[UPDATE: Since writing this article, I’ve hired four more virtual assistants to my team for a total of NINE! We keep growing! The work is out there, people.
I have another update. Yep, I’ve hired even more virtual assistants — fourteen. When a business gets busier and busier, it needs more VA’s. I’m not lying when I say there’s a LOT of work out there :-)]
I’m excited to bring you this post with guest Gina Horkey of Horkey Handbook for two reasons:
1) I like Gina, and
2) I know firsthand the value an amazing virtual assistant can bring to a business — because I have
five NINE FOURTEEN virtual assistants of my own that help me run my small-but-mighty blog, proofreadanywhere.com!
I’m the instructor for two very intensive courses here on the site (with lots of intense students :-)), but I’ve also got a long list of obligations to fulfill on other projects I’m working on: I work with Janet over at TranscribeAnywhere.com, I teach people how to build online courses, I do consulting work, and I’m a proofreader and I’m a blogger.
Why you need a virtual assistant
There comes a point in your business when you just can’t do it all yourself anymore, especially if you want to grow. This is where having a competent person — a clone, so to speak — to help you accomplish your everyday tasks becomes essential to being able to grow your business.
If you don’t have help, you end up just spinning your wheels and getting pulled in 50 different directions every day. You get into bed at night and wonder, “What the heck did I do all day? I worked all day, but nothing got done!”
I’ve definitely had days like that!
Managing a course, doing your social media, doing all the blogging yourself, and somehow finding time to get in a few workouts each week is a lot of work for one person — especially if that person is also a wife and/or a mom. A virtual assistant who knows how to write well, who can mimic everything I do, can easily take care of a bunch of smaller tasks for me — then I can focus on the things only I can do in my business. That is so valuable to me as a business owner!
Make money as a virtual assistant for bloggers
I actually had my own experience in needing to hire a new VA just recently! When I was looking for a virtual assistant, I was super specific about what help I was looking for. I needed someone who was just as quick to respond to email as I am, who knew how to use WordPress, who understood blogging in general, and who knew how to properly punctuate sentences. When you run a proofreading blog, that last one is extra important — unless you want to get torn to shreds by your readers! When I started looking, I literally advertised that I was “looking for a clone.”
(Yes, I found one!)
In addition to this new VA, I also have several people who help me do other things in my business, such as…
- grade tests and quizzes (yep, a human actually does this!)
- help me answer simple emails and prioritize my inbox
- create and send out custom Certificates of Completion for course graduates
- write guest posts for the blog
- create new and/or improved reference tools within the course content
- design new and challenging worksheets for our punctuation module
ALL of those tasks need to get done, but I simply don’t have time to do it all myself!
So I’m living proof there are crazy-busy business people out there who are in need of some extra help.
How to Make Money As a Virtual Assistant
If you want to learn how you can provide some of these in-demand services, that’s where Gina comes in. Just like I help people start freelance businesses as proofreaders, Gina helps people build the skills they need to become a super-valuable virtual assistant.
I asked Gina some burning, relevant questions about her work as a successful virtual assistant and the course she teaches to help others to learn how to make money as a virtual assistant.
BONUS: To make money online in any capacity, you need a website to showcase your background and skills. Use our free step-by-step tutorial to set up your first professional website in minutes.
Hey, Gina! Thanks for joining me for an interview today. What’s a Virtual Assistant (VA)?
A virtual assistant is someone that contracts with businesses or individuals to do work virtually that they don’t have the desire or capacity to do themselves.
What kind of tasks?
The types of tasks can vary greatly, from email or social media management to editing and formatting blog posts to customer service — the sky’s really the limit. As a part of the course, we came up with 125 services you can offer as a VA and get paid for — and even that’s not all-inclusive.
Basically, anything that you can do to further someone’s business along, make it more efficient, or increase its profitability is a skill you could market.
Wow! I know I have found extreme value in several of my virtual assistants in just my first year in my business. So what kind of skills do you need to become a virtual assistant?
I think a good VA should be proactive, a good listener, naturally curious, and have a decent command of the web and online business.
Being type-A and über-organized certainly doesn’t hurt. If you have a willingness to learn new things and support successful entrepreneurs or small businesses, you can learn all of the other skills over time with the right training and access to tools or software.
Can you share what kinds of people hire VAs?
I think the perfect candidate to hire a VA is a small business owner (brick and mortar or otherwise) who is looking to expand but doesn’t want or need to hire a part- or full-time employee on-site.
Online solopreneurs have made a great niche for me personally, because they are used to contracting virtually and typically don’t have a need or interest in hiring an employee or managing staff.
Hey! I’m a solopreneur. How do we benefit by hiring contractors?
The big benefit to them is that as you’re a contractor, they don’t have to pay you vacation or sick time, benefits, provide a workspace or equipment for you, or be responsible for paying employment taxes.
Is this lucrative? What kind of money can you make as a virtual assistant?
From the limited research that exists, the average North American VA charges between $35-$50/hr. This is still a fairly new field. And, of course, it’s dependent on your skill set, expertise, and the types of clients you’re going after.
From my community, I see people charging anywhere from $15-$80/hr+. Personally, I started offering my services for $34/hr (my equivalent salary at the time). I have since shifted to a retainer model (rather than hourly), which equates to probably almost triple that.
The best way I’ve found to position yourself as a VA is as an investment — not an expense. For example, let’s say your client bills out at $100/hr and pays you $25/hr. If you save your client 10 hours per week, that’s $3,000 per month more in their pocket (or time back with their family).
I totally agree, my VAs are all amazing investments. So how flexible is this kind of work?
Very flexible. Technically, since you’re a contractor and NOT an employee, you dictate how and when you do your work. Now, that could vary client by client, if they need you to man phones or a chat line or something.
If you don’t want to have to be available during certain times, that’s your prerogative. And as long as that expectation is set from the beginning with your clients, it’s a nonissue. Many people (myself included) start by adding their first VA client as a side hustle to their day job.
So in essence, you could fit a part-time VA job around your full-time regular one. This could be for as long as you want in order to just earn extra money. Or it could be until you build up your business big enough to where you could turn in your notice at your day job if that’s your goal.
The beauty of it all is that it’s up to you!
I know many of our proofreading students have started adding transcription and other virtual assisting tasks to their work-at-home arsenal. It can be tough to juggle multiple things. How do you manage your daily tasks?
For my two main clients, I set expectations that I’ll do email management once in the morning and once before the workday is done. Sometimes it’s really early morning and sometimes it’s late morning. Sometimes it’s early afternoon and sometimes it’s late evening. It all depends on that day’s schedule. And because the expectation is that I pop in there twice per day (vs. at set times), it works for all parties involved.
So for someone interested in breaking into this field, what’s the best way to get started as a VA?
Well, if you wanted, you could figure it out on your own like I did.
Or if you want a step-by-step approach to starting and growing a new VA business, you could enroll in 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success.
I definitely see value in knowing what to do before you try to do it 🙂 Crashing and burning is NOT COOL. What does the course include?
The course will teach you:
- What types of services you can offer.
- How to set your rates.
- Address hourly billing vs. a retainer model (and how to move from one to another).
- How to find clients.
- Case studies on how others have been successful.
- And much, much more!
Gina's course is a tremendous value for people who want to expand their work-at-home arsenal by providing virtual assistant services.
I already blabbed a lot at the beginning of this post about how essential and valuable virtual assistants are to busy bloggers and business people. I currently have fourteen virtual assistants performing various tasks, and I’d be LOST without them! But what I like most about what Gina offers is that she takes all the guesswork out of starting your virtual assistant business and finding clients.
Learn more about the services you can offer as a virtual assistant.
For the writers out there, be sure to check out Gina’s other resource on 200+ freelance writing niches. Then let me know if you’re interested in writing for my blog 🙂
FREE BOOK OFFER: The links in this post are affiliate links, which mean I receive a commission if you pay tuition on any of Gina’s courses. I like to make the deal sweeter for you too. If you click the link in this post before enrolling in the paid version of any of Gina’s courses, then send me your tuition receipt, I’ll give you a FREE copy of my 106-page book, The Work At Home Survival Guide.
Do you have questions for Gina? Leave a comment below!
Hold up. You mentioned proofreading. How do I learn more about that?
Enroll in our free 7-day intro course to learn more about using your proofreading skills to earn extra income from home — or anywhere.
Hi there I am interested in becoming a VA but I am in south Africa. Will it be possible?
That’s a great question for Gina! In my experience, VAs can work worldwide; however, to get a better answer, I recommend contacting Gina over at her website. Click here to be redirected. 🙂
I would agree that it’s a worldwide opportunity as we continue to expand into a global economy thanks to the internet. The caliber of clients will depend on your individual skill set and marketing prowess, however. 🙂
If your skills are good and you have a way to get paid, I don’t see why not 🙂
I am very interested in taking Gina’s course. I would like to know if through the course we are shown how to go about a job search as a contractor, or assisted in locating clients. I work a full time job now and would love to earn a supplemental income to pay for school. However I am only available after 2pm into the later part of the evening. Would this be something that may make finding clients as a VA difficult?
That’s a question that Gina could answer. I suggest swinging by her course here and getting in touch with her. You can take a look at the contents of her course here. Hope this helps! 🙂
Hi Yvonne — I can confirm that yes, Gina’s course is all-inclusive in regard to finding clients. She’s very good at it! From 2pm to the evening time is an EXCELLENT availability. Several of the VA’s I work with also have similar availabilities. It all depends on the nature of the work you’re doing. If a client needs you between 9am-2pm, then it could be a problem, but if you’re working on the many other things that are not time-dependent, like spreadsheets, social media scheduling, etc., then you’ll be fine!
I’m also currently working on version 2, which all current students will get complimentary access to (should be out around 4/15/16) and one of the areas that we go much more in depth in is client hunting strategies :-). We’re more than doubling the content actually!
Would love to be a VA and would love to blog write for you too.
I work as an independently contracted VA through a few companies and its really great work! There’s always a variety waiting for you. But I’ve been finding as my blog has been growing that I may need a VA in the future as well- there’s never a moment where they’re not needed! Thanks for sharing.
NICE! The list is really endless of the things bloggers need help with!!
Totally! I’m a VA for 3 clients and I actually contract with a few VAs to do specific things for me (like social media, formatting & editing posts, syndication, etc.). I’m all about being efficient and finding the most qualified person for the job! 😉
The blog is titled “and why I have 5 of them” but it only talks about hiring one person. Why do you have 5 VA’s exactly? What does each one do that is different from the other?
One is my “office” manager — handles paying people, fielding technical issues, moderating forums, etc. One is my email support person who helps me answer emails M-F; one person helps me grade my quizzes/exams for my online course; one is my blogging assistant who helps me create newsletters, schedules social media, and creating new posts; one is a writer/editor; and one is a graphic designer 😀 So ACTUALLY, now I have six VAs 🙂 I keep my office manager and my blogging assistant the busiest.
It’s true. She keeps me busy, and I love it! <-- Caitlin's happy office manager 🙂
Any experience with moms who do not want to work as much in the summer when their kiddos are home from school?
This is Katie, Caitlin’s executive assistant and office manager (<-- VA!). What usually happens when one of the VAs is likely to be unavailable during a period of time (like during a vacation or a schedule change) is that the tasks (depending on what they are) get distributed between the other VAs. It's definitely a team effort! It's a great dynamic, and I absolutely LOVE working as a VA! 🙂
Thank you so much! I am considering this, but I was trying to figure out what I would do in the summer when all 4 of my children are home.
I know that can be tough. I have two young kids — 5 and 2. They’re still home with me for the most part. My oldest attends preschool during my youngest’s nap time. It sounds impossible, BUT if you plan ahead and get a nice list of activities to pull from, you can make it work. The key is to put as many things on “auto pilot” as possible. Make meals ahead of time (lunches, snacks, etc.) and really learn to manage your time. It’s tough, but can be done! 🙂
It’s so impressive how you make it happen so gracefully!!!
Haha! It’s a process, that’s for sure. It’s seriously the best job out there for SAHMs, in my opinion. Your client never has to hear your screaming kiddos (it happens), and you can take breaks for on-the-floor Lego time whenever the kids (or you!) really need it. Having an awesome “boss” helps, too. 😉
This was excellent content! Thank you Caitlin for showing us other ways to freelance in addition to proofreading (my first love). Now I am torn between being a Transcriptionist (Janet’s mini course was super awesome) and a Virtual Assistant.
In your case, I’d vote for transcription first — then you can have that as your focus (it’s an in-demand VA skill!!) before adding other things on through Gina’s course.
I think I’ll finish your course first and then consider Gina’s intro course for $39. I just started a part-time job as a caretaker and this would be my work at home job. I want to learn all I can before trying to find a client, luckily, I have friends in the legal business that might need help. I can ask if a service like mine would be of value to them (when I feel ready) and yours and Gina’s courses can help me get there! I’ve also been struggling to decide whether to take down my blog and set up a proper writer’s website, this sounds like the incentive I need to push me in a new direction! Thank you for getting me started with your free 7 day course!
Sounds like you’ve got the drive! Mindset is key. If you believe you will succeed, you WILL succeed! With some hard work, you’ll make it happen. Have a great week! 🙂
Hi Caitlin! I love the Proofread Anywhere course and am still working my way through the PTs. I’m wonderful how to turn a love of editing into a freelance business for myself at some point to add to Proofing. Will Gina’s course address that?
I think you’ll have all the tools you need after Module 8 in the proofreading course, actually! Just apply what you learn about marketing to reporters to any other niche. Our marketing module is relevant for all industries and we’re constantly updating it 🙂
Is there a discounted rate to do both VA and writer course?
Yep, on the thank you page of either course enrollment is a 20% off discount offer for the other course. 🙂
Also, what if I want to “dip my toe” at $39 but then realize what a great course this is and then want to be a Rockstar? Do I just pay the difference between the two packages?
You can upgrade at any time for the current price difference in the course packages by using a link in the course or emailing me directly. Hope that helps!
This just sounds like the job I’ve always wanted! I always thought I would be a great personal assistant but I didn’t really think I could make it happen in my home town (not a lot of big businesses). I’m starting graduate school this fall and all these services seem like a great compliment to a part-time job. Would you recommend starting off with transcribing, proofreading, or virtual assisting?
That is entirely up to you. Each have their own attributes. Transcribing is less portable than virtual assisting and proofreading; however, it is an excellent way to earn income! I recommend going over all the pros and cons of each for your personal situation to determine what is right for you. 🙂
Very good read. Sharing your ideas to make money as a virtual assistant is great. I am also a virtual assistant and I am happy about this article. This post will definitely encourage people become VAs and earn more money. Just to add, if one wants to become a VA, he must enhance his basic skills such as spoken and written English, typing, writing and computer knowledge. These skills are commonly used in a virtual assistance industry. By the way, this is such an awesome article!.
So glad to hear you enjoyed the article! I’m one of Caitlin’s VAs, and I absolutely LOVE it! It’s a great career choice for anyone looking to make money from home. 🙂
I wish I could take both courses!
Go for it! 😉
Do you uave to have prior experience to be a VA? If so, what kind?
Nope – you can re-purpose skills you already have or I supply resources to learn some new ones. 🙂
Coming from a different angle. As a small business owner that just started, I know I need a VA. What should I look for or ask about to “prove” the VA has the skills that I am looking for?
What are the red flags to watch for?
I always suggest that you start with a test assignment or two week trial – it’s way easier to “break up” if you know things aren’t going to work out. I also have a VA MatchMaking Service here if you want to check it out: http://horkeyhandbook.com/va-matchmaking-service.
I don’t see where it starts at $39. I see $60 x 3, and $150.
Do your courses talk about the fact that, since you’re a contractor, you have to deal with self-employment taxes (usually required to be filed quarterly, rather than just once a year) and the best ways to do that? 🙂
P.S. While trying to comment, I hadn’t seen a lot of the categories or instructions showing up at all until I ran my cursor (with the left button held down) over the area, highlighting the region. Then the text showed up (“Leave a Reply” was visible, but “Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *” Comment” was not, for example, nor were the titles of any of the blank boxes below). 🙁 This isn’t the first website I’ve had that happen on, but it does lead to confusion. 🙁
Free 5 day VA starter course link does not work. Is it not operational?
Kickstart Guide to Proofreading also does not work.
Did not get any downloadables on both the links mentioned above or even in the mail
Thank you for bringing that to our attention. The free 5-day VA course is no longer being offered, and we have removed the link.
I am not a virtual assistant but I have utilized virtual assistant and I know the responsibility and punctuality that they require.My personal virtual assistant in India has helped me lot to reduce my work pressure by providing a very effective and accurate work
It sounds like you know that a good virtual assistant is invaluable! 🙂
It’s really interesting in knowing that virtual personal assistant services can earn money through assisting people.
It’s really interesting to know that virtual personal assistant can do this much for the client and they can earn money.Thank you so much for the information.
I am having a tough time deciding which direction to take. Should I pursue a career in proofreading or become a VA? I have years of administrative experience, which includes proofreading. I have 3 small children so could you recommend which option would be the most flexible to start?
Hi Kat! Thanks for stopping by! There’s no rule that says you can’t do both! My proofreading skills have helped tremendously with my VA role. I would recommend doing as much research as possible on both (and even signing up for any free content they offer) to help you decide. Good luck!
This has all been extremely interesting to me as I am a senior citizen & most of what you have been talking about is new to me especially on the technical side. Of course I know about proof reading as a previous secretary but not at the level you describe. It all seems to me to be quite a lot of hard work which unfortunately is not what I'm looking for at this time of my life. I have published a poetry book & edited it myself but most of that was done at my leisure & over time. However as I live in Australia I would need to use the English spelling & punctuation rules. Would this be a problem if I took your course?
It is hard work, but it can be done at your own pace. What type of punctuation you use as an Australian can definitely change with regard to your client’s preference or requirement. I wouldn’t call it a problem — just something you need to be familiar with.
Is anyone else just getting error messages from the links?
Just fixed the links 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!
Thank you so much for this article! This was exactly what I needed.
Making money as a virtual assistant for bloggers has been very helpfu.. This article explains some really good practices. Excellent insights. Well written!
Thank you so much for this post. For me, as a blog, it is evident why I need a VA. I have one, and excellent content VA.
You've been a great virtual assistant for managing blogs, and I'm thankful you helped me. Keep giving us relevant info about virtual assistant services so other people looking for such an online platform can gain that knowledge too.
We provide virtual assistance to all kinds of industries, and anyone can get in touch with us by clicking on the link above.
Thanks for your mail. How do I get a job as a proof reader
We strongly advise that you take a reputable proofreading course like ours before you go looking for work because there’s a lot to learn! Please check out our free workshop to see what freelance proofreading is all about and what our course offers: https://proofreadanywhere.com/workshop
These are the areas that pinched my interest
1 Social Media Manager
How do I begin which of these will be perfect for me.
To find out which career suits you best, I suggest you do some online research! Google is a great place to start.😊