How To Become A Virtual Assistant
Are you good with computers, following instructions, and social media? You might be the perfect fit to work as a virtual assistant making money online remotely.
Today, my friend (and my own VA) Jess shares her experience becoming a virutal assistant, along with tips for how to find jobs while traveling. Here’s Jess:
Hi guys! My name is Jess, and I work as Matt’s virtual assistant for this blog.
After traveling around the world full time for 9-months, my savings were starting to run out, and I was determined to find a travel job that would allow me to earn an income on the road.
I was already “living the dream”, now I just needed to figure out how to afford that dream!
After many trials and errors, I finally figured out how to make extra money traveling the world while working as a virtual assistant (VA).
In this article, I’m going to share how to start working as a virtual assistant, where to find virtual assistant jobs online, what skills are important to know, and tips for working remotely.
Searching For A Travel-Friendly Job
I remember the moment I decided to become a virtual assistant. I thought to myself “If other people are doing this, why can’t I?”.
It all started when I wrote out a list of all the skills I had picked up from studying and working in digital marketing, photography & video throughout the years prior to my gap year.
I knew what I was good at, but I had no idea how I was going to find someone who needed my skills.
Somewhere along the way, I figured it all out – and now it’s time for me to pass this wisdom onto you my young Padawan. 😉
What Is A Virtual Assistant?
This will change from client to client, but essentially a Virtual Assistant can do any digital task you need them to!
Most virtual assistants provide support to their clients by answering customer emails, updating websites, organizing files, bookkeeping, coordinating schedules, social media management, research, or even photo & video editing.
Basically, any small task that your client doesn’t want to do or doesn’t have time for. Freeing up valuable time that can be used on his or her primary business objectives.
In modern times, the need for an executive assistant to work in the same physical office space as their clients has reduced dramatically with the power of the internet, online tools, and new software.
Virtual Assistant Duties & Tasks
Virtual assistants can work as executive assistants, administrative assistants, or personal assistants depending on the client. Tasks may include things like:
Answering customer support emails, highlighting promising business opportunities for the client to follow up on, declining unattractive offers, clearing out spam messages, or putting together a monthly newsletter.
Social Media Management
Scheduling posts on social media accounts like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Designing graphics to use. Crafting descriptions. Researching hashtags. Maybe even responding to comments, updating profiles, and more.
Formatting, editing, drafting, and scheduling blog posts on WordPress or another CMS (Content Management System) for the client’s website. Moderating the comments section. Fixing broken links and other general website maintenance tasks.
Managing a client’s calendar, setting schedules, booking travel arrangements, creating spreadsheets, answering phone calls, etc.
Computer skills are very important, as is knowledge of certain common software programs like: Word Processors (Google Documents), Spreadsheets (Google Sheets), Blogging Platforms (WordPress), Image Editors (Adobe Photoshop, Canva), Social Media Tools (Tailwind, Buffer) and others that their client uses on a regular basis.
My Typical Day Working As Matt’s VA
While I’m going to share what my day looks like, there are all kinds of variations to this. Because virtual assistants can do all sorts of different tasks.
- 9 AM: Email Management
Rise and shine! Time to check in on Slack.com (our team collaboration tool for organizing tasks, sending files and chatting about projects) to see if there’s anything to add to my to-do list for the week.
Next, I respond to and organize emails as well as approve blog comments — which can start to pile up overnight.
Matt receives a lot of similar questions & comments via email, so we have some standard replies for saving time. I save them as drafts and Matt adds his own personalizations before hitting “send”.
- 10 AM: Content Research & Blog Post Formatting
I review Matt’s upcoming blog content, maybe do some extra research, or format unfinished blog posts so they’re ready to publish.
We are constantly working to improve Expert Vagabond content, updating older blog posts with more relevant information, plus adding maps or additional imagery to enhance the reader experience.
- 12 PM: Social Media Management
Over the past few months, I’ve worked on creating Matt’s Pinterest ‘brand’, to ensure that there is a consistent look and feel between all of his pins. Creating some eye-catching pins using his images.
Once the Pinterest images are ready to go, it’s time to open up Tailwind to schedule the pins to go out for the next week. I create, source and schedule 15 – 20 pins per day.
Matt recently decided to try out Flipboard as another platform for sourcing and sharing content, so I usually spend 30-minutes updating our online Flipboard ‘magazines’ for the week.
Benefits Of Working As A Virtual Assistant
1. Work From Anywhere In The World
For me, this cancels out ALL of the disadvantages of VA work. I found out about this position when I was traveling through Asia earlier this year.
My bank account was telling me it was time to go home, but I wasn’t ready to stop traveling yet.
Having the opportunity to work from anywhere gave me the freedom to live life on my own terms. I can work from home, from a coffee shop, from a different city, or even a foreign country!
2. Cut Costs On Your Commute
When I worked in a typical office in Dublin, I would spend €11 and 2.5 hours on my commute every day.
Working from home allows me to save €220 every month – that’s €2,640 every year. That’s the price of a new camera or an incredible holiday abroad. I’ll take that over commuting any day!
3. Set Your Own Hours
If working the 9 – 5 grind works for you, stick at it! But if not, how about finding a job that allows you to work at a time that suits you.
Not much a morning person? Do the late shift. Not much of a night owl either? Not a problem, working from 11am to 7pm solves that problem. This is the kind of flexibility you just don’t find in a typical office environment.
4. Spend More Time With Your Family
What would you do if someone gave you an extra 2.5 hours in your day? I spend mine with the people I love, doing the things I used to have to save for the weekends.
The Downside Of Virtual Assistant Jobs
If you are thinking of getting into the digital nomad world, you’re going to have to get used to the idea of being alone.
There’s no one sitting beside you to support you or even just have a little chat with over lunch. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you should look into co-working spaces or networking events that you can go to in the evenings to get some human interaction in your day.
I’m learning how to master this slowly but surely…
When there is no one looking over your shoulder all day, making sure you are focused on the task at hand, it is easy to become distracted by anything and everything!
You have to remember that you will only get paid for the hours you actually complete, not the 40 minutes you spend daydreaming out the window.
3. Self Discipline
Tying in nicely with the last point, self-discipline is a skill. Technically, you are your own boss now, so you have to make sure that you get the task done on time.
If you lack in self-discipline, you will lag in productivity. Set yourself boundaries, time frames and rules – then stick to them.
How Much Money Can You Earn?
Virtual assistants can usually make between $10 to $35 an hour with a median hourly rate of about $16. It will really depend on your skills, qualifications, and experience level.
If you’re just doing data entry, the pay might not be that great.
But if you’ve built up some basic graphic design skills, understand WordPress, know how to edit videos and photography, have in-depth experience with social media platforms, or other specialized knowledge, you can earn more.
Where To Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
If you’re ready to start making extra money on the side with a virtual assistant business, here are a few places to get started.
Let your family and friends know you’re looking for a virtual assistant job by posting it on social media. Networking is a powerful tool. You may be surprised who knows someone that may be able to help you up with a job.
In fact, this is how I got my job! By posting on social media that I was looking for VA work.
Reach Out To Potential Clients
I’m sure you follow some professional bloggers, YouTube video creators, or social media influencers who you’d love to work with. It doesn’t hurt to send them all a quick message via email offering your services.
Be friendly, don’t be pushy, and if they aren’t hiring — maybe they know someone who is?
Tips For Landing Your First VA Position
Step 1: Work On Your Skills
The first step is to define the skills that you can use as a Virtual Assistant. Not sure if you have the right skills for the job? No problem!
Put some hours aside every week to learn skills and within a few months, you will be ready to put your new knowledge to the test.
There are millions of Youtube videos you can watch that will teach you how to run a successful social media campaign, manage calendar appointments, edit video on Final Cut Pro, create social media images using Adobe Photoshop and more.
You can also sign up to Skillshare to get unlimited access to over 23,000 classes.
Click here to sign up for a 2-month free trial, which is exactly what I did to improve my organizational skills, digital marketing, video editing and photography before I started to look for jobs online.
Step 2: Find The Right Industry
For me, I knew that I wanted to work in the travel industry so that immediately narrowed down my options.
A lot of people go straight to the internet to search for a job. I decided to start my job search using the “networking” route by telling everyone I knew what I wanted to do.
I told my family and friends “I’m looking for a Virtual Assisting role in the travel industry. If you know someone who might be able to help me, could you give them my details?”
Then I put the message out to my connections on Facebook and Instagram.
Within a week, a friend of mine posted that Matt from ExpertVagabond.com was looking for a virtual assistant! Moral of the story – put it out into the world, and the world will often support you.
Step 3: Create A CV & Cover Letter
Throw away that boring Microsoft Word CV that you created when you were 16 in computer class! It’s time for a modern upgrade.
My go-to tool for CV creation is Canva.com. Not only does it have a tonne of templates for you to use, but you can also customize them to really showcase your top skills and highlight the many reasons why someone should hire you.
Don’t be afraid to add a little bit of personality to your CV. Keep in mind that your potential employer is probably sifting through a hundred CV’s, so you want them to open yours and say “Ooooh, what’s this?”. Leave them feeling intrigued.
Please remember that your CV should only be 1 – 2 pages long and your cover letter should be 2 – 3 paragraphs maximum. Employers usually don’t have a lot of time to look at them, so you need to present the information as concisely as possible.
Step 4: Interview Prep
Now that you have nailed the CV & Cover Letter, it’s time to prepare for the interview stage.
It is almost 100% guaranteed that they are going to ask you to tell them more about yourself, so make sure to have a little elevator speech worked out in advance.
Remember you don’t have to solely focus on the business side of life. Give them an insight into your hobbies, where you get inspiration from and how your life has lead you to this new role.
This is your moment to show them exactly why you are perfect for their virtual assistant position, so take the time to discuss your skills, your experience, your education (even if it is just from Youtube and Skillshare!).
They will love to hear that you are constantly learning and improving your knowledge of the key skills needed for the role.
ALWAYS have 2 – 3 questions prepared to ask them at the end of the interview. If you don’t, it can look like you are not interested in finding out more about them or their business.
If they have already answered all of your questions throughout the interview, you can tell them the question you wanted to ask, and thank them for already answering it in so much detail.
Step 5: Go Above & Beyond
If you want to really knock their socks off, why not create an example of the work you will create for them.
Show them your social media image designs, or write out a sample travel blog post to show them how serious you are about taking these tasks off their hands.
Not only will you stand out from the crowd, but it will instantly build trust that you can get the job done.
In the past, I’ve created video CV’s for clients who have a background in Youtube and have even created a brand new CV in the style of my favorite book for a position to work with the book’s author.
You have to do whatever it takes to stand out from the hundreds of other candidates.
The truth is there are many advantages and disadvantages to this type of job, but if you can master the art of virtual assisting, the world is your oyster!
It takes dedication, drive and an enormous amount of self-discipline, but it is definitely a dream job that will give you the freedom to live life on your own terms (and travel if you want to).
If you are attempting to find a VA job at the moment, just remember that the first client is the hardest. If you can land that first client, the next 50 clients should be no problem.
So keep on trying, keep improving your skills, and don’t stop learning until you’re living it up swinging from a hammock somewhere with your laptop in one hand and a cocktail in the other! ★
Jess Glynn is the author of The Gap Year Guru and has worked in digital marketing for over 5 years, specializing in Social Media and Content Creation. In 2017, she decided to quit her job and write about her travels through Brazil, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines for 9 months. Follow her on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter!
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Have any questions for Jess about working as a virtual assistant or landing your first job? Drop her a message in the comments below!