On Being a Virtual Assistant

On Being a Virtual Assistant By Becky Flansburg

I get asked often what it’s like being a Virtual Assistant. When this question pops up, I am more than happy to share because I know there are a plethora of moms/women who are feeling “stuck” in less-than-gratifying jobs. These same women also think they have no options when it comes to earning a decent living while working from home. I think they also secretly want to know if I am starving to death or ready to fade away from boredom since leaving my “9-5” over three years ago.

Since these inquiries are happening more frequently, I thought I’d share some of the more common questions that come up from those who are curious about what I do and those who are considering being a VA as well.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant {VA} is a self-employed, home-based entrepreneur and independent contractor who assists other professionals in the tasks necessary to run a business. These tasks can be many things include administrative work, bookkeeping, social media and project management. In other words, a VA is an office assistant who never has to step into her client’s office and can work from virtually any remote location.

What skills do I need to become a VA?

I always say that, any task or skill that is needed in the function of a business, is one that can be outsourced to a VA. I think some of the more common skills that are in demand from VAs are office and business administration skills, writing skills and social media management. Another “must have” skill for virtual assistants is the ability to be highly organized, communicate effectively and pay careful attention to detail. Clients also look for additional skills such as writing, web design, email marketing, marketing, social media, blog or website maintenance, and multimedia production – even podcasting. The skill sets you’ll need as a VA depends on the type of clients you want to work with. I have a real estate agent client who has me helping him with posting on Craigslist and another client who has me acting as a project manager for her national event. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

What kinds of work does a VA do?

Like I mentioned above, any task affiliated with business has the potential to be outsourced to a virtual assistant. “Admin” type tasks can include:

  • Responding to emails (Help Desk)
  • Basic Customer Service
  • Managing client’s business calendar
  • Researching and compiling information
  • Business writing, editing, and proofreading

Writing and “Other” Tasks Include:

  • Writing and publishing blog posts
  • Creating autoresponders
  • Creating reports to be used as options
  • Optimizing a website for search engines
  • Create a slideshow presentation
  • Set up social networking profiles/pages
  • Managing and post to those social networks
  • Creating videos
  • Sales
  • Staff management

Is being a VA a good option for Moms?

I can personally give this one a Big.Giant.YES. I know of many VAs who are mothers as well and I am here to tell you it works beautifully when you have school-aged kids. These same moms make very good incomes and do so from the comfort of their home. Virtual assistance is a home business; which means it’s flexible. You decide how many hours a day you want to work, on which days, what type of work you want to do, and even whom you will work with. I love that I can be available to get my kids off to school and be there for them when they get off the bus. Moms who have younger children can still maintain clients and get work done; it’s just a little trickier. Occasionally they will need to be on the phone or Skype with a client and in those instances they may need schedule meetings around days they can have in-home help come in to watch the children.

How much money can I make as a VA?

The hourly rate of VAs depends on several factors. These include their skills and experience, whether they specialize in certain services or a particular industry, and any certifications they may have (those who are certified by recognized institutions charge higher fees). VA fees vary widely, ranging anywhere from around $15 to $70 per hour. So you can see, it’s entirely possible for a VA to make a full-time income working at home.

Okay, I’m interested. Where do I begin?

I always tell anyone who is looking into creating their own VA biz to take the time, and spend the money, to gain the training they need. There are many amazing sites that guide, teach and assist virtual assistants at any experience level. Here are a few:

I can honestly say that one of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first starting out was not investing in quality training. I instead chose to take multiple trainings from multiple places and tried to piece-meal things together. Though I may have saved a few bucks, I think my learning curve and bigger and longer than it should have been.

But the bottom line is; it’s all very doable. Do your homework, study other virtual assistants and get your ducks in a row (business-wise) and you too can start off the New Year by realizing your dream of working from home on your own terms.

Rebecca Flansburg proudly left a 30-year stint in the 9-5 world three years ago to work full-time (from home and on her own terms)  as a virtual assistant, freelance writer, and blogger. Rebecca is the Cover Girl writer for HERLIFE Magazine Sacramento & Central Valley, is an avid blogger on her own veteran blog Franticmommy and is co-creator of FREElance FREEdom-a site dedicated to helping women discover life beyond the cubicle.

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