Virtual assistants are in high demand, with a vast number of Canadian businesses looking to fill a variety of positions within the organization. Whether it’s administrative support, content management, social media/marketing management, or any other specialized task that requires expertise, there are plenty of opportunities out there. It’s just up to you to find them!
For those of you with an entrepreneurial spirit, a specified skill set, and a willingness to learn, then our guide for becoming a virtual assistant will provide you with some very valuable information that could get you starting your own VA business in no time!
We will touch on everything you need in order to understand how to become a virtual assistant in Canada, including:
- What a virtual assistant is
- The most popular services offered by VAs
- Why companies need VAs
- The essential types of services companies outsource to VAs
- What you will need to start
- How much to charge
- How to market your VA business in Canada
By the end of this guide, you will know what it takes to become a successful virtual assistant in Canada.
How to Become a Virtual Assistant in Canada
What is a Virtual Assistant?
So, what exactly is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant (VA) is a professional who provides remote administrative, technical and/or creative support services to clients. VA work can be done from anywhere in the world, which is why this type of work is becoming increasingly popular. Because there is no physical office space required, VAs are able to offer their services at a lower cost than those working in-person.
Due to the freelance nature of the position, being hired as a virtual assistant is very similar to being employed full-time by a company – the difference being that there is an expiration date. Depending on the services being provided, the duration of the contract will vary. It can be anywhere from a couple weeks, to something much more long-term depending on the client.
With such a broad definition, you can see that the role of a virtual assistant can take a variety of forms.
The freedom to choose what role or tasks you want to do is one of the many benefits of this type of work. You can specialize in a particular field, or market yourself as a professional for a variety of services. However, we recommend you go with a more specialized approach so you can attract clients looking for a particular task.
But what are the most typical skills or services offered by VAs?
The Most Popular Services Offered by Virtual Assistants in Canada
There really is no end to the amount of services that can be provided by a virtual assistant. However here is an extensive list of some of the most popular services:
- Customer Service
- Marketing/Social Media Management
- Content Manager
- SEO Services
- Administration Assistant
- Website Designer
- Graphic design
- Legal research and writing
There really isn’t a limit to what you can do as a virtual assistant! You can be hired to perform virtually any support role, depending on the business needs. The most important thing is to know your strengths and what you are good at.
Why Companies Need Virtual Assistants
Businesses turn to VAs in order to save money and increase efficiency. Hiring a virtual assistants allow businesses to scale up or down depending on what they need at any given time. Rather than hiring an in-house support team, it is less expensive and easier to hire a VA from anywhere in the world for part-time, hourly work.
Outsourcing administrative tasks is an excellent way of freeing up a schedule so that a business can focus on growth.
In the early days of a business, most of the focus is on getting the product or service out there. Hiring a virtual assistant can help take some of the administrative load off so that the business owner can focus on more pressing matters. And as the company grows, the services of a virtual assistant can be scaled up or down to meet the changing needs of the business.
Popular online job boards such as Elance or dedicated virtual assistant sites like Odesk provide entrepreneurs with a great place to offer their services.
How to get started as a virtual assistant?
So, how do you become a virtual assistant? First of all, it is important to remember that this type of job works best with an in-depth understanding of the position, and you must be able to show that you have a level of expertise in that specific subject. It’s also important to remember that the position is virtual, so being proficient with tech is a major asset and crucial to succeeding in this type of work.
With that, here are some other useful steps you can take in order to get started:
- Define what services you want to offer. Consider your specialized skillset, look into what positions companies are looking to fill with virtual assistants, and then target that industry and clients within it.
- Create a professional profile using LinkedIn and use that to display your chosen services. Whether you find LinkedIn valuable or not, many people in the business world do. So having a profile that shows your years of experience doing the ‘skill’ you are trying to sell to clients is very important.
- Create your own website. With companies like WordPress and Bluehost, creating your own site won’t take much time and is a great way to establish yourself as a professional.
- Decide on a price you want to charge for your services and clearly outline your rate on all of platforms. We will go over this in more detail in the next section.
- Start networking with businesses and entrepreneurs who may need your skills. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social network to find groups of people that need your skills.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies related to your field. If any new programs or tools become available that allow you to do your job more efficiently, be sure to consider using them.
What tools do you need to become a virtual assistant?
Below are the basic tools you will need in order to start your virtual assistant services:
- Reliable laptop or tablet with a viable internet connection
- The appropriate office programs (word, excel, etc.)
- Accounting software to invoice your clients
- An external hard drive
- Website or blog to promote your services
- Any certifications that show your proficiency in that service
How Much Should You Charge For Your Virtual Assistant Services?
There are a few ways you can set up a pay structure for your business. One way is to charge per hour. The hourly rate of VAs range anywhere between $20-$50 depending on the type of service, your years of expertise, and the quality of your work.
Another method of charging for your services could be done on a project-by-project basis. You could charge a flat rate per project, or you can give your client an estimate before accepting the work.
Firmly outline the preferred payment method to your client prior to accepting any jobs, and make sure that it is agreed upon. Use your accounting tools as a form of reference when you invoice your clients, and show the breakdown.
Make sure you have an HST number and consider adding tax onto the invoice when you charge your client. This will make it much easier for you to put aside money when it comes time to submit your income tax.
How to Market Your VA business in Canada
Creating a website or blog is a great way to show your clients that you’re a professional and that you are proficient with technology. On your website, include information about the services you offer, your rates, and what makes you special. You can also use your website to show off your work samples. If you have any certifications or awards related to your service, be sure to list them on your website as well.
Another great way to market your business is through social media. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other social networks to find groups of people who need your skills. Join relevant groups and start networking with businesses and entrepreneurs who may need your skills. Showcase your work on your social media profiles, and you will be sure to get noticed by your target clientele.
Once you get your first job, the referral system is a great way to continue to build your client list as well. See if the person who hired you knows of anyone else in their field who is looking for a freelancer to complete services for their company.
If you’re looking for a way to make some extra money on the side, or are considering starting your own business, becoming a virtual assistant can be an excellent opportunity. You’ll have plenty of time to do other things while still being able to earn income from home. Just remember that it’s important to research what is involved in this type of work before jumping into anything too quickly. We hope our input has helped answer any questions about how to become a VA and start marketing yourself online effectively so you get noticed by potential clients!