Most often a good VA has the skill sets of a traditional administrative assistant with the added benefit of being technically web savvy and often possessing website and graphic design skills, HTML know how and an understanding of search engine optimization and Internet marketing.
However, there are many levels to what type of work you could choose to target as a virtual assistant. Many VAs provide virtual customer support for clients while others focus entirely on data entry work. The options are diverse and plentiful.
Many up and coming VAs get their first assignments from established virtual assistant businesses. So networking with other VAs can be an essential method of getting a shoe in this business. The obvious place to begin networking is on forums. Do a Google search on 'virtual assistant forum' and you will have a good starting point.
When you are networking on forums, try to be an active participant on the forum. Ask intelligent questions. Share your understanding on different topics and comment on what other members have said. The biggest mistake for many women trying to network or promote their businesses on forums is to give one-liner answers that aren't thoughtful. I am far more likely to outsource work to a candidate when I see that they are serious about beginning their business, it isn't just a whim. And that they are willing to ask questions and hone their skills.
You really should have a website up for your business. Without one, your chances to succeed are seriously going to be hindered. There are several viable options for getting your website started. You can purchase a template, use a site builder, hire a designer or build one yourself.
Building a website yourself can seem daunting, but it is likely a skill you will need to develop in the virtual assistant industry and this will give you some hands on experience. I highly recommend building your own site.
Once you have your website you can begin promoting it on your signature in emails and on forums. You can advertise your services locally and provide your customer with a website address to learn more about your services. The opportunities for acquiring clients and networking with other VAs expands tremendously once you have a professional website presence.
There are quite a few places now online where you can connect with prospective clients and bid on jobs that they have. By far the best place to do this is www.elance.com. Elance has an excellent reputation and an excellent advertising budget. They draw thousands of jobs there all the time. There is a fee, but it is well worth the investment.
Other sources for finding work are: www.craigslist.com, www.sologig.com, www.homejobstop.com, www.guru.com, and www.getafreelancer.com. There are really quite a few websites now that focus on bringing clients and service providers together.
When you do land your first gig, do it well. Aim to astound your client. Be ahead of schedule, respond to their inquiries, and send them daily updates. Oftentimes first assignments are your best opportunity for receiving more work. When a business reaches the point of outsourcing, they are doing well. It is very likely that pleasing the client with your first assignment can lead to ongoing work and/or glowing recommendations to their colleagues to use your services.
Starting a virtual assistant business is an innovative, legitimate way to utilize skills that you have. It is quickly becoming a popular home business and there is tremendous room in the industry for growth. It can take some time to sign on your first clients, but before you know it you will have a full work load and a surprisingly abundant business doing what you love!
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