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Tips to get started as a VA and find your first client!

Here is another post that I wish I would have known about before I started blogging. I feel like my forte in work has always been my administrative and project management skills. If I had created my own business like this before blogging, well, things would be very different.

Since I didn't do that, I know you can benefit as a Virtual Assistant if you have the skills it takes.

What is a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an administrative assistant/support team member to help with whatever needs done. What tasks, you ask? Literally whatever the person hiring you needs to have done.

Job duties can range from managing a personal calendar to managing an editorial calendar. There are so many ways to work with someone which is why being flexible is a key to your long-term success.

VA Qualifications

VA's should have a prior experience with many software packages. Popular choices are Word, Excel, Powerpoint. But, now that translates to using Google Drive and creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. A VA must also be comfortable communicating online and via phone (or Google Hangouts and Skype instead).

Paying attention to detail is critical since you will be acting as a representative of the company. Also, excellent customer service skills. You may be interfacing with clients or stakeholders in the company, and need to offer superior customer service at all times.

Personally, the VA's I see as most successful are the ones who require limited direction and are a self-starter. I've seen some crash and burn because they require a lot of hand holding. That just won't fly for VA's (or anywhere for that matter).

Define Availability and Expectations

The key in being a successful VA is understanding the inner-workings of the company's operations. Even if it's an independent business owner (like me), the more you can streamline communication and offer efficiencies, the more invaluable you will be. But, in order to do that, you need to understand what improvements can be made in the day-to-day operations.

Make realistic promises. Start off slow and add clients or responsibilities for clients gradually. The quickest way to lose a good client is by under-delivering. You will the client's respect and trust.

Be very clear with what days of the week you work, and even your hours. If you need Sunday off, that is totally fine. Just let people know in advance so they can schedule accordingly.

Clearly define your services. When your clients understand up-front what your specialties are, they will be equipped to know what kinds of projects or tasks they can delegate to you.

Given the nature of VA work, defining your availability is also extremely important. You could literally work all day and all night since you're at home. You don't want to do this! Not only will you get burnt out fast but you will be less productive without some rest.

Tools Required to Start as a VA

The most common and I would say necessary tools for the job are the most current version of Microsoft Office. You should have and be comfortable using Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access. If you are working with clients that use the web, understanding HTML is a plus! You can often attend free classes at the local libraries on these software packages.

So much of a VA's work is based online so having DSL is crucial. Also consider having a backup source in case your DSL is down so you can continue with projects. Being familiar with Google Hangouts and Skype is a also a plus since that may be how you communicate with clients.

The overhead costs for VA's are minimal. So, put your investment into your home office equipment and purchase quality over price. Having the latest technology on hand and continuing to acquire and master new skills will increase your desirability and worth in the eyes of your clients. It will also demonstrate your commitment to your career.

Getting Clients

Getting that first client is the biggest hurdle, but it's not impossible. If you know friends who are online, ask them if they need help. Possibly barter your services in exchange for a testimonial on your site or LinkedIn. Getting a recommendation from someone who is influential can go a long way!

Also start with some of the sites I mentioned in another post in this series, Make Money Doing Freelance Work Online. Again, you may want to consider those lower paying jobs initially to get those referrals.  In time, you can establish your true hourly rate and it may just be quadruple what you started our earning!

I can't stress this enough:  pay attention to your accuracy and final product that you submit to your clients. Meet all of your deadlines, and know at least two days ahead of time if you are not going to be able to meet them. Communicate that to your client before the project is late and keep in communication on a daily basis from the beginning to the end of all projects with brief status reports. This will ensure your rate stays the same and you continue to get referrals.

Smart business owners understand the value of a VA. For my business, I know I can hand off projects and a team member manages it to the end. That confidence I have is really priceless. I know that delegating projects to talented individuals will help me make more money down the road.

If you have a unique way to earn money from home, please share it with us.
I would love to include your experience with our readers!

More in the Earn Money from Home Series

  1. Start a Homemade Cake Decorating Business
  2. Make Money Doing Freelance Work Online
  3. Start a Sewing and Alteration Business
  4. How to Self Publish an eBook to Earn Income
  5. Offer Babysitting Services
  6. Internet Research from Home
  7. Earn Money as a Home Organizer
  8. Selling Online to Make Extra Income
  9. Start a Small Business Doing Odds and Ends Jobs
  10. Earn Money By Creating How-To Videos
  11. Seasonal Tax Preparation to Earn Additional Income
  12. How to Make Money Blogging
  13. Home Cooking or Baking Business
  14. How to Earn Money as a General Transcriptionist
  15. Make Money with Mystery Shopping

About Andrea Deckard

Andrea Deckard is a personal finance expert and speaker. She lives by the following motto, "save on what you need so you can spend on what you want." She started Savings Lifestyle in 2008, and long-time readers remember the site as Mommy Snacks. Andrea is a go-to resource on frugal living for local news outlets such as WDTN, WGRR, and as well as national outlets like Good Morning America. She has also been featured in multiple national publications.

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