Thanks to the Internet, more and more people are beginning to work from home. There are more jobs available for home workers than ever before. There are dozens of home business ideas, making it possible for nearly anyone to begin making money from home.
One of those home business possibilities is becoming a virtual assistant. Virtual assisting is growing in popularity as more and more business owners look for ways to outsource some of their more mundane tasks. If you are organized, and a self-starter, there is a chance that you could excel as a virtual assistant.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant provides a variety of administrative services to others, usually remotely. Generally, these services include assistance with technical and creative items as well as administrative items. Some of the duties that a virtual assistant can carry out include:
- Scheduling functions on behalf of someone else
- SEO functions
- Social media posting and submissions
- Technical writing
- Drafting memos
- Answering emails
- Making phone calls, and answering the phone
- Link building
- Secretarial work
- Transcription work
- Comment moderation
There are other assisting-type duties that virtual assistant might have. Those who are expected to complete secretarial duties and more formal administrative duties might need some years of experience as an office assistant in “real life”, or long experience as a virtual assisting. Some jobs, though, like SEO functions, social media, and link building might only need some basic training.
Thanks to VOIP and Skype, it’s possible for some virtual assistants to even act as a receptionist, answering phones remotely. It’s easy to forward a call to the office of a virtual assistant, who can take a message and update schedules, and the caller has no idea he or she isn’t talking to someone at the head office.
It’s possible for almost anyone to make money as a virtual assistant, thanks to the wide range of duties the job description entails.
What Do You Need to Be a Virtual Assistant?
For the most part, you don’t need anything specialized to be a successful virtual assistant. As long as you have a computer with broadband Internet access, it is usually possible for you to work as a virtual assistant. You might need a fax machine, but these days most correspondance is done through email. If you are going to be answering the phone, you might need a headset that is compatible with your computer, and that you can use with Skype.
In some cases, you might need certain software, such as QuickBooks to do payroll for someone else, or Excel to create spreadsheets. Find out ahead of time, when possible, what software you might need, and remember that, if you aren’t reimbursed by the client, you an deduct the cost of it on your taxes.
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It can help to have some sort of office space as well. An area dedicated to work, even if it’s just a small space for your desk, can help you get into “work mode”. It’s also a good idea to figure out if the work you are doing might require a quiet space. If you will spend a lot of time on the phone, or if you will be making videos for clients, you might need to make sure that you are in an area that is quiet and professional, or that you work during hours when you know that your family won’t be around.
How to Get Started
There are a number of job boards and web sites that you can visit to look for work that is related to virtual assisting. Indeed, even Simply Hired and Indeed, major jobs sites, have listings for virtual assisting jobs. There are forums related to virtual assisting as well. You can also find projects related to virtual assisting on freelance bidding marketplaces like eLance and Odesk. Many of the jobs might not even be listed as “virtual assistant”, but the duties you do can be carried out from your home office nevertheless.
It’s also possible to join a professional organization, such as the International Virtual Assistants Association, for more help and information. These resources can help you find jobs, connect with others in the field, and learn more about the business.
Virtual assisting can be a good job that pays anywhere between $5 and $45 an hour, depending on what you are doing, and how much experience you have. Start small, and look for solid clients, and you can build up a profitable business as a virtual assistant.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.