Should You Launch A Virtual Assistant Business?
Are you one of the many stay-at-home moms who traded a corporate career to be available for your children? Are you looking for ways to make money from home on a part-time or flex-time basis?
Despite what you may think, you really can make a decent income working from home if you set your mind to it. First, because the technology connection is easier than ever. Internet access is readily available, not just at your own house, but in any number of public places such as your local library, coffee shop or chain restaurant such as Panera Bread or Starbucks.
Second, it won’t cost you much at all to get started. Domain names and hosting are very affordably priced. If you’re familiar with how to work email, MS office programs, and social media, then you can easily manage your own blog on WordPress, given that there will be a bit of a tech challenge to master at first.
As far as getting your name out there, you can obtain free and low-cost advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other social networks. Make a name for yourself locally, or go “global” and just start blogging about business and marketing related topics that you love and you know will help other people.
Keep in mind that a business just doesn’t start pulling in six figures overnight. Your first year as a virtual assistant might have you making a fairly modest income. But think about this. With each year that you stay in the game and get more clients and repeat business, you have the potential to increase your profits by a lot.
Yes, thanks to modern technology and the internet, it’s simpler and more affordable than ever to start up your own small business with low to no up-front capital. So if you want to learn how your marketing, writing, technical and business administrative skills can be put to good use as a virtual assistant working remotely and serving small business owners, then keep reading.
Is it Worth It to Try and Work from Home?
Lots of people wonder if they should bother trying to set up a home based business. Are you one of them? Maybe you got let go from your job, and are presently collecting unemployment.
It can feel very demoralizing to have your company tell you they don’t need your skills anymore. But remember, a larger company’s decision to cut people from the payroll is a numbers thing which may have very little to do with you. Large corporations are searching for ways to drastically reduce expenditures – making sweeping changes like outsourcing the work of entire departments to overseas people who are willing to work for very little money compared to what they may have been paying you and others.
If the lifestyle suits you, working from home gives you the best of both worlds. You’re not on anyone’s payroll, so you can continue to collect while you need the extra financial cushion. Meanwhile, you’re taking steps to become financially independent by letting the world know about your available skills.
Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom who’s been out of the corporate rat race for more than a few years now. You chose to keep childcare costs in your own pocket, and raise your kids on your own while they’re still young. As your children grow older and spend more hours at school and away from you, you may be wondering how you can get some good money coming in. Should you return to the workforce, or try to make some money by way of your laptop and a dream? The latter can be done, but like anything, business building takes time, effort, and commitment.
If you already know that you have some good skills such as administrative mastery, marketing knowledge, writing skills… AND you know your way around computers, the internet, and social media, then you could be well on your way to a blooming career as a virtual assistant.
And if at first the thought of making potentially less than $20K the first year seems daunting, remember that working a traditional job for someone else comes with a number of expenses to shoulder that we tend to rationalize and ignore while we’re in the situation.
Working from home can save you thousands each year on the following:
- Childcare costs
- Corporate attire
- Dry cleaning
- Fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle
- Breakfasts and lunches out
- Corporate events
- Dog walking and pet sitting services
- Summer camp
If you work at a regular job, you’ll also likely find yourself parting with your hard-earned dollars that add up on things we tend to forget about. For example, buying bagels and doughnuts for birthday parties, contributing to donation envelopes that get passed around the office, and yes, you might feel tempted after a tough day to attend that happy hour or office dinner party. These expenditures don’t seem like much when viewed individually… but over the course of a year, they add up to thousands.
Other complications and inconveniences of working outside the home can make having a home based business suddenly seem highly appealing. For example, what happens when your child gets sick and they won’t permit him, her (or them, in most cases) to stay at daycare? What about the confusion of snow days, delayed openings and school cancellations?
And finally, if you’re a working mom whose partner does not pitch in for half the household management tasks, you definitely will see a huge benefit to being able to make your own hours and work from home when it’s convenient.
All of these added stressors can really make it worth it to investigate the possibility of starting a virtual assistance or other type of home-based enterprise. Think about it, if you’re not working now, what’s the worst that can happen? You try it, you don’t care for it, and you end up choosing something else. Either way, you’re sure to learn a few new things, and get clearer on what you’d like to make happen in your life.
Did you create a website in order to work from home? If so, then that website was created with making money in mind. It doesn’t matter if you have a service or product or if you’re using affiliate links to make your money; Internet marketing is a must if you’re going to be successful.
Your Internet marketing campaign must be something that informs potential customers that you have something available for them to buy.
Due to the huge importance of Internet marketing to make money with a website or blog, you must add it to the business plan. Many people, however, feel there isn’t any room or don’t have the time to put into it. Many might consider hiring a professional marketer to carry out their campaign rather than do it themselves.
And, that’s perfectly fine too!
There are thousands of professional Internet marketers to help you carry out a campaign.
What can you do to find the right one for your business? First, you need to do some research. This research should reveal hundreds of respected Internet marketers who have worked with many well-known clients with outstanding testimonials and so much more.
However, you’re going to find that these Internet marketers cost you money – a lot of money – and it may mean that you reconsider how you approach your marketing campaign.
What To Do Now?
Do you consider taking up the tasks for yourself? Or, do you bite the bullet and hire someone to do it for you?
There is a silver lining about doing it yourself. Even if you know nothing about it, you can learn about it. It’s much easier than you think, especially if you’re skilled in the art of time management. Poor time management skills don’t equate to success, and you must improve on them if you’re going to be successful with your Internet marketing campaign.
If you have no time management skills, there are several things you can do to improve them:
Develop A To-Do List
Something you can do daily that highlights every task that needs completed. When done, be sure to mark it off the list and start on the next task.
One of the biggest hindrances stay at home workers have is the constant barrage of interruptions and distractions. Are you surfing the Internet for pleasure when you should be working on tasks? Do you answer the phone when you shouldn’t? The key is not to take personal calls or use the Internet for personal reasons. By eliminating them, you improve your productivity level.
Don’t Focus On Just One Method
Online marketing consists of all kinds of methods that you need to use. Don’t just rely on one method, but a mix of them all. You may find one tactic more successful than others, but that doesn’t mean you put all your eggs in that basket. Success means managing your time wisely so that every method is used and results seen.
Pros and Cons of Working from Home
Are you considering launching a virtual assistance or other type of home based business? Having your own business can be rewarding, but it also involves hard work and at least some type of investment. (Even if you don’t have up-front capital, at the very least you’ll be putting out a few hundred to get your website hosting and mailing list up and running.)
So, before you dive in or invest that “play money” to see if you love or hate running a business from your home computer, you may want to first consider the pros and cons of this type of endeavor. And in fact, one person’s “pro” could be another person’s “con” depending on your personality type, strengths and skills, and preference for working.
So here are the advantages and disadvantages of working from home.
ADVANTAGE: You can make your own hours.
Many people dread working the 9 to 5 or similar because you’re locked into a schedule. This works fine for “day people,” but if you tend toward being an insomniac or very early morning riser, these hours don’t work and can actually cause great anxiety. With the exception of the occasional planned phone conference or in-person client meeting, when you work from home you can adjust the time that you sit down to work to your internal clock. This is awesome!
ADVANTAGE: It’s easy to balance work and home related tasks.
When your laptop or PC is just a few feet away, you can accomplish much more by taking breaks and switching back and forth between priorities. You will also feel much better not being chained to your desk so to speak. Toss in a load of laundry while your computer is warming up for the morning. Wash some dishes while running maintenance on your PC, such as antivirus updates or a disk cleanup. Make dinner in the middle of the day, then sit back down to work some more while it’s cooking.
DISADVANTAGE: Sometimes working from home can be incredibly distracting.
On the days when you’re not in the mood to work or able to concentrate, you might end up procrastinating things that need to get done. Then later, you could dwell on the procrastination and end up feeling guilty. Luckily though, with 24 hours available each day to work when you want, you can easily make up for lost time by logging onto your computer at a time when productivity strikes, morning, noon or night.
ADVANTAGE: There’s no limit to your profit potential when you work for yourself!
At a regular job, you agree to a set salary dictated by your company. Then you more or less agree to set tasks that you’ll be performing. But what if your job ends up requiring you to put in longer hours or do jobs that are outside of your realm of expertise? Working from home, in comparison, lets you focus on those things that you really love to do, as well as dream up creative income streams — and there’s really no limit to how far you can take this.
DISADVANTAGE: You might struggle to make money.
Not everyone is successful in online business. You might end up working for someone who causes you problems and wastes your time. Or you might spend far more time than you thought trying to learn new things. This can be frustrating, and admittedly, small business is not ideal for everyone. BUT the only way to find out of it’s right for you is to try. And even if you decide to throw in the towel, you will likely have an entirely new skillset to add to your resume.
What’s a Virtual Assistant and Can You Be One?
A virtual assistant serves other business owners by performing work related tasks remotely via internet using their personal computer or laptop to conduct the work. The services that a virtual assistant or “VA” might provide can vary according to the VA’s proficiency or preference for a certain type of work.
On the administrative end, a VA might handle typing tasks, dictation, transcription, data entry and contact management. As you become more familiar with how your clients work, you might be asked to spend a portion of your work day fielding questions from customers via email.
For marketing related tasks, a client might ask a virtual assistant to post new content to his or her business blog, publish posts on their Facebook, LinkedIn or other profile pages, or submit articles and press releases to websites online. A virtual assistant might also perform routine tasks such as setting up and sending the company newsletter each month.
Some virtual assistants offer tech-based know-how, and their clients rely on them to do things like set up website domains and hosting, activate new email accounts through the hosting provider, set up their blog, and manage their email list.
Virtual assistants who have a writing background might offer content creation support for their clients. Companies small and large have ongoing writing tasks that need attention, including creating website pages, adding new articles to blogs and social media accounts, writing the company newsletter and marketing emails, creating sales pages and much more.
VAs with design skills can help with logo creation, resizing images, creating social images and memes, and developing branding elements for their clients’ various projects.
How do virtual assistants charge for their work?
Your hourly rate as a VA will depend on your level of mastery, type of services offered and number of years’ experience. Virtual assistants with strengths in marketing, design and tech will command a higher hourly rate than VAs who only do basic tasks and light typing.
For repeat clients, a virtual assistant might work up a lower hourly rate in exchange for more hours. For example, one client might be billed $35 per hour by his or her VA but only end up working 20 hours for the one single week which works out to $700. The same VA might decide they’d like to retain that client, and therefore agree to a set price for 20 hours every single week, which could be $400. So now the VA is getting $400 each week from a single client, and the client saves $300 per week as a result of their shared agreement to work together.
Do You Need Credentials to Be a Virtual Assistant?
If you’ve never set virtual foot into the world of online business, then you may wonder if there are rules you should follow or credentials you must obtain before becoming a virtual assistant. The truth is that you can go about obtaining clients and offering them virtual assistance services however you like.
If you already have experience with website marketing, tech management, blog development and design, then this will translate easily to ready-to-purchase services, and you can justify charging more as a virtual assistant because your skills will prove beneficial to clients.
If you have no experience working as a virtual assistant and you also have minimal experiencing managing a business online, then it might benefit you to take a course. Th is way, you can approach online business mastery in a direct and straightforward fashion. You can obtain credentials toward becoming a legitimate VA (virtual assistant). This will put you on the fast track to home based career success, because you’ll be skipping past the sometimes lengthy and frustrating trial-and-error phase that many online business owners go through.
Another way to speed up the learning process as you embark on a career as a virtual assistant is to accept work for lower pay as you “learn the ropes.” To do this, you might begin by networking on Facebook and LinkedIn in an effort to connect with online business owners who can help you along in your journey. Along the way, you might encounter some small business owners who are on a budget and would be amenable to teaching you the skills you need to work as a VA while paying you a rate that is comfortable for them.
Finally, you can go the slow and steady route to becoming a virtual assistant. Here, you would just kind of venture out into unknown territory in online business. Start reading, learning, and asking lots of questions to other online business owners whom you encounter in your networking travels online. Launch your own blog, and start talking about the topics that you’re interested in mastering, learning as you go and then sharing what you’ve learned. So for example, if you’ve never run a mailing list, you might research the topic, try setting everything up with a permission based email list manager, and then sharing what you’ve learned in the form of an article that you publish on your blog.
In time, your online business career will catch up to itself, and you’ll grow in understanding of how things work. Once this happens, you can reach out to small business owners who may be in need of support from a virtual assistant. The, next thing you know — you’ve landed your first client! Be sure to get a testimonial which you can eventually publish on a page of your site once you have a few of them from several different clients.
And then, what do you know – suddenly you’re helping others reach the goals in their own businesses that you had once set for yourself. And voila, a successful virtual assistance business is born.
Set Up Your Home Office
Are you looking to go pro with virtual assistant services and create a nice work from home situation for yourself? More and more people, stay-home moms in particular, are finding that the work-from-home lifestyle really lends itself to a life of freedom and flexibility.
If you’re just getting started with pursuing a career as a virtual assistant, then you’ll want to set up your home office with everything you need so that you’ll be able to “go pro” sooner rather than later. Working from home serving online business owners can potentially become a lucrative endeavor and the up-front investment that you’ll need to get started is extremely low.
Think about it – there’s no need to rent out office space or invest in pricy equipment and supplies. All you really need is a computer and some basic programs. Here’s a basic list of items to set up to get your home based internet business up and running.
A good computer. You can purchase yours new, or refurbished — either way, the amount of storage space and the processing speed that you should select will depend on how many and which programs you plan to run at the same time. A VA who’s offering more basic services such as social media management and email list management will probably not need to upgrade to more memory and faster speed. But someone who will be storing images, using various databases and programs all at the same time will want a machine with a little more juice. Shop around, look for the best deal, and talk to someone who knows about computers before making your final decision.
A printer/scanner/copier in one. Again, the size printer you choose will depend on how much print work you figure on doing. Maybe you aren’t sure yet, so in that case, a smaller printer might be okay to start with but you could end up needing to upgrade later. Scanning, copying and printing options will come in handy for signing and emailing back client contracts. You can print a copy for yourself to keep in your files, in case you need to refer to it later. And you can use the scan feature to email signed documents back to your clients if need be.
A smart phone. When you’re a busy VA on the go, it’s definitely handy to have your phone with you so that you can take pictures of your work day in action and add them to your business blog and social media profiles. Sharing photos of yourself going about your daily business is a nice way to put a message out letting people know you’re for hire. Plus, when people see pictures, they get to feeling like they know you which is very good for your business relationship.
A desk and some office supplies. You’ll likely require a comfortable seat where you can sit and type at your computer or make business calls. You may or may not need some basic office supplies depending on how much physical work you produce as a work-from-home person. But it’s always good to have the basics. Pens, a stock of paper, some envelopes, stamps, writing pads, sticky notes, stapler and staples, paper clips of varying sizes, rubber bands, your business cards and a holder. It’s also a good idea to keep thank-you cards stashed in your desk. Sending a quick note of appreciation can go a long way for your professional relationships.
A small file cabinet. It’s a good idea to occasionally have physical copies of the work you do, business receipts that you accumulate, client files, contracts, and things of this nature. The size cabinet you choose will depend on how much paperwork you expect to accumulate. In addition to your trusty file cabinet, pick up some hanging file folders, manila folders, larger envelopes, and labels.
Assess Your Work from Home Skills
Are you a good candidate for becoming a virtual assistant who work from home? The best way to find out is by assessing your personality traits, skills and strengths. You know you’re virtual assistant material if you…
Enjoy being a “behind the scenes worker bee.” Not everyone can take a service role in their business, and as a freelance VA you don’t have to do a fake “boss” persona if that’s not in line with your personality. If you really do revel in those little details that other people don’t enjoy taking care of, you could easily be on your way to making this an exciting and fruitful home based career.
Love being on the computer and you’re good at it. Being a fully booked VA means that you’ll be spending a lot of time attached to your laptop or PC. So if logging in and out of different websites, copying, pasting, typing and uploading documents and files really does float your boat rather than tick you off… virtual assistant could be your next choice of careers!
Are known for being organized and efficient. A well established virtual assistant handles many different tasks for many different clients. Your clients will be relying on you to handle their business in a timely fashion. Are you able to meet deadlines with ease? Do you have a knack for task-mastering? If so, then you might decide that being a virtual assistant is an excellent career move for you.
Have average to high level tech skills. Maybe you’ve played around with online business things before. It could be that you worked at a marketing job or you’re a writer. Most of the office related tasks that virtual assistants are expected to handle for their clients have to do with word processing, writing, typing, image uploads, logging in and out of their clients’ websites, database management and information sharing. So, knowing your way around the computer and the web are pretty key in this type of career.
Working from Home Might be For You If…
Do you wonder if you have what it takes to run a home based business? While some folks are well suited to this freedom-based work style, other people are simply better working for a single company and reporting to a single boss — and that’s okay if you are a person like this. Everyone is different, and today’s flexible, tech-based work environment enables all kinds of unique work scenarios.
If you truly are thinking about dipping your toe into the exciting and potentially lucrative waters of running your own business from home, then check your personal skillset against these strengths.
You might be ideal to run your own home based business if…
You’re a self starter. You have a clear picture of your goals in mind, and know how to go about getting things done. Not just sometimes, but the majority of the time. Every day that you have your own home business will require you to accomplish great things in order to move another step closer to success.
You’re something of a risk taker. People who are petrified to take a chance will likely feel overwhelmed by the idea of total financial freedom. If you’re someone who is willing to boldly go where you’ve never gone before, make a possible mistake, shake it off and keep on going, then working from home could be the right situation for you.
You are able to set up and utilize your own work area. While there may be some times when you can sit with your laptop and chat with others as you accomplish work-related tasks, other instances will demand that you have your own space where you can completely focus on important tasks. A dedicated office space in your home where all of your tech-based and work-related equipment and materials are kept, will be ideal if you’re serious about pursuing the work from home lifestyle.
You’re good in either a team building or team-supporting capacity. As more and more people take to the web to manage their own work-from-home enterprise, this opens up more possibilities for workers of all types. Both leaders and followers can thrive in the work-from-home setting, as long as you’re able to put yourself out there, meet new people and take a few risks.
You’ve worked for clients before. If you already have experience working as a freelancer, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to transition into a full-time work-from-home capacity. You won’t be stressed waiting for payments to come in, and you’ll likely already have the ability to determine which clients will be easy for you to work together with versus which ones to steer clear of.
You’re productivity-driven. Working from home brings a variety of situations. Some days you’ll be up to your eyeballs in client deadlines. Other times will mean things have slowed down, or business might even be at a temporary standstill. If you’re the kind of person who can immediately shift into business maintenance and management type tasks during a slow period, then you’re likely to survive in home based business no matter what.
You’ve got your eyes peeled for income generating opportunities. If you decide to join the growing ranks of people who run a business online and from the comfort of their own home office, then one key to increasing how much you make is by developing multiple income streams. The changing seasons definitely lend themselves to creating side streams that you can almost but not quite set and forget. The key, of course, is to make sure you keep all those balls in the air and don’t slack off with any of your profit generating ideas.
Determine Your Virtual Assistant Service Offerings
So you want to become a virtual assistant and serve business clients from the comfort of home. What an awesome idea! As people become more comfortable with the business contractor relationship, this means that your potential to find and retain clients online will continue to increase.
If you really want to make the move sooner rather than later, then you should first get clear on the types of services you can offer your future clients. Of course, this will depend on a few factors. How much experience do you have? Most people who are considering becoming virtual assistants know their way around a computer.
Here’s a list of services you can potentially offer, based on your professional experience and proficiency.
- Acquisition of domain names and setting up web hosting accounts
- Creating blogs, writing basic blog pages and posts, publishing new posts
- Setting up and managing an email list
- Writing, setting up and sending an email newsletter (great monthly service for repeat business)
- Creating and update social media platforms
- Cross-posting blog updates, articles and promotional updates across all social media accounts
- Data entry and database management
- Writing sales copy including product sales pages, sales letters, email blasts, promotional materials and more
- Editing and uploading images to use in your clients’ branding, website and social sharing
- Fielding customer emails for your clients
- Preparing and sending contracts
- Accounts payable and accounts receivable
- Writing business letters
- … anything else you clients may need assistance with
One awesome thing about working for yourself is that if something proves not to be a fit for your skills or your preference, you can simply remove it from your service offerings. So for example, if you learn that you’d much rather handle marketing for your clients and steer clear of invoicing or handling their bill paying tasks, you can simply let them know that you’ll no longer be offering such services and you can remove them from the service page of your website.
How to File Your Taxes When You Work from Home
Are you interested in launching a home based business offering business support services that people can hire you to perform on a freelance basis? If you’ve never done this before, you may feel overwhelmed knowing that you’ll now have to handle your income tax reporting on your own.
To start, just know that if you’re just starting out with your small home based business, everything is okay. You’ll likely be making a relatively low amount of income in the beginning. So the IRS is not going to come banging down your door if you do something incorrect. More than likely if you do mess up something while filing your income taxes this year, you’ll receive a letter in the mail with whatever fines you may be required to pay and instructions on how to rectify the matter. These things happen. It’s nothing to be nervous about.
The next thing you’ll want to know is how to report miscellaneous income. While it is certainly a good idea to register your business within your county under a specific name, you are not required to do that if you just want to report to the IRS some money that you made as a service provider to someone else. Lots of people start out as what is known as a Sole Proprietor. To do that, you only need your social security number plus your basic tax forms (currently US 1040), and any related forms depending on what else you may wish to report.
The current form to fill out when reporting miscellaneous income is called a 1099-MISC. You’ve probably heard of a 1099 which lists whatever your employer paid you. Your employer gives you a W2 form, and that’s what you provide to the IRS to show how much you made. But if you don’t have an employer, then you don’t have a W2. You have a 1099-misc. Individually, you will receive 1099-misc income to report from any person who has hired you over a certain total amount (it may currently be $800 or higher but you’ll have to check the latest on the IRS website to be sure, as things change from year to year and there is no telling when you’ll read this).
When you generate freelance income for someone else who pays you, then you should hand them a W9 form which you fill out. This form will include your full name, social security number, mailing address and maybe a few other details. The form is actually not given to the IRS. It is generally a courteous way to formalize the work you do or the income that you generate for a company or individual, in case the information is questioned at some point and details need to be tracked. The person who paid you for services rendered or other type of income generated will have the information that they need to fill in their own IRS reportings as to whom they paid for a specific tax calendar year.
Does passive income generated by way of a website count as reportable to the IRS? The answer to this is YES. Many web based companies who might have you as an affiliate will ask you to fill out a W9 form so that they can report having paid you a certain amount when filling out their own taxes. This includes companies that pay out various forms of passive revenue including PPC advertising, affiliate earnings where you earn a portion of their sale by sharing links that contain your affiliate ID, and more.
Can you report less on your US income taxes as a freelance contractor by subtracting business expenses from the total money made for that year? The short answer is yes, though the details and requirements of this keep changing from year to year. Check the IRS website or speak to your accountant about what types of business expenses can be itemized on Schedule C of your federal income taxes.
Rest assured, as more and more people opt to launch their own small businesses, the US government has now updated their website to accommodate for the growing need for information. Head right over to IRS.gov for a full explanation of how to file your taxes as a freelancer or small business owner.
Why Running an Email List is Key if You Work from Home
You may be interested in becoming a VA (virtual assistant) based on hearsay about other VAs generating high levels of income in this role. A popular online VA recently reported generating as much as $10K per month — wow! And yet, you may have also heard that virtual assistant hourly rates are across the board – anywhere from $15 per hour to $50 per hour.
The reason this is so is because virtual assistants offer different skills depending on their level of proficiency. Someone who really only has a need for occasional typing and customer service might pay toward the lower end. But a clients who requires a VA who can manage the tech side of his or her blog customizations and knows HTML and PHP code might pay as much as $70 per hour.
So now you may still be wondering how a VA can make as much as $10,000 per month. Is this possible? It can be, but really that depends on one factor. If you have an online business and you go big with your blog and manage to attract thousands of email subscribers, you can sell them various products and include forms of passive income on your blog. The thing is, everybody wants to know how to get more people to buy things from them online, whether that’s because they offer services, sell ebooks, have an Ebay store or all of the above.
Granted if you’re new to this whole internet business thing, then the idea of having a mailing list of people that you pitch various products to can seem overwhelming. So, first things first. Get your blog set up and put your About, Services, and Contact info up there. Once that’s in place, you can start publishing tips to help people learn how to get their businesses more visibility online so they, too can generate income. The tips that you publish in the form of fresh blog posts that help online business owners become successful will work to help your blog get found within your niche as a VA. This is how you will attract new clients. But before your clients officially pay you to serve them, they might want to hop on your mailing list to see what you’re about.
How to run your mailing list? Can you do it from your email inbox? The answer is NO. You must sign up for a permission based list management service such as Aweber, GetResponse, or InfusionSoft. These will allow you to put a form up on your blog that people can type their name and email address into to subscribe to hear from you. They will then receive an automated email confirmation link that they must click to confirm if they want to continue hearing from you. Each time you email them through the service that you sign up for such as Aweber, they will receive a link inside of the email that they can click to change their subscription options, such as switch to a new email address where they’ll hear from you, OR opt out entirely. This is a legit means of getting around spam laws because with a service like this, your subscribers have full control of their option to hear from you.
If this seems overwhelming and you aren’t sure how to go about all of this yet, take your time becoming more knowledgeable at each step of your business growth. There is no rush and you can expand into passive income generation as quickly or as slowly as you like. But one really good practice to get into whether you’re ready or not to start offering tips to your readers, is to get people to sign up for your mailing list. It’s enough to collect email addresses and then eventually reach out to these folks letting them know that you’re going live with your very first company newsletter or series of helpful tips sent via email. So, take the first step, and sign up with a trusted list management service provider such as Aweber. When you’re ready, you can leap ahead to the next step, and send out your first group email!
Free and Low Cost Computer Programs for Virtual Assistants
If you’re a new virtual assistant, working from home and starting on a shoestring budget, then you may be on the hunt for free and low cost means of running your business, not to mention marketing your services and getting your name out there.
Here’s a list of favorite no-cost and low-cost programs to download to your computer in the name of getting a legit business enterprise up and running.
Graphics Editing Programs:
- Apache Open Office
- Mail Chimp
- Survey Monkey
- BlogSpot (Google blog)
Tips for Work-Life Balance as a VA
Do you wonder if you can hack the work from home lifestyle? Functioning as a virtual assistant from the comfort of your own home computer or from your laptop at various work meetup locations can be both exciting and frustrating at times. You’ll have busy days, slow days, networking days and pay days. Sometimes you’ll accomplish a ton of work and other times it will seem like no matter what you do, something’s going wrong.
But the question you might have in your mind is, how will I be able to balance my home and work life? You might have kids who occupy much of your time, and of course you want to be there for them in every way possible. But you also know that if you’re serving clients from home, you’ll want to give your best efforts to the professionals whom you serve.
Below find some tips for balancing work life and home life as a virtual assistant with your own, mobile office and plenty of responsibilities to handle on the home front.
Decide if you’re more comfortable with your own, remotely located office, or if it’s better to position yourself amidst slight chaos.
The best of both worlds would have you holed up in an out-of-the-way upstairs office on some days, and laptopping it in front of cartoons on other days.
Become a task-mastering pro.
If distractions tend to get the best of you working at home, you can adopt the “complete a task, then switch hats” policy. So if you know that you’re scheduled to send out 5 client emails by 5pm, and you also have to get dinner started to serve by 6pm, then you can set a mini deadline for yourself. Complete 2 of 5 of the 3 email tasks. Then, take a break, get your supper going, and then return to your 3 emails that still need to go out to customers of your clients.
Keep background tasks in the background.
There are tech related background tasks. And there are also background tasks to do around the house. So for example, you might set your computer up to run antivirus while you prepare dinner or fold laundry. By the time you’re done with your housework, you can go back to the PC to see how things have progressed. A household background task could be laundry, or a crock pot dinner. You can set and forget either of these, and they will continue to progress on their own while you work.
Make time for exercise.
If you tend toward being a workaholic who never gets up from the computer except to use the bathroom, you might need to make exercise one of your “no excuse” excuses to take a break. Being in front of a screen all day every day isn’t healthy. Over the long term, you can develop poor posture, gain weight, and affect your vision. Yoga provides a wonderful way to stretch the muscles, give the eyes a rest, and recharge the body. You need only step away from your desk and break out your mat for a 15-minute refresher. Or, if you don’t have a mat yet, believe it or not the kitchen floor will do.
Get out of the house periodically.
If you have children, this is a lot more easily accomplished. After a while, if you’ve overdone it and spent too much time working again, your children will let you know by becoming antsy and possibly argumentative with each other. Taking a short walk through the neighborhood, enjoying a gardening break, or driving to a nearby park are all a really excellent way to divvy up your day, give yourself a mental recharge and get some exercise to boot.
Passive Income Ideas for Virtual Assistants
Wondering if the work-from-home as a virtual assistant could be the life for you? Like anything, your experience in creating success for yourself will depend on more than just luck. Like any small business endeavor, you’ll have to do a good bit of hustling, especially in the early phase when you’re trying to get your name out there and start acquiring clients.
However, at the current (2020) project pay rate for a freelance VA being anywhere from $15 to $70 per hour depending on your level of expertise and type of services offered, you may wonder how this translates to the big bucks.
The truth is that if you want to get closer to six figures as a VA, and that would more than likely take several years to build up to especially if you’re going in on this with zero budget for advertising… then you may want to think about passive income streams for your VA business.
How does this work? Many people now know that it doesn’t take a high level of tech knowledge to get a blog up and running. The simple act of posting on your blog regularly will, in time and with consistency, help your virtual assistance blog get found on search engines.
BUT the thing is… not all of the people who find your virtual assistance blog will necessarily be looking to pay you for services. They might find you while searching for information on any of the following topics (depending of course on what you’re posting):
- How to grow a virtual assistance business
- Marketing a business successfully online
- Tools to run your online business on the cheap
- Tips for coaches on how to streamline their business
- How to make money from a mailing list
- (and many, many more related topics – there are tons of topics that your clients will find useful!)
Knowing this, it pays to be that virtual assistant who shares information. This way, people will eventually look to you as an authority. They’ll share your info with their friends. And, you can add the following forms of passive income to your virtual assistance site:
- Email challenges
- Online courses
- Video courses
- Prewritten content
- Affiliate products (including all of the above, but instead of yours, they will be other people’s courses, ebooks, etc.)
- Pay Per Click Advertising
If you are relatively new to online business, all of this may seem overwhelming. You may wonder where to begin or if it’s even worth spending time looking into passive income sources as a VA. It’s possible that some types of passive income may appeal to you, while others are not your cup of tea, or perhaps you just don’t have the extra time to devote to learning what you need to know and putting in the extra effort.
If you feel confounded about where to start as you turn your blog into an income generator, then try this. Start by setting up a blog if you haven’t already, and a mailing list where you can begin to collect subscribers. Your subscribers will be those people who read the tips you share on your blog, like what they see, and decide to sign up to hear more from you.
Once they’re on your list, you can email them more helpful online business advice, some of which might include recommended products that you either create on your own, or were created by people whom you have signed up as an affiliate for.
How to determine which passive income streams will be the best for you?
If the passive income is coming from someone else’s products that you are an affiliate for, then the actual product that you are promoting could be just about anything that you determine as having value. Ideally, you would want the product to be something you’re interested in. So for example, if you’re a big fan of finding low-cost tech solutions for online business owners, then you could have some fun generating income by way of sharing your personal reviews of various tech related products, such as antivirus, firewalls, image editing programs, password organizers, and such. Each time someone purchases via your affiliate link, you earn a commission.
If this is passive income that will come from your own products that you create yourself, then figure out what your biggest strengths are. Do you love to talk and teach? Then video tutorials could be a valuable side stream of income. Is writing your forte? Then creating and selling ebooks might be the way to go.
No matter which or how many streams of income you decide to focus on for your virtual assistance business, remember your keys to success:
- Publish fresh content on a regular basis.
- Share your new content on multiple social media platforms, along with your link
- Collect email addresses so that you can periodically email your list to share and promote even further.
- If one method of income generation turns out not to be for you, it’s easy enough to move away from that method and focus on something else that is more to your liking.
How to Get Clients If You’re a VA
If you’re first starting out as a virtual assistant, you’ll probably wonder where to get clients. This free-wheeling world of online business is definitely a different ball game than the corporate lifestyle. Your clients aren’t just going to show up out of nowhere. You’ll have to do a good bit of self promoting before they begin to think of you as someone to rely on for helping with their business related tasks.
The good news is that it really doesn’t take much money at all to get a website up and running, and you will need one if you expect to do business online. Another positive is that you really don’t need to master complex programs to manage your website yourself. There will be a brief learning curve where you must learn what’s what with your blog software, such as WordPress. But all of the blog platforms function in much the same way as email and social media accounts. You will simply log in using an email address and password, type or copy and paste in new blog posts, upload images and then hit publish.
So, as mentioned, the first step to getting clients online is having a blog which will serve as the home of your virtual assistance business. You’ll want to include basic static pages such as About, Services, Testimonials, Contact. You might also consider adding a Tips page to help new online business owners who might need advice. Each tip would like to its own article – a blog post that you have published in depth about a particular topic, such as how to manage your email newsletter.
You should also start collecting email addresses right away. This is very important if you plan to also create streams of passive income. Invest in a service such as Aweber which only costs about the same as a weekly trip to the grocery store, but for just once per year which really is quite reasonable.
So now you have two elements in place to help you get found for your virtual assistance services. You have a blog, and you have an email list manager to collect new contacts.
Once you get comfortable adding new articles to your blog on a routine basis, you’ll want to also share those articles on social media. It’s smart to build an online presence on popular social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. You’ll be able to joint networking groups where other small business owners hang out. There, you can ask and answer questions and learn from the pros. You can also let people know what types of services you offer.
A note to remember about social media: many group admins now discourage the sharing of links. So although you may be excited to let people know about your virtual assistance blog, you might have to check and see if you can get permission to add your link to a post.
Too much link sharing tends to give off a spammy vibe, which is why the majority of social posters frown on this practice. However, most quality networking groups will have a designated self promotion and link-sharing day. So if that day happens to be Friday for a favorite group of yours, you can be sure to set up a special page of your blog announcing a new event, class, new group, new course, set of tips, or whatever you may be offering that can help a fellow small business owner. Mark your calendar for Friday sharing day, and you’re good to go.
Other places where you can get work as a virtual assistant are freelance work sites. Textbroker, for example, is a site that connects web content writers with business owners in need of articles to publish, share or sell. Fiverr is a popular online job site where people search for help with design, writing and other jobs. Don’t let the name fool you, you can make more than five dollars these days at fiverr. Upwork is yet another site reputed to offer matchmaking for people who want to work for pay, and other people who need to hire temporary help.
So take a gander around Google, where you may be able to find even more freelance sites in addition to the above mentioned ones. Create your own memberships on each as a virtual assistance service provider. Activate your accounts, fill out your profile completely, and upload any relevant work samples. Then, get started bidding on jobs…. and before you know it, you’ll have landed your very first paid gig as a work from home professional.