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Working as a virtual assistant is a practical and potentially lucrative way of making money online. You can work from home, keeping in touch with clients through e-mail, instant messaging, phone, and videoconferencing.
Several factors determine how much you can earn as a virtual assistant. Some of these include your skills, your area of specialization, your experience, and the value you bring to your clients. Depending on these factors, virtual assistants can make anywhere from $8 – $50 USD per hour, and possibly even more for highly specialized and experienced assistants.
Two Different Types of Virtual Assistants
There are two major categories of virtual assistants: generalists and specialists.
Virtual assistants can make anywhere from $8 – $50 USD per hour depending on their expertise and area of specialization.
Generalists typically work for an hourly rate, and perform a variety of administrative tasks such as data entry, formatting reports, research, scheduling, responding to emails, setting appointments, fielding phone calls, and creating documents. Because generalists are not performing work that requires any special skills, they earn less that specialists, and face steeper competition.
Many opportunities to work as a generalist can be found on a variety of freelance opportunity websites such as those we’ll suggest in just a minute.
While generalists will typically refer to themselves as virtual assistants, specialists tend to refer to themselves by a more specific title that identifies their expertise. Some of the more common specialized virtual assistant roles include:
- Social media specialists craft engaging social media posts, interact with other users on behalf of the customer, and create social media ad campaigns.
- Internet marketing specialists also do a lot of work on social media, as well as craft engaging marketing emails, write blog posts, perform SEO research, and create landing page copy.
- Medical virtual assistants need to have a strong grasp of medical terminology and best-practices as they provide transcription services, create documents, and set appointments.
- Legal virtual assistants provide many of the same services as medical assistants, only provide them to law firms, and therefore need to be familiar with legal terminology and legal proceedings.
- Website managers need to have the technical expertise necessary to perform routine updates, post new content, and follow other instructions as provided by the webmaster.
- Other technical services such as graphic design, video editing, podcast production, and webinar editing are examples of services a virtual assistant with the right expertise can render.
1. Target an area of specialization
While you may find more opportunities available for generalists, you will make more money, and face less competition if you pick an area of specialization as a virtual assistant. Consider your current skill set. What tasks can you perform that many other cannot? Consider pursuing opportunities that uniquely fit your skills and experience.
Spend some time researching the virtual assistant marketplace as it pertains to your area of specialization. Get a sense for the typical rates, and build a customer profile that you can use to look for potential clients.
It’s also a great idea to check out the competition. What are other assistants in your specialization doing? Do they have a website? Are they blogging? Do they have a well-connected LinkedIn profile? Learn from the things your competition is doing well, and try to think of ways that you can stand out within your area of specialization.
3. Get online
As a virtual assistant you need to be easy to find online. At a minimum you should create a website that is crafted to communicate your expertise, and to attract your ideal client.
In addition, it’s a good idea to start using social media to rub elbows with potential clients. Head to LinkedIn and become active in groups that your clients might be active in. On Twitter, follow accounts your customers might be following, and interact with those accounts. On Facebook, share great content that relates to you profession, and that potential customers might find useful.
4. Set up your work space
It should go without saying that you will need a quiet place at home where you can work free of distractions. Equip your home office with necessary office supplies, like file folders, labels, paper and envelopes. More importantly, make sure you have reliable high-speed internet service, and a phone that can be reserved primarily for business usage during your work hours.
5. Set the right rate
In light of what your learned in the research phase, set the right rate. Set your rate too low and you’ll have to work far too many hours. Set your rate too high, and you may not be able to find clients. Find a happy middle-ground where you are satisfied by the rate you’re earning, but are still competitive within your specialization.
6. Look for job opportunities.
There are three primary ways to find work as a virtual assistant. Think about each, and make use of the ones that make the most sense for your specialization.
- Freelancing websites pair freelancers, such as virtual assistants, with clients who are looking for their services. There are quite a few out there to consider, and we have listed three of the best below.
- Finding clients through your personal or professional network may be the most lucrative method since you may face reduced competition, and be working for customers who already know you and know the expertise you bring to the table.
- Reaching out directly to potential clients is one way highly specialized virtual assistants can find work. If you know your talents to be in high demand by a specific type of customer or business, you can track those customers down and reach out to them directly to offer your services.
7. Be the best
Perform exceptional work, providing good customer service. Satisfied clients come back and refer you to their colleagues.
Sites to Consider
Freelancer is one of the largest freelance marketplaces. You will find dozens of opportunities at Freelancer, but you’ll also be competing with a large pool of other freelancers in a competitive bid type of environment.
Upwork is similar to Freelancer, though it hasn’t created quite as much competition between freelancers. Upwork is one of the largest freelance sites and you will find many opportunities to pursue here.
Guru Guru offers a platform that places reduced emphasis on competition between freelancers. It’s also a better place to find specialized opportunities.