How to become a Virtual PA
What is Virtual PA?
A Virtual PA (VA) is a self-employed sole contractor who will provide PA support from a chosen location (your home for example) rather than working as an employee
in an Office). You may have limited contact with your ‘employer’ so you must be confident in working alone and to deadlines.
While we use the term Virtual Assistant this just a generic name for this business.
Being a virtual PA means you are not just an office assistant.
Is this for me?
A VA is someone who has PA/EA experience. The good thing is that you have skills that are transferable so it may not matter which Company you have worked for before.
Services a VA can offer
Social Media Management
Transcription services (for minutes, reports, letters, press releases etc)
Reception duties (calls come directly to your landline)
Sending invoices to clients (and chasing overdue payments)
Presenting weekly reports
Database entry via Excel
Dealing with new employees/new starters
Ad hoc admin and PA duties
What you need to start
Computer with good internet connection
Back up or storage system
A quiet place to work
Document storage (online and offline)
Transcription software (if you are going to be doing audio)
Telephone headset (you need this so you can talk hands free) essential if your client has called and wants to amend something immediately
Printer/Scanner (if you do not have these you can use an Internet Café/Library)
Good phone line
Stationary (A4 white paper) and matching envelopes
A good PC engineer for emergencies
How much can a VA Earn?
Most VAs can earn between £20-£25 per hour but you would have to negotiate with your client.
Remember that yes £25 is an excellent hourly rate but you need to factor in additional costs which include Business Insurance, National Insurance, Tax, Home Insurance
and Utilities. So do make sure that you do not take a low rate as otherwise you will not be making any money.
You could be devaluing your service if you accept low rates. As you are an experienced PA you absolutely have the right to charge a good rate.
As a Virtual PA you are there to provide your client with a superb service which in turn allows them to grow and develop their business with your help. What is that
By charging a low fee you may think “Oh well I am just starting out so I will charge a much lower rate”. This can work against you. The type of client you may get will be
one that always looks for the cheap deal. Later on when you realise that the rate is too low you may not be able to change the rate. So always start as you mean to go on. It
will be worth it in the end.
Charge a retainer for your services
This is a great way to ensure that you have a regular income (suggest to your client they use you on a retainer rate). For example they guarantee you 10 hours per week at
£25 per hour means you have a guaranteed income of £250 per week. If you have 2-3 clients that do this you can then see how the income can mount up. Also in your
contract state there must be a months’ notice on either side. That way if a client does not need your service next month you then have a month to find another client.
Charge a premium for next day
If you have client that needs an urgent project done within 24 hours then consider offering a VIP Premium Service at an additional cost.
How to market yourself as a VA
Prepare your Elevator Speech
This is a pitch in 30 seconds about yourself and your business. It is called an Elevator Speech as that is normally how long it takes a lift to rise from the bottom of the
building to the top. Try to include what your aims are, how you can help them and what is different about you.
Below is a brief example. You will need to practice your pitch several times before meeting any clients. Why not try this out on some family and friends and ask for
I am a Virtual Assistant who works with small business owners (such as yourself). I take on the tasks you do not like doing, or simply do not have the time to do. So you
can free up your time working on your business
Networking – past employers When you decide to become a VA use all your contacts. Think about all the places you have worked. Contact them and explain you are starting a VA business and could they a) use your service or b) recommend you to anyone they know. The good thing about this is that if you were an excellent employee they will already know how good you are.
What about family and friends – they could ask their employer if they want to take on a VA. Personal recommendation is always a good factor.
Get a set of quality business card and flyers. Always have them with you so if you meet a potential client you can give them one of your cards or flyers.
One good place to get printed cards and flyers is Vista Print. The costs are reasonable and the turnaround rate is very fast https://www.vistaprint.co.uk
Why not place some flyers in local stores – most of them have a board where you can advertise and often for free. Also consider placing flyers in local areas where people
work. For example meeting places, exhibitions or other local networking areas.
Employment fairs/Trade Shows
Often there are employment/recruitment fairs in most towns and cities. Why not visit them and present yourself to potential employers. They could be looking (or know
someone that needs a Virtual PA).
Before you attend do some research on who is attending (often the Trade Shows have a website that lists companies attending). Find out the names of the people you would
like to connect with and visit them while you are there (with your elevator pitch and business cards of course!)
One good idea is prior to attending any potential client meeting or networking is to have some branding made up. Consider getting some cups, pens and notepads made with your contact details. You can give these out to the people you meet. They will think of you every time they use the pen, notepad or have a cup of tea – remember it is all about standing out and being
Your local newspaper
Your local newspaper is always looking for good stories. So think of a USP and ask if they would like to do a feature on your new business.
You could advertise your services on the following online sites when getting started – and these sites also offer services as well. I
Consider placing an advert in a relevant trade magazine or newspaper. Make sure you know your target audience. In your advert state you can solve their problems. Explain
how you can help them.
Letter of introduction
Prepare a good letter and hand deliver it to local companies in your area. Also attach a business card. Say you are in the area next week and would like to have a brief 15
minute meeting to discuss potential opportunities. Prior to sending out the letter do some research on local companies and try to find out the name of the Business owner or HR director and tailor your letter accordingly.
Do not send a generic letter out eg Dear Sir or address the envelope to The Business Owner or HR Manager as they will simply end up in the bin. By taking some time and
effort this will show that you have done your research and will come over as very professional. Remember first impressions count. A few days later after delivering your
letter give the person a call asking if they had read the letter and would they be happy to meet. Ideally give them a day and time you are available.
There are many networking clubs that are based locally and some further afield.
They cater for all local business owners and have regular monthly meetings which you can attend. You can visit them usually for free on the first visit to see if that Club is
the right fit for you. Do remember to bring your business cards with you and to remember your elevator speech.
Chamber of Commerce
Business Over Breakfast (BOB)
BNI generally only have one person per area of expertise.
The Women Institute (WI)
Linkedin is a great source for networking. Make sure your profile is up to date with a professional picture (considering getting a set of professional photographs from your local photo studio) it will be a small investment of around £50 but will be worth it. You may already have many contacts on Linkedin – so reach out to them. View your connections and see if anyone of them has a first degree contact that would be suitable for your business. They could introduce you to them and that could lead to future contacts.
Another good tip for LinkedIn is to market yourself as an Authority on your business. There are always different types of discussions on LinkedIn. So keep a look out for
topics your target audience is asking and then respond to them with answers. Remember do not sell at this point (but they can see from your profile that you are a VA). They will be pleased that you helping them with answer to their questions and will often review your profile.
Set up a good website with details of your services. Think of a good domain name that will come up when people are looking for a Virtual PA service.
A simple website can be set up in WordPress and is very user friendly. You can also add a blog as this will again show that you are an authority on your VA business.
Google my Business – make sure you register for a Google my Business account after setting up the website.
Good Trade Association
Society of Virtual Assistants UK
This business is ideal for someone who loves organising and helping people. A lot of Small Business owners may be trying to do everything themselves and not
succeeding. This is where your service as a VA is vital. This is a great business to start now.