Smart Guide to Start a Work at Home Virtual Assistant Career
Are you tired of dealing with incompetent managers who would hardly ever see your potential? Do you long for the freedom to work on your own terms? Going freelancing and starting a successful work at home virtual assistant career is a dream to many. However, not everyone is meant to make a successful high-paid work-from-home professional.
Nonetheless, if you are ready to make a change in your professional field, it’s good to come up with a clear strategy in mind.
Virtual assistant has become the most popular stay-at-home profession for the last five years. Thousands of people worldwide manage to build a successful virtual assistant career working at home. If you think you have the skills and the desire to join the fast-growing community of virtual assistants, waste no time and start looking for the deals that best suit your talents and skills.
Virtual assistant jobs perfectly suit people who:
- prefer spending more time at home
- work flexible hours
- like to self-improve
- deliver excellent results when working solo
If these things define you well, then you can definitely start a successful home-based virtual assistant career.
Here are some basic tips to make a promising start.
Evaluate your skills
The first step into becoming a virtual assistant is assessing your skills. Once you do that, you need to make a niche research. Become familiar with the industry-related knowledge and experience required to get an approval for a VA position. The top wanted basic skills for VA career success are:
Excellent typing and data entry skills – You must be able to type fast with precision. The basic requirement is 45+ words per minute, error-free.
Strong computer literacy – Since all of your work will be done on a computer, high computer skills are a must.
Near perfect interpersonal skills – Most of the time you will have to interact with customers in a polite and professional manner.
Perfect English – Outsourcing companies hire home-based virtual assistants worldwide who don’t need to be native English speakers. However, regardless your nationality, your English, written and spoken, must be perfect.
Excellent writing skills – This means strong grammar and proofreading skills. Clients won’t be happy to catch their VA’s making typos, spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes.
Iron-strong organizational and time management skills – In fact, those two essential skills are the key to success. If you don’t possess them yet, make sure to develop them. The sooner, the better.
Internet savvy – The VA job positions are online so applicants must demonstrate exceptional Internet browsing literacy. This means you need to have a good understanding of how search engines and social media sites work, and more.
Check up the technical and system equipment you have at home
Aside from the skills you have, make sure you meet the basic technical and system requirements. In this step, you have to assess your equipment and upgrade it if necessary. The main things to provide are:
- At least two web browsers updated to latest versions (Internet Explorer and Google Chrome)
- Fast computer running Mac OS or Windows OS
- Microsoft Office package
- 250 GB hard drive capacity at minimum
- Cell phone (or landline)
- Broadband Internet connection
- Printer or scanner (optional/ if needed)
- Well working keyboard
- Email address that sounds professional
- PayPal account
Select a niche that meets your desires
To do this, answer one question first:
What kind of a virtual assistant you want (or can) to be?
Be clear about this. Identify your area of specialty or the field you are interested the most. By defining the niche, you determine the target client audience. You need to establish a focus on a specific industry.
The best way to stand out from the crowd is to put in effort in extending your knowledge and devote yourself into doing something you like and feel comfortable with.
For example, if you like to travel, perhaps working as a virtual assistant at a company in the travel industry will be a fulfilling job for you. You will have to make reservations, book hotel rooms and help people live the perfect holiday.
On the other hand, if you enjoy some administrative experience, you can apply for an administrative virtual assistant job.
Basically, your part will be to assist in supporting the general administrative work. The tasks may include general filing and records maintenance, compiling data for reports, placing purchase orders, scheduling appointments and meetings, etc.
Do your homework
Make a detailed research to find the legitimate work-from-home companies hiring virtual assistants. Check their websites and absorb all the information. Don’t miss to read their Frequently Asked Questions section.
Different businesses have different requirements for the position in question. Make sure you fit in perfectly before you attempt to apply. Note, the vast of home-based VA positions require working on weekends and holidays.
Take virtual assistant courses
If your desire to make your work from home virtual assistant career a success, there is a way to compensate the lack of experience. Boost your qualification in accordance with the profession requirements.
Take on one or series of virtual assistant courses equally suitable for beginners and experienced freelance enthusiasts. In the span of these courses, you will learn the basics of the profession and how to get started.
Useful tools will be introduced to you as well. The valuable knowledge you will gain will help you build a clear picture and choose the right niche for you.
Udemy is a wonderful platform for educators and learners. There, you will find various courses providing virtual assistant training at a decent price. You can adjust your search by popularity, language and set price range.
Set up your home office
Whereas most of the home-based jobs like freelance writer, translator, or graphic designer, allow you to work anywhere you want, it’s a bit different with the home-based virtual assistant type of work.
You need to establish a proper work environment at home. This means, your home office should be on a separate quiet and distraction-free room with enough natural light coming from a window. Preferably, there has to be a locking door.
Also, during your work hours you have to tell your family or roommates not to disturb you unless it is a matter of emergency.
The virtual assistant job requires strong concentration. Make sure to eliminate all kinds of noise. You will be talking to customers via Skype or phone, therefore it’s important to establish as quiet background as possible.
Another thing, you will have to provide a desk and a comfortable chair for your home office. Additional tech equipment would be headset or a pair of quality headphones and a microphone.
How to get hired
Well-established freelancing websites could be a good starting point. While some of them require a membership fee per month, others charge a per cent of your earnings.
Those sites have proved reputable so if you lack experience working as a VA from home, you can land on your first job there.
Another way to find virtual assistant work is through Flexjobs. Note, they will charge you for the service.
To stay informed about WAH companies that hire VA’s, subscribe to blogs focused on the make-money-from-home topic.
Finally, you can research WAH companies hiring virtual assistants on a random basis and send your application via their official site. Either you will be included on the waiting list, or they will contact you contact you shortly to make an interview.
Name your price
This is a very important moment. Normally, your pay rates should correspond to your expertise, knowledge and skills.
If you are an expert-level worker with 4+ years of experience in a particular industry, I advise you to set your rates high. Beginner level enthusiasts should reconcile with low pay rate at first.
Hopefully, in time, you will turn into experienced professional and reach new levels of self- development where pay rates are stimulating high.
Before you name your price, do a research to see how much money do other virtual assistants with equal experience get.
Set goals, make plans
Whatever change you are about to make, always have a plan. Before you embark on the journey of starting a work at home virtual assistant career, design a simple plan for the next one or two years. Start by asking yourself essential questions:
What kind of work would you prefer?
How many hours per week would you work?
Do you aim for a part or full-time job commitment?
Should you run a virtual assistant business or be a freelancer for hire?
Outline the main aspects of this project and set realistic goals. Before you make a final decision, be sure to have all the information you need. Weigh the pros and cons. Ask for other people’s opinion, but make the choice on your own.
Never stop learning
Even if everything goes smoothly at your home-based VA job, always look for ways to broaden your knowledge and sharpen your skills. The more we learn, the better our lives become. Seek inspiration and never dry down your love for learning.
Additional tips to have in mind
1) Don’t listen to other people who try to talk you out of becoming a VA. If you feel like you want it, go and test the waters. In the worst case, you will gain useful experience.
2) If you are serious about working from home as a virtual asistant and have many years of experienced behind, you should consider going official and set up your own VA business.
3) Beware of scams – It’s likely that at least once you may not be paid even if you were on a contract.
4) Participate in forums and join social communities for virtual assistants. These are good places to pick up useful information and advice about popular WAH companies hiring VAs. Also, those places usually maintain a black list of scam companies.
5) It’s highly beneficial to stay connected with as many VAs in your area of specialty as you can. This applies to any home or office-based profession. Be open to pass on knowledge and share the lessons you’ve learned the hard way. VAs must support each other. That’s what these social communities are for.
By and large, virtual assistant (VA) is a respectful and well-paid profession that allows you to work from home and follow a flexible schedule.
Every now and then, the job will probably can give you hard times and sleepless nights due to heavy workloads, but it will also teach you valuable qualities, like solid self-discipline and attention to detail.
You will also get the awesome opportunity to perfect your interpersonal skills while making money and gaining valuable experience.
If you want to add something, pose a question, or share your experience, leave a comment using the comment section below.
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