Have you ever thought about how to become a virtual assistant? If so, you could be about to embark on a career with good upside potential.
In this guide, we provide some seriously useful advice on what you need to do to become a virtual assistant, and make those first steps down a new career path.
We cover key areas such as branding, marketing, and you skill set, so you know what areas to be focusing on.
But first, consider this:
More people are entering the virtual assistance industry because of increasing demand from businesses worldwide.
Companies regardless of size, scale or industry type are continually looking for ways to streamline costs without affecting revenues or quality of work.
Outsourcing services to virtual assistants has proven to be a cost effective and highly productive strategy.
In fact, market analysts believe that in 2020, 50% of work forces will be comprised of virtual assistants or home based workers.
In the United States for example, currently it is estimated that many of its largest corporations allocate 30% to 45% of its workforce to home based work.
This number is expected to rise over the next few years as it has yielded positive results in the corporate bottom-line and has addressed issues on employee turnover.
Thus, if you want to start working as a Virtual Assistant, the time is now!
But how do you start working as a Virtual Assistant? Felix Tarcomnicu gives us his advice in this guest post…
1. Review your finances
It may take some time to land your first client. This is especially true if you have not had any previous work experience and a bare online work profile.
There are thousands of virtual assistants all over the world applying to get projects from the same clients. It can be very competitive. Landing that first client will be difficult.
Review your finances and see how far you can go without a steady stream of income. Keep in mind that you may not get the price you want in order to land that all-important first client. Some will go 6 months without a client; some even longer.
If you have a full-time job, it may be a good idea to hold on to it until you build up your portfolio of clients.
2. Develop your brand
If you are serious about establishing a career as a Virtual Assistant, then you should develop your brand. And the first place to start is to put up a website.
The website is your online calling card. You can set up sub pages for your portfolio and daily blogs. You can also link your website to your social media accounts to boost your marketing efforts.
Having a website tells your clients that you view your job as a profession and not just as a source of income.
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3. Do an inventory of your skills and competencies
What are you good at? The answer to this question will determine your specialization as a Virtual Assistant.
A Virtual Assistant must have the following basic skills:
- Ability to organize
- Proficient in MS Office
- Proficient in navigating the Internet
- Adept at different online programs
- Great communication skills
If you have specialized skills or competencies then you could make them your main value proposition.
Virtual assistants are no longer just limited to secretarial or personal assistant services. Many can perform more technical skills such as accounting, IT, web design, translation, transcription and research.
4. Shore up your other skills
In order to become competitive, you must be competent in other skills as well.
Many online job markets require virtual assistants and freelancers to take competency tests in various disciplines to improve their online profile. Your scores in these tests can influence your ability to land clients.
If your weakness is writing, work to improve your writing then take the test. The same goes for other areas in virtual assistance work such as managing spreadsheets or a CRM.
Having a broad range of skills is key to becoming a virtual assistant.
5. Figure out your service rates
It would be inevitable that when you get interviewed by prospective clients, they would ask you about your service rates.
This is often the “make or break” area of contention in the negotiation. Obviously, if you don’t have a large body of work to show for, you will be at a disadvantage in the negotiation process.
If you’re starting out, research on the average rates in your area of expertise and adjust yours to bring in clients. You will have to compromise your profit margin objectives in order to land a client.
You can adjust your rates later when you’ve started to make a name for yourself and land more referral work.
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6. Invest in good, reliable equipment
As a Virtual Assistant, your bread and butter are your computer and the Internet. The last thing that you would want to happen is to be in the middle of a meeting with your client and you lose audio or video.
This sends a bad impression to your client. Delays in business can be costly.
As a Virtual Assistant you will deal with deadlines constantly. If your computer and Internet are unreliable, it could affect the business of your client not to mention, damage your reputation.
Invest in a good PC or laptop and make sure it is uploaded with the latest browsers, software programs and anti-virus programs. Buy a good headset so you can hear your clients clearly. You should also buy a printer/scanner because some clients usually require you to sign and send documents or sources of identification.
Contract the services of a reliable Internet Service Provider. If your budget can afford it, get a second ISP as back up.
7. Fix up your home office
As great as it is to work from home, the same conveniences could also prove to be sources of distraction. It is easy to fall into complacency when working from home.
One of the best ways to remain focused is to treat your career as a profession and this means setting up a home office.
Find a room in your house which you can convert into a home office. Ideally it should be:
- Sound proof
- No dead spots for mobile communication
- Large enough to set up an L-shape work station
- Well-ventilated; window with a view
- Available phone line
Fix up your home office for efficiency:
- Put up wall shelves to store books and office supplies
- Put up a white board near your work station
- Have a wall clock positioned behind you or at the side
- Make sure the room has enough lighting
- Have a desk calendar or wall calendar available nearby
- Purchase a small safe/ filing cabinet to store your important bank and business documents
A well-organized and clean home office will be conducive for productive work.
8. Network your business
During your first few months, you will have to devote most of your time to marketing and promoting your services.
Here are a few tips on how to get your business going:
- Set up your online profile. This has to be updated and accompanied by your latest picture. Make sure your picture is professionally taken.
- Choose at least 3 online job platforms. You can get clients from the many job markets that are available online. Among the best are: Upwork; Freelancer; Guru; PeoplePerHour
- Apply in at least 3 job posts every day.
- Create your social media accounts.
- Blog at least 3 times a week. Write about issues that are relevant to your target industries or companies.
Lastly, ask your friends and associates for referrals.
How to become a virtual assistant: Summary
Starting out as a Virtual Assistant will require plenty of time and effort. You have to remain patient, resilient and disciplined with your efforts. All you need is to land that all – important first client.
Where you go from there will depend on your commitment and dedication to your profession as a Virtual Assistant.
Author: Felix is a virtual assistant from OutsourceWorkers.com.au. He enjoys writing about career and businesses.