This beginner’s guide will help you launch a successful VA career — absolutely no experience required!
What Exactly is a Virtual Assistant?
Simply put, a virtual assistant provides support services from a remote location. The type of services offered can include everything from simple administrative tasks to complex social media campaigns.
Who Uses Virtual Assistants and Why?
Small business owners, solopreneurs, busy professionals, and bloggers all use virtual assistants. When there’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done, it makes sense to outsource tasks to a VA. This frees up valuable time for the client to work on projects and tasks only they can complete.
Plus, it’s much more cost-effective to hire a VA than an in-office employee. For the client, this means savings on things like office supplies, health insurance, and other employee benefits programs.
Who Would Make a Great VA?
One of the great things about the VA profession is that so many diverse backgrounds translate well to virtual assisting. Of course, anyone with admin or clerical experience likely knows a few tricks of the trade to providing standout professional support, but teachers, stay-at-home parents, human resources pros, paralegals, nurses, and accountants possess many of the traits needed to succeed, too! And that’s just a short list.
Work history aside, some of the traits that generally make for a great VA include:
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, of course. But if you were shaking your head in agreement as you ran through that list, you probably already possess the soft skills needed to succeed as a VA!
How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience
So, you know you’ve got what it takes to be successful but aren’t exactly sure where to start? That’s okay. You want to make sure you get started the right way. This will help you gain your footing and ultimately grow a successful business. The last thing you want to do is get started without a plan in place. Grasping at straws hoping something will work isn’t nearly as effective as going into the VA field with a well thought out strategy!
I always recommend all beginners, no matter the profession, pick a niche. Whether you want to be a writer, proofreader, transcriptionist or, in this case, are wondering how to become a virtual assistant with no experience, the first thing you should do is settle on a niche.
It’s much easier to find potential clients, land jobs, and establish yourself as an expert when you’re focused on a particular group. And becoming an expert is what you should be aiming for. As an expert, you can command higher rates and will have clients seeking out your services rather than you constantly tracking down your next gig.
If a virtual assistant niche isn’t jumping right out you, here’s some of the most common (and lucrative!) options you might want to consider.
Social Media Assistant
Social media is a time suck for business owners, bloggers and brands. As a virtual social media assistant, you can help free up a client’s time by managing their social presence. This can include creating content, finding share-worthy articles, making pin-worthy graphics and responding to messages.
You may be a good fit for this niche if you:
Can pin, post, tweet, snap and update with the best of them
Know what’s trending before it’s actually trending
Are familiar with automation tools like Buffer, Tailwind, and Hootsuite
Understand what it takes to generate buzz and create brand awareness
This particular VA niche has exploded in recent years, and shows no signs of stopping. It seems like every day there’s a new social platform to conquer and different best practices to follow. As a social media virtual assistant, you can be the pro that helps businesses, bloggers and brands attract new readers and grow a loyal audience.
Blogger’s Virtual Assistant
Bloggers are usually jacks and jills of all trades. That is, they do just about everything when it comes to creating, updating, and maintaining their blogs and online presence. When you’re a one-man or one-woman show, it’s hard to keep up with this daily routine. That’s where you come in.
As a blogger’s assistant you may:
Help write, edit, and post blog content
Assist with graphic creation using applications like Canva or PicMonkey
Respond to reader emails
Optimize existing content by removing/fixing broken links, adding affiliate links, etc.
Help schedule social media
If you’re just starting out as a blogger or have always wanted to start your own blog, being a blogger’s VA is a great learning opportunity. You’ll get a first-hand look at how a profitable blog operates and learn a tip or two along the way.
Running a virtual storefront requires a lot of upkeep. Online store owners may have hundreds of thousands of items in their ever-changing inventory. Plus, there’s orders, returns and general customer service inquiries to handle on a daily basis. How on Earth do they keep up? They outsource work to a virtual assistant, like you, of course!
What you might do as an ecommerce VA:
Write product descriptions
Respond to customer billing inquiries
Track packages and handle returns
Help promote sales and product launches
Sellers may have their own sites or use a combination of popular platforms. Some of the most common ways to sell online include Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and Shopify. While you likely won’t be handling physical merchandise as an ecommerce VA, you will help run the day-to-day operations of a store. This is a great opportunity to use your real world retail skills in a virtual setting!
Real Estate Assistant
A lot goes into buying and selling property. That’s why buyers and sellers turn to realtors for help. Realtors secure home listings, help buyers find the perfect property, market listings, and stage open houses (to name a few). This is a lot to do for one person! To help stay organized and provide amazing support to buyers and sellers alike, realtors often outsource tasks so they can focus on their clients’ needs.
Some things you might do as a realtor’s VA:
Schedule listing appointments and home viewings
Market open houses
Write listing descriptions that sell
Reach out to prospective buyers/sellers
If you have a background in real estate or simply have an interest in the field, this is a great opportunity to gain experience. While you won’t actually be showing houses, you will play an important role to the realtor that helps contribute to their overall success!
General Admin Assistant
I know I said it’s important to pick a niche. So you might be wondering why general admin assistant made the list. In reality, a general VA is a niche of it’s own. How so? Solopreneurs and small business owners need help. Chances are, they’ve got orders rolling in and clients to please. But there’s also the internal things that need to get taken care of on a daily basis. It’s hard to concentrate on delivering quality work when there’s an administrative to-do list a mile long.
You can exclusively market yourself to these busy professionals. They don’t have the need for their own receptionist or operations manager but they do need a helping hand to help them get more done in a day — and that person could be you!
Where to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs
A number of companies contract with virtual assistants. These companies serve as the middleman between you, the VA, and the client. You’ll likely work as an IC and be paid based on the number of clients you work with or amount of time you log. But if you’re wondering how to become a virtual assistant with no experience, these companies might not be the best fit for you. Many of them exclusively contract with experienced VAs.
However, if you come from an admin or clerical background, you might want to check out Time Etc. You don’t need VA experience here to be considered but you will need to have previously worked as an executive assistant, receptionist, or any other admin-type position. This is a pretty flexible opportunity. In fact, if you have as little as three hours to spare each week, you can apply to become a VA here.
Another beginner-friendly platform to get your feet wet is Fancy Hands. This is a unique crowdsourced VA platform. Fancy Hands Virtual Assistants all have access to a pool of client tasks. Tasks are claimed on a first come first served basis. So, you never know what kinds of jobs may be available at any given time. You’re paid per task ($2.00-$7.00). Each one should only take about 15-20 minutes to complete. Payments are issued every two weeks via Dwolla.
Upwork is the largest freelance marketplace. There are literally thousands of gigs posted at any given time. It’s free to sign up at Upwork. However, they take a 10% cut of any payments you receive! If you start out here, you’ll want to fill out your profile completely and learn the art of crafting the perfect pitch. Ryan Robinson, content marketing consultant to some big-name companies, knows a thing or two about writing a winning proposal. Check out his 5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Freelance Proposal to give yourself a leg up on the competition.
Indeed is the world’s biggest online job search engine. Really, you never know what VA positions you might come across here. To see what I mean, try searching for “Virtual Assistant” in the “What” box below: