Digital Nomad Jobs – Virtual Assistant
(Just a quick word of warning. Should you be looking to hire a virtual assistant and they act a little strange, come from another planet and state that their only goal is to ‘serve man’. Be wary.)
I once toyed with the idea of hiring a virtual assistant. Then I realised that I receive around 3 emails a week, I don’t have appointments to arrange and I have no need for a typist. Adding that to my overwhelming lack of need for a researcher, transcriptionist, marketer, (basic) bookkeeper or social media wizard and I was heavily against it. Maybe I could get someone to answer my phone? That hasn’t had a sim card in for about 3 years and no-one has noticed*. Fundamentally a virtual assistant isn’t for me, and frankly, I’d probably be an awful employer**. However, if you like the sound of a career where you can be doing all of these jobs and more (or less, or something completely different) then virtual assisting could be for you!
*God, I’m lonely..
**I would have no real work for you to do, I get bored easily, we would end up going on days out or you would be going to Lidl’s for me. You may have to look after the cat if I want to go and do something fun. Exciting things like that.
A virtual assistant’s role is pretty hard to define. Different clients will expect you to perform different tasks for them and gosh, it seems there are an awful lot of them. I’d recommend brushing up on your Microsoft skills and if you have time after that look at everything from Photoshop to SEO work. Basically, you need to be a bit of an all-rounder at office and clerical skills. A shortlist of roles you may be expected to perform as a VA includes making phone calls, emailing people, online research, data entry, appointment making, blog management, proofreading, customer service and anything and everything in between. If you are not yet a genius at all of these things, never fear, there are some links here. Hopefully, here you can find everything you need to brush up on your skills. You really don’t need to know it all and it’s probably more realistic if you become competent in as many aspects as you can and brilliant in one or two of them. That way you can look for more specialised work and charge extra for your greatness.
Without wanting to sound harsh to any current, future or past VA’s out there the job can be doing the jobs that your employer doesn’t want to do for themselves. They are employing you to free up their time, probably to play golf or drink. It’s important to know that before diving into the murky world of VA-ing. Some of the jobs you might get asked to do will be rubbish. Lunch ordering, flight booking levels of rubbish-ness. It’s a well-worn stereotype in TV and films that the people who get people to do these jobs for them tend to be idiots and a***h***s^^. This may not be true in the real world but at least you are now prepared for the worst!
^^Not always, if you do this, I’m sure you are the exception, one of the nice ones.
Virtual assistants have an important role to play in modern businesses and more and more opportunities for them are arising daily. It can a great way for you to earn extra cash whilst on your travels or, if you are really keen, it can become a successful career for you. Either way, you can decide whether you want to work freelance or for ‘the man’. There are links below to help you find work but if you are flying solo, as with all of the other freelance jobs, you should set yourself up a website. It looks more professional and is much better than just relying on the job boards. You should make sure that your website is clean, crisp and easy to navigate and that it lists all of your key points and none of your bad ones. You don’t want to scare people off too soon. Make the most of the social media platforms to promote yourself, if you’re not sure how to do this, consider hiring a virtual assistant. I hear this is the sort of thing they excel at.
What do I need skill wise?
Formally, you don’t need any skills. Obviously, if you have previous experience in an assistant’s role or working in an office it won’t hurt but don’t worry if you don’t have a degree in er…. Assisting…..?
Ah, OK. Well, I was half-joking about the degree in assisting but it turns out that there genuinely are online courses for any potential VA’s out there. I’m not entirely sure what value this will add to your employability but many of them are free so it might be worth 10 minutes of your time looking here. I’m sure that if you look for 13 seconds you will also find courses that require you to part with money for access. I’d be quite sceptical about that personally but hey, you’re a grown adult I assume, do what you will.
Far more important than a piece of paper/pixel qualifications are your personal skills. All VAs are going to have to possess pretty much all of the following. First of all is reliability, no one will want an assistant that only assists themselves in not working and leaving people in the lurch. You won’t be a very good VA if you do that. The role can be so diverse that you’ll need to adapt to new working methods and systems. Good communication skills are key for this role, there’s going to be a lot of back and forth and you need to make sure that you are understanding what is being asked of you. Being pro-active, able to work on your own and self-motivated are vital. A VA’s lot is not always a happy one, you’ll need to soldier on and get it done. You might not like working after 5? You might hate working Saturdays? You might not have a choice, I’m sure some VAs get to pick their dream hours but it’s unlikely. You need to be flexible, especially if you are nomading around in different time zones. VAs will need to be multitasking wizards who know exactly what and when to prioritize throughout the day, ensuring all of the work is finished on time to a brilliant standard.
To be honest, it’s all sounding like hard work to me.
What do I need hardware wise?
Basics for the digital nomad looking for a VA gig are a decent laptop and an excellent internet connection. You can branch out into swish smartphones but then when are you ever not going to be working? You should make sure whatever it is you are using is up to the job and has some form of communication software like Skype. You’ll need to speak to some people sometimes!
I’ll have to assume that your employer will have software preferences. This could be absolutely anything as far as I know but a good place to look for what seems to me a great overview of potential VA software is here and here. As the software and technology is constantly changing you’ll need to use that flexibility and adaptability from earlier here to keep up with the trends!
Where do I find work?
Potential virtual assistants can look at redbutler, peopleperhour, uassistme, AssistantMatch, BelaySolutions, FancyHands, Freelancer, Upwork, Indeed, Guru and any other freelance site listed on the Digital Nomads list.
Failing that you can promote your own website, search on Facebook or similar sites or go amazingly old school and ask around.
What can I earn?
Most freelance virtual assistant jobs will come with an hourly rate, depending on your skills and experience this can range from between $10 – $50 an hour, not bad at all if you are towards the top end of the scale. For more specialist roles you can expect to earn a lot more, it’s definitely possible to make enough money to live on as a virtual assistant but it won’t necessarily be the easiest job you have ever had.
How well does it suit the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
Really well and a touch badly at the same time..
It’s ideal if you can make your work schedule fit around your travel schedule and you don’t mind working odd hours when needed. Part of the joy of being a digital nomad is working wherever you are in the world and this job allows that. It just might not allow you much sleep some nights!
If you love the idea of becoming a freelance virtual assistant, well, a freelance anything really but don’t know where to start you are in luck. You can start here, the Freelance Launch! Written by someone who knows what they are doing* this book has everything you need to know to start before starting on your freelance career.
*That means it’s not me.