Freelancing as a Virtual Assistant

For those that come along to this site quite a bit you’ll know that I major on freelance design and freelance writing.

However, there’s a multitude of skills that will translate well into working freelance and one of those that we will focus on here is the freelance virtual assistant.

If you have some experience in an administrative field, or can offer virtual services to business clients, then you are a prime candidate for having a successful virtual assistant business.

Getting started as a virtual assistant requires a few simple steps. There is no formal credential process to become a virtual assistant, but there are several companies who offer training and their own credentialing. This is not absolutely necessary to be a successful virtual assistant, but it can be helpful in obtaining jobs as a newcomer. Before you sign up for any program or course, do your due diligence and investigate the company. Get recommendations from other successful virtual assistants and consider finding a mentor who can help you get started.

Legally, you’ll need a business license in order to become an independent contractor. By obtaining a business license you’ll be able to open up a business bank account and keep your business and personal finances separately. Being legal also means you can declare many of your business expenses as tax write offs.

Once you’ve set up your home office, youíll need to establish your virtual office. On the Internet, you’ll use a website to advertise yourself as a virtual assistant. Having a website is essential to establishing your presence. If web design is not in your skill set, find someone who can make a website for you. Try to contact other virtual assistants and see if you can barter for the design if it’s something that you cannot afford to begin with.

On your website you should, at minimum, list your services and who you are. You can also include an hourly rate, although many virtual assistants like to charge by the project instead of by the hour. As far as services go, don’t offer services that you don’t like to do. If you can make spreadsheets but don’t like to do it, then don’t offer that service. If you have background in a specific field, for example law, then list this as a specialty. You can also specialize in the type of work that you offer. Many virtual assistants limit their business to writing and editing, web design, data management or planning, but some offer a mixture of all types of services. Remember, this is your business and you can choose what tasks that you want to perform.

The best way to get virtual assistant jobs to begin with is to start networking. Your best leads will come through people that you already know, whether they are online or in your hometown. Let people know what you are offering and promote your website address so people can see who you are and what you are doing. Make sure to include up to date contact information on your web page, including a phone number.

When you get your first client, its important to have a contract set in place before you start working on a project. You can get many sample contracts online that you can adapt for your needs. Make sure you and the client are both on the same page about the type of work that you will be doing. That way there are no surprises when you deliver the project and your bill.

After you have a few projects under your belt, you’ll begin to build a reputation. Then your virtual assistant business will grow naturally to include repeat clients and new projects. When you consistently do good work, your reputation will precede you and you may have more projects that you know what to do with in a short period of time. Make sure not to overbook yourself, and collect a network of other virtual assistants who are willing to take overflows for you if the need arises.

Getting your virtual assistant business off on the right foot is simple when you follow the basic steps mentioned above.

  • Angelina

    Excellent Info..Loved your work..Keep up the goood work :)

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  • Drey

    I have just started looking for freelance opportunity and virtual assistant job is what i’m considering right now. I like your idea of putting everything in a legal and formal perspective. I must say that this will put some credibility to your name and the services you provide. And this also gives you an option of expanding and probably in the long run creating your own team than just working on your own.

  • Paul Simister

    Good advice Chris for what is an important service.

    While traditionally virtual assistants have been thought of for the very small businesses, the cost cuts from the recession may mean that larger businesses would appreciate some kind of regular/occasional relationship as their secretarial/PA services are stretched thinly.

    One thing on the contract, be careful. I refused to work with one VA when I read the contract because it was so one sided. All about what I would do as the client and very little about what commitment to service I would receive or what guarantee I would receive if things didn’t go as expected.

    While your proposal forms the basis for your ongoing working relationship, it is still a selling document.