Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant: What They Do & How To Become One

In the Philippines, virtual assistants have become an in-demand job as local and overseas organizations increase their internet usage to support various business operations. Since Filipinos are naturally flexible, responsible, and talented, clients often prefer to hire their services.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

If you have prior experience working as an office secretary or an office manager, you can become a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant refers to an independent contract worker or a remote employee who provides administrative support to clients or enterprises while operating somewhere away from a physical office. This person typically works in a home-office setup but may access the required business documents, such as financial reports, spreadsheets, shared calendars or any other communication documents online.

Overseas clients and online businesses often hire virtual assistants to help them manage a broad range of administrative duties without compelling them to bring in employees at their business location. However, some small and medium-size enterprises expand their virtual support needs by hiring individuals who can perform specific jobs, including research, social media management, and dropshipping.

An online business may not be compelled to provide the same work benefits which regular office employees can receive since a virtual assistant is considered a remote contractor, though such arrangements can be made before getting hired. Also, employers don’t need to provide an office desk or any workspace at their physical office because virtual assistants will perform their duties remotely.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

A virtual assistant is expected to perform a diverse range of administrative tasks based on the exact need of the client and the specific terms of the work contract. You may be asked to handle clerical assignments, post regular social media updates, create business documents, and even write articles for online posting. In some cases, your management expertise may also be required to handle call appointments, travel arrangements, data entry and document control.

Some employers may hire virtual assistants to perform specific job responsibilities, for instance, public relations, paralegal, real estate, and target advertising. In return, clients are expected to provide detailed instructions or contract terms to ensure a healthy working relationship before considering a virtual assistant to work for them. A clearly written job description may significantly reduce the risk of misunderstanding between two parties during the course of work.

In summary, here is the list of typical job responsibilities of a virtual assistant:

  • Responding to client emails, phone calls, and instant messages
  • Arranging a business meeting with suppliers and managing partners
  • Booking travel arrangements and hotel accommodations
  • Conducting work orientation and pre-employment seminars
  • Organizing calendars, policies, and strategies
  • Preparing spreadsheets, business documents, and communication letters
  • Storing online records of project details and job accomplishments
  • Performing market research, legal writing, and other specific tasks
  • Creating document presentations, social media posts and forum topics
  • Managing business and supplier contact list
  • Manages the job performance of other team members or employees

Service Fields for Virtual Assistants

If you notice, the possible job responsibilities of a virtual assistant seem overwhelming, but you may get to decide which VA duties can suit your level of productivity. The list below covers some of the popular online jobs that virtual assistants may include in their package.

When thinking about what VA services to offer, always consider how you can maximize your acquired skills and experience, which may provide value to the business of your clients. These areas of VA services include:

1. Administrative Support

An easy way to explore the industry, administrative support services typically include inputting data, creating spreadsheets, organizing calendars, and managing contact lists and documents.

2. Website Management

As a virtual assistant, managing a business website won’t require you to become a computer wizard. But if you have prior experience using WordPress or CMS platforms, these content management services may provide you the needed boost to win clients. Typical responsibilities may include posting new articles, writing fresh content, editing posts, and responding to comments.

As you gain experience, consider opening your own VA site where you can display your previous projects, range of services, and notable work credentials in order to attract new clients.

3. Customer/Client Support

Small-scale business owners, including those start-up ones, don’t usually have the luxury of time to respond to customer queries, process the orders, or even reply to page comments. As a result, they outsource these customer care-related responsibilities to interactive virtual assistants.

4. Social Media Management

Social media management can be your ticket to move further from administrative support tasks onto something more interactive. In this job post, you are expected to handle different specific tasks, such as responding to online comments, updating social media pages, posting new articles, and promoting links. Since social media is a more specialized field, you can charge more for your services and even more if you possess some graphic designing and video editing skills.

Now, if you have relevant experience with Facebook advertising, you may get compensated even more because Facebook Ads help businesses find more customers. If you choose this specific service area, you will be tasked to create regular advertisements and monitor their online reach.

5. Virtual Bookkeeping

If you wish to offer bookkeeping services, you should be organized, detail-oriented, and competent in the calculation. Online business owners will definitely hire virtual assistants with an accounting background to help them manage their finances from making spreadsheets to checking debit and credit statements.

The Skills Needed to Become a Virtual Assistant

To begin a professional career as a virtual assistant, you may not need a Bachelor’s degree or certification, though some employers may demand such qualifications to handle more specific tasks, like PR management and real estate VA jobs. But as you gain experience, you should continuously sharpen your skills to make yourself valuable on the job marketplace. Here is the list of skills which you may consider or at least try to achieve:

  • High school diploma, but having a Bachelor’s degree may help you become more qualified
  • Relevant experience as an administrator or executive assistant can be an advantage
  • Experience in word processing programs, including Microsoft Office and Google Docs
  • Basic knowledge on trending techs, like desktop sharing, screen sharing and cloud-based apps
  • Excellent communication skills using internet calls, email and chat messaging
  • Proficiency in writing documents and articles
  • Strong command of the English language
  • Familiarity with online calendars and scheduling tools
  • Great time management and organizing skills
  • Familiarity with different social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others

How to Get Started as a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is a popular work from home job that doesn’t require an advanced academic degree or significant work experience. Working as a VA seems to be a realistic approach to earn a decent income at home while leveraging the skills you may already have. But you can earn even more if you consider other enhancements for your career growth, such as learning new skills or joining VA online forums.

If you are ready to put up your own VA business or take a career leap, here are some practical steps for you to consider:

1. Determining the Services you Wish to Offer

The first thing you need to do is to decide which type of VA services you want to offer. You may begin by writing down the skills or activities you already know how to perform.

Consider social media management service if you already know how to manage social media pages or work as an online influencer. Remember that your list may go on as you gain more relevant experience and discover new VA tools along the way.

2. Enrolling to a VA Training Course

Learning from the experts allows you to become familiar with the actual responsibilities of a virtual assistant. Here, you get the chance to ask questions or discover the basics of how you can start your own VA business.

3. Setting the Price

Determining how much to charge for your services is one of the difficult things when getting started as a virtual assistant since you always want to be fair and competitive as much as you can. You may check out how much other virtual assistants are charging for their services. Consider checking out their online profiles, search for the average salary range, or ask some questions from Facebook communities to get more ideas.

Don’t forget to consider your skills and experience level when setting your service charges because you may charge a bit higher if, for instance, you have been managing social media accounts or posting blog articles. Most virtual assistants in the Philippines are paid in different pricing categories, including hourly rates, price-per-project, and duration of the contract term.

4. Creating an Online Portfolio to Promote VA Skills

Creating an online profile isn’t a standard requirement for landing your first client. However, having your own website or online profile will make you look decent and professional. The great thing is that you don’t need to hire someone to create one for you because there are lots of online job portals and social media platforms available to help you establish your career portfolio.

5. Selecting the Target Market and Clients

Once you finished setting up your price and services to offer, list down the characteristics of the client you wish to work with. It is important to determine the clients you will be comfortable to work because this will affect your performance and overall productivity as a virtual assistant. You also need to think about how you can help them with their business or why should they choose your services over other VA offers.

6. Formulating your Marketing Strategy

Now that you have created your online portfolio, it’s time to start promoting your VA services through various marketing channels. If you already have a social media account, for example, you can use it to offer your services to friends and target businesses.

Make a separate account for your VA services and advertise there instead if you wish to keep your personal life some distance apart. You may also utilize your personal blog site and email listing to let others become informed of your new endeavor.

7. Connecting with Other Virtual Assistants

You shouldn’t think you can survive the industry alone. Consider connecting with experienced virtual assistants to gain some expert tips, ideas, or even leads that will allow you to meet new clients. You can make use of online forums, Facebook communities and paid memberships to build a network.

Joining online conferences is one cost-effective approach to build networks with fellow VAs and potential clients. Apart from using the internet, you may also attend career expos, networking events, job fairs, and other gathering means to connect with local business owners and business communities.

How to Apply as a Virtual Assistant?

Searching new clients seems to be the most challenging part for anyone who has decided to go freelance. But you can always find a good place to start your VA career adventure when you dig deeper into the internet world. Here’s how you can apply:

1. Checking out Freelancer Websites

Job vacancies for virtual assistants can be found in different freelancer sites, such as People Per Hour and Onlinejobs.ph. Most of these freelancer sites allow prospective job seekers to create an online portfolio or upload a formal resume, so interested clients may be able to browse the profiles and evaluate their credentials right away.

If you don’t have enough work experience, this could be an easy way to get through. You may also try other popular sites which offer several job positions for a virtual assistant, including:

2. Social Media Platforms

Networking is a powerful job-seeking tool that you can use to share your professional VA skills and services to friends and professional networks. Even online companies utilize these web-based platforms to post job vacancies or directly recruit potential work candidates. You may also try reaching out to online influencers, bloggers and content managers who might be looking for someone to assist them.

3. Local Business Communities

You should put an effort to reach out to small and medium enterprises within your area and offer your VA services. That’s because a lot of traditional business owners still haven’t thought of outsourcing some areas of their operations to a VA.

Tips to be a Great Virtual Assistant

Working as a virtual assistant may sound appealing to those who want to set their own schedules, earn decently, and work comfortably in a home setting. Being one, however, requires more effort than you might think to become successful in this field. Here are practical suggestions which you may consider to turn your dream job into reality:

1. Assess your Basic Skills

As a virtual assistant, it is essential to acquire these basic skills before you get hired:

  • Typing speed of at least 40 words per minute or faster
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Basic computer and internet researching skills
  • Familiarity with email communication services
  • Basic understanding of social media marketing
  • Basic skills in email marketing and newsletters

2. Check your Current Equipment

Before you start working as a virtual assistant, you should make sure to check your equipment and working tools, such as:

  • A good working computer with sufficient hardware components
  • High-speed internet connection
  • Personal mobile number, skype account, and other communication means to contact you
  • Updated browsers
  • Printer and scanner where applicable

3. Consider working for a business or company first to get a steady stream of work, relevant experience, and regular paychecks. While moving up, you should continue searching for more ways to enhance your skills by seeking professional support.

4. Set up your own routine and train yourself to stick with your set schedule regardless if you prefer to work during the daytime or evening.

5. Consider setting up a dedicated workspace at home where you can concentrate on your work. You should inform everyone in the house about your nature of work in order to minimize noise distractions during work.

6. Create a career plan by determining the number of hours you wish to work or the list of responsibilities you may prefer to specialize in. You should also think about whether you want to work as a regular employee or as an independent contract worker to help you manage your work time and potential income effectively.

7. Develop a specific field of VA job to increase your market value. Try to learn new skills, expertise, and even working tools to help your career expand further and allow you to demand higher pay. Aside from being a general administrative staff, you may also become the following:

8. Always complete the assigned tasks on time and respond to all queries of the client with respect. This will help prevent misunderstanding between you and your clients, thus helping you gain their trust and confidence in you.

Salary Information

For the clients, one good advantage of hiring a virtual assistant is the flexibility of the work arrangement they can negotiate with the contract worker. Some virtual assistants may receive payouts by the completed tasks instead of by the hours rendered.

The monthly average salary of a virtual assistant is Php 21, 565, or between $350.00 and $400.00 as a start according to Indeed.com. PayScale.com estimates the annual salary for VAs at Php 222,000 per year or Php 192.86 per hour.

Virtual assistants manage just about everything an office administrator performs for a company, but only in a remote office setup. With the increasing number of independent workers looking for a greener pasture via online, job positions for virtual assistants will always be a profitable in-demand profession that is necessary to keep global businesses moving forward.

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