The top 7 things to consider when becoming a VA
It seems I’m getting known around the traps as being a virtual assistant. It helps to have some pretty social clients who aren’t scared to tell the world about me.
Now although I identify as an online business manager (due to running a team of VAs and managing business back-ends), people are starting to ask me about how I became a virtual assistant.
And because I’m walking the walk, winning awards and having clients who love me (patting myself on the back), I thought I’d write a quick blog to share my ideas on becoming a virtual assistant with anyone who’s interested.
Here’s what you need to know to become a virtual assistant
1. It’s not an overnight solution:
If you think becoming a virtual assistant will give you a quick fix to your financial situation, think again. It’s not an overnight solution, and it’s not a get rich quick scheme.
You’re starting a business. You’ve got to invest money: registering a business name, getting a website, designing a logo, writing for your website, business cards etc. And you’ve got to invest time: will your family or your current situation allow this?
And unless you’re already known and have people asking you to help them (because they know you and your skills – i.e. friends, past employers etc.), it may take some time to find clients.
But don’t be discouraged – it’s doable – you’ve just got to work your butt off and give it some time!
2. Find out what ‘sort’ of virtual assistant you can be:
Yes, there are certainly VAs who focus purely on doing admin work, but there are many VAs who specialise in niche areas. You’ll find VAs who are web developers, bookkeepers, copywriters, social media managers, or specialists in online programs such as Infusionsoft, Insightly etc.
If you want to get ahead of the game, think about what you can offer and specialise in and target your marketing accordingly.
3. Networking is a must:
Join VA communities. In Australia the must join are Virtually Yours and VA directory, and there’s the International Virtual Assistants Association and the Global Alliance of Virtual Assistants if you’re looking abroad.
Getting to know other VAs in networks will be a lifesaver, and they’re a great backup for any questions you may have. They can also refer clients to you once they get to know you and your skills. Most networks will also have job leads which are a bonus.
Also, join external networking groups and make an effort to attend. BUT don’t go simply to sell your services. Go to make genuine business connections and get your name known as being a VA.
4. Be seen online:
It’s an online world, and if you’re not ready to constantly be seen online (or pay someone to do it for you), then you’re not going to make it as a VA (or in any online business!).
If you don’t have a website, you’ll be seen as not taking your business seriously and that you may even be dodgy (and no one wants to be called dodgy). Even a one-pager is better than nothing (but please invest in this – design and copywriting).
And be social! There’s loads of free training on social media for business – learn it! It’s great for getting your name and brand out online. In the beginning, when you have more time and less money (as you don’t have client work – or much of it), it’s the perfect time to start building your online presence.
5. Plan your time:
When I started, I landed a 2 day per week client (which is huge for a newbie!). I worked for them while I refined my services and aimed to find smaller regular clients (which for me meant variety and less chance to get bored).
It’s important to be clear on your availability with your clients. Some VAs work around their kids and have hours all over the place (which some clients may not like). Because I have younger kids, I work al day for 3 days a week with set hours for each client, and the other 2 days I work around the kids before they get up and when they have a nap. I also hired my VA Chloe to cover the days I couldn’t be available.
6. Tools of the trade:
There are heaps of online tools you can use these days to make scheduling, time and task management easier. I have a program called Asana, that my clients can put tasks into, so I know what they need to be done. It saves multiple emails back and forwards which can make your inbox explode!
I also have a program called Toggl, where I track my time to make my invoicing easier. You’d only use this if your billing hours and not packages (that can be a whole other blog post).
There are also other amazing communication tools VAs rave about including Trello, Insightly, Dubsado, G-Suite, Calendly, Active Campaign, MailChimp and it just continues.
7. Look for subbie work with other virtual assistants:
When you’re starting out if you can find another VA who’s willing to give you subbie work, jump at it. This is where belonging to VA networks helps you. Put it out there and let other VAs know what you do (any specialities etc.) and tell them you’re available to help.
If they have excess client work (or they’ve got something they’d prefer not to do), you’ll find VAs are willing to give other VAs a chance. You should expect a lesser rate (as the VA will still need to check over your work, deal with the client etc.) but it’s better than nothing.
But please remember that the other VA is your client. Treat them how you would a client. If you treat them badly, miss deadlines, don’t communicate etc. they won’t give you any further work. And because it’s an industry where people know each other, your reputation is at stake.
Are you ready to give this virtual assistant thing a go?
If you’ve got any further questions about becoming a VA, please feel free to pop them in the comments below, and I’ll give you my advice. And if you know anyone considering being a VA, please feel free to share this blog with them.