When you think of a virtual assistant, what do you imagine? If you imagine someone entering data or setting up appointments, you only have a small vision of what a virtual assistant does.
A virtual assistant can act as an executive assistant working from home or specialize in services based on their expertise. This can entail research, event or project management, or even marketing services.
If you have specialized skills you can offer from your home, you can start your own freelance virtual business. If this sounds promising, you need to know how to become a virtual assistant. This includes:
- Setting up a business plan
- Deciding on your service niche
- Setting your rates
- Creating an online presence
Let’s look at the life of a virtual assistant.
Virtual Assistant Services Business Plan
For any new business, it’s important to create a business plan. The business plan helps you plan your equipment needs, your marketing strategy, and the amount of money you need to get started.
If you’re not sure how to get started with the business plan, check out the 5-Step business plan journal. This will take you through each step of the plan to help you organize your business needs.
You’ll want to describe your business, including your business type. This will help you with taxes and funding. You’ll also want to determine your target client, so you know who you want to market services to.
You’ll want to specialize in the type of business you work with. Make sure you choose a niche that you have a working knowledge of.
- Product Sales
Your business plan also includes a marketing plan to help you determine cost-effective means to get new clients. Make sure you set some goals, including some financial decisions during the planning phase.
The planning phase includes determining if you have the skills necessary to become a virtual assistant. This will somewhat depend on the services you plan to offer, but there are some general skills required to start a successful business.
You need organization skills. No matter what services you offer, you need the ability to keep everything in order. You also need time-management skills, so you stay on top of projects. As you grow, you’ll have multiple clients which makes this doubly important.
A good VA also needs to be a multi-tasker, especially as you take on new clients. Communication skills are also important. You want to keep clear communication so everyone stays on the same page. Plus, you’ll likely deal with customers or other businesses for your clients.
It’s also important to have at least basic tech skills. You’ll want to be proficient in the programs needed to complete your work. Other tech skills such as web or graphic design can increase your ability to find clients.
Virtual Assistant Niches
As you plan your VA business, you’ll want to determine the services you’ll offer. You can keep to basic administrative support, or you can specialize in certain niches such as customer service or project management. This will depend on your specialized skill sets.
As you determine your virtual assistant niche, it’s best to start small. Pick one or two niches to begin and add on as you get more comfortable in your role.
Administrative support involves the basic services an executive assistant provides. This includes managing schedules and booking appointments. This role often includes scheduling events and managing event needs such as travel.
Administrative support roles also include data entry, which means you need to understand CRM programs. It’s also useful if you can create reports and other documents or presentations. All basic secretarial skills are useful in this niche.
If you have a knack for helping customers, you can specialize in customer service roles. This niche often goes hand-in-hand with administrative support.
This niche includes dealing with customer questions and concerns on the phone, by email, or in a chatbox. This could also include handling customer inquiries on social media.
You can also offer services to deal with customer orders, including processing payments or dealing with past-due payments.
If you provide customer service for clients, you’ll need to understand CRM, email campaigns, and sales funnels.
Website and/or Email Management
Many businesses need help with their website and email campaigns. If you have web design or marketing skills, this is a good niche for you. You’ll also need content creation skills.
This niche includes setting up and maintaining websites and email campaigns to leads. You’ll provide blog content, set up product info on websites, keep up with emails for different parts of the sales funnel, and likely content creation for ads and social media.
You’ll also need research skills to prove successful in this niche, especially marketing research. This role requires you to keep up with topics relevant to your clients to provide quality content to their customers. You’ll also need basic skills in graphic design.
If you have a background in marketing, you can include these skills in your provided services. These services go together with website and email management.
This niche includes creating newsletters, landing pages, and sales pages. It also involves creating product or service descriptions. You’ll also need the skills to create flyers, brochures, and other non-digital marketing materials.
It also helps if you have skills to manage webinars and other presentations. This includes the ability to provide tech support for these presentations.
Providing marketing services requires an understanding of web services, sales funnels, and ad programs.
Set Your Rates
As a freelance virtual assistant, it’s up to you to determine how much you’ll charge. You can base this on an hourly rate or a set rate for specific services.
Many people start with an hourly rate. This can range from $16 to $50 per hour depending on your skillset. To determine where you fit in this range, you need to know your overhead cost and determine what rate will help you make a profit. You also need to consider the price range for your area.
Most seasoned virtual assistants base their salary on a set rate. This requires you to set up rates for the different services you offer. You can create bundles based on these set prices or offer individual services.
Whichever scale you use, it’s important to create a contract. This contract provides the rate you charge and the services you plan to provide for your client. This ensures you both know what’s expected.
Having a contract will provide legal protection for your business. If a client has an issue, you can refer them back to the contract to show what you agreed on. You can also use this document if a client refuses to make payment.
Create Your Online Presence
Once you have a business plan in place and know what services you plan to offer, you need to create a website. This website provides a hub for new leads and clients to check out your services and skills.
You’ll want to include info about your degrees and certifications. You’ll also want to provide testimonials from clients to show expertise.
It’s a good idea to provide a blog with your website. This is a great way to create content that proves your authority in your niche. This content can be used to create ads or shared on social media.
You should set up social media profiles on sites most likely to attract your target client. Use these sites to network, answer questions, and share relevant info. If you’re not sure where to start, Facebook and Twitter are good options.
LinkedIn is another place to create an online presence. You can share your professional resume and take quizzes that prove your skills on this site. You can also join groups on these social sites to give you more networking opportunities.
Network and Pitch Your Services
Once you have your business setup, it’s time for the hard part. You must find clients. This can feel impossible when you’re just starting.
The best way to find clients is to start networking. Use social media to create relationships with your target clients. Get to know them and let them get to know you. Let people know about the services you provide and ask them for recommendations.
You also need to start pitching. You can use online directories to get started, or you can look out for people looking for help. When you see an opportunity, swallow your pride and pitch your services.
Create an email template you can personalize so you provide all relevant info in your pitch. Make sure you know the client you’re reaching out to, so you don’t sound like a robot though.
Once you have clients, make sure you ask them for testimonials and recommendations. Ask them to tell their friends and business associates about your services.
Your Freelance Options
You have many options for providing services if you go the virtual assistant route. This isn’t your only option if you want to start your own freelance business though. If you want to explore your options, check out more freelance work-at-home options.