Recently there's been a number of articles on news type websites and posts on blogs about what it takes to be a Virtual Assistant or what a Virtual Assistant actually is.
If you believe the news type websites and all the advertising hype, it's anyone who has a computer, can type a little and has an internet connection. It's promoted that to set up is very cheap and almost anyone could become a VA.
And there are many out there who still don't know what a VA or Virtual Assistant is, so let me enlighten you, the reader!
A Virtual Assistant is someone who operates from their own office (usually a home office but not always) and provides virtual office type support to their clients. They usually don't see their clients face-to-face, although some services provided requires that does need to happen. VAs are usually someone with a minimum 5 years experience in office based work, the corporate world, bookkeeping, computer troubleshooting, graphics design, web design and a heap of other computer based skills. Whilst initially those who had a strong secretarial background embraced this new industry as their career path, the reality is there are many now operating as VAs or VPs (Virtual Professionals) who do not have a secretarial background but might have worked in Human Resources, Banking, other financial institutions, engineering, IT and heaps of other types of business. The emphasis is on 'assistance' – the VA is providing assistance to a business owner/operator and providing the support they need so they can focus on the things that bring in the money, not the things that need doing daily to keep it operational.
For anyone to set up in this type of business the fact remains that there are costs involved, computer equipment, software, furniture, insurances, advertising, some ability to manage and run a business and so on. The software is important – they really need to know and understand it – no client wants to be paying for someone to learn how to do something when they should already know, particularly if they're promoting that type of service.
Is it true that some VAs charge only $10USD an hour and others over $50USD? The answer is 'yes' and 'no'. Those charging at the low end of the scale most likely are hobbyists looking to earn some extra money at home and have some idea of how to do what they're promoting. Very few at that price range are serious about building a business and developing it, and their skills. Those who charge at the higher end are highly skilled and most likely worked in Senior roles in the corporate world before setting up business. Many others are middle of the range – $25USD – $45USD and again, are working at building their businesses and increasing their skills range.
You do pay for what you get, or should I say you will get what you plan to pay for. But remember, that paying someone who is at the higher range will save you a lot of problems – you are not paying for an employee and all that means in the way of insurances, taxation, etc and you are paying for experience and skill. Someone at the lower end scale will mean you'll need much more input into the work that is produced and will need to be following up, checking and correcting things – based on my own personal experience of what I've seen take place in the industry.
The following articles will help those looking for more information on this industry: