What you Need to Know to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant

No matter how much of a Sci Fi fan you are, being a virtual assistant doesn’t mean that you get to digitize yourself and live in the world of Tron. In the current day and age, being a virtual assistant simply means that you provide real assistance virtually—over the Internet, phone, chat services, and maybe sometime in the future through cerebral brain scans or something like that 🙂

Being a virtual assistant is one of the money making ideas that has boomed in the past few years. Once, not so long ago, people were forced to hire in-house assistants that would require health insurance and an actual place to work. Business owners were required to pay all sorts of employer taxes that many couldn’t afford. So began the reign of the virtual assistant—no office, no insurance, no employer taxes…easy peasy.

So how do you take the concept of being a virtual assistant and make it into a money making idea that you can wrap your head, hands and pocket book around? Here are some tips to get started.

Determine Your Strengths

Before you can offer someone your skills as a virtual assistant you need to determine what skills you have to actually offer. Here is a list of the most common skills that are in demand with those hiring virtual assistants.

  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office suite
  • Knowledge of email programs
  • Ability to communicate effectively on a regular basis
  • Can work well without supervision
  • Ability to read, write, and speak the required language (most often English)
  • Professionalism

If you have any or all of the above skills you are probably well on your way to being a great virtual assistant. Next, with your strengths in mind you need to create a resume/profile that highlights your skills, your experience and your education. Focus on what is required to help you get that position. Yes, it’s nice that you can taste a sauce and break it down into its different ingredients, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be on your resume/profile, unless you can use it to illustrate just how fluent and articulate you are in your communication skills.

Set Yourself Up

Now you have a glorious and glowing resume/profile so you need to get yourself noticed online. With so many different hosting and website design sites you shouldn’t have a problem purchasing a domain name and creating a website specifically designed to detail your skills, rates, portfolio, history, desired projects or positions, and your contact information. If you don’t have the money or desire to create your own website, you can start out by creating professional portfolios on websites like www.iFreelance.com, www.Elance.com, www.oDesk.com, www.LinkedIn.com, and such. The websites mentioned here offer legitimate virtual assisting work as well as general administrative work that can be done online.

Once you’ve created an online portfolio you can start applying for jobs. Honestly, being a virtual assistant is one of the easiest money making ideas out there because of how in demand VAs are.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

To tap into that demand, it isn’t enough to create your own website and online portfolio – that is just the bait. You need to advertise those websites and portfolios in order to get bites. You can choose to advertise online (which makes the most sense), or you can advertise locally. The best would be to try out as many possible avenues as you can. That means that you start linking to your profile from forums, discussion boards, ads in the local newspapers, Craigslist, on the bulletin boards at schools, businesses, grocery stores, libraries, or anywhere else potential clients will frequent.

Since your money making idea is to be a virtual assistant, advertising online is your best bet at finding clients. If you want to go the free route, you can create and maintain a business fan site on Facebook or LinkedIn, or adding yourself to online business directories. If you are willing to spend a little cash for great returns you should consider Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, email marketing, SEO marketing, etc…There are literally tons of ways to get your name and professional resume into the hands and email inboxes of potential clients. When you start out, try everything and track it to see what works. As you go along, you can limit the focus on the channels that worked best for you.

Make a Good Impression

You can work your butt off creating a resume and website, advertising, and spreading the word about how awesome you are as a virtual assistant, but one unprofessional mistake can cost you your reputation. That means that if you list punctuality and the ability to speak Russian on your profile you should be able to write a sales letter in Cyrillic and get it to the client on time- if not, that is a strike against you. Do what you promise to do when you first “sold” yourself to the client. Be professional in all things. This is the only way to ensure repeat business, without which you will have to constantly keep “selling” yourself for every singe project.

Now, it is quite understandable that life is not always predictable, and you may not always be able to keep the word. Say you claim to be punctual, but due to whatever reasons, you cannot finish the project on time. You need to communicate that to the client ASAP—don’t leave them guessing. Clients don’t want to guess, they want to be kept up to date on everything. It is their business, reputation, and money on the line. Why should they pay you to be their assistant if you leave them hanging?

There, now you have an idea of some of the basic prerequisites to being a  virtual assistant, which is one of the rewarding (professionally and financially) money making ideas to try out. Get started today and see where the virtual work world can take you and your real bank balance.

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