Update: While this post gives you a brief overview of Virtual Assistance, I highly, highly recommend Lisa Morosky's ebook on the subject called The Bootstrap VA which I reviewed here.
A virtual assistant offers assistance to someone via the internet. I can tell you from personal experience that it's a great work-at-home opportunity and something many people could do.
The internet makes it easy for people to work together even if they're miles apart. Any service you can offer from a distance such as writing, graphic design, bookkeeping, administrative assistance, secretarial skills, data entry, tutoring, consulting, etc. could be considered virtual assistance. And at rates ranging anywhere from $20 to $100+ an hour (depending on your skill), it's a great option for those who want to work at home.
I had a short stint as a virtual assistant when I worked for Crystal at Money Saving Mom®. Some of the things I did for here were:
- Answering emails.
- Managing comments on her blog.
- Helping her get her schedule under control.
- A little bit of data entry at one point.
- Handling various other administrative tasks.
- Brainstorming ideas. We did lots of brainstorming.
I'm not longer working with Crystal, but was an excellent opportunity that arose at a wonderful time for our family and could work for all kinds of people.
How to become a virtual assistant
- Get a website. You have to do this. People need to be able to find you. Your own presence on the web is crucial. It gives you a more professional appearance, the chance to highlight some of your skills and an opportunity to explain your process. If you've seen my step-by-step series which walks you through setting up your own website, you know how easy (and relatively low-cost) this can be. Note that my series talks specifically about blogs, but it applies equally to regular websites too. The setup is exactly the same. Being able to send potential clients to a website is key. Many (most?) potential clients work online so they want to know you have experience online yourself.
- Get involved in social media. This would include Google+, Facebook and Twitter, commenting on blogs, etc. Tsh at Simple Mom calls this "organic" and I couldn't agree more. Relationships are key. Being involved in social media is one of the best way to find clients and vice versa (at least until you are established and can rely on word of mouth).
- Be helpful. Some people looking for work as a VA come across as spammy. I didn't set out to work with Crystal. I had offered her some ideas about her website in a few of our conversations and that was the start of our working relationship. Again, organic.
- Do some research. Ask around, read some great articles (like this one at Simple Mom — great tips and links to resources!), do some googling and find some people that are already VAs (like Lisa). Check out their websites, see what they offer and get an idea of how it might work for you.
- Buy The Bootstrap VA by Lisa Morosky. I get a lot of request to promote ebooks, but I rarely do so. However, this is ABSOLUTELY one I recommend. I share a bit of my experience in the book, but oh my goodness, the finished products is jam packed with useful info. For $12.99, it will be the best investment you make. Seriously.
(Disclosure: Please note I have bought The Bootstrap VA and recommend it to you without hesitation. If you decide to purchase it here, at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission and would be grateful for your support of this site. Thank you!)