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  • Writer's picturemarissarether

WHAT'S A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT (& IS IT A VIABLE CAREER OPTION)?


virtual assistant workspace

If you’re still not sure exactly what a virtual assistant is or does, you're not alone. In fact, I didn't know the answer to this very question just three weeks before I signed my first client.


SO, WHAT IS A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?


A virtual assistant, commonly referred to as a VA, is a self-employed individual who provides administrative, technical or creative support to other individuals, businesses and/or entrepreneurs — 100% remotely. I like to think of the VA world as an industry that includes a variety of specialized services with one (big) benefit in common: VAs give their clients the gift of time.

And as part of this ever-growing online service industry, many virtual assistants are niching down and offering specialized services, like:

  • Personal support (booking appointments, coordinating travel arrangements, completing online research, etc.)

  • General admin (managing emails and calendars, data entry, completing online research, etc.)

  • Bookkeeping (managing budget and expense reports, managing QBO, etc.)

  • Social media management (writing content, creating graphics, scheduling posts, moderating groups, etc.)

  • Podcast management (researching topics, writing show notes, editing audio, uploading content, promoting content, etc.)

  • Tech support & setups (uploading blogs and newsletters, setting up sales funnels and landing pages, managing CRMs, creating online courses, and so much more)

  • The list goes on!

In fact, some VAs will only work in specific industries such as healthcare, fitness, beauty, finance, law, real estate, etc. You can use your existing experience and work within an industry you enjoy — the options are truly endless. If you're interested in learning more about my VA journey, don't miss My Evolution As A VA (& How I Found My Niche).


WAYS YOU CAN WORK AS A VA


Whether you're looking for a part-time side hustle or a full-time rewarding career, there are two primary ways you can work as a virtual assistant:



FREELANCE


This means, you’re flying solo! You can charge a higher hourly rate and build your own personal brand. But it’s not as easy as announcing your new biz and watching the clients roll in! You have to continuously network and market yourself — especially in the beginning. Freelancing may be a good fit for you if you’re an independent go-getter, looking to maximize your profits.


I’ve talked about the many benefits of working as a freelance VA before. But of course, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Just like any career, there are hard parts too.


TEAM (AKA AGENCY)


This means another VA subcontracts you to do their work! They have become fully booked themselves and essentially bring you onto their team to help with their client load. Not only is there less marketing and paperwork, but you’re often able to collaborate with other VAs. The trade off is that the agency is doing a lot of the legwork (like marketing, onboarding, invoicing, etc.), so you make less hourly. Working on a team may be a good fit for you if you’re a team player, are looking for a second stream of income, testing the waters, or aren’t interested in the marketing / networking side of the business (yet!).



SKILLS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SUCCESS AS A VA


Here are the top skills that I believe make a great virtual assistant:


PROFESSIONALISM


Do not confuse job flexibility with lack of presence! Working remotely does not give you a pass to take client calls in your bathrobe or PJs (okay, maybe PJ pants 👀). So, if you’re jumping on a client call, be sure you’re in a separate office space with no distractions or potential interruptions. Having a tidy background and appearance can go a long way. The hard truth? Clients aren’t going to give you feedback regarding professionalism — it’s insulting. Instead, they’ll talk with their feet… aka WALK AWAY and take their business elsewhere.



ORGANIZATION & TIME MANAGEMENT


You need to be able to effectively manage your workload and production. This includes keeping all client tasks and projects organized, and never missing a deadline. PRO TIP: A messy place denotes disorganization! So, if the background of your zoom video is messy (with piled laundry, dirty dishes, etc.), people will assume you’re disorganized — even if that’s not the case.



INITIATIVE & PRIORITIZATION

Clients aren’t always great at delegating, so you need to be able to take charge, ask the right questions, and identify opportunities to support. This might look like reviewing your client’s to-do list with them and telling them what you can take off their plate. Or, having them walk you through the structure of an upcoming event they're presenting at, so you can pull deliverables. The best part? Taking initiative often leads to more work for you.



EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Communication is key, especially when working virtually. Set clear expectations right from the start, provide ongoing updates, and always listen to what your client is saying (both directly and directly). Having a recurring call on the calendar is a great way to ensure there’s an upcoming opportunity to connect.



RESOURCEFULNESS

Having a can-do attitude is crucial to your success as a VA. You don’t have to know the answer to everything, but you do need to be willing to ask the right questions, think outside of the box, ask others for help and identify ways to reach the end of the job faster. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know how to do this, but I will find out!”


If you’ve mastered the skills above, I’m confident you’ll make a GREAT VA.



WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED


If you're just starting out, you really don't need much! In fact, you can kickoff your VA journey with just the basics:

  • Office space (that’s tidy and distraction-free)

  • A computer or laptop with a built-in camera / microphone

  • Reliable high-speed internet connection

  • A handful of free online tools



I BET YOU'RE MORE READY THAN YOU THINK


By leveraging the skills you already have and understanding the EXACT process to find and secure clients, you can create a virtual assistant business that supports the lifestyle that you want — without any virtual experience (or sending cold DMs).


All this to say, if you enjoy supporting others, meeting new people and developing your skills… becoming a virtual assistant may be a viable career option for you. It’s all about playing into your strengths and doing what you love you to do.



Ready to dive in? VA Your Way to Success is a step-by-step guide to launching, promoting, growing & scaling a virtual assistant business. In this comprehensive online course, you'll learn how to customize a virtual assistant business to fit YOUR life — it really is VA Your Way.

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