Christina Jane in Ghana, where she attends graduate school and works part-time as a virtual assistant.
- Christina Jane became a virtual assistant as an undergrad, after working part-time for Amazon.
- She continued to work as a virtual assistant when she moved to Ghana for her higher studies.
- Here are her four tips for getting started in virtual assistance.
- For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
In April 2020, I started a part-time role as an Amazon Customer Service Representative alongside my undergraduate studies in Florida. I loved working from home, but it wasn’t flexible.
I needed permission to take time off and was not allowed to work overseas due to heavy home office equipment and security issues.
Towards the end of 2020, I found out that my temporary contract with Amazon was ending. With my degree due to end in the summer of 2021, I struggled to find a job that would allow me to work anywhere as a travel blogger. I remembered the virtual assistance course I had invested $600 in but never finished. Instead of looking for a job, I took the course.
In January 2021, I posted that I was a virtual assistant on an Instagram account that I had created to market my services, even though I hadn’t found my first client. Surprisingly, I received seven requests from people in need of a virtual assistant.
I had no start-up costs, as I already owned a laptop and had internet. I got my first three clients within a week of my impromptu launch date. I created social media content for a branding and marketing agency, managed a therapist’s inbox, and performed data entry tasks for a financial agency.
I still had three weeks left on my Amazon contract, working 16 hours a week – I balanced my new clients around that and my studies early on, which I found easy enough. After graduating, I moved to Ghana for higher education in August and took my business with me.
When I moved, I had accumulated more customers. Acclimating to a new environment and culture was a challenge, especially with the not-so-great Wi-Fi in Ghana, but I gave myself two weeks to establish a productive work environment.
I am grateful to have found a job that made it possible to go from losing a part-time job to moving abroad for higher education.
These are my four tips for getting started as a VA.
Establish the services for which you are qualified
The course taught me concepts like what to put in my contract for clients to protect me as a VA and how to make calls with potential clients. But I had to decide which of the skills I had developed I could offer.
Common tasks include managing emails and scheduling appointments, but you can offer any service for which you are qualified. Are you good at creating YouTube thumbnails or writing grant proposals? You can offer both.
Write down a list of tasks you’d like to do for other people that you’ve done in previous roles. Then think about how long these tasks might take and how much money you would like to earn per hour. This will give you an idea of a price range to quote.
For example, writing grant proposals requires detailed research on the company in question. You could charge $20 an hour for this or a base rate of $200 if it takes 10 hours.
Create accounts just for your business
I created an Instagram account and an email account for my business. Having a social media presence made it easy for business owners and brands to find my page and see the services I offered. I’ve also posted about what made me become a virtual assistant and how hiring an assistant can help take a business to the next level.
Having a separate email was essential to organize myself. This ensured that ongoing communication with customers didn’t overwhelm my inbox.
tell people what you do
If you don’t tell people about your services, how will they know? When I started, I talked about being a virtual assistant on social media platforms and in casual in-person conversations. I mentioned the services I offered and suggested anyone curious to schedule a call with me.
Also, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to business owners you see online to tell them how overwhelmed they are.
Post your services multiple times on various platforms and let your family and friends know about them. Even if they’re not your next customers, they can spread the word.
As a student, I discovered that most of my followers were also students who were not financially able to hire me. However, one of my classmates told her friend who owned a financial company about my services and she became my client.
Use free platforms to get set up
Virtual assistants don’t have to have start-up costs if they already have a computer and the Internet. Most of the platforms that will help you are free.
Once I had potential clients, I set up a Calendment account so they can schedule a call with me to see if we would be a good candidate to work together. I chose it over other scheduling platforms like Acuity because it’s free and worked well to block my appointments.
I found free freelance contract templates online. I made sure that the contract signed by the clients described important elements such as my fixed hourly or monthly rates, the tasks that my client and I had agreed that I would perform for them, and my hours of operation.
I used Waves billing system to send invoices and track payments. I learned this from the course and found the platform very easy to use to get paid and automatically notify my clients of their pending invoices.