Looking for a job that’s as flexible as you are? Consider virtual assisting. Virtual assisting can be done from almost anywhere, at any time. Both the job description and the pay are widely variable. And while you’ll earn way more when you have sophisticated skills, it’s a job that nearly anyone can do. You simply earn more as you build experience and skills.
What is virtual assisting?
Much like the “executive assistants” of yesteryear, virtual assistants can serve as the girl (or guy) Friday for busy individuals or companies. This work can involve everything from answering phones to managing email, travel and calendars. However, seasoned virtual assistants also often update websites, manage social media accounts, write, research, and handle data entry and light bookkeeping.
Virtual assistants are generally self-employed independent contractors, although they can sometimes be enlisted as full-time employees. What makes their work unique is that it’s almost always done remotely and is often time-flexible.
What do virtual assistants do?
That depends on who is hiring you and the type of virtual assisting you’re willing to provide. Typically, small businesses, bloggers, and influencers hire virtual assistants to do one or more specific tasks, from managing calendars to writing pitch letters. But because the job can involve almost any type of remote service, virtual assistants can call the shots for their own career by specializing in one or two niche areas — maybe bookkeeping, client communication or project management.
By focusing on a narrow niche you can better market yourself to potential clients and charge more than a generalist, who might spend a good portion of his or her day handling rote tasks like scheduling appointments. Of course if managing email, travel and appointments is what you like and are good at, that can be your specialty too.
Required skills and equipment
You will need a computer, high-speed internet and, most likely, a smart phone.
Outside of that, you must have good organizational and communication skills to work in this field. You should also be self-motivated, reliable and have basic computer skills, since most of your work will be done remotely. However, there are generally no specific education or certification requirements.
That said, if you have experience with popular technology programs, such as Excel, QuickBooks or Asana, you can earn considerably more. Likewise, virtual assistants who understand WordPress, SEO or know how to engage followers on social media platforms also can charge premium rates.
How much does virtual assisting pay?
The average hourly rate of virtual assistants is $19 per hour in the United States, according to Zippia. However, you’d probably earn less as a new VA, particularly if you work through an agency that will take a cut of your pay. New virtual assistants can earn anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour.
But virtual assisting becomes highly lucrative as you gain experience and skills. An experienced VA can make $50 or even $100 per hour, depending on the type of work they do and the clients they work for. VAs who are good at social media, SEO and WordPress are in particular demand and can charge upwards of $35 an hour.
Where to find jobs
Best online platforms to find virtual assisting jobs depend on your experience and skills. Here are six platforms where you can find work as a VA, starting with those that welcome new VAs and moving to those that expect experience, but pay more. Know, however, that you’ll earn the most when you break out on your own, offering your services independently.
Fiverr is a broad freelancing site that’s one of the most popular sites to set up as a beginner VA. But this site comes with a warning: You are competing with freelancers from all over the world here and some charge as little as $5 an hour for VA services. You’ll need to differentiate yourself to charge decent rates. Fiverr also charges a 20% commission, so if you charge $5, you net $4.
On Fiverr, freelancers create a seller account and a “package.” This package is an offer of services which describes what you’ll do and how much you charge. The site encourages freelancers to create three offers — a basic, standard and premium — for each service. One VA, for instance, describes herself as a “creative” virtual assistant, offering a basic package that includes an hour of blog writing, graphic design or social media assistance for $40. Her premium packages simply provide additional hours of work for the same hourly rate.
TaskRabbit is a broad-ranging freelance site, where you can advertise your services as a virtual assistant, handyman, electrician, errand-runner, personal shopper — just about anything. You create a profile emphasizing your skills and experience. TaskRabbit allows you to set your own rates and accept or reject any jobs presented to you. Outside of a $25 sign-up fee, the freelancers who work here pay nothing to the site. Instead, the site marks up client bills to pay for the matchmaking service.
There are no specific requirements to sign up. However, you’re likely to get more work, if you have a recommendation or two. Seasoned “taskers” suggest that you go into the site first as a client to see what your competition says and charges and then draw up your profile to be competitive. A quick review of virtual assistants on this site found the bulk charging between $25 and $35 an hour.
Time Etc. enlists freelance virtual assistants to answer calls and email, schedule appointments and do other remote tasks. Virtual assistants, who do everything from typing and schedule management to social media marketing, can work as little as 5 hours per week picking hours that work for them. But the company asks that you have at least a few hours during the normal business day to provide services.
Time Etc. pays $17 per hour to start and allows assistants to get regular raises. However, the site pays VAs just once monthly and doesn’t offer full-time work. Both customers and employees appear to be happy with Time Etc., and the company is highly responsive to employee comments. When a virtual assistant complained on Glassdoor that her hours didn’t qualify for a pay hike even though she’d been working for the company for over a year, for instance, Time Etc. responded with a new pay formula to get this assistant a raise.
Belay matches remote workers to companies needing service in four areas — social media, virtual assisting, accounting and bookkeeping. Worker reviews are generally positive and the site promises pay ranging from $15 to $30 per hour. Notably, Belay arranges remote work for both contractors and its own staff. But the site expects you to be available during normal business hours (Atlanta time), Monday through Friday. So it’s also a bit less flexible than many virtual assisting jobs.
Boldly specializes in finding “business-grade” virtual assistants — those with experience and journeyman-level skills. The company actually hires its remote workers as employees, so you get benefits, including paid time off. The site works with Fortune 500 companies, matching virtual assistants with specific jobs and corporations. The site expects its virtual assistants to have at least 7 years of experience. But pays better-than-average wages, starting VAs at $24 to $28 per hour.
Boldly is looking for long-term employees, however. It specifically wants people willing to work at least 25 hours a week during the Monday through Friday work-week. The site favors military spouses and others who want a full-time remote work.
Robert Half is a major staffing firm that connects workers with both full-time and part-time jobs in a variety of fields, including administration. Administrative positions here typically pay between $20 and $30 per hour, but many of them require in-person attendance. If you want a virtual assisting position, you’ll need to search for “remote” jobs and filter through some less-relevant positions in addition to those that you’ll qualify for.
Notably, most of these companies are charging clients higher hourly rates than they pay you. When you have the necessary experience and don’t mind finding your own clients, you can cut out the middle man and earn considerably more on your own. However, they can be a great way to build skills and a loyal clientele.
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