What people don’t understand about VA work, is the fact that you can earn pretty good money if you know how to structure your VA business.
You heard that right. It’s a business. It is not a freelance job. It is not a hobby. It is not something that you do when you have spare time.
If that’s how you view VA work, then it’s no surprise that you are earning very little or you’re not earning at all.
In this short guide, I’m going to teach you how to become a virtual assistant and get paid the amount of money you deserve.
What are the qualifications you need to become an international virtual assistant?
By international virtual assistant, I’m talking about people who live in countries outside of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States and Western Europe. I’m talking about people who live in developing countries getting paid in dollars.
What kind of skills would you need to earn $7,500 or more per month?
Excellent English skills
The first skill set that you need is English. I’m talking about written and spoken English. If you know how to write really well and you are very articulate in English, you can pretty much write your own paycheck as a virtual assistant.
The good news is you don’t have to have a fancy college degree to reach this level of proficiency. In fact, you don’t even have to have a college diploma. You just have to have the skills. At the end of the day, your customer located halfway around the world is not going to care whether you have a piece of paper hanging on a wall that says “University of something”
You know what they care about? Your work product. Are you able to deliver on time? Are you able to deliver solid value? That’s pretty much the long and short of it. Let’s not over complicate things. Focus on your English skills.
The good news is even if you have lousy English skills or people can’t understand what you’re saying, you can still improve. There are all sorts of videos on YouTube that would enable you to speak English clearly.
Please understand that clear English doesn’t mean unaccented English. Believe it or not, to become a highly paid effective virtual assistant, you don’t have to speak English without a hint of an accent.
You can have a nice accent and that’s okay. As long as the person on the other end can clearly understand what you’re trying to get across, you’re good.
Start with YouTube. There are tons of English instruction materials on YouTube. Its ESL channels are amazing. Supplement that with blog posts that teach you the ins and outs of written English.
Of course, a lot of this will take time. But that’s precisely what you need to do anyway. You’re supposed to invest your time and effort in your VA business. Which brings me to the second point.
Treat your VA practice as a business
Have you ever noticed that doctors and lawyers describe what they do as “practices”? The same applies with virtual assistant. If you’re going to describe what you do as something that you do to earn a few extra dollars here and there, then you’re doing it wrong.
You’re going to continue to get paid very little because you don’t take it seriously. You have to look at it as a business. Now you may be saying to yourself “But this is just a simple matter of terminology.”
Wrong! When you say that you have a business, then you have to treat it like a business. This means that you have to set monthly sales goals, you have to invest in your business, you have to buy software, you have to get equipment.
The good news is a lot of these can be deducted from your taxes. But you have to treat what you’re doing as a business. When you are paying somebody to help you write better or communicate better in English, you are investing in your business.
When you are buying special clothes so you look good on webcam and doing presentations for your clients, you’re investing in your business.
At the end of the day, you are your business. The way you talk, the way you think, the way you communicate, the way you look. So, get serious. If you think that you just have a virtual assistant hobby or you just do VA work when you need the money, you’re not treating your VA practice as a business.
In fact, you don’t have a practice. You just have a sideline that generates money from time to time. But it’s not something that you can depend on. It’s definitely not reliable income.
If you want to stop struggling, view you virtual assistant work as a business.
Network your way to Virtual Assistant Success
Successful virtual assistants are very easy to spot. In fact, they have one thing in common. They look very different from each other, they have different accents, they have different educational backgrounds, they look very different from each other.
But none of those differences matter because they have one thing in common that unifies them: they know how to network.
Usually when people think of networking, they think about rubbing shoulders, going to some sort of convention, pressing the flesh, shaking hands. That’s one way to network. But what if I told you that if you can log in to Linkedin and create an awesome Linkedin account, you can network.
This is called virtual networking. Successful virtual assistants are awesome at virtual networking. They not only are able to get clients, but they’re able to get their clients to get them new clients. Once they get new clients, they will then work those clients to get them even more new clients.
That’s how they think. That’s why they’re successful. They don’t look at just trying to figure out where their next dollar is gonna come from. So once they get some poor sucker to hire them and they do a really crappy job, they get the money from the client and they move on to the next victim.
I’m telling you, if that is your mindset and that’s how you run your VA practice, you’re going to continue to struggle. I’m not gonna say that you’re not gonna make any money because there’s a tremendous global demand for virtual assistants services.
But what I’m gonna tell you is that you’re just making it harder on yourself because you are constantly jumping from one client to the next, chasing after chump change. This is due to the fact that you are not trying to build relationships.
Remember, every single customer that you have could be a source of even more work in the future. Better yet, they can bring new customers to you. You have to look at them that way. You can’t just look at them as somebody who pays you $5 here and there.
Unfortunately, that’s the kind of mindset a lot of virtual assistants have and that’s why they’re struggling. They go from client to client and they don’t know what tomorrow will bring. They don’t know if tomorrow they’re gonna eat because they don’t know if they’re gonna have a client.
Successful VAs build their businesses on network relationships. They know that they only need to get one client and they do so well with that client that that customer will eagerly draw others to that virtual assistant.
If you don’t believe me, just put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Have you found yourself looking for a new barber? You know how hard it is to find somebody who could actually cut hair or at least cut your hair.
So what happens when you find somebody who’s good? You stick to that person because you know how hard it is to try to find somebody who’s competent. Better yet, you tell your friends who are also looking for barbers.
“Hey! Check out Bob. He knows what he’s doing.” That’s how it works. Excellent virtual assistants are always in demand. That’s why they are able to earn $7,500 or more per month. That’s higher than the median income in the United States which is $5,000 USD per month.
We’re talking about people who live in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria. What’s the secret? Networking.
Deliver solid work
I can tell you that a lot of virtual assistants would say that they deliver good work. In fact, some would even flat out say that they’re the best at what they do. Well, as the English used to say, the proof is in the pudding.
In other words, do you deliver solid value? When you produce your work and you deliver it to your client, does it have the following qualities?
It is clear and easy to understand
Do you deliver in plain English or is your report so vague, disjointed and badly composed that your client has to send you a follow up email just to understand the previous email you sent?
You may be thinking that this is nitpicking or splitting the difference. Maybe! But you have to understand that your customers don’t have all the time in the world. They can’t screw around. So the easier you make it for them, the more likely they would come back and, more importantly, the larger the work they will give you.
As the old saying goes, if you can trust somebody with a little, you can trust them with a lot. Sadly, the flip side is also true. If you can’t trust somebody with even the most basic task, it doesn’t make any sense to give that person even more responsibility.
You have to think along these lines. When you get your first client and they give you a very basic or almost menial task like tagging images or finding search results, you have to deliver solid value. You have to be eager about it.
At the end of the day, people are looking for results and the results of your work highlight the value that you bring to the table. You can rest assured that your client will keep coming back for more.
How do you prepare to become a high earning virtual assistant?
To maximize your income potential, you need to follow a process. There’s too many virtual assistants out there who think that just because they have an advanced degree from one of the top universities in their country that this somehow entitles them to a higher income.
If only things were that simple. The most awesome about earning a living off the internet is that everybody starts out at the bottom. You may be thinking that this is bad news. How can this be good news?
Everybody starts out at the bottom. But think about it. Everybody’s equal. It doesn’t matter who your parents are. It doesn’t matter what your last name is. It doesn’t matter how prestigious your school is. It doesn’t even matter whether you have a diploma or not.
Everybody starts out with zero. This is a tremendous opportunity because the barriers that normally weed people out or unfairly discriminate against people are all gone. At the end of the day, it’s not your skin color, it’s not your gender, it’s not your religion, it’s not your country of origin that matters.
All that matters to that faceless client from halfway around the world is whether you can do the job or not. I don’t know about you, but this is good news because a lot of the things that normally get in the way of you getting a job like the school that you went to, how connected your parents are, simply melt away.
Instead, we focus on what we should’ve been focusing on in the first place: work quality and value. So what you need to do is focus on your skills. This is the following.
The ability to follow instructions
The ability to communicate in English both verbally and in writing.
The ability to solve problems.
The ability to start on schedule.
The ability to turn in work on time.
The ability to double check your work.
All of these have to be present in your virtual assistant practice. Otherwise, you’re not gonna make it. You’re gonna struggle trying to find one client after another and each engagement would be very short because they’re not getting the value that they’re looking for.
You have to have a clear, well defined set of skills you’re going to offer
There are many different types of virtual assistants out there. Some are cartoonists and graphic designers. Others are administrative assistants. Others specialize in writing or voice over work. Others are great with video.
What you need to do is do a skills assessment of all the things you’re capable of doing. Are you familiar with photoshop? List that down. Are you familiar with Skype and putting on a presentation in Google Hangouts or Skype? Do you know how to work with Microsoft Powerpoint?
Whatever it is that you’re able to do, list them down and here’s the most important part, you have to rank your competence in them. In other words, you have to be completely honest with yourself. Are you good with a particular software package? How good are you?
If you’re not good enough for somebody to pay you money to do a project, then you know what you need to do. You need to go and check out YouTube to level up your skills or you can find other free resources on the internet to get the skill set that you need.
The key here is to only offer a package of skills that you know will deliver value. Put yourself in the shoes of your perspective customer. Do you think they will pay you $75, $100 or $200 if you’re just starting with cartooning? You can’t even draw a square.
They probably won’t. It would be a waste of their time and your time taking on those virtual assistant jobs. Instead, spend as much time as you can getting your skills down right. For example, in graphics or drawing, there are tons of YouTube videos and free Udemy courses where you can level up your skills.
This applies across the board. Whether it’s writing, audio recording, singing, voice recording, voice narration, administrative work, excel sheet work and whatnot. The key is to step up prepared.
How to get a high paying virtual assistant job
Follow these steps so you can start making good money off the internet as a virtual assistant. The steps I’m going to describe are not the typical steps that you read online because a lot of that stuff is really hype.
They start you off at a very high point. They make all sorts of assumptions regarding your skill set. What I’m about to walk you through is a quick, tried and proven way to earn $7,500 in a very short period of time. And I’m talking about $7,500 month after month, not once in a blue moon.
If you were to ask the typical Indian or Filipino virtual assistant if they’ve made $7,500, they probably would tell you that they made that in a month. But what they wouldn’t tell you that for several months after that month, they were making close to zero because they didn’t follow these steps.
Here’s how you do it.
Step #1: Get a clear inventory of your skill sets
The first thing that you need to do is to have a clear cutoff point for your skill sets. For example, somebody may be good at photoshop, but it’s not good enough for commercial work. So you don’t put that on your skill list.
On the other hand, somebody may be very good in spoken English and they think that everybody speaks English well. So you have to be clear about the value of your skill set and focus only on high value marketable skill sets from the get go.
Otherwise, you’re going to be putting yourself in the messed up position of applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for and overlooking jobs that you have the skills for. You’re leaving a lot of money on the table and you end up taking jobs that destroy your reputation.
Do you see how this works? So a little bit of honesty goes a long way when it comes to your initial skill set.
Step #2: Access US job sites
This is the secret trick that I’ve used to make great money as an online speaker. I speak English with an accent. But that has not prevented me from making quite a number of dollars month after month. How? I pick my battles wisely.
You need to go to US employment sites. Forget about Jobstreet Philippines or Jobstreet Singapore. Chances are, you’ll get nickel and dime there. Go straight to the source.
Now you may be saying to yourself “I can’t access a US website. It always redirects me to the local version of the website.” Well here’s the trick. Use a proxy. There are lots of free US proxies available on the internet.
One good proxy that’s readily available is HideMyAss. Look that up. Use that proxy to access these US job sites.
Step #3: Look for job listings that fit squarely in your areas of expertise
Since you know your skill sets better than anybody else, zero in on these job listings. Get a long list of them and apply to all of them. Remember, it’s a numbers game.
It’s like trying to meet girls. To hook up with a chick, you have to hit up a hundred girls and maybe you’ll walk away with one phone number. That’s the nature of the beast. So understand this.
Don’t think that just because nobody replied that you’re no good and that they rejected you and you shouldn’t be playing the game at all. No! That’s just the way it is. Even if you look like Brad Pitt, you still are looking at those odds.
So prepare for success by hitting up as many of these jobs as possible. The good news is the United States is going through an economic resurgence lately where there are far more jobs than people. So do yourself a big favor, apply to all these jobs that fit your skill set.
Now you may be asking me “I’m looking for remote part time freelance position. Why am I hitting up these job sites?” Here’s the secret. A lot of companies advertise a full time job knowing full well that they don’t really need a full timer.
In fact, if they had their way, they would only hire people for part of their time because that’s all the work that they have. Unfortunately, due to local labor conditions, they are forced by circumstances to hire a full timer.
That means that they have to pay $40,000 minimum. They have to pay for health insurance. They have to pay for all sorts of statutory benefits. They also have to pay payroll tax and on and on it goes.
If you were to ask the typical HR manager in an American corporation, they’d rather dispense with all that garbage. This is where you come in.
You hit up all these jobs and you let them know that “I would like to work as a remote worker only for a few hours per day. In other words, you only pay me for the actual work you have. You don’t have to pay extra. You also don’t have to pay for insurance and pay roll tax.”
This makes you an amazing value to these HR departments. This is the secret to the game. A lot of virtual assistants go to places like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com. What do you get there? Tons of other people from the developing world competing for the same low ball tasks.
In fact, it gets so depressing that I’ve seen somebody actually take a job for 10 cents an hour. I don’t care where you live. Whether you live in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or the Philippines, 10 cents an hour? That’s 5 pesos per hour and somebody took it.
I’m not, in any way, putting down the person who took the job. He needed the money. That’s not the issue. The issue is if you fight in the wrong arena, you’re going to get beaten. You’re gonna have to settle for crumbs.
It’s not going to be a happy ending. So go to where the jobs are. These are the actual job listings. Once they contact you via email, tell them that you only want to work for the actual amount of time that they have work for.
This creates a win-win situation. Now, let me give you the bad news. The moment you tell them that, your follow through rate drops by a lot. When I was doing this, it dropped by almost 100%. People just didn’t want to bother with that because the idea of working with somebody located in the other side of the planet was just too foreign.
They think that it’s gonna be a logistical nightmare and there’s just so many things that could go wrong. They’d rather not deal with it. But the good news is if you send out as many different emails as possible and you customize each email to the company that you are hitting up, the numbers are in your favor.
For my first virtual assistant job, I must’ve sent out close to 5,000 emails and I got 50 offers. I wish I was able to physically do those 50 jobs because I would be making north of $80,000 a month if I was able to do that. But you get the point.
You have to put in the work. It’s all a numbers game.
Step #4: Closing the deal
Assuming that you get somebody to message back and say that they are interested in hiring you on a remote and part time basis, you have to close the deal. Here’s the secret. Don’t allow yourself to be low balled.
Remember, these companies are willing to pay somebody in the United States $40,000 a year. So break that down into an hourly rate. Generally speaking, that’s $20 an hour. Use this rule of thumb.
In the United States, the total number of hours work by the typical employee is 2,000 hours every single year. That should be your base rate. So if they come back to you and say that they normally pay somebody $40,000 a year, that means that your starting negotiation rate is $20 per hour.
Here’s the secret. Since you are allowing them to pay you only part of the time and you are giving them the privilege of only giving you the work that they’re actually gonna hire somebody for, you’re doing them the favor.
Don’t come into this thinking that you’re the person who’s being blessed by this. That’s the wrong attitude because if that is your attitude, chances are you are going to get low balled.
The fact that they are willing to pay somebody $20 for a full time job means that if you’re gonna be taking a chunk of that, you should charge more. My rule of thumb is 1.5 times what they would pay an American.
So if they’re paying somebody $20 an hour, ask for $30. Now you may be asking yourself “How do I justify that?” Well it’s simple. For them to pay somebody $40,000 per year, they would have to get that person dental and medical insurance.
Some jobs even give their employees free life insurance. They also have to pay social security and all sorts of federal taxes. When everything is said and done, that $40,000 price tag for that American employee actually translates to maybe $55,000 to $60,000 or even more.
Now that you’re just asking for $30 per hour and you’re working maybe 10 hours a month for them, you have done them an amazing favor because it turns out that they were hiring a full time person to really just do 10 hours of monthly work.
Now you’ve taken that off the table for them. Now, they can grow their company. This is where you should operate when you are pitching your virtual assistant business.
Step #5: Outsource your own work
Here’s another secret. Your main job as a virtual assistant is not to do the work yourself. Your job is to find people in your country who do an amazing job. You hire them for a fraction of what your employer is paying you.
When I got my first virtual assistant job, I got it at $30 an hour. I was paying somebody from Marikina $5 an hour. She was tickled pink because that translates to 2,000 pesos a day. That’s a lot of money, at least to her.
I wasn’t telling her that I was getting paid 6 times that amount. Still, it’s a win-win situation. I found the very best worker that produces the best work that my client wanted and I kept the rest. You should think like this as well because when you sub contract out, you are able to scale up your business.
This is how you get to $7,500 per month. I’m not saying you can’t do it by yourself. If you have specialized skills like law or medicine, you probably would be able to earn that money just by your lonesome.
But if you really want to leverage your virtual assistant business, you have to sub contract. Believe it or not, a lot of the people that I sub contract to I found through Facebook groups and Fiverr. I used to sub contract a lot of graphics work to Bangladesh.
I found an American doctor that would pay me a lot of money for graphics every day. But the problem is I don’t know photoshop. So I found a guy from Bangladesh who would do it for $5 per image. That translates to me getting paid $150 per image and me paying my contractor 5 bucks. If he did a good job, I’d give him a $2 tip.
I share this with you because I want to highlight the power of leverage. Remember, when you work for somebody else, you are trading your time for money. When you run your virtual assistant business correctly, you multiply your time by buying other people’s time.
For every second you’re not doing photoshop work or online cartoons, you are making more profit. Why? Because you can devote some of that time to getting new clients. That’s how you make it in this game. It’s all about leverage.
Step #6: Re-invest your profits
I can’t emphasize this enough. I know a lot of really talented and blessed Filipino virtual assistants. They are the top of their game. Whether we’re talking about legal work or medical consulting or transcription work, they are really the best.
The problem is they remain small. They struggle. They go from one client to the other and they don’t know whether they will get a freelance job the next day. This really is too bad because they have families to support. What went wrong?
When you look at their virtual assistant practice, they don’t even have a website. They definitely don’t have social media accounts that advertise their virtual assistant business. In other words, they are a commodity.
And I’m telling you, that is suicide when it comes to this industry because at the end of the day, you have to become a brand. An American employer or Western Europe German employer is not gonna pay you top rates if they get the impression that whatever deliverables you’re capable of producing can be had for a much lower rate in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines.
This is where branding comes in. You basically have to make it clear from your website and your marketing materials that you are the best in what you can do. And here’s the secret. Don’t say that you personally do all these things.
Instead, you make a point that you deliver the complete package. Without spelling it out, you’re basically saying you’re a project manager. That’s how you earn top dollar because at the end of the day, my physician client who was ordering graphics from me couldn’t care less that I couldn’t do photoshop even if my life depended on it.
All she cared about was that I will put my name on whatever graphics I send her via email. In other words, she was paying me to be a project manager. That’s why I was able to make so much money off that Bangladesh artist.
You can do the same. I don’t care whether you are doing written work, graphics work, voice over work, legal work, medical work. Do the same. The only thing that you really bring to the table is your stamp of quality.
Once you put your name on it, that work is worth its weight in gold. That’s what clients are paying for.
Step #7: Get ready to hustle
Now that you know the ins and outs of the secret ways to earn $7,500 or more per month as a virtual assistant, here comes the hard part. You have to hustle.
Why is this hard? I can tell you, most people work hard from time to time. The problem is success is not a case of one time big time. You can’t just wake up inspired and motivated one day and all of a sudden, do all the work that you need to do so you become rich. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to stick with it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. In other words, you have to put in the work regardless of the fact that you don’t feel like working.
Consistency is crucial. Discipline is essential. And that’s why very few virtual assistants earn the kind of money they should be earning. They don’t think big, they don’t sub contract, they don’t think in terms of quality, they don’t develop themselves into a brand.
The Bottom line with high paying Virtual Assistant Work
As Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad said, if you are not a brand, you’re a commodity. That is an awesome quote because in this inter-connected global market place, the last thing that you want is to become a commodity.
I don’t care what it is you’re offering. Maybe you’re offering legal services. You may be thinking that since you went to law school and you passed the bar that this skill set is so precious and so rare that people have to pay top dollar. Absolutely wrong!
Every single year in the United States, thousands of people get through law school and pass the bar. Not all of them are employed. That’s a hard fact.
So don’t think that just because you went to school and you have a diploma that this entitles you to charging top rates. You have to look at the big picture and you have to view yourself, first and foremost, as a business person.
Do this right and your virtual assistant business will be an amazing success.