Online Business Idea: Virtual Assistant

This is probably one of my favorite online business ideas.  It’s the online business model I originally started out doing.  While it’s not for everyone, there are many good reasons to choose starting a virtual assistant business, including the fact that you can take the skills you already have and run with it.  Let’s take a closer look at the world of a Virtual Assistant.

Also known as a VA, a virtual assistant performs the same type of tasks and duties for their clients as receptionists, secretaries and administrative assistants do in traditional businesses.

If you’ve ever held one of these positions then I’m sure you know that there is a laundry list of stuff that you handled on  day-to-day basis.  Stuff like:

  • customer service emails & phone calls
  • doing research on new equipment, party locations and even the competition
  • writing press releases or articles
  • submitting proposals or evaluations

Well, a VA does similar work for her clients in the virtual world and in addition to the tasks listed above can also include things like:

  • submitting articles to directories
  • maintaining websites
  • internet research
  • affiliate management
  • creating & maintaining social networking pages
  • light bookkeeping
  • and more.

In truth, with the tools you have at your disposal via the internet there is hardly anything you can’t do as a virtual assistant.

The main difference between a traditional administrative assistant and a virtual assistant is as simple as the location she works from.  The term “virtual” merely refers to the fact that the VA works from home and connects with their clients via phone/skype and email.

What is a VA?

  • Someone that remotely assists another business person from a remote location
  • Offers their professional expertise to help other professionals
  • Assistance can be as simple as answering a customer service email
  • Work part time and full time
  • Must have the ability to meet deadlines and work independently
  • Can specialize if they have the knowledge – think real estate agents, lawyers, doctors & dentists
  • Offers their own unique abilities and talents
  • Relieves their clients of time consuming duties so they can focus on larger goals
  • Can take on “temp” positions and get projects done remotely

To become a VA, you will need fairly good language and grammar skills, be able to type and have knowledge of basic computer programs, like Microsoft Office products.  Due to the nature of working virtually, it is highly recommended to have high speed internet.

Who is Qualified to be a VA?

Someone with:

  • past secretarial experience
  • book keeping experience
  • excellent computer skills
  • strong communication and writing skills
  • someone with organizational talent and attention to detail
  • anyone with administrative background
  • legal assistant or paralegal experience
  • office management experience
  • life coaching experience
  • professional organizers
  • concierge experience
  • fantastic customer service skills

A virtual assistant may choose to specialize in one or two types of tasks, such as marketing, blog installation and customization, or affiliate management.  In this case, they may take on a more suitable title, such as “internet marketing assistant” or “affiliate manager.”  If you choose to specialize in any certain area, you will need specialized skills and, possibly, specialized software to complete those tasks.  If someone is going by the general term “virtual assistant” it is safe to assume they are open to taking on a general assortment of tasks.

Types of Services

A virtual assistant can do anything an traditional assistant can do, maybe more

  • web design
  • stationary creation
  • desktop publishing
  • logo design
  • customer service calls & emails
  • sending mail and faxes
  • taking inbound phone calls
  • client followup
  • writing proposals
  • organizing advertising campaigns
  • research
  • letter & email writing
  • newsletter management, writing & distribution
  • forum moderation
  • power point presentations
  • press release/media
  • book keeping
  • writing
  • schedule management

A virtual assistant can find work by visiting job boards and freelance work sites, such as www.elance.com and www.guru.com and wahm.com.  You can also let your blogging friends know what you’re doing and get work via word of mouth which is always a good thing.

While the pay rates can vary greatly you can expect to earn between $10 and $15 per hour to start. An experienced VA, or one who chooses to work in a specialized field can charge more.  Having a variety of different experiences and backgrounds can help you shape your virtual assistant business! Take what you know and make it work for you in the best ways possible!

Are you a virtual assistant or think you like might like to become one? I’ll be sharing where to find the best training and clients in future posts.

In the meantime, if you have a question about how to get your virtual assistant business off the ground, leave me a comment below and I’ll  do my best to answer your questions.

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