How to become a Virtual Assistant in 2022

Being a Virtual Assistant is awesome. I have a fantastic lifestyle and have worked in countries all around the world. But the life of a freelancer isn’t all unicorns and fairies, it’s definitely not a “side hustle” or a way of making easy money. Let me tell you what’s actually involved in setting up and running a VA business so you can decide if it’s for you.

(This post is a broad overview of how to become a Virtual Assistant. It contains links to more in-depth articles on the various subjects mentioned within it and further resources on how to set up.)

Why should you become a Virtual Assistant?

There are many reasons that people want to become a Virtual Assistant. The main ones are flexibility and freedom, but here are a few more:

You can work when you want
From being able to spend more time with your kids to caring for elderly family members, working as a Virtual Assistant means you can organise your day to fit around the life you have or the type of life you want to create.

You can work where you want
I’ve worked from locations all around the world because all I need is my laptop and an Internet connection. If you’re looking for a location-independent or digital nomad lifestyle, virtual assistance will fit the bill perfectly.

You get to use your brain
Working for yourself is a constantly evolving journey that requires you to think for yourself and come up with creative solutions for both your own business and your clients’.

It’s rewarding
Dedicating years of your life to a company that doesn’t value you or appreciate your loyalty and hard work is heartbreaking. But, when you run your own Virtual Assistant business, it’s you who’s rewarded – both financially and emotionally.

You finally get to see what you’re made of and what you can achieve.

It’s empowering
Even though there will be ups and downs (if it was easy everyone would do it), you’re in control of what happens to you.

No more waiting to see if the axe of redundancy will fall… you’re the one who gets to decide your future.

When you run your own Virtual Assistant business you have more choices than employees and are in control of what happens to you. 

Why Virtual Assistants will always do well

Virtual Assistance is a highly robust industry that withstands turbulent times. Here’s why:

  • Virtual Assistants have numerous transferable skills and can work with any type of business, in any location, in any timezone and in any currency. This means they have more options than employees.
  • A Virtual Assistants sole purpose is to assist small businesses. It’s even in their job title! Their entire business model is helping other businesses thrive which means they can help their clients adapt and pivot to changing times as well.
  • Virtual Assistants possess a plethora of valuable skills from many years of office experience. They have also undertaken multiple types of tasks for clients within a wide range of industries. Even though they may have a specific niche, they will also have clients in other industries. So if one client is impacted, the rest won’t be.
  • Virtual Assistants know how to communicate and collaborate virtually and they possess a wealth of tech knowledge that all types of businesses can benefit from.
  • Virtual Assistants are resourceful, highly organised and have excellent forward-planning abilities. They’re unflappable and excellent problem solvers.

How to become a Virtual Assistant

On one hand, freelancing is simple:

  1. Find people who need help
  2. Help them
  3. Send them an invoice
  4. Get paid
  5. Pay tax
  6. Repeat.

But obviously, there’s a bit more to it than that!

My DIY VA training course covers in detail every single step you need to take, but here’s a simplistic overview of what you need to do to set up a Virtual Assistant business.

Know why you want to become a Virtual Assistant and commit to making it work

I’ve noticed that the people in my VA Handbookers Facebook group who struggle with running a business often don’t appear to be fully committed to the process.

They don’t have both feet in the boat.

They use phrases such as “I’ll give it a go” and “I’ll try to make it work” and often approach what is actually a serious profession as a “side hustle”, a hobby or a way to make a few extra bucks here and there.

They will never become high-flying, sh*t-hot, kick-ass, well-paid Virtual Assistants.

You need to know EXACTLY why you want to leave employment and become a business owner and then do everything in your power to succeed… or you won’t.

You need to show up and do the work (even when you’re tired), suck it up whenever things don’t go to plan (which will be often) and give it 100%. 

It’s that simple.

Research and plan

I’ve been a freelancer since 2008 and I’ve pretty covered pretty much every single thing you will ever need to know about becoming a bulletproof Virtual Assistant business here on my website.

I’ve categorised all of my blog posts so you can find every subject that reflects each stage of your journey here on the Post Index page.

My advice is to work your way through these posts, sign up for some free courses, join the Facebook group, check out the interviews and videos from real-life VAs, make a plan and then work through it.

Or just skip to the end, sign up for my DIY VA course and I’ll walk you through the entire process.

Decide on your business model

Everyone is different so you will have to create a business model that reflects your own particular set of circumstances and matches what you need at this point in your life.

For example, do you want a 100% virtual business model so you can work from anywhere in the world or do you like being around people and are happy to go into their offices?

If you need to pick your kids up from school at a certain time each day then you will have to turn down work that requires you to check emails at specific times etc.

The great news

Look at your finances

Can you afford to leave your job and go freelance?

While there isn’t a huge initial outlay, there are costs in setting up any business.

Obviously, you don’t just chuck in your job before you even know if you like being a Virtual Assistant or are good at it, but it may take a while to secure clients. Then you have to allow for the time it takes to complete the work, invoice and receive payment.

It’s well known that all freelancers can experience periods of ‘feast and famine’. Some months are amazing and others are not.

Having clients on retainers will provide an indication of upcoming earnings but some months such as August or December can be quiet because your clients (and their clients) are often on holiday or winding up for Christmas.

Also, clients aren’t for life.

A client can give you notice at any time so you should assess your monthly outgoings, see what you need to earn each month then have at least three months’ worth of savings to act as a buffer whilst you focus on setting up and finding work.

Virtual Assistants seldom have a steady and reliable income. This is why freelancing doesn’t suit everyone and why we charge a high hourly rate.

To be honest, if you need a reliable and steady income, you’d be far better off sticking to your day job.

Sort the legal stuff

If you’re in the UK then you need to tell HMRC as soon as you start earning money. You will also need to pay the ICO an annual fee, decide whether to be a limited company or a sole trader, keep accurate financial records and either learn how to do your own tax return or hire an Accountant.

You also need contracts and insurance so you don’t get sued or screwed, website policies (if you have a website, obvs), and a Data Processing Agreement (DPA) for GDPR compliance.

Luckily, there are articles in the money and legal category of my website to help you navigate your legal obligations as a Virtual Assistant.

Look at your niche and services

When looking for clients, it’s definitely better to have a niche. If you have an employment history, you will already have at least one niche.

So, instead of thinking about what people might want and then offering those services, identify what you’re good at, like doing and want to keep doing  – and then find people who need help with those things.

Your niche/s might be the tasks you offer, the types of people you work with, the industry you serve or a combination of these.

If you have a niche (which is always in addition to regular admin services) then you become the go-to person in that area and you’ll get enquiries that match your area of expertise.

Your niche is usually what you did for a living before you went freelance, so try to go for the low-hanging fruit when getting your first client as you can always move sideways into another niche area later.

There’s no point in leaving your job to become a Virtual Assistant if you end up taking on work you don’t like or that doesn’t match your business model.

Although you need to earn money and bring home the bacon, doing enjoyable work should be your priority or you’ll end up hating working for yourself and won’t want to do it anymore.

Decide what to charge

You’ll need to decide on your rates as Virtual Assistants can charge by the hour, by the project or have clients on monthly retainers. You will probably offer a combination of these options.

The current average hourly rate for a UK Virtual Assistant is £27 but many VAs charge a helluva lot more than this.

Virtual Assistant rates vary depending on the VA’s skillset, level of expertise, length of experience, who their clients are and what industry they are in – their niche.

As an example, “techie” VAs can charge more because they have specialist skills that other VAs do not possess. These can include things like SEO, setting up membership sites and landing pages, video editing and graphic design.

Director-level VAs who deal with High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) and are more like freelance PA/EAs and they can also command a higher rate than a Virtual Assistant who only has basic admin skills.

Many Virtual Assistants struggle with pricing but it’s important to remember that it’s not a VAs business to decide how much their clients can afford.

Your rates are your rates.

It’s far harder to raise your fees than it is to lower them and you shouldn’t undervalue skills that have taken you years to acquire. Women often undersell themselves, but you’re a valuable resource and clients who know that will happily pay for your expert help.

You’ll learn that people who baulk at your rates are people you should be extremely wary of working with and you’ll also learn that if you don’t charge a high enough rate then you won’t be in business for very long.

Decide on your brand

After you’ve decided what work you’d like to do you need to decide on your company name and design your branding and logo. I started off with quite a basic VA website but later redesigned it.

So you don’t wait until everything is perfect – just get going!

You need to have a good online appearance as your website and social media profiles WILL be judged by potential clients, but your main aim is to get clients and not faff around getting caught up in irrelevant design details and never actually do any work.

Market your socks off

Know that marketing your business is something that you’re going to have to do constantly and for the entire duration of your career.

So it will (literally) pay to be good at it.

If you’ve never done much of it before, marketing isn’t something that you’re going to be good at straight away, but it’s easy to learn. You may feel uncomfortable about it at first but it will quickly become your new normal.

You could start by adding your company to local business directories (you’ll get loads of sales calls but you’ll need the SEO at first), crafting a stellar LinkedIn profile, networking online and face-to-face and telling everyone you have ever known what you can do.

However, marketing is simply about having conversations, building relationships and providing solutions. Which I know you can do.

I’ve provided some marketing resources at the end of this post.

Know that you don’t have to do everything yourself

Virtual Assistants often think they need to be able to do every single thing a client wants, but a VAs job is actually to sort sh*t out for their clients.

If your client needs a logo you don’t have to rush out and learn to become a graphic designer – you can just outsource the task to a graphic designer. They will do a fantastic job in a fraction of the tie – because it’s what they do for a living.

As long as your client is aware of the situation, there is no reason why you can’t just project manage any task you don’t know how to do.

You can’t do everything, doll and it would be crazy to think or pretend that you can.

Know your tech

A modern Virtual Assistant isn’t the same as a traditional PA and, although you won’t know how to do everything, you will need to have an understanding of the technology used to work and collaborate online.

When the pandemic kicked off, the VAs that helped their clients move classes and consultations online, wrote and sent newsletters, set up Facebook groups and introduced clients to video recording software who were rushed off their feet.

So, if you’re more of an old-school traditional administrator or if you’re a technophobe or someone who doesn’t enjoy learning about technology, it’s probably best to market yourself as a freelance PA and help local businesses with their admin instead of promoting yourself as a Virtual Assistant.

Keep learning

I cannot tell you how important it is that you keep learning and stay on top of new developments – not only in the Virtual Assistant industry and your own niche but also with new technology and ways to work more efficiently.

If you keep your skills up to date then you’ll have a more varied skill set (in addition to your niche) and can provide more value to your clients.

Warning

Freelancing is not for everyone and shouldn’t be seen as a “side hustle” (a term I absolutely hate) or a way to make “easy money” doing a bit of admin.

It is a serious career choice and you need to be fully committed to doing a good job for your clients.

Oh, and those articles about jobs you can do from home with no investment are lies.

You need money to start any business, and if you don’t have any money then it’s not a good idea to become a Virtual Assistant.

You’ll end up feeling desperate, you’ll take any task you’re offered and you’ll feel anxious all the time. And you did not leave your job only to hate something else!

Running a business is hard work. You will have to do your own admin, bookkeeping, website, copywriting and marketing – oh, and did I mention that you have to do a LOT of marketing for the entire duration of your career?

Cool, I just wanted to tell you that again.

As a Virtual Assistant, you will have to manage multiple tasks for multiple clients with constantly changing deadlines. Some of your clients might be “challenging” (a polite word for some bless ’em) and that’s before we even get on to tyre-kickers and late payers.

You will need a thick skin and you will need to be resilient, adaptable, resourceful and pragmatic.

Being a natural detail person will make you a good Virtual Assistant, but to be a good business owner you ALSO need to be a bigger-picture person – this is something that may not come naturally and will have to be learned.

Conclusion

You may not have the essential qualities needed to become a Virtual Assistant but after reading this post, you at least now have a better understanding of what’s involved and what to do next if you still think it’s something you might like to do.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that running a business isn’t a helluva lot of hard work and that you will be wildly out of your comfort zone a lot of the time.

But I also need to tell you that it will be an absolutely freakin’ crazy and exhilarating ride.

If you decide to become a Virtual Assistant and set up your own business, you will learn more than you ever thought possible and you will feel like you’re finally, truly living your own life.

Further reading and resources


Just wanna skip to the end?

If you really want to set up your own VA business then check out my DIY VA course.

With lifetime access and an incredible trainee-only support group, I hold your hand throughout the entire process.

FIND OUT MOREever

63 Comments

Andrew

In my VA experience, there are a few important aspects in a VAs career.
1. Always deliver more than expected.
2. Be punctual and organised
3. Make sure to set your price right (Don’t forget to include tax, vat,etc)
4. Find a good source of leads for your VA services

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Bai-Leigh

Virtual Assistants are in demand these days. Becoming one is not a walk in the park. Yes, you can work whenever and wherever you want, however there are challenges that come with it. Kudos to you Jo! You’ve done a great job in explaining not just the hows but also the whys in becoming a VA.

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Joanne Munro

Thank you Bai-Leigh. I have put in years and years of hard work to build my VA training business which is why I removed your YouTube link on how to become a VA from your comment. (wow)

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charlotte

If this where an actual paperback book I would buy this with no hesitation. It would be my bible :). The blogs and articles are full of useful information. Im currently in the process of setting up my VA business and refer to this site frequently. So helpful and looking forward to more reading 🙂

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Charmie Jane C. Magolhado

thank you so much for all this amazing information… easy to understand and it really helps a lot for a beginner like me..

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kait knights edgar

Thank you Joanne
I have been working towards finding some free time since contacting you in February, to start to read all your information and do the courses. Today is the day ?.
Your suggestion to market as a freelance PA unless your up to speed on all the technology, sits well with me, while I improve my skill set and learn from your courses and my children (19,13,10) who seem to be able to do all these technical things with their eyes shut.??
I like your direct approach.
Thanks again
Kait Knights Edgar ?

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Kate Sullivan

Holy cow! This is the most resourceful, clear and encouraging site I’ve found on becoming a successful VA. I’m thrilled and can’t wait to read more and get started. Thank you for helping see through and clarify all that needs to be done. Kate

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Joanne Munro

You are so welcome! Make sure you join the Facebook group and sign up to the newsletter too – great to have you aboard!

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Cherry Sangines

Thank you for this comprehensive list! I am a beginner myself and I have yet to read all your articles and links. Thank you for taking the time to do this and help other beginner virtual assistants like us.

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Helen Tideswell

Today, I’ve taken a step away from clients to do training. I just want to say that your website and training have been great for me and is what got me started. Thank you!

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Karolina

I’ve doe so much resource in this topic but haven’t found anything as simple and informative as your website. I really enjoy your style of writing and help you give to other readers, I will dive in to your work a little bit more and potently contact you if needed. There is so much unnecessary information out there as of people don’t want to give out too much.
Thank you for dedicating your time to create this blogs, I appreciate this a lot.

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MatthewMM

Hello,
I am jobless at the moment. Please, Can you help me? Do you have jobs you can offer to a fresh brand new VA and can work for full time? Thank you, I really appreciated if you can reach for me and help me.

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Alith

Thanks for sharing. I’m a newbie virtual assistant working in an office-based setting. So far, everything is great. Working with clients has been exciting and fulfilling. I agree that collaborating with other VAs is such a huge help, especially with difficult tasks because each has their own specialties.

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Nidhi

Virtual Assistant job is appropriate for the people who want to work from home. I am also one of those and your guide on how to become a successful one is going be extremely helpful for me. Thanks for the share!

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Xoli

Hi Jo,

I don’t have much work experience, just 18 months working as a call centre customer service representative, but I am interested in starting a VA business in the near future. I would like to know what steps can I follow as someone with not much work experience, and what courses would you recommend I take.

I have been toying with the idea for months now but I get overwhelmed by my lack of experience and skills, even though I know that this kind of career would suite my personality and my lifestyle as a stay at home mom to an almost 2 year old.

Thanks

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Joanne Munro

Thank you for your message Xoli. It’s wonderful that you would like to set up your own business. A virtual assistant does need to have admin skills (a VA is like being a freelance PA) so I would look at the type of work you have done before and see whether that would translate into a freelance position.

This blog post on what it is like to work as a VA should also help (it is also very blunt so please forgive me!) but I would potentially do some admin or secretarial courses before you consider setting up if you don’t already have some admin skills or experience. x

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Kaleo

What are the advantages in working as a freelancer compared to a sole trader? Freelancer has less marketing potentials. A sole trading business looks more professional.
I’m doing few jobs here and there but I want to have a brand name and start going at it aggressively locally. Isn’t this better than being a freelancer?

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Joanne Munro

Hi Kaleo, a Freelancer is a sole trader. well, they either operate as a sole trader or a limited company. Freelancers therefore have a brand name and they market themselves.

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Akerejola Bukky

Thanks a lot for the advice am doing a part time education programs and want to be a VA to offer secretarial services at the convenience of my home and your article has Really encouraged me that am in the right direction… Thanks a million

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Chris

Hi. I work full time and on a rotating 6-7 day shift pattern and frankly hate my job. I’ve been looking for another job without finding anything that appeals. I decided to take the approach of deciding what type of lifestyle I want and assessing my strengths and weaknesses and being a VA fits perfectly. I don’t intend to rush in and courses are certainly to be looked in to. On starting out alongside my full time job do you think my inability to commit to the same time each week (e.g. every Thursday morning) will make this a difficult business to start or gain clients. I also note that VA’s work a various locations or on holiday etc, so do they therefore take and make many calls on a mobile or are there VA’s who do virtually all of their work through online communication only? Thanks for your help and info. I intend to look in to this much further.

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Joanne Munro

Hi Chris, not being available to work on any given day shouldn’t be a problem at all. The best thing to do is what I did and not take on work that has to be done at specific times of the day or days of the week/month. I take on tasks where the person says “can you get it done by next Friday?” etc so I can just complete the task as and when I want.

You would be the business owner so you would decide what you wanted your business to look like and how you wanted it to run. Learning how to be in control is actually way harder than learning how to set up.

With regards to working virtually abroad yes, some VAs take actual holidays so they are unavailable to their clients (let them know in advance and put your voicemail and out of office on). most stake working holidays and others work as ‘Digital Nomads’ where they work and travel continuously. When I work abroad (I’m flying to the Canaries tomorrow actually!) I do all my communication online although I do have a mobile phone tariff that means I have free calls and texts while I’m away.

Looking at the tech info on Digital Nomad sites such as Hecktic Travels, Legal Nomads, Technomadia and Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site will help as they focus solely on how to work whilst travelling.

I hope that helps! x

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Annette

Hi Joanne!
THANK YOU so much for the helpful information. How well written and resourceful You are a true professional!
I am grateful and inspired by your assistance.
My best,
Annette

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richard villa abrille

Hi joanne,

You’re a blessing from heaven. Awesome information and very inspiring. I want to start somewhere but I don’t know how and what to offer. More power and success to come.
God Bless you.

Rc

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Chetan Kulkarni

Hii there
Thank you for this useful information it gave me little bit more understanding about VA business as I am quite new to this VA world..
Let me tel you about myself I’m 23 years old indian I’ve done aircraft maintenance engineering, due to recession worked in sales and marketing industry,customer relationship jobs
Now I want to start VA business so that I can make atleast USD $300 a month (for my own living in india) and keep looking for a job in aviation industry (that’s my passion)
So do you think that it is possible to make atleast $100 to $300 a month in VA business (I know I have couple of different skills to become a VA bt need experts advice)
Thankyou so much

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Joanne Munro

Hi Chetan, I would definitely say so but how much you make depends on how munch work you put in marketing your business really. My trainees with marketing experience are always busy.

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Audrey

“It sounds like you have to be Wonder Woman to be a great Virtual Assistant – because you do” – so true! I have a VA friend. She says that it is a great experience for her to be a virtual assistant. Everyday she is learning new things and considering a wide range of issues. Sometimes I ask her to help me with some tough tasks and she does them well all the time! I wondered how she do it so good and easy and she said – “I am studying all the time and improving myself”. I’ve been even thinking of becoming a VA too. But that is in process. Your articles boosts my desire. THANKS.

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Jayne

Hi, Jo. After leaving a full-time position 18 months ago, I have been working as a transcriptionist on a purely subcontract basis. I feel as if I am now in a position to source my own clients, offering other services in addition to the transcription. I came across your website when searching for particulars regarding client service agreements. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been to find such straightforward and uncomplicated information. I have downloaded several of your templates and also just purchased the Learn LinkedIn training package – exchange rate isn’t the best but I’m sure it will be worth it! I have devoured A LOT of VA information over the past few months and I haven’t come across anything as useful as what you provide. Thank you.

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Joanne Munro

Hi there – I cannot tell you how pleased I am to wake up and find this message from you. It’s not even half 9 in the morning and you’ve already made my day! I’ve just enrolled you on the course which I know you will find useful. Thank you again for leaving such a lovely comment; it always makes me happy when people take the time to write something. Have a great day, connect with me on LinkedIn and give me a shout if you need anything. x

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Sarah Lam

It’s really worth it to be a VA. With all the hardwork and difficulty in the beginning, it really pays off when you land your first customer (and many more to come!).

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Cloudsecretary

The best way to becoming the best virtual assistant is by getting a lot of experience, learning from them and make necessary adjustments when things suddenly change.

Clients would fight over you.

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Zoe

Hello Joanne Munro. Your article is really nice and kinda boost up my motivation of being a VA. I have been thinking of doing this job since 2 months now but don’t know where and how to start it. It’s really confusing. I have been thinking of joining a VA website and get myself hired. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to start off this job. I really need help. Your advises will be kindly appreciated. Thanking you in advance.

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Joanne Munro

Hi Zoe, I’d go straight to working for yourself rather than relying on work from a VA website (not than many of them exist) you build up a client base and all the money is yours. It’s not really like working for a temping agency or anything and you can earn a hell of a lot more by yourself. Sign up for my newsletter and it’ll take you through all the stages. x

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Jennifer Powell

I am looking at making this a career option. I currently have no job and being a VA is appealing to me. I love organisation and helping people, but I am not sure I could really commit to this given my other goals and dreams.

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Joanne Munro

Hi Jennifer, then this isn’t the job for you. For most people being a VA IS their goal and dream. If it’s not yours and just something you think might earn you some money, then it won’t work out. Working for yourself is something you need to commit to and, if you;re not 100% into it, you won’t be successful. x

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Ratko

Nice article Joanne, I really like the part of finding the niche and finding clients (a remark where you stated don’t look for detail rather find work).

I think a niche is really important. VAs may suffer from doing everything, and even if you’re a fast-learner and a talented businessman or woman, you would be investing time learning new things on a whole lot of different areas rather than honing skills on a few areas to greatness.

I have two points to add (one to ask:)) – if someone wants to try out being a freelance VA my suggestion is, think a bit about your decision before you start and jump head strong into it – I’m a firm believer that if you want to do something the right way, you should invest every essence of your being into it.

My second point is – why not look for work on freelance sites? Yes, you will find a lot of low priced projects that aren’t worth your time, but there are a lot of good priced ones as well.

Oh, and my last addition (apologies for the long comment), if you cater to a lot of clients, find a good project management software (or at least a to do list or something similar). I’m a project manager by profession, and managing a lot of projects/clients can get messy. I think nowadays some of the pm software are for freelancers as well.

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Joanne Munro

Thank you for your fantastic input Ratko! Yes, I agree a person should really invest every essence of their being into setting up their own business – if they can’t do that for their own business then they won’t do it for anyone else’s! I have a blog post on Freelancer jobs sites actually which I think people find useful. I don’t use a project management system but I know a lot of VAs do, so another good point there.

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Ratko

It’s worth checking out. I’m actually trying to create a VA platform, like a freelancing one just for VAs. That industry is getting bigger and bigger by the second.

In terms of the pm tool, it’s a really useful thing in project management. And as I’ve worked with a few clients at the same time, it’s vital to manage yourself as well. Haven’t tried the solo ones, but I guess they’re worth it. I manage my tasks with a to do list software (combined with my tasks through a pm tool related to a client) called Clear.

If you do look at to do lists, my two cents are – find a simple one. One where you can put the tasks you need to do (if priority scales are your gig, that’s great, they aren’t mine, maybe if the task list contains 50 tasks, but I can glance at 10 and know which one comes next), easy to tick them off and categorising them in folders is a plus if it’s for multiple clients

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rubs

Hi!
I have all ready to go website, name, outlook, skype.. etc
The thing is that i have a lot of time at my current job like a lot so i want to start getting 1 or 2 or more client as a VA while i am at the office but i cant obviously use skype or the phone.
Is that possible?
and how will it work to make travel bookings, i mean essential needs without their credit card details like we do for our CEO?
once all ready to go, how do you start working?
thanks

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Joanne Munro

Hi there. I wouldn’t recommend either looking/working for clients on company time as it could get you fired! On your lunch break though you could research your ideal client (as outlined in my guide on how to get clients) and gather info about them so you can email them when you get home.

With travel bookings, I usually give my client all the details (itinerary, prices, times and the website URL) then they book the travel themselves. I also have some client’s card details so I can make the booking myself after they’ve okayed the itinerary and price. Those are more long-term clients where we’ve built up a trusting working relationship.

I’m not sure what you mean by “how do you start working” though. Can you clarify? x

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Jenny Churcher

I am seriously considering setting up as a Virtual Assistant, and need to know where to begin with basics like hardware, software, Companies House, tax, etc. I have a friend who’s willing to invest in helping me with the setup costs, but in don’t know how much that is.

What do I need to start doing NOW in order to get my business off the ground?

Many thanks,
Jenny

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Joanne Munro

Hi Jenny! First get my free guide on what you do and don’t need to set up, then go to the Start Here page and start reading the rest of my articles.There’s one on pretty much everything involved in setting up including HMRC. Starting a VA business is exactly the same as starting any freelance business so also check out other websites like Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder.

This site is mainly to show you where to start and not to talk you through every aspect of being a freelancer as there are plenty of sites out there solely focused on that. I set up with a laptop, Internet, a mobile phone, business cards and a basic website. You don’t need a ton of stuff – you just need clients!

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Ellie

I have done sales for the past 33 years could I use these skills to become a Va. Advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks Ellie

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Joanne Munro

Hi Ellie, luckily there are numerous types of Virtual Assistants covering an untold number of niches! Pretty much every skill is desirable in a freelance capacity to someone so just work your way through the site and have a good read of the How to Choose Your Niche blog post. x

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Gill

Hi Joanne

Thank you so much for all the information published on your website. I’m just starting out and have found myself going cross-eyed trying to process the vast amount of information available to new Virtual Assistants! The information you provide is so helpful and easy to read. Look forward to reading more of your tutorials.

Best wishes

Gill

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Joanne Munro

Hi Gill – you’ve just made my day! Thank you. I wanted the site to be exactly how you just described it, so I’m very happy I got it right. If there’s any info you’d like to see here then please let me know… I’ve definitely still got websites to cover!

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Karen

Hi Joanne

My husband has been telling me for ages now to think about becoming a virtual pa, but I’ve always been scared of taking the risk of not having any work or not being any good, although after 30 years as a PA I guess I must be good at something! However reading your website has made me think that there really is no reason why I can’t give it a try and have been interested to read that you think that part time working is feasible as I currently work three days a week. I have also passed on your details to a friend of mine who was also thinking about it, so maybe you’ll have helped another two scaredy cats on the road to a better way of life.

Thank you
Karen

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Joanne Munro

Hi Karen, That’s great news! I’ve discovered lately that a lack of confidence is really common in people considering the VA life, but if you spent 30 years as a PA then someone must’ve thought you were good at it! I personally think it’s much better to try something and it not work out than to not try at all and always wonder. We only get one go at this life and playing it safe never led to any adventures. You get the work because you need to get the work. My guide shows you exactly how you do this and so it’s then just down to perseverance through not wanting to settle for mediocrity in a rubbish boring job.

People don’t seem to believe that they can pretty much do whatever they want to if they work at it. We’re not talking Rocket Scientist or Astronaut here, it’s just being a freelance PA.

I say go for it Karen. Do it now. x

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Beatha

Hi Joanne,

Thank you so much for the article, it is quite helpful. I’m still working full time, but would like to become a VA. I’m thinking that i will consider leaving my full time employment once the business has picked up as i’m a single mom.

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Caroline Pickup

Thank you for providing so much information and great advice this is just what I was looking for.

I currently work part-time but would love to work from home for more flexibility around child are. Just can’t see how to start a va business and work too!

Anyway I was just wondering what legal contracts one would need to have in place ?

Many thanks
Caroline

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Joanne Munro

Hi Caroline, you don’t really need any legal contracts in place. You’re just working as a freelancer for hire. You can get insurance if you like but I don’t so, as long as you tell HMRC that you now work for yourself, you’re good to go! x

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Dee Bleigh

How about people with Full time jobs and doing VA business on the side?

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Joanne Munro

Oh yes, you can do anything you like and any type of system set up that works for you. Some of my trainees get clients and do their full-time job until they’re so busy they can’t cope, some do their job part-time and VA part-time and others just do their fill-time job and have extra work with no intention of leaving their job. How you make money and live your life is entirely up to you – that’s the great thing about it! x

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Tracey Preater

Awesome! I love it, so much really helpful info. I have spent the last couple of months setting up a VA business – there was a ‘eureka’ moment over Christmas and the path is set. Still working full time but have secured a good redundancy package and will finally be able to launch during the summer, once released from my contract. I recognise a lot of what you say, especially when you tell people of the intentions! Oh, the blank looks and the “really?” comments. The comment about the chicken sexer made me laugh out loud. I am absolutely confident that I am doing the right thing. Luckily there have been no really negative responses – family have been positive and helpful. There have even been requests for help already. The website is almost there – not perfect, will still need a few tweaks but more or less good to go. I love your use of plain english and I must get out of the habit of business-speak – I hate it. You have given a lot of food for thought and I am re-considering some of the services that I have listed. They may provide ‘bread and butter’ work but won’t necessarily be enjoyable, the more specialised areas are probably the ones I should promote. My LinkedIn profile will have a major overhaul once I leave work, it’s more or less written but I still have the day job to consider.
Thank you for all the fantastic advice, all that remains now is to buy the ‘how to get new clients’ information. I’m intrigued.
All the best

Tracey

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Joanne Munro

Hi Tracey, thank you so much for your comment – it sounds like you are well on your way to becoming a successful VA. I’m really pleased you found my info helpful and even more pleased you’re thinking of reconsidering your core services. Making money is great of course, but making money doing the tasks you love whilst improving and developing skills, is much better. Having a speciality is far better (see the VA interviews for evidence of this) and then when you do buy my guide, you’ll see exactly how easy it is to find and secure your ideal client.

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