How to Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant

Many people dream of the perfect job. For some it would be staying home and getting paid while working in whatever attire they want with a coffee mug beside them. (Hello pajamas!)

If you would like to work from home there are several ways to do it and still earn a paycheck. In fact, there are a multitude occupations to choose from that will allow you to work from home. Among them are medical transcriptionist, website developer, graphic designer, and photographer as well as lots of others.

Working from home as a virtual assistant is another way you can achieve your goal and earn great money. If you are unsure how to get started, the information below can guide you through the process.

Job Duties of a Virtual Assistant

To become a virtual assistant, or VA, you must have good computer and communications skills. Your online job duties would be to provide professional support to the companies or individuals who are your clients.

This means you would do many different tasks for them depending on their needs and your skills. The responsibilities of a virtual assistant are nearly limitless and basically include anything you can do by phone or computer.

Some examples of work performed by a VA are:

  • Providing technical assistance
  • Scheduling social media posts and campaigns
  • Invoicing customers
  • Handling accounts receivable
  • Making phone calls
  • Sending and answering emails and other messages
  • Conducting research over the internet
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Making appointments
  • Data entry
  • Managing Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts
  • Writing
  • Blog management
  • Marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Customer service
  • Client consulting
  • Creating newsletters

There are even different types of virtual assistants, so you can choose to specialize in certain types of tasks you enjoy, or you can work as a general VA and be responsible for a variety of different tasks.

Why Businesses Hire Virtual Assistants

Hiring a virtual assistant offers many advantages to business owners and individuals. Some of them include the following:

Lower Costs

Any successful business has to manage costs. That is just one of the reasons a business might hire a VA. It’s far cheaper to pay someone by the hour to do the specialized work that others can’t than to hire another full time employee, especially if full time hours are not needed to complete the work.

No benefits have to be paid to contract workers such as virtual assistants significantly lowering costs for those who hire them. Vacation pay, sick leave, health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits are not included in contract arrangements.

Of course, there are other benefits as well. Employers and clients do not have to find space to put another body or pay for a desk and supplies. This further reduces their overhead costs.

Extensive training is not necessary for most virtual assistants. Not having to invest in a significant amount of training saves both money and time for the business owner contracting with them.

Saving Time

Another advantage for the client is time savings. Contracting with a virtual assistant allows the client to maximize their time by passing off tasks that can be done by others. This allows the business owner to complete projects they have expertise in and pay someone else to do the more mundane tasks.

But it is also helpful when the reverse is true. If the virtual assistant has technical knowledge the client lacks, it can save the client from having to waste time figuring it out.

There’s also no time lost due to workplace drama for the business owner when they hire a contractor. You won’t catch a virtual assistant gossiping on company time, coming in late, or taking paid breaks. These are a few more reasons virtual assistants are appealing to their customers and clients.

Flexibility

Many virtual assistants offer flexibility to their clients that regular employees can’t provide. For example, a virtual assistant might work over the weekend or during evening hours to get a project completed. Employees, on the other hand, will work their shift and go home whether or not a task is finished.

Of course, you may have to pay more for a virtual assistant to put in those odd hours, but if they’ll do it, your project may be finished sooner.

Honest Feedback

The employees in a business may be too afraid of losing their jobs to be honest when asked their opinions. However, a virtual assistant most likely has other clients that pay for their services as well. This means they are less threatened by potential job loss and will give honest feedback when asked.

Having honest feedback is important to a business owner or client because it can help them avoid costly mistakes at times.

Income Potential

Just as the job duties of a virtual assistant vary widely, so does the amount of money you can make as a virtual assistant. Although it partly depends on the services offered, it also matters how much experience you have.

Beginning virtual assistants start around $12 an hour. Possessing experience and skills can increase the pay to as much as $60 per hour or more. As a home based business of your very own, there really isn’t a limit to how much you can make.

For example, I work as a virtual assistant and I earn over $10,000 per month. I have also started an online course called $10k VA to help other people start and scale their own virtual assistant businesses to do the same.

If you want to work from home as a virtual assistant you are control of what you charge. You have the option of setting up your billing by project, by the hour, or as a package of services if you choose.

You can take on as many clients as you have the time for. The number of hours you work is completely up to you.

If you wish to only do virtual assistant work part-time, you can. Or, if you want to work 40 or more hours per week and make a higher income, that is an option also.

How to Get Training

You don’t have to have a lot of training or a special degree to do virtual assistant work. However, you do have to be able to manage time well and be organized. Good communication skills are also extremely important.

That being said, there are training courses available to help you get started as a virtual assistant. These courses can give you tips and pointers that increase the probability for you to get a good start in your business.

For instance, you may learn how to approach and sign your first client, set prices, and market the services you offer. Furthermore, they can also show you what not to do so you can avoid mistakes and blunders that could hurt your business. Some will even teach you how to outsource some of the work so you can increase your business to its full potential.

Some of the courses available for you to take are free and others are not. Keep in mind that just because a class is free doesn’t mean it will give you the best value. At times, paying a few hundred dollars for training is well worth the investment and will pay you back many times over.

There are also virtual assistant groups, forums, and associations that you can join. These offer great discussion and tips, coaching, and networking options. Their guidance can be helpful as you approach unfamiliar situations.

Should You be an Employee or Contractor?

It is possible to work as a virtual assistant for another individual or business. Or you can be self-employed and contract with only the businesses you decide to work with.

The advantage of working as an employee of a single business is that you won’t have to find a bunch of clients to make a good income. You also have a guaranteed paycheck as long as you come to work and do your job.

The down side is that your hours, pay, and any other benefits will be decided by that employer. You have very little authority or control over anything.

On the flip side, when you are a contract worker, you don’t have the luxury of a guaranteed paycheck. In addition, as a self-employed contractor, you have to pay self-employment taxes on a quarterly basis.

You will also have the task of finding your own clients. Without them you won’t have a paycheck at all or be able to pay your own bills.

Obviously there are some good points too, such as being able to decide your own schedule as well as which clients to work with and which ones to turn down. You have full control over your rates and start-up costs are low.

To get started as a virtual assistant, you will need a computer, internet connection, printer, scanner, website, cell phone, and business cards. If you are concerned about setting up a website try Bluehost. They make it easy.

How to Get Started

Having a good background and understanding of the online business world is essential to starting your own business as a virtual assistant. Excellent communication skills and good grammar are also a must.

But it takes more than that to get your start. There are legal and tax considerations as well as paperwork to file all before the actual work begins. Below are some of the things you must do to work from home as a virtual assistant.

Decide What Services to Offer

Deciding whether or not to work exclusively for one business or many clients instead plays a part in what services you offer as a virtual assistant.

When you work for only one company you are somewhat constrained by their business needs. You also have the opportunity to become somewhat specialized in one or two areas. If you get very good at what you do there is a great potential for making a good income.

If you would rather work with several clients you can have more versatility in the services you provide. This is a good way to keep your options open if you worry about working for a single client and then losing their business. (It’s kind of like diversifying your investments!)

Other factors to consider when deciding what services to offer include your own experience, knowledge, and passions.

Create a Website

Creating a website is an important part of becoming a virtual assistant. It gives potential clients a place to go where they can see work you have done as well as testimonials and how to reach you.

You want to appear professional at all times so put some thought into your website as you build it. Consider how others would view it and think about having a successful, trusted friend give you feedback.

Market Your Services

Marketing can be done is a variety of ways. Decide on a couple and use them regularly. If you aren’t sure which to choose, consider those that will be fun or that you already know how to do.

When you have fun doing your marketing you will be more likely to get it done consistently each day. Here are some marketing options you can choose from:

  • Cold calling or emailing
  • In-person networking
  • Social media
  • Blogging and guest blogging
  • Public speaking
  • Printed advertisements
  • Recommendations and endorsements from others
  • Facebook groups

After you make the first contact with a potential client it is important to also do follow up. Try calling a second time or sending a second email just to make sure the first ones weren’t missed.

If your list is large, try contacting five or six business or individuals daily to build a steady client base. Remember to also ask for other leads or referrals to give you new prospects and continue building your business.

Invest in Your Business

Those that excel in their fields in the professional world do not sit idly by once their businesses are up and running. It is important that you don’t either. Invest back into your business after it is established is important to future growth.

Obviously one option is to take additional training courses. But you can also read books, attend conferences, engage in group discussions, watch and listen to webinars, and hire a business coach to mentor you.

Each of these options will help you learn more and sharpen your skills. With continuous learning and improvement you can make your virtual assistant business grow to be successful and profitable.

Find an Outside Job

If you would rather work for one company than for a multitude of clients, there are plenty of ways you can get a job. You can still market yourself in many of the ways listed above. In addition you can look on job boards, or search the internet.

It helps if you use search bars and type in the words “virtual assistant” as you look for jobs suited to you. A few of the job boards to try are:

If you want to stop dreaming about the perfect job and turn your visions into reality, consider learning how to work from home as a virtual assistant. Plenty of other people have done it and you can do it too.

Have you started working as a Virtual Assistant? If so, share your experience in the comments below!

How to Make Money with Shopify

Do you dream of having your own business? If so, you aren’t alone. Many people would love to run their own business and quit the daily grind of a dreary dead-end job.

While there many types of businesses you could start, one you should definitely consider is e-commerce.

E-commerce sales have grown exponentially in the past few years, and they are predicted to continue. In fact, e-commerce sales are predicted to increase from $2.3 trillion in 2017 to $4.5 trillion in 2021.

Who wouldn’t want a slice of that pie?

So, if you’re ready to venture into the world of e-commerce, to help you start your own business, Shopify can help.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that enables people to create their own businesses from home and sell products over the internet. It has been around since 2006 and can help you make money with less overhead.

When you choose Shopify they assist you with everything you need to get started with your own business.

They have a resource list that includes videos, guides, podcasts, and many other types of instruction to help you make money through a virtually automated process.

Tip: Learn more about Shopify with their free online training!

What it Costs

Shopify offers a 14-day free trial. After which, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid plan.

There are three plans to choose from:

  • Basic Shopify
  • Shopify
  • Advanced Shopify

Basic Shopify

Basic Shopify costs $29 per month. Additionally, there are transaction fees for credit cards. On the basic plan, the online credit card fees are 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction. In-person credit card fees and fees for other types of payments may be applicable too.

Shopify

The next largest plan, just called Shopify, is $79 per month. However, credit card fees are reduced to 2.6% + $0.30 for each online transaction.

Advanced Shopify

Advanced Shopify, the largest plan, is $299 per month. Credit card fees are reduced to 2.4% + $0.30 for each online transaction.

The larger and more costly plans also have some additional features that can be utilized to help your business continue to grow and earn more profit.

If you aren’t sure which level to sign up for you can begin with the free trial first and upgrade later as your business needs change.

Decide What to Sell

Before signing up you need to determine what you want to sell, unless you have already figured that part out. If you aren’t sure what you want to sell, don’t make a snap decision.

Do some market research first. Take some time to figure out what products you want your store to carry. A fast judgement could cause your business to fail, so you want to be confident about this choice.

If you still aren’t sure what to sell, Shopify can help with that too. Right on the homepage you can find a link to help you find products to sell in your store.

Once you know what you are going to sell it’s time to set up shop. Sign up at Shopify.com to establish your online store.

Shopify Features

Shopify has lots of features that you can pick and choose to make your store unique to your business.

Shopping Features

Some other features include the ability to set up a shopping cart on your site, manage credit card transactions, and decide on shipping fees. Another great thing is that you can do it all in multiple languages, making international sales much easier.

When it comes to sales tax, you don’t need to sweat it. They are figured automatically to ensure speed and accuracy.

Monitoring customer shopping habits can also be done through Shopify. This includes the ability to send email reminders when customers don’t complete their shopping cart checkout. Using this feature can increase your sales and your profits.

Product Features

Using Shopify’s tools, you can add photos and descriptions to your products. This makes it easier to get sales and equals more money in your pocket.

Mobile Responsiveness

It is possible to add a mobile responsive element to your website so your customers can easily shop using their smartphones if they choose to. This feature will likely increase the number of hits your site gets as well as sales.

Staff Management for Larger Businesses

If you have staff members in your business, they can use Shopify too. Shopify allows you to set different levels of permission for each staff member so they can only access the things that are needed for their job. This allows you to manage your shop, whether online or physical, as well as your staff in the most effective way possible.

SEO and Marketing

Without SEO, or search engine optimization, your website has a much smaller chance of being successful and earning you income. Shopify knows this and strives to help you improve SEO.

Shopify supports many SEO functions like keyword selection, meta tags, and more. They also provide you with a sitemap to make it easier for Google to crawl your website.

Other marketing benefits of Shopify include the ability to offer discount codes and coupons, gift cards, and email marketing through their partnership with MailChimp.

Shopify also integrates with the major social media platforms for increased visibility. If a customer is on Facebook, he can even buy products without having to leave Facebook to complete the purchase.

There are many other features you can use that will help you successfully manage your online store and generate profits as well. The great thing is that you get to pick and choose which ones you want to use.

Choose a Template for Your Website

You can fully customize your website so your store is set up the way you want it to be. Choosing from many different themes allows the look of your site to be unique. You can even add your own logo.

Shopify can help you organize your website in an easy-to-read, organized way. They have more than 100 templates for you to choose from.

Some of the templates are free and some come with a cost. However, it may be worth the investment of a couple of hundred dollars for a professional looking website.

When you first start your store with Shopify, you can create a very simple website with only a few products and pages. Then, you can easily add to your site later as you increase the number of products you offer.

Drop Shipping

Making money through Shopify can be done easily through drop shipping. The beauty of drop shipping is that you don’t have to carry any inventory of the products you sell.

Instead, when a customer buys a product from your store, you go to your wholesaler to buy the product they want. After you buy it from them the item is delivered straight to your customer. The difference between your cost and what you charge the customer is your profit.

Amazon Integration

Another Shopify advantage you can utilize are integrations, such as Amazon.

Because Amazon is so widely used, integrating with it increases visibility.

Integration also saves time and helps you better manage your retail store. For example, you can sync your inventory so you always know what you have on hand. You can also create listings directly in Shopify and run reports.

eBay Partnership

eBay and Shopify have also joined forces to give you another avenue to sell your products and make money. Similar to Amazon, you can sync with your Shopify store to keep inventory and other information accurate and up to date.

Using the mobile app from eBay allows consumers to shop your products due to greater access to them. Furthermore, you can run revenue reports and monitor shipping costs.

Order fulfillment is also easier using eBay and you can set prices specifically for those listings separate from the ones on Shopify. Messaging customers can be done making use of eBay’s communications system.

POS Systems for In-Person Sales

Let’s say you run a brick and mortar retail store along with your website. The Shopify POS, or point of sale, lets you receive money for sales in person right on your phone. In addition, you don’t have to use PayPal or any other service provider to process transactions.

They have a new Chip & Swipe Reader that is easy to use for your business no matter if you are in a shop or at a festival or craft show.  As the name implies, the reader will take both cards with a chip and also those with a magnetic strip on the back of the card.

It will take all three of the major credit cards and comes with a charger and USB cable making it easy to take with you to shows and events. The great thing about this reader is that it is free.

But they also have a card reader that accepts contactless cards as well as chip and swipe cards. This reader costs $89, but is an affordable way for you to complete credit card transactions.

The POS system through Shopify also allows you to apply discounts and process refunds with ease from wherever you are.

Does your customer need a receipt? It is no problem with Shopify. You can text or email one directly to them so there’s no piece of paper for them to lose track of.

Consider Starting a Blog to Go With Your Site

If you want to reach out more customers, create a blog through Shopify. You can advertise new products and include pictures and features about them. Plus, blog posts can help drive more traffic to your products as they are more easily shared on social media.

Shopify Security Features

Shopify handles the security upgrades so you don’t have to.

That means you can rest easy about the possibility of being hacked. They are Level 1 PCI compliant and use levels of encryption that rival those used by large banks.

As far as backing up data, they do this on a daily basis so you can keep your focus on building your business and increasing profits.

Shopify Support

Support from Shopify is never far away since they are available 24 hours a day every day of the week. You can contact them by email, phone or live chat.

If you have questions or a technical issue, this is a great customer support tool available to you. That limits the length of time you are experiencing problems before they are corrected.

Should You Use Shopify?

Anyone with a business, whether retail in a physical shop, or online, can use Shopify.

What if you already have a store? You can add Shopify to your existing sales structure to enhance your services and make them easier.

Do you have a customer database? Add it to Shopify so customers can login and make buying easier. They will appreciate have some control over their information and can update it as necessary.

If you have thousands of customers Shopify won’t charge you more for bandwidth. It is unlimited so you only pay the monthly fee.

Sign up today and automate your shop to make money with Shopify.

Debitize Review: Avoid Credit Card Debt and Still Earn Rewards

The lure of credit card rewards, like cash back or travel points, are a big pull for people to use credit cards for their spending. However, these perks can also end up getting you in trouble.

If you aren’t careful, you might spend more than you planned and more than you can afford. When this happens, you have more charges than you can pay off when your credit card statement arrives at the end of the month.

Racking up this high interest credit card debt will quickly outweigh the perks you earn by using your credit card in the first place. This is why many personal finance experts recommend people stop relying on credit cards. They recommend you switch to debit cards or use cash envelopes to get a handle on spending and avoid debt.

But, when you use these methods of payment, you aren’t as able to rewards. Plus, relying solely on debit cards and cash makes it harder to build a good credit score too.

Luckily, these things don’t have to cause you stress or worry anymore. Now you can earn credit cards rewards, build a good credit score, and pay off your credit card bill without worry, all thanks to a new tool called Debitize.

What is Debitize?

Debitize is a company that was created to help make sure you can always pay your credit card bill in full every month. The best part is, it works automatically.

So, after you set it up, it takes the work and the worry out of managing your credit card balance. It does this by making your credit card work like a debit card.

How does it work?

Every time you use your credit card for a new purchase, Debitize automatically debits your checking account for the same amount to fully cover your purchases as you make them.

After the funds are pulled out of your checking account automatically, they are stored in your Debitize account. At the end of each week, or whenever you have it set up, Debitize will apply those funds toward your credit card balance, bringing it back down to zero.

This way your bill is always paid on time and in full.

Setting up Debitize is easy. I was able to set up a new account with Debitize in just a few minutes.

First, you need to sign up on the Debtize website or in the app. The app is currently only available for Iphone, so I wasn’t able to use it on my Android device. But, it was still easy to manage with their mobile-friendly website when I was on the go.

After you create your account, you need to link your checking account and your credit card accounts. You can link multiple credit card accounts if you want Debitize to manage the balance more than one card.

Linking your accounts simply requires signing in with your online banking and credit card credentials. Debitize will send a couple of small test deposits to your checking account to make sure it is linked up properly and they will automatically detect those once they are sent, so you don’t have to remember to go back and verify them yourself. Talk about easy!

After this initial set up is done, you can use your credit card to make purchases like normal and Debitize will pull money from your checking account to cover all of your purchases.

What about checking account overdrafts?

Debitize helps avoid overdrafting your checking account too. You can set a minimum balance in your checking account.

If your checking account is at or below that balance, Debitize won’t withdraw any funds automatically. Plus, they will notify you by email when this occurs and the purchases you made on your credit card will be added to your Uncovered Purchases balance.

What if you have an existing balance or Uncovered Purchases on your credit card?

When I set up my Debitize account, it just so happened that my credit card had a balance on it already because I hadn’t yet paid my monthly bill.

Debitize recognized that my card had a balance and encouraged me to pay it off.

They also have a debt repayment program, called Debt Destroyer, to help you pay off an existing balance and any Uncovered Purchases that may occur when your checking account hits the minimum balance threshold.

Debt Destroyer can help you pay off your credit card debt in three ways:

  • You can schedule a one-off payment in Debitize when you have extra money above the checking account minimum threshold.
  • You can schedule recurring daily payments to pay it down whenever you have funds available in your checking account above the minimum balance.
  • You can make a payment directly to your credit card outside of Debitize and it will recognize the payment and adjust your Uncovered Purchases balance accordingly.

What about returns?

If you return an item that was purchased with your credit card, Debitize will first apply the funds toward your Debt Destroyer balance if you have one. If you don’t have a Debt Destroyer balance, the funds will be applied to future purchase transactions.

For example, if you return an item worth $50 and don’t have a Debt Destroyer balance, Debitize will keep the $50 in your account. Then when you make a purchase of $150, Debitize will only debit your checking account for $100.

How Debitize can help improve your credit score

Besides just helping ease your worry about overspending on credit cards, Debitize can help improve your credit score.

Because Debitize helps you pay your credit card bill on time and in full, your credit score should see a boost over time.

The Debt Destroyer program will also help you improve your credit score as you pay off your debt and lower your credit utilization ratio – the ratio of credit used vs credit available on your card.

Finally, Debitize also has a feature called Credit Optimizer. Credit Optimizer will pay down 1% of your credit line right before your card reports to the credit bureaus, which can also help decrease your utilization ratio and increase your credit score.

Other features

Although Debitize wants you to treat your credit card purchases like a debit card, they do allow you some flexibility.

You can cancel withdrawals from your checking account before they happen, or you can transfer funds back into your checking account from your Debitize Reserve Account if you need the money back.

They are also working on a new feature to allow you to easily skip single purchase transactions.

Security

With Debitize, you don’t have to worry about the security of your information. The use bank-level 256-bit encryption, plus they don’t store your bank or credit card credentials in their system after you link your accounts. This does mean you might have to re-connect your accounts from time to time (I did!), but it helps your information stay safe!

You can also unlink accounts at any time you choose.

Finally, Debitize also watches for suspicious activity, just like your bank and credit card do. Debitize will alert you in the app and with an email if they notice anything suspicious in your account.

Who should use Debitize?

Debitize is a great tool to use if you have trouble with overspending and going into debt. It will help you avoid these financial problems, while still being able to earn the credit card rewards you enjoy.

It might take some getting used to. For example, even though I’m credit card debt free because I always pay my balance in full each month, I have gotten used to having that buffer before paying my credit card bill. With Debitize, that buffer is removed because transactions are debited from my account immediately. While that’s not a bad thing (In fact, it’s probably a good practice to be in!), it did take some getting used to.

Debitize is free to use, but they have plans to charge for some features later on. But, the good news is that Debitize doesn’t sell your information to 3rd parties, so you don’t have to worry about spam. Plus, if you sign up with our link, you can get $10 toward your credit card bill!

Debitize is certainly worth a try to help build credit, avoid debt, and still earn top-notch rewards.

Lets connect!