How to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant
People ask me how to get started as a VA ( Virtual Assistant ) almost every day of my life. People seem to think it's an easy thing to do and I really wish more people understood what goes doing this type of work. Just know that I split my time between Writing, Tech Admin ( VA or Administrative Consultant Work ) and Web Design. This is part of how I make sure I don't have all my eggs in one basket. Here are a few basic tips.
1. Most job bidding websites are not good for finding this type of work. You may be lucky to find a good client on there once in a blue moon but the rule of thumb is, most people use those sites to save money. Unless you are wanting to work for peanuts, it just doesn't work. This comes from experience on my part!
2. You do NOT have to start off offering free hours or at a low wage. BIG BIG BIG mistake I made. My confidence level was low, it was just plain stupid on my part. I can't tell you what to charge but I can tell you to do the research and make sure you consult a handy dandy calculator like this one: Income and Pricing Calculator at Administrative Consultants Association. Before I used this calculator I was under the impression I should be making what I made when I was an employee. I then realized how wrong that mentality was!
3. Do you have a niche? I'm currently researching more about niches and business because everyone and their mama ( including myself ) is out there screaming "THE RICH IS IN THE NICHE". Yes this is true, I just want to figure out how this works in depth so for now, focus on finding your ideal clients. Who would be most happiest supporting every day? Is it women coaches? Is it lawyers? Is it men who run bike shops? I actually toyed with providing service ONLY to conspiracy theorists, yep, that was an interesting one! Point is you won't know until you research.
4. What work do you want to do. I don't mean this lightly. EXACTLY what work do you want to do? I realized fairly early on that I do not like doing telephone or sales work. It's just not for me. I spent almost 8 years on the phone at my previous job and that ruined me for life. I also have a hearing issue and find it difficult to hear over the phone so this something that also helped me come to that conclusion.
5. Again, you need a website. Jump over to my resources page to find out a few helpful vendors. Most people are going with a WordPress ( .org not .com! ) website. I know some people have no clue what to put on their website when they first start out but I can't tell you how many referrals my website has helped me get. It's so easy for clients to say "Oh my Tech Admin is So and So, here is her website".
6. Decide on your title. I like Tech Admin for myself because I have an IT background. Personally I do not like the term VA or Virtual Assistant because it implies the person is not highly skilled. If you want to charge more money, my advice is find a better term. I also go by the title Administrative Consultant as well.
7. TOOLS. What kind of tools do you have at your disposal? It's true this business has little overhead. In fact I operate my business on about $150.00 a month! I work from home ( or a cafe, or wherever the heck I feel like working from ) and my laptop is my biggest investment. If you have a crap computer and barely any internet service you need to remedy that. I have TWO backup internet systems now that I can afford it. I use my smart phone as a WiFi hotspot and dial up as my last resort. I also can connect to my neighbors internet ( she uses a different provider ) in case of an emergency. I use something called VPN, or Virtual Private Network plus a personal firewall to ensure I have a secure connection. I don't play when it comes to tool or security. You don't need to have a top of the line MAC to be in this business. In fact, I am saving up for my MAC Daddy right now as we speak. I had one, it broke, my budget was limited so I bought a mid-line laptop to hold me over. Just have a good plan, it will take you far!
8. Figure out the legal stuff. I am no help here but I can tell you to please take your business serious. Find out what you need in terms of licensing and other related things.
9. How to find clients. Ask around and get the word out. I, personally DO NOT do in person networking. I am much too shy for that! I don't need the anxiety but if it works for you, go for it. I have a friend who has gotten most of her leads through in person networking. She has a great personality and rocks it! I've found my clients online through networking in Facebook groups in addition to finding a few through other online resources. Forums are also great for finding prospects. I do put my business card up on boards in town but it's only for web development projects. All of the rest of my business has been through word of mouth. Do a good job and your clients will spread the word. Remember, you need to market and promote yourself in order to be seen. If you just sit online and don't get out into the world, no one will know you exist.
10. BE Real. Be sure you understand what working from HOME is like. I can tell you that it is super difficult. Requires a lot of discipline and if you have small kids like me. You may end up pulling out your hair trying to balance it all. I've got more advice on that later.
BONUS: A great resource for Administrative Consultants is The Administrative Consultants Association. I really cannot stress how much I love her stuff. I use her forms and training's, they have changed the way I do business.
I'm happy to help answer any questions that you have so please leave me comments below! I want to help you realize your online work dreams!