How to Make Your First $500 as a Newbie Virtual Assistant

Want to become a virtual assistant and earn your first $500? VIDEO: Learn how to become a paid virtual assistant in 30 days or less. Plus, get a free copy of my Summary of Services template!

One of the first dollars I ever earned as an online business owner was by working for another entrepreneur as her Marketing Assistant.

I helped promote her ebooks through researching and creating posts for guest blogging campaigns, creating landing pages for webinars, writing follow up email sequences for newsletters, and managing her social media platforms.

If I were to start my online business over again I’d still do it the same way! Working for a more experienced entrepreneur allowed me to learn the ropes, see behind-the-scenes of her business, and have access to her brain. She not only mentored me but it was like I got paid to learn!

That’s the best part about making money as someone’s virtual assistant, managing editor, or project manager. You get access to the inner workings of their business all while getting paid.

If you’re looking to start a freelance business, making money as a VA is the perfect place to begin.

Earning $500 with my first VA client

When I first launched this blog back in 2011 I literally had no idea what I was doing. I fumbled around, wrote a few blog posts, and posted a few tweets on Twitter. It wasn’t until I avidly started reading other blogs about business and entrepreneurship that my career changed for the better.

After signing up for several newsletter lists and “stalking” a few entrepreneurs on social media, I had the opportunity to apply for a Marketing Assistant position. We jumped on a Skype interview call and I landed the gig a few days later!

We worked out a payment deal where I got paid $16 an hour for about 32 hours of work each month. The rate and work increased over time and I eventually moved to a monthly retainer plan that worked out to roughly $25 an hour. I worked with this client for 2.5 years and she gave me a glowing testimonial.

If you’re doing the math, $16 an hour X 32 hours a month = $512

Within my first month of offering VA services I was able to bring in $500! And this was back in 2012 so imagine how much more money you could earn now.

Here are the steps you can make money as a newbie virtual assistant in just 30 days.

Landing your first VA client

Finding your first client is scary — you’re putting yourself out there and feel like you have no freaking idea what you’re doing.

Doubt starts to creep in and you’re wondering why in the world anyone would pay you for your expertise and skills.

This is why I advise two strategies for getting started:

  1. Leverage a lateral skill. When you’re starting a VA business (or any kind of freelance business) from scratch, the quickest way to start getting paid is to market a skill you already know. Turn something you already know how to do into the foundation for your VA business. If you went to school for accounting, start a bookkeeping or digital organization business. Leverage your past experience to showcase skills that are already in your resume. (That’s what I did!)
  2. Become an online member of their community. If you want to work for a particular entrepreneur or company, sign up for their newsletter list, follow them on Facebook, leave thoughtful blog comments, and generally interact in their community. This is what I did to land my first long-term client and it paid off big time. Business owners want to hire people within their own community because these assistants already understand their brand, voice, and mission.

You can apply one or both of these strategies when putting together your portfolio and seeking out your first few VA clients. Both of them worked very well for me and I know they can work for you too!

Become a VA in 30 days!

Offering a summary of services

Once you have a potential job you want to apply for, you need a summary of services or packages of your current offerings.

There are seriously endless tasks and services you can offer to other entrepreneurs (including email management, social media scheduling, marketing, blog management, ebook promotion, guest blogging, writing, researching, the list goes on).

Narrow down your focus by only offering 1-3 packages based on past experience and work your way up from there. List the primary tasks for each, start/end dates, what each package + rate includes, any payment details, a client testimonial, and a link to your portfolio.

Here, I’ve made it super easy. Download this free copy of my Summary of Services template!

Then simply copy and past to fill in your details and make it your own. Or you can access the digital version via Google docs (make a copy and save it to your Google Drive).

Creating a “hire me” page

Once you have a Summary of Services finished, save it as a PDF and then list the packages/offerings on your Hire Me page.

If you don’t have a Hire Me page, it’s time to set one up. Seriously, you can call it a “work with me” page, “hire me” page, or anything else you like, but it’s vital to marketing yourself online.

You want to give potential clients a place to view your offerings and see if you’re a good fit, as well as making it stupidly easy for them to contact you. The less clicks the better!

Two examples of converting Hire Me pages:

  1. Check out Kristin’s Hire Me pageShe’s a coaching client of mine and we worked on clearly defining her packages, optimizing her page, and setting her rates. And because of this she recently had her best income month yet!
  2. My Hire Me page is optimized for the search term “freelance business writer” so when anyone types that phrase into Google, my page is one of the first results.

A checklist of what every Hire Me page should include:

  • Who you are and what you offer (plus what you don’t!)
  • Past experience, examples, portfolio
  • Current and past clients
  • Offerings, services, packages
  • Topics, industry, etc
  • Current rates (or starting rates)
  • Testimonials from current clients
  • A contact form

Charging by the hour vs a flat rate

In the beginning stages of offering VA services it’s best to charge clients by the hour. It’s difficult to fully understand how quickly you work and how long certain projects will take you. Don’t put yourself in the position of working for hours and days and not getting properly compensated for it.

Once you know how long the types of services you offer take you, and the total amount of work they entail, you should switch to a monthly fee or flat rate instead of charging by the hour.

For email management work you may already know that it will take you 1-2 hours per day, 5 days a week, so you could offer this service for a flat $400 per week (which works out to be $40 an hour). Some VA work is easier to pinpoint how much work is involved while others are more abstract and will take some trial and error.

The going rate for VA work starts at $20 per hour and can be as much as $50 per hour. I don’t suggest accepting a much lower rate than this unless you’re extremely inexperienced. Then you can increase your prices and ask for raises.

The more specialized your VA offerings are, the more per hour you can charge. It also depends on your client and their industry of work. A non-profit client won’t be able to afford nearly as much as a financial company can.

pricing services quote

Don’t be afraid to start out charging by the hour and then switch to a flat rate. This will allow you to have more freedom with how you spend your time, and cut back on your admin hours when creating invoices at the end of the month.

How to become a paid Virtual Assistant

If you’re ready to start earning your first $500 this month, here are the steps to take;

  • Find your ideal client on social media and sign up for their newsletter
  • Interact with their community and learn the ins-and-outs of their biz
  • Leverage past experience and turn into multiple VA packages
  • Put together a descriptive Summary of Services
  • Optimize your Hire Me page for the best results
  • Charge by the hour then move to a flat rate

Now start putting all of this into practice and making money as a virtual assistant by enrolling in the 30 Days or Less to VA Success course from VA expert, Gina Horkey.

We jumped on a video chat to discuss how we launched our businesses as virtual assistants, our best tips for getting started, what to charge, and how we landed our first clients.

Become a VA in 30 days!

Click this button to find out more details about how to make money as a virtual assistant in the next 30 days. Enrollment is now open!

Gina is one of my coaching clients so I’ve been with her through the entire process of creating this course, and I must say, it’s one of her best yet.

Don’t believe me? Ask other members of the Careful Cents community and they will tell you how awesome the course is, and how they got started as a VA this month.

New Business Checklist: Tips for Launching a Freelance Career
Creating a Portable Office: How to Work From Anywhere (plus, a free checklist!)

17 comments

  1. Denise says:

    Excellent post Carrie, and so informative. You have answered all the questions I had. I’m taking Gina’s course and it’s brilliant. You girls work great together. Keep up the great work.

  2. Cat says:

    Great post! This is all great information for people looking to be a VA. I’ll send people here when they ask me questions about becoming a VA. Thanks!

  3. Faye says:

    Great advice here! I love the point about becoming active in the prospective employer’s community – I have had so many opportunities come my way by doing that, and I think that tactic is often overlooked.

  4. Sarah says:

    If this course is half as good as the writing one, it’s a steal! I’ve already passed it on to a cousin who’s interested in doing VA work at home. Loving this community!

  5. Kristin says:

    This post is so informative it’s crazy. I definitely think getting to know others in the community is super helpful. So many of my clients have come from fellow bloggers and it’s all because I started reading their blogs, commenting and becoming friends. Thanks for the shout out too-you’re coaching sessions have helped my biz really take off!

  6. Cat Wilson says:

    Great post Carrie! I’ve considered becoming a va in addition to my freelance goals. I worked as an administrative assistant in the past and did various tasks. I’m seriously considering being a va and taking Gina’s course. I’m still working through her 30 days course and love that! I really like the breakdown you give on becoming a va and the steps to accomplish it.

  7. Bry Bernabe says:

    I want you to thank for this article this was such a great and informative one, any one who like to start a freelance business. Looking forward to the success of your blog.

  8. Amy says:

    I appreciate the candor in the article you wrote because we are all there or have been there. I hope to apply some of this as I begin a new venture.

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