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What Should You Consider When You Want to be a Virtual Assistant?

Aug 17, 2007
One of the hot work at home opportunities out there is to be a virtual assistant. When you have great computer skills, it can seem like a natural match. It's an easy business to start, with low expenses.

But that doesn't mean it's necessarily the right choice for you. There are some factors you should consider before you start to advertise your virtual assistant services.

The first thing to consider is what skills you will offer. Some virtual assistants offer more services than others. But I recommend you stick with things you excel at. If you can't perform the job at a professional level, you need to improve your skills before you try offering it as a professional.

That very much relates to this next item. Can you offer your services professionally? I don't just mean how well you perform your duties, but how you will cope with the issues of being a business owner. Many virtual assistant businesses are run from home. So how will you cope with all the distractions and noise. You need to have a realistic plan that leaves you available to your client during the hours they are likely to want to contact you.

You will also need to assess your background. This is what potential clients will want to look at. A college degree is very helpful, as is a number of years of experience in the areas you intend to offer services. Expect that you will get the most clients in the areas in which you can show exceptional experience.

You can take a look at what other virtual assistants offer, but don't try to copy them. Your skills and experiences are different.

There are certain things you will need to develop in order to get started. These are pricing, contracts and your website.

If you're planning on offering website design services, as some virtual assistants do, you may well want to develop your own site as a demonstration of your skill. But if not, it can be worthwhile to pay someone to create a professional site for you. You can do the writing yourself or hire a copywriter, but make sure you stand out.

Don't assume that potential customers coming to your site need to know what a virtual assistant is. Some will already know. Others won't, but your offerings should make it clear what you can do without bothering to define the basic terminology.

Perhaps most important on your website is to have a professional appearance. A professional photo of yourself is good; pictures of your kids are not. Check for spelling, grammar and a professional tone. If your site doesn't look professional, your services are not likely to be perceived as professional.

You will also want to have a basic contract drawn up. You'll need to be able to customize it for each client, but there are some basics any contract should cover. Your contract should cover the scope of the services you are to provide, billing arrangements, confidentiality, ownership of the final product, liability issues, dispute resolution and how the contract may be terminated. It should be worth the money to have a basic contract drawn up by a lawyer.

Do not price yourself too low. This is one of the easiest mistakes to make. Depending on what you do and how much experience you have, you should charge a minimum of $25/hour and quite possibly significantly more. Going too cheap means you won't be earning enough for your business to really thrive, and once again, you will look unprofessional. You don't need the bargain hunter clients. You need the ones who will pay you what you are worth.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://www.homewiththekids.com/blog/ about being a work at home mom. She offers more resources for virtual assistants at her site.
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