of your client’s life. It goes without saying that you should never divulge these details to anyone. You will be hired both for your skills, and your ability to keep matters private.

Overall, I would say the most important skill and quality is that you know how to get stuff done.

Is Being a Virtual Assistant Good for Work From Home Peeps?

Absolutely! I’ve tried different work from home jobs. But the one I’ve stuck to the most is my virtual assistant job. For me, it has all the things I like for in a job: it’s challenging, rewarding, pays well, pretty engaging, and interesting.

I used to experience quite a bit of cabin fever working from home. But being a virtual assistant has “opened up” my work day. I may still be at home in my home office, but since I’m working on outside world stuff, I don’t feel cooped up.

But best of all, I get to stay close to my kids and set my own schedule. These two are the biggest benefits of being a virtual assistant.

Earning Potential

Your hourly rate will vary, depending on your experience, skills, and certifications. So there isn’t a set income level for workers in this industry, but a good ballpark figure is around $15 to $70 per hour. So yeah, that’s a pretty good salary overall!

But I need to remind you: just because this is a cushy job with good pay, you shouldn’t forget to keep learning new skills. The more things you know how to do, the higher you can pay. So invest in yourself!

Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs

Working as a virtual assistant is a lucrative career, but there aren’t any placement agencies (that I know of - let me know if there are) for virtual assistants. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any resources out there to help you land that virtual assistant gig.

Here are some of the resources I’ve used:

1. 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success

Website: https://horkeyhandbook.com/

2. Become a Pinterest VA Today

Website: https://pinterestva.com/?sc_ref=Tw8URPO2aFibovRx

3. VANetworking

Website: https://www.vanetworking.com

4. VAclassroom

Website: https://www.vaclassroom.com

5. International Virtual Assistants Association

Website: https://ivaa.org

To thrive in this career, you will have to invest in the skills and the training - the website I’ve listed above are all great resources for teaching you how to build a satisfying virtual assistant career.

Your Turn

This article is based on my experience working as a virtual assistant! Now it’s your turn to share! Have you done this type of work? Got any tips for people who are looking to get started?

Let’s hear your stories!
 

RMF1990

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Thank you so much for the information! I have done searching after searching for information like this and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. it’s either some long article that never gets to the point or any kind of useful information. Oh and my favorite is when they make you sit through a YouTube video ( because you just know you picked the right one this time ?) and it’s 10-20 mins long with the same outcome. No useful information. You are my hero! Lol
 

Chameli

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I have worked as a virtual assistant for a client. My job was to manage his social media accounts by publishing posts regularly. I have also worked as a virtual assistant for a blogger,. My job was to publish posts and promote posts on social media sites. I found these works on upwork.
 

Ben_the_Hobbit

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One of the pitfalls of working as a virtual online assistant is that people think it’s “easier” than regular assistant jobs. While there are advantages to it over traditional assistant jobs, it’s still a challenging job.

And even if there’s a flexible schedule, you need to adapt to the needs of your client. For example, I once had a client who was a sneaker collector. Apparently, new shoe releases (aka “fresh drops”) are a big deal to them, and it literally takes only a few seconds for sneakers to sell-out online. So one of my tasks in addition to traditional stuff was being online when a new sneaker dropped and trying to cop a pair for my client.

This was off the books since release times are kind of strange. But it was cool, since my client was pretty nice (and once hooked me up with some sweet BAPE gear). Chances are, you won’t have to do stuff like that, but I’m sharing the story to give you an idea that to be a great (read: in-demand) virtual online assistant, you’ll have to go above and beyond the call of duty.

But don’t worry, I have yet to meet a Devil Wears Prada-type boss. And honestly, I wouldn’t bother staying with a client like that. As long as the client is respectful and is willing to compensate me fairly, I’m willing to go the extra mile for them.
 

Naomi

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Thanks for the great comments, everyone! I was reading Ben the Hobbit’s post when I realized I hadn’t talked about my actual experiences working as a online virtual assistant. Most of the info I shared in my original post was pretty general – which was deliberate, but after reading Ben’s excellent post, I also have the opportunity to share my actual experience. So here goes:

My longest client, who I worked with for about three years, was a fashion stylist. Sounds exciting, right? While I never joined fashion shoots, or visited clothing stores with her, my job was to organize shoots remotely. At times, my job was kind of like an events planner, but that’s why I mentioned you should be prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Once my client visited the shops and picked out clothes she wanted to pull out for the shoot, she would send me the SKUs. It was then my job to send those SKUs to the merchandising manager and fill-out the proper paperwork for the pull out. Another task involved reserving locations via phone or email.

So basically, my client picked clothes and locations she wanted to use for a shoot, then it was my job to make it happen. It’s not as glamorous as actually being there in person, but it was still pretty fun!
 
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