We have a lot of people stop by each year looking specifically for information on how to become a virtual assistant. This term has come to encompass so many things over the years and is no longer just secretarial work.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Both online entrepreneurs and small local businesses may have the need for remote help. The assistance needed runs the gamut and can be entry-level or require someone with special training. One business may simply need someone to answer their office phones a few hours each week while another may need someone to perform blogger outreach for their upcoming product launch.
There is a big need right now for blog assistance as more and more women bloggers are seeing their efforts pay off and creating platforms earning six-figures or more. Blog assistants have a specialized skill set, but it’s one that is often self-taught.
A few of the most wanted virtual assistant services at this time include:
- Social Media Scheduling & Management
- Blog Advertising Outreach
- Email Management
- Blog Post Writing & Scheduling
- Video & Podcasting Editing & Uploading
- Image Design
- eBook & eCourse Editing & Proofreading
- Email Marketing
- Check out this list for even more virtual assistant services you can offer
Affordable Virtual Assistant Courses
One great thing about becoming a virtual assistant is that many of the skills you will use to better your client’s businesses can also better your own. That’s why so many bloggers, freelance writers and even Etsy shop owners add virtual assisting services to their offerings. The skills they excel at in building their businesses whether that be social marketing, email marketing or writing awesome SEO Etsy product descriptions can earn them additional income when offering it to others.
But what if you’re just getting starting and don’t yet have a booming business of your own? Simple. You learn the skills you want to offer.
There is so much training out there and we see course launches day in and day out. Many of these courses come with a steep price tag of $200, $500, or even higher. And while arguably many of them are “worth the price,” paying the price isn’t always feasible.
The great news is there are a lot of courses you can take that are much more affordable. They aren’t as robust as the mega courses, but they do teach specific skills that you can learn quickly and start putting to use immediately.
I’ve scoured the web to find the diamonds and gems, and these are some of the goodies I’ve found for you!
Writing and Freelancing
Freelancing, especially writing is one of my favorite ways to start making money fast. There’s no real limit to what you can do as a freelancer, which is part of why it’s such a great strategy for making money from home. You set your schedule, pick your clients, and off you go.
There are loads of courses out there geared toward freelancers. Many of them are priced in the 3-digit range, if not higher. That said, I found a few options to help you get started as a freelancer, pivot into offering a new service, or take your skills to the next level.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- If you have a membership with Lynda, you can check out this awesome-looking Pinterest for Business Membership starts at just under $20/month to give you access to more than 5,000 courses, and it comes with a free trial. To put that into context, the next-lowest price I could find on a Pinterest course was $127.
- Pinterest is a great thing for you to learn if you have an online business. (I love using it!) Once you learn how to work the platform, you can use it to market yourself and your services. But there’s another level, too — you can use your Pinterest skills to niche your services as a VA. (Want to learn more? This course teaches you how to Become a Pinterest VA Today for just $59.)
- Ready to give freelance writing a go but not sure where to start? You’re in luck! Freelance writer Elna Cain has one of those mega-courses we talked about before, but there’s a basic version you can access for just $67.
- Think you’ve got eagle eyes? This Udemy course will show you how to get started on Upwork as a freelance editor and proofreader. Upwork is pretty competitive in a lot of areas, but the course shows you how to get traction fast so you can start beating out the competition and putting money in your pocket.
- Want to experiment with making money doing graphic design? You can learn how to be successful on Fiverr with this course, listed at $50. I’ve written about making money on Fiverr before, and this course is a great way to get started once you’re serious about it.
- If you’re interested in writing and selling eBooks and helping your clients do such, you’ll probably need to know how to work the Kindle platform. Fortunately, this Udemy course will teach you everything you need to know! And the best news is it’s priced at $35.
- If you want to be a blogger, chances are you know your way around WordPress. This is a skill always in demand. If you’ve never learned WordPress before but still want to work with bloggers, you’re in luck. I found a great course all about how to Get Started with WordPress, and it’s just $37.
- If you are already an established blogger, you can start marketing your skills as a VA specifically working with other bloggers. My Be a Blogger’s VA course shows you exactly how to do that, and you can bring it home for just $17.
Other Online Business Skills
- These days, with blogs taking off and visually oriented platforms like Pinterest and Instagram getting all kinds of traction, a new form of photography has come into the spotlight: flat lays. I love flat lays myself, and I found a great course on how to style and shoot your own flat lays for just $10! Once you get the hang of this, you can monetize the skill in all kinds of ways — package it as a VA service, sell the images for profit, and more!
- Email marketing is another big topic in the online money-making world. It’s not something a lot of online business owners enjoy however and many are looking to outsource the tasks. You can become an ace email marketer and start picking up those clients by learning MailChimp ($27) and/or ConvertKit ($15). Each of these intro courses gives you a solid foundation in how to work the platforms. If you’re looking for a more robust course for ConvertKit, check out the advanced ConvertKit course for $67. You can get all of these trainings plus Facebook Ads, product launching, running webinars and more in Create a Laptop Life’s signature mentorship program. It’s totally worth the investment!
Where Can I Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?
Many new virtual assistants opt to work for someone else before going out on their own and getting their own clients. Companies that hire subcontractors are often called multi-VA firms. These companies are usually started by a virtual assistant that has amassed enough clients that they can no longer handle the work on their own. They then hire virtual assistants of their own in order to outsource that work.
While there are a lot of smaller multi-VA firms around, there are a few big ones that are frequently hiring:
Working for someone else usually comes with a lower wage. Eventually, you are probably going to want to break out on your own. When you are ready to start building your own business and getting your own clients, here are some great tips to get you started:
- Know the services you want to offer and have a few packages to choose from
- Know who your ideal client is – what’s their industry? what type of services do they need? where do they hang out online?
- What’s their budget? Can they afford to hire help?
Luckily, there are so many places to find clients – both online and off. Once you know who your ideal client is you will have a much better indication as to where to start looking.
- Facebook for Freelancers
- VAs for Hire
- Virtual Assistants for Bloggers
- VAs for Hire and Pinterest-Friendly Content for Bloggers
- VAs Buy, Sell & Barter
- Social Media Managers
- Social Media Jobs
The Hard Truth About Cold Pitching for Clients
Many new freelancers want to take a more passive route in attracting clients. You put up a fancy website. You create a Facebook Page. You wait. And, you wait. And, you wait some more.
One of the reasons so many new online businesses fail is the unwillingness to get aggressive in the startup phase. While referral marketing may keep your plate full down the road, it isn’t going to pay the bills now. You have to take your future into your own hands and help make it happen.
How? It’s time to start pitching.
Especially in the case of freelance service providers, cold pitching can be highly effective. Even though outsourcing has been gaining momentum over the past few years, many small business owners still may not know it’s an option. You are also likely to run into a lot of business owners who need help but don’t know where to start or maybe even how to delegate. That’s why pitching can be a great way to get yourself positioned in front of potential clients before they have even had a chance to check out your competition.
Not all pitch emails are effective, however. A bad one can guarantee you don’t get the gig. Here are a few tips to get better results and more clients into your portfolio.
Make It Personal
Any email that opens with Dear Website Owner is heading straight to the Trash bin. Aberdeen Group found that personalized emails can increase conversion by 10%. You must take the time to research your target and tailor your email. You may not always be able to find the person’s name, but you should give it your best. If you can’t, a simple Hello is better than Dear Website Owner.
You should also try to mention something recent and of significance to the person you are pitching. Perhaps they published a great article recently that you really enjoyed. Maybe you have been a member of their community for a long time. Flattery works, but don’t lie.
This brief mention is also a great time to bring up your services. If you are a social media marketing expert you could say something like, “I really enjoyed your recent article on running a business with your spouse. As an experienced social media marketer, I see a few opportunities for increased exposure for not only this article but several others on your site. Is this an area you are interested in growing?”
The Money Is In The Follow-Up
It’s easy to walk away from an unanswered email with your tail between your legs, but you shouldn’t. You should always follow-up. Once.
Your inbox is probably no different than those you are pitching – full. Emails get lost and unintentionally unanswered. Give it one more try just in case.
Wait at least a week before following up. Keep it simple and short. Let them know you contacted them a week or two back and were checking in to see if they were interested in talking further or had any questions. You can include a link to your portfolio or examples of your work. Thank them for their time and close. That’s it.
Pitching can be a highly effective way to gain new client interest. As it’s done by email, you should look at it as less stressful than cold calling or in-person networking. That makes it a great option for everyone, including introverts.
The Phone Call & Interview
Once you find that first person interested in your services, you will want to make sure you are a great match. You will need to do a little interview or online meeting so you can both learn a little more about what’s needed, what you can offer and whether you are a good personality and professional match.
This is a time you will want to set clear expectations on your turnaround time, your hours of availability, how you expect to be paid and when, and your preferred means of communication. Be stern. Set your rules and don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of.
If you would like to hear a few personal experiences on becoming a virtual assistant, we have had some great guests over the years sharing their stories:
- Susan Osborne
- Karen Repoli
- Tiffany Manley
- Kristin Swartzlander
- Shanna Kurpe
- Susan Tucker
- Gina Horkey
If you have been at your virtual assistant job search for awhile and aren’t getting any nibbles, revisit your email pitch and online presence. I recently interviewed several of those who hire freelancers and they were kind enough to share their turn-offs which included not following directions, an unprofessional appearance online and not being able to clearly and confidently share their skills, wants and worth.
Interested in learning how to become a virtual assistant to bloggers? Get the details on my course The Blogger’s VA: How to Make More Money from Your Blogging Skills as a Virtual Assistant to Bloggers.