In your quest for money making ideas, you may have come across several get rich quick schemes and earn money while you sleep pitches. A smart reader that you are, you probably have walked right past those flashy claims and are looking for something more legit; something that will let you use the skills you already have, while earning you a good income. Working as a Virtual Assistant had probably crossed your radar, but you are not sure yet if it is the right option for you. Or maybe you have already decided that this is what you want to do, but need some clarity about all the details. In this article we provide a quick overview of what becoming a virtual assistant is all about. It covers some of the basics to give you a feel of what to expect.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA for short) is an individual who provides professional administrative, technical, creative or managerial assistance remotely. VAs work virtually as an independent contractor and provide services for a pre-determined fee.
To become a virtual assistant, at the least the following requirements should be met -
- Be skilled in providing services in a professional and timely manner
- Have the ability to work remotely (i.e., have a good Internet connection, access to phone and fax connection)
- Be fluent in English, and have the ability to communicate effectively via emails or on the phone
If you can meet these prerequisites then this is one of the money making ideas that will likely work great for you.
The initial investment costs are fairly minimal for becoming a virtual assistant if you already have an Internet and phone connection. Depending on your personal approach to conquering this field, you may incur some costs for setting up a website and promoting yourself, but these should not exceed a few hundred dollars at most.
How Much Can You Make?
This is one of the better paying money making ideas, with the ability to make anywhere from $5 to $100+/hr depending on your skills and experience. As of the writing of this document, the average salary of a virtual assistant is listed as $45,000/year according to the simplyhired.com salary estimator (You should be able to click on the link to find a more up-do-date estimate). A more realistic number would likely be $20 – $50/hr, with the annual income dependent on how many hours you want to put into it.
Advantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
The main advantages of becoming a virtual assistant are
- The ability to work from home
- The ability to choose the work to suit your personal needs – your schedule, your tastes, your temperament, your unique working style.
- The ability to scale your work (take on more vs refuse a client) depending on the demands of your personal life
- The option to get more creative both with your skills and your choice of clients
- The ability to set your own price. Depending on whom you ask, this may actually be a disadvantage, but we here believe in taking control of our lives and finances, so no matter how difficult the task may seem, if it puts us in control, we list it in the “advantages” section
- And, the best of all, being your own boss! You still have to answer to your clients, and some clients may have the tendency to micro manage, but hey, once you finish a project for that client, you don’t ever have to work with him/her again, if you don’t want to!
Remember, you may have to wait until you are established before reaping some of these benefits, though. For instance once you have a steady stream of projects, you will have a lot more freedom to pick and choose which projects you want to take on, but in the beginning when you are still trying to get your footing, you may have to take on tasks that may not be as much of a perfect fit for you.
Disadvantages of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
And yes, there are some. The main disadvantages of becoming a virtual assistant are -
- You need to provide for your own health care costs, setup costs, training costs etc.
- It takes a lot of effort and hard work to get established initially, with the effort required being similar to starting a small business.
- You need to deal with the back end issues – calculating the taxes, dealing with customer support and issues, marketing and promotion etc.
If you would rather not be saddled with these issues, you can get around some of them, to a certain extent, by joining a virtual assistant agency who will match you up with a client (for a fee, of course). If you are looking for a temporary gig, or a one-off project to make some extra money, or just want to get a taste of this before diving in, then this may be the route to go. Take at look at our <A guide for working with virtual assistant agencies>.
Examples of Services Offered by Virtual Assistants
Here is a list of some of the services that virtual assistants offer. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but has been presented here to allow you to evaluate if becoming a virtual assistant is the right option for you. As the scope of the Internet expands, and “outsourcing” reaches new heights, you are likely to see a lot of previously un-thought-of services making its way into this list.
- Handle email (and postal mail) correspondence
- Handle phone calls, customer inquiries, send/receive faxes and convert them to soft copies etc.
- Handle the personal/event calendars, make/confirm appointments, setup meetings, plan events, make travel arrangements etc.
- Website design, maintenance, support etc.
- Content writing, copy editing, proof reading, submission to directories, link building etc.
- Transcription, dictation etc.
- Audio/video editing, podcast generation etc.
- Manage email lists, product databases etc.
If you are looking for more ideas take a look at this comprehensive list of VA services offered by the va4u website. It should give you an idea of what services others are offering and help you determine what you would like to offer.
So now you know what being a virtual assistant is about, and may have a general idea of whether this is one of the money making ideas that will click for you. If you think it will, check out the more detailed articles in our virtual assistant archives as we continuously keep updating it with a lot of tips and information.