How to Become a Virtual Assistant: Step-By-Step Guide (2020)

Are you interested in working from home and earning a living online? Then being a virtual assistant is something you must consider. It’s a laid back job that you can do in your pajamas from the comfort of your bedroom.

With technology so advanced and at our fingertips more than ever, businesses have begun outsourcing small tasks to assistants all around the world. Heck, there are massive companies that are built purely on remote employees.

You no longer have to get dressed in a suit and visit an office. Everyday people like yourself can start building a virtual assistant career today, and all you need is an internet connection.

However, you can’t just jump in and wing it. You need to have a plan if you want to make the most money and turn it into a real side hustle. That’s why today we are going to show you how to become a virtual assistant.

Ahead you will learn how to start finding clients, brand yourself, and more.

Follow along!

What does a virtual assistant do?

Virtual assistants offer a variety of services based on their individual skill sets and what a client needs. You can expect to be performing tasks, such as:

  • Data entry
  • Email outreach
  • Social media management e.g. managing a Facebook group
  • Website management, or adding products to online stores
  • Customer service
  • Managing calendars and schedules
  • Booking flights and hotels
  • Publishing completed content onto websites or edit blog posts
  • Commenting on other websites to build brand awareness
  • Recruiting employees or team members
  • Transcribing audio
  • Translating material into different languages

These are some of the main activities you can be doing as a virtual assistant. Ultimately you will choose what services you wish to offer, so brainstorm your skills and interests. You can then base your virtual assistant VA career off of these.

How much money do virtual assistants make?

Let’s get serious. The potential income of a career or small business is very important in deciding what to pursue.

PayScale for Virtual Assistants

So, how much can you make as a virtual assistant? More than you might think. According to PayScale, the average VA earns an hourly rate of around $20.20, and salaries range from $26,428 – $72,202. 

How much you earn will ultimately depend on whether you are full time or part-time, how much effort you put into acquiring customers, and other factors you’ll learn about in the next section.

​How to become a virtual assistant

These are the main steps you need to take if you want to have a successful experience as a virtual assistant. If you follow these instructions, you are guaranteed to find work and start generating income.

​Step 1: Decide what service you’d like to offer

As we mentioned previously, you need to assess your skills, strengths, and weaknesses before you begin the journey of becoming a VA.

We suggest that you focus on a few of your best skills, so you get neither underwhelmed or overwhelmed. Let us explain.

Taking on too many tasks that cover a variety of topics can leave you feeling disorganized. That’s why it can be better to choose one area, like social media for example and double down on that.

But, you don’t want to limit yourself either. One client that you perform Instagram marketing for might need help with emails, but you didn’t mention that in your resume or pitch.

That’s why you should take one niche, and expand on it. Continuing with the social media marketing example, you could offer:

  • Social media account management
  • Posting content to social accounts
  • Social media customer service

Yes, these are different services, but they relate to one thing. This allows you to take on more income-generating tasks, while not feeling all over the place.

​Step 2: Create a pricing structure

Unless you apply for a salaried virtual assistant job, you will most likely need to create your own pricing structure and bill customers yourself with a tool like PayPal. This is much easier than it seems, and we’ll show you how to do it.

Firstly, you can bill VA tasks via:

  • Hourly prices
  • Per-project amounts
  • Monthly retainers

Billing by the hour is a simple way to begin, as you log your hours and multiply it by your hourly fee. Similarly, you can charge prospective clients for projects in a one lump sum, and base it off of how many hours you believe it would take. In this case, it’s common to charge 50% upfront and the remaining after the work is completed.

If you are going to offer continual services, virtual assistants can also create monthly retainers. These are packages that include a set amount of work for a specific price. The customer is billed at the beginning of every month, and then the work is delivered until the next billing cycle.

There’s no cookie-cutter way to decide how much to charge, but the two biggest factors are how much you need to make a living and what your skill level is at.

Let’s say that you need to be earning $20/hour to pay the bills. That’s your baseline. No, if’s, and’s, or but’s. If you are very talented at a particular activity, you can raise the fee to $25/hour, for example.

​Step 3: Create an online presence

You need to stand out among the sea of VA’s on the internet. To do so, the first thing you need to do take is create an online presence. This begins with social media accounts on the major platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and especially Linkedin.

This lets you brand yourself and showcase a professional image. Here’s an example of how a good virtual assistant social media account show looks like.

Linkedin virtual assistant

Note how this freelancer uses a high-quality portrait, simple cover photo, and sums up her skills in the description. It’s straight to the point, and all of your social accounts should have a similar style.

Furthermore, you can stand out from the crowd with a website. You don’t have to be the Bill Gates of programming to put together a quick site, either. Platforms like WordPress give you pre-built templates to make a high-quality website in minutes.

Here’s an example of what your website and branding could eventually look like.

virtual assistant website

Having your very own website also means that you will attract users from search engines, having job opportunities land in your lap.  It also helps you stand out from other virtual assistant businesses without a strong online presence.

While a website isn’t mandatory when you first start, make sure that you’ve at least create social media accounts before moving onto the next step.

Step 4: Apply for virtual assistant jobs

Now for the fun part: finding virtual assistant jobs. Ensure that you have an impressive resume made that outlines your experience that can translate into being a great assistant prior to applying on the following sites.

virtual assistant is a platform that takes the best remote jobs, companies, and workers, and combines them into one place. Click the “Remote jobs” tab from the top navigation, and enter a keyword into the search bar like “virtual assistant.”

Click any positions that seem interesting. The job listing page will outline responsibilities, compensation, and more information about the company. All of this can, of course, be negotiated.

virtual assistant

Click the blue “Apply” button on the bottom of the page to send in your application.


Upwork Virtual Assistants

Most freelancers begin their careers by completing gigs on Upwork, and you can make a generous living doing so. It is a freelancing platform that skips the hard work of finding potential clients or workers and puts them in one location.

You can sign up for a free account here. The platform has been tightening up their restrictions of who they allow in, so make sure that you:

  • Include detailed experience
  • Complete tests to showcase your skills
  • Use a high-quality display picture
  • Avoid making a broad or generic-looking profile

Once you’re accepted, you can begin sending proposals to jobs you wish to take on. Enter “virtual assistant” or a similar phrase into the search bar to find relevant positions.

Job listings will display the approximate pay, responsibilities, required hours, and other information. You may also have to answer questions that the employer adds to the listing to shortlist the best candidates.

If there’s one surefire way to stand out among other applicants, it’s to customize your proposal. Don’t send a copy and pasted message, because it’s obvious and shows that you lack effort. Take the few minutes to create a personalized message, and you will notice an increase in how many more jobs you land.


SimplyHired Virtual Assistants

SimplyHired is a straight forward job listing site that can help you find lucrative virtual assistant positions. Begin by entering “virtual assistant” into the search bar and hitting “Search Jobs.”

Click a listing from the left sidebar, and a detailed description of the job will appear on the right. SimplyHired is constantly updating their website with new opportunities, so make a routine to check them on a regular basis.

Once you find a VA job that looks promising, click the orange “Apply Now” button. This will forward you to their application form, which may be on Indeed or their company website, for example.

Final thoughts

Working from home and doing your work online is a dream for many people around the world. And, being a virtual assistant is one of the ways you can make that dream a reality.

VA’s help business owners, without a lot of time, complete tasks like responding to emails, customer services, and social media marketing. If you’re a well-rounded individual with computer skills, this career path is made for you.

The key is to lay down the foundation with professional social media accounts and an impressive resume. Brainstorm how much you would like to charge, and what services you will focus on.

Sign up for freelancing platforms like Upwork, and apply for positions on remote work websites, such as and SimplyHired. Make a routine of checking these places regularly to maximize your chances of landing work.

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