How to Become a Virtual Assistant Digital Nomad in 2021

digital nomad girl on Seychelles beach

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This guest post was written by Rachita Saxena, a virtual assistant who has traveled the world non-stop for over three years.

Ever wonder how people travel the world non-stop without a full-time job?

Well, one way is to become a digital nomad virtual assistant (or “VA” for short).

That is precisely how I’ve funded my full-time travels for the past three years. It’s hands down one of the best digital nomad jobs for beginners

In the past 3 years, I have traveled to countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, and more — for months at a time. These adventures were all made possible thanks to my job freelancing as a virtual assistant.

If you have always wanted to travel the world on your own terms, this could be your ticket.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to become a virtual assistant and travel the world as a digital nomad — even if you don’t have any experience.

Let’s dive in. 

digital nomad on Seychelles beach
Traveling as a VA has allowed me to visit some spectacular places, like Seychelles.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is a self-employed freelancer that offers remote services to businesses or entrepreneurs. 

In other words, a personal assistant, but for virtual tasks. 

From scheduling tasks to managing social media to organizing email inboxes — virtual assistants take care of a wide range of professional (and personal) errands for small business owners.

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Types of virtual assistants

There are four types of VAs for any field: 

#1.) General VA. A general VA performs generic tasks like replying to emails, organizing files, creating files, formatting blog posts, and any other entry-level tasks.

You don’t need to know about your client’s product or niche since most of your tasks are generic.

#2.) Admin VA. An admin VA helps manage tasks related to a client’s niche, and sometimes is even in charge of managing other, lower-level VAs.

Admin VAs get paid more, but they also have more responsibility.

#3.) Specialized VA. This type of VA has a specific skill set that a client needs. For example, some specialized VAs work solely on social media, Pinterest, SEO, or graphic design.

The more valuable your skill, the harder you are to replace, and the more money you can charge. 

#4.) Project Launch VA. A product launch VA is hired for one project to help achieve a specific objective — like launching a product or perform website maintenance tasks.

Want more ways to make money traveling? Check out this ginormous list of the best travel jobs. You’re guaranteed to find new ideas. 

What does a day in the life of a digital nomad virtual assistant look like?

woman traveling as a virtual assistant digital nomad
Just another day in the office.

My days as a digital nomad virtual assistant are quite flexible. 

I have a set number of tasks to perform each day (or week). Once I complete those, I can do whatever I want. Generally, it doesn’t take more than 3-4 hours to complete my tasks.

That means, in addition to exploring new places, I have plenty of time to focus on my travel blog and connect with my family and friends. 

I also don’t need to sacrifice “me-time” anymore, which happened too often when I worked a full-time job. 

Lastly, since I can work remotely, it is easier to travel and shift my base whenever I want. I can work from a different city or country, and there is no one to stop me. 

How is the work/life/travel balance?

Since I started working as a VA, my life is more balanced than ever. 

Before, I slaved away the whole day and had no time to work on my travel blog. Worst of all, whenever I wanted to travel, I basically had to beg for time off.

Not anymore. 

Now, I blast out my work in a couple of hours each day and use all my free time to explore.

And there’s no more asking permission to travel. Now I plan impromptu trips all the time — sometimes for months on end. 

Honestly, becoming a traveling virtual assistant is one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

How to become a virtual assistant digital nomad

Anyone can become a virtual assistant digital nomad. 

Your first step is to make a list of all the tasks and jobs you know how to do. If your list is short, you can learn how to do just about anything online using Youtube or a free Skillshare subscription.

If you need some inspiration, here are over 50 services you can offer as a virtual assistant.

During my day job, I realized I am good at writing and was quick to learn SEO and WordPress tools. I leveraged these skills when looking for my first VA jobs.

I also love social media and knew how to create social media posts, use hashtags, and grow a following. I used these skills to land various clients needing help managing their social media accounts.

Once you know what you are good at, you can start looking for jobs. 

Initially, you might have to start at a lower pay grade. It’s all part of building up your expertise to land higher-paying clients. As you develop your skills, you will start finding clients that pay more.

Interested in starting digital nomad life? Check out the internet’s more comprehensive free blueprint on how to become a digital nomad.

Virtual assistant requirements and certifications

woman sitting in nature with camera
Knocking out work for my VA client who needs help with social media

Clients don’t care about certifications. They care about results. If you know how to do what your clients are paying you for, you should be fine. 

That said, you do need to have some skills. Even general VAs need to know the basics of Gmail, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, and other common programs. 

If you want to become an admin VA or handle niche-specific tasks, a deep knowledge of the niche is important. For example: Since I am a travel blogger, I know how to perform keyword research for travel topics and can edit the content accordingly for the travel websites.

If you are going to be hired for specific tasks such as SEO, editing, proofreading, writing, etc., then you would need the necessary skills for those. Again, most of this can be learned fairly quickly by searching on Google, Youtube, or signing up for free Skillshare courses.

Now, there’s one other important requirement to becoming a virtual assistant…

And that is actually learning how to run a business (after all, this is a business!)

If you don’t feel confident about marketing yourself, finding clients, negotiating, billing, keeping track of finances, taxes, etc. — here is an awesome free webinar that’ll teach you how to set up your VA business and start getting paid ASAP.

Or if you’re pumped to get started now and can’t be bothered to wait until the next webinar, this cheap $19 VA Jumpstart mini-course is a great place to start.

Remember, you’re investing in a new career here. Sure, you can piece things together for free and figure things out through trial and error (kind of like I did). But if you want to speed up the process and set yourself up as a professional business from the get-go, investing in yourself is never a bad idea.

Where to find virtual assistant jobs for beginners

There are many platforms and channels you can use to find virtual assistant jobs. A few popular websites I used to find jobs were Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.com.

Apart from that, there are many groups on Facebook you can join to find work. Instead of looking for groups for VAs, think of groups full of people who might be interested in hiring a VA. 

For example, I found one of my clients in the DNW Facebook group — a group full of bloggers. Best of all it’s pretty interesting work. I’m essentially the SEO specialist and editor for a travel website.

Lastly, word of mouth is a pretty effective way to find jobs as well. Another client of mine is a friend-of-a-friend who reached out to me to create and edit blog posts for their website.

How much do virtual assistants earn?

Well, this depends a lot on the tasks and the duration of the job. 

Some clients pay you by the hour and some pay you a fixed monthly salary.

Generally, a beginner VA can earn anywhere between $300 and $400 per month per client. You can charge a minimum of $15 per hour, which can increase as you gain experience and sharpen your skills.

Speaking of which, if you are a specialized VA, you can charge more than a general VA because of your expertise. 

Think of it in terms of supply and demand. The harder it is for a client to find a VA with a specialized skill set, the more you are worth.

When I started, I only earned $150 per month and would work longer hours. But now I earn somewhere $500 per month, working (very) part time, which helps me keep my travel fund from draining too fast.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average work from home virtual assistant salary in the U.S. is $67,115. Not too shabby if you wanted to do this full time. 

If determining how much to charge sounds like a daunting task, check out this guide on setting your VA rates.

What’s your favorite part of being a traveling virtual assistant?

goa beach tables
Temporary office on the beach in Goa

My favorite part about being a traveling virtual assistant is, of course, that I can travel anywhere that I want. 

In the past couple months, I have been stuck in India due to the pandemic. But since I have a remote job, I’m able to work from mountains or beaches and have my fill of traveling as well.

What do you wish you would’ve known when you first started?

In the beginning, I lacked confidence. I didn’t apply for many jobs because I didn’t feel qualified.  

I stuck to only writing-related VA work, which was a big mistake.

As someone who has been creating and editing blogs for over 5 years now, I had plenty of experience to take on other types of tasks.

What I’m trying to say is — don’t underestimate yourself or sell yourself short. You don’t need any special training to become a VA. All you need is the confidence to pick up the jobs. If you don’t know how to do something, open up Google and learn it!

What other advice do you have for someone who wants to travel the world as a virtual assistant?

Digital nomads don’t just work on beaches — I like the cold too! (Manali)

Since this is a remote job, there is no restriction on where you can travel. All you need is a good laptop for digital nomads and a reliable internet connection while traveling. With those two ingredients, you’re all set.

That said, make sure to tell your clients if you are going to be offline, and always stay up-to-date on your work. The last thing you want is a client who needs something and can’t contact you. If that happens, they probably won’t be a client for very long.

It’s easy to get caught up in your travel adventures, but you can never ignore your daily tasks. 

Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).

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