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How to be a Virtual Assistant

Written by Brenda Stokes for Gaebler Ventures

The virtual assistant industry has become very popular. It is mainly because it enables individuals to work at home and achieve the work/life balance they have always wanted. But how do you become a virtual assistant and be successful at it?

Many are finding careers as virtual assistants. It is important to note, however, that becoming a virtual assistant isn't as easy as finding a job on the Internet and running with it.

How to be a Virtual Assistant

Knowing that many are finding a doorway into this career doesn't mean it is time to tell your boss that you are leaving for good.

The job of the virtual assistant is not something that just anyone can do. It does take a certain type of person. There have been many individuals who wished to work at home and failed because they lack the discipline needed for such a job. During the startup phase, it is not uncommon for a virtual assistant to work 14 to 18 hours per day. Weekends and holidays may have to be worked as well and days off may be far and in between.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

Virtual assistants are entrepreneurs that work independently and remotely. Because of the Internet, these individuals can service clients all over the world. All they need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a telephone. Amazingly, the telephone may not be needed at all at times.

The services that are offered by virtual assistants are secretarial tasks. Clients hire these individuals to help them save time and money. By outsourcing secretarial tasks, clients are able to focus on what makes their business profitable. The clients give their virtual assistants their assignments via email, instant message, fax, or telephone.

The jobs that are assigned include typing, making telephone calls, sending emails, processing documents, taking on marketing tasks, and so much more. Virtually anything a client may need assistance with they assign to their virtual assistant.

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

When you want to become a virtual assistant, there is a path that you need to follow:

  • Choose the services you want to provide. This means searching your past work background to see what you can offer. Try to offer at least two to three services. You may even want to search the industry to see what virtual assistants are being hired for.
  • You will need to take a look at your personal income and see how long you can "float" until you start bringing in a steady income. This will tell you whether or not it is time for you to tell your boss that you are going out on your own.
  • You will need to create a business plan for yourself. An effective business plan will help you manage your goals.
  • Market your services often. You will need to frequent job sites, classifieds, and you will need to build yourself a website. A website will highlight what it is you can do for clients and give them a means to contact you so that they can utilize your services.
  • You do want to be competitive on your rates. Make sure you charge a rate that you can live with. You don't want to work slave wages. Although working from home can be a relief, you will find that it can be daunting if you don't charge enough money.

When working at home as a virtual assistant, don't be surprised if you have to juggle your family and your work at the same time. It can be difficult to separate home from work when working at home, but it also has its rewards.

Brenda is a graduate of California State University and a professional writer covering a variety of business topics. To learn more about Brenda, check out her website at The Digital Inkwell.

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