Are you thinking of being a VA?
Having been approached a few times recently by aspiring VAs, I thought it was about time to share a few tips and pointers and things I’ve learnt along the way. At the time of writing this, my VA business is coming up to six years and I’ve been freelancing for eight years. Honestly, my business is not yet where I want it to be, but that is mostly because I have kept it small, only on a part-time basis, and grew it as my children grew and my family demands changed.
I’m going to run through they key points that tend to come up when I am talking about working as a virtual assistant either with friends or fellow freelancers, the recurring themes and questions, and also some home truths about running your own business from home.
- Getting started as a virtual assistant
- What services to offer
- Finding work and marketing your services
- Balancing work and home life
Getting started as a virtual assistant
There are many reasons to consider becoming a virtual assistant, the flexibility, being able to work from home, the challenge, and all you need to get started, really, is a computer and a client. Deciding on what services you offer will affect what resources you need, but most work is done on a computer and most things can be sourced reactively as you go along depending on where your work takes you. It goes without saying that there are other things you will need to have and to do in order to run your business, but these are not specific to being a virtual assistant. I was lucky enough to find a client before I even knew what a virtual assistant was. I just knew there had to be another option for making work work around my family. You can read more about that in my story. It is a growing industry, that has boomed in very recent years and with that comes an increased awareness of the industry but also increased competition. Within my local area, I know of several virtual assistants, but we are all different in some way in what we offer our clients.
What services to offer
No one can be good at everything, so start by defining what skills you are good at and focus on offering those. The term ‘Virtual Assistant’ is wide ranging and refers more to a method of working remotely rather than any specific skill. That said, most virtual assistants have a core service offering built around sound administrative skills with the additions of a specialism such as social media, copywriting, graphic design, marketing, bookkeeping or recruitment. There’s never been a better time to learn and you can add to your skill set at any time or brush up on existing skills, there are lots of online course readily available.
Finding work and marketing your services
This is the million dollar question – How do I find work? Remember, that working as a VA is running your own business, so how would any small business advertise their services? One method is to decide who you’d want to work for, the types of clients you’d like to attract, then tailor your marketing around that. Another would be to explore all areas of advertising and see which is most effective for you. Social media has been the most effective method for me recently, with many of my new clients over the last year coming via Facebook or Instagram but I also receive interest via my website and personal referrals.
Balancing work and home life
Working from home isn’t for everyone. You need to be focused and stay productive and avoid too many distractions during the day. We all find our own way and rhythm and what works for one person won’t work for someone else. I know that I am at my most productive in the morning, so would rather be working early than late. I also prefer a defined space to ‘go to work’ rather than sitting on the sofa with a laptop. I love the flexibility that it brings and when I’ve a deadline to hit or a rush of work to get through, I don’t mind hitting the desk early or working until late, because I know it’s not everyday and I’m working for my own business. It can be easy to feel like you’re slacking off when you chose to do something other than work during the usual 9-5 day, but people don’t see the other extra hours that you put in.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you might also like these other articles: