Do you want to be a virtual assistant but have got no experience or idea where to start? No problem! The truth is, you don’t need any experience to get started. You can earn the experience as you learn how to become a virtual assistant. Many people start from scratch and go on to build lucrative careers.

The beauty of working as a virtual assistant is that you can do it from home as you take care of your kids. No need to worry about hiring help (that you can’t afford) to take care of your little ones. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to be your own boss and quit the 8 to 5 rat race or simply want an extra source of income, then you’ve made the right decision to work as a virtual assistant

Don’t let lack of experience hold you back. What you need right now is dedication, determination, and enthusiasm and you’ll soon be a superstar VA!

Think you’ve got what it takes? Read on to learn how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.

What Is A Virtual Assistant (VA)?

First things first. You need to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. 

So who is a virtual assistant?

Loosely put a VA is anyone who offers support services to other business owners remotely (not in a traditional office setting as we know it) in exchange for an agreed upon fee.

VA services range from simple administrative tasks to complex social media campaigns.

Who Uses Virtual Assistants and Why?

Small business owners, solopreneurs, busy professionals, and bloggers all use virtual assistants. 

It makes perfect sense for this group of entrepreneurs to outsource tasks to VAs so that they can get time to work on projects and tasks only they can complete. 

Hiring a VA is also more cost-effective compared to hiring an in-office employee. The business owner gets to save stuff such as office supplies, health insurance, and other employee benefits programs.

What Services Does a Virtual Assistant Provide?

This is probably the one thing that has you all confused about becoming a virtual assistant. There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question or a complete list of services because there’s a HUGE array of services that a virtual assistant can do. 

The good thing about this is that no matter what your interests are you are almost guaranteed to find something that will appeal to potential clients. This is what makes working as a virtual assistant one of the best ways to join the freelance world. 

But, there are a few popular services that most VAs offer. Here are a few examples:

Social Media Assistant

Social media can take up LOTS of time for a business owner. Most solopreneurs and small businesses find it hard to keep up with their social media marketing. 

Because it is a very important marketing tool for businesses, business owners are always willing to outsource this task to someone who knows how to do it.  

Social media management is one of the most popular and ever-expanding VA services. There are lots of opportunities for those interested. It’s also a skill that can easily be learnt as long as you know how to use popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. 

As a virtual social media assistant, you can manage a client’s social presence by creating content, social media graphics and responding to messages.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love social media and know how to pin, post, tweet, snap etc.
  • Can create content that will create a buzz for your clients
  • Stay updated on trending topics
  • Are familiar with automation tools like Buffer, Tailwind, and Hootsuite (if not yet, no worries you can learn)

Email Marketing Assistant

Email marketing, like social media management, is another popular service. Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools but also time-consuming.

Email marketing VAs take on tasks such as setting up autoresponders, segmenting email lists, and designing email templates using software like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love sales and marketing (most emails are promotional in nature)
  • Have good communication skills, especially written 
  • Have an interest in technology as you’ll be using email software a lot
  • Love writing

Blogger’s Virtual Assistant

There’s a blogger at every turn. New blogs are created every day in their thousands. Creating a blog is very simple but keeping the blog updated with regular content is not. That’s where you come in.

As a blogger’s assistant, you may offer services including writing, editing, and posting blog content, creating website graphics, editing and proofreading. 

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Love writing
  • You’re just starting out as a blogger or have always wanted to start your own blog 
  • Love doing research and staying updated with trending topics

E-commerce Assistant

Running an online store can be quite demanding. Most online store owners have to keep track of hundreds of thousands of items in their inventory. Plus, they have to deal with other tasks such as processing orders and returns and respond to general customer service inquiries.

As an e-commerce assistant, you can help shop owners with writing product descriptions,  responding to customer billing inquiries, tracking packages and handling returns and promoting sales and product launches. 

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Are familiar with Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Shopify
  • Have good customer service skills
  • Good in sales
  • Love shopping 😉

Administrative Support

Administrative services are pretty straightforward and usually the most outsourced. Most admin services involve offering internal support to business owners. 

Admin support services include everything from entering data and creating spreadsheets to managing calendars and booking travel arrangements.

You may be a good fit for this service if you:

  • Are good in time management
  • Can multi-task easily
  • Are organised
  • Love working with people

Other popular virtual assistant services include: 

  • Customer support
  • Website design
  • WordPress maintenance
  • Graphic design 
  • Transcription
  • Bookkeeping
  • Data entry
  • Editing videos
  • Project management

The list goes on and on! 

For ultimate success, offer a variety of related services because clients prefer working with one or two VAs instead of a whole bunch of them. 

What Skills Make You a Great VA?

There are a few skills that EVERY virtual assistant who wants to know how to become a virtual assistant must have in order to have a successful career. These skills are important regardless of the services they choose to offer. These are: 

  • Communication skills: A lot of VA services involve communicating with customers. You, therefore, need impeccable communication skills to keep the customers and your clients happy. I would recommend polishing up your written communication skills if you’re not so confident in them as they will come in handy A LOT.   
  • Organizational skills: You need to be very organised to be able to handle different clients and tasks. Organizational skills help you to do a perfect job for each client and not mix up things. 
  • Reliability: A great VA is reliable and dependable. You are expected to work on tasks as instructed, within set deadlines and report back on your progress. Don’t wait for the client to keep reminding you to do your job. 
  • Time management: You’re going to be working with multiple clients and therefore, have numerous things to do at the same time. Being able to manage your time well among all your clients and their needs will take you far. 
  • Resourcefulness: Clients will ask you to do a lot of things you’ve never done before and will expect you to find out how to do them on your own. You’re expected to provide solutions and solve problems for clients. If this sounds like something you can’t handle then you won’t be a good VA.
  • Good computer knowledge: VA work is mostly done online using a computer. It goes without saying that you should have good computer skills.  

So while clients are looking for people that can provide select services, they’re mainly looking for people with the above skills. As long as you’re open to acquiring these skills, you’ve got a shot!

How to Become a Virtual Assistant with No Experience

Follow these 6 basic steps to kick start your virtual assistant career today:

1. Research and prepare

When you have no experience in something, then there is soo much that you don’t know about it. The first step in gaining experience is gaining knowledge and you only gain knowledge through thorough research.

It’s also important that when you commit to being a VA you go into it with your eyes open.

You’ll be doing a lot of learning at the start of your VA career. Begin by reading as much as you can on how to become a virtual assistant (props to you for being on this page, way to go). 

Follow successful VAs and see what they do and how they do it. There’s so much you can learn from the experts. 

Research on how to start a virtual assistant business, because even though you may be marketing yourself as a freelancer, you will be running a one person business and you never know, you may grow big and hire other VAs! 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Research on the most lucrative VA services.
  • Research on what clients want/look for when hiring a virtual assistant.
  • Research on how to manage clients.
  • Research on the tools you need to deliver your work.

2. Decide which services you’ll offer your clients/ pick a niche

As you’ve seen, there is so much that a VA can offer. However, you can’t be a jack of all trades. You need to pick a service or group of related services. Choosing a service may be tough at first but I’ll guide you on how to go about it. 

Because at this point you have no experience working as a VA, doing something that you’re already good at will give you a headstart. You don’t have to stick with the service you choose once you get some experience in the industry. You can always change to something else. 

I started as a content writer, then I became a social media marketer, then a blogger, a VA and now I’m a digital marketer and copywriter. Along the way you will find your true calling, for now, concentrate on starting. 

You’re completely free to grow and adapt your business as you see fit. Feel free to continuously change, add or remove services according to client demand, profitability, your availability and your personal interests.

To pick a service think about the skills you already have and your top interests. What are you good at and what do you enjoy doing? What is your current day job? Is it something you can offer on the side?

You could be a good writer, so why not work with bloggers? Are you a social media addict? How about working as a social media assistant? The trick is not to overthink it. 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Start with what you’re good at.
  • Take a look at the list of services I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Pick 2-3 ideas that you feel you’d like to begin with and then….
  • Get Started!

3. Learn how to be a virtual assistant

Improving your virtual assistant skills will benefit you and your clients. Your success depends on your commitment to becoming a better virtual assistant, not on your experience. Commitment to just be a good VA in terms of your chosen service/s but also in becoming a well-rounded business owner.

Take online courses to learn specialised skills in the area of your chosen services. This will help you become an expert and be able to charge high rates. For instance, if you choose to be an e-commerce assistant take an online course on how to run an e-commerce store.

Also, take courses to learn how to work as a virtual assistant. If you’re looking to accelerate your VA business, start with these courses:

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Decide what service you want to offer first before taking a course.
  • Go for highly recommended and rated courses.
  • Commit to completing your courses and follow through with things you’re asked to do during the course.

4. Decide on your pricing structure

You’ve chosen the service you want to offer, you’ve taken a couple of courses and are more confident in yourself now. The next thing you need to do is decide how much you want to get paid. In short, how much are you worth?

Feeling shy to answer that question? I totally understand! It’s not easy to toot your own horn. 

What’s the right amount to charge and how much is enough (but not too much)? The answer varies. 

The role of a VA varies making it difficult to have a one-size-fits-all rate. What you charge will depend on the service you’re offering, your skill set and experience, client base and the industry. 

When you’re setting your rates, think of the rate that would make it worth your time. Decide whether to charge an hourly or a fixed rate. 

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Research and ask around what other VAs in your industry are charging and try to match that rate.
  • Think carefully about what you want to charge because it’s much harder to raise your fees than it is to lower them.

5. Launch your website and create your online presence

This is the step that many VAs don’t take seriously and when I look back this is the stage that pulled me back from my true potential. Had I known before I’d have put in a great effort in developing my website and an online presence for my business. 

Why is this so important? A website and a social media presence make it much easier to market your business to potential clients. Your online footsteps once established never disappear. The effort you make today will be there 10 years to come. 

Your website and social media profiles are your portfolios. No matter the service you’re offering a personal website will front you as a professional who knows what they are doing. 

A website also makes it easy for clients to find you when looking for VAs online. If clients are able to find you, your client pipeline will always be full. 

Build a personal website where you list your experience, skills and the services that you’re offering. Promote these services and skills on your social media platforms. 

See also: The Quickest & Easiest Way to Start a Blog (Bonus Tips on How to Make Money)

6. Get hired

Yay! You’re now fully aware of how to become a virtual assistant and pretty much ready to find your first client as a virtual assistant! 

But there’s only one problem… how in the world do you find your first client? 

Finding your first few clients will obviously be harder than getting your next ones. This is because as you gain more exposure, experience and confidence it gets easier to sell yourself to clients. 

I encourage new VAs to be proactive and consistent in their efforts to find their first clients. Yes, I understand it’s tough, but it will take you longer if you don’t make the effort to continuously try to find work. 

What I mean is that don’t apply for two jobs today and wait three weeks to try again. The truth is that you will get rejected over and over so you have to be persistent. 

At first, it’s all a numbers game. The more jobs you apply to, the higher your chances of getting accepted. So send those applications daily, don’t give up until you get hired. 

Follow this simple process to fast-track your chances of getting clients:

Step #1: Know who your ideal clients are. It’s easier to find something if you know exactly what you’re looking for. Not every client looking for a VA will be interested in your services. Before you start looking for clients, figure out the types of businesses and markets that interest you and where you can find them. What attributes are you looking for in an ideal client?

Step #2: Pitch potential clients daily. At this point, you’re still figuring out how to get started as a virtual assistant and so you have to rely on pitching before you grow and start getting referrals. If you want VA work, you’ll have to go looking for it because nobody even knows what you do yet. Make pitching clients one of the first things you do each day. 

Step #3: Offer a trial period. We said that you’re going to gain experience on the job, right? To do so you need work. Sometimes it pays off to offer your services for free for a short period to allow you to have something to do and practice your skills. Taking on some small tasks for free will give you the chance to test the waters and see how well you are able to work as a VA.

Step #4: Network on online communities. Go on Facebook and LinkedIn and find groups where your ideal clients are likely to be. Such groups give you the chance to sell yourself to potential clients. Here, you can offer your free trial period services. 

How to Find Virtual Assistant Jobs

There are many ways to secure your first client as a VA. Here are some of the best ones I recommend:  

Cold pitching

This is the process of finding potential clients online and sending them a pitch on who you are and the services you’re offering. The best way to pitch clients is via email. The worst they can say is no or not reply back. Don’t give up keep pitching as many clients as possible. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is also a great source of clients. Even though considered a platform for working professionals, there are lots of individuals and small business owners using it to hire VAs. Most of these clients are willing to pay high rates for you to work from home.

Facebook groups

There are so many Facebook groups out there for virtual assistants, entrepreneurs, and more. Join a few and use them to network. Remember, don’t use these groups to just sell yourself, you need to be helpful and answer questions. 

Here is where all the research you did at the very beginning and the courses that you took will come in handy. You’ll be able to show potential clients that you know about being a VA and working in your chosen niche. You never know, someone may reach out and hire you! 

Friends, family and former colleagues

You can always start with the people you already know. My first client, who is still my client to date was my former supervisor. We’d stayed friends after she left the company. So when I started freelancing I told her about it and she told me that she was actually looking for a content writer and that’s how I got my first client.

So don’t ignore your friends, family and former colleagues they may have work for you or know someone who does. Let them know that you’re a VA now and the kind of services you’re offering. 

Freelance jobs boards

There are very many freelance jobs boards that you can use to find VA jobs. However, you need to be careful on the kind of sites that you use. A lot of these sites exploit freelancers by paying them peanuts. Many of them also have fake clients who are out to take advantage of vulnerable newbies. 

All in all, freelancing sites are a good start when you’re learning how to become a virtual assistant with no experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ones: 

  • Indeed: This is the world’s biggest online jobs site. To find VA jobs on the site, simply search for “virtual assistant” under the ‘what’ tab and “freelance” under the ‘where’ tab. You’ll see lots of options. Also, sign up on email to receive daily notifications of new VA jobs sent directly to your inbox. Remember you’ll be sending as many applications as possible so you’ll need to know where the open positions are. 
  • Guru: The site features lots of freelancing jobs including VA ones. To find jobs on the site, sign up free, create a profile and start bidding for jobs. 
  • PeoplePerHour: This is a popular freelance job site that attracts all kinds of freelancers including VAs. To get started, create your profile, add your VA services, set your hourly rate and then wait for clients to contact you. 
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: This is a fairly new freelance job site but has a good number of popular VA jobs such as creating and moderating content, data entry, collecting phone numbers and website information, gathering feedback, finding Google keywords, among others.
  • ClickWorker: The site has various virtual assistant jobs such as writing, translation, data collection and research. This is a bidding site so you have to sign up, create a profile and complete a qualification assessment test. Once you pass the test, you can then bid for jobs. 

Becoming a VA has never been easier! I believe that you now understand how to start a virtual assistant business. 

If you really want to become a virtual assistant, follow these tried and tested steps and you’ll be on your way to a successful virtual assistant career. Remember, all you have to do is GET STARTED. I wish you the best of luck! 

Are you still having a hard time figuring out how to become a virtual assistant? Where are you stuck at? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to assist you!

How To Become a Virtual Assistant | The African Nomad | Stella Mwangi