Once you’ve decided what to call your Virtual Assistant business, you might want a visual representation of your brand – your logo. On one hand your logo is just a formality so you can launch your business and get on with the business of making money, and on the other it represents who you are, what you stand for and will also be on all your marketing materials. Plus, if you get it wrong it could be a complete ball-ache to redesign later!
Along with your niche, one of the hardest things to decide when you become a Virtual Assistant is how to set your rates. If you bill by the hour then you’ll never earn more than there are hours in the working day, if you charge a retainer then what do you include? And if you charge by the project how do you know how long a task will take in order to quote a fair price?
When you decide that you’re going to become a Virtual Assistant and take over the Universe, one of the many, many things you’ll need to do is tell the Government you’re no longer working for The Man but for many men and women instead. The information below is based on UK tax laws so make sure you’re up to date with what you need to do if you live outside of the UK.
You might have seen some outsourcing websites where freelancers can register, bid, and apply for jobs posted up by companies and individuals around the world. People Per Hour, 3desk, Fiverr, Guru, oDesk and Elance are just a few of those sites but there are a ton out there if you look. But do these types of websites actually lead to paid work?
Being a Virtual Assistant is awesome. It’s incredible in fact. I have a really enjoyable lifestyle and have worked from America, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, France, Oman, the Canaries, Portugal, Spain and Bali. But the life of a VA is not all unicorns and fairies – I worked my arse off to become successful, but I also learned a helluva lot in the process. And now I’m going to tell you everything you’ll need to know if you want to become a Virtual Assistant yourself.
If you’ve decided to focus on working in your local area then it’s likely you’ll be networking at some point. However I can tell you from experience that you will be definitely be met with some blank stares when you tell people what you do! Although Virtual Assistance is becoming better known, to some people it’s like you just told them you were a quantum cat herder. But follow these tips and you’ll be networking like a pro in no time.
When I started out as a Virtual Assistant I thoroughly researched other VA websites and noticed that many of them mentioned contracts or terms and conditions – yet when I asked another VA about them she said she never used a contract and simply trusted her clients.
So what did I do?
Once I needed to remotely show a client how to do a couple of things. My client had lost an email and I thought they might have accidentally clicked the ! icon which means ‘report spam’. So I took a screenshot of my Gmail inbox with this button highlighted in order to ascertain if they had indeed done this.
And I actually drew arrows on the screenshot.
When I’m trying to talk a client through a task it always helps if I can either see what they’re looking at on their screen or they can see what’s on mine so I can show them what to do. A really easy way to do this is to use the free screen-sharing facility on Skype.
At some point during your VA career you’re going to get some late payers. I wish I didn’t have to just tell you that, but it’s just the way things are. Some clients are really good payers and some clients are a pain in the rear – it’s the way of the world. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the damage however.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Kathryn Hall. Kathryn runs My Virtual Sidekick, is based in Shoreham in Sussex and has been providing admin support to creative women since 2011. This is the story of how she became a VA.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Jama St. John from Strategic Virtual Solutions. Jama manages a team of VAs from her farm in Franklin, Georgia, has clients all over America, Canada and Australia and has been a VA since 1996. This is her VA story.
When I first started working for myself, it never once occurred to me that I could or should fire a client. I’d worked as an employee for years and employees are the ones who get fired not the other way around – plus I was new at freelancing and thought it was important to take all the work I was offered. Rookie error…
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Lee Frances Thomas. Lee relocated to Hove from London in April 2013, began working as a VA in August 2013 as ‘Onsite and Virtual Services’ but decided to narrow her focus and rebrand her business in January 2014 as ‘Professional Services for the Music and Creative Industries’. This is her VA story.
If you’re a Virtual Assistant who charges by the hour then you’ll need a way of recording your time. Clients need to know they’re paying solely for the time you spend on their task, and it kinda helps if you know how much to bill them for! If you charge by the project then you probably won’t need a time tracker, but if you charge an hourly rate then you will.
Effectively and efficiently managing email accounts is a vital skill for any Virtual Assistant. From the multitude of emails you personally receive, to the ones for and from your clients, if you know how to firmly take control of all the different accounts and emails, you’ll not only be a better VA, but your clients will adore you.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Jenny Jameson. Jenny recently changed her niche to more of a tech-focused area and set up Web Tech Wonder Woman but previously ran ‘Not Just Another VA’. She lives in a lovely Grade 2 listed flat in Brighton with Mr Jen, Poppy the guinea pig, Bella the hamster and has been a VA for just over three years. This is her VA story
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview from Yaritza Baez. Originally from Puerto Rico, Yaritza started her business, Office Help Direct, in 2011 and currently divides her residence between Puerto Rico and the UK. This is her VA story.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Kathie Thomas from the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, Australia. Kathie registered her business, ‘A Clayton’s Secretary‘ in March 1994. In Australia, having a ‘Clayton’s’ something means having something in place of the real thing, so in her case she was the ‘secretary you needed when you hadn’t got a secretary’! This is her VA story.
This is a Virtual Assistant case study and interview with Rachel Brown from Secretary Outsource. Rachel lives on the south coast in Peacehaven, East Sussex, her business operates locally from Newhaven Enterprise Centre, and she started trading in October 2007 when she was “the wrong side of 45!”. This is her VA story.