By Roo Ljutich

 

7 steps to becoming a virtual assistant for free

Have you spent hours on your phone searching every possible combination of “earn money from home with no experience and low startup costs”? Tired of setting up countless Etsy shops and online tutoring accounts?

The grind is overwhelming, yet we keep coming back again and again convinced, there is a better way.

There is! Follow these 7 steps below on how to become a virtual assistant for free. As a virtual assistant, you work on your schedule, charging your rates, with clients you chose. It’s that simple.

Before discussing the 7 steps on how to become a virtual assistant for free, let’s go over some of the basics. 

 

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?

 

A virtual assistant is a private contractor. They are hired remotely to assist businesses with administrative, creative, and technical support.

Essentially, it is a broad category of remote workers who help businesses run smoothly. This job can be anything from website creation, to email management, to project management and more.

 

WHY SHOULD I BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT?

 

7 steps to becoming a virtual assistant for free

Today, remote workers are twice as likely to earn salaries higher than $100K/year than traditional workers. 

They also consistently report being happier and more productive than they were at a desk job.

Virtual assistants enjoy the freedom of setting their own schedule and being their own boss. Not to mention being able to work anywhere in the world with just their laptop.

 

WHAT SERVICES DO VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS PROVIDE?

 

There are a variety of services a virtual assistant can provide. Chances are you have experience or interest in a few of them.

There are three main areas for virtual assistants to work in: technical, creative, and administrative. 

What are you good at? Take some time to browse this list of 150+ options of skills you can offer.

A common path to starting out is to work as a general virtual assistant. As you gain more skills, you can niche down your services. Specializing often allows you to increase your rates, while also allowing you to focus more on what you love. Some great specialization examples are project management, email management, or even real estate. 

 

Ready to Get Started?

 

7 STEPS ON HOW TO BECOME A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT FOR FREE

 

1. TELL YOUR STORY

Your business will start with your brand. A cohesive identity for your business helps people relate and remember you in the future.

A good brand is created around a driving truth. You want your brand to be authentic, allowing your natural passion to shine through. Stick to what you know and write your manifesto.

Start by thinking about your story. What led you to this moment? What do you want to accomplish? Are you passionate about a particular cause?

 

Action Plan:

Sit down with a piece of paper and think about the business you want to create. 

Imagine your business is a person you want to befriend.

Write down everything you can think of about this person.

Things to consider…

What is their tone? Do they sound like an academic? Bubbly like a kindergarten teacher?

What are some significant events in their history?

What subjects are they passionate about?

What type of people do they hang out with?

What is their favorite color?

What is their name? (don’t get hung up on this yet)

Take your time and get creative! 

 

2. BRAINSTORM YOUR SKILLS

What value do you bring to the table? Now is not a time to focus on your self-doubt. Take a real inventory of your strengths.

Have you always been good at calming people down? Does your Instagram live up to Beyonce standards? Do you fold fitted sheets like a pro? Now tap into those skills.

Take a look at Gina Horkey’s list of 150+ services you can offer as a virtual assistant as you brainstorm. 

This list will help you decide your niche, the specialized set of skills you’re going to offer high paying clients. The more specialized your skills, the more value you bring and the higher your rates can be.

 

Action Plan:

Write all your skills down.

Try to set aside your low self-esteem and just write.  

Take a break from this list and come back to it later. Then circle three to five things you are good at and enjoy doing. 

These should be the skills you focus on providing.

 

3. PICTURE YOUR CLIENT

 

Now that you know what skills to offer, you need to figure out who could benefit from your skills. Go ahead and picture your perfect client.

Who would you dream of collaborating with? This person has the perfect project for you, doing something you love. 

Detailing what your ideal client looks like gives you an audience to target your message to. All the written content for your brand should be written with this person in mind. Eventually, they will find you.

 

Action Plan:

Write down everything you can about your ideal client for 30 minutes. 

Here are some great questions to consider if you get stuck.

Some important things to think about are…

What blogs does this person read?

Who do they follow on social media?

Where do they spend their money?

What does their business look like?

It is essential to spend time reflecting on this person. They will define the target demographic for all your marketing.

 

4. CREATE A PRICING STRUCTURE

 

There are a few options when it comes to setting your prices. The market has turned away from the hourly pay scale and high priced retainers in favor of value-based pricing. A great option is to provide flat fee packages that include a bundle of a few high-impact tasks. Here is an excellent place to start when considering your pricing structure.

By anticipating the client’s needs with a developed package, you can attract more of the clients you want.

 

How much do I charge?

The basic formula is to multiply the hours you think a project will take by the hourly rate you need to make to pay your bills. Based on the average, I would say a reasonable starting hourly rate could be between $25–35.

If this number seems too high, I guarantee you’re worth more. Please don’t undervalue yourself! It negatively affects your business and the market as a whole.

You also need to be realistic with your number. Remember you need to start saving for taxes and investing in tools for your business as well.

 

How do I structure my packages?

Creating packages is one of the most challenging aspects of starting a VA business. Packages help you find your specialized clients by catering to their needs directly.

Your packages should reflect the values of your business. Always start with what you’re offering.

How do your skills best suit each of your client’s needs? Let’s say you’re going to offer email management as one of your skills.

Maybe one of your packages will include creating an email marketing campaign for those trying to expand. Another package will provide customer support for larger businesses that need someone to respond to all the emails they already get.

Your packages don’t need to be perfect at this stage. You just need three to four bundles with specific tasks you are comfortable completing.

Don’t forget to leave an a la carte option for clients with a specific project in mind. It is all about anticipating the client’s needs to make things as easy as possible for them.

 

Action Plan:

Get inside the head of your ideal client. What does he really want? Why is she looking for help with her business?

Usually, their needs fall into a small handful of categories.

Building their business.

Maintaining their business.

Specific technical task.

Starting their business.

Create a square for each one of these needs on a piece of paper. In each square, write how your services will help the client meet that need. Repeat this process for each of your skills you identified in step 2.

Note: If you are more comfortable on the clock, you can choose to start with at an hourly rate. People pay higher for concrete results, and packages are the most intuitive way to achieve that goal. 

 

5. DESIGN YOUR BRAND AND SET UP YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

 

Don’t get overwhelmed! At this stage, we are going to develop your brand. Things will start to feel complicated. Chances are you will have to use your computer in ways you probably haven’t before. Make friends with YouTube and be patient with yourself.

If you haven’t finalized a name for your business, now is the time to commit! 

You should also look at your ideal client once more to inspire your creativity.

 

Action Plan:

It’s time to build your online presence. 

Most of your clients are generated online; this is the meat of your business.

Let’s break this down:

1. Get Canva (start free, you can upgrade later)

2. Use THIS to help create a logo.

3. Watch THIS to help create a brand kit.

4. Watch THIS to take a killer selfie. (Edit your selfie HERE if needed)

You can start with a FaceBook business page or even build a website. Take the time to make your online presence professional. 

Use these items to set up a LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook page. You can get fancy with a Facebook banner or Instagram animation to increase your brand cohesion.

Make sure your written content is in-line with your brand. Plan that everything you write sounds like the person you imagined in step 1. Cohesive written content is vital to your brand because it helps people support your story and in turn, your business.

 

6. BRING VALUE

 

Every business owner should be focused on the value their company brings. Quality communication that brings value is the quickest way to build a business.

If you focus on the quality of your skills so you can help people, they will want to work with you more frequently, leading to a more successful business.

The easiest ways to bring value is to…

Engage with those on your current social media networks.

Take the time to answer questions or send some encouragement out. You never know who is watching.

Offer to help family and friends. 

Chances are you know at least one small business owner, and so does everyone you know.

You have a HUGE untapped market if your family and friends don’t even know what you do. Put yourself out there and tell them you are a virtual assistant!

Join social media networks to increase opportunities.

Look for new Facebook groups to join or find a community on LinkedIn.

These groups are a great place to meet people who are running their own businesses. Many people are looking for help, providing an opportunity for you to bring value.

Offer services in exchange for testimonials.

People are very wary of this advice. But I believe testimonials can be a strategic choice if done correctly. Don’t ever work for free.

If you trade your work for a review, only do so with a business in your niche. The arrangement can be a good fit if their site gets a lot of traffic from your ideal client or if you will gain a needed testimonial. 

If you focus on the quality of your skills so you can help people, they will want to work with you more frequently, leading to a more successful business.

 

Action Plan:

You can only bring value to clients you already have. At this point, you should focus on showcasing your value with three samples of your work.

A portfolio is your client’s first real exposure to your work.

Including a personal touch like a welcome letter will go a long way toward helping your client remember you. Don’t forget to include a pricing sheet with all your packages listed as well.

Depending on the services you offer, your portfolio can include any number of things.

Your samples can be projects you have completed on your own or any work you’ve done for friends and volunteer organizations in the past.

These pieces should be chosen strategically to showcase your skills in the niche you have chosen. 

They do not need to be large samples. Instead, you want to showcase the quality of your work.

When creating samples, an excellent method is to look for inspiration on freelancing job boards.

If you see a job listing you’re interested in, create a sample that covers a similar topic.

Do not spend more than one or two days on this. They are only examples of what you can do for a future client. 

 

7. GET LEGAL

 

We left the important technical parts for last. Do not skip this step! You need to become a legal business before you can take on any clients.

I know questions about running a business can be overwhelming. Do I need a business license or can I work under my own name? How do I file taxes?

Make sure to look into the legal requirements in your location. 

Things to consider when writing a contract relate to establishing your ‘rules of engagement’ for client relationships.

Do you offer a specific number of days of support after the work is complete? 

How will you handle unused hours when the client changes plans unexpectedly? 

Action Plan:

Find out the legal requirements in your location. Implement the requirements into your business.

 

NEED MORE HELP?

 

The seven steps on how to become a virtual assistant for free should get you on your way to starting your business.

But you may be wondering…do I need a course?

Most courses cover the some of the same general material you can find in every corner of the internet.

However, when you purchase a reliable training program, the benefit comes in added value. 

Things like…

Do they provide a legal contract template or tax advice?

Is it structured to hold you accountable?

Does it include a community to connect with other virtual assistants?

The added value allows you to tap into thousands of hours of marketing and research that an expert has already done. Not to mention the real-time advice you get from a well-developed online community.

how to become a virtual assistant

Gina Horkey from Horkey HandBook has a highly recommended program called 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. One of the benefits of this course is that students gain complimentary access to the VA Leads Facebook group for 90 days, after which further access can be purchased. This is a supportive community where you can come to find answers to your questions from the Horkey HandBook team and peers. It also features bi-weekly office hours in which the team talks about websites, pitching, pricing, managing clients and more. And finally, it posts leads for VA jobs, which can help you gain new work opportunities. Many of Gina’s students end up getting hired even before they finish the course. Get to know Gina by joining her free webinar on how to break into VA work. Other great resources to check out are our interview with Gina Horkey and our interview and course review with one of her students.

Check it out for yourself! Read reviews on a few programs and pick the one that motivates you most.

 

About Roo:

Roo Ljutich helps entrepreneurs like you reach their audience with successful written content. She founded Advviser after overcoming an autoimmune disease in 2018. Now she creates successful content for businesses in wellness and education while maintaining a blog that supports fellow female entrepreneurs.