Everyone has his own set of skills. I am not sure if I am the right person to write about this topic, but I will write based on my experience anyway. A virtual career depends on what services one can offer to a client. Being a virtual assistant, specifically, calls for different sets of skills. Everything starts with honing one’s administrative and technical skills.
Few months ago, I wrote the article “How I Started Being a Digital Nomad” and the “Different Kind of Digital Nomads”. I started low just to get my online experiences. Eventually, I was able to raise my hourly payment. As a freelance, I can switch from one client to another.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an entrepreneur who provides professional assistance to business owners. Business owners may need help in creative writing (blogging, ghostwriting), technical (editing, WordPress setup), administrative (data entry, web research) and a lot more. It really depends on what the client needs.
After quitting my office job, I decided to give this career a try. As a virtual assistant, I work at home with my desktop computer (which I eventually upgraded to a laptop for the advancement of my digital nomad life), and communications are done via email, IM and Skype.
You will most likely never meet your clients as they may be in a different country with a different time zone, or probably just in town for a couple of weeks. I’d say that as an advantage – you don’t have to meet them face to face. All information and instructions will be sent via email and you can start working on them in your own personal space.
Know and Acquire Skills
1. Word processing skills
I learned to type using a typewriter before I went to high school, so, by the time I was in front of the computer keyboard I have fast typing skills of at least 60 words per minute. As a virtual assistant, possessing good word processing skills like data entry and typing is important.
2. Computer skills is a must
Having strong computer skills is a must because the work is obviously done on computer. You have to be proficient in using Microsoft Office tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. I learned this when I was in high school.
3. Strong communication skills
As same as working in an office where it is important to have strong communication skills to communicate with our superiors, we also have to communicate effectively to our clients through speaking and writing.
4. Strong writing skills
Most of the communication is done through email, IM or Skype so it is needed that you have strong writing skills. If you are not confident about your writing skills, you may opt to sign up for online courses about basic writing. You can also look for a local community college that will help you improve your writing skills. I am not a good writer myself but I started blogging to improve.
5. Strong organizational skills
You may possibly have several clients at once, so organization and efficiency are two important skills. Set a time when you should be working for client number one, number two, etcetera. You need time management.
6. Being technologically and internet savvy
You need to know how to access the internet, use the email and do research online if needed. There are instances that your client may need you to update their business websites.
You must also know how to use fax (if needed for work), use Skype and other instant messaging platforms. Keep up-to-date with the latest trends in social media applications and tools that may be essential for you and your clients.
7. Being motivated
Motivation is essential in becoming a successful virtual assistant. You need to wake up early in the morning and get ready for work. As for me, virtual assistance gives me so much freedom – and that in turn makes me motivated to travel.
8. The love of learning new skills
As a virtual assistant, I am always open to new challenges of learning new skills from my client. In some instances, I learn them from fellow VA’s. I also make time to do self-study and learn new skills through seminars or by joining forums.
If you have the experience of working in the office, chances are you already possess most of these skills. If you don’t have the skills needed, you can learn them and improve your skills as you work.
Acquire the tools you need
You need a computer, an internet connection and an email account. You need Skype, Dropbox and Google Drive for sharing and storing files; Paypal to connect it with your bank account for receiving salary, project management software, etcetera.
You can start setting up your online presence by creating a website, a blog and other social networking profiles.
Getting your first client
As I’ve mentioned from a previous article I wrote here at Two Monkeys Travel about the different kinds of digital nomads, you can find jobs at Upwork, Elance and Virtual Staff Finder. As for me, I got my first VA job through a referral.
Is there anything you can add on becoming a Virtual Assistant? For experienced VA, what tips and advice you can give for those who are starting out?
About the Author
Roxanne M. Tamayo is the blogger and photographer behind iTravelRox. She is an aspiring digital nomad and a volunteer, among others. Her one-country-a-year travel started in September 2013, until she got the idea of solo backpacking during her trip to Palawan in September 2014. The rest of the story is ever progressing.
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