Stuck in the nine-to-five grind? Craving more control over your life?
Maybe you're a parent looking for extra income without sacrificing family time, or perhaps you're seeking a new direction, a way to break free and live life on your terms.
Enter the world of virtual assistants (VAs)… a path to personal freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment.
Or something like that.
It’s no secret that the traditional office is giving way to the home workspace. Reluctantly at times, but the trend is clear.
From the freedom seeker to the stay-at-home parent, the career-changer, and retiree, becoming a virtual assistant is not just a job. It’s a lifestyle. A way to rediscover your passion, to feel alive again, to contribute and grow without the shadow of a boss looming over your shoulder.
This guide to becoming a virtual assistant will help you find the life you’re looking for. A life you may even be dreaming about.
Why Become a Virtual Assistant?
The world is changing, and remote work is in.
Imagine working from a beachside café or the comfort of your own home. Becoming a VA can open the door to that kind of life.
We're talking about real flexibility and freedom. You set the hours. You choose the place.
So, if you’re looking for a better-balanced lifestyle, becoming a VA might just be your ticket to freedom.
Here are some real-life examples of VAs sharing their experience…
In both instances, these virtual assistants have good things to say about it. They are also making good money ($25/hr in the example above and $45/hr below).
With that said, there are many comments, blogs, forum posts, etc., from VAs whose experiences are not so great.
So, like all work-at-home gigs and side hustles, there is a wide range of experiences, and not every day (client, job, task, etc.) will be great. It may take some to find your footing.
Whether it's the flexibility to create the perfect lifestyle or the freedom to be based anywhere in the world, becoming a VA has its allure. You're not just joining a rapidly growing field; you're embracing a lifestyle that puts you in control.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)
Before we dig into the nuts and bolts of becoming a virtual assistant, we should discuss what a virtual assistant does…
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Being a Virtual Assistant isn't about juggling paperclips or being glued to a desk. It's a universe of endless possibilities tailored to your talents and expertise.
Here's a glimpse of the VA galaxy, the services that you as a virtual assistant can offer…
|Administrative Support||Creating lesson plans, grading, and tutoring. Supporting education, from lesson planning to one-on-one tutoring.|
|Content Creation||Writing, editing, graphic design, video editing. A blend of creativity and technical skill, crafting content that resonates with audiences.|
|Bookkeeping and Financial Management||Scheduling, emails, document creation, travel planning. From keeping the diary in check to organizing travel, the VA is an organizational guru.|
|Social Media Management||Strategy, posting, engagement, analytics. Building and nurturing online communities, being the voice and heart of the brand on social platforms.|
|Website/Blog Management||Design, updates, SEO. Creating and maintaining the digital home of the business, where functionality meets aesthetics.|
|Customer Service||Campaigns, email marketing, and ad management. Crafting and executing marketing strategies that hit the target, turning prospects into customers.|
|Marketing and Advertising||Invoices, payments, and budget tracking. Managing the financial pulse of the business, ensuring every cent is accounted for.|
|Research and Analysis||Market research, competitor analysis. Digging deep into data, uncovering insights that fuel informed decisions.|
|Technical Support||Handling inquiries, feedback, and support. Being the empathetic ear and problem solver for customers, ensuring satisfaction.|
|Event Planning||Webinars, conferences, meet-ups. Orchestrating events that dazzle, from planning to execution.|
|Project Management||Product listings and order processing. Managing the virtual storefront, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.|
|E-commerce Management||Product listings and order processing. Managing the virtual storefront, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.|
|Legal and Compliance Assistance||Contract drafting, legal research. Navigating the legal landscape, keeping compliance in check.|
|Healthcare Services||Medical transcription, billing. Bridging healthcare and administration, handling specialized tasks with precision.|
|Real Estate Assistance||Listings, appointment scheduling. Supporting the real estate world, from listings to viewings.|
|Human Resources||Recruitment, employee onboarding. Finding and nurturing talent, being the human in human resources.|
|Educational Support||Creating lesson plans, grading, and tutoring. Supporting education, from lesson planning to one-on-one tutoring.|
|Personal Assistance||Lifestyle management, personal shopping. Making personal lives run smoothly, handling everything from errands to shopping.|
These services illustrate a virtual assistant's diverse roles, from the organizational guru handling administrative tasks to the creative content creator.
Whether managing the financial aspects of your client’s business or orchestrating dazzling events, a virtual assistant is a versatile professional fulfilling an important role.
I know, it sounds great. But can you really make decent money as a VA?
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Make?
The siren call of the virtual assistant world isn't just about flexibility and autonomy. It's also about the money.
The cold, hard cash.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer here. Your income as a virtual assistant depends on many factors. A complex mosaic of the services you offer, the prices you charge, the country you live in, the number of clients you serve, and your unique skills and expertise.
In other words… it’s complicated.
But let's look at some real numbers (albeit not guaranteed)…
- Glassdoor estimates an average salary of $41,441 per year in the US.
- Zip Recruiter puts the figure at $43,383 per year or $21 per hour in the US.
- If you're a Fiverr fan, you'll get to keep 80 percent of your earnings.
- On Upwork, your hourly rates can be as low as $10 and as high as $60 or more.
As you can see, it's a broad spectrum.
Starting as a VA may mean accepting small, lower-paying jobs to gain experience and positive testimonials. But with time, effort, and a sprinkle of strategy, you'll find your sweet spot.
It’s a journey paved with opportunities, all leading to a destination where you're the master of your financial fate.
Essential Skills and Tools
Navigating this virtual assistant journey is like being the captain of a ship. You're steering through various responsibilities, each requiring a unique set of tools and skills. Whether it's the compass of communication or the anchor of administration, here's a list of what you need to be a top-shelf VA (of course, you won’t need ALL of these)…
- Technical Skills
- Administrative Support – Scheduling, emails, document creation, travel planning.
- Content Creation – Writing, editing, graphic design, video editing.
- Bookkeeping and Financial Management – Invoices, payments, budget tracking.
- Social Media and Online Presence Management – Strategy, posting, engagement, and analytics.
- Customer Service – Handling inquiries, feedback, and support.
- Research and Analysis – Market research, competitor analysis.
- Soft Skills
- Communication – Clear, concise, and empathetic communication with clients and team members.
- Problem-Solving – Ability to think on your feet and find solutions.
- Time Management – Keeping track of tasks and meeting deadlines.
- Flexibility – Adapting to various tasks and clients' needs.
- Self-Motivation – Working independently with a strong drive.
- Continuous Learning & Growth –
- Assessment of Skills – Understanding what clients are looking for.
- Online Courses & Training – Building and enhancing your virtual assistant skills.
- Reflection on Growth – Understanding potential clients' needs.
Go deeper with our essential virtual assistant skills guide.
It's not just about the skills. It's about having the right tools in your bag. I’ll go over some specific software and helpful platforms further below, but the general-purpose items you’ll need are…
- Computer – Reliable and fast, your gateway to the virtual world.
- High-Speed Internet Connection – The lifeline of your virtual office.
- Headset & Microphone – For clear communication.
- Software & Platforms – 9 times out of 10, you’ll need Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace. It’s also a good idea to be familiar with project management tools like Notion (which is my preferred platform), Asana, or Trello.
- Webcam – For video conferencing and virtual meetings.
- Comfortable Chair – While this isn’t a necessity, as someone who works from home and often spends 12+ hours a day on the computer… a comfortable chair is critical. And I suppose while we’re talking about chairs, consider a high-res monitor (or 2) set at eye level for proper posture.
I used to work hunched over a laptop for countless hours, and while it’s possible, it’s not healthy.
How to Start as a Virtual Assistant
You know what you want to do, and you’ve got your tool bag of goodies to do it. Now, where do you start?
Education and Training
Embarking on a journey to become a VA is exciting, but it’s also ever-changing. Start with the right education and training for the services you want to provide.
Presumably, you have many of the skills required, but you can never have too many.
Identify the skills you'll need and find courses that cater to them. Online platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Skillshare offer courses for various virtual assistance skills.
They might not be labeled as “virtual assistant skills”, but based on the table of services and tasks above, you’ll have a good idea of what you need.
Find Your Niche
What will your VA business look like?
It's time to get specific. Are you a whiz with social media? Maybe bookkeeping's your game. Find your niche and make it your specialty.
Set Up Your VA Shop
You're not just starting a job. You're building a business. From setting up a professional website to handling legal aspects, it's about laying the foundation strong.
Here's an overview of the step-by-step process of setting up shop properly.
- Choose Your Business Structure – Sole proprietor? LLC? Make the right call.
- Register Your Business – Get the legalities in place.
- Create a Business Plan – Sketch out your vision.
- Set Up a Professional Website – Your digital storefront.
- Establish Your Brand – Logos, colors, voice – make it yours.
Look, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can certainly get started by posting a handful of services on freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
But you’ll want to consider the professional and legal aspects of your VA business sooner rather than later.
And don’t worry about the experience. Of course, skills and experience are important, but we all start somewhere.
Identify your strengths, skills, talents, and interests or passions.
If you’re not interested in calling clients or collecting money, don’t advertise that as one of your VA services.
Starting as a virtual assistant isn't as hard as one might think. Knowing the tasks, setting up business information, and applying to jobs are key steps. But again, start with what you know and acquire new skills and knowledge as you go.
Getting Started Checklist – Quick Guide
- Identify Your Skills and Niche – Know what you're good at.
- Take Relevant Courses – Skill up.
- Set Up Your Business Legally – Get registered.
- Build Your Online Presence – Website, LinkedIn, Social Media Profiles.
- Choose Your Platforms – Upwork, Fiverr, Direct Outreach, Etc.
- Create Your Branding – This isn’t necessary from the outset, but branding will help you stand out. I recommend Donald Miller’s book, Building a Story Brand, to help you connect with your clients in ways your competitors are unlikely to.
- Join VA Communities – Network with others and soak up all of the knowledge you can.
- Apply to Jobs – As mentioned above, the quickest way to get started is on freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, etc.
- Stay Updated – Keep learning, growing, and gaining experience.
Finally… take the leap, check out our toolbag of tips for virtual assistants, and let the adventure unfold.
Finding and Keeping Clients
It’s no secret that finding clients is one of the biggest challenges you’ll have when starting your VA adventure. It’s thrilling (aka, a little scary and intimidating) and rewarding. But fear not… the client universe is vast.
You need clients, that’s obvious. But where do you start?
Consider your niche. This is a broad profession that ranges from small tasks to managing entire aspects of a business.
Are you a whiz with emails, a master of social media, or a maestro of website design?
Identify your specialty and market yourself as an expert. Of course, it’s also good if you are an expert.
The clients will come to you, drawn by your unique skills. It's about being the big fish in a small pond, standing out in your area of expertise.
Start with existing platforms and talent pools…
How to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
While finding virtual assistant clients and finding virtual assistant jobs is, in many ways, the same thing, the nuance lies in the level of control and commitment you have in each scenario.
With clients, you're steering the ship, setting your rates, and defining the scope of work. In a job, you're more of a passenger, adhering to a predefined role and compensation structure.
In either case, you’ll be leveraging the many freelance platforms, marketplaces, talent pools, etc. to find VA work. Here’s a list of places to start…
Virtual Assistant Platforms and Talent Pools
- Fiverr – One of the busiest virtual markets.
- Upwork – Set your hourly rates and grow.
- Belay Solutions – Specialized in virtual staffing solutions.
- Flex Jobs – Flexible and remote job opportunities.
- Freelancer – A global marketplace to find projects.
- Indeed – Search for virtual assistant jobs globally.
- Intelligent Office – Tailored virtual office services.
- LinkedIn – Network and discover professional opportunities.
- MyOutDesk – Virtual professionals for entrepreneurs.
- MyTasker – Offer your VA services to businesses.
- People Per Hour – A freelance market to showcase your skills.
- Smith.ai – Hires home-based VAs and receptionists.
- Remote.io – Remote jobs and virtual positions.
- The ROOM – Community-driven virtual workspaces.
- The VA Hub – A hub for virtual assistant roles.
- The Virtual Hub – Virtual assistant recruitment.
- Time Etc. – A platform dedicated to virtual assistants.
- VirtuDesk – Virtual staffing solutions.
- We Work Remotely – Discover remote and flexible jobs.
More than just bustling VA bazaars, these platforms are potential gateways to VA success.
Networking and Building Relationships
In the world of virtual assistance, connections are not only links in a digital chain, they are lifelines to your VA future. Networking is the heartbeat of your business.
But how do you build these vital relationships?
- Join Virtual Assistant Communities – Engage with others who've walked your path. Share, learn, grow.
- Attend Industry Events – Whether virtual or in-person, these gatherings are gold mines for connections.
- Leverage Social Media – Platforms like LinkedIn aren't just for scrolling. They're platforms to showcase your skills, connect with potential clients, and grow your network.
- Build a Referral Network – Happy clients talk. Encourage them to spread the word. Your next big client might be a referral away.
- Connect with Agencies – Places like Belay Solutions or VirtuDesk (listed above) can be your bridge to clients you wouldn't otherwise meet.
And remember, networking isn't a one-and-done deal. It's nurturing relationships and making genuine connections, not just business transactions.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent seeking balance or a retiree looking for camaraderie, you will find that networking fills more than just the client roster. It helps fill the human need for connection.
And I must admit, as someone who works from home, this is a tough nut to crack. I generally appreciate my alone time. And as an introvert, extended time in crowds drains my energy.
My batteries recharge in solitude.
But even I’ve had stretches of deep work that are far too long without human connection. Even we introverts need others, and having great clients is a good way to fill that need.
With that said, let’s keep moving…
Gain Experience and Prove Your Worth
You've got the drive and the passion, but how do you prove your worth, especially if you're just starting?
Here's a bit of a roadmap…
- Start Small, Think Big – It's okay to begin with smaller projects. Build a portfolio, and gather testimonials. Every satisfied client is a stepping stone.
- Showcase Your Skills – Create a portfolio website. Include samples, success stories, testimonials, and a clear display of what you can do.
- Offer a Free Trial – Let clients see what you're made of. A sample of your service might be the key to unlocking a long-term contract.
- Build Your Online Reputation – Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer allow client feedback and positive reviews.
- Emphasize Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – What makes you different? Maybe it's your lightning-fast response time, or perhaps it's your eye for design. Highlight it.
Whether you're looking to build a life on your own terms, or at home looking after loved ones, gaining experience, and proving your worth is not an unclimbable mountain. It's a journey, and every step, every satisfied client, and every successful project is a milestone.
You've worked hard to land clients, but keeping them? That's a whole new VA game.
Client retention is like tending to a garden. It requires care, attention, and a little bit of love. Here's how to make sure your clients keep coming back…
- Understand Their Needs – Listen more than you speak. Understand what they're looking for, what they need, and what keeps them up at night. Your solutions aren't just services; they're answers to their problems.
- Over-Deliver When Possible – Surprise them with that extra effort. Go beyond what's expected, and they'll remember why they chose you in the first place.
- Communicate Regularly – Don't let them wonder what's happening. Regular updates, even a friendly check-in, build trust and show that you care.
- Ask for Feedback – How are you doing? What could be better? Their insights aren't just critiques; they're opportunities for growth.
- Be Flexible – Needs change, and being adaptable shows that you're not just a service provider; you're a partner in their success.
- Celebrate Success Together – Hit a milestone? Share the joy. Their success is your success, and celebrating together builds a connection that goes beyond contracts and invoices.
- Provide Consistent Quality – Don't let the quality slip. Consistency is key. They've come to expect a certain standard. Keep delivering, and they'll keep coming back.
- Offer Loyalty Discounts or Incentives – Everyone loves a good deal. A small gesture of appreciation can go a long way in making clients feel valued.
You know what it's like to be a client. Maybe not a VA client, but a client of some company or service. So you've been there. You know the frustrations, the hopes, the expectations.
So put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “What would make me stay?”
Treat your clients not as numbers on a spreadsheet but as individuals with dreams, challenges, desires, worries, and frustrations. They are people like you, wanting their day to be a little easier and happier.
So, you’ve got a strategy, and you’re ready to get started. The next question is how much should you charge. Here are some strategies…
Setting Your Rates
Setting your rates as a virtual assistant is like navigating the ocean. You need the right compass, a sense of direction, a touch of adventurous spirit, and some courage.
Let's set sail…
|Recognize Your Worth||Know the unique value you bring and don't be shy about charging for your expertise.||If you're specialized in social media marketing, for example, set a higher rate for those services.|
|Research the Market||Investigate competitors' rates. Find a balance between being price and service-competitive.||Use platforms like Glassdoor or freelance platforms to gauge average rates for VAs in your area.|
|Consider Your Expenses||Factor in tools, subscriptions, and your time to ensure you're profitable.||If you're using premium software that costs $100/month, make sure to account for that.|
|Choose a Pricing Model||Decide between hourly, project-based, or subscription pricing based on the nature of the work.||Hourly for ongoing tasks; project-based for one-off projects like website development.|
|Offer Packages||Create bundles of services at a fixed price to add value and appeal.||Offer a content creation package that includes blog posts, social media posts, and images.|
|Be Transparent||Clearly communicate what's included in your rate and any additional costs.||Provide a detailed breakdown of what's included and what might incur extra charges.|
|Use a Contract||Establish a formal agreement with terms, scope of work, rates, and payment details.||Use platforms like HelloSign to create and manage contracts online.|
|Adjust as You Grow||Regularly review and update your pricing as your skills, experience, and the market evolve.||After a year (or set a time-period with each client) of successful projects, consider increasing your rates to reflect your growth.|
Some Pricing Tips
- Start with a Pilot – Not sure about your rates? You’re not alone. Offer a trial period at a special rate, then adjust based on feedback and experience.
- Be Flexible but Firm – Be willing to negotiate but know your bottom line. Your rates reflect your value and your expenses.
- Communicate Value – Help clients understand what they're getting for their investment. It's more than the tasks. It's about your expertise, reliability, and the quality you bring. In other words, communicate not only what you can do but how much time and stress you can save your client (which is what they really want).
Pricing your virtual assistant services is more art than science. It's a dance between understanding your worth, gauging the market, and aligning with your clients' needs.
The Intersection of Expenses and Revenue
Imagine stepping into a boat and battling against the current. At the start of your virtual assistant journey, that's what it usually feels like for most newbies. The waters are rough, the wind is against you, and the shore seems far far away.
In the Beginning – Spending More Than You Earn
At the outset, your boat is weighed down with expenses. You've got advertising costs, marketing campaigns, educational courses, monthly subscriptions for essential tools, and more.
And all this while you're charging a lower hourly rate to attract those first clients.
You may even wonder if it’s worth it.
At this stage, your hourly rate will not reflect your ideal worth, but it's a temporary compromise to get the ball rolling. You're putting more money into the business than you're taking out, and it can feel disheartening.
Turning the Tide – Strategies to Shift the Balance
Like a seasoned sailor, you will learn to read the waters and navigate the skies. You’ll find ways to trim those sails and turn the tide in your favor…
- Improve Your Campaigns – As you hone your marketing skills, your advertising costs decrease. You're getting more clients for less spend.
- Building a Reputation – Happy clients lead to glowing testimonials. Your reputation grows, reducing the need for heavy advertising.
- Investing in Education – Those upfront costs for courses pay off as new skills allow you to charge higher rates.
- Smart Purchasing Decisions – Switching to annual or lifetime memberships for tools can significantly lower monthly costs.
Reaching Calmer Waters – Revenue Exceeding Expenses
As time passes, your rates increase, reflecting your growing expertise and client base.
The boat that was once weighed down with expenses now glides effortlessly through calmer waters. Your revenue is exceeding your expenses, and you've not only reached the shore but built a thriving harbor for your business.
The journey from rocky beginnings to smooth sailing is a challenging but rewarding one.
This, and all entrepreneurial endeavors for that matter, are a dance between investment and returns, a constant game of balance. But with smart strategies and a clear understanding of your own worth, you'll find yourself sailing with the wind at your back.
10 Highest Demand Virtual Assistant Services Right Now
- Why It's Hot – In the digital age, organization is king. Businesses crave efficiency, structure, and order in the chaos.
- Leverage It – Be the guru of time management, the wizard of order. Tools like virtual calendars, CRMs, and digital task managers are your allies, putting the controls at your fingertips.
2. Social Media Management
- Why It's Hot – Social media is where brands live and breathe today. It's the marketplace, the scrolling billboards, and the conversation.
- Leverage It – Speak the language of likes, shares, and comment responses. Understand the platforms your clients’ businesses are most suited for and engage authentically. This is a skill that few possess, but one that can grow a business like no other.
3. Customer Support
- Why It's Hot – Customer experience defines brands. Empathy, promptness, expertise, and care win out. It’s what every business that sells a product or service needs. And it can make or break any business.
- Leverage It – Be the empathetic ear, the problem-solver. Become an expert on your clients’ products and services, and go the extra mile. Become invaluable to your client’s business.
4. E-commerce Management
- Why It's Hot – Online shopping is the norm today, for better or for worse. But it has its challenges. So seamless, efficient management is key.
- Leverage It – Become a master of the virtual storefront. For the career changer or freedom seeker, e-com is a world rich with opportunities.
- Why It's Hot – Reaching customers is an art. Without marketing, your client’s business is like Tom Hanks stuck on a deserted island. Great at what they do, and lovable. But forgotten, disconnected, and unseen.
Use email outreach, ad campaign management, branding, customer outreach and follow-up, etc., to capture eyeballs and turn interest into action.
- Leverage It – Marketing is a unique skill. Easy to learn the basics, but difficult to become a master. With your growing skills, you can develop strategies, test campaigns, and analyze results more effectively and efficiently than your client can. This is a never-ending game of growth and learning.
6. Technical Support
- Why It's Hot – Technology drives business, and almost all businesses use technology. Whether B2C or B2B, tech support is essential. The smooth functioning of operations is non-negotiable. When things go down, our hands may as well be tied behind our backs.
- Leverage It – You may need to come at this VA gig with pre-existing skills, but if you’re a tech wizard and glitch-fixer, the world of problem-solving is yours.
- Why It's Hot – Financial health is the pulse of business. No matter what your client does, one thing is certain. They need their books in order and taxes paid. As someone who grew a business in some ways by mistake (or at least, unexpectedly), I can tell you there is no escaping the books and taxes.
Even when you don’t realize you need it, you need it. And the government will not let you cut corners. Precision, transparency, and tracking are absolutely vital.
- Leverage It – It never hurts to be a financial guru or a number whisperer. If there’s a skill to add to your repertoire, this is one you’ll use abundantly throughout life. And when it comes to clients, trust and accuracy are key.
8. Content Creation
- Why It's Hot – Content connects, persuades, entertains. It's the number one way for businesses to connect with customers and potential customers. Arguably, content has never been in higher demand… despite its saturation. People are ravenous for content.
- Leverage It – Write, design, create, shoot video, edit, you name it… If you can do it, someone out there needs your help. Content creation is a time suck and requires full-time dedication. Most businesses can’t do it on their own.
9. Real Estate Assistance
- Why It's Hot – The real estate world is fast, complex, and seemingly never sleeps. Whether it’s up or down, there’s excitement somewhere. It’s also localized and bound by a jungle of rules and regulations that require an expert guide and coordinator. You can be both.
- Leverage It – Why not play a part in the personal theatres of big decisions and big dreams? Many skills here will crossover into other areas related to admin, marketing, finance, legal, etc. So, you’re not losing anything by going after a VA gig in this industry.
10. Human Resources
- Why It's Hot – At the moment, people are the soul of business. Recent developments in AI may one day challenge this, but for now… businesses need people. Therefore, recruitment, nurturing, building teams, moderating disputes, and handling mountains of forms and documents are all necessities that won’t soon go away.
- Leverage It – Connect, understand, grow. Be the human in human resources, and your mastery of connecting with people will take you farther than just about any other skill you can acquire.
Growing Your Virtual Assistant Business
Your business is unique, just like a rare branch on an oak tree. But how do you market this uniqueness? How do you build an even bigger client base that resonates with your particular set of skills?
- Evaluate Your Skills and Target Market – What sets you apart? Maybe it's your design flair or your knack for organizing chaos. Find clients who value your unique offerings.
- Specialize in Areas Where You Excel – Are you a tech whiz? Consider specializing in technical support. Excel at writing? Content creation might be your path.
- Connect Authentically – Sure, vision boards aren't for everyone, and for some, they might even be counterproductive. But if you're someone who likes to have a visual representation of goals, it might be an effective part of your roadmap to growing your VA business.
Building a Strong Root System
The roots of the oak tree provide strength and nourishment. Your business roots are the legal structures, branding, financial savings, and professional networks that support your growth.
- Choose the Right Business Structure – Sole proprietor or LLC? Your choice impacts taxes and liability.
- Create a Memorable Brand – Your logo, website, and voice are the face of your business. Make them count.
- Build a Financial Runway – You’ll need some scratch in the bank to water your growing empire and keep the bill collectors at bay.
- Network Like an Oak – Oak trees rarely stand alone, and neither should you. Engage with VA communities, attend conferences, and build professional relationships.
A tree needs sun, and its root systems need water and essential nutrients. Likewise, your client relationships need care and attention, including…
- Building Trust – Deliver on promises, communicate openly, and be there when your clients need you.
- Growing Loyalty and Going the Extra Mile – Offer value beyond the contract. Surprise your clients with an extra touch now and then.
- Continuously Improving – Your client’s business is growing and improving, and so should you. Getting better at your craft and continuously providing better services and new services will not only help your clients grow their business. It will make it incredibly difficult for them to replace you.
Keeping with our tree theme🌳, it seems obvious that a tree is either growing or dying. I don’t know about you, but it’s better to spread your branches and reach for the sun than to dry out and collapse on the ground.
So, keep growing…
- Utilize Tools and Technology – Streamline and improve your workflow with the right tools. As a VA, you only have so many hours in a day. To expand, use tools to automate as much work as possible.
- Time Management and Productivity – There may or may not be room to grow here. For those already maximizing their time and productivity, it might be hard to squeeze more juice from this fruit. But if you’re like me, there’s always more. I can always do better.
And it’s not linear. Some days I’m extremely focused and productive, and other days it’s like I’m stuck in molasses.
So, it’s not only about speed. It’s about increasing the number of fast days.
- Take Care of Your Health – It’s not exactly business advice, but eating healthy, getting good (and consistent) sleep, and exercising will also increase your focus, efficiency, and productivity.
- Hire Your Own Virtual Assistant – As your business grows, you may need your own virtual assistant. What part of your business is holding you back? Where are your weak areas?
Identify Skills Gap – Where's the gap in your skillset? Perhaps you're an Administrative Ace but lack social media expertise. Pinpoint the areas you can get better and fill them.
Choose the Right Training Platform – Platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, or specialized VA training centers provide courses tailored to virtual assistants. But not every platform is created equal. Research, ask for recommendations, and choose wisely.
Invest in What Matters – Not every skill is worth pursuing. Focus on what aligns with your business goals and what the market demands. For example –
- If you're targeting tech startups, perhaps learning the latest software development tools will set you apart.
- If content creation is your forte, a course on SEO or graphic design might add value to your services.
Measure the Impact – Upskilling should translate into growth. Did that social media course help you land new clients? Keep track and adjust your strategy as needed.
Learn from Others – Sometimes, the best lessons come from observing others. Engage with fellow VAs, join forums, and learn from their experiences. What worked for them? What didn't? Adapt their insights to your journey.
Continuous Learning Is Your Ally – A tree doesn't stop growing (unless it’s dying, as mentioned earlier), and neither should you. Keep an eye on industry trends, attend webinars, read relevant blogs, and stay ahead of the curve.
Weathering the Storms
Yes, I’ll keep hammering on this oak tree analogy. Every tree faces storms, and so will you. It's how you weather them that defines your growth.
- Identify Challenges Ahead of Time – You know they’re coming, and while it’s great to always be on offense, a successful VA business must also play defense.
What might hinder your growth?
It could be economic trends, personal financial trouble, or a health issue. You’ve been there before. Make a list of potential speed bumps and plan for them.
- Maintain a Positive Mindset – It’s a cliché, but challenges carry the seeds of equal or greater opportunity (I think it was Napolean Hill who said that). Anyway, when the storm comes, hunker down and have your moment.
But storms come and go. Stay rooted in your purpose and search high and low for the golden nuggets the storm leaves in its aftermath.
- Seek Professional Advice – Sometimes, an expert's perspective makes all the difference. None of us do this (whatever this is) alone. If we did, we’d all still be living in caves.
That doesn’t mean you’re not an independent person or self-starter. But we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and, sometimes, those around us. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t build the road that leads to the grocery store that feeds me.
We all need help sometimes, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Measure Your Success
What gets measured gets improved. Well, not always, but hey… if you don’t measure your success, it’s hard to improve it.
So, how do you measure success?
- Set and Monitor KPIs – Key Performance Indicators keep you on track.
- Celebrate Achievements – Big or small, every success counts.
- Learn from Mistakes – Even oaks lose branches. Learn and grow stronger.
Your VA business can grow or stall out. I know all about stalling out, but I’ll save that for another article. Either way, embrace the journey, stay true to your values, and keep reaching for the sun.
Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Entrepreneurship Can be a Tricky Balancing Act
Some challenges you may find overwhelming are managing clients, and dealing with uncertainty, and burnout. These are not unique to the entrepreneurial world, but they are more persistent.
Having said that, the most important part of your business is you. Therefore, you must take care of YOU.
Immerse yourself into time management strategies and set strict boundaries that define your work life from your home life. Schedule breaks and practice self-care, whether that means exercise, meditation, following a strict diet, or all of the above.
Everyone is different. Some people just operate with peak focus and efficiency naturally. Others (including myself) need to make sure we’re following a schedule, getting enough sleep, eating properly, etc., because when we don’t, our productivity and prioritization suffer.
Finding Your First Clients
When you’re starting out, you may have no experience, no referrals, and no testimonials. This makes it difficult to get traction.
The good news is that once you do get traction, it gets easier.
Start small and offer free trials and discounted rates. Leverage those clients into referrals, networking opportunities, and testimonials.
UpSkilling and Learning New Tools
The digital world is fast-moving. Too fast at times. Digital tools and software are constantly being updated. Your clients are also in competitive markets that require changing strategies and workflows.
Add to that the competitive VA landscape (which I’ll touch on below), and regular upskilling becomes mandatory.
The problem with this is that learning new tools and skills is time-consuming and unpaid. You must do it on your own time. You may even have to pay for courses.
Solutions include dedicating specific time each week, month, quarter, etc., to learn a new skill or new tool.
Planning ahead and having a dedicated schedule can take the pressure off.
For example, you’re not bumping up against personal obligations and family/friend time. There is a trade-off course, but these times are arranged in advance.
Invest in courses that teach skills you can leverage into new virtual assistant services and open doors that were previously closed.
Practice using free tools and trials whenever possible. Plan your educational time around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when you can often find significant deals on courses, tools, software, etc.
If you’re uncertain about a new skill and not sure it’s something you can charge for, get practice by offering pro bono work to friends and existing clients.
Currency exchange and local economy discrepancies can put you in a situation where you’re competing with VAs who can charge much cheaper rates (and depending on where you live, this may work to your advantage).
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions here. You will need to focus heavily on providing a quality service that your clients can’t do without. Find your unique selling proposition. Focus on unique strengths for your target markets, such as understanding local culture, laws, and language.
Similar to uncertainty and burnout, which we talked about a moment ago… work/home life imbalances, motivational difficulties, distractions, etc., can also accumulate and make it hard to grow your business.
This is one of those unexpected challenges. When I started working from home, I thought it would be great. And it is, for the most part.
But it can be difficult to separate work life from home life. There are a million distractions and other things you can be doing at home.
And I don’t mean things you want to be doing. Those are challenging enough.
But there are other things you should be doing.
For example, I’ve been looking at a garage and basement for the last year that needs at least a day or two of cleaning and organizing.
But that’s a day or two that I can be getting more work done.
I have a cat that’s clawed the molding on one of our doors to shreds. It needs to be fixed, but it’s one more thing that takes time. Time I can get more work done.
And then, there are the motivational challenges that come from working alone every day. I could go on all day about the work-at-home challenges a VA is likely to experience, but for now, I’ll just focus on a few strategies to help solve them.
- Designate a quiet, distraction-free corner or workspace with all essentials (which will vary depending on your clients)
- Maintain a routine as best as possible with a daily schedule that includes breaks.
- Use tools like Notion, Asana, or Trello. With a variety of clients, you may need to use and manage multiple tools. However, for your own business and schedule, you should use only one.
- Plan or schedule tasks that need to be completed around your home. But prioritize your needs. Paying your mortgage/rent and putting food on the table is a pretty big priority. So don’t feel guilty about putting a big project off until your financial situation allows for it.
Income and Expense Tracking, Taxes, Etc.
In addition to unpaid after-hours work for upskilling, managing your VA business is another time-consuming list of tasks. And outsourcing can be expensive.
To speed things up and improve efficiency, use proper accounting and business management software and calculators. Set aside time each week, month, quarter, etc., so that tasks don’t build up.
You might also consider professional assistance.
With that said, if you’re doing your own books, taxes, etc., leverage those skills and tools (which you’re already paying for) into a VA service for other clients. And if this is your full-time gig, use a remote work savings calculator to accurately track how much you must earn.
Is Becoming a Virtual Assistant for You?
Imagine waking up without an alarm clock, sipping coffee at your favorite café, and opening your laptop to start the workday.
No commute (well, except to the coffee shop if that’s your thing), no rigid schedule, just you and the open road of possibilities.
If you're someone who's self-motivated, adaptable, and tech-savvy, the world of virtual assistance might be calling your name.
You're the kind of person who thrives on flexibility. You see a challenge and turn it into an opportunity. You're organized, empathetic, and ready to leverage your talents in a way that's uniquely yours.
But it's not just about the skills. It's about the circumstances and desires that fuel your fire.
Are you stuck in a 9 – 5 grind that’s literally draining your soul?
Can you feel the walls closing in?
I've been there before, and I get it. That's not to say all of my previous jobs and careers were bad. In fact, some of them I miss.
But not all of them, that's for sure.
So, do you crave the freedom to set your own hours, to work from anywhere, to live life on your terms? Do you see becoming a VA as a path to personal autonomy, a way to break free and feel alive again?
Conversely, if you struggle with self-discipline or resist change, if you need a rigid schedule or prefer the traditional office environment, this path might be a rocky one.
If stability trumps flexibility in your book, if the thought of juggling various tasks and clients feels overwhelming, then the VA life might not be your song.
Being a virtual assistant is about embracing your unique flavor. It's about recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and fears. It's about asking yourself, “Is this the life I want? Is this the road I'm ready to travel?”
Whether you're the artist or the number cruncher, the wordsmith or the digital wizard, there's a place for you in this vast and versatile field. But it's a place you must choose, a path you have to carve.
So, take a moment to reflect. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Is this me? Is this who I want to be?”
The answer's in your heart, in the quiet longing for freedom, in the subtle yearning for control. Listen to it, embrace it, and let it guide you.
The road to becoming a virtual assistant is open, and it's waiting for you. Are you ready to take the leap?
Pros of Working As a VA
- Location Independence – If you’ve got Wi-Fi or a good data plan, you've got a workplace. Home, café, beach, lake house, or cliff with a view… your office is wherever you are.
- No Commute – This is similar to the location independence, but as someone who works from home, I think it’s deserving of being a “pro” on its own. It saves me a ton of time and money, and it will likely do the same for you. And we can always use more time and money.
- Flexible Hours – Night owl or early bird, you set the clock. Your hours, your rhythm.
- Steady Work (once you’ve established yourself) – The world is hungry for Vas the good ones can find a consistent flow of work.
- Skill Growth – Whether you’re a social media wizard or a graphic design guru already (or bookkeeper, admin, or whatever), being a virtual assistant allows you to build on those skills and expand your horizons.
- Diverse Opportunities – Admin tasks, marketing, customer service, social media management – it's a buffet, and you're filling your plate. Pick what you love, and leave what you don't.
- Be Your Own Boss – I couldn’t move on from this section without mentioning this benefit. In my opinion, this is the biggest benefit. It’s a freedom that goes far beyond time flexibility and location independence.
There’s no one looking over your shoulder and no one to prove anything to. No stupid “rules” to follow, and aside from your clients, you don’t have to
Cons of Working As a VA
- Remote Challenges – The home's comfy, but it's full of distractions. Can you stay focused when the couch is calling?
- Expectation Management – Different clients, different demands. Can you juggle? Can you adapt?
- Communication – You're not in the room, but you've got to be on the ball. Clear, concise, no room for misunderstandings.
- Internet Reliance – Your lifeline's a strong internet connection. A glitch can mean a stumble. Are you prepared?
- Potential Loneliness – It's just you and the screen. Can you handle the quiet? Do you have a support system to keep you connected?
- Uncertainty – If you’ve been an “employee” most of your adult life, entrepreneurship might be a little jarring. It was for me. While there are many benefits, one drawback I didn’t expect was constant uncertainty.
To be clear, it’s also fair to say that a job doesn’t provide 100% certainty either, but as long as have that job, it likely pays consistently. It’s the “Steady Eddy” of the earning world. It’s not without its problems, but it’s still the most common and secure way to build a life.
Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, has incredible benefits but is also not perfect. It’s anything but steady. At least when you’re starting out. There are often wild swings up and down, and chasing clients for payments is not fun either.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You don’t need to (nor should you) quit your job and jump into the VA world with both feet at once. Continue what you’re doing while working on getting your first client and building some stability.
Resources and Tools
Embarking on the VA path is like setting sail on an open sea. You've got your ship and compass. You also have your destination. But you’ll need a few tools to help make the journey smooth, efficient, and fun.
Here are some of the tools and resources you may find helpful.
Tools for Administrative Support
- Calendar Apps (Google Calendar, Outlook) – Digital planners to ensure no meeting or deadline slips through the cracks. These are the anchors that keep your ship floating into the unknown.
- Project Management Tools (Notion, Asana, Trello) – Your ship's wheel, steering tasks, and projects to their final destination.
Content Creation Tools
- Graphic Design Platforms (Canva, Adobe Spark) – Your artistic brushes, painting visuals that resonate.
- Writing Tools (Grammarly, Hemingway Editor) – Literary compasses to guide your words to perfection.
Social Media Management
- Scheduling Platforms (Hootsuite, Buffer) – Your wind in the sails, automating posts to keep your social media ship sailing smoothly.
- Analytics Tools (Google Analytics, Sprout Social) – Navigational charts, helping you understand the currents and tides of your online presence.
Customer Service Tools
- Help Desk Software (Zendesk, Freshdesk) – Your lifebuoys, ensuring customer inquiries never drift away unanswered.
- Live Chat Solutions (Intercom, Drift) – These are your shipmates, helping you engage customers in real-time.
Financial Management Tools
- Accounting Software (QuickBooks, Zoho Books) – Treasure maps for tracking every gold doubloon and silver piece.
- Invoice Generators (FreshBooks, Invoice Ninja) – Quills and parchments for crafting professional invoices with the touch of a button.
Technical Support Tools
- Remote Access Software (TeamViewer, AnyDesk) – Your telescopes, peering into distant technical landscapes to solve your clients’ issues.
- Ticketing Systems (Jira, GitHub) – Logbooks for tracking and resolving technical glitches.
Of course, you won’t need all of these. In some cases, one or two will be all you need.
But these tools are more than mere software. They're your allies, helping you break free from the daily grind. To escape the chains of employment.
They can help make your journey as a virtual assistant not just possible but enjoyable, efficient, and tailored to your unique flavor.
Where Do You Go From Here?
You want to break free from the constraints of a job. To grab onto your future and not leave it in the hands of someone else.
So, we’ve journeyed through the landscape of becoming a Virtual Assistant. From understanding what a VA is to navigating the challenges and embracing the opportunities. This is your roadmap to freedom. Or at least your roadmap to get started.
It's time to take the wheel, set your course, and drive towards a life you want. A life where you're the boss. Your path to independence starts now.