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By Melissa Brewer
If you’ve been looking for a virtual secretary job or online data entry job, and haven’t had any luck, you may have considered starting your own virtual assistant business. A virtual assistant works for themselves – and creates their own client base. If you want to work from home and have more control over the amount you earn, the types of projects you accept, and the number of hours you work, then starting a virtual assisting business may be the right work at home option for you.
In order to become a virtual assistant, you will need a computer with a reliable Internet connection, fax machine, dedicated phone line, and the ability to market your services effectively.
Vital Skills for Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants provide services that traditional secretaries do not. These include technical writing, editing, desktop publishing, and web design. Even though you may not possess these skills, if you’ve worked as an administrative assistant or you have experience in business writing, marketing, public relations, event planning, or legal experience, you should be able to use these skills when promoting your business. Many of your virtual assisting clients may need your help with email inquiries and content management – basically, a person to handle their daily small tasks while they focus on their main jobs. A good dose of web-savvy is a great launching point for a virtual assistant business.
Traditional secretarial skills like typing, transcription, monitoring email, setting up meetings, updating calendars, and reviewing documents are also needed by those too busy to do this type of work themselves. Depending on your prior experiences, you may be able to offer a wide variety of services to prospective clients. Keep in mind that you can also learn new skills once your business is up and running – don’t be afraid to ask your potential clients what daily web chores they could do without on a daily basis.
Finding and Retaining Virtual Assisting Clients
Virtual assistants market themselves in many different ways, and you’ll want to find what works for you. Like most small businesses, marketing your services is important if you want to maintain a certain level of income. Using the Internet to conduct searches in online classifieds, joining social networking groups, freelance job sites, and contacting people you know are all ways to find work.
A great place to find prospective clients is LinkedIn.com – an online networking community for business professionals. You can give and receive recommendations and target businesses in your area of expertise by answering questions and participating in groups.
Offline promotions can offer just as much business as your online marketing campaign. This may mean taking out an ad in your local newspaper, networking with people you already know, going to conferences and other functions to meet people in need of your services, or making phone calls to companies you believe could benefit from your services.
Once you have a steady stream of clients, you should continue your marketing efforts by attending social functions, updating your website if you have one, and making phone calls to companies in your area who might need your services. Unlike other jobs you’ve had in the past, clients who use your services will come and go, so you need to be prepared to find new clients at any time.
Average Income and Terms of Payment for VA’s
If you live in an urban area, you will probably earn more than someone who lives in a rural area because the need for virtual assistants is less. The average virtual assistant earns $20.00-$25.00 per hour and works at least 20-30 hours a week. You can choose to be paid weekly, bi-weekly, per project, or you can work with clients on a retainer. A retainer, commonly used in the legal profession, is paid by the client in order to secure your services. A monetary amount is agreed upon by the client and the business owner for a set number of hours during the month. If you work fewer hours, you get to keep the full retainer. If you work over the set amount, then you can invoice the client for any extra hours worked.
Because you are the owner of a small business, you will be responsible for health care, retirement funds, and other expenses that an employer usually pays their employees.
Becoming a virtual assistant may mean working long hours in the beginning until you have enough clients. You may also have to work occasionally in the evening, on weekends, and during holidays.
Virtual Assistance: The Future of Virtual Secretaries
Currently, there are 3,000 to 5,000 virtual assistants working worldwide. The number keeps getting bigger as more companies take advantage of the services offered by those who want to work from home.
If you want to start a virtual assisting business, creating a sound business plan, having enough in savings to pay for living costs until you begin earning a steady income and aggressively marketing your services to various industries are all important to your success. But once you establish yourself, there are many opportunities to be had in this profession.
About the Author: Want to learn more about virtual opportunities? The Little White eBook of Homeshoring Jobs profiles 180+ companies that regular hire home-based workers for inbound and outbound callers, customer care, and tech support. All readers get free updates!
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