Do you have experience working as an office assistant or in a clerical position? Would you like to do the same duties in the comfort of your own home? Now you can. More and more, companies are trying to save money by using virtual assistants for many of their administrative and clerical tasks. Here is an overview of what today’s virtual assistants do and how you can successfully begin a new career working from home.
Being a virtual assistant takes a special individual that can work with little supervision. Virtual assistants (VAs) are self-motivated and organized, able to juggle the demands of client deadlines and unusual work situations that can involve periods of long work hours. A career as a VA can offer lots of perks. It’s ideal for highly motivated professionals who have excellent time management skills. Working from home is great for busy moms and other professionals who don’t care to commute to the office every day, which saves a lot on transportation costs and time on the road. In general, the hours are flexible allowing for a balanced lifestyle and more time with your family.
What VA professionals do:
Virtual assistants can perform many duties online that just a few years ago were mostly conducted in an office environment including Internet research, receptionist work, data entry, website maintenance, content development and email marketing. Some of the higher paying VA professionals work in medical transcription, as executive and legal secretaries, graphic designers, editors and accountants. Often, you can find an eclectic mix of small projects ranging from transforming raw data into a PowerPoint presentation, designing a political door hanger or translating an ad from English to German. The best suggestion is to start out with an established company and then branch out on your own.
Where do I start?
It is recommended that you assess your current skills and get familiar with the kinds of VA positions available by researching online. Use social media websites to post questions, interact with VA professionals and get feedback. There are many VA networking and forum sites that offer helpful information to get you up and running, start your own business or connect with companies that offer VA jobs. Doing some research on websites like oDesk.com, elance.com and virtualassistants.com are great ways to learn about the industry and what skills are needed. Also, if you currently work in an office environment doing tasks that you could do at home, try asking your employer if that could be an option. This could help you learn the ropes to eventually strike out on your own.
Setting up your space as a virtual assistant
Setting up your office is relatively easy. Obviously, you will need a good working computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a cell phone, printer and scanner and a comfortable workspace.
Some success stories
Reese Ben-Yaacov, a mother of four worked as an executive assistant and with a lot of market research, built a successful virtual assistant business that eventually earned her a six-figure income. Now, she has an online blog to help others market their own virtual assistant businesses. Another story involves Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, who quit his job in April 2011 to start an online blog and hired a virtual assistant to help him with responding to comments, emails, managing travel plans and client phone calls. The need for virtual assistants with a broad range of skill sets is only on the increase and with the right plan in place, a little research and a clear understanding of your own career aspirations, you will be well on your way to a better quality of life.
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the best coupon deals.