Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by Rebecca Lake
How to Become a Virtual Assistant and Make Money Online
Learn how to become a virtual assistant and make money from home!
If you’re ready to jumpstart your VA career, be sure to sign up for this awesome mini-course!
Are you interested in how to become a virtual assistant so you can make money online?
Becoming a VA is a great way to earn extra income using the money-making skills you already have. And you can easily make money from home by offering virtual assistant services.
Before I became a freelance writer I worked as a virtual assistant. I spent about a year earning steady income online, which really helped create some wiggle room in our tight budget.
Starting a virtual assistant business or becoming a VA and working for someone else can offer lots of perks, including flexible hours and great pay.
But how to become a virtual assistant?
How much money can you make as a virtual assistant?
And where do you find virtual assistant jobs for beginners?
This post breaks down answers to those questions and more. So if you’re ready to learn how to become a VA and make money from home, let’s dive in!
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is someone who helps business owners run their businesses.
That’s really it, in a nutshell.
VAs can do all of the tasks that an executive or office assistant might do. But instead of shuffling off to a cubicle every day, they do their work online.
Work is done remotely and virtual assistants are typically self-employed, not regular employees.
That means you work for yourself so you have control of your hours and earning potential.
The downside, of course, is that you don’t get employee benefits. You have to handle paying your own payroll taxes. And instead of getting a weekly paycheck, you may get paid once a month.
But overall, the perks of being a VA are pretty sweet:
- The hours can be flexible and shaped to your schedule (which is perfect if you’re a busy mom).
- There’s high earning potential. (According to ZipRecruiter, the average VA makes just over $67,000 annually and some make well over six figures.)
- It offers a creative outlet and a way to put your professional skills to you.
- You can work with a diverse group of clients and meet some really interesting people.
- Depending on your skill set, you can pick and choose which services you want to offer.
- You don’t need a degree to become a virtual assistant.
- It’s possible to start a virtual assistant business without spending a ton of money upfront.
Another plus: virtual assistants are in high demand, from both brick-and-mortar businesses and online businesses.
Bottom line, if you’ve got the right set of skills and know-how to market your VA business, you could keep a steady flow of clients (and money) rolling in!
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
If you’re interested in how to become a virtual assistant with no experience, it helps to know what they actually do.
The short answer is, VAs can do pretty much any services they want to offer that businesses are willing to pay for.
Virtual assistants can fall into one of two groups: general virtual assistants and VAs who offer specialized services.
Here’s a closer look at how each type of VA works and what they might do in a typical day.
What are general virtual assistant services?
General VAs may work with lots of different types of clients; they don’t necessarily limit themselves to any one specific niche.
I worked as a general VA for a larger VA company before starting my freelancing writing business. The client list included a commercial real estate developer, a church and an online marketing agency.
Needless to say, my daily to-do list covered a lot of ground. And if you’re thinking of becoming a general virtual assistant, the services you offer might include:
- Email management
- Organizing and scheduling your client’s daily calendar
- Writing sales copy for newsletters or email autoresponders
- Creating PowerPoints or entering data into spreadsheets
- Online file management
- Ghostwriting and publishing blog content
- Scheduling posts to social media
- Editing documents
- Creating research reports
These are all things that I did as a general VA and the list of services you might offer could be much longer.
Taking the general approach might appeal to you if:
- You like connecting with lots of different kinds of people.
- Your skillset lends itself to a variety of tasks.
- You find doing the same thing every day boring.
On the other hand, you might be looking for a way to flex your expertise in a particular area. If that’s the case, you may want to consider offering specialized VA services instead.
What is a specialty virtual assistant?
It’s simple; it’s a VA that targets a specific type of client with a specific service.
Those are both really niched-down ideas you could use to start a virtual assistant business. And both have the potential to be super profitable.
Being a specialty VA also means you have an ideal client that you want to work with.
In a nutshell, your ideal client is a business owner who:
- Has a specific struggle or pain point that your services can solve
- Is willing to pay the rate you charge for those services
There’s a little more to it than that, of course. Your ideal client also has to be a good fit at a professional level.
A client could be willing to pay you huge gobs of money for your VA services but if their personality rubs you the wrong way or they have unrealistic expectations about deadlines or zero boundaries on communication, then it’s just never going to work.
If you’re considering how to become a virtual assistant that specializes or niches down, think about what skills or expertise you could leverage to start your business. For example, you might be great at:
- Designing eye-catching graphics
- Navigating social media trends
- Proofreading and/or editing
- Web design or coding
- Managing WordPress
- Providing customer service and support
Those are all specialized skills that could translate to money-making potential as a new VA.
What Do I Need to Become a Virtual Assistant?
That’s the great thing about how to become a virtual assistant–your startup costs are practically zero!
When I first became a VA, literally all I needed to do the job was a laptop and internet. It was the same when I made the shift to freelance writing.
If you’ve already got a computer and you can get online, then you’re ahead of the game.
But besides that, there are some skills that it’s helpful to have if you want to succeed as a virtual assistant. Those skills include:
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Stellar organization skills
- The ability to manage your time wisely
- The ability to think creatively on your feet
- Being comfortable working on projects solo with minimal supervision
- Solid typing, writing and proofreading skills
- Basic knowledge of tools like Microsoft Office and Google docs
Notice, I did not add a college degree or professional certification to the list.
Because you totally don’t need them to be successful as a virtual assistant!
That’s another great reason to consider VA work as a side hustle if you want to make money from home.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant With No Experience
All right, let’s get down to what you really came here for: how to become a virtual assistant.
There are a few simple steps to follow to get your VA side hustle up and running (and hopefully, making you real money from home!)
1. Take a VA course to learn the basics
If you’ve never done VA work before, taking an introductory course online can help.
Sure, you’ll spend a little money on the course. But the right course can help you fast-track your plans to start a VA side hustle and start earning.
There are lots of VA courses out there but the only ones I recommend are the ones offered by Gina Horkey.
Gina is an expert in VA work and she knows all there is to know about making money online as a virtual assistant. She shares everything she’s learned over the years in her Fully Booked VA program.
This is a monthly membership program that offers ongoing coaching to help you grow your VA business or side hustle and make real money. You can check out this preview of the course to see if it’s right for you.
Or you can sign up for the Jumpstart Your VA Biz mini-course instead to learn more about how to become a virtual assistant.
2. Decide what services to offer as a VA
Whether you take a VA course or not you’ll need to spend some time thinking about what services you want to offer as a virtual assistant.
Again, you can go with general VA services or niche down and specialize.
The biggest pro of being a general VA is variety. You could work with a wide range of clients and none of them might be the same.
But my personal opinion if you want to learn how to become a virtual assistant is that it’s always better to specialize.
Having a specialty can help you stand out from the crowd. And that means two things:
- You’re more likely to be a sought-after VA if you’re offering services that the competition isn’t.
- You can charge more for those services because no one else is offering them.
As a freelance writer, I specialize in writing about finance. I’m considered an expert in my niche so clients are willing to pay me a lot more for my writing skills.
If you’re totally new to being a virtual assistant, it’s okay to start off providing general services.
And as you work with more clients, really pay attention to what types of tasks interest you most. What are you good at? Which ones do you really enjoy? And what would you like to learn more about?
Thinking along those lines can help you figure out whether you’d like to specialize eventually; and if so, what you’d like to be known for as a VA.
And just in case you’re struggling for what to offer, here are some of the most in-demand virtual assistant services:
- Administrative support
- Facebook ads
- Social media management
- Pinterest management
- Website management
- Email management
3. Set your virtual assistant rates
So, your biggest question about how to become a virtual assistant might be how much you’re going to get paid.
And the good news is, that’s totally up to you.
The bad news is, that’s totally up to you.
Here’s what I mean by that. Being self-employed as a virtual assistant (or a freelancer or anything else) means you have the power to determine what you earn.
You’re the one assigning value to your time, expertise and services, not the clients you work with. That’s the good part.
The bad part is that a lot of freelancers (myself included, once upon a time) set the bar too low when they’re just starting.
They want to get paid so they’ll just throw out a number without thinking about what a project is really worth.
So, as you’re deciding how to set your rates for your virtual assistant business, ask yourself these questions:
- How much time does this project involve?
- Would you rather charge hourly or per project?
- What type of skill/expertise does the project span?
- What’s the client’s budget and what results are they hoping to achieve?
- Is this a one-time gig or is there the possibility of ongoing work?
- What’s your relationship with the client like?
- What rate would make the project profitable for you?
Remember, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all pricing when you’re running a VA business.
Most virtual assistants use one of four strategies for pricing their services:
- Hourly: You earn a flat hourly rate for the tasks you perform for clients.
- Per project: You earn a set amount of money per project, depending on what’s involved.
- Package pricing: With package pricing, you can bundle your services or your time and charge a flat rate. The upside of this is that you can offer different package tiers at increasing rates.
- Retainer: You get paid an ongoing monthly fee for your services.
And remember, as you set your rates, don’t low-ball yourself.
The rates you charge should reflect your skills, experience and the value you’re providing to your client.
And it should also benefit your business’s bottom line. If you charge $50 an hour, for example, and half of it goes to taxes and operating expenses you’ve only netted $25 an hour.
That’s not so bad but if you’re charging $50 an hour for a project and netting $10, then you really need to rethink the math.
And don’t go too high with your rates either. In that case, you could price yourself out of your ideal client’s budget range.
Here’s a simple way to figure out where to set your rates as a virtual assistant:
Decide what you want to make per hour, then add 25% to 30% to that number.
The 25% to 30% extra is what you’ll need to set aside for taxes and operating expenses. So if you want to net $50 an hour, you’d need to set your hourly rate at $62.50 to $65.
My tax rate works out to around 23% and I have minimal expenses, so this formula works well for me. But of course, you’ll want to play around with the numbers to find the best rate for you.
4. Cover the legal side of how to become a virtual assistant
If you want to start a virtual assistant business or side hustle, there are a few legal tasks to tackle.
First, you’ll need to decide what kind of business structure you want to have. For example, you could start a VA business as a sole proprietor or create a limited liability company.
You’ll also need to check to see if you need to get a permit or business license. This can depend on where you live.
And you may need to create an Employer Identification Number. This is a nine-digit tax ID you get through the IRS to identify your business.
It’s also helpful to have a contract you can use when offering services to your clients. This can help you avoid issues as you build your client base.
You can use this independent contractor template from Amira at Self Guru. You can purchase and download it once, then modify it each time you onboard a new client.
5. Get your VA business finances together
Running a business or side hustle means you’re making money. But you may also be spending money, plus you’ve gotta pay your taxes.
As you work on how to become a virtual assistant, don’t forget to get your financial house in order.
- Opening a separate bank account for VA income and expenses
- Organizing your expenses with an online tool like Freshbooks
- Getting good tax software (I use Quickbooks) to help you avoid getting in hot water with the IRS
The sooner you get these systems in place, the better. Then when you start making real money as a VA, you don’t have to deal with headaches when it’s time to pay taxes.
6. Establish your social media presence as a VA
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you start a virtual assistant business is to work on developing your brand and social media presence early on.
Your brand is you: who you are, what services you offer, what your business is about.
It’s what makes you different from every other VA on the block.
You can start doing some really simple branding by creating social media channels for your business. Again, that might be your name or the official name you’ve chosen for your business.
Go ahead and set up accounts for the channels you want to use but don’t try to promote yourself on all of them just yet. Until you get more established, you’ll want to focus on just those channels where your ideal clients are most likely hanging out.
For example, your top three outlets for getting noticed might be Facebook groups, Pinterest and Instagram.
Focus on making connections to start. If someone asks a question that you know an answer to in a Facebook group, for instance, use that to start a conversation.
Answer their question, first and foremost, and make sure you’re providing real value. Then if (and only if) an opening presents itself, you can mention that you offer VA services if they need some help with their business.
Bottom line, you have to build trust first and a reputation for being helpful before you can attempt to sell someone on your services.
7. Consider setting up a virtual assistant website
Having a website can give you an edge when it comes to how to become a virtual assistant and make money.
Your website can be like your online resume, highlighting your experience and your services.
If you don’t have any experience yet, you may want to start a blog instead of a static website. Starting a blog can be a way to show off your expertise to prospective clients.
So say you want to be a Pinterest VA for mom bloggers as an example.
You could start a blog that focuses on all things Pinterest, with posts about:
- How Pinterest’s algorithm works
- What things can help drive traffic to a website (and what can hurt it)
- How to design amazing pins
- Current Pinterest trends
- How to brand your business for Pinterest
- Why it’s important to use SEO keywords for pinning
And so on, and so on.
Starting a blog when you start your VA business can do two things for you:
It can help you become more knowledgeable about your chosen niche and it’s a chance to hone your writing skills. (And if writing is one of the services you offer as a VA, that’s important.)
How to start a blog for your virtual assistant business
So, there are a million “start a blog” posts you can read (including this one) but the process starts with deciding where to host your blog.
Some platforms let you start a blog for free but if you’re using your blog to promote your VA business, you’re better off paying for a self-hosted site with WordPress.org and a blog hosting service.
The blog host I use is Siteground and they’re amazing. I’ve never had an issue with my site going down, the customer service is super-responsive and the pricing is unbeatable.
Once you get hosting, you’ll need to install a theme, write an About Me page, create a Hire Me page for prospective clients, then start adding posts.
From there, you can go back to those social channels you’re active on and start promoting your blog. The goal here is to build your reputation and credibility with the people who may eventually want to hire you.
8. Start researching virtual assistant jobs for beginners
We’re down to the last step of how to become a virtual assistant. And this one may seem like the most daunting.
But don’t worry, all of us who run businesses online had to start somewhere, with our very first client.
If you’re already building your network through Facebook groups or other social media channels, that’s one way to attract and find clients for your business. But you do have other options.
Here are some of the best ways to find virtual assistant jobs:
- Asking people you know for referrals (That’s how I got started as a VA 🙂 )
- Canvassing remote work and regular job boards
- Networking through LinkedIn
- Cold pitching prospective clients directly
Cold pitching a client for a virtual assistant business is similar to cold pitching a freelance writing client. It’s basically you reaching out to a business and offering your services.
That’s the TL;DR version of cold-pitching.
It’s a bit more nuanced and it has to be done correctly to be successful. You have to sell your services in a way that’s not off-putting and that clearly identifies the value you have to offer.
But if you can master cold pitching, it can be a highly effective way to find clients as you start your virtual assistant business.
A few tips for cold pitching:
- Create a go-to cold pitch template that you can easily tailor to every prospect you connect with.
- Commit to cold pitching a set number of clients each day and track the ones you send.
- Send your cold pitches to businesses that are as close to your ideal client as possible.
- Make sure you’re following up on the cold pitches you send if you don’t hear back within a couple of weeks.
Also, consider getting feedback (from a fellow VA if possible) on your cold pitch before you send it out to make sure it reads well.
Job boards are an excellent resource for finding clients for your new virtual assistant business. But they aren’t all the same.
Where to find virtual assistant jobs for beginners online
Virtual Vocations is packed with remote job listings, including gigs for virtual assistants.
There are tons of jobs listed here and you can search to find ones that fit your expertise and VA niche. Head here to register for an account with Virtual Vocations!
FlexJobs is another job site that’s dedicated to remote and work-from-home jobs.
I’ve used FlexJobs as a freelancer but it’s also a good place to find virtual assistant gigs. And the best part is that FlexJobs only features high-paying jobs so you don’t have to worry about dodging the low-hanging fruit here.
Indeed.com is a general job board but it’s still a useful resource for finding virtual assistant jobs.
You can filter by location or industry to find jobs you’re a good fit for. And best of all, it’s free to use!
Level Up Your VA Business With Fully Booked VA
I already mentioned Fully Booked VA but it’s worth another mention here for how to become a virtual assistant.
So what’s so great about this course?
For starters, Gina is a virtual assistant guru who’s built a kickass business from her VA skills. So she’s not a newbie to this rodeo.
That means you can trust the advice she offers in the course. And believe me, it’s soooo comprehensive.
The course covers everything you need to know about how to become a virtual assistant and start making money.
If you’d rather get on the fast track to making money with your virtual assistant business instead of getting stuck on the hamster wheel, then definitely take a look at Fully Booked VA!
Become a Virtual Assistant and Make Money Online
I’ve given you the basics of how to become a virtual assistant.
And I really hope you consider it as a side hustle idea because it can be a great way to make money on the side.
If you’re interested in more ideas for ways to make money online, be sure to check out these posts:
Don’t forget to pin and share this post!