Virtual Assistant With No Experience? Yes, you can!
You’re reading this article right now because you only have one question in mind:
Can I really become a virtual assistant even if I don’t have any experience?
The answer, my friend, is this: Hell yeah, absolutely!
However, I guess the more apt question should be:
Why do you want to become a Virtual Assistant?
An article from Entrepreneur stated that the rise in the number of modern-age entrepreneurs all around the world is one primary reason for the increase of demand for home based virtual assistants.
It should be noted that the term virtual assistant encompasses a wide variety of roles. A quick online search for Virtual Assistant job posts will reveal that the task requires a lot more than your typical general admin work. You’ll see entrepreneurs looking to outsource tasks like website and graphic design, video editing, social media management, email handling, and more.
And it’s not just here in our country. Globally, the rise in the number of virtual assistant roles can be credited to the following reasons:
Ability to work anywhere (as long as there’s Internet connection)
Increased output, focus and productivity (based on this study)
Low overhead costs for employers
Reasons why you want to work as a virtual assistant
Picture this scene. Your alarm rings, it’s 5AM. Time to get up and prepare for work. It’s an hour-long commute but you allot an extra hour just to be safe. MRT’s stress-inducing breakdowns and EDSA’S legendary snail race is as common as Pinoys eating rice. Remember that popular meme in FB:
“Papasok kang empleyado, darating kang Mandirigma”
or this one:
You arrive at work, 5 minutes before your shift, comb your (now frazzled) hair, settle in your desk, turn on your computer, take a deep breath and start the day of an endless barrage of workload. Amidst the ton of paperwork and incoming calls you tell yourself, “There’s got to be a better way”.
Whatever your reason might be, being a Virtual Assistant can be an incredible opportunity to earn at the comfort of your own home. What makes it awesome, you ask? Let’s have a quick look.
Flexible work schedule
Unless the job requires you to work on a designated schedule, you can adjust your work hours according to your preference.
Work anywhere you want
Whether it’s on your bed, couch, favorite coffee shop, by the beach, or anywhere else, as long as you have the essentials (laptop, internet) you can pretty much work anywhere you want.
Unlimited income potential
Since you are not tied to just one job, you can get as many clients as you want—as long as you can handle it.
Spend more time with family
One of the main reasons for freelancers. Since it’s the job is online, you can work from home and spend time with loved ones.
Some of us are stay-at-home parents who want to earn while still running the household. Some are students who want to work on the side for extra cash for school. Sometimes, it’s the burned out employee who want to get off the neverending, life-sucking corporate rat race.
Whatever reason it might be, you’re not alone. You’re not the first one to ask yourself, “Is there a better way?”
What does a Virtual Assistant do?
Admin Tasks / Call Handling
Prepares documents, typing tasks, customer service support, answering and returning calls
Marketing / Web Support
Manages website and social media channels
Point of Contact for hired web content web contractors
Prepares financial reports, record keeps bills and other financial documents
Researches online for various content/topics given by the client
Keying and saving data on spreadsheets and other types of databases
Creates reports and PowerPoint presentations
Filtering, responding to emails on client’s behalf
Creating Travel Arrangements
Finding hotels, booking airfares and mapping out trip itineraries both for business and pleasure
Personal Task Management
Handling tasks based on your client’s personal daily to-dos (sending thank you notes, ordering online, etc)
Managing and updating your client’s calendar. Book meetings, sending timely reminders
Handling Specialized Tasks
Applying a VA’s specialization. Dropshipping, Shopify, WordPress, Excel, Translation, etc
Types of Virtual Assistants
Social Media Virtual Assistant
- Creates and manages pages for your businesses in LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and others
- Creating and curating content to share on social media channels
- Measure and monitor public engagement across social media platforms
Blogger Virtual Assistant
- Researches and creates content for websites and social media pages of client’s businesses
- Makes sure content and data is relevant and useful to target customers
- Create product descriptions
Ecommerce or Shopify Virtual Assistant
- Manages client’s ecommerce business or store
- Order processing
- Website maintenance including editing product images and descriptions as needed
- Customer support
Real Estate Virtual Assistant
- Running online ads
- Setting up appointments with potential buyers and sellers
- Researching properties in key client target markets and areas
- Updating listing
- Data scraping for real estate information and posts from sites like Oodle and Craigslist
General Admin Virtual Assistant
- Email handling
- Appointment booking and calendar and management
- Support tickets handling
- Client follow-up, reach out
Tasks outsourced to Virtual Assistants
The scope of what a VA does varies so wildly that I can confidently say that no two virtual assistants are alike. The number of skills and mastery of each VA depends on both experience and passion for learning and this makes each one unique and incomparable. Here are the most common tasks that client usually outsource to virtual assistants.
|Email Management||Liaison officer|
|Set up autoresponders||Handles recruitment|
|Appointment booking||Social media management|
|Client and customer followup||Creates reports|
|Act as receptionist||Creates presentations|
|Manage client’s calendar||Blog and website mgmt|
|File organization||Content creation|
|Building databases||WordPress management|
|Researcher||Moderator for comments|
|Personal Assistance||Comments on posts|
|Hotel and Flight arrangement||Bookkeeping|
|Transcribing video and audio||Data Entry|
|Minute taker||Invoice management|
|Creates reports||Graphics design|
|Prepares slideshows||Ecommerce handling|
Top 8 Qualities Virtual Assistants Should Have
What are the most important qualities that a VA should possess? Here’s a round up of the most coveted traits that an employer always looks for in their virtual assistants.
Reliable and Consistent
If I was a client and was asked what qualities a VA should have, these are my top two. Why? Clients hired you to be their go-to person for tasks they can’t manage themselves. If they can’t rely on you to do this, what’s the use? To handle tasks and do them consistently is your number one job.
Accessible and has Good Communication skills
Being available to your client and having an open communication is critical to doing your job well. Let’s say they need something done 2 days from now. They email you today but you were only able to check your email the next day. You now only have 24 hours to do it. There goes your trip to the supermarket. The scheduled visit to the dentist. Not fun.
You have to be accessible and always be on top of things. I’m not saying you should blindly follow their every whim, 24/7. My point here is to keep communication lines open so that you’re always on the same page with your client. If you feel you need more time for a task, or can’t accommodate the extra work, let the client know. Acknowledge their messages by responding. One thing that perhaps everybody hates is the feeling of being ignored.
Remember: If a client constantly needs to reach you for updates, you’re not doing your job properly!
Manages their time well
Let’s rephrase Uncle Ben’s oft-quoted phrase in Spiderman. For freelancers, here’s a more apt version: “With great freedom comes great responsibility”. At home, there’s a lot of distractions. It’s so easy to give in to the call of social media and Netflix. I should know, I still struggle with this myself sometimes. But setting a schedule for work and sticking to it is the best way to fight off procrastination. As a VA, managing your time well can make or break it for you.
Also Read: A 5-second hack to double your income
Resourceful and Versatile
Finds solutions and researches on topics they are not familiar with. Google and YouTube are your friends. Clients don’t expect you to know everything either (unless it’s a very specific niche that requires a specific skill set) so be confident and honest enough to tell them that you’re not familiar with it but you’ll be happy to find out and get back to them
Setting clear timelines and providing constant updates. If you can, always let your client know when you can do something or report the progress of a certain task. Even if they are not asking for it, they appreciate it.
Pro-active and Adds value
Always try to be a step ahead. If you realize a certain step or process needs to be handled, let your client know about it and if possible, handle it yourself. This is a strong message to your client that you are a problem-solver and valuable in their business.
Filipinos tend to be shy in general when communicating with foreigners. I’ll let you in on a secret: They like it and appreciate it so much more if you speak your mind. Confidence is what will drive you to greater heights in your VA career. As you get more clients, you’ll interact with more diverse personalities. Having the confidence to say what you need to say and point out things is a skill that you should always practice.
Different clients, different needs, varying schedules, skill sets, and more. You need to learn to adapt and be ready to handle the ever-changing demands in this line of work.
To give you a better of idea of the current tasks/skills clients are looking for in Virtual Assistants, I checked out UpWork and Craigslist (PH) for some VA posts:
Actual Virtual Assistant Job Post Examples
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT JOB POST SAMPLE #1
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT JOB POST SAMPLE #2
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT JOB POST SAMPLE #3
21 Websites that hire Virtual Assistants
There are plenty of websites out there you can check out if you want to work as a virtual assistant. We are listing 25 sites here and will highlight the top 5 popular VA websites in the Philippines.
The site boasts of being “The Number One Provider of Dedicated, Experienced, Filipino Virtual Assistants” in their welcome page. They have been operating for more than 10 years, with its main HQ being located here.
Task Bullet is one of the premier Virtual Assistant websites that connect VAs with potential clients all over the world. They feature a unique “Bucket System” for pricing, wherein clients only pay for hours when VAs are actually working. The hours are good for 3 months, similar to prepaid load schemes where you only get charged when you use the service.
The company established itself as an outlet for hiring full-time and part-time professionals from the Philippines. It caters to a wide range of clientele, with professionals from Virtual Assistants to Web Development, Digital and Social Media Marketing, Graphics and Design, and more.
Similar to popular talent marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer, OnlineJobs.PH offers a plethora of services for clients both local and abroad. Utah-based founder John Jonas started the company after hiring his first-ever full-time Filipino worker back in 2006. With thousands of jobs to choose from on a daily basis, the site is a popular destination to Filipino talents looking for online work.
Based on the Philippines with locations in Davao and Manila, Pepper VA is an online talent market hub solely dedicated to providing Virtual Assistant services. They focus on providing VA services to small and medium companies worldwide.
Here are other websites where you can apply as a virtual assistant:
Starting your Path to becoming a Virtual Assistant
Identify what you’re good at AND what you want to be good at
You have to be honest here and recognize the stuff that you’re good at. Do you crunch numbers in Excel like a champ? Are you good at responding to emails? Handle calls like a boss? Are you a Shopify savant? Write articles like a pro? Proficient in calendar scheduling? The reason why I suggest identifying your core skills is because you’ll be leveraging them as strengths when pitching your services to clients.
Learn the most common software/apps used by VAs
Determine your availability
What are your preferred working hours? Does it correspond with your clients? If not, how flexible are you willing to be? Be realistic, commit only if you can absolutely work on the agreed upon schedule.
Prep the necessary tools/equipment
I’m a big proponent of starting with whatever you have. It’s just wasteful buying new gear when you have a perfectly functioning computer. In my opinion, if your computer was manufactured in the last 3 years, you’re all set for hardware.
However, the most crucial component is your internet connection. Stability is number one. A wired 3 mbps or higher connection is preferred. You should also have a backup plan for the occasional hiccup in connection. A webcam might be needed on some instances. Later on, you can just upgrade your equipment once you have the funds if you feel you really need it.
Sign up on online services like UpWork, VirtualStaff, Craigslist, and others
I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more services out there (feel free to comment below for suggestions). This is where you will be starting your journey as a VA. You sign up for these services for the purposes of landing your first client.
Create a strong profile, polish up your resume
- I can’t stress enough how important this step is. This could spell the difference between getting the job and getting ignored. Since you don’t have experience yet, you can try showcasing your strengths and skills on top of your description (as mentioned on section A). This will allow the client to see what you’re good at and gauge if you’re the best person for the job.
- Try to use bullet-style format for easier reading.
- Use the most professional-looking photo you have for profile picture.
- Use or create a professional-looking email address if needed
- Take tests to build up your portfolio
Send concise, well-thought out cover letters.
When applying for a job, try to match the content of your cover letter to the skills/requirements they are looking for. Never send out generic templates because clients will notice and get turned off. Spending a few minutes customizing your template will make the cover letter more personalized and fit for the job.
Join Facebook VA Groups to get tips, tutorials and job opportunities
Put your love of FB to good use! There’s a ton of Virtual Assistant groups in Facebook right now created by people who are willing to share tips and experiences to make your journey easier.
Cultivate the Right Virtual Assistant Mentality
This section of the guide aims to tackle the not-so-often discussed psychology behind what it really takes to become a virtual assistant. Sure, you can have all the tools and resources to learn to prepare yourself skill-wise. But how about the right mindset? Most aspiring virtual assistants need to know how to properly manage not only their emotions, but also their thought-patterns when applying for and working as a virtual assistant. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ideas that any virtual assistant should try to cultivate.
Shed off the “Employee Mentality”
This applies to all sorts of jobs, actually. But why is it especially important to virtual assistants? Because most of us are used to a regular employee setup where we typically do the absolute minimum simply to keep our jobs. Why exert extra effort, right? “Di naman ako pabida” or “Pwede na yan“.
Sadly, if you’ll apply the same mindset as a virtual assistant, be prepared to be replaced. There are lots of capable and willing virtual assistants out there—what’s stopping your client from replacing you if they find your performance sub par? If you put yourself in their situation, you’ll agree that it’s fair since it’s perfectly reasonable to look for someone more efficient and worthy of the salary you’re providing.
Start acting like a true professional
Your client hired you for your specific set of skills. This means that you’re expected to provide the output on a regular basis and look for ways to make your client’s business better. Why? Because if you’re intent is to simply be an employee, then you’re missing out on the great opportunities to develop your existing skill set and get better, higher paying jobs. What do you think your employer will say if you pro-actively find solutions and improve their workflow overall? That’s right—they’ll see you as a natural go-getter and problem solver. They’ll acknowledge you as a truly valuable asset and they will do anything to keep your services.
I know of a virtual assistant whose client from abroad sent him a huge wide screen monitor for doing a good job. Why do I know this? Because I was the one who bought his old monitor through TipidPC. True story. As you build yourself as a valuable resource, your clients will notice and you can even use this as leverage to acquire better roles and demand an increase in pay.
Cultivate long lasting relationships with your clients
I have a client from Germany whom I’ve written web content for back in 2014. It was a small project, but he found my output outstanding and I communicated with him as if he was a friend. I was never too formal. I didn’t address him as “Sir” (btw, never call them “Sir” unless they tell you otherwise). I made some suggestions on the type of content I thought will work best on his site and even wrote some few articles completely free of charge.
Why do this? If you genuinely try to help someone, not only will you get a chance to build a great relationship with them, you also allow them to see you as an invaluable authority on your field of work. Every couple of years, he’ll shoot a message and ask if I’m up for some writing job. Fast forward to 2018, I went full-time freelance and now work with him a few hours a week on his website.
When you build lasting relationships with your clients, everybody wins.
Bonus: Tips for your first Virtual Assistant interview
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT PRE-INTERVIEW TIPS
• Read what the VA job post is all about, skills and hours required, and gauge your familiarity with the client’s line of business.
• Find a quiet space to practice answering the most common interview questions they might throw at you. Emphasize your strengths and skills relating to the job.
• Make a quick background check what the company is all about, what they sell, the services they offer, and their history.
• Think about how you can position yourself as an investment to their business. Based on your skills, how can you fit yourself into their workflow and add value?
• Hours before the interview, double-check your internet connection and make sure you do a proper check of the equipment you’ll use for the interview (webcam, mic, etc).
• Wear professional clothes and groom yourself accordingly.
• Make sure to have a clean background for the interview. Try to reserve a quiet place in your house. Make sure to advice others to be extra quiet during the interview.
• If it’s absolutely impossible to have a quiet area in your house, try to ask your friends if they can let you do the interview at their place instead.
• Get into the chat/conference room at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Not only will you be able to prep yourself before you go live, the interviewer can also see that you are eager and prepared for the opportunity.
• Five minutes before the interview, send a quick chat to the interviewer to let them know you’re ready.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT INTERVIEW PROPER TIPS
• Your whole aura and vibe should be positive and lively. Smile whenever possible and show confidence in your answers.
• Listen very carefully to each question and don’t interrupt them when they are talking. Focus on answering the core question, if you have to give examples, make sure it is aligned with the main answer.
• Take initiative in showing enthusiasm by also asking them questions as you see fit. This shows you’re highly interested with the job position and to the interviewer him/herself.
• Highlight your strengths subtly, make sure to only insert these during appropriate times.
• Make sure to emphasize why you are going to be a great addition to their company and how you can help boost their business.
• During the end of the interview, thank them for their time and effort.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT POST INTERVIEW TIPS
• Shoot a quick email or chat to the interviewer to thank them for the opportunity and that you look forward to hearing from them.
• Ask them if they have any questions or need anything else.
Virtual Assistant Cover Letter Templates
To help you out in landing your first VA gig, here are some few sample Virtual Assistant templates that you can use as reference when crafting your own.
Virtual Assistant Cover Letter #1
Virtual Assistant Cover Letter #2
Virtual Assistant Cover Letter #3
Source: Best Sample Resume
Top 10 Free Virtual Assistant Resources
WPBeginner – WordPress 101 (Free)
Copyblogger – Copywriting 101 (Free)
Excel Exposure – Excel Training Course (Free)
Constant Contact – Social Media Quickstarter Course (Free)
James Wedmore – YouTube & Video Marketing Training (Free)
Copyblogger – Internet Marketing for Smart People (Free)
Hubspot Academy – Marketing & Sales Training (Free)
Emarketing Institute – Marketing Course (Free)
Open 2 Study – Writing for the Web (Free)
Canva – Creativity Design Course (Free)
An Interview with real-life Virtual Assistant “Dibs”
I first met Dibs through TipidPC. I was looking for a monitor to hook my laptop to for improving my workflow writing from home. He mentioned he upgraded to a bigger monitor already so he was selling his old one. I learned he was working from home as a virtual assistant and he needed the large screen (he has 3, actually) to manage his workload.
Fast forward a few months later, I reached out to him to give HBP’s readers a better insight on how an experienced VA works. He was generous enough to accommodate my request and gave plenty of excellent advice for budding Virtual assistants s out there.
Read on to learn from a pro Virtual Assistant!
What kind of Virtual Assistant work do you do right now?
Currently I work as a VA for one of the largest electronic commerce and cloud computing company in US—Amazon. I do listings and handle promotions to keep our product ranking on top.
I am also a Social Media Manager and connect to our Customers by answering their comments, feedback and complaints as well as answering their private message inquiring about pricing, promotions and website navigation
Do you remember your first Virtual Assistant job? How was it?
I used to be a VA for a Real Estate Company in Alaska and that is where everything started. I do not have background in photo editing but my Boss was kind enough to teach me all the things that I need to know. I learned editing skills (Photoshop and InDesign). That was my major task since I was making flyers for her and managing her email. It wasn’t easy and I learned a lot from her. But I only worked for her for more than 1 month because I found a better job which is almost double the pay and very promising.
How do you deal with your clients?
I always treat them with respect. I am transparent and always speak when I need to. It’s not hard to get their trust as long as you show them that you are worth for it. If I see something wrong in the process, I immediately inform them. If I have a suggestion, I voice it out and believe me, they like that.
As of now I can say that I earned their trust since they are no longer requiring me to use any work tracker to monitor the progress of my work or to see what’s exactly on my screen (most of the VA’s are required to use monitoring software like Team Viewer).
What apps/software/program do you use on a daily basis as a Virtual Assistant?
- You need to have MS office software on your PC (Specially Word and Excel)
- You need to know how Google apps work. (This is a must). Google Docs and spreadsheet + how to use Google Drive and Google Dropbox
You can install software that will help you do screenshot as from time to time you will be needing to show something to your Client and since you are working remotely, sending screenshot is one of the best way to show what you want them to see. I am using JING.
This software will help you do quick screenshot and edit it by adding, arrow, circle or box highlight text and even upload it online so you can either send the picture to your Client or give them the link for them to view what exactly you are referring to.
- You need to have email of course, a Skype or Hangout account that you can use for the interview
- You need to have a Paypal account as most freelancers received their Payroll thru Paypal
What’s your workstation set up like?
You need to invest on your computer as this will be your source of income.
I bought this computer 2 years ago that has the following specs:
- Intel i5 CPU 3.10GHz
- 1 TB harddisk
- 8GB RAM
- GeForce GTX770 video card
- Plantronics headset with noise cancellation feature
- 28 inches monitor and 24 inches monitor (Dual monitor) for easy monitoring
How many hours do you work in a day as a Virtual Assistant?
I am a full time VA so I am working 8 hours a day and 5 days a week
What’s the best thing about being a Virtual Assistant?
The best thing about being a VA is you can work at the comfort of your own home. You don’t need to wake up 2 hours before your shift since you do not need to commute and prepare. You can even work wearing your ordinary clothes and slippers.
What’s the hardest thing about being a Virtual Assistant?
You need to be independent. You need to learn all the possible skills you need to have as your Client is not always there to answer all your questions. You need to research everything before asking them as they do not like “spoon-feeding” or being given too much help with something and is not making enough effort themselves.
Making notes when they are teaching you will greatly help so have your notepad always ready and you can also download video recording app to record the instructions (if it’s via Video call).
Any tips for readers who want to become a Virtual Assistant?
If you are still employed and planning to be a Freelancer, I suggest that you don’t quit your job right away.
I know there are many platforms now where you can get clients and start but trust me it is NOT that easy. Also, make sure to list all the applications you sent and do not entertain all emails that you will get and is offering you a job specially if you did not apply for it and the offer is too good to be true.
There are many scammers now and targeting freelancers. If they are asking for a certain amount before you start (as “deposit”), forget it. If they offer you a high compensation package and then ask you to receive money and transfer it to your Boss via Paypal where you’ll get a percentage for every transfer, forget it—it’s money laundering and it’s illegal. This is rampant now and many of my friends working as freelancers already received that kind of offer over and over.
You can start part time while you are still employed so you will know how everything works and you can tell yourself personally if you can and if you’re fit for the role. If you already submitted many applications online and you are not getting a reply, that is okay. Just keep trying and remember that you are competing with other Freelancers. Take time to review your resume and cover letter. That is your passport to freelancing world. Good luck!
Ready to take the leap?
Once you get your first couple of clients and spend a few months getting the hang of being a Virtual Assistant, you’ll find your comfort zone. While this is good, keep an open mind to learning more skills and improving what you currently know. Embody the good qualities we mentioned here and I promise, it will open up bigger and better opportunities in your VA career.
It’s now or never. As my wallpaper laptop says: