If there’s a job that most people can do when working remotely; it’s a virtual assistant. The good news is that there’s a growing demand for VAs in the job market and it seems unlikely that in a world of remote working that this demand will abate any time soon.
The best ways to find remote work as a virtual assistant are personal networking, online job hunting, and on social media. Let’s take a look at that in detail, shall we?
Table of Contents
What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?
A VA is engaged to help with various tasks by a business, a department or an individual. While there’s no defined range of activities that VAs are asked to help with, we’ve got a list of some of the more common things you might be asked to do:
- Answer the phone. Like a traditional administrator/secretary would do.
- Manage e-mails. This can be as simple as sorting e-mail into categories or it might involve answering common queries and forwarding mail onto relevant people.
- It may involve uploading posts and sourcing pictures or even writing blog posts. It’s worth noting that blogging generally pays better than a virtual assistant’s wage and you might want to see if this can be treated separately.
- Normally, a VA won’t be expected to write a book or a training course but they may be asked to handle simple tasks that involve creating copy for a website or for a press release.
- Customer service. This is often a large part of a VA’s work and it can be a lot of fun.
- We’d point out that transcription work is very hard work, indeed, without the proper set up including headset and pedals for controlling the conversational flow. It’s fine to be asked to do a few minutes here or there but hours and hours of it should see the employer paying for the right kit.
- Data entry. We think this is also a fairly common task for VAs and we’d expect it to account for about 20% of all work out there.
- Arranging travel. Many assistants are tasked with arranging travel for their employer and their staff.
- Diary management. A VA may also spend some time managing an individual’s diary for them – making appointments, setting meetings, etc.
However, this isn’t an exhaustive list and it’s always worth finding out what you’ll be expected to do before taking a remote job as a virtual assistant.
Flexibility is a key component of the job and we’d expect “and any other duties” to appear on a virtual assistant’s contract.
What Skills Should A Virtual Assistant Have?
Again, because there are no standard tasks for a VA there are no standard skills. It’s worth remembering that a VA who spends all their time on the phone setting appointments is unlikely to need the same skills as a VA who spends all their time blogging and copywriting.
However, in general, we think you’re going to need some or all of the following:
- A reasonable degree of literacy. Unless you’re copywriting, you probably don’t need a perfect command of the English language, but you will need to be able to express yourself clearly in writing and over the phone.
- A high level of organization. This is a key part of an assistant’s role; somebody is paying you to be organized so that they don’t need to pay as much attention to the details. You have to be able to deliver as you’re expected to.
- Strong personal communication skills. You need to be both likable and approachable. You are likely to have to develop a strong relationship with your employer or client as part of the job. VAs are very much a service industry role.
- Is there a job that doesn’t require honesty? We doubt it.
- You’ll need to be able to handle customers and staff members with diplomacy and be able to handle waiting on other people to get things done.
- A VA will be expected to keep things appropriately confidential and not to share their employer/client’s business anywhere else.
How Much Does A Virtual Assistant Earn?
This is a bit like measuring a length of string because each VA role will pay differently and often dramatically differently based on experience and duties performed.
However, the site Payscale shows that a US-based VA can earn between $10.14 and $28.89/hour and that the median rate is $15.73.
They also show that salaried VAs start at about $20,000 and can earn as much as $64,000 with a median wage of $40,000. That’s a pretty good salary for a digital nomad working out of Thailand or Vietnam and a reasonable salary in most places.
How Easy Is It To Find Remote Work As A Virtual Assistant?
We’re going to be blunt about this – the best VA roles are going to come via your personal network. You are far better off asking everyone you know about vacancies and getting on LinkedIn to start your hunt than you are to start hunting online.
Why? Well, we’re going to give you a list of websites in a minute where you can seek work as a virtual assistant but, in our experience, the pay on these sites is shocking. Many of the VAs working through them are not Western-nationals and they compete on price.
Sure, you may be a much better VA than a VA from say, India, but when they will work for $3/hour, how much better are you? Many of the “clients” of these platforms will choose cheap over quality every day of the week.
Back when it was easy to determine what a virtual assistant earned on Elance (before it became Upwork) – we couldn’t find a single VA making more than $20,000. We don’t imagine it has become much better in the interim.
Websites Where You Can Find Remote Work As A Virtual Assistant
Remote Bliss was a top source of remote work for VAs according to one blogger but when we looked, they had umm… well… one job for a virtual assistant. It wasn’t the worst job we’ve ever seen but it was only paying $10 an hour. That’s 14 cents below the entry-level according to Payscale.
We’ve noticed that Flexjobs runs an affiliate program because they want you to pay ($14.95 a month) to find a job. We don’t think that’s the worst idea, it does cut down on competition for work and they do seem to have some high-quality clients but… we object to not being able to see what they have before you pay. Though you can see some details here. If that’s enough for you, you might want to give it a go.
Note: We’re not a Flexjobs affiliate.
Upwork is the world’s second-largest site for finding work online. It’s not trash, but you’ll need to create an account to really review the jobs available and they won’t pay well. However, there are worse platforms to use if you’re really desperate for work. Just make sure to follow the instructions they give to get paid – scammers abound on Upwork.
Fancy Hands is only open to US-based VAs and it mainly involves doling out jobs that only take 15-20 minutes to its VAs. We can’t find the rate of pay but our guess is somewhere around the terrible to average at best.
VA Networking is a forum and training service for VAs. Not only can you connect with other VAs to get tips on finding work but you may also find potential employers stalking the forums looking for workers. If you do secure work via VA Networking, it’s less likely to be a scam than on the bigger job boards but we’d still advise some caution when accepting work.
We’ve had no experience of TaskRabbit which is a US-based odd-jobs site. We’d expect it to only be of interest to US-based freelance VAs and for the money to be pretty poor too. You need to register and pass a background check to work with TaskRabbit. This is a good thing for clients who can feel confident that their workers are reliable.
Finding work on Craigslist always presents the would-be employee with a certain amount of risk. While there is VA work there, you need to do your due diligence before accepting any work from Craigslist because for every good person advertising there is at least one total git.
Which stands for Work at Home Mom has a jobs board. We’re not overly impressed with the quality of the page or the jobs and we note that it’s powered by Jobs2Careers which we’ve no experience of either. However, WAHM does have VA jobs available and on that basis – we’re going to include it here.
People Per Hour
An also-ran to the might of Upwork and Freelancer, People Per Hour is nonetheless a big player in the online contracting market. You’re not going to find well-paid work on this platform, but you can find reliable work which is often what you need in an emergency. Digital nomads who get work through People Per Hour are less likely to get ripped off than VAs on other platforms.
Zirtual is a VA subscription service that allows an “all you can eat” service from around $300/month. We don’t know how many vacancies they may have but they do have a careers page on their website where you can apply for VA work.
Hire My Mom
We expected to find more Virtual Assistant jobs on Hire My Mom than we did. In fact, what we found was a large number of highly-skilled professional positions aimed at stay-at-home moms. We heartily approve of that and as there’s an occasional remote work virtual assistant job to be had – they made our list.
It was one of the first freelance marketplaces, but we don’t find it attracts a lot of VA work. However, if you’re hunting for work – you ought to at least check Guru out.
We don’t know if they hire VAs but they certainly sell VA services at Task Pigeon which has a marketplace designed especially for them. It’s worth checking out and seeing if you can work out how to add your services to their portfolio.
Another virtual assistant subscription service is Uassistme. You can always send them your resume and see if they’re hiring. We don’t imagine that they hire very often but it’s always worth a go, right?
We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely is a good source of all types of remote work including for virtual assistants. We couldn’t find any VA work when we looked but we do know they occasionally appear on there. It’s worth checking but don’t hold your breath.
You might also try going through different Facebook groups in industries that interest you and for virtual assistants or digital nomads. We don’t hold out a lot of hope that you’ll stumble over the perfect job, but you might find a few leads.
A virtual assistant’s role may be the ideal job for a certain kind of remote worker or digital nomad. You need some fairly common skills for most VA roles and to be flexible about the kind of work you do.
There are full-time remote jobs as VAs out there, but we’ve found most VAs work freelance with several clients. The best source of these jobs is your personal network but as you can see from the list above – there are plenty of places you can look online for remote work for virtual assistants too