Finding a career that allowed me to travel with it had been a dream I’d been striving towards for years. I've traveled the world for years, working abroad wherever I could, but the desire to become fully location independent has been getting stronger and stronger.
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.
The amazing thing about becoming a virtual assistant, which really fit my needs and wants, is that you're in complete control of your schedule and who you take on as clients, while still making great money and focusing on tasks you really love to do.
Even better, this is a job most people are able to do with no prior experience. You'll be able to train yourself to do the tasks you want to sell. But also, you'll probably be surprised at how many VA skills you already have.
- Do you enjoy social media and know how to attract an audience? You could market yourself on social media management as a VA.
- Do you already have a personal blog that you do for fun? That means you know how WordPress or another platforms works and can help other bloggers manage their blog posts.
- Are you super organized and love using excel or other management platforms? If so, business owners would love to have you take over the day-to-day management of their business and keep them on track with tasks.
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).
Now that we're on the same page, let me tell you why being a VA is perfect for the digital nomad and dive deeper in what makes a successful virtual assistant.
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.
While there are tons of pros to running your own business, like freedom of schedule and freedom of who you choose to work with and the virtual assistant jobs you decide to provide, there are some cons to this.
Since you're starting your own virtual assistant business, you'll be responsible for finding your clients. You could get lucky and quickly find one or two clients that give you the amount of work you desire at the price point you want on a long-term contract, but most likely it won't be so simple. You'll be solely responsible for finding your clients, selling your services, and getting them to sign contracts that work well for you both.
Don't worry though, there's a ton of support for this and great communities that help you in your job search and maintaining your VA business. I'll dive more into that farther down.
Examples of Virtual Assistant Jobs & Tasks
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. From becoming a Pinterest virtual assistant to a customer service virtual assistant, there's a wide range of jobs you can take on.
As well as admin and organizational roles, I see the following positions commonly come up:
- Graphic design
- Web design, development and UI/UX
- Podcast Management
- Video editing/management
- Social media strategist and manager
- Sales funnel copywriter
- Pinterest manager
- Freelance writing
- Product design
- Tech positions
Requirements to Become a VA:
- Anyone can become a virtual assistant!
- You just need to have a fast, stable internet connection
You also want to make sure you are fairly tech-savvy. All of the work you'll do is online so you will be dealing with and learning to use a lot of new programs. You can always choose one or two platforms to specialize in and not worry about learning others, or if you'd like to be open to more job opportunities, I'd suggest you be open-minded and patient when learning new platforms.
It doesn’t matter what your nationality or where you live, although some clients will have time zone preferences.
A fear of mine when I signed up was that clients would only be hiring US citizens (I'm from Australia). 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.
Why Being a VA Is 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.
This have given me so much freedom to travel internationally or from within my home country, Australia. I no longer need to wait only for the weekends to explore somewhere new but so long as I keep my clients happy, I'm free to enjoy my time on my own schedule.
This has been something that I'll really struggle to ever want to give up!
An Average Day for a VA
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, if needed.
Something I have found really amazing is that working 40 hours a week when split up doesn’t seem that long at all. My virtual assistant experience has been far better than I ever imagined it would be.
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, based on the clients you find and the type of work you prefer.
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. If I can do it, that means you can, too.
5 Steps to Begin Your VA Career
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 (CV) should showcase your online skills and experience as well as any programs you are familiar with. This resume should be written with virtual assistant work as your focus. Recreate your resume to make sure VA skills stand out and you really showcase your potential clients what you're capable of doing. This is extremely important when you're new to the industry because you won't have any direct experience but will need to twist what you've previously done to fit the industry.
2. Join Facebook Groups
There are lots of Facebook groups for VA’s that advertise jobs and give out free tips and information. I'd highly recommend you join a few of these groups. Don't be shy about seeking support on them. All the groups I've joined are really great, supportive community. I especially love the fact that I've been able to sign clients simply from a Facebook post.
There are also a lot of niche Facebook groups for VAs. For example, social media virtual assistants can find a group decided specifically to that niche.
3. Update Your Skills
If you already know what you want to specialize 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 specialize in, general VA courses are a great way to get a taste of what’s out there. However, there’s no saying you even need to specialize.
There's plenty of people that create a great online business and only focus on general tasks.
4. Apply for Jobs
An excellent place to search for jobs is on Jooble.com. There you browse thousands of active virtual assistant job posts to find the right position for you.
Facebook groups and LinkedIn are also great places 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.
The best thing you can do in the beginning though is to tell everyone you're a VA and looking for work. You might be surprised how many clients you can land simply on referrals.
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.
As an added bonus for you here reading this article, I’ve created a VA starter pack for you (more details below) with email templates that have worked for me.
Do You Really Need to Take a 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. You also learn all the ins and outs to what a virtual assistant provides their clients and you'll gain the virtual assistant training to make you confident when you land your first client.
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 project or hourly 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 organized. I have had numerous clients comment on how organized 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 email@example.com and I will send you through a pack of my favorite Facebook groups, useful websites and email templates that have scored me jobs.
I can’t wait to see you somewhere around the world!