A complete guide for working from home as a virtual assistant, with first-hand knowledge by stay at home mom VA’s and a business owner who hires them.
Pre-kids, my husband and I took a dream vacation to Hawaii. We snorkeled in the translucent aqua water, sat in cafes and watched the morning sun sparkle on the waves, and hiked across a volcano.
We are not natural planners, but the thing that made this trip such a success was that we found a fantastic guide book before we left. This guide wasn’t a generic tome from Rick Steves or Trip Advisor, but instead, the authors were true experts who spent years living on the islands.
Thanks to their first-hand knowledge, we knew that the hole-in-the-wall sushi place that looked like a dive was fantastic. And we enjoyed beautiful days on secluded beaches playing in the waves.
When you set out for a new destination, the possibilities can seem overwhelming.
You might unknowingly let great opportunities slip by. But having the first-hand of knowledge of an experienced guide by your side makes all the difference.
The same is true for your journey of becoming a virtual assistant. That’s why I’ve put together this guide, full of know-how and advice from real stay at home moms who earn an income from home as VAs themselves.
There’s no better guide out there than these seasoned VA moms.
Oh and I’ll chime in with my thoughts too as someone with years of experience contracting with nearly a dozen stay-at-home-mom VAs for my business.
So let’s get started!
How to Become a Virtual Assistant from Home
What is a virtual assistant?
If you’re not familiar, a virtual assistant is someone who helps an individual or business with tasks that can be performed remotely, online. If you think back to the idea of an assistant or receptionist in an office, the role can be quite similar. The only difference is that you’ll typically be able to do this work from the comfort of your home without ever going into the office.
You might take care of answering the phones, replying to email, or scheduling appointments. There are also much more specialized tasks you might do depending on the specific job. In general, your job as a virtual assistant is to make your employer’s life easier by getting things done.
The #1 Job for Stay at Home Moms
Being a virtual assistant is an excellent job for stay at home moms because it allows you to work from home and often to set your own hours. In fact, working as a virtual assistant is the number one way that moms make money from home today.
There are many opportunities in this field because businesses are almost always looking for reliable help. Another great thing is that it doesn’t cost much to get started in this field.
As one VA mom put it,
“Working from home allows a great amount of flexibility necessary in the very variable life of a mother. This job gives me supplemental income that helps me pay for opportunities that are not otherwise available like registration for my son’s schooling, swim lessons, family vacation, and music lessons. It’s not an overwhelming amount of work, yet satisfying intellectually and financially.”
How much money do virtual assistants make?
The stay at home moms in our community who work as virtual assistants earn $18 per hour on average. This can range anywhere from $5 to $42 per hour. Your pay depends a lot on who you work for, what types of work you do for them, and how specialized that work is.
Imagine that you work 15 hours per week at $18 per hour, that brings in around $1,161 per month. This can be a great supplement to your family’s income to help you afford to stay at home.
One thing to note about working as a virtual assistant is that the work is almost always under contract. This means that you won’t be an employee, so you usually won’t get benefits like insurance. You’ll also be responsible for saving up for taxes because they won’t be withheld for your check.
While you can find some consistent, reliable work as a VA, your hours will often depend on how much work your employer has available at the time. You may not have those 15 hours guaranteed every week.
The tasks that you may be called upon to do as a virtual assistant is nearly endless.
Here are some assignments that the VAs in our community and those that I’ve worked with do:
- Organize and Answer Emails
- Answer the Phone
- Schedule Appointments
- Create Graphics for Social Media
- Schedule and Reply to Social Media Posts
- Do Search Engine Optimization Research
- Format Articles and Blog Posts
- Gather and Record Data
- Write Curriculum
- Manage Forums and Facebook Groups
- File Management
- Online Registration
- Typing and Transcription
- Customer Service
- Data Entry
The good news is that you don’t need to have any experience to find work as a virtual assistant.
As you saw above, many of the tasks you might be asked to perform are no different than what you’d do in your average day as a stay at home mom. You might call your doctor, plan your family’s schedule for the week, send an email, save a Pin, or share a photo on Instagram.
As long as you have everyday organizational and computer skills, you’ll be just fine in the majority of virtual assistant positions — even if you’re a beginner.
In fact, as a business owner, I prefer to work with VAs who don’t have prior experience. That way, I have the chance to train them in the way that I like things done for my business. In a way, your inexperience can actually be an asset, and most positions will provide on-the-job training.
Do you love checklists and getting things done?
The ideal virtual assistant will above-all be excellent at getting tasks done promptly. You must have near-perfect attention to detail and be self-motivated. As a VA, you’ll need to be flexible and willing to learn new skills (especially if you’re starting out with no experience).
The key to success as a VA
Excellent communication skills are also vital. For example, imagine that you coming up on a deadline, and you’re having trouble figuring out how to do the work that you’ve been tasked to complete.
As a virtual assistant, it is much better to communicate with your boss as early as possible. Shoot them an email or schedule a meeting, so you don’t spin your wheels and end up finishing late. They will likely be able to tell you precisely what you need to know to be successful, or you can work out a plan together.
Remember that the person you’re working for hired you because they are busy and need your help. Do your best to anticipate their needs and make things run smoothly. Just know that there will always be hiccups that need to be discussed. You don’t need to feel bad about it, but you do need to address the issues. Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate regularly with your team.
Before you begin seeking a VA position, it’s essential to be honest with yourself, and assess whether you meet these requirements. If you do, then great!
However, don’t feel bad if you need to look for different opportunities to work from home that would better suit your personality and talents. Trying to force yourself into a field that isn’t a good fit will only lead to frustration for both you and any potential employers.
Most virtual assistant jobs offer a flexible schedule
This way, you can get your work done whenever you can fit it into your life as a mom. You might sneak in some time during nap, after your kids go to bed, or on the weekend while your husband’s home. Of course, you still need to get your work completed and meet deadlines. In addition, you may be required to attend the occasional online meeting.
The big exception is moms who work answering phones. For those, you may need to be at your desk at set times. However, these services are often required after business hours and on weekends, so they may still fit into your lifestyle.
You can find jobs that will fit how much you want to work.
The VA moms in our community work as little as 3 hours per week and as much as 38 hours per week. Jill, a stay at home mom of two writes,
“The biggest benefit to working from home as a virtual assistant is the flexibility. I now have two boys (7 and 4) and being able to be involved at their school and our church has been a huge blessing, and I wouldn’t be able to do it if I worked a 9-5.”
Once you decide that a virtual assistant job is a good fit for your personality, it’s time to figure out if your home and lifestyle fit this type of work.
What do I need to become a virtual assistant?
The great thing is you really don’t need much as far as space or equipment. It is helpful if you have a quiet place that you can use away from where your kiddos are playing, so you can focus on your work.
A desk in the corner of your bedroom can work well, or you may even be able to set up your laptop at the kitchen table once the kids are in bed. Don’t feel like you have to have a dedicated home office to work from home.
Virtual assistants usually don’t need 100 percent silence while working.
Again, the only exception would be if you’re working for a phone answering service. In that case, you would want to have relative quite so that you can be professional when people call.
How much does it cost to get started as a VA?
Most moms spend nothing to get started as a virtual assistant, and you likely already own what you need:
- Working computer
- Reliable internet service
If you’re reading this, chances are you already meet these requirements. In some cases, you might also need:
- Other software
If you choose to start your own business, you might need a business license or to set up a website. All of these are relatively inexpensive.
What about VA courses and certifications?
You can easily start working as a virtual assistant without any experience. However, if you would feel more comfortable with a little training before you start looking for a job, there are many resources available. The following have been recommended by Affording Motherhood moms:
How do you find virtual assistant jobs?
1. Post Services on Upwork or Fiverr
One perk is that the projects you list here are often finite and short term, which is perfect if you just have a short time to spend each day on your work. Another benefit is that lots of potential employers are already searching for VAs there all the time.
However, there are also countless different VAs who are competing for this work, many of whom have a much lower cost of living, and that drives prices down. These sites also take a cut of your fees in return for connecting you with clients.
If you want to succeed on sites like Upwork and Fiverr, try this.
specializing in a specific task that you can do quickly and consistently. Often potential employers are looking for someone who can turn around a project very quickly, so working evenings and weekends could be an asset here.
2. Contract Through an Agency
Another option for finding work as a VA is to contract through an agency. Each virtual assistant company has a slightly different business model, but in general, you apply to an agency, and they find work for you.
The beautiful thing is that you don’t need to worry about searching for clients yourself. You can apply to one company and then get to work.
You might work consistently with one employer, or it might change from project to project. If you like variety, the ever-changing client list could be fun for you.
However, it could also be challenging to provide the best service without the opportunity to truly learn what’s needed. Another drawback to working with an agency is it tends to be lower pay. This is because your work has to cover both the overhead of the agency and your paycheck.
The key to thriving in this environment is to do top-notch work. When you make a name for yourself as a great assistant, your opportunities will grow.
Here are some agencies for finding work as a VA:
- Belay Solutions
- Advantage Telemessaging
- Time Etc
- Red Butler (fee-based)
- 24/7 Virtual Assistant
- Contemporary Virtual Assistance
- Assistant Match
- Fancy Hands
3. Start Your Own VA Business
The third possibility to become a virtual assistant is to find work on your own. While it might sound intimidating, it really isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, this is the most common method for moms who become VAs.
To get started, look around amongst your own friends and family, and see who you know that might need some help with their business. Are there any needs that you could fill? You can also check local or online job listings.
The benefit of finding your own work is that you keep all the profit as opposed to sharing it with a job search site or agency. You can also form ongoing client relationships where you can grow your expertise and income. You may be able to grow your responsibilities and hours or get referrals to others who need your help.
One example is long-time Affording Motherhood subscriber, Brandy.
After becoming a stay at home mom, she has worked as a virtual assistant for several different companies. She found her most recent job for a local designer through a listing in a Christian mom’s Facebook group.
However, my favorite way she found a virtual assistant position was something she shared with me in a coaching session a year or two ago. She was looking for a change from her current job doing bookkeeping. Although she could bring her kids to her current position, it was stressful commuting and trying to get work done with two little ones underfoot.
That’s when she noticed that one of the popular bloggers she was following wasn’t doing all she could with her Facebook page. Brandy messaged the blogger and laid out a plan for how she could help her make the most of her social media following. In short, Brandy saw a need, and she offered to fill it.
And guess what?
The blogger was more than happy to pay Brandy for her services and to have one less task to worry about.
Another mom found work through an organization she was already volunteering for.
If you pay attention, you will find lots of opportunities to work as a VA. Nearly all of the VAs I interviewed found their jobs by word of mouth through friends and family who needed extra help.
There is no right or wrong way to go about finding a position as a virtual assistant. Just try the one that seems like the best fit for you and give it a try.
But you wonder, will YOU really be able to find a job as a virtual assistant?
It’s natural to feel a bit nervous at first. However, for most of the moms I talked to, the problem isn’t finding a virtual assistant job, it’s actually the struggle against taking on too much. Categorically, experience VA mamas recommend that you start slow!
It can be challenging to fit in time to work with kids at home. I asked the VAs in the Affording Motherhood community for their advice.
Here’s what Naomi, virtual assistant and stay at home mom, suggests:
“Divide the amount of time you need to work by the days you have to accomplish your goals, and then complete those increments during nap times and bedtimes or even before the kids wake, but do your assignments in chunks when the house is quiet, that way you can make progress without getting frustrated by frequent interruptions.”
Despite the challenges, she recommends, “Do it! Start incrementally and adjust the amount of time you can commit as you learn to manage your time working from home. “
There is great potential for success as a VA.
However, there are two mistakes that moms make when they’re trying to get started as virtual assistants.
The first is that they believe they need some kind of course or certification to make them “official” before finding a job. While it can be helpful to have additional training, it can be a cost-prohibitive set back that keeps moms from pursuing work as a virtual assistant.
And the second follows closely after. Moms often aren’t bold enough to put themselves out there and let people know they’re open for business.
It can be scary to take that step, knowing there is the potential for failure or rejection. However, just remember that if you never begin, you’ve failed already. More than likely, something great will come of it instead.
We’ve covered a lot, so let’s review.
How to become a virtual assistant with no experience
Working as a virtual assistant can be an excellent option for stay at home moms to earn an income because of the flexible hours and ability to work from home. You might be asked to do a range of clerical tasks, most of which you’re already equipped through everyday computer, social media, and email use. In most cases, experience is not required.
How to get a virtual assistant job (even with no experience):
- Determine if you have the personality that will fit in well with a VA position, including having attention to detail, communication skills, and being self-motivated.
- Look at your schedule and lifestyle to determine how much time you can realistically be available.
- Set up a small space in your home that will help you stay focused when you’re working.
- Review the options for finding work as a virtual assistant, including job posting sites, agencies, or starting your own business and pick the one that feels best to you.
- Decide if you want to pursue any VA training, although this is not required.
- Finally, start looking for jobs. Working as a virtual assistant is the most popular way moms are making money from home today, and there are lots of opportunities available.
Get started now
It’s been 10 years since my husband and I went to Hawaii. The years have flown by all too quickly with 2 moves, 2 kids, and paying off over $22k in debt along the way, but we still talk about that vacation regularly thanks to our handy guidebook.
The truth is, the years with your kids at home pass all too quickly. There’s no reason to stay stuck struggling with your finances or worrying that you won’t be able to stay at home with them.
If you believe working as a VA might be right for you, don’t let another day pass without taking action. Go to step 1 above, and dive right in. And if you’re still not sure, try my work from home mom personality quiz to see which stay at home mom job is right for you.