Being a virtual assistant is one of the most popular ways for people to start working from home. It’s definitely not right for everyone, but if you’re open to finding work outside of the traditional corporate model, it’s worth looking into being a VA.
People who are drawn to it like the idea for good reasons — it offers a huge amount of flexibility in when you work, what you do, and how fast you can start making money. (Providing services, like freelancing and pet sitting, are generally some of the fastest ways to start getting paid.) There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s not too difficult to find legitimate VA work when you know where (and how) to look.
I’ve already shown you how to become a virtual assistant and where to start looking for work, but one of the biggest questions most potential new virtual assistants have is about what services they can offer when they’re just getting started. There’s a great course you can take to learn how to become a virtual assistant — in this course, you’ll learn how to take skills you already have and turn them into a virtual assistant business. That’s what we’re going to cover today — the most in-demand services you can offer when you’re an entry-level virtual assistant, plus how you can get these skills.
1. Email Management
Email management is an interesting skill that many would-be VAs don’t know about but are totally equipped to do. It also happens to be one of the single greatest problems that busy entrepreneurs need to be solved.
Email management, sometimes called inbox management, involves you accessing your client’s email inbox (or inboxes) and getting things sorted and organized for the client. You may end up setting up folders for the client to use (things like “to read” and “needs your reply” and “FYI”). If something comes through that you can process, you go ahead and process it — like renewing a subscription, approving a comment, or confirming an appointment.
You may even pick up some customer service responsibilities by replying to common inquiries, processing refunds, and doing that sort of thing.
Many of us are inundated with emails; with email management, you make it much easier for your client to see only what they need to see, and you take care of the rest.
2. Blog Management
If you’re familiar with WordPress — or even if you aren’t but you learn fast — you can do all sorts of blog management tasks. A lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses that hire virtual assistants run blogs on their websites, and there’s a lot of every-day administrative tasks that come along with managing the blog. Much of it is time-consuming but not very high-level stuff, making it perfect for outsourcing to an entry-level VA.
These tasks could include of the following:
- Proofreading the drafts
- Approving and replying to comments
- Formatting posts (adding headings, etc.)
- Adding links to posts
- Setting up the pins and images within the post
- Drafting new posts
- Adding information to any extra plugins (like putting the keywords into an SEO plugin)
- Scheduling posts to go live when they’re ready
- Updating plugins
- Organizing and updating past posts (adding categories and tags, etc.)
There’s really no limit to the work that could be done on a blog, but these are some of the tasks that are well suited for a beginner VA.
3. Graphic Design
Many people who are in business online understand the importance of good graphics, but they have no idea how to actually go about creating them. If you’re visually oriented and you know your way around free graphic design services like Canva (or you can figure it out pretty fast — it’s fairly intuitive!), you can make a real difference by offering graphic design for your VA clients.
Good graphic designers are hard to come by, and the ones that are extremely good are also very expensive. If you have a knack for visual design, you enjoy the creative process, and you can come up with good graphics relatively easily, there’s a huge market for you — even if you’ve never been paid for that service before.
The key to getting work doing graphic design as a new VA is to have a portfolio ready to go. Once you understand the kinds of graphics your ideal clients will need, you can do 2 or 3 samples for each of them to build yourself a solid portfolio, relatively quickly.
So what are these in-demand graphics? Here are just a few things to get you started:
- Blog post featured images (with the post title included)
- Pins to circulate on Pinterest
- In-post “ads” that entice the reader to click
- Facebook and Twitter covers
- Instagram posts (this is HUGE in some markets) and other social media posts
- Facebook ad designs
Take a look at some of your favorite blogs (including this one!) and see what kinds of graphic design elements are used. If they’re the kinds of things you can look at and say “I could totally make this!” then you might have an in-demand, marketable VA skill ready to go.
As more and more entrepreneurs are doing things like live videos, podcasts, webinars, and courses, the need for transcription services is growing. Transcription is something that many people can do — it doesn’t take any specialized skills, though you’ll do better if you can type quickly and pick up some helpful transcription software like oTranscribe (free) or Transcribe ($20/year).
5. Customer Service
Customer service is a HUGE area for working at home, whether you want to work for a company or start your own. Customer service skills are ones that many people possess naturally, and there are tons of sales-based online businesses that need customer service reps. This is a great role to outsource to a VA, and it’s a great role for an entry-level VA to pick up.
When you’re doing customer service as a VA, the majority of it will be done through emails. You might answer questions about products, help people troubleshoot their accounts (by resetting passwords and whatnot), and possibly even process refunds.
6. Social Media Posts
If you enjoy social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and you feel you have a knack for producing posts that are interesting, you might be interested in adding social media to your initial virtual assistant service offerings. It’s something that many business owners feel they should be doing but few have the time to do consistently, which makes it a great task for you to pick up.
There’s a strategy to using social media effectively, and social media marketing is a solid niche you can choose if you decide you really like it and want to focus on it as a VA. But many times there are clients who just need you to post on a platform regularly, and they’ll provide the content or give you guidelines for what you should share.
Don’t Stay Entry-Level
Whenever you’re first starting something, it makes sense to do it at the entry level. This means lower rates, steep learning curves, and sometimes doing work you don’t necessarily enjoy simply so you can get the experience. There’s no limit to the services a VA can offer, so it’s a matter of finding someone who needs the type of help you can provide.
There’s nothing wrong with entry-level work, but I’d encourage you to “level up” as quickly as you can. Pick a new skill to add to your offerings and take a course on Udemy or the VA Classroom so you can master it quickly. Dive into a specific service that you really enjoy and develop an expertise in it so that you can command higher rates for that service.
Try to understand the strategy behind the tasks your clients give you, so you can understand how the business works and then find ways to make an even greater contribution. If you really want to learn the strategy behind online businesses as well as brushing up on the actual skills, I highly recommend the Digital Gangsta course. The more you understand the strategy behind business decisions, the more your time is worth.
Many VAs will start out as “generalists” doing just about anything that needs to be done. The ones who earn a lot more money than average, though, have become specialists in a specific type of task, like managing Facebook ads, running Pinterest accounts, managing busy blogs, or setting everything up for webinars.
There are all kinds of courses, ebooks, and other resources you can use to strengthen your skills and start finding better clients (with bigger budgets). If you want to go from making $15 per hours to $30, $50, or even more per hour, specializing in a complex, in-demand service is the way to do it. Things like sales funnels, copywriting, social media management, proofreading, bookkeeping, and graphic design all lend themselves to this kind of specialization.
So even if specialization is something you’re nowhere near ready to do, just know that you won’t be entry-level forever. Getting started is the hardest part, so jump in the minute you’re ready!