[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’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 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.
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!
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 I was looking for in that assistant. 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 a few or many of these in-demand services yourself, 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 herself 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, all of the other skills can be gained 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 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 be made 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), and 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 get your work done. 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 built 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 nine 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 getting started and finding clients.
Learn more about the services you can offer as a virtual assistant.
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.