Are you looking for a realistic way to make money working from home with skills you already have or that are fairly easy to learn? Then becoming a virtual assistant (VA) might be perfect for you!
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in the labour market, with increased outsourcing and remote work. Businesses realised that delegating some tasks to freelancers and independent contractors is far more cost effective than keeping a large number of employees on the payroll.
At the same time, many people discovered the benefits of working from home: better work-life balance, more flexible hours, less time wasted commuting and less money spent on petrol. Plus, you can work in your pyjamas and eat a healthy home-cooked meal for lunch instead of cafeteria food or bland store-bought sandwiches.
The current pandemic accelerated the trend toward a virtually connected world, and there is almost nothing a business can’t do remotely, which is why the virtual assistant industry is thriving and is expected to continue growing in the following years. Remote work is here to stay, and hiring virtual assistants is the new normal.
But What Exactly Is a Virtual Assistant?
Despite the rapid growth of this industry, many people are still unfamiliar with the concept of a virtual assistant. While each VA job is different, there are certain common elements to expect.
Most virtual assistants help their clients handle administrative tasks so that they have more time to focus on other aspects of their business or on their personal lives.
The most common VA tasks include:
- Sorting and answering emails
- Preparing statements
- Transcribing documents
- Managing calendars and schedules
- Data entry
- Making travel arrangements.
As a virtual assistant, you can carry out a wide range of tasks depending on the types of clients you have. It can mean basic tasks like answering emails and organising schedules, or it can be something more specialised.
If you have niche skills, you can charge higher rates. For example, let’s say you worked in marketing. In that case, you can advertise yourself as a virtual assistant who specialises in marketing.
Determine Your Skills and the Services You Want to Provide
Before you can become a virtual assistant, you must first figure out what your strongest skills are.
The following are must-haves:
Computer proficiency: Because you’ll be working remotely, you’ll need to use a variety of computer applications. This means you need to be comfortable with working on a computer online and using cloud-based collaboration tools like teleconferencing software and file sharing.
Organisational skills: Most of the tasks performed by virtual assistants are administrative, so you need to have good organisational skills. Not only do you need these skills to help your clients, but they’ll also help you increase your income potential because you can work with multiple clients at the same time.
Communication: You’ll need good communication skills to contact clients, negotiate fees and handle the tasks you’re assigned.
Editorial skills: As a virtual assistant, you’ll also need solid editorial skills to make sure that your written work is free of grammatical errors and typos.
Although technically speaking, you don’t need any formal training or certificates, clients looking for a virtual assistant UK will be looking at your professional background for relevant skills and experience. As we mentioned before, it also helps if you have some specialised skills such as:
- Website design
- WordPress maintenance
- Content and keyword research
- Editing videos
- Creating sales pages
- Conducting market research
- Generating leads
- Manage inventory
- Process payments.
Since these are not basic skills, they will help you stand out from your competitors and charge higher fees. And while we’re on the subject of fees, you’ll also want to decide how and how much you want to be paid. You can charge different rates from different customers, depending on the services you provide. Some VAs choose to be compensated hourly, daily, or weekly, while others operate on a project basis and charge for each completed assignment.
Working as a virtual assistant doesn’t require much equipment, which is excellent news since it results in low start-up costs. You probably have everything you need already, but once again, it all depends on the type of clients you work with.
The basics are a reliable internet connection, computer, printer and phone. For some clients, you’ll need extra equipment like a headset with a microphone, additional monitors, dedicates landlines, multiple phones and so on.
Register Your Business
The first step to registering your business is choosing a name that you’ll want to make sure isn’t already taken and isn’t trademarked. The National Business Register is a good place to look. Remember that the name isn’t a trivial detail. It’s the first impression clients get of you.
After you’ve registered your business, you’ll want to register with HM Revenue & Customs as self-employed. This is a free service, but you don’t want to wait too long to take advantage of it. You could be penalised if you don’t register your business within three months of launching it.
After you’ve completed your registration, they will provide you with information on all the national insurance and taxes you’ll need.
Join a VA Agency
A virtual assistant agency will make it easier for you to get work and clients because they’ll handle the marketing. You’ll want to avoid agencies that ask you for money to join and promise that you’ll make a lot of money quickly.
If you pay them, you’ll probably never hear from them again, and this is how THEY make a lot of money quickly. Generally speaking, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Business Website and Social Media
In addition to joining a reputable VA agency, you’ll want a website and social media presence. You don’t really need a website, but higher-paying customers will look you up and having a business website makes you look more professional and will increase your income in the long run.
It works similarly with social media platforms, but you don’t have to be active on all of them. Focus your time and efforts just on the ones that are popular with your target audience.