How to work from home as a Virtual Assistant
Personal assistants have always been thought of as the backbone of the office, and until recently the idea of having your PA working from home was unthinkable. Technology and flexible working arrangements now make being a PA possible from home and many women have decided to go it alone, working for one or more companies on their own terms.
Your first task will be to research the idea, and find out whether you think it’s feasible for you to work from home – will you be able to get childcare sorted, for example? Although being a VA does take the commuting and stress out of getting to work, you still have to be available for the times you’re being paid for so it’s really not a job you can do if you still have little ones at home.
Get your skills up to date if you’ve been out of the office for a while, so that you know how to use things like Skype, content management systems, social media, scheduling apps and anything else you think you might need to do a PA job in or out of an office.
People need to know about you, so register on freelance sites like People Per hour and FreeIndex to get yourself started. They don’t cost anything to list yourself on and with PPH you can bid for any jobs that interest you. The money can be terrible for some jobs, as you’re competing with people from all over the world, so if you have any specialist skills, such as self-publishing, or fluency in another language make sure you mention them.
Join a specialist agency
If trawling through low-paid jobs to find the odd gem doesn’t appeal, another solution is to look for a specialist platform like Time Etc, who work like a recruitment agency and find work for you, on rates that are set by the agency. The money is often less than you would earn if you were office-based, but work is regular and of course, you won’t be paying for things like lunches, coffees and travelling.
Going through a VA agency can really help with repeat business; the work is quality-controlled and once you’ve completed work for one or two clients, you’ll be established as a reliable team member and recommended for other work.
Get the equipment
The downside of being a freelance remote worker is that you’re responsible for all your business expenses (and you have to remember to sort out basics like tax and National Insurance too). Before you set up, invest in good quality equipment. You’ll need:
- Computer or laptop
- Wifi access
- It’s also a good idea to invest in a decent headset.
You’ll also need to get your own office supplies – printer ink, paper, pens, stapler and a hole punch – all the usual.
Software wise, you’ll need:
- File sharing software (Dropbox or Google Docs for example)
- Meeting software like anymeeting.com
- LogMeIn – or virtual access software that allows you to access clients’ inboxes
- Webmail account to access your email
Some clients might share their software with you, but it’s good to be set up and ready to go.
Once you’re set up, all you need is a good supply of tea, coffee and biscuits and you’re on your way to being a successful VA.