Becoming a Virtual Assistant: Frequently Asked Questions

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Becoming a virtual assistant is a fairly new business idea. With technology, like reliable internet service and helpful computer applications, opportunities as a virtual assistant continue to grow. It wasn’t too long ago (around 2011) that I first learned what a virtual assistant was. I’m sure like me, you have some questions about becoming one so I thought I’d share some of the frequently asked questions about being a virtual assistant.

Becoming a virtual assistant is a popular & growing profession. Get answers to frequently asked questions about starting a virtual assisting business.

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What is the growth prospect of Virtual Assistant industry?

The virtual assistant industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Initially there were only a small number of virtual assistants, but, now the number continue to rise worldwide. As companies become more aware of the advantages of hiring virtual assistants instead of in-office staff the demand for virtual assistants increases. One might worry about competition with so many starting virtual assisting businesses, but it’s just keeping with the growth of businesses looking for virtual assistants.

Why people choose to become Virtual Assistants?

The reasons are many. For some it’s convenience. You can work from your home office. You have a flexible schedule in which you choose your hours. For others it’s earning potential. Depending on the services offered and available working hours, a virtual assistant can earn what they would at a good corporate job. But, since they work from home, they save in time and cost of commuting, clothing, etc.

Some virtual assistants expand their business by outsourcing to others, becoming a business manager and earning up to and over $100,000 per year. Read Three Virtual Assistants Who Have Taken Their Businesses to Six Figures to see some examples of how it’s been done. To sum up the answer: convenience, flexibility, and earning potential.

Do I need a business license to become a virtual assistant?

It depends on where you live. You can check with your local small business administration for details and, also, the IRS. Most experienced virtual assistants recommend setting up your business as LLC. It better protects your personal assets from business risks. You can usually start out working as an independent contractor, but to treat you business seriously, get your business registered.

An important clarification here: There is a difference between having a virtual assistant business and working as a virtual assistant for a company. A business is when you get your own clients, you choose what to charge, and you are the boss. Working as a virtual assistant is being hired a independent contractor by a company that manages virtual assistants. They find the clients and you complete tasks assigned to you. Pay is limited because the boss takes a portion of what clients pay. Common pay rates vary around $10-15 per hour. I know of one that pays just $2.50-$5.00 per complete task. If you can find another virtual assistant who manages a small team (instead of big companies with 100’s of workers), you can earn more ($18-20ish).

Is training do I need to become a Virtual assistant?

It all depends on the person. Some have experience from the previous jobs. However, if that isn’t you, or perhaps you want to get into a new speciality, there are various free and paid training programs out there.  My favorite training has been VA School. You’ll find it teaching all the basics you need to get your virtual assisting business started. She has speciality courses, too. I’ve taken the WordPress course and it’s a valuable skill for me as a blogger and virtual assistant. Now there are 10 courses available in one $99 package.

Other speciality training I’ve seen include becoming a real estate virtual assistant, specializing in transcription, and social media management(a speciality of mine).

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To summarize, if you have skills already, then you can start with those.  If not, you can pick and choose training that fits your business goals and your budget.

How do I get clients effectively?

A virtual assistant business is usually marketed Internet and/or offline. When marketing offline, networking with other business, brochures, flyers, business cards, press releases, postcards, and marketing to local businesses is effective. Marketing online includes networking in virtual assistant and niche market groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, joining virtual assistant organizations where you can access RFP (Request for proposal) from potential clients, you get referrals from current clients, and creating a sales funnel: website with blog, social media marketing, and an email list.

Get involved with virtual assistant groups and conferences on and offline. You’ll find the VA community to be very helpful and friendly to one another. And, by getting to know others you’ll find yourself referring clients and having clients referred to you depending on your chosen services. Read more here: How to a Start Virtual Assistant Business from Home and here: 10 Reasons to Become A Virtual Assistant.

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  1. Just wanted to say thank you Katharine. A friend of mine is considering becoming a VA and your post has so much info that will really help her. Thank you, I’ve shared it in a facebook PM

  2. Great article! Answers lots of important questions. Thanks!

  3. Very informative post Katharine, thanks so much for sharing!

  4. I love the idea of being a VA. Before having children I had worked a few temp jobs as an assistant. I enjoyed the work. I can’t wait to get to the point of needing a VA of my own.

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