Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.
To become a Virtual Assistant with no experience, you need to know which services are worth offering, which tools you need, and how to set your rates. And there’s more…In this post I’ll guide you through the 7 simple steps to become a VA
Is learning to be a Virtual Assistant easy to do ? Is there a demand for Virtual Assistants ?
This post will answer those questions – and more – for you.
- How to become a Virtual Assistant
- Which companies are hiring (especially if you’re a beginner)
- How much you can make
- How to start your own VA service and really make the big bucks.
But first, let’s start by going over the role of a Virtual Assistant and talk about the most in-demand services you can offer.
What Does A Virtual Assistant Do ?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) provides business and support services, working from home for a VA company or as an Independent Contractor.
Every Virtual Assistant provides services based on their personal set of skills. Specializing in a niche and offering that as your service turns you into an pro, which then brings more pay per job.
Now that you have an idea of what a Virtual Assistant does, let’s go over how to get started.
What Services Should A Virtual Assistant Offer ?
The services you should offer as a Virtual Assistant depend on what you can do, like to do, want to do, and are willing to learn to do. The options are virtually unlimited.
And the most in-demand Virtual Assistant skills you should know are:
- Blog management – where you manage post publication dates, search engine optimization (SEO), redirections, broken links, and WordPress updates.
- Content creation for blogs – where you write blog posts, source and create images, perform keyword research and organize structure of articles.
- Podcast and YouTube editing and management – with knowledge of the right editing tools, you’ll manage the podcast or YouTube video, doing everything from ensuring the lighting is good to trimming clips as well as fine-tuning audio and perfecting the entire podcast or video.
- Social media management – consists of posting on social media platforms, creating images for social media, maintaining engagement and managing profiles.
- General administrative skills – where some of your tasks may be setting appointments, data entry, making travel arrangements, creating spreadsheets, monitoring voicemail, creating reports, drafting emails, and creating PowerPoint presentations.
- Online Outreach – tasks include: participating in relevant forums, generating leads, reaching out to advertisers / sponsors, and engaging in conversations with fellow bloggers.
- Email Management – where you’ll draft replies, organize incoming emails, manage spam, flag important emails, and follow-up on emails
- Email marketing – which is the process of managing the subscriber list, writing and sending emails to subscribers, and designing email templates.
- Online Marketing – where you’ll create landing pages, create sales pages, manage promotions and new product launches, create brochures, and set-up paid advertising campaigns.
- Financial services – this is where you’ll process payments and perform bookkeeping duties.
side note: to learn these skills, you can check out the my resource of Virtual Assistant skills.
Which service you choose to focus on, and become an pro in, is up to you. As a matter of fact, you can become a pro in more than one service. Offer your service in one of these in-demand niches and learn another VA skill…maybe learn how to do transcription for vloggers…and offer that skill, too.
How to Become A Virtual Assistant With no Experience: 7 Simple Steps
Now that you know what a Virtual Assistant does and the types of services in-demand VA’s should offer, it’s time to set yourself up for success.
Here are the 7 steps to follow to become a Virtual Assistant
- Get the equipment you need
- Figure out a service niche
- Use the right tools for your niche
- Learn specific skills
- Find work and get paid
- Set your rates
- Decide if this is a good career for you
Step #1 Get The Right Equipment
It’s probably obvious, but to become a virtual assistant and work from home, the most important thing you need is a computer – desktop or laptop, whatever works for you.
The next most important piece of equipment is reliable internet. Wireless is fine for most VA work, but if your niche has to do with finance then you might want a more secure internet option.
As far as software and applications, don’t worry too much about buying and installing programs. Most things can be done online, without having to download any software. For instance, If your niche is creating Pinterest images, you can use Canva and do everything on Canva’s platform.
And if your niche is in email marketing, you’ll use online email tools like Constant Contact and ConvertKit.
Step #2 Figure Out The VA Service You Want To Do
You might think that providing a ton of Virtual Assistant services will make you more “in demand” and get more jobs, right?
And it’s tempting to start out this way.
But being a Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades is not the way to go. It’s hard enough to make money when you’re really good at something, but being “kind-of” good at something is how you get mediocrity.
For instance, you might come across a paying gig that wants you to write an article about dog grooming. But what if you know nothing about dog grooming ? It’ll take you for-ev-ver to write it because of all the research you’ll have to do.
This is what you should do:
First, go back through the list of services a Virtual Assistant should offer I wrote about at the beginning of this post.
Next, think about which of those services interest you and make that your specialty. The things you do well are the things that will make the money.
Then, get started. And by that, I mean get started learning the skills necessary to do those services (see step 4) or – if you already have the skills – get started making money…which we’ll cover in a minute.
Now, your ‘thing’ might change over time. What you like doing today may bore the crap out of you next year. No problem, just become a specialist in something else. Heck, you can even have a niche in a few different areas…like social media management and email marketing.
Step #3 Know The Right Tools To Use
No doubt, you will need some tools (besides the equipment I talked about above). In fact, to become a Virtual Assistant you’ll need to know some tools. The tools you use will depend on your niche so here is a nice assortment to help you with any virtual assistant service area you select.
And here’s a secret: if you purchase a tool, you can incorporate the cost into what you charge your clients.
To be a Blog Manager, check out these tools:
Use for: Creating a blog or website
Probably the most popular blogging platform, I consider WordPress to be a “must know” for all Virtual Assistants.
Use for: Storing and managing WordPress login passwords
You can manage all your passwords – and those of your clients – with the LastPass password management system. How secure is LastPass ? They claim to have strong encryption algorithms to ensure complete security but the real security starts with you and the master password you create.
Price: Free and paid versions if you need more encrypted storage space and emergency access
Use for: Organizing ideas, lists, and things to do for each client
Trello is a web-based project management tool that lets you create a ‘board’ for each project so you can keep track of every task you need to do for each of your customers…separately.
Price: Free and paid versions of $10.00 / month or $17.50 / month.
To be a Content Creator, these tools are free to use:
Use for: Image creation for blog posts, socaial media banners, contracts, resumes, flyers
Whenever I need to make a professional-looking Pinterest image or infographic for a client, I turn to Canva. This free-to-use tool lets you modify any of their templates or use them as-is for eye-catching graphics.
Use for: Image editing and creation
Another free image creating tool, Pic Monkey is a lot like Photoshop. There is so much you can do with your images – re-size, crop, add text overlays, you name it.
Use for: Online writing assictant use for correcting writing mistakes.
As a content creator, part of your job may be to write blog posts for your clients. To help you with the proper grammar and syntax, Grammerly is a great program to help you get it right. And, no matter what your VA specialty is, you’ll still have plenty of writing to do. Contracts, emails, teaching materials…whatever you create will most likely need to be proofread. This free tool makes everything you write easy to read and mistake free.
Price: Free, Premium plan priced at $12.00 per month and Business plan priced at $12.50 per member per month.
Tools podcasts and Youtube video editor VA’s use:
Use for: Beginner level video editing
OpenShot claims to be ‘incredible simple and powerfull’, which is good if you’re just getting started as a video editor. There’s no software to download – it uses drag-an-drop functionality right from your computer.
Use for: Editing videos
Adobe Premiere Elements is a video editing software that’s pretty easy to use if you already know how to edit videos. If you’re a beginner, take a look at Open Shot
Price: Free trial then $59.99 for the editing software or $89.99 for the editing software and Photoshop.
Tools a Social Media Management Virtual Assistant can use:
Use for: Social media post scheduling and organizing
With so many Social Media options it gets tough keeping things sorted out. Buffer has a free tool that lets you connect social profiles and schedule up to 10 posts in advance. Buffer’s app shows your analytics so you can monitor social engagements and track the trending posts.
Price: Free for up to 3 channels and is only the publishing tool; $5.00 / month per channel and includes publishing, analytics, and engagement tools.
Use for: Managing and scheduling social media
This is an all-in-one platform that is used by over 15 million users, allowing each user to schedule your content, measure your ROI, run social media ads and monitor multiple accounts across more than 35 platforms.
Price: There are 4 plans to choose from, with the first 2 offering free 30-day trials. The plans cost $49.00 / month, $129.00 / month, $599.00 / month, custom pricing.
To be a General Administrative Virtual Assistant, here are some tools you can use:
Use for: Conversation
You can’t beat a face-to-face conversation but most of the time – especially for the work at home VA – this is impossible. The next best thing is to use a free video conferencing service such as Skype.
Use for: Group chat
A mobile messaging app, GroupMe is designed for group chat. It’s supposed to work on every device so there should be no problem communicating with anyone in real time.
Use for: Creating documents, presentations and spreadsheets
Google has several free tools that’ll enhance your VA expertise. You can create, edit and share documents, presentations and spreadsheets through Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. If you’re not familiar to the tools Google has to offer, head on over to their learning center.
To become an Online Outreach Virtual Assistant, try these tools:
Use for: Email outreach
GMass is an email outreach tool that lets you do cold email campaigns via your gmail account. You can quickly create large email lists, personalized for each campaign, followed-up with reporting to track your success or where you need to improve.
Price: $12.95 / month or $19.95 / month
Use for: To easily connect with bloggers and influencers
Klear is an easy-to-use influencer discovery tool that lets you easily identify influencers by category and topic.
Price: Custom pricing
Tools to do Email Management and Marketing:
GMass, as I wrote about above, will help you with outreach and mailing lists.
Use for: To quickly and easily clean email inboxes of unwanted email.
Clean Email organizes all your email into easy to review bundles. It also bulk removes, archives, and moves groups of emails.
Price: Free to get started, then $9.00 / month for one account, $19.99 / month for up to 5 accounts, and $29.99 / month for 10 accounts.
Use for: Email marketing to help your business (or your client’s business) grow.
Hubspot has multiple ‘Hubs’ that help with your email marketing tasks, from lead generation to analytics and even marketing automation.
Pricing: Free marketing tools (no trial period) with some limits on the number of emails you can send. The upgrades start at $45.00 per month.
Use for: Email marketing
Reachmail is suitable for all size businesses and niches, offering many email templates to suite your needs. Reachmail also offers advanced tracking so you can see how many recipients forwarded sent messages and how many opted out of your email campaigns.
Pricing: Free for up to 7,500 emails, $9.00 / month for up to 12,000 emails, and $29.00 / month for up to 25,000 emails.
Use for: Managing email lists for clients
A popular and user-friendly email marketing service, Constant Contact lets you easily manage email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendar, and more.
Price: Free for 60 days then plans are $10.00 per month, $20.00 per month, 45.00 per month and $195.00 per month.
Tools to become an Online Marketer:
An Online Marketer uses a lot of the same tools as an Email Marketer, plus a few others, like Canva and Buffer. Additionally, you may use search engine optimization tools like Ahrefs and Semrush if your online marketing involves marketing a website or blog for better search engine ranking.
Tools to help you become a Finance Virtual Assistant:
Use for: Invoicing and Bookkeeping
FreshBooks is a popular bookkeeping software that is great for creating invoices and doing all the necessary bookkeeping tasks every business needs. And not just for yourself – you can use FreshBooks to take care of your customer’s books and invoicing.
Price: Starts at $5.50 per month and goes beyond $25.00 per month for businese with complex needs.
Use for: General bookkeeping and invoicing.
Wave is a free app designed for entrepreneurs to keep track of their finances. The software lets you create professional invoices, simplify payroll, and set up payment solutions.
Tools to Help Organize Your Virtual Assistant Job / Business
Use for: Storing backups of online data and to share files with clients
Use Dropbox to store and share files with your clients. You can share any file at any time simply by creating a link to one of your specific your Dropbox files and paste it into an email, chat, or text. The recipient doesn’t even need a Dropbox account.
Step #4 Learn Virtual Assistant Skills (or review what you already know)
Even though you’re starting out with no experience, I strongly suggest you learn – or review – some skills related to the most in-demand services (that I wrote about earlier).
Basically, become familiar with whatever your desired niche entails. And if you need more resources, here’s my post that shows you where you can learn Virtual Assistant skills.
Here are a few places to get you started:
– Play around on the image-creation platform Canva. It’s really easy and kind of fun, as you’ll learn here.
– If you don’t already, get to know Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin intimetely. You can start with this quick guide.
– Review your skills in Google Docs. Or learn how to use it…and keep practicing.
Step #5 Find Work and Virtual Assistant Jobs
Now it’s time to get paid as a Virtual Assistant and there are two routes you can take:
1) Work for a reputable Virtual Assistant service company
2) Work as an independent Virtual Assistant
Let’s go over both routes.
Work for a Virtual Assistant Company
Now that you’ve learned some skills and have knowledge of the most in-demand Virtual Assistant services, you can take a look at some of the top-rated companies that hire Virtual Assistants. The majority of them want you to have at least some skills, if not a little bit of experience. But because you don’t yet have experience doing VA work, this might be a tough way to go.
So this is what I suggest:
First, create – or adjust – your resume to highlight the skills you recently learned. Now, think of anything office-related you may have done in past jobs or around your own home. Did you ever do any spreadsheeting ? Did you ever create newsletters ? Did you ever organize documents ? Did you ever make travel arrangements ? Really put a lot of thought into this.
Then apply for a job with one of these Virtual Assistant companies. They’re reputable companies and I’ll indicate if they take beginners.
- 24/7 Virtual Assistant They don’t specifically mention they take beginners but they don’t count it out, either.
- Time Etc. Hires people who have a background as a personal assistant, executive assistant, or admin. assistant.
- Zirtual If you have past Executive Admin. experience, apply.
- Vicky Virtual Hires virtual receptionists who don’t have Virtual Assistant experience.
Now let’s take a look at the next option.
Get Freelance Virtual Assistant Jobs
Freelance Virtual Assistant jobs have the potential to pay a lot and is the best way to go if you have absolutely no experience.
Here’s how to find freelance Virtual Assistant jobs:
Option #1, Use freelance platforms
By far, this is the easiest way to get almost instant gratification. You set yourself up on a freelance platform and start ‘bidding’ on gigs.
As a matter of fact, a lot of ‘seasoned’ Virtual Assistants would tell you to stay away from them because of the competition.
But you’re just starting out and need to build-up some experience.
So, to ensure you stand out from the crowd on Upwork and Fiverr, you need to make your profile as compelling, interesting, and hire-worthy as possible.
Here are a few of my tips to build a great profile:
- You need a good photo of yourself. In fact, Upwork requires one.
- Give yourself a great title. Be specific and use keywords (words that are relevant to your specialty, like Pinterest Marketing or PowerPoint Presentation Specialist).
- Don’t neglect your skills. List them in order of proficiency. After all, when someone is looking for a VA they usually have a specific task they need to have done.
- Showcase your best work within your profile
Here’s an example of a freelance Virtual Assistant’s profile on Upwork:
Notice two things about her profile:
First, she gave herself a great title, Executive Administrative Support Specialist. This quickly tells prospective clients that she specializes in administrative support, therefore piquing their interest in her services.
Second, her overview summarizes her services with enough detail without being too long and drawn out. Good for potential clients.
And here’s another example, a Virtual Assistant with no experience:
Once your profile is set-up, take these steps to boost your success:
- Don’t wait for clients to come to you. Go ahead and send potential clients (those seeking Virtual Assistants) a proposal which outlines how you can solve their needs.
- Make sure you understand the job AND you have the proper amount of time to do it.
- While they’re screening you, you should screen them. Check out their history on Upwork to see if they had any complaints or issues with past freelancers.
- Only take on projects you know you can handle – skill-wise and time-wise.
Option #2, Create a business website and market yourself
First, let’s go over the idea behind this option because it has nothing to do with freelance platforms.
To get well-paying work as a Virtual Assistant, you need to prove and market your skills.
And you do that by:
- Using social media
- In-person networking
- Tapping into your market via forums, and blogs in your VA niche.
Anyone who is seriously considering hiring you as their Virtual Assistant wants to see proof of your abilities.
And this is where it gets difficult. Why? Because you have to rely on your own marketing skills, not a freelance platform that makes it easier to get jobs.
That said, the simplest way to go about this is with a website. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of pages stuffed with information. All you really need is an “About Me” page that tells who you are and your experiences; a “Hire Me” page, a “Contact” page, and a page with specific examples of your work and maybe even a few testimonials.
Setting up a website can be a bit daunting if you don’t have any experience in this area (you could hire a VA 🙂 ) But, if this is the route you want to go, then here’s The Wary Worker’s tutorial on how to start a website or blog
How to get Virtual Assistant clients
No matter which option you go with – freelance platforms where most of the marketing is done for you or starting from scratch with a website and do all your own marketing – you need to know the right way to pitch your services to get clients.
And to do that, here are the secrets to getting Virtual Assistant clients:
Step #6: Figure Out How Much To Charge
Before going any further, I need to say this:
You’ll only have to set your rates as a Virtual Assistant if you’re freelancing or creating your own business website. If you plan on working for a Virtual Assistant service company you’ll be paid whatever rate they set.
How Much Should A Virtual Assistant Charge ?
Virtual Assistants charge by the hour or project, depending on the service provided, with most charging at least $20.00 per hour.
How much you charge depends on what you think you’re worth, as you’ll see in a minute, and what service you provide.
And remember this: you can always charge more as you gain experience.
I took a look at some of the Virtual Assistants who are on the freelance platform Upwork and this is what I discovered:
- A Virtual Assistant’s hourly rate averages $32.00 for the top-rated VA’s who focus on customer service, data entry, and misc. administrative duties. Newer VA’s charge an average hourly rate of $20.00 for similar tasks.
- Virtual Assistants who focus on social media services charge an average of $57.00 an hour (top-rated VA’s) and $30.00 (newer VA’s)
- All of these top-rated VA’s have at least 2,000 hours billed to clients while the newer ones have considerably fewer billed hours but have several jobs in the queue. This indicates they are in-demand.
When setting your rate, there are a few things to consider. For instance, you are responsible for paying taxes (which may be self employment taxes due quarterly). Also, you don’t get benefits like health, dental, vision, savings…all these things come out of your pocket. And there will be overhead costs like computer, internet, office expenses.
But how much should you add to your rate to cover these things ? Gina Horkey of Fully Booked VA suggests you take your take-home pay from your old job and increase it by 25%.
Step #7 Make A Decision: Do You Still Want To Become A Virtual Assistant ?
By now you should have an idea if being a Virtual Assistant is something you want to do.
You know what you need to do to get started…
You have idea how much you can make…
You even know of some good companies that’ll hire you.
And if you DO want to make money as a Virtual Assistant, you an either:
1) Follow these steps and just go for it, learning as you go.
2) Enroll in one of these top-rated Virtual Assistant courses
Option #1 would work if you don’t mind learning as your go. It may take longer to get results, though.
If you’re serious about this, I would go with option #2. You’ll be able to learn all the ins and outs from experienced Virtual Assistants, learn from their mistakes, feel more confident with a support team behind you, and earn more money faster.
Virtual Assistant FAQs
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Virtual Assistant ?
To become a Virtual Assistant, you need to be professional, prioritize your tasks, and be organized while providing the services people pay for. These are known as soft skills and hard skills, with each type of skill having specific sub-skills.
This is what I mean:
#1 Soft skills, the skills just about everyone inherently has, consists of these sub-skills:
- You have the ability to prioritize
- You can multitask
- You’re organized
- You’re a good communicator
- You have some sales skills
- You can problem-solve
#2 Hard skills, which are learned and will make you a better Virtual Assistant, are like these:
- Image creating and editing
- Social media knowledge
- Accounting or bookkeeping experience
- Computer knowledge
- Customer service
- Fast typing
- Content creation
You can become a Virtual Assistant without experience as long as you realize you already have some skills, both soft and hard. This allows you to reach more clients, stand out within a niche, and provide a valued service.
So, even though you don’t need experience as a Virtual Assistant to become one, it’s a good idea to get some skills. In fact, I recently wrote a post showing you where to get in-demand VA skills.
Which brings me to this…
Is Being A Virtual Assistant Hard?
Being a Virtual Assistant is both easy and hard. Easy if you already have some sought-after skills. Hard when you have to learn and then ‘sell’ those skills to find the paying clients.
Here’s what I mean:
As a Virtual Assistant, you’ll do a variety of business services, typically supporting multiple clients and businesses at a time doing specific tasks for each of them. You probably already know how to do a lot of the highly sought after tasks such as administrative assistance, email handling, internet research, blog and website management, invoicing, and social media management.
That’s great. But there can be a lot of competition for VA’s who can do a lot of stuff, making it hard to get high-paying clients.
But if you niche-down, meaning you become an pro in a specific area, it becomes easier to find clients who want your exact service.
Is There A Demand For Virtual Assistants?
Yes, Virtual Assistants are in high demand, especially among small businesses who don’t have the budget to hire staff nor the time to do the administrative work themselves. In fact, being a Virtual Assistant is one of the best legitimate online jobs that pay well.
Virtual Assistants help companies to streamline their business, benefiting by reducing the workload on existing employees, lowering employee costs, and having more time to actually run their business.
And when they realize these benefits, businesses eagerly look for someone who can give more time back to them.
How Much Money Can You Make as a Virtual Assistant ?
A Virtual Assistant can make anywhere from $20.00 to $40.00 an hour, and the more experienced VA’s earning over $50.00 an hour.
In fact, ZipRecruiter tells us that – as of Mar 18, 2021 – the average annual pay for a Work From Home Virtual Assistant in the United States is $67,115 a year.
How much you make as a VA depends on if you work for a Virtual Assistant service company (I’ll go over some of them later in this post) or you’re self-employed, with self-employed VAs earning considerably more because they are able to set their rates and market their services accordingly.
For instance, Indeed tells us a Virtual Assistant working for a VA service company earns an average of $16.24 per hour :
And self-employed (freelance) Virtual Assistants charge an average of $52.75 per hour.
Become A Virtual Assistant And Start Making Money
Can someone with no experience start a career as a Virtual Assistant ?
Yes, although there will be a learning curve.
If becoming a Virtual Assistant is something that really interests you, then GO FOR IT ! You’ll be glad you did.
As always, feel free to leave a comment below whether or not you decide to follow through and become a Virtual Assistant.