How to be an virtual assistant!
The role of an online personal assistant is to free up your clients time by doing the tasks they do not want to, or can’t do themselves. It is a good start to have both office and/or clerical skills and a sound knowledge of the business world.
As a virtual PA you may be responsible for tasks ranging from simple typing/transcribing work to creating and managing databases,research, administration, customer services, handling emails or phone calls, and ordering your boss’s lunch. You definitely have to be computer literate, and a can-do attitude and a willingness to learn and adapt is essential.
The successful online PA needs to have excellent written and verbal communication skills, a high level of self motivation and a strong work ethic. Reliability is essential as clients will be putting their business in your hands, so you must be able to show them you are trustworthy and able to get the job done, every single time.
The ability to multitask and prioritise your workload is also key, to ensure you are delivering to the highest standards consistently.
No formal training is required to become a virtual assistant, although any kind of office, administrative, or typing experience will be helpful.
There are courses available on the internet in online VA, training however many of these are for a fee and may not guarantee qualifications recognised worldwide. Many potential employees may not ask for qualifications and will be more focused on whether you have past experience in related roles, and how well you will work with them on a personal level.
The main, basic hardware needed by the virtual assistant is a decent PC/Mac, and excellent internet service. A mobile phone or landline service can be a good idea but with the advent of online communication programmes such as Skype are not essential. (And probably not possible for the long term digital nomad.) If you are using a PC/Mac only then obviously you will either need a built in or detachable microphone and ideally a webcam, so you can talk face to face with your employer.
Software required in this role is obviously going to be variable dependent on your clients needs and the type of jobs you intend to apply for – an online personal assistant to a professional graphic designer may need some basic photoshop skills, but a VA to a dropshipping CEO would be better suited brushing up on their excel. As a beginner I would say that a good start would be Microsoft Office or equivalent programs.
Where to find work online?
There are many websites online offering freelance online PA work, many of which are free to join and offer skill tests which can be a great way of getting yourself noticed. Sites such as oDesk are an ideal way of finding work and are easy to navigate and often include in the job advert the exact skills needed making it easier to find suitable jobs.
Other sites available include:
How much to charge?
Online PA jobs vary in pay massively, dependent on whether the job is freelance or not. Many sites offering freelance work allow you to bid on potential jobs and as a beginner it is obviously a potentially good way to drum up business by starting at a low price. The average newbie virtual assistant can start at charging $20 an hour and progressing upwards.
How well does it suit the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
This role can be tougher to accommodate into the digital nomad lifestyle, as time zones play a big part in the business world and you need to be available during the working hours of your client. It is possible to make a successful career as an online virtual assistant whilst traveling the world, but you may be limited as to where you want to travel or how much you like sleep!