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Work From Home Jobs: Virtual Assistant

By Jessica L. Mendes

More Americans are transitioning to the work-from-home lifestyle than ever before. In 2017, 3.9 million employees in the U.S. worked from home—at least half the time. To succeed as a from-home worker, you need to be driven, responsible, and disciplined. Time management and organizational skills are also necessary.

Want to work from home, but have no idea where to start? If you have the organizational skills and discipline to work independently, becoming a virtual assistant could be the perfect job for you to transition out of your cubicle and into your home office.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant, sometimes called a VA, provides administrative support to companies, small businesses, solopreneur, or anyone who needs some extra help with routine tasks. Instead of doing this work in an office, a virtual assistant can work from almost anywhere, as long as a computer and a decent internet connection are available.

Some virtual assistants are generalists who provide a range of services for people in multiple industries. The services of a general virtual assistant can include:

  • Arranging travel

  • Bookkeeping, paying bills, running payroll

  • Calendar management

  • Data entry

  • Email management

  • Handling phone calls

  • Research

  • Typing up notes

Other virtual assistants prefer to specialize in a particular industry, providing targeted services to a particular skill set or industry. For example:

  • Copywriting

  • Data management

  • E-commerce

  • Graphic design

  • Marketing

  • Project management

  • Social media

  • Website design or maintenance

Now that the “what” is covered, here is the “how.”

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Many virtual assistants are self-employed, marketing themselves, finding clients, and setting their own rates for their work. Others find employment through virtual assistant companies that handle customer acquisition and determine compensation. Whichever option is right for you, follow these steps to kick off your career as a virtual assistant.

1. Build a Safety Net

Unless you have a fantastic savings account or someone at home willing to support you through a career change, you should not quit your nine-to-five job right away. Stay long enough to build a suitable safety net.

How much is suitable? Experts say three, six, or nine months’ worth of your living expenses, depending on your particular situation—renter, homeowner, parent, married, single.

To reach that goal more quickly, start your virtual assistant gig as a side hustle. Doing so is a win-win situation—you will gain valuable experience and earn extra income at the same time.

2. Figure Out Your Skillset

You should seek out opportunities to try out various virtual assistant tasks. You want to get a feel for your strengths as well as determine which tasks you enjoy the most. After all, the point of changing careers is to do work you enjoy, right?

Websites like OneSpace and UpWork have a wide variety of assignments ranging from simple to complex, with pay rates that reflect the complexity of a project.

Testing out your skills on these types of websites is a low-risk way to learn what you are good at along with the level of demand for particular skills. All of that knowledge and experience will serve you well when you decide to set out on your own as a full-time virtual assistant.

3. Put Yourself Out There

Regardless of how “in-demand” your skill set is, you will not find clients or get work until you market yourself as an experienced virtual assistant.

Start with a professional website that outlines your skill set. If you are a good writer, consider incorporating a blog to your website; it will help attract more attention from search engines and site visitors. Later, you can add work samples and testimonials from satisfied clients.

Maintain one or two social media accounts to promote your virtual assistant business. Social media is an excellent way to grow awareness about your new career among family, friends, and, of course, potential clients.

Finally, attend a variety of networking events. In most cities, you will find dozens of events every week that are perfect hunting grounds for prospective clients and professional contacts. Look for events on, Facebook, and the events calendars of local chambers of commerce.

You never know who you might meet at these events. The connections you make could lead to one-off projects or long-term working relationships. What is certain is that you will be building a name for yourself as a virtual assistant.

Jessica L. Mendes

Jessica L. Mendes, a former contributor to ZipRecruiter, is a writer and professional reader providing author support, content creation, and curriculum design services. She writes for a range of industries, including education, employment, law, technology, medicine, sales, and corporate interior design. Connect with Jessica via LinkedIn or

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