As traffic continues to get worse and prices of goods climb to record highs, more Filipinos are making the transition from 9-to-5 employee to home-based entrepreneur. One of the most popular home based businesses is virtual assistance. There are 2 reasons for this.
First, there is a high demand for virtual assistance work. In the United States, small businesses prefer to contract the services of virtual assistants over hiring full-time employees.
Why? Virtual assistants are contracted, not hired. Business owners pay them per productive hour or per project. Likewise, they are not obligated to pay virtual assistants benefits.
The cost-saving benefit of contracting virtual assistants has been noticed by big businesses. Several top corporations in the United States have been integrating virtual assistants in their workforce since 2014. The results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Studies have shown that since outsourcing work to virtual assistants, on the average, productivity has risen by 13%. Cost per employee has decreased by $1,900 and employee attrition has improved.
Second, virtual assistance is a job that pays well! I personally know virtual assistants who earn close to 80,000 Pesos per month. Of course, you don’t go from zero to 80,000 Pesos in your first year.
Many virtual assistants I’ve spoken to started out earning 12,000 to 15,000 Pesos per month. By the second year, their expanded portfolio gave them better credibility with clients. At this point, their income increased from 35,000 to 45,000 Pesos per month.
Virtual assistants are entrepreneurs. You own a business that offers virtual assistance services. You set your rates and work hours. Thus, income will be matched by your productivity.
If you want to own a business that is easy to set up at home, you should consider offering virtual assistance services.
First, you have to understand what a Virtual Assistant does.
What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?
A Virtual Assistant or VA is a person who works from a remote location and is contracted to manage a project or a set of tasks. People often associate virtual assistance with secretarial work. While there are common tasks, the comparison is not entirely warranted.
Growing demand for virtual assistants work has opened up opportunities in the industry for people with varied skill sets.
Yes, administrative work is still in high in demand. However, companies are also looking for virtual assistants with specialized skill sets and can handle technical tasks.
10 Types Of Virtual Assistance Jobs
One of my clients in my outsourcing company, Benchmark Global Management Solutions, is an agency that provides virtual assistance work. The agency maintains a roster of Filipino virtual assistants who are assigned to manage tasks for various clients.
Here are the 10 types of jobs their virtual assistants do for the agency’s clients:
- Administrative work
- Accounting/ Payroll
- Data entry
- Transcription services
- Graphic design
- Email marketing
- Social media management
- Content writing
- Market research
I can tell you with certainty that the virtual assistants are very busy. Our company provides market research and content creation services for the agency and we’ve worked with many of their virtual assistants. They are very capable and professional in their conduct of work.
For them, it’s also a fun job! They get to work from home, spend time with their families, and have built great relationships with other virtual assistants.
The money isn’t bad either! All of the VA’s I’ve spoken to say they are earning more now compared to their days as regular employees.
So where to start? If you want to start a virtual assistance business from home, find out first if you have what it takes to become one.
How To Start A Virtual Assistant Business From Home
Step 1 – Make An Accounting Of Your Skill Sets
There are two types of skills: Hard and Soft.
Hard skills refer to your technical and fundamental competencies. As we enumerated, there is a Virtual Assistant for virtually every type of job. What are your specializations? More specifically, what types of services can you confidently offer to potential clients?
Virtual assistants should have the following hard skills:
- Proficient in various software programs – MS Office, Asana, DropBox, SalesForce, WebEx, Evernote, FreshBooks, and QuickBooks to name a few.
- Good command of the English language.
- Good typing speed – 48 to 60 words per minute.
- Ability to write business communique in perfect English.
- Comfortable conducting search queries.
- Knowledgeable in email processes.
- Excellent phone handling skills.
If you have some or most of these skills, you are already in good shape. In addition, list down any specialized skill you might have.
- Web Design
- Graphic Design
- Social media marketing
- Lead generation
Soft skills are your key attributes. These are the personality traits that best define who you are and your approach to work.
Virtual assistants should have the following soft skills:
- Disciplined; punctual at work
- Professional; regularly meets deadlines
- Team player
- Results oriented
- Pleasant, positive disposition
- Resilient versus stress
You may be surprised that most clients value soft skills more than hard skills. This is because they prefer to contract the services of someone they can work with. Hard skills can be taught. Soft skills are a by-product of one’s experiences.
Take note of your hard and soft skills because these will be indicated in your online profile.
Step 2 – Set Up Your Home Office
Setting up a home office for virtual assistance work is easy. All you need are the following:
- Ergonomic chair (or something comfortable)
- Stable internet connection
While it will be great if you buy new equipment, you don’t have to. Just make sure your computer is dependable. Upgrade the processor, expand the memory capacity, and download the latest anti-virus programs and firewalls.
Internet stability is a problem in the Philippines. Before you sign up for a service, do a quick survey around your neighborhood. Find out which Internet Service Provider (ISP) performs better. Your minimum bandwidth should be 3mb. This will be good enough to handle both voice and data.
If your budget can afford it, you can include the following items in your virtual assistance home office:
- Wall clock
- Small filing cabinet
The whiteboard and a wall clock are essential tools to help you manage time. I would suggest two whiteboards. The first one will be for your clients. It should summarize your set of tasks, goals for the day, and important reminders.
The second whiteboard will be for your personal obligations. It should list down your bills payment schedule, errands, and other items that are not directly related to your virtual assistance business.
The printer and scanner are not that important unless your job requires you to frequently produce hard copies of files and documents. The small filing cabinet shall be used to organize your business papers including tax payments.
Step 3 – Create An Online Profile
An online profile is your resume on the Internet. Give it some thought, purpose, and strategy. Don’t rush through it.
Recruiters and headhunters may spend only 6 seconds reviewing a resume but not potential clients. They take their time combing through your details.
Here are 6 tips on how to create a great online profile:
- Create a draft on Word. This will act as your guide.
- Key sections of a resume include contact information, objective statement, strengths, work experience, education, certifications (if any) and personal information.
- Use bullet points to summarize details. 5 to 8 bullet points will suffice for work experience.
- Think of your objective statement as your voice on the resume. What would you say to the client if you met him/her for the first time? How would you state your value proposition? That’s how you should write your objective statement. Keep it short. No more than 4 sentences.
- Don’t sound technical. Write in a conversational manner. Keep your sentences short; no more than 15 words.
- Absolutely no errors in spelling and grammar.
Once you have completed your resume, it’s time to post it online. Where should you upload it?
Here are 3 of the best places to upload your resume:
- Website – If you have the time and the money, put up a personal website. You can use the website to present more information about yourself, what you do and the services you offer. You can have a portfolio page to showcase your previous works. Set up a blog page and fill it up with content related to your services, expertise, and general interests. A personal website shows you are invested in your career.
- Social Media – LinkedIn is the preferred choice of professionals. You can set up your own LinkedIn page and use the hard copy of your resume as a reference for the details. Always remain consistent when it comes to indicating details. Facebook and Twitter are also good platforms for promoting your services.
- Online Job Sites- These online job platforms function as a marketplace that connects clients with service providers. Upwork (formerly Elance), Freelancer, and Guru are among the best online job sites for virtual assistance clients. Some of these websites, like Upwork, have their own format for an online resume. Again, be consistent with your details. Use the resume hard copy as your immediate reference.
Step 4 – Establish Your Rates
Now comes the tricky part! How much do you want to get paid as a Virtual Assistant?
Let me simplify the thought process for you. If you are an entry-level Virtual Assistant, do not price yourself out of the market.
Before setting your rates, go over the rates posted by other entry-level virtual assistants. Look for VA’s who are offering the same services as you.
Most entry-level VA’s charge $2.50 to $3.50 per hour. It may not be encouraging but when you are starting out, your focus should be to gain experience. Signing up that first client will be very difficult. Experience is a top priority for the majority of clients.
Your resume can state an arm’s length of your skills and competencies. However, the proof of the pie is in the eating. Land that first client first. Build up your portfolio. In time and by consistently performing great work, eventually, you will be in a position to demand your rates.
What should you do if a potential client asks you for a trial period?
First, do a background check on the prospect. A simple Google search can produce valuable information. If the client has an online profile go over it and take note of the following:
- Total amount paid out in services.
- Comments or feedback from other freelancers.
- The number of years in the platform.
If the prospect has been a good payor and the feedback is generally favorable, you can take a chance with the trial period. The best clients will pay for it. This is the advantage with Upwork. They have a feature that requires the prospect to post a bond to cover your fees.
I have met virtual assistants who earn between $7 to $12 per hour. It took them 3 to 4 years to bring their rates up. They had to work hard to build credibility.
A good strategy would be to ask clients to give favorable reviews of your work. If they are happy with your services, they may even give you strong testimonials without having to ask them. They can post the reviews themselves on your online portfolio.