How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Steps to Launching Your Virtual Assistant Business

Do you want to learn how to become a Virtual Assistant?  But don’t know where to start.  Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn from a VA who has been working from home since 2008.

Ready to ditch the 9-to-5 grind? 🌟 Learn how to become a virtual assistant and unlock the freedom to work from anywhere! Discover essential skills, set up your services, and find clients who need your expertise. Whether it's admin tasks, social media, writing, or more, this guide has you covered. Pin now and start your journey to a flexible career as a virtual assistant! 💻🌍

Becoming a virtual assistant offers you the desired work-life balance you want. You can set your own hours and work from the comfort of your home. Being a virtual assistant will give you great flexibility to fit in with your family life. I should know, I have reaped the benefits for many years. Admittedly, it can be difficult at times, but it fits in with family life.  I can drop my daughter off at school and pick her up again without having to ask permission from anybody.

So, What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is a professional who provides a wide range of administrative, creative, technical, or specialised support services to individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses, or organisations remotely. Unlike traditional assistants who work in a physical office, virtual assistants operate virtually, utilising technology and communication tools to collaborate with clients from various locations.Virtual assistants often work as independent contractors or freelancers, this allows you to have multiple clients simultaneously and offer services tailored to your expertise. The virtual nature of the work enables you to collaborate across time zones, ensuring clients receive support regardless of location.

The rise of remote work and advancements in technology have significantly expanded the demand for virtual assistants. This makes it a flexible and versatile career option for those who excel in organisation, communication, and a wide range of skills.

It does sound great and an ideal solution for a person with kids or someone who wants to work at home but there are always downsides.

Firstly, let’s look at the disadvantages of becoming a Virtual Assistant.

Disadvantages of becoming a Virtual Assistant

To become a virtual assistant you will work as a Contractor: You will need to submit accounts annually and pay your own tax and insurance.

Purchase Equipment:  Having said that you may already own it.  I would say as a minimum you would need a laptop/PC, a good internet connection and cloud backup (this can be free). 

Office space: You will require a desk and office space in the house if you don’t already have it.

No benefits when you become a virtual assistant: You do not get holiday pay, sickness pay, pensions or health care benefits.

Building up a business: You need to find clients and it can take time to build up a business.

Training: Must pay for all your own training unless you agree it with your client.

Distractions: Young children may be noisy so you will need to carefully consider what services to offer.  As well as other distractions such as housework, callers etc. Although I never get distracted by housework as I do not enjoy it!

Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

Secondly, let’s examine the good parts of being a virtual assistant and the benefits I have had over the years.

Flexibility: As a Virtual Assistant you can fit your personal life around your work. This is the number one advantage of being a VA for me.

Savings on Travel Costs: Have no travel costs.

No Long Commute:  No long commute to an office.

No Childcare Costs:  Don’t have to pay for childcare. Although some people will argue that you should put your children into childcare so you can work. I only did it when I found a good cheap childcare resource.

No Need to Buy Work Clothes: No need to spend your hard-earned money on work clothes.

No Boss:  You don’t have a boss to answer to or ask for time off if your child is sick etc.

Before you go any further you need to consider whether the benefits to working from home outweigh the cons for you.

Are There Any “No Experience” Virtual Assistant Jobs Around?

This is a question that is often asked in Facebook groups. And the answer is yes there are “no experience” virtual assistant jobs available if you are new to the field. Many businesses and entrepreneurs understand the value of hiring virtual assistants to handle tasks and support their operations. However, there are entry-level roles that are ideal if you that don’t have prior experience as a virtual assistant. Some examples of relatively simple tasks are data entry, email management, basic research, or social media scheduling.

Therefore, if you have skills in communication, organisation, and a willingness to learn, “no experience” virtual assistant jobs can serve as an excellent starting point. These roles allow you to familiarise yourself with the virtual assistance industry. Plus, you will gain exposure to various tasks, and build your skills gradually. As you become more proficient and gain confidence, you can take on more complex tasks.

Furthermore, some companies and clients are open to providing training or on-the-job guidance for new virtual assistants. Thus, ensuring that you can perform their tasks effectively.

What Do Virtual Assistants Do?

Now we will now look at what Virtual Assistants do.  Although it will be difficult to mention all that a VA can do this post lists 150 services that a Virtual Assistant can provide.

Virtual assistants offer diverse services, including but not limited to:

  1. Administrative Tasks: Managing emails, scheduling appointments, data entry, organising files, and handling general office tasks.
  2. Customer Support: Providing customer service, responding to inquiries, and managing online chats.
  3. Content Creation: Writing and editing articles, blog posts, social media content, newsletters, and more.
  4. Graphic Design: Designing logos, graphics, banners, and promotional materials.
  5. Website Management: Maintaining and updating websites, handling content uploads, and managing online platforms.
  6. Social Media Management: Creating, scheduling, and managing social media posts and engagement.
  7. Bookkeeping and Accounting: Managing financial records, invoicing, and basic accounting tasks.
  8. Research: Conducting online research, gathering information, and compiling reports.
  9. Project Management: Assisting in organising and coordinating projects, tasks, and teams.
  10. Technical Support: Providing IT support, troubleshooting technical issues, and maintaining digital systems.

However, the services you provide will depend on your skill set. I had a secretarial background so offered audio transcription services, typing and formatting as I could do them with my eyes closed! Yeah, I’m a touch typist.

Certainly, your previous experience will help you to decide what services to offer. Then you need to decide if your skills are at an acceptable level.  However, don’t fret if they are not, we’ve got you covered.

How to Become a Virtual Assistant When You Have No Skills

A key thing to remember is that you don’t have to give up on your dream if you feel that your skills are lacking.  In order to improve your skills you can enrol on some VA training that will give you more confidence. 

Check out the resources below:

There are numerous virtual assistant courses available online that cater to various skill levels and specialisations within the field. These courses provide valuable training, insights, and practical knowledge to help individuals become successful virtual assistants. Here are some examples of virtual assistant courses:

General Virtual Assistant Courses:

Virtual Savvy Course: “The Virtual Savvy” is an online platform that offers training and resources for individuals looking to become virtual assistants or to grow their existing virtual assistant businesses. The platform was created by Abbey Ashley, who has experience in the virtual assistant industry. “The Virtual Savvy” provides a range of courses and resources to help individuals learn the skills and strategies needed to succeed in the virtual assistant field.

Courses offered by “The Virtual Savvy” cover various aspects of becoming a virtual assistant and building a successful business.

Freelance University: Freelance University is an online educational platform designed to provide comprehensive training and resources for freelancers seeking to enhance their skills, expand their services, and build successful freelance businesses. Founded by Craig Cannings and Kelly Cannings, Freelance University offers a wide range of courses covering various freelance disciplines, including virtual assistance, writing, graphic design, marketing, and more. The platform typically offers structured training programs, on-demand courses, coaching, and a supportive community to help freelancers acquire the necessary skills, stay updated with industry trends, and navigate the challenges of the freelance world effectively.

Specialised Virtual Assistant Courses:

Social Media Management Courses: Courses like Social Media Management Simplified and Social Media Manager School provide specialised training in managing social media accounts for clients.

Proofreading and Editing Courses: For those interested in offering proofreading and editing services, courses like Proofread Anywhere offer comprehensive training.

Bookkeeping and Accounting Courses: Bookkeeper Business Launch and Bookkeepers.com offer training for individuals looking to become virtual bookkeepers.

Pinterest VA Courses: Become a Pinterest VA Today focuses on offering Pinterest-related services to clients.

Graphic Design Courses: Platforms like Canva Design School offer free courses to enhance graphic design skills for virtual assistants.

Content Creation Courses: Courses on content writing, blogging, and creating engaging content are available on platforms like Udemy and Coursera.

Online Learning Platforms:

Udemy: Offers a wide range of virtual assistant courses on topics such as administrative tasks, social media management, customer service, and more.

Coursera: Provides courses from universities and institutions worldwide, including virtual assistant-related topics.

LinkedIn Learning: Offers courses on administrative support, time management, and various skills relevant to virtual assistants.

Skillshare: Provides classes on different virtual assistant skills, such as email management, data entry, and organization.

When choosing a virtual assistant course, consider factors like the course content, instructor credibility, reviews from past students, and whether the course aligns with your specific goals and skill development needs.

How Much Does it Cost to Set-Up as a Virtual Assistant?

The cost to set up as a virtual assistant can vary widely depending on several factors, including the services you plan to offer, your existing equipment, software, and your desired level of professionalism.

The cost to set up as a virtual assistant can vary widely depending on several factors, including the services you plan to offer, your existing equipment, software, and your desired level of professionalism. Here are some potential costs to consider:

  1. Training and Education: If you’re new to the virtual assistant field, you might invest in courses or resources to learn the skills needed for your chosen services. Costs can vary from free resources to a few hundred dollars for more comprehensive training.
  2. Website and Branding: Creating a professional online presence is essential. This might include domain registration (around £10-£20 per year), website hosting (starting from £5-£15 per month), and potentially hiring a web designer or using website builder tools.
  3. Software and Tools: Depending on your services, you might need software for tasks like project management (e.g., Asana, Trello), communication (e.g., Slack, Skype), and office suite software (e.g., Microsoft Office, Google Workspace). Costs can vary widely, but some software options offer free plans.
  4. Equipment: This includes a computer or laptop, a reliable internet connection, a headset or microphone for calls. Your laptop/camera should have a built camera for video communications.
  5. Marketing and Networking: Building your client base might involve costs for creating business cards, participating in networking events, or online advertising.
  6. Professional Services: Consider costs for legal services (setting up a business entity, contracts), accounting or bookkeeping services, and potentially professional liability insurance.
  7. Workspace: If you need to create a dedicated workspace, this might involve costs for furniture, lighting, and decor.
  8. Miscellaneous Expenses: These could include travel costs if you attend conferences or client meetings, as well as ongoing expenses like electricity and internet bills.

It’s important to note that you can start with minimal expenses by using existing equipment and free software options. As your business grows, you can reinvest earnings to enhance your services, improve branding, and streamline operations. It’s recommended to create a budget based on your specific needs and services to ensure you’re adequately prepared for your virtual assistant journey.

Setting up a Virtual Assistant Business

So you’ve decided you have valuable skills to offer. The next decision is how you want to set up your VA business.

There are three setup models to choose from when setting up in the UK. These are self-employed, a limited company and a partnership.

Understanding each model will help you decide the best option for your situation.

  • Self-employed
  • Partnership
  • Limited company

How to Become a Self-Employed Virtual Assistant

HMRC recognises self-employed individuals as sole traders so you will hear the two terms used interchangeably, but officially sole trader is the correct term.

Setting up as self-employed is considered the easiest way to set up a business, and without an employer, you become fully responsible for the records you keep.

Each year you will be required to submit a self-assessment tax return that shows how much you earned, how much you spent on the business, and what tax you are required to pay. You can have an accountant prepare this for you, but you must have the records to back it up, invoices, receipts, and other documents.

So the more organised you are the easier it is to do your tax return each year.

You are also liable for Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance Contributions. To find out more setting up as a sole trader in the UK check out the gov.uk website.

How to Become a Limited Company

A limited company is an option even if you are a sole trader, but there is a lot more to set up. While the liability is moved to the company rather than you as an individual, it is sometimes a complication you do not need.

The company has to have a structure that includes directors and shareholders. If you are running a company as an individual, you are automatically the director and the only shareholder.

Registration with Companies House is a legal requirement and your information, name, address, date of birth, etc., are public information. This is also the case for any directors in both limited companies and not-for-profit.

Each year you must submit critical documents, including accounts and an annual confirmation statement, and you must show a proper salary or dividends for yourself and any others, it can be very complicated, and you will almost certainly need a professional working for you.

How to Set Up a Partnership

Sitting between the above structures in terms of complexity is a partnership which is also your third option.

There is a self-assessment requirement rather than a Corporation Tax Return, but a partnership does not require the annual confirmation statement. It also does not need to go through Companies House so there is a plethora of other paperwork that you can escape when compared with a limited company.

It is basically a combination of two people working as sole traders, which can cause problems when disagreements occur, but could also make working easier and more profitable with two heads rather than one. All profits and liabilities are shared, but a partnership agreement can be drawn up to provide more security to each party.

What Qualities Do I Need to Become a VA?

To excel as a virtual assistant, you’ll need a combination of skills, traits, and qualities that enable you to effectively manage tasks, communicate with clients, and provide exceptional remote support. Here are some key qualities you’ll need:

  1. Excellent Communication Skills: Clear and timely communication is crucial when working remotely. You should be able to convey information, ask questions, and provide updates effectively through written and verbal communication.
  2. Organisational Abilities: Virtual assistants handle various tasks for different clients. Strong organisational skills help you manage your workload, meet deadlines, and keep track of priorities.
  3. Time Management: Being able to manage your time efficiently is essential for handling tasks from multiple clients while maintaining high-quality work and meeting deadlines.
  4. Adaptability: As a virtual assistant, you might work with clients from diverse industries with different needs. Being adaptable allows you to learn quickly and customise your services accordingly.
  5. Tech Savviness: Comfort with technology is essential for using various communication tools, project management software, and other platforms to collaborate effectively with clients.
  6. Attention to Detail: Precision matters, especially in tasks like data entry, proofreading, and document formatting. Paying attention to detail ensures accuracy and professionalism.
  7. Problem-Solving Skills: Clients might come to you with challenges that need solutions. Being a resourceful problem solver helps you find innovative solutions and make informed decisions.
  8. Professionalism: Since you’re often the first point of contact for clients, presenting yourself professionally is crucial. This includes your communication style, appearance, and overall conduct.
  9. Reliability: Clients rely on virtual assistants to manage tasks independently. Being dependable and following through on commitments is essential.
  10. Self-Motivation: As a remote worker, you need to stay motivated and focused, even without direct supervision. Self-motivation helps you maintain productivity.
  11. Ethical Conduct: Handling sensitive information and maintaining confidentiality is paramount in many virtual assistant roles. Ethical behaviour is a must.
  12. Client-Centric Approach: Understand your clients’ needs, preferences, and expectations. A client-centric approach ensures you provide tailored support.
  13. Continuous Learning: The virtual assistant field evolves, so staying up-to-date with industry trends, tools, and techniques is important to deliver top-notch services.
  14. Networking Skills: Building connections within the virtual assistant community and other industries can lead to more opportunities and collaborations.
  15. Positive Attitude: A positive outlook can influence your work quality, client interactions, and overall job satisfaction.

Having a blend of these qualities will not only help you thrive as a virtual assistant but also build lasting relationships with clients and make a meaningful impact in your role.

Do I Call Myself a Virtual Assistant?

There is much debate about whether you should actually call yourself a Virtual Assistant. The term Virtual Assistant is sometimes thought of as a person offering cheap services.

Do you want to offer cheap services? The obvious answer to this is no. You obviously want to earn a living as a Virtual Assistant.

So should you consider specialising in one service?

Say for example, becoming an expert in social media. Therefore, you could call yourself a social media expert, social media consultant or social media strategist. Do you see where I’m coming from?

As a specialist you could ask for more money. Furthermore, it is important that you don’t undervalue yourself. When first starting out it can be tempting to offer your services at a lower price. My advice is DON’T. Know your worth and stick to it!

We can all be guilty of undervaluing ourselves (me included!). You should appreciate your skills.

For this article, however, we will continue to use the term Virtual Assistant!

Virtual Assistant Website

The best option to set up your VA website is using a self-hosted WordPress.org website. WordPress.org offers ease of use and great functionality.

Where to Host My Virtual Assistant Website?

The first step when setting up a VA website is choosing a host.

This can be difficult due to the huge amount of hosting companies out there. I use Siteground for this website and have not had any problems.

1. Virtual Assistant Company Name

Deciding on a business name can be difficult. But using a business name generator tool such as Oberlo can certainly help you to come up with ideas. If you want to include a particular word then enter it into Oberlo. It will generate some ideas for you.

Once you have selected a name check it is available on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  I can hear you say now “but I will never use Twitter” but you never know. You will want to be consistent on all social media.

Next check the domain is available for your website.

When you know they are all available set them up.  However, if you’re no good with tech then find a techy Virtual Assistant!

2.  Select your hosting provider

Hosting is where your website files will be located.  I am currently using Siteground (aff link) for this site and have never had any problems.

Look how easy it is to set up a WordPress website in the screenshots below:

3. Install WordPress

Siteground makes it so easy to set up your website. Check out the screenshots below to see how it will take you less than 5 minutes (depending on your typing speed!) to set up.

To install WordPress using the Website Setup Wizard access your Client Area and go to Websites > New Website button.

Siteground Dog Boarding Business Website

A new section would appear where you will be prompted to select the domain name that you want to use with your new WordPress installation.

Click the Continue button once you have the chosen the desired option to proceed to the next step.

On this next step you should select to Start a New Website or to Migrate an existing one. Click on Select under Start New Website.

Siteground installation

Choose WordPress and enter the preferred login details for your new WordPress application. Once you are ready, click on Continue.

Next, choose what enhancements you wish to add to your website – if you want to add any. When you are ready with this step – click on Finish.

That’s it! You can now go to the front page of your site or access the WordPress admin to start adding content to your website.

What Template Should I Use for My Virtual Assistant Website?

You will need a professional WordPress template or theme for your VA website.

There are a large number of free themes or templates available and I actually use a free one at the moment.

However, a premium theme offers more security and support.

How do I Market my Virtual Assistant Business?

Submit business to Google Business

This is the FIRST thing I would recommend that you do. How often do you search for businesses online and local businesses appear on Google Maps? You want to be found so this is great place to start. You might be surprised to learn that people do search for local people even if the work can be done remotely!

Add Virtual Assistant Business to Directories

I wouldn’t advise paying to have your business added to a directory but you can add a free listing on some sites.

The sites I would advise you to add a business listing to are:

Yell.com – add your business to the free listing. NOTE that you will be contacted (quite often) to sign up for a paid listing. I have never had a paid listing. I would advise sticking to the free listing.

Some other directories to add your business to are ThomsonLocalYelp and Touch Local.

Farewell Thoughts: Becoming a Virtual Assistant is a great way to earn a living from home. You can start by working for other companies so you don’t have any costs. There are many companies that require Virtual Assistants or Audio Transcriptionists. Alternatively, you can set up a website using Siteground (aff link)

You can gain great flexibility which will allow you to spend more time with your family. I hope you found this interesting on how to become a Virtual Assistant and I would be interested to know your opinion on whether you should call yourself a Virtual Assistant. Please comment below.

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