Last Updated Friday, July 31, 2020
Want to start a virtual assistant business? Here’s what you need to know to get started as a virtual assistant and find customers for your VA business.
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Do you want to start a business at home that takes little or no money to get going? If you have office skills, one good option is to start a business as a virtual assistant.
Businesses around the world use virtual assistants to handle work overloads or do tasks that don’t have to be done by an on-site employee. Email, Skype, cloud-based document sharing and other services, make it easy for both businesses and their virtual assistants to work together without being in the same location, or in some cases without ever meeting in person.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are individuals – and sometimes companies with employees – who perform a variety of business services remotely for businesses. The “remote” location could be in the same town as the business, or it could be on the other side of the world. The only thing that matters is that the work being done can be done without being physically located in the business’s office. Businesses often use the acronym, VA, to refer to a virtual assistant.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Like traditional assistants, VAs provide various services based on the specific needs of their clients. While some virtual assistants handle more general clerical tasks like data entry or appointment scheduling, others specialize in traditional marketing, email marketing, social media, public relations, web design or even the design of PowerPoint presentations. Still other VAs are responsible for personal tasks like booking travel or purchasing holiday gifts. As an aspiring virtual assistant, you can choose what types of jobs to take and what clients to target based on your skills and preferences.
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
The salary for virtual assistants varies significantly. While Glassdoor reports that the average VA earns $31,383, a PayScale study shows that individuals in this field can earn up to $65,379 per year. Along with an individual’s skill level, factors affecting pay rates include geography, years of experience, and the industry in which they work.
What Skills Do You Need to Start a Virtual Assistance Service?
Not everyone has the chops needed to succeed as a virtual assistant. The following skills are crucial if you hope to start your own virtual assistant service in the coming year:
Organization: To be an effective virtual assistant, you need to be able to stay organized. After all, there’s a good chance you won’t have just one client at a time. That means you have to keep track of multiple sets of appointments, due dates, and assignments. If you can’t multitask without things falling through the cracks, this career might not be for you.
Communication: As a virtual assistant, you’ll likely do most of your communicating by phone and email. As a result, the best virtual assistants are skilled at both oral and written communication. Because it’s harder to convey tone on the phone or in an email than it is in person, virtual assistants need to be able to express themselves in a way that’s clear and diplomatic.
Technical Knowledge: Because VAs work remotely, having tech skills is essential for success. Along with being a strong typist, virtual assistants should be adept at using common software programs like Google Docs, WordPress, Dropbox, and Excel. Additionally, you may be expected to communicate via Slack, Messages, or other means. If you’re thinking of entering this field, it might be useful to brush up on your skills and get to know some of these programs.
Related: How to start a business
How to Find Virtual Assistant Customers
VAs are sometimes less than comfortable pitching clients in person. After all, they’re used to working from the comfort of their own homes rather than in crowded offices filled with difficult personalities. Still, as the owner of your own virtual assistant company, you’re responsible for going out and finding new business. Here are some tips on finding and securing new VA customers:
Build a Strong Website
Virtual assistants do their jobs via the internet. So, it’s no surprise that a strong website is crucial to attracting potential clients. When writing the content for your website, start by including the keywords and phrases for which clients are most commonly searching. That way you can ensure your site shows up in the search engine results. Additionally, virtual assistants should treat their sites as online resumes. Along with listing your services and abilities, make it easy for customers to find what they’re seeking. For example, if you offer marketing assistance, consider creating a page that goes into detail about the types of marketing services you offer. And of course you should make it easy for prospective clients to contact you for more information.
Commit to Blogging Regularly
It’s not enough to create an attractive, informative, easy-to-navigate website. If you want to find customers for your VA business, it’s important to build a blog. Blogging is an effective way to boost SEO, as search engines favor sites that are updated on a regular basis. Additionally, creating blog posts increases your expertise in the minds of prospective clients. For best results, share your blog posts on social media so current and prospective clients remember you when they require assistance.
Offer Referral Bonus
There’s no better advertisement than the recommendation of a satisfied client. While your happy customers will likely refer others to your company, you can motivate them to do so by offering a small bonus to anyone who brings you new business. And of course you should solicit video and written testimonials to post on your site and social pages.
Along with Facebook, you should create accounts on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn and update them regularly with a mixture of informational and promotional content. Additionally, savvy VAs make an effort to follow potential clients on social media and comment on their pages regularly. The goal is to show a genuine interest in their businesses.
Network In Person
Now and then, virtual assistants have to leave their desk and venture out into the world to find clients. If you’re just starting out in the business, you may want to attend some in-person networking events to make connections and get the word out about your services. Chamber of Commerce events and Meetup.com groups both offer opportunities to meet people in your industry and region. Just be sure to bring business cards that feature your website and social media handles, so clients can look you up and contact you at a later date.
© 2020 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, and content manager. Currently, she operates the freelance writing business April Maguire Ink and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.