Are you tired of the daily commute and the dull drums of doing the same tasks over and over again?  Would you like more flexibility and control over your time and be able to make money from home?  If you are wondering “how can I make money online or even do part time work from home by utilizing the office skills I already have?”, then you may want to consider becoming a virtual assistant.

While most secretaries and administrative assistants work in a traditional office setting, many are choosing to work out of their own homes as virtual assistants. There has never been a better time to work from home as a virtual assistant as, according to the Bureau of Labor Occupation Outlook Handbook, demand for virtual assistants is expected to grow 12% between 2012 and 2022.

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What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is an independent contractor who pVirtual Assistantrovides services to individuals and small and medium sized businesses via the internet.  As virtual assistants only charge for the hours they work, more and more self-employed individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across all industries are reaping huge savings and benefits by hiring them.  These benefits include increased productivity, savings in office real estate space, employee benefits, training and more.

What is the best way to make money online as a VA?

The best way to get started towards earning money online or at home using your office skills as a Virtual Assistant is to focus on a realistic job in which you can succeed based on the skills you possess today.  Make a list of all your skills and decide on at least one job that you can justify on paper, that you can convince clients that you can do and a job in which you can succeed. Depending on your years of experience, there may be more than one job that you can do to earn money online.  Jobs requiring virtual office skills include the virtual office assistant,  virtual administrative assistant, virtual executive assistant, virtual secretary and virtual office manager.  Virtual assistants have skills and knowledge in many different areas and often choose a specific skill or niche that they are good at to specialize in.

Ways to make money from home using your Office Skills

While Virtual Assistant skills are by no means limited to just office skills, as a Virtual Assistant, you’ll find your office skills are in big demand especially in the following areas:

  • Managing calendars, email and voice mail
  • Designing and creating PowerPoint presentations
  • Word processing and document creation including creating newsletters, letters, memos, press releases, flyers, brochures, letterhead, resumes, cover letters and more
  • Spreadsheet Design and Modifications especially the more advanced features including the  use of Lookup functions and Macros.
  • Data Entry
  • Database Management using software such as Microsoft Access
  • Mail Merge and bulk mailings
  • Bookkeeping using software such as Quickbooks
  • Knowledge of basic office procedures
  • Proof Reading
  • Proficiency in Keyboarding
  • Electronic Filing and records management
  • Maintaining Contact Lists
  • Transcription
  • Making travel arrangements

Many virtual assistants also offer specialized services in many other fields including

  • Internet and Market Research
  • Knowledge of online and social media
  • Desktop Publishing/Graphic Design
  • Website Design and Maintenance
  • Blogging and Social Media

Work for an Agency or become an Entrepreneur

If the prospect of starting your own virtual office seems somewhat overwhelming at first, you may want to consider working for one of the already established virtual staffing agencies.   While there are many to choose from, some of the better known ones  include ZirtualeaHELPupworkelance, and virtualassistantjobs.com.   Keep in mind that the pay will be significantly lower as you will be sharing your hourly fee with the agency.

Set up your own Virtual Assistant Business

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If you are thinking of starting your own Virtual Assistant business, in addition to the office skills listed above, you will need to possess certain business and interpersonal skills in order to be a success during your transition from employee to business owner.  If you enjoy helping others, have the ability and discipline to manage your own time, enjoy learning new things and keeping up on the latest technology, this just may be for you.  Setting up a home based Virtual Assistant Business is similar to setting up any other business.  As a business owner, you will need some basic business skills starting with creating a business plan and setting some goals for your business. You will also need to have a marketing strategy on how you plan to market your skills.  There are many good books on the market on such as Take a Leap of Faith And Start a Virtual Assistant Business: Your Guide to Establishing a Successful Business As a Virtual Assistant that will help guide you through the process.

Virtual Assistant Specific Skills and Knowledge

You don’t need to have all these skills right away so keep in mind that many of these skills can be easily learned.

  • Good project and time management skills
  • Knowledge of online file sharing and storage devices such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive
  • Basic knowledge of Bookkeeping/Accounting
  • Good business communication skills for dealing with clients
  • Office procedures for organizing your clients forms, policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of social networking and marketing
  • Knowledge of how to create an effective web presence
  • Have a desire to serve and looking for ways to help people
  • Be self-motivated
  • Ability to identify and solve problems before they reach critical stages
  • Ability to manage confidential information
  • Ability to manage multiple priorities and meet deadlines
  • Technology savvy (Skype, Dropbox, Microsoft Office Suite, etc.)
  • Fast learner (Organization-specific software applications and/or tools)
  • Be resourceful and willing to learn new skills
  • Able to work independently and to anticipate what’s needed and react accordingly
  • Event planning and coordination skills
  • Project Assistance/Coordination
  • Writing and proofreading – excellent punctuation and grammar required
  • Communications – great phone skills, positive attitude
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and trust
  • Proper use of etiquette in the virtual environment
  • Copywriting and Editing Assistance
  • Research skills

Virtual Assistant Tools and Technology

Here is a list of some of the tools you will need to consider when setting up your Virtual Assistant business.  One of the benefits of setting up a Virtual Assistant business out of your home is that it is a fairly low overhead business so you may find you already have many of the items required.

  • In-home office setup including:
  • Office Furniture
  • Mac or PC Computer
  • Microsoft Office Software and/or free open source office suites such as LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice
  • Wireless or High Speed internet access
  • Color Printer/Copier/Fax/Scanner
  • Smartphone with email capabilities
  • Designated professional, quiet space
  • Accounting Software
  • Basic office supplies

For more information about Virtual Assistants and links to virtual assistant resources, visit my Virtual Assistance page on officeskills.org.   One of the best ways to start marketing yourself and your business is to start your own website or blog.  Read my guide on How to Start a Blog on WordPress for details of how to get started.

 

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