Whenever I share about my virtual assistant work on Instagram, I get a lot of questions about how I got started and how I've built my business. When I asked if I should share about my experience more in depth on the blog, I got a resounding yes. So, here we go!
HOW I STARTED AND FOUND WORK
In this post I shared about what led me to leave my health coaching business and become a virtual assistant (VA). Read that for a little more context. But essentially, my journey to become a VA started about a year ago when I was looking for some additional income to fill the gaps of my health coaching business and Beautycounter business. I started looking for administrative assistant positions in clinics and such, but nothing really panned out (which I'm thankful for now). So, I started looking in the online space. Honestly, I had no idea where to find VA work. I searched job boards like Indeed.com and even applied for some jobs on UpWork. But nothing came of those. So I turned to Facebook groups.
Before I go into that, I have to talk about imposter syndrome. When I started looking into VA work, I was like "I can totally do this! I have so much lived experience working on my own businesses." But then I started looking into it and saw that there were people who had tons of formal experience and whole businesses out of it! That's when imposter syndrome sunk in. This is important - You've got to be confident in the experience you do have and then once you get your first gig, do a good job! Pay attention to details and be thorough! Be someone they can trust. I share this, because imposter syndrome is a common theme with the women I chat with about VA work. Know that you are not alone, and that you can absolutely still get work without being an "expert" (whatever that really means). For me, even though I had zero direct experience being a VA, I figured that I did have 3 years of experience in the online business world, and I could absolutely help other entrepreneurs with the behind the scenes in their businesses.
As I said, I went to Facebook groups of female entrepreneurs and that's where I landed my first jobs. People ask me all the time how I got my clients, and this is what I tell them. I simply posted in the Goal Digger Podcast Insiders Facebook group that I was looking to become a VA, I shared what experience I had, and asked for advice on how to find work. I actually got a good number of responses from that with people looking for VA's. I connected with a few and was incredibly blessed to connect with 2 clients who I'm still with to this day. And then from there, it has been referrals. Referrals are HUGE for getting more clients, but more on that later.
Now, will it be this easy for you? I can't say, but what I can say is that being active and making connections in these types of Facebook groups is such a great way to go! In my opinion, don't do formal applications through job search engines. Like any job, it comes down to connections or making a connection with the client.
I'm going to give you a bunch of tips at the end, but for now, I'll share a little about what I do and how I manage my business.
WHAT I DO AS A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
As I write this, I have 6 clients, and that keeps me pretty busy! When I started I honestly would take anyone because I didn't have much experience. Now, I am a little more selective in the type of businesses I work with and what I do. But in general, I do what I have the most experience in and what I enjoy doing: Instagram content creation and engagement, podcast editing and scheduling, blog writing, Canva design (for Instagram, blog, and Pinterest graphics), Pinterest (this is actually something I learned since becoming a VA), email marketing, email inbox management, organization, and even some customer communications.
One tip I tell aspiring VA's is when you're looking for work, be specific in how you can help people. Now, this doesn't mean you need to be an "expert." It just means that you share what areas you have some experience in and/or would like to work in. Remember, you can always research how to do something better or even how to do something (like I did with Pinterest). There are so many tasks VA's can do! Here is a great list of VA tasks that you can use for inspiration. So when you respond to a Facebook post about looking for a VA, or you post about wanting to be a VA, share what you "specialize" in.
HOW I MANAGE MY BUSINESS
I'm still figuring this one out, but for now here's what I use to manage my business:
PayPal - I use PayPal for invoicing my clients twice a month. I send invoices on the same day to each of my clients so I can keep everything straight. Yes, PayPal does take a small amount out of each payment, but I haven't found any other service that does it for free. I also appreciated that I have a physical invoice for tax purposes.
Payment - On the topic of money, I get asked all the time what to charge starting out. When I started, I charged $15/hour. Now, that rate has increased quite a bit as I've worked with clients long-term and I've gained more experience. Also, I have switched from hourly to a package for most of my clients and I highly recommend this after you gain some experience. It makes things easier for you knowing you will get a certain amount each month, and it takes into account that some weeks will have more work than others.
Toggl - I use Toggl to keep track of my hours for clients and for my own knowledge (it helps me stay focused as well).
Contracts - I'm not a legal expert here, but just make sure that either your client provides you with a contract or you provide one for them to sign. It doesn't need to be complicated, just clearly delineating your role, rate, payment schedule, and tasks.
You can get a fancy website or subscribe to a CRM, which would be great! Programs like Honeybook and Dubsado have contracts and everything all in them. But, know that you do not need all the bells and whistle to be a VA. Just get started, build some experience, and again do good work and build a great reputation!
TIPS AND TAKEAWAYS
To be honest, I feel like everything I've written thus far isn't mind-blowing, but I hope it gives you hope and encouragement to pursue VA work! I've loved being a VA! I've had experience being the CEO of a business, and quickly learned that's not my thing. What is my thing is helping other amazing CEO's make their dreams happen. It's fun to work with entrepreneurs, and it feels so good to make their lives easier.
So, if being a VA is something you want to do, here are my biggest tips and takeaways:
Be reliable, hard working, and someone they can trust.
This is SO IMPORTANT! Yes, the technical skills and experience are very important, but unless someone is looking for an "expert" who will completely transform their business, having some experience and an interest in learning more is enough. What I've found with my clients is that they really want a VA they can trust. Your clients are handing over a part of their business, which is scary for a lot of entrepreneurs. Show them that you are trustworthy and diligent, and that you work hard. If you do, they will tell their other entrepreneur friends about you, and that's where referrals come into play.
Referrals are the name of the game! As I said above, a client wants a VA they can trust and it can be super scary to hand part of their business over to a complete stranger. But if Amy's friend Sally has a VA she loves and talks about all the time, then Amy will be more inclined to hire Sally's VA than a stranger in a Facebook group. Four out of my six clients have come from referrals. When you get a client, don't be afraid to say something like, "If you know of anyone else who may need help with their business, send them my way."
I can't say it enough - be confident in the experience and gifts you have. Imposter syndrome will creep up, but don't let that stop you from putting yourself out there!
Facebook groups are what helped me get my first clients, and I highly recommend being part of female entrepreneur groups and being active in them. See what others are posting and engage with their content, even if it has nothing to do with VA work. Post in the groups that you are a VA looking for work (remember to share how you can help someone). And if someone is looking for a VA, leave a message in the comments and don't be intimidated by all the other VA's commenting as well.
I don't recommend looking for work in VA groups and here's why. Your ideal client isn't in those groups. Your competition is in that group. Entrepreneurs go to their friends and entrepreneur groups to look for guidance, so be where your ideal client is.
I hope these tips help! I'm still learning as I go, and that's the best way to go about it. Don't wait until you know everything to start (because you'll never know everything). Just start and be willing and eager to learn, make mistakes, and grow.