What is a Virtual Assistant?
The title probably gives away the fact that it stands for virtual assistant and the role of a virtual assistant is as the name implies, you do everything that somebody’s assistant could be asked to do but you do so from a remote location. The essential idea is that each employer has a particular skill set and should they need something done that they do not have the skills, they will request a VA to do it for them.
In practice however, a lot of jobs performed by a VA could easily be done by the employer such as proof reading or internet research but they would simply prefer to pay somebody to do it for them. The typical work that can be done by a VA varies widely. Internet research and proof reading are particularly common but being asked to compose emails and letters, make reservations, write reports, handle enquiries made by customers of the employer are all also common place.
The Advantages of being a Virtual Assistant
Becoming a Virtual Assistant is becoming increasingly popular due to many reasons. While the current financial climate is meaning that a lot of people have to think outside of the box in order to find employment, there are many unique characteristics about the job that make it attractive. For a start it is incredibly flexible. Due to the fact that you primarily work on short term contracts, you can choose how much or how little you want to work and if you can afford it you can take a holiday whenever you want to. Also due to the fact that all of the work is done online, you are completely mobile. You can work anywhere from your favourite cafe to Mexico. A lot of people also find that because of the wide variety of different services that a VA can provide, it is possible to avoid repetition by alternating the types of projects that you take on.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant
The first thing to remember is that there is no requirement to hold any particular form of education or experience and that it is therefore very easy to become a VA. There are numerous sites available online which act as marketplaces for those providing and hoping to find VA services. One of the best websites is Elance. You simply visit their site, register and set up a profile. You’re profile will include your skills, experience, qualifications and the rate that you are willing to work for. Then you simply wait for somebody to request your services.
In the same way that you can advertise your services, those looking for a service can do likewise and you can therefore apply for jobs on the site as well. There are also tests that you can take which will offer proof of your skills and as you take on projects, those that hire you can leave feedback which will allow you to build up your reputation provided you do quality work. Upon completion of a job, you can then accept payment through Paypal.
How Much Can You Expect to Earn?
The pay rate per hour for a VA varies widely depending upon your skills, experience and specialisation. A general VA is likely to earn around ten dollars per hour while a more experienced VA, perhaps with specialised knowledge and talent can earn up to eighty dollars per hour. It is also important to remember that working as a VA online means that you are encountering an international market. As such some VA jobs will be very low paying as they are being offered to lowest bidder and thus go to workers from poorer countries. A native English speaking VA with reasonable computer skills will very rarely work for less than ten dollars an hour.
Though charging an hourly rate is the most common, many VA’s charge a flat fee to carry out a particular project. Whether this is right for you essentially just depends on whether you can work at particular tasks faster or slower than others and of course whether you can accurately predict how long it will take to do a project. Charging a flat fee can enable you to earn more than ten dollars per hour pretty early on in your career but you can also find yourself half way through a project and realise you are going to make far less than that.