As a single Mom, I adore the fact that I am able to work from home. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I started a blog in 2011, I never would have been able to be a full-time mother and pay my bills. Frankly, when I started what would eventually become the blog that you see now, I had zero skills other than knowing how to make a good pizza and standing on my feet in a factory. I come from an area where factory jobs are common and for a lot of high school graduates in the area, that is all you know throughout your life. Since that very humble beginning though, I have learned quite a few new skills as a direct result of blogging. Those skills have allowed me to work as a virtual assistant and to add a second stream of income to my personal budget. Personally, it has become one of my favorite ways to work from home!
Working from home by starting a virtual assistant business might seem difficult if you have little or no experience, but it is much easier than it seems. I speak from experience when I tell you that your biggest obstacle is you. If you dilly dally or allow your fear to get the best of you, you will never get past the initial start up. If, however, you allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone, are willing to learn a new skill or three and are ready to put in the work needed, you will be able to build a business that is far more successful than you ever imagined.
Ways to Work from Home – How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business
For me, adding a virtual assistant business to the income that I already had each month, allowed my daughter and I to live the life that we want to. It can do the same for you and your family. The really great thing about learning how to start a virtual assistant business is that it is never a bad time! People like me use virtual assistants everyday of our lives which means there is always work that needs done. If you’re having a financial crisis or are trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck, working from home as a virtual assistant may just be the answer to your money problems.
Identify your skills –
Do you write well? Can you organize email and calendars like they’re a piece of cake? Are you good at all of the above and then some? Whatever your skills are, you’ll need to be solid and confident in them before you begin charging people for your time. To figure out what virtual assistant skills you are able to charge with, I recommend that you not only go on your own personal experience, but that you also take a competency test or two before you begin advertising your services. These skills are the ones that you will want to include on your resume or your virtual assistant website so that potential clients know what they are able to hire you for.
If you feel as if you need to brush up on a few of your skills, taking an online course is a great option. I personally prefer taking Udemy classes since they are usually budget friendly and fairly quick. This is also a fantastic option if you’re looking to add new skills to the service you’re currently offering.
Determine your rates –
You obviously want to get paid for the work that you do, right? Of course! We all do! Before you start advertising your new virtual assistant business, you’ll want to make certain that you have determined how much you are going to charge for each service. For some, an hourly wage is what they are most comfortable with while others will charge per task. Whichever you decide to go with, be certain that you’re comfortable with the dollar amounts and that you aren’t over or under charging.
Create your virtual assistant website –
If you have chosen to work from home as a virtual assistant, your work will be done primarily online. This means that you should also create a website for your new business. With a website, you have the chance to introduce yourself to potential clients, to showcase your services and talents and to provide customer reviews and testimonials. You can even sell downloadable products for your clients, such as ghostwritten articles, on your website. All of those things can be incredibly important for landing bigger and higher paying jobs.
If learning how to create a website seems daunting or expensive, remember what I said about fear. It will keep you from success. In reality, you can easily create a website in about 10 minutes for less than $4.00 per month with no previous tech or website building experience. I have a tutorial and a deal on website hosting HERE for those that might need it.
Be prepared for taxes –
One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen new virtual assistants make is not being prepared to pay the Taxman. As a virtual assistant, chances are that you will always work as an independant contractor. This means that your clients will not take taxes out of your payments and you will be responsible for paying them at the end of the year if you do not have enough deductions. An easy way to keep track of things is by using an amazing bookkeeping software. I personally prefer to use Quickbooks Self-Employed. Not only is it affordable, but it is set up for self-employed folks meaning it tracks our expenses a bit better than conventional bookkeeping software.
Not only should you use a great bookkeeping software, but you should also be prepared to have your taxes done by an actual accountant. Unfortunately, I speak from recent experience on this one. Owing the IRS because you did your taxes yourself is not worth it.
Use the “right” tools for your virtual assistant business –
While working as a virtual assistant is one of the best ways to work from home for most people, it isn’t a free to operate business. Like any legitimate business, you must spend money to make money. For a virtual assistant business, you will need to make certain that you have access to the correct tools of your trade. These will vary depending on which services you’re offering. For Pinterest work, you may use a Pinterest scheduling service such as Tailwind. For Facebook or Twitter work, you may use a service such as Hootsuite. For photo editing, you’ll want a photo editing software such as PicMonkey. For ghostwriting or your own website, you’ll need stock photos such as what Depositphotos sells. For blog or website hosting, a budget friendly hosting service such as Bluehost is a great option. If you’re going to be shipping different items to Amazon while assisting with an FBA business, Inventory Lab is helpful. If you’re going to be writing a lot, you’ll want to consider a grammar checker like Grammarly. For those that want to keep their VA clients up to date on specials and happenings, signing up for an email hosting service such as Active Campaign can be extremely helpful. Six Dollar Media uses Active campaign and I wouldn’t use anyone else.
No matter which services you’re offering, having the right tools not only allows you to complete your client jobs correctly, but also to ease that tax burden I just mentioned.
Protect yourself where you can –
Like it or not, when you work from home and your work involves heavy internet use, you are putting not only your computer at risk, but your personal information at risk as well. This is why protecting yourself is probably the most important thing I could tell you in this post. For your computer, use a good antivirus such as the paid version of AVG Internet Security as well as the upgraded version of Malwarebytes. Both protect your computer from unwanted nasties. To keep your computer in good shape, I recommend the paid version of AVG PC Tuneup. I use all three products and have had my work desktop for over 5 years now.
Your personal information will be at risk s well as you send electronic I-9 forms to your clients so that you can be paid. Identity theft is rampant these days so you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your info safe. To keep your social security number and other personal info safe, programs such as TransUnion’s True Identity are a huge help. It provides credit monitoring and alerts, credit scores and more.
Advertise your new business and find jobs –
Once you’re ready to launch your new business, you’ll need to advertise and find jobs! For virtual assistants, you can advertise on places such as Facebook groups, UpWork, Craigslist and more. Be certain that your ads are well-written and professional with correct contact info. Alternatively, the same places for you to advertise are also fantastic for finding help wanted ads. Again, when you reply to these ads, be sure your reply is well thought out and professional with your correct contact info.
Starting a virtual assistant business is something that almost everyone can do, but it is also something that you will need to put some thought into before you begin. If you do so, you will quickly build a successful and long lasting business that will provide for you and your family.