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Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Virtual Assistant

We’ve put together 10 helpful tips to help you on your way to becoming a Virtual Assistant – a must-read for any aspiring assistant!

  1. Your first 5 clients are the hardest to get when you are becoming a virtual assistant.  Make it easy and start by telling everyone who knows you and your work about what you are planning on doing.  Many VAs found their first client in their former employers!
  2. Advertising doesn’t usually work for virtual assistants, instead try to focus on networking and word-of-mouth referrals instead.  You telling people that you’re great is taken with a large pinch of salt, but someone who your new client really respects and trusts recommending you is worth its weight in gold.  Think about how you got your hairdresser – you asked your friends, didn’t you? Brush up on your digital marketing skills with Google Digital Garage.
  3. If you can, try to save at least six months living costs in the bank and pay off all your credit cards before starting up.  It takes time to build a business, and you don’t want to get trapped into working lots of hours at a low rate because you need to make the mortgage payment.
  4. Marketing is now governed by GDPR and PECR – learn what you are and aren’t allowed to do.
  5. Time is money to virtual assistants – do not steal time from your fellow VAs by pretending to be a client.  Most VAs are very open to helping newbies as long as you are honest with them. Ask for help via our private Facebook group. (You must be a member to participate – join here on our “Become a member” page).
  6. Do what you say you will, when you said you’d do it.  In other words, make sure you hit that deadline with time to spare.  It doesn’t look good if you don’t deliver the goods.  Or if you think you are going to be late in delivering, keep the avenues of communication open so there are no misunderstandings – people are usually far more understanding than you expect.
  7. Make sure you understand the legalities of what services you offer… IR35, GDPR and MLR regulations are just three pieces of legislation which may affect what you can offer as a VA.
  8. Get used to motivating yourself.  Look for tasks you can take on without being prompted as practice.  Most VAs work alone, and this can be difficult for someone who is used to an office environment.
  9. Get a proper business set-up sorted: Our Virtual Assistant Best Practice Guidelines are a good place to start. You might also find Essential Office Equipment and Essential Virtual Assistant Software useful.  And yes – you do need to have a physical office address on your website.
See also  Marketing Friday for Virtual Assistants:

Research carefully – there is a wealth of information out there, but some of it is incorrect or misleading.  The information from the SVA is free.  However, we can recommend any of the trainers on our Approved Trainers page as we know they meet the best practice criteria and are great at what they do.   Courses and books are becoming more and more commonplace for UK VAs – but ask yourself what qualifies the person to be an expert.  How long have they been a VA?  Are they trained properly themselves?  Further reading: The Best Virtual Assistant Course

Bonus Tip!

There is market research out there for your business plan.  The annual UK VA Survey is a great place to start. Remember that you will not only be competing with other VAs for your clients’ admin work, but call centres, clients’ families, offshore assistants and part-time employees and temps. It also gives you details on how much you can expect to earn, and what is “normal” to charge.


  1. rosario on 8 September, 2010 at 3:40 am

    very nice tips for a newbie like me! kudos! thank you for writing this one! 🙂

  2. Karen Rayner on 1 April, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Brilliant post, I wish I had read this in the first year of setting up it would have saved me a lot of time and money.

    • Anita - Virtual Assistant in Nepal on 15 December, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Hello Caroline and Karen Rayner, Thank you very much for Tips. I am working as virtual assistant in Nepal. As I am virtual assistant, I memorize your tips every moment. I have printed and kept on the wall at my work desk so that I can read and try to improve my working habit.

  3. ruzanne on 7 April, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Hello, Caroline! How’re you doing? Was just going about a host of blogs and websites on VA and came across this. I just want to share my thoughts on #4.

    Yes, we do need to be realistic about our skills and NOT claim to know it all. I’ve come across VAs who bite in jobs without thoroughly understanding what they’re in for. Most people who need VAs nowadays don’t just want back-office administration tasks done; they want VAs who have great communication skills, particularly for writing purposes and then social media. So it’s best that would-be VAs who lack experience or knowledge on certain areas be honest about their limitations. As for me, I’d be asking a potential client if I’d be given time to learn a particular task first, sort of a trial period.

    Thanks for this space, Caro… and do KEEP POSTING helpful information for VAs. I’m sure you’ve got plenty motivated to learn how to fare in this industry! More power!

    • Andrew on 4 November, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Great post. I think there is a new market coming regarding personal data security

  4. virtual assistant on 20 March, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Well as far as i know this is really great work done by all of you and if anyone follow these tips he or she definitely become good virtual assistant.

  5. virtual office baltimore on 28 July, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success.
    If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

    • Kara R Tanenbaum on 17 August, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      Yes, WordPress has an SEO plug in called Yoast.

  6. Glyn Ellens on 4 November, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I would like to work from home. I am a retired Medical Secretary and have done dict8.com. I would also like to do proof reading or general typing.
    Many thanks,
    Glyn Ellens

    • Caroline on 8 November, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Glyn

      Good luck with setting up – SVA doesn’t employ VAs itself, but we do help them get set up and stay in business. Check out the START UP VA section on the main site.


  7. Leo on 12 March, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for the tips to become a virtual assistant. I wanted to become a virtual assistant someday. Thanks for that. Your blog really a big help for me.

  8. Kirsty Amos on 23 April, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Caroline

    I like the idea of becoming a virtual pa but I am not sure about the setting up my own business bit. Could you advise on if there is businesses out there looking for Virtual PAs please.

    Many thanks.


    • Caroline on 23 April, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Kirsty

      Mostly, even if you wanted to be a subcontract VA and work for other virtual assistants, you would still need to set up your own business. I don’t know of any VAs who employ people on an employee basis, simply because our workloads vary so much due to the nature of the business.

      Don’t be scared of the business bit – HMRC run regular workshops to keep you right with the record keeping, and it’s really not as complicated as it may first seem… If I can do it, believe me, anyone can!


  9. Real Estate Virtual Assistant Services on 20 August, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Caroline

    Good Work!, This is a nice article you have here for a Virtual Assistant. I think, also they’re are Virtual Assistant Companies which are office based who give a short training’s for a VA. Actually yes, the company where i’m working. hehe. At the first month of the business we trained a few VA and our focus on the real estate industry. But, even though i’m already almost 6 months with my job, i still need to learn more stuff about how VA really works. So this article i think gonna lead me to a bunch of VA Tips. 🙂

  10. Pellings Business Solutions on 1 October, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Being a new start up and a struggling VA the above top 10 tips were useful reading, I am coming to my own conclusion that advertising may not be best way to solely rely on but its knowing how to network too. I am a member of my local chamber and have been to a few networking events but find it quite difficult talking amongst members who clearly have been together for a while. Any networking tips/advise available? I am very eager to actually say i have some clients and prove that my idea is a good business concept, but after nearly 6 months of trying beginning to give up

  11. 123Employee on 24 February, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Hey Caroline,

    I must say these are great tips. I am going to explain this blog post to my work force at office.

    Daven L

  12. Josephine Davies on 10 March, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve literally just decided to become a virtual assistant (upon hearing about it by accident) and your advice has been very very very helpful. I’ve gone through my check list of things I need to do and have but still a little unsure of where to start.

  13. Tabby on 8 June, 2015 at 6:44 am

    It would also be advantageous if an aspiring VA would be adventurous in acquiring new skills like enhancing visual content such as images and creating simple but presentable videos. Recently, employers would almost always require for you to maintain their websites or social media accounts for them. So, it would be ideal if the aspiring VA would have sufficient knowledge in social media management and site management as well on top of the more generic skills that fall under administrative tasks. Hope this helps those aspiring VAs out there. If you have questions, I will be glad to answer.

  14. Jaffer on 16 February, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Well my brother is working on this Virtual Assistant field he really needed some information regarding this matter
    this is the best found I have for him will suggest him to go through this

  15. Linda Welsh on 22 February, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I am interested in becoming a VA. I have lots of experience but need help on how to start, ie what you need to start, how to set rates, get clients etc. Any ideas please?

    • Caroline on 22 February, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Have a look at some of our recommended reading on right hand sidebar, and it’s worth taking a peak at the UK VA Industry survey as this sets out loads of useful facts and figures that you can use to write a business plan.
      Hope that helps!

  16. Essay papers on 8 April, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I am also interested in becoming a VA. But how to start business? Thanks

  17. Mariane on 13 April, 2016 at 1:04 am

    “Yes I totally agree with your tips, Caroline. Especially on number 4, we need to be realistic about our skills and we don’t to mess up by taking jobs that aren’t suitable to our skill set. For virtual assistant we must maintain or earn the basic skills that are commonly used in this work.

    1.communication skills
    4.computer knowledge (word doc, excel spreadsheet, powerpoint presentation)

    Should you want to earn a higher daily or monthly wage, you can always equip your skills with more technical ones by taking crash course, watching Youtube videos or searching the web for tutorials.”

  18. Marian on 22 June, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Hi Caroline
    I am very thankful for your wonderful advice. I didn’t know a society of VAs existed and I think that will be a source of valuable knowledge. Keep creating great posts.

  19. Sharon on 8 April, 2018 at 9:16 am

    This is a job I am very interested in pursuing as a side job rather than a full time self employment opportunity. Am I wasting my time or could I be successful with 1 or 2 clients, only needing basic support?
    I currently work part time with the nhs as an administrative assistant, and aim to increase my skills and work my way up in time, but with a young family at home the need for extra cash and no extra childcare costs is my best option.
    Any advise would be appreciated, thanks.


    • Caroline on 8 April, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Being totally honest, whilst it’s totally possible to pick up odd jobs as a VA, it’s quite hard to deal direct with clients because the chances of you being available when they need the work done are low if you only have a couple of evenings a week to work… I’d always say you need at least 20 hours a week to work, and some of those need to be within 9-5 Mon-Fri. Some services lend themselves better to this than others: So if the job is producing artwork which you can schedule in advance or doing month end paperwork, it’s easy to schedule that so it hits deadline. It’s trickier when it’s ad-hoc work which needs done ASAP.

      You may be better working as a subcontractor and being able to say Yes/No to each job as it comes in with the back up of the Lead VA if you aren’t able to hit deadline.

    • Kara R Tanenbaum on 17 August, 2020 at 10:00 pm

      I would suggest your niche down your service offerings beyond “basic support”. Determine the skills you are amazing at AND are interested in doing. Stick to those. It’s less overwhelming for the potential client if you can provide specific specialities that are in your wheelhouse.

      One of my best tips for aspiring VAs in getting clients is to niche down WHO you want as your clients. Examples could be: health coaches, authors, speakers, small online business entrepreneurs, real estate brokers, etc. Try to speak to everyone and you end up speaking to no one.

      When you drill down your target market and your offerings, it will be so much easier to get clients.

  20. Lisa on 9 February, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Great post! I can’t agree more about motivating yourself. I recently took an admin training course but couldn’t secure a job in a company. So, now I am looking for VA jobs. Even though it’s a constant struggle to get up daily and apply to multiple jobs, I always try to keep myself motivated so that I may never give up.

  21. Jackie Gordon on 30 September, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Firstly i would like to thanks for your Brilliant 10 Tips for Becoming a Virtual Assistant. you were write some helpful step by your experience. your advice would be appreciated.

  22. Jackielou Taneo-Weygandt on 17 October, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    WoW! Thank you so much for this very helpful tips. I am new on this freelancing industry and currently looking for an opportunity to work. This is such a great advice.

  23. Hannah Collins on 10 June, 2020 at 8:36 am

    Nice Article.
    This tips are really helpful for me, mostly the second tip.

  24. Wing Kei Hoang on 2 December, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Caroline, this is absolutely spot on, and I think every VA should take the time to read this! I found point number three on “time is money” very interesting. The way I see it, the time that we give to others (whether it be free advice/insight/an introduction call) will always come with a shared benefit, even if the benefit is not immediate. So although we would want to prioritise with the urgent/important tasks first, we need to keep the bigger picture in mind – which is to network and spread the word through mouth.

    I work for a London-based VA company that started only in 2019. We’ve managed to find great success and traction through connecting with like-minded individuals and offering our competitive advantages – one of them including detailed time-tracking.

    I would love for you to check out our website here: http://www.remotebob.co.uk

  25. Kay on 21 December, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Really helpful. I always believe that when you put your heart and mind on the task it will be easier and will take shorter time on finishing. For me, an honest relationship between a client and a VA is the most important. Know what they need. Tell them what you can offer. Be sincere. Be genuine on how you want to be part of their success. It is after all your success too.

  26. virtual employee on 9 January, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Wow, Thanks for these amazing tips.
    I’m gonna use them all in my career path for sure.

  27. VIRTUAL SERVICES on 14 January, 2021 at 10:04 am

    Useful article.
    Thanks for the tips provided.

  28. Tracy @ Simply Sorted on 4 July, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Really useful article. Thanks for the tips!

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