How Much Can You Really Earn As A Virtual Assistant?

By November 14, 2007 Uncategorized 9 Comments


This is a question that many people would like the definitive answer to. Often I get asked this question by people who are not sure about leaving their full-time jobs because they aren’t certain that they’re going to earn as much working from home.

In this article from 2004 at Entrepreneur.com called Starting a Virtual Assistant Business:

“According a survey by the Virtual Business Alliance, a global consortium of virtual assistant trade organizations, the average full-time virtual assistant working in the United States grossed $39,452 in income last year.”

That article was published a few years ago in 2004 so the figure is probably higher now. Note the words “average full-time virtual assistant”, which obviously means some earn less than this, and others earn more.

I agree that it is possible to earn a full-time income from home, although there are no guarantees. One of the ways you can gauge your earning potential is to find out what kind of rates the temp agencies in your area are charging clients. Then you would charge slightly more than this, because working with a Virtual Assistant offers more benefits to the client than working with a temp. For one, a VA only charges for the work that gets done. With a temp agency, there can be a minimum charge of four hours a day, even if the temp only goes in for one hour.

Ultimately, your earning potential as a Virtual Assistant will be influenced by many different factors. Think about it this way. Everyone gets different results in whatever they do. Whether it’s learning to play tennis, learning how to paint or how to bake a cake. Running a business is no different.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Administration, secretarial and technical skills - these affect the services you’ll be able to offer and therefore the hourly rate that you’ll be able to charge
  • Years of experience – this also affects your hourly rate
  • Business and marketing skills – affects how many clients you’ll attract
  • Negotiation skills – affects the hourly rate that you will earn
  • Time management skills – you have a certain number of hours in the week. If you’re highly productive, you’ll earn more. If you waste time at home being distracted, you’ll earn less.
  • Delegation skills – as I said above, you have a certain number of hours in the week. You can grow your business by leveraging the time and skills of others. Subcontract work to other Virtual Assistants and earn exponentially more. This is where the sky really is the limit with the amount that you can earn.
  • Degree of motivation, dedication and persistence – greatly affects your earning potential.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is – don’t quit your day job! Make the transition gradually, unless of course you’re lucky enough to land a lucrative ongoing client before you leave your job.

I was recently chatting to a Virtual Assistant who did just this – and found an ongoing client through word-of-mouth. She was able to go straight from her day job, to working for herself from home. That’s a rare thing to happen, but not impossible.

Grabbing an immediate low paying client, however, is often false economy and can jeopardize your business venture right from the start.

When I became a Virtual Assistant, I had no idea how much I would earn. That’s why I gradually transitioned into working from home by staying in my full-time job and working on my business in the evenings and weekends.

When I got some ongoing work that I could do from home, I then found a part-time temp office job to support me until I had enough clients to work from home full-time.

Beware of work at home scams that promise the earth for very little work. You have to be prepared to put in the hours to earn a good income from home. But in return, you gain so much in personal freedom and flexibility.

9 Comments

  • Linda Bryan says:

    Lisa:

    This is such good advice. Although I have a lot of experience, I know going into this business arena calls for caution. The suggestion of doing a temp job is excellent.

    Also, I think your current employer should be your first option for the part-time work. Perhaps it would be possible to do some of that work virtually after a period. In the end, they may become your first client.

    Linda Bryan
    http://lindabryan.com

  • Sheryl Mills says:

    I am just getting it together and I appreciate the tips and information you share. I lost my job two months ago due to downsizing and decided THAT DAY that this is what I want to do and I have committed myself 100% to it. It is not easy and I wished I had been planning this while I was working, but this is the way it is. I just pray business will pick up before my unemployment runs out. If not, I will work temp until it does. Thank you.

  • Lourdes Cajolo says:

    Hello,

    I reside in the Philippines where virtual assistant services are still uncommon and where I believe the rate would not be that so attractive to VAs. This is because even a small business here can hire a full time secretary at a very low cost considering that the dollar exchange rate is around P43. Thus, given this current local scenario, I don’t see any opportunity for VA in my area. However, transcription services for foreign clients are booming but putting a regular business like this would require a considerable capital. My question is, given my situation, can I still profit from the training you offer?

    Incidentally, I have retired from a 9-6 office job since September 2007 but I am now managing a water refilling station at home which I have just started. I would like to augment my business income, possibly through a VA-type business. Thus, I would very much appreciate your help and guidance.

    Best regards.

    Lourdes

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Lourdes

    Don’t forget that as a Virtual Assistant you’re not restricted to working with clients in your home country. You can network online and find international clients.

    You mention that “transcription services for foreign clients are booming but putting a regular business like this would require a considerable capital” – I’m not sure what you mean about considerable capital – of course you would need computer software, hardware and transcription equipment, but these are all normal expenses that you’d need to invest in order to work from home supplying these kinds of services.

    The 5 Key Steps ebook available from this site (I should really call it a Toolkit because of the checklists and workbooks that come with it) will give you guidance about setting up and running your business from home, what to charge, how to deal with clients and so on. Whether you can profit from it depends on all the points I make in my article above! IT IS A REAL work from home opportunity though, and a very satisfying one at that!

    All the best

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Linda

    Thank you for your comment. I completely agree with you when you say that “your current employer should be your first option for the part-time work. Perhaps it would be possible to do some of that work virtually after a period. In the end, they may become your first client.”

    This is indeed what happened to me. I was working a part-time office job and they became one of my first clients. Once people get to know you and your skills and you develop a great relationship, they are much more likely to become your client.

    Lisa

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Hi Sheryl

    I’m sorry to hear about you losing your job due to downsizing. It really proves to me that even when you have a job, you’re not in control of your life.

    Good on you for committing to become a VA and work for yourself. And yes, picking up temp work is a fantastic way to transition. You’ll gain great skills and experience that way. In fact, it is perfect practice for becoming a VA because you learn to be flexible, handle lots of different tasks and deal with different people.

    Good luck

    Lisa

  • Deb Frawley says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Great article, and the advice is very good. This is exactly what I’m doing, working fulltime while I build my business. I’m hoping to have my first client by the end of Jan 08. The other reason I wanted to comment was to mention to others that I’ve read your ebook 5 Key Steps and think its wonderful. I still refer to it all the time and think anyone would benefit from reading it and following the steps and advice given. I’ve also mentioned your website and recommended the ebook on my blog. Its been a great help to me…….thanks!

  • Lisa Taliga says:

    Thanks for the great feedback on the 5 Key Steps ebook, Deb. Please keep me posted on how you get on with your business in the New Year!

  • Pupemomeeri says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post, keep on posting such interesting posts!

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