HOW TO BECOME A

VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

Thinking about taking the virtual plunge? Working as a virtual freelancer is a great way to gain more professional freedom, but it can be daunting knowing where to start. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide, with expert insider tips, to make your transition into the world of virtual assistance as easy and stress-free as possible

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WHERE DO I BEGIN?

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Research

As with any career change, it pays to do your research before you take the leap. If you’re have experience as an in-house personal assistant, you have a head start, but you’ll still need to do your reading so that you can learn about your competitors and how to best present yourself.

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Your Skill Set

Do you have a special skill set? Are you multilingual or an SEO expert? What kind of work would you like to do? How many hours do you want to work? One of the biggest advantages of working as a virtual assistant is that you get to choose who you work with.

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Develop your skills

Whilst you might not be able to be that picky at first, think about which industries you find interesting or how you’d like to develop your skills so that you can push yourself in the right direction.

How do I find Clients?

If you’re leaving a job as a personal assistant to go virtual, you could ask your colleagues or employers to recommend your services to their clients and friends. Make a LinkedIn profile and start messaging potential clients. Create a website describing your services and think about offering a free trial to new customers so that they can experience the benefits of your assistance first hand. Sites like UpWork provide a great platform for freelancers and whilst the site takes a cut of your earnings, it’s a useful way of initially building a client base.

Otherwise, you could consider applying to a virtual services company, such as AVirtual. We train all of our virtual assistants, pair them with clients based on their profiles and supply them with technical support. There’s less freedom as we require our virtual assistants to work from our offices, but it’s a good way of establishing yourself as a trusted VA and means that you are guaranteed a constant supply of work.

WHAT WILL I BE EXPECTED TO DO?

Thanks to technology, there’s very little a virtual assistant can’t do, except bring their boss coffee. As mentioned before, you will have the freedom to choose the services you offer, which could include any or all of the following:

However, you will also need to be prepared to be flexible. The best virtual assistants are the ones who can anticipate their client’s needs and adapt their skills to provide a high-level of dedicated assistance. If your client asks you to assist with an area that you’re not skilled in, be honest with them and offer to find a specialised freelancer who can help. When you do find a suitable freelancer, make sure to save their details so that you can contact them again in the future if need be.

“My virtual assitant Emma is amazing, while Emma works remotely and not in my London office, it’s like she is always here. She has become a critical member of my team and indeed my personal life too. 

Simon Motson

Founder, C6

HOW WILL I COMMUNICATE WITH CLIENTS?

The mode of communication will usually depend on your client’s preference, but it’s good to be able to offer suggestions especially if the client has never worked with a virtual employee before. At AVirtual, we encourage our virtual assistants and clients to meet at least once a week on FaceTime or Skype. It’s much easier to get to know someone if you can read their facial expressions and relate to them as a human being, rather than just a computer screen.

Day to day correspondence might be over email, text or whatsapp. Ask each of your clients how they like to be contacted and try to create a system that you stick to so that you can both incorporate it into your daily routine.

What about the technical side of things?

These days it’s very easy to share information online through software programs such as Google Drive, Dropbox or One Drive. Your client may already use certain software or they might ask you to make suggestions. Impress by introducing them to the latest productivity apps and online tools. Some of our favourites are:

Trello – (com) is an easy to use task management tool that allows you to create boards to organise anything you’re currently working on so that you can easily view your progress and invite others to contribute to the project. You can set up customised workflows, checklists, deadlines, discussion boards and easily attach files, images and videos.

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Todoist – (com) allows you assign tasks and subtasks to yourself using labels and filters for maximum organisation. It also integrates other software such as Google Drive and Cloud Magic, allowing you to easily link all of your content so you don’t have to keep opening different tabs on your desktop.

Harvest – (com) is a time-tracking tool that’s well used by freelances in every industry. It features start and stop timers, and manual timesheets so that you can choose how you record your working hours. You can also add notes so that your client can see exactly how the time was spent and so that you can track your progress and pick up where you left off the next day

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PlannerPro – (apple.com) is so effective that it’s becoming part of our daily software in the AVirtual office. It’s designed to organise your day into one easy to read calendar and allows you to set deadlines on tasks. the basic app is free to download or you can opt for an ad-free pro version for a small yearly subscription.

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Wunderlist – (com) is like Todoist, but for the more creatively minded. It features a selection of background images so that you can customise the app to your personal preference, allows you create lists and deadlines, and save webpages and links for you to refer to at a later stage.

WHAT IF I WANT TO GO ON HOLIDAY?

When you want or need to take a break from working, you will need to give your clients advanced warning and offer a solution for cover. Here’s where it’s especially useful to have built up a network of connections in the virtual world as you may be able to reach out to another virtual assistant to see if they can take on the work whilst you’re away – we often help out VAs by providing cover assistance. Just be sure to fully brief your replacement on your client and their expectations before you get on the plane.

AVIRTUAL’S TOP 3 TIPS TO VIRTUAL SUCCESS

Establish yourself as a brand

Make yourself stand out from the competition by creating a unique brand. It could be the services you offer, the length of the trial period, or the way you present your research. Be as creative as possible.

Be prepared to be flexible

Whilst you might have your specialties and set ways of working, every client will expect something slightly different and the most successful virtual assistants, are those who can provide a truly personalised service.

The extra mile is always worth the effort

Clients are much more likely to continue using your services if you’re committed and enthusiastic about the work. Use your initiative to come up with ways to make their lives easier. It could be something as small as colour coding their daily schedule.

WE ARE EXTREMELY PICKY.

We decline 200 applications for each assistant we accept.