7 In-Demand Services That Could Make You up to $60/Hour as a Virtual Assistant
Before I started working online, I thought the only freelance services business owners were willing to pay for were writing, web development and graphic design. Everyone I knew who was working from home and earning a good, solid income seemed to fit into one of those three areas of specialization.
I didn’t have any of those skills.
When my husband and I decided to move to Costa Rica in 2011, my plan was to earn just enough to cover our living expenses by providing freelance administrative services.
In other words, I’d become a virtual assistant.
Along the way, I discovered a middle ground between highly specialized copywriting, coding and design work; and low-rate administrative services virtual assistants typically provide, like data entry, scheduling and inbox management.
The middle ground focuses on important services that businesses need, but that aren’t so specialized I’d need to go back to college or spend a ton of time studying.
Taking advantage of this middle ground helped me increase my freelance rate from $20 to $40 per hour, while getting more client requests for ongoing work.
Here are seven virtual assistant services you can offer as a freelancer, along with an idea of potential rates for each one.
1. Proofread Blog Posts
Business owners know they need to attract visitors to their websites. One great way to do this is through blogging. Running a blog generally means working with a lot of content.
Draft blog posts will be come in from all angles: paid writers, the business owner, guest contributors, company staff, interns and even customers. Someone needs to carefully proofread and edit each post before it’s published. Why not you?
Estimated hourly rate: $15 to $25
2. Format Posts in WordPress
Once a blog post is polished and error-free, the next step is to publish it using the business’s content management system. This is usually the ever popular WordPress. Great news: WordPress is easy to learn.
If you’re new to freelancing and starting, like I did, with no coding skills, you’ll be just fine.
Estimated hourly rate: $20 to $40
3. Manage a Blog Editorial Calendar and Brainstorm Headlines
An editorial calendar is simply a plan and schedule of all the upcoming blog posts the site will publish.
Brainstorm topic ideas and headlines that will appeal to the business’ target audience and help boost the site’s search engine rankings. Space the topics out in a logical way on an online calendar or spreadsheet.
Estimated hourly rate: $30 to $50
4. Curate Content for Social Media
Anyone can research interesting article links, images and quote graphics, but not everyone demonstrates the care or attention to detail needed to provide value to a business’s audience.
Do you think you could manage it? Could you put yourself in the shoes of someone who frequents your client’s blog and figure out what kinds of headlines and images they’d find most helpful, entertaining or inspiring? If you can, you could get paid for the skill.
Estimated hourly rate: $15 to $40
5. Create Landing Pages
To build an audience and sell products or services, business owners have an ongoing need for special action-focused web pages called “landing pages.”
A landing page might encourage people to subscribe to an email list, register for a webinar, buy a product or get excited about an upcoming launch.
If you can create great landing pages, you can pull in a great freelance income. The impact of this service on your client’s business growth is immediate and obvious.
Rest assured, you still don’t have to learn any code. Using WordPress page templates or user-friendly software tools like Leadpages and Unbounce, you can lay out your client’s marketing message perfectly.
Estimated hourly rate: $40 to $60
6. Format Email Newsletters
You can use the software to work from an existing template or create a new layout, put the right fonts in the right places, arrange the images where they look best and double-check all the hyperlinks.
Schedule the newsletter, and you’ve just performed one of the most in-demand freelance services in the online business world.
Imagine how your weekly income could start to build if you were supporting just five businesses with their email marketing for one hour’s pay each, every week.
Estimated hourly rate: $25 to $40
7. Provide Customer Support
Businesses often receive a ton of audience feedback, questions and inquiries. To respond to all this incoming correspondence, owners need help from detail-oriented freelancers.
In fact, my first online job involved responding to customer support emails and formatting (not writing) blog posts for approximately 20 billable hours each week. It was a great way to get my foot in the door — and I’ve built my business from there.
Estimated hourly rate: $15 to $30
How to Find Freelance Work in Virtual Assistant Services
Now that you know what you can do to help business owners, the next step is to find clients. To do this, you can try either the reactive or proactive approach.
Find Virtual Assistant Jobs Reactively
Search in the categories related to marketing, sales and administration, and focus on keyword phrases like “blog management,” “social media” and “email marketing.” For gigs focused on online marketing, set up a profile on CloudPeeps and review job listings.
When I started working online, I found four of my first five clients through Elance with rates between $17 and $25 per hour. One of those jobs expanded into full-time work in online marketing support after a couple of months.
To weed out the bad from the good opportunities, I read each new job posting in a given category once per day, narrowing them down to a shortlist of saved jobs.
I consider how the tasks are described, what kind of tone the business owner uses and how I could make a personal connection in my pitch.
I know it’s a numbers game — even if only one out of 50 opportunities is relevant for my experience and pays a reasonable rate, consistently checking those new listings means I’ll find it.
Find Virtual Assistant Jobs Proactively
The second option is to reach out to business owners via email and social media, introduce yourself and ask if they need support in a specific area of their business.
Be clear, be confident and be brief. You’ll be surprised by the number of times you hear “please tell me more.” LinkedIn is the perfect place to get started with this type of proactive networking.
In addition, get yourself a new email address and sign up for newsletters from the businesses you’d love to work with someday.
By taking time to scan those newsletters each week, even just their subject lines, you’ll start to get familiar with their voices, strategies and plans. This knowledge puts you in the perfect position to know when the business might be expanding or changing, so you can jump in with a timely offer.
(Don’t want another email address? You can create a filter in Gmail so these messages skip your inbox and go straight to a folder called “newsletters,” where they’ll be out of your way until you want to review them.)
Create Your Own Job-Search Strategy
Don’t be afraid to use a mix of both approaches.
In my experience, the reactive approach usually helps you get work more quickly, while the proactive approach helps you earn a higher rate. Once you try a bit of both, decide which one or what combination works best for you.
Start with one of the services on the list, decide on the resource you’ll use to learn it. Find your first paying client and your virtual assistant business is underway!
Start by offering virtual assistant services as a side hustle for extra cash, or commit to rounding out your knowledge in each of the skills to make it a full-time income you can take with you anywhere in the world.
Danielle Greason, founder of Greason Media, quit her job and moved to Costa Rica with her family to start a new freedom lifestyle working online. Through her blog at VA Lifestyle Design, she helps aspiring freelancers to get the skills they need to earn money anywhere in the world there’s a WiFi connection.