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How to Start a Virtual Assistant Side Hustle in 24 Hours (2023)

How to Start a Virtual Assistant Side Hustle in 24 Hours (2023)

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Ever dreamt about making cash in your pajamas? 

Well today my two fabulous virtual assistants — Lianne and Farhanah — are going to show you how to make it happen (based on years of VA experience).

Virtual assistance is one of the easiest online income streams to start, especially if you don’t want to invest tons of money or spend months studying a new business model.

If you’ve got a laptop and basic computer skills, you can kick off your virtual assistant side hustle in as little as 24 hours

No, we’re not exaggerating. And we’ll show you exactly how to do it.

“It’s true. I went on a 3-month backpacking trip to Colombia a few years ago, and when the time came that I had to get back to real life, I desperately searched for a way to make money online. I started a VA business in my last 3 weeks in Colombia, and landed my first client within a week of that. I’ve been able to travel and work ever since.” -Farhanah

5 steps to start your virtual assistant side hustle in 24 hours

Step 1: Choose a skill you already know

Time to complete: 1 to 2 hours

Before we started as a VA, we thought we had to learn everything from scratch. But we were surprised by how many skills we already had that people need.  

And you probably do too.

If you start by offering a skill you already know how to do, you could theoretically start earning today.

Are there tasks or responsibilities you do well at your current job? 

Even simple things like replying to emails or planning events are valuable if you want to work as a virtual assistant.

Think about all of the expertise you’ve developed over the years. Things like volunteer work, hobbies, or managing a household.

“When I was younger I used to make a ton of home videos. Like really bad “music videos” with my little sisters. They weren’t professional by any means, but that was something I knew how to do. And it turns out, a lot of people needed basic video editing. So that’s a service I was able to offer immediately.”Farhanah

Believe it or not, your experience doesn’t just come from where you work. A ton of us use different skills in our everyday lives that can be extremely valuable to someone else. 

We call these “soft skills”. Soft skills are basically common skills that can be applied to any line of work. 

Speaking a different language can be considered a soft skill. 

Time management or cultural sensitivity are other soft skills. 

If you’re good at juggling a ton of things at once, you could label that as “project management”.

On top of soft skills, these are some other things VAs do that might be right up your alley. 

Calendar Management. Schedule appointments, set reminders, and organize meetings for clients.

Writing. Write content online for social media posts or blog articles.

Basic bookkeeping. Keep track of budgets and expenses, and manage financial records.

Graphic design. Design visuals for marketing materials, websites, and social media posts.

Content posting. Schedule posts for blogs and social media, and engage with client’s followers.

Teaching and training. Explain instructional materials as an online tutor or as a trainer for business teams.

Research. Find information on competitors, suppliers, or online trends.

Email management. Get paid to read emails, organize inboxes, and reply to messages.

Document organization. Organize client’s digital files, create folders, and rename files.

Video editing. Edit videos for YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok.

All these types of virtual assistants have huge demand. 

By focusing on a skill you already know, you can start offering your services right away. 

If you’re an expert with Excel or Google Sheets, you could offer data entry and organization services to clients.

If you’re a skilled organizer and multitasker, you could offer executive assistance services.

“In my case, I know how to write. I’ve been writing since high school and when I got to college, I started my own ghostwriting side hustle. Eventually I started writing professionally as a research assistant for an art museum. The content writing I do now as a VA is slightly different, but I’m basically using the same skills as before.” Lianne

Pro tip: Clients won’t expect you to know their business right away. But they do prefer VAs with some knowledge of their industry so it’s easier to train them.

So even if you’re offering beginner level services, if you know an industry, you are more qualified. This could be anything — finance, healthcare, tech, real estate, travel…you name it.

“In 2020 I decided to start a podcast. Why not? No one was working anyway, and I had the time. 

That year of me learning Audacity, how to write scripts, how to upload it to a hosting platform gave me an edge. 

My first ever VA client needed me to help him with his podcast of all things. So that’s what I did. 

It started out as super basic stuff, like upload the episode, or write the description for the episode. But because of my prior “experience”, I was the VA he decided to go with. 

So think about what you like doing. What you wouldn’t mind learning. What you already know to do, and offer it. You never know who might need exactly what you do.”Farhanah

Step 2: Create a portfolio

Time to complete: 2 to 3 hours

“It took a few failed attempts at getting clients before I realized a resume alone wasn’t enough. I needed real proof of my experience as a writer.

So, I collected my writing projects from my part-time teaching gig and put together a portfolio. This gave me a much-needed credibility boost.

Clients were more interested in what I had to offer after seeing what I could do.”Lianne

To make your portfolio, collect any previous work or samples you’ve done. Don’t worry if you have little to no formal experience as a VA.

As we’ve mentioned, you already have plenty of skills for a beginner virtual assistant. You can even list your soft skills. 

If you’re looking to find clients as a VA graphic designer, for example, your portfolio could include the flier you made for an event at work or a presentation you made for your friend’s business. 

As a last resort, you could even create sample graphics for an imaginary client. Canva is a great tool for this, and you can learn enough to be dangerous within an hour. 

Be selective about what you add in your portfolio. There’s no point including samples for things you don’t want to do.

That said, here are some things you can put in your portfolio:

  • Blogs you’ve written
  • Videos you’ve edited – even the short ones on Instagram and TikTok
  • Marketing emails you’ve written 
  • Websites you’ve designed or worked on 
  • Languages you’re fluent in 
  • Essays you’ve proofread and edited 
  • Presentations you’ve made 
  • Social media plans (this can be a mockup if you don’t have the real deal)
  • Your own social media accounts (if they look nice)
  • Timesheets you’ve managed

Make sure to include high-quality visuals like images, videos, or screenshots of your work where possible. This not only makes your portfolio more appealing but also shows your attention to detail and professionalism.

Make sure to also include your contact information. You want potential clients to get in touch with you.

Pro tip: Before you panic about not having a website or portfolio, Google Drive and Canva are all you need. In an hour or two, you can whip up something that makes you look like a professional VA.

Make a folder in Google Drive and upload your work samples. If you prefer a more visual approach, use Canva.

Canva also has a ton of templates to choose from, so you don’t need to start from scratch.

All you have to do is swap in your info and BOOM, you have a portfolio.

Step 3: Reach out to your network

Graphic stick persons around with text overlay potential 1st client your circle , your circle's circle

Time to complete: 8 to 10 hours

Your family and friends are the BEST place to find your first client fast. Working with people who already know and trust you is infinitely easier than convincing a stranger to hire you — especially when you’re new..

Make a list of the people in your network who might need a VA. Think about small business owners and busy professionals who could benefit from your skills and services.

I prefer using LinkedIn since that platform is meant for professional networking. You can spot what people need in the industry you want to work in.

This makes it easier to send them personalized messages. The key here is to not come off as pushy or shady.

But also watch out for job listings that look fishy. It might be a virtual assistant scam waiting to take advantage of you.

But don’t limit yourself to LinkedIn. 

Take 20 minutes to brainstorm all the people you know — friends, family, people from church, sports teams, your kids friend’s parents, neighbors, your gym, barber, dentist…everyone.

Explain what you’re offering as a VA and how you can help them with their business. Be genuine and clear about the value you can bring.

I sent a quick message to one of my former officemates explaining the service I was offering, and I was able to get a project-based VA writer gig after just one day!Lianne

On top of one-on-one outreach, post your new VA side hustle on social media. You never know who is looking that might need your help.

“I opened an Instagram account for my services when I first started. Even though I was hardly active there, I was able to find a few clients that came across my page. 

From there it was just a lot of referrals. You can build up your network really fast if you’re constantly promoting your services.”Farhanah

Be sure to include a call-to-action (CTA) for someone to reach out if they’re interested, or if they know someone who might be. After all, 88% of people trust referrals from people they already know.

Pro tip: You can also use freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. These platforms are great for beginners looking for work as a virtual assistant. That said, if you’re serious about this 24-hour deadline, spend all your energy on your network. Once you get your first paying client, then you can explore other methods.

If you spend an entire 24 hours laser focused on the steps above, chances are high that you can get someone to agree to give you a shot.

But that’s only the first step. Once you land that first client, the real work begins. 

Step 4: Land your first client

laptop on a table with phone and notebook

Time to complete: 2 to 3 hours

This is the part where you get down to business. You’ve pitched your service and landed a client. 

Now you have to set up your workflow. 

If you’re just starting out working online, my advice is to start with a free trial so there’s less risk for the client (while you show off your top-notch VA skills).

Since this is someone in your network, they’re less likely to take advantage of you. If you wow them during your trial, they’ll want to hire you.

That said, it’s important to define the scope and timeframe of the trial period. This sets the right expectations for you and the client from the start.

And stick to this scope! 

It’s super common for VAs starting out to just do all the things because they can, and they want to be useful. 

“I did this and would just say yes to anything. 

I ended up being overworked, underpaid, and gave the client a ton of free labor. And by the time I realized it, it was too late. 

Negotiating a raise AFTER you’ve done all of the work is never an easy conversation, so just stick to what was agreed on.”Farhanah

When it comes to setting your rates, think about things like your skills, experience, and the difficulty of the tasks you’re performing. 

How much you charge also comes down to where you live, what your tax rates are, and how much you’re trying to earn. 

It’s not a bad idea to accept a low rate for your very first client. The main goal here is to build experience. As you’ll see in the next step, the key is to not stick at this level for long.

Generally, beginner virtual assistants can earn anywhere from $10 to $25 per hour in the US. Experienced (and highly specialized) VAs can make between $50 and $100 per hour or more. 

“When I first started out, I charged $35 per hour. After a few months and experience under my belt, that number quickly scaled to $60 per hour. So there is huge earning potential.”Farhanah

But don’t forget to be flexible – it’s always better to negotiate a fair rate both you and the client are happy with when you’re starting out.

You also don’t need to break the bank to get your VA side hustle off the ground. Take advantage of free virtual assistant tools to help you become more efficient and effective.

Pro tip: Persistence is key when landing your first client. So don’t get discouraged when someone declines your offer. 

Just remember — it’s a numbers game. 

Refine your pitch, expand your network, and nurture relationships to increase your chances of success. If you’re really feeling down, you can always read some virtual assistant quotes for inspiration.

“I would often feel down when potential clients told me no, or worse not reply at all. There were times when I even questioned if becoming a VA was the right choice.

But I realized that the best move was to just keep going. I upgraded my skills and sent out more messages until finally, I got a YES.” Lianne

Step 5: Grow your business model

person holding paper bills

After landing your first client, you don’t have to stop with just one or two tasks. You can cast a wider net and offer more VA services.

This not only earns you extra money but also grows your side hustle into a real business. 

Start by niching down your services. Think about what your clients need and how you can better solve their problems. Also think about what you’re good at and what you want to do more of.

You can earn a lot more if you’re specialized. And the way you present your business and market yourself will also have a huge impact on how much you can charge.

The easiest way to specialize and learn to charge more is to take one of these top-rated virtual assistant courses, which are basically like a shortcut to earning more. 

You can also find a mentor or a more experienced VA to help you find your way in the industry.

In my opinion, investing time and resources on improving yourself is always worth it. The sky’s the limit with how far you can take your virtual assistant side hustle. 

Another way to get more clients is to increase your online presence. You can set up a professional virtual assistant website or join online platforms where people can find you.

Don’t forget to get testimonials and reviews from clients you’ve already worked with. These are great for boosting your reputation and social proof.

As you gain experience and build your client base, be open to scaling your services and adjusting your pricing to match your skill level and value offering. 

This way, you can continue to attract clients who appreciate your work and make sure your side hustle stays lucrative and rewarding.

Pro tip: You’ll likely experience a mix of trial and error while growing your VA business. But if you’re serious about turning this into a long-term venture, you need to do your research and consider the pros and cons of being a virtual assistant.

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).
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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