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The other day, I ran into a friend who was distraught because she had just been laid off. Her husband had recently taken a pay cut and was afraid of losing his job any day. They have mortgage payments to make, 3 children to raise… you know the rest of the story.
Now I knew that this lady had been working as an office assistant in a construction company. Her eyes lit up as I gently suggested that she explore working at home as a virtual assistant. Of course, she had a lot of questions and rightfully so. It’s no joke to venture into a home business after years of employment.
Since this situation is becoming more and more common with the current economic downturn, I thought I’d share the questions my friend asked and some quick answers to them:
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant or VA is a self-employed, home-based entrepreneur who assists other businesses, often in administrative work. In other words, a VA is an office assistant who never has to step into her client’s office! In addition, most business owners have particular tasks that they will turn over to their virtual assistants, and these can go beyond basic office or business administration.
What skills do I need to become a VA?
The basic skills a VA needs are office and business administration skills. A VA also needs to be highly organized, communicate effectively and pay careful attention to detail. Some clients look for additional technical skills, such as writing, marketing, social media, blog or website maintenance, and multimedia production – even podcasting!
The skill set you’ll need as a VA depends on the type of clients you want to work with. Find out what they NEED and build your skills to respond effectively.
What kinds of work does a VA do?
Tasks for Virtual Assistants can be “Admin” related:
- responding to emails (Help Desk)
- managing client’s business calendar
- researching and compiling information
- business writing, editing, and proofreading
- write and publish or schedule blog posts
- work with autoresponders
- rewrite private label rights content
- optimize a website for search engines
- create a slideshow presentation
- update websites
- set up social networking profiles/pages
- create videos and publish them online
Is being a VA a good option for Moms?
I can personally give this one a Big.Giant.YES. A lot of work at home Moms I know are VAs and they make good incomes from the comfort of their home, without having to leave their children in the care of others. 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.
On the other hand, if you have small children, it can be a little trickier. Occasionally you will need to be on the phone or Skype with a client, supplier or other associate. In this case you’ll need somebody else looking after your small children so you can have some quiet and be able to focus on the call or chat.
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.
Ok, I’m interested. Where do I begin?
You can try and figure everything out yourself, of course. But better yet, get the guidance of experienced VAs who have successful virtual assistance businesses. Two such VAs are Jen Houck and Nell Taliercio who have a combined experience of over 5 years in virtual assistance. They share their success stories and step-by-step tips in the Just Add Sweat Guide To Becoming A Virtual Assistant.
The guide includes:
- An audio course on everything from setting up your VA business, to marketing your services and finding and keeping clients.A workbook to get you into action
- 5 videos teaching essential Internet skills
- …and more.
NOTE: Nicole Dean is the facilitator of this program and someone I VERY MUCH respect and admire. Nicole has an amazing story and is a true testament to what you can do with your Virtual Assistant business. Good luck!