Gone Working

What is a Virtual Assistant & How You Can Become One

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Erin Morris
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Finding a career that allowed me to travel with it had been a dream I’d been striving towards for years. I’ve given most of the popular online jobs a go, like teaching English online, but it wasn’t until I became a virtual assistant that I was able to make a solid enough income to actually make that dream a reality.

I first heard of becoming a virtual assistant when I was living in Myeik, Myanmar and stumbled across the 90 Day VA course. I was skeptical. This wouldn’t be the first course I had signed up for that didn’t live up to its promises. However, now a few months after finishing, I can’t speak highly enough of it and how it has changed my life. Before the 90 days were up I was working with my first client which paid back the entire course investment.

If you have been dreaming about finding a job that allows you to be location independent, travel the world and earn a good income you too will LOVE being a virtual assistant (VA).

Let me tell you why being a VA is perfect for the digital nomad and what they actually do.

A female virtual assistant taking a break from a busy day to go on a hike
Taking full advantage of being able to set my own schedule

What is a virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is an umbrella term for so many jobs. At first, I got caught up with not wanting to be called an ‘assistant’. As I have now found out, this is actually a common concern.

However, being a VA means you get to run your own business.

While you are ‘assisting’ in the running of other businesses, it’s so much more than just being an ‘assistant’.

It’s been almost 6 months since I signed up for the course now and I’ve met so many people who call themselves a virtual assistant. Yet, there’s almost no one who does the same job.

You get to choose the clients you work with and even better you get to set your own rates. Obviously, the more experience you have the more you can charge. Although it’s easy to build experience and skills quickly and you can start increasing rates when you see fit.

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Tasks you do as a VA

Most people start out not knowing what they like. This is why it’s a good idea to apply for all the jobs in the beginning to see what you enjoy and eventually would like to niche down in. 

As well as admin and organisational roles I see the following positions commonly come up:

Requirements to become a VA:

  • Anyone can become a virtual assistant! 
  • You just need to have a fast, stable internet connection

You just want to make sure you are fairly tech-savvy. All of the work is online so you will be dealing with and learning to use a lot of new programs.

It doesn’t matter what your nationality or where you live.

A fear of mine when I signed up was that clients would only be hiring US citizens. While I have seen a few positions that only hire people from the US, that isn’t the norm.

As well as having a good internet connection, you will need to make sure you are self-motivated and able to stick to deadlines. Clients won’t be micromanaging you, and as digital nomads, there are so many temptations you’ll need to learn to say no to.

A very happy woman smiling to the camera holding her laptop in front of a brick wall
Happy as can be with my new career

Why I think it's the best job for digital nomads

What I really love about working as a VA is I’m not restricted to set working hours. My current clients give me tasks that usually need to be done within a week. So long as I get it done during that time frame I am free to choose when and where I work.

What an average day looks like

I love my new lifestyle SO much. Because I choose when I work, my typical day goes something like this:

  • Wake up and work for a few hours. Depending on the weather or the activity I have planned for the day I usually work for about 3 hours in the morning.
  • Go out on an adventure. I try to make the most of the daylight hours as this is what originally drew me to working online (as well as being location independent).
  • Come home in the afternoon and complete any projects or deadlines I have due the following day - I like to stay ahead of my work schedule.
  • Take full days off to go on short trips. When I go away, I make sure to get all of my work done leading up to the trip. Sometimes I take my laptop and do a few little tasks at night.

Something I have found really amazing is that working 40 hours a week when split up doesn’t seem that long at all.

I love working a few hours here and there and it feels like I barely work at all. While this may not be your preferred working style, it’s entirely up to you.

Although not every VA has this type of flexibility. The reason I do is that I choose my jobs carefully. I became a VA to live a lifestyle I love. I won’t choose jobs that require me to be available between certain hours or jobs that have a short turnover on tasks.

Even though I am new to the industry I have made this a priority when searching for suitable jobs.

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Steps to start working as a virtual assistant

If working as a VA sounds like something you’d like to do follow these steps to start your new career:

1. Create a resume

Your remote working resume should showcase your online skills and experience as well as any programs you are familiar with

2. Join Facebook groups

There are lots of Facebook groups for VA’s that advertise jobs and give out free tips and information

3. Update your skills

If you already know what you want to specialise in, take some free or paid courses on that topic. The VA world is quite competitive. If you are able to show you have experience or a course doing something you’ll be more likely to land clients.

If you aren’t sure what you want to specialise in, VA courses are a great way to get a taste of what’s out there. However, there’s no saying you even need to specialise.

4. Apply for jobs

Facebook groups are a great place to find open positions, I have also found work through following potential clients on Instagram and cold pitching people you think may need a VA. Linkedin is also a great resource.

5. Show your personality

The best way to get VA jobs is to forget everything you learnt about applying for jobs in the corporate world. Send an email that is fun and shows your personality. Make sure to include a reference about something you have read on their website or social media accounts. I’ve created a VA starter pack for you (more details below) with email templates that have worked for me.

A barefoot woman standing in front of a temple in Myanmar with her back to the camera
Embracing the digital nomad lifestyle by taking my work with me to Myanmar


Do you need to do a VA course?

If you feel you have all the tools and skills needed to work online then there is no need to sign up for a VA course. The courses are aimed at teaching those who are new to the online assistance world how to do different services for a client and how to market yourself.

However, I wholeheartedly believe that education is so valuable. If this is something you want to do long term then spending a few hundreds dollars to learn new skills and start your career the right way is such a bargain.

One of the hardest parts about starting out is knowing how to create a portfolio, what to put on your CV and where to find jobs. I account my success in the industry to joining the 90 Day VA course.

On top of teaching 11 modules worth of new skills it dives heavily into creating a portfolio, finding and applying for jobs and also topics like accounting, taxes, how to get paid virtually and sending contracts - it’s the full deal.

Prior to signing up, I had a base knowledge from many of the modules and wasn’t sure how useful they would be. Although I actually learnt new ways to do things and specifically doing them with clients in mind.

The course is run as an internship and each module has a homework piece that becomes part of your portfolio. So when the time comes to apply for jobs you are able to say you have experience doing those services.

Another reason doing a course is a good idea is because it allows you to charge a higher rate from the get go.

If you’re unsure if the course is right for you Esther has made this FREE one hour masterclass to give you a bit more info about it.

You get what you put in

As with anything you do, the more effort you put in the better and the more likely you will find great jobs.

My advice for anyone looking to get started as a VA is to create a portfolio that showcases your personality and to keep it organised. I have had numerous clients comment on how organised mine is. Yet all I have done is create a few folders and name each document appropriately.

If you’re super excited and ready to jump on the VA bandwagon, I’d love to give you a welcome pack of things that have helped me get started.

Send me an email at curiouslyerinblog@gmail.com and I will send you through a pack of my favourite Facebook groups, useful websites and email templates that have scored me jobs.

I can’t wait to see you somewhere around the world!

xx,
Erin

*I receive compensation on anyone who signs up for the 90-Day VA course through my link* Read our disclaimer & privacy policy here.

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