What is a Virtual Assistant?
In short, a virtual assistant (or a VA) is a remote worker. Virtual assistants help businesses to fulfil particular tasks – or a range of them – from wherever in the world they happen to be. Many online-based small businesses rely on this kind of outsourced assistance to keep things running smoothly.
Some small businesses may have a restricted range of skillsets among its employees. (It may even be a solopreneur). Whatever the circumstances are, they need more help from somewhere, so hire freelancers to do this. Virtual assistants tend to get called in to do repetitive, time-intensive tasks.
As the work is often done from home, it’s an attractive idea for those who have had enough with regular 9-to-5 work, or have taken time off due to illness, maternity leave or because they fancy a change.
What Types of Virtual Assistants are There?
Trust me when I can say you can be any kind of virtual assistant. If you have a particular skill, it’s easier to have more focus when marketing yourself, but I could go on all day on the types of jobs virtual assistants do.
- Data entry
- WordPress assistants
- Pinterest managers
- Data analyst
- Content writing
- Ad posting
- Social media curation
- Video description
- Post tagging
- Gif creation
- Amazon product sourcing
And that’s just a few from off the top of my head. The easiest way to figure out where you fit in is to have a browse around People Per Hour and look at what others are up to. You’ll soon see where you can fit in and make your mark as a virtual assistant.
What Do Clients Look for in Virtual Assistants?
As someone who has hired VAs in the past, these few qualities are essential:
- Ability to fulfil task consistently
- Trustworthiness (with sensitive information)
As long as you’re someone that knows what they’re doing and is willing to put in the work, you’re halfway there. Nobody wants a flaky VA. Nobody wants a VA that overstates their abilities. Be honest and find your lane. If it’s not a job you know how to do (and can’t learn it rapidly) move on to one more suited to your own talents.
The only other thing I care about is whether the person I’m hiring is good value for money. There’s a massive range in abilities, and you would expect the hourly rate to reflect this. As VAs set their own prices, it’s up to you to figure out what you think an hour of your time is worth and compare it to others. Too high and you won’t win business (well, definitely not repeat business). Too low and you’ll soon tire of the work if you’re not properly rewarded for it.
How Much Can a VA Earn?
In the UK, there’s no limit to the amount a virtual assistant can earn. It’s an extremely flexible freelance role, so your earnings really rely on your ability to find solid well-paying clients. A VA can expect to earn themselves a full-time wage if they play their cards right. Some charge £7 an hour, while others go up to £50. It depends how in-demand the skills are and how strongly they market their abilities.
It’s important to note that you may be competing with VAs from elsewhere in the world, not just in the UK. In particular countries, these VAs can afford much lower prices than you would want to work for. Being a native English speaker is a massive advantage in some instances, but not all. If a client can pay someone in the Philippines half of what they would pay you for the same work, they will.
Put thought in before you slap a £40/hour price tag on your time, or offer it up for anything around minimum wage. Make sure it’s worth it for you and that it’s competitive enough to draw potential clients in.
How Do You Get Started?
Speaking to UK-based virtual assistants I’ve hired in the past, there are two main ways that people get involved in this line of work. One is that they may began as a freelancer thanks to a recommendation, and then wanted to expand to other things afterwards. The other is that they stumbled upon the various gig and freelance marketplaces (Fiverr, People Per Hour, UpWork) and just waited to see what work came their way.
If I was going to get into VA work today, I would list my services on People Per Hour, send some proposals, and go from there. I would put together a portfolio to list on Behance, market myself on social media, and get cracking. There doesn’t appear to be a specific path for virtual assistant work, but the better your profile is on a site like People Per Hour, the more consistently you’ll have those jobs coming in.