Work as a virtual assistant from the comfort of your sofa!

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If you have some experience of working as a personal assistant (or if you are prepared to learn) then you may be able to transfer your skills to working at home as a virtual assistant. Most virtual assistants are freelance and in charge of finding work for themselves. This isn’t necessarily as difficult as it sounds, and we will give you some pointers below, but if you think you would rather let someone else send work to you then perhaps look at our transcription jobs instead. Virtual assistant work can be varied and interesting and you can generally tailor the type of work to your existing skills. On the other hand, the nature of independent freelance work means that you will have to have a lot of discipline and deal with inconsistent workloads.

Summary

Type of Job: Varied. May be computer or telephone based.

Skills: Flexible. Virtual assistants tailor their roles to their skills. However, you will need to offer some administrative, technical or creative knowledge to your clients.

Hours: Flexible but normally client-driven. The hours you work will likely be agreed between you and individual clients. Often the hours follow the normal working day (9-5).

Equipment: You will need a good computer, telephone access and access to software such as Microsoft Office.

Pay: Determined by you. Pay for highly sought virtual assistants can be very high (up to £40 per hour) but the field is competitive, meaning that you will likely earn much less until you have built up experience and developed a good client list.

What is a virtual assistant?

People often assume that a virtual assistant is basically a secretary who works from home. In fact, although a virtual assistant may indeed operate in this way, most virtual assistants have a much wider role than the name would suggest and can undertake quite complex and specialised tasks. For example, a virtual assistant might specialise in social media marketing or book-keeping. Generally, a virtual assistant offers services which complement the skills of the employer. Whether that’s arranging personal travel requirements or updating a blog, a virtual assistant is likely to encompass a wide range of activities.

What does a virtual assistant do?

It will be clear from the above that possible roles are almost endless. Some example work activities are:

  • responding to emails
  • taking telephone calls
  • transcribing
  • research
  • scheduling tasks
  • writing website content / updating websites or blogs
  • writing reports / presentations
  • marketing
  • creative projects
  • basic book-keeping
  • dealing with suppliers / customers

Virtual assistant jobs

Most virtual assistants find their own work through websites such as upwork.com, peopleperhour.com or freelancer.com.

However, there are a few companies which act as more traditional agencies for virtual assistants:

Time Etc

Tiger Virtual

How to be a freelance virtual assistant

Most virtual assistants find their own work as freelancers. There are two main routes you could take (or use a combination!). Firstly, you could set up a more traditional business and market yourself locally or use existing networking contacts, such as ex employers, to find work. You would need to develop advertising materials and company stationery etc. Alternatively, you could advertise your services online through websites such as:

www.upwork.com

www.peopleperhour.com

www.freelancer.com

All these websites allow you to set up a profile listing the services you offer and the fees you charge. You can then ‘bid’ on work advertised by potential employers or wait for those employers to come to you. We recommend that you start off by bidding for work until you have sufficient experience and ratings for employers to start seeking you out. Pricing is going to be key, so it’s a good idea to browse what other virtual assistants offering the same types of services are charging. For example, upwork allows you to see what other freelancers charge by the hour and also what their previous jobs on the website were charged at. Research, research, research!

Recommended Equipment

The equipment you need will depend on the services you offer. However, you will almost certainly want to have:

  • a dedicated email address
  • telephone line
  • computer
  • up to date software such as Microsoft Office
  • possibly some speech recognition software, such as Dragon, if you feel it will assist you to work more efficiently