- Jun 13, 2018
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
- Arranging business trips
- Answering emails
- Managing client’s work calendar
- Writing official emails
- Transcribing dictations
- Helping create PowerPoint or Keynote presentations
- Reserving conference rooms
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.
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
2. Become a Pinterest VA Today
5. International Virtual Assistants Association
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.
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!