How to Become a Virtual Assistant

As a virtual assistant, you’ll essentially be running your own business. As your own boss, you will be responsible for finding and retaining clients. To become a virtual assistant, therefore, you must be ready to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset.

When starting this solopreneur business, you also need some basic business skills like strategy planning, accounting, customer service, and sales and marketing. That’s on top of the actual service that you provide. You can outsource these, of course, but it’s good to get a feel for it before you pass it off to someone else.

When you have the basics down, you are ready to become a virtual assistant.

Now, here’s what you need to get started:

Decide What Services You’ll Offer

You may choose to become a general virtual assistant or a specialized one. A general VA does all kinds of administrative tasks like calendar management and appointment setting, and even simple specialized tasks like blog post uploading and casual graphics creation.

A specialized VA focuses on a specific area such as graphic design or WordPress, and can do these tasks at a high level.

Think About Your Core Competencies and Passions

A virtual assistant working on a computer with two large monitors.

When thinking about the services that you will offer, you must first look at what you are really good at, and what you really enjoy doing. Finding your core strength and passion is vital to the success of your freelance business. Start this journey of discovery by making a list of your skills and what you love to do. Draw on your work experience for inspiration, but don’t forget to focus more on the tasks that really light you up. You will last a lot longer as a VA if you are happy to start work every day and this joy spreads to your clients.

Narrow Down Your List of Potential Services

Once you have a list of services, you may want to narrow down the more general ones. For instance, copywriting covers a wide array of writing tasks. The niche where you might be most powerful in could be email marketing copy or sales funnel copy.

When you discover your power niche, you can earn more and serve clients at a much higher level. But, again, make sure that it’s not just something that you can do well, but that you love doing.

If you aren’t sure about your niche, you can always try out a few and see how it works for both you and the clients you attract. After a little while, you should be able to see patterns emerging in what types of tasks you are comfortable with as well as the kinds of clients who are hiring you.

Once you find your power niche, you can really start building your brand and targeting specific client avatars. This is key to securing continual future growth for your business.

Start Marketing Your Chosen Services

A Google Ads report on a tablet and printed out on paper.

To become a virtual assistant, you must have an online presence. It would be strange for someone who works virtually not to. Of course, you could start by finding projects on hiring platforms, but the goal is always to build your own stage so that you can attract your ideal clients.

Build Your Freelance Presence Through Social Media

Start building your online presence on the social media channel that makes the most sense for the clients that you serve. For instance, if your client avatar is the serious business owner, then you will want to build on LinkedIn. If you are serving small mom and pop style businesses, Facebook or Instagram would be the better choice.

As you join Facebook groups or engage with businesses on LinkedIn, make sure that you are providing value from the get-go. Don’t just comment for the sake of letting people know you’re there. Share valuable insights that hit their pain points. That way, you are showing that you are a great help, and you are also showing in a subtle way that you have expertise in that area. The key on social media is to build relationships. Selling comes organically once you have established these connections.

Reach Out to Your Network

A group of young adults having a conversation.

Alongside these searches, don’t forget to reach out to friends and family for referrals. You can get some really good clients through word of mouth because there’s an established relationship behind it. Then you will also slowly build your social media network so you have more than one source of work. Eventually, you will no longer need platforms to help you find projects because you will have built a reputation on your own and clients will start coming to you.

Build Your Freelance Website

Once you have created awareness on your chosen platform, you will need a website to send prospective clients to. This is where they will learn more about the services that you offer, check out your pricing, and verify your skills through a portfolio of past work experience and references or testimonials.

For your website, you’ll need to start by purchasing a domain that matches your business name. (If you’re not sure about your niche, your domain should be your name so you can easily change focus without confusing people.) Then you will need a hosting plan. There are affordable services like GoDaddy and Bluehost that have good support.

You can build a website fairly quickly and without hiring expensive developers on a platform like WordPress or Wix. There are several theme types that you can choose from to suit your service offering, like image-heavy themes for designers and content-focused themes for writers.

Use Freelance Platforms to Get Work Quickly

A screenshot of the FreeUp Marketplace home page.

To become a virtual assistant, you need to have clients. To get clients quickly as you are building awareness and wooing cold clients, you can use freelance marketplaces to search for work. This is much simpler because clients are already looking for people to fill those positions.

Find the Freelance Platform That Fits You Best

Make sure that you choose the freelance platform that suits your style. You don’t want to waste time trying to navigate the site or figure out the fee structures and client messaging system. You also want to know what level of support and protection they will give you and how much it will cost you.

Use Small Projects to Gain Experience

Take on short-term or one-off projects to test the waters. You will need to gain a lot of experience:

  1. figuring out good clients from bad ones. It’s not easy to sniff out scams – and there are plenty! – but you will develop a sense for them as you grow in the virtual world.
  2. spotting profitable projects. It’s not easy to see where you can really make good money without gaining experience working on different types of projects.

When you feel you are keen enough, you can go for bigger projects. These smaller projects will also serve to get you more reviews for your website, faster.

Final Thoughts

The ultimate goal of all of this is, of course, finding and keeping good clients. If you provide value from the very beginning and work at a high level, you will make clients happy and quickly get referrals.

Remember that hard skills are not everything when you want to become a virtual assistant, running your own business. You need passion for the work that you do, and soft skills to make things run smoothly.

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Author: Matt Harrison

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