Do you have organizational skills? Would you like to help someone else get their act together? Are you detail oriented? But you want to work from home…? Have you ever considered making a living as a virtual assistant?
What kind of services could you offer? Administrative support such as managing a client’s calendar/schedule/email, booking appointments and calls or data entry; customer service such as processing orders or refunds; content production; social media; blog/website management; email marketing and the list could go on. What skills do you have that would be useful to help an online entrepreneur?
Gina Horkey, who spoke to us recently about her freelance writing career, is back with more useful information on her experiences of becoming a virtual assistant as well.
Gina, you recently told us about your freelance writing career. How did that develop into becoming a virtual assistant? Or is there no connection?
There totally is!
Getting into freelance writing opened up the world of online business to me. After writing for a couple of months, I saw that adding virtual assistant services could help me leave work behind faster and transition to full-time freelancing.
From there, it was just finding the right opportunity. And because I kept my eyes open, when one presented itself, I asked to be hired and the rest is history!
Obviously you have found it helpful to combine two careers (writing and being a virtual assistant) into one. Would you recommend that strategy to other moms?
Sure. I have a strong background in personal finance (which is one of my writing niches) and administrative support. So it was a natural choice to leverage the latter and expand my freelance business.
Again, as I mentioned above, taking on my first VA client allowed me to confidently put in my notice and go full-time. The predictability of income was the reason I was able to.
Is it possible to make a steady career out of just being a virtual assistant?
If I wanted I could support my family with my current three VA clients, working part-time. I don’t choose to (and love reinvesting in my business to help it grow), but I could if I wanted to.
Another question I always ask: Is this something that a stay-at-home mom can do in her limited amount of time? And is it a flexible career option?
Yep. As a VA, you can set your own hours and determine your own availability. The next step is setting those expectations with prospects and only taking on clients where there’s a fit.
Realistically, could you be a virtual assistant for just an hour a day? Or what would you consider the minimum commitment needed per day (time-wise)?
I’m sure you could if you find the right clients.
You also might not need to work for them every day, so maybe you have a few hours one or two days a week that you can batch all of your client work into. You should probably have a good five spare hours (total) per week to look into VA work.
Can you make a decent income doing this part time? full time?
Yep. It’s just like anything else – it’s dependent on your skill set, your availability, your marketing prowess and the clients you attract.
As I mentioned, I could work part-time right now and support our family without my husband working. It’d be tight and we wouldn’t be saving for retirement, but it’s possible!
Is it hard to get clients and have a steady workflow?
Yes and no.
It takes consistent marketing, trying different prospecting methods and sticking with it. The biggest mistake I see people making is that they’ll try hard for a month, expect immediate results, not get them, get frustrated and give up.
Stuff takes time! Don’t give up when success is right around the corner. Instead, figure out how many pitches you can realistically send out each week and keep with it for a minimum of three months! Have a long-term vision for your business.
What media do you use to communicate with clients? Do you end up having to use your home phone?
We haven’t had a home phone for a hundred years. 😉
My cell reception is actually pretty crappy where I work, so I use Google Voice a lot. It’s free, easy to use and acts as a cover number, so I don’t have to give out my regular cell number if I don’t want to.
My clients all do have my regular cell number now though. We communicate by email, IM, phone or text. It’s not overly frequent – more for questions or clarification.
I also Skype (actually using Google Hangouts) with one of my clients for a half hour every two weeks. He enjoys being able to talk “face-to-face” and it allows us a focused time to tackle some email backlog.
What kind of skills do you need? Do you need any particular qualifications?
I think you should be Type-A (or at least uber organized), open to learning new things, self-motivated, have a positive personality, proactive and business-minded.
No special qualifications are needed – most people pull from their former career or life experience. If you do have areas of specialization, don’t be afraid to let the world know and use that to command higher rates!
Do you need any particular office equipment besides a computer and an internet connection?
Nope. Again, when I started I used a laptop, a “dumbphone” and the internet. I graduated to a Chromebook shortly thereafter and just recently bought a new laptop and a smartphone.
The main thing is some sort of computer and reliable internet access. If you have those you’re golden, because Google provides everything else you need for free (Google Docs, Google Voice, etc.).
What kind of start-up expenses are involved?
Again, if you didn’t want to establish your own website and pay to take a course, nothing. You could do those things for a couple hundred bucks and I’m certain they’d benefit you in the long run and help you get a jump on the learning curve that comes with starting anything new.
What is the best part of this aspect of your career?
I get paid to learn!
I’m so much more savvy as an online business owner from working with successful webpreneurs. I get to see what they’re doing that’s working from the inside and have been able to apply similar strategies to my own business.
Do you have any advice for moms who are trying to decide if becoming a virtual assistant is something for them?
I’m a broken record, just get started! What do you have to lose, but a little time?
But if you find the right client(s), you have SO MUCH to gain!
And if you want a step-by-step approach to getting started, check out 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. I am launching version two this week and it addresses literally everything you need to know to launch your own successful business! [UPDATE: It has been updated several times, the last time in February 2020.]
Thank you, Gina!
Bio: Gina Horkey knows everything there is to know about the world of virtual assistant work. She started as one herself (and still is one), created a course to help others break into VA work called, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success and also has a VA of her own! Due to her unique position of training up excellent North American VAs and running in circles with successful entrepreneurs, she also created a VA MatchMaking Service to introduce the two to one another.
If this looks like something you might be interested in, but aren’t really sure if it for you, consider checking out Gina’s list of 150 services you can offer as a virtual assistant. It gives you a good idea of different types of work you could be getting yourself into.
You can read a review of her VA course, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success if you want another perspective on the course.
Do you have any experiences as a VA? Or any questions, either for Gina or just general VA questions? There is plenty of space below! 🙂