It’s now more valuable than ever to have a job where you can work from home with a flexible schedule that will fit around your other commitments. A great way to make use of the skills you already possess is to become a virtual assistant. You’ll be able to support entrepreneurs, owners of small businesses, and executives in tasks they lack the time or expertise to carry out themselves.
The dilemma is how to become a virtual assistant with no experience. The biggest challenge of starting any new profession is always landing your first job. Once you have just a few jobs under your belt, it’s much easier to find clients who want to hire you. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to find work without any experience.
How Much Can You Earn as a Virtual Assistant?
Working as a virtual assistant can easily be a full time job. Although you may need to start out charging around $10 per hour or less, you may be able to charge up to $60 an hour once you’ve gained experience.
Checklist: What Do I Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?
People from a wide variety of backgrounds can become virtual assistants. However, there are a few things you need:
- The necessary equipment. It’s impossible to work as a virtual assistant without a computer. A laptop or desktop computer will do, but a phone or even a tablet is insufficient. If you’ll be taking phone calls, also invest in a decent headset with a microphone.
- A high-speed internet connection. You may need to communicate by video chat with your clients. The last thing you want is for your connection to keep dropping. Plus, the speed of your internet could influence how quickly you’re able to complete work.
- Soft skills like trustworthiness, attention to detail, and organizational skills. Clients need a virtual assistant they can trust, as you may be dealing with sensitive information, such as financials. In addition, your work will be useless to clients if it has mistakes that they need to correct. Lastly, as you gain more clients, you’ll need to make sure you organize your time carefully to fit everything into your schedule.
- Motivation. You’ll need to be committed. You may love some tasks but dislike others — you need to put in the same amount of effort whatever’s required. Much of your work may be monotonous tasks that your clients don’t want to do themselves. If you’re unable to keep yourself motivated without the structure of a boss or fixed schedule, you’re going to struggle.
- Tech savviness. As you’ll be working from home, you’ll need to be able to use tech to keep in touch with clients and deliver work. Many clients will expect you to use specific tools. There’s no need to have experience with all these apps in advance, but you will need to be able to learn how to use new tech quickly.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant for Free
In addition to the above, there are some specialized skills that are useful to have. You can learn much of what you need to know by watching video tutorials and using other free resources like online courses.
Skills to Learn
The more skills you possess, the greater your number of opportunities. It’s a good idea to fine tune specialist skills you already have to develop an area of expertise. There are several areas in particular that you should consider learning or improving.
1. Social Media Management
Virtually every company needs a social media presence, but many business owners lack the time to manage accounts themselves. Knowing the intricacies of each platform will allow you to create content, post at the right time, and engage with users.
To provide a great service, you’ll need to keep up with all the latest changes in social media. It’s also important to follow what’s trending to help clients’ posts gain a better chance of going viral. Finally, you should learn how to use some of the most popular social media tools, like Buffer and Hootsuite.
Some virtual assistants write blog posts, but there are plenty of other skills related to blogging that a client may also require. This includes moderating comments, scheduling posts, improving SEO, and creating an editorial calendar for new content.
Beyond improving your writing skills, the best thing to do is learn how to use WordPress. Familiarize yourself with the layout and learn the basic features.
Clients need transcription skills to turn videos, podcasts, webinars, and other audio content into writing. Anyone can learn transcription, but it takes quite a bit of practice to become good at transcribing, as you should to be able to type at least 60 words per minute. You’ll find the work much easier if you also invest in a transcription foot pedal and headset.
Many entrepreneurs who find themselves in need of a virtual assistant run an e-commerce store. To assist an e-commerce business, you’ll need to know how to process data, such as through the use of spreadsheets. Customer service skills are also important, as is managing orders and inventory.
5. Email Management
Clients who receive a large number of emails on a daily basis find it useful to have a virtual assistant sort their inboxes. You’ll need to organize messages into folders or categorize them by priority, delete spam, and perhaps respond to certain types of messages, such as inquiries, refund requests, and appointment confirmations. Learning best practices for email management will prepare you to offer this service.
Since financial tasks are both time consuming and require a great deal of accuracy, many clients want a virtual assistant for bookkeeping. If you have experience working with numbers through a previous job or even just managing your personal finances, bookkeeping could be for you. To offer a range of financial services, also learn how to create invoices, manage payroll, and process payments.
Countless online courses can help you develop the skills you need to become a virtual assistant. Before you start earning, you’ll probably want to stick to the free ones.
Virtually all courses on HubSpot Academy are beneficial to virtual assistants. There are courses to learn about social media, content, email, and inbound marketing. Some are full certificates that will give you a badge to display on places like your LinkedIn profile. There are also short courses that focus on a specific topic, like Instagram or digital advertising.
2. Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accounting
Learn how to record transactions, balance ledger accounts, and prepare balance sheets. After taking this course from OpenLearn, you’ll have all the skills you need to start offering bookkeeping services. All the other courses offered on this e-learning platform are completely free as well.
3. Best Practices for Working Remotely
If this will be your first time working remotely, learn the best practices with this free course from Udemy. The skills you’ll learn will help you stay productive, teach you how to eliminate distractions, and improve your communication with clients.
4. PowerPoint for Beginners
How to Become a Virtual Assistant from Home
You can easily find clients without ever leaving your house. Most of the time, you’ll be able to perform all your duties remotely as well. There are two main ways to look for clients: search for jobs or apply for a position at an agency.
Searching for Jobs
Finding jobs as an independent contractor will usually be the more fruitful option when you’re just starting out. You can set your rate low for your first jobs (just to get your foot in the door) and search clients looking for work that you’d be able to deliver without any difficulties.
As job sites tend to have high competition, a better choice is to use freelance platforms like Upwork and Freelancer. Clients are specifically looking for people to work remotely and post new jobs every few minutes. Plus, you can create a profile, which allows clients to quickly assess if you meet their requirements. These profiles of the best virtual assistants on Upwork are some great examples of what to do.
Applying to an Agency
Virtual assistant agencies will want you to demonstrate that you possess certain key skills. You may also need to have some experience working as VA. For this reason, it could be better to apply to agencies only once you’ve worked with clients as an independent contractor for a while.
The Takeaway: How to Become a Virtual Assistant Without Experience
When you start looking for work as a virtual assistant, you’ll be up against other VAs who have years of experience. The good news is that the demand for virtual assistants is growing — the market is predicted to be worth more than $21,500 million by 2026.
To see success, though, you’ll need to be patient and have reasonable expectations. You’ll need to be willing to take small jobs at the start and charge a low hourly rate until you gain experience. Instead of trying to offer every skill imaginable, focus on just a few areas you know you can do well — and impress clients with your work. With time, you’ll be able to increase the range of services you offer and charge more.
If you decide you’d like to work for an agency, check out our list of the top virtual assistant companies. Some will require you to have worked as a VA already, whereas others accept candidates with no prior experience.