Businesses of any sizes need administrative help, but having a full-time employee on site can become costly. Nowadays, freelancers are becoming increasingly in demand, as companies are beginning to appreciate the flexibility and cost effectiveness of their services. Even personal assistants (PAs), traditionally the heart-and-soul of an office, are able to work out of the office. In fact, the virtual assistant business has been steadily growing since its inception in the 1990s. Over 90% of marketers use social media to attract new business, but less than 15% are confident in their execution. That has opened a huge market for interested social media marketing freelancers.

This digital transformation has created opportunities, for those who love being a PA, but not the lengthy commute or the long office hours. They can to do the same work as a virtual assistant (VA) or social media marketing manager, from the comfort of their home.  With internet based technology at their disposal, there is little that they did in the office that they can’t do remotely!

If you are thinking of starting a virtual assistant/social media management business of your own and have all the tools necessary to work with business clients, then there’s no time like the present!

virtual assistant social media manager business

Where To Start?

Whether you want to be a Virtual Assistant or Social Media Manager there are some common tips in order for you to get started.

Qualifications/Skill

Although formal qualifications are not necessarily required, some employers may expect you to have a degree or diploma. Relevant qualifications could include advertising, public relations, business, digital marketing, media and journalism.

To do a degree, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and science, plus three A levels or an equivalent level 3 qualification. No specific A levels are required, but relevant ones include: English literature, English language, media, psychology, sociology, communication studies and law.

Other related skills would also include:

Technical ability, time management, organisational skills, strong verbal and written communication, analytical eye, creativity, good customer service, excellent IT knowledge and strong interpersonal skills.

Your niche/services:

If you’re not sure what services you can offer as a Virtual Assistant, here’s an infographic highlighting 16 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help a Business to help you.

Most Social Media Managers help businesses grow their online communities. This usually includes: writing and scheduling posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or LinkedIn, running ads on these sites, replying to fans/followers on these sites, creating graphics for posts. Some even venture into blog writing as well.

virtual assistant social media manager business

It is important to note, you are the voice behind the social profile/business in most cases. You are interacting with clients/followers and sharing interesting information. As well as this, you are keeping tabs on the latest industry news and passing it along to spark discussions and engagement on social media platforms.

Wrap your head around the legalities

First of all, as someone who is self-employed, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) need to be informed when you start getting paid.

Think about how you’re going to keep accurate financial records. Outsourcing an accountant can be pricey, but is advisable. There are also steps you can take to reduce their billable time.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means that as of May 2018, all businesses, including the self-employed, have to comply with certain regulations to ensure the protection and security of personal information.

As a self-employed individual, you will need to ensure adequate security measures are in place, both online and offline, to reduce the risk of a data breach.

Consent is a key requirement with regards to GDPR. It is essential that your client both knows, and is comfortable with, how you plan to handle their data.

Your client is within their rights to either request visibility of, or even withdraw, their data from you at any given time. So make sure you have the organisational infrastructure to support this eventuality. See this for an in-depth explanation of GDPR and how it might affect you going forward.

Create a Website

virtual assistant social media manager business
Picture Credit: Pink Star PA

You do not need a fully-fledged blog like website to promote your services, but you do need a website to direct prospective clients to; to learn more about you and what you have to offer.

When you are starting out, you can simply include a page which gives information about you as well as another that lists your services, packages and contact information.

Your virtual self (i.e. your website and social media, such as Twitter and LinkedIn) is how your clients will get to know you, so make sure it accurately represents you and the assistance/support you can provide.

It’s important to look professional to be considered professional. Since a virtual assistant and social media manager is virtual/online, this means making sure that your virtual/online presence is just as presentable as you would be if you were going to an interview.

That being said, it’s also important not to get too hung up on making everything completely perfect before you get started. Waiting for website perfection could take too long, so get stuck in and make sure you’re always maintaining, updating and refreshing your “virtual professional self”.

Find out more about how to build your own business website here.

Finding Clients:

Before you can sign up clients you may need to have a thriving social media presence of your own and build your own following.

Create accounts on all the major social media websites and familiarise yourself with blogging, email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization) and graphic design. Though you may not offer services for all of them, these will be a place for you to learn and experiment before implementing them on your clients’ profiles. And, these are great places to start connecting with potential clients, too!

Social media, such as Twitter, is also useful for developing a professional network and for seeing what others in the industry are up to.

Add yourself to the local business directories:(Google My Business, UK Small Business Directory, Fiverr) and make sure you are regularly updating your LinkedIn profile, so potential clients know exactly what you can offer them.

Another good place to start is The Society of Virtual Assistants. As a strong and well established network, they provide good advice, support and information on finding VA work via their website.

Once you know where your ideal potential clients hang out online, then you can distribute great content and start conversations that will drive traffic to your website. This is a great post on how to use Facebook to drive traffic to your website. You should also attend networking functions, conferences and other industry events.

Resources/Courses:

There are many tools and software out there that can help you make your life as a VA/SMM easier. Check out our detailed blog post on Best Virtual Assistant Software and Business Tools. This post will also benefit those looking to become social media managers too.

Entrepreneur.com has put together the following resources, if you want to find out more about the virtual assistant industry:

Worldwide Organizations

Networking and Support Groups

Free Worldwide Directories

Certification Programs

Once you have your pages and profiles created, it’s time to start learning. Many of these courses are free.

  • Hootsuite offers a free course that covers the basics. You can also take their paid course if you decide Hootsuite is the social media scheduler you would like to use.
  • Constant Contact has a Quickstarter program that covers the basics of the major networks.
  • Buffer has a free email course that will let you Learn Social Media in 2 Minutes per Day. You’re not going to learn everything there is about social media, of course, but it’s a good starting point.

Buffer has another good email series that includes 25 strategies in 25 days. Experiment with these on your own profiles and keep the winners for your clients.

As a Social Media Manager, you’ll need some advanced skills if you expect to stand out! These advanced techniques include:

  • Optimizing YouTube videos with descriptions, tags, titles, annotations, etc.
  • Custom Facebook apps
  • Custom Twitter and YouTube headers
  • Knowledge of hashtag marketing

Knowledge of webcasts, email capture forms.

Working Out Pricing:

On average, Virtual Assistants could charge a minimum of £25 per hour. Higher price points will depend on skills, experience and the nature of the work that you undertake. Forums/networking groups are a great place to see what others in your experience bracket are charging.

Make sure your prices are competitive, but don’t undersell yourself. It’s much easier to lower rates. However if the skills you have are rare, they should come in at a high value.

Many SEO and social media marketing managers prefer to charge a fixed monthly fee for their services. This gives a consistent and predictable income, which is beneficial for both the client and freelancer.

When offering a monthly fee option, it is important to keep your clients happy if you want them to stay with you. You should set clear expectations and have an open line of communication as well as build a strong relationship with your client. You should also offer a good reporting strategy to show the progress you are making. Adopting these good practices will help increase your client retention rate over time. If you opt to charge by the project/package, you’ll want to put together an outline of the terms of the project/package and present it to the client before coming up with a rate. Make it clear that any additional work will cost an extra fee.

Example social media monthly packages

Budgeting

Sourcing, maintaining and invoicing clients take time. Remember that you’ll be working for yourself, so a regular salary is down to you to secure. Having a buffer is a good idea. Or, you could stay in full-time employment and run this business on the side, until you’ve accumulated enough potential clients to smoothly transition into the world of self-employment!

Hear From The Experts:

For further advice and tips, two experienced Virtual Assistants an one Social Media Marketing expert, have come together here to answer our questions and share what it means to be a VA/SMM and explain how they started. We welcome Jay, Rosely and Melissa.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Jay Guest.  I am 37 years old and from Basildon, Essex.  I live with my husband and 2 children.  Originally from Wales and I moved to Essex when I was 21.  I run a Virtual Assistant business called Pink Star PA.

My name is Rosely Werner, a Virtual Assistant from Essex.  I am an introvert-extrovert type of person (not sure if you could fall on both categories!) I have a very active social life and love to be surrounded by either like-minded people to share valuable discussions or hang out with outgoing and happy souls over good food!  Whenever I am not on my desk, I love ‘wheeling’ with my husband who is a professional unicycle rider and exploring places I have never been to before!

My name is Melissa and I run MinaMax Business Promotions offering social media management and blog writing services. I am also a mum to a daughter and son. So, along with my husband I’m kept fairly busy! I have quite an unconventional background for the job I do. So, I started off doing a degree and then PhD in a branch of Biology (Immunology for any science fans reading this) before taking up a job as a science writer. I acquired lots of skills during my PhD, which I’ve carried throughout my life – in both MinaMax Business Promotions and even being a mum!

2. When did you start your VA/Social Media Management business and what made you decide to start?

Jay: I started my VA business in May 2018 after having my second child.  I decided that childcare was too expensive, and it would mean putting my 6 year old into before and after school clubs too.

I have always worked so the thought of not contributing to the household bills was a daunting thought.  I decided that I wanted to work for myself.  Having had previous PA experience and knowing what my capabilities were, I decided to look into seeing if there was such a role in the virtual world. After a lot of research, I realised that this could work.

Rosely: I started my VA Business in August 2018.  I decided to take the plunge into being self-employed, as I was not happy with my previous part-time job.  I know I have lots to offer to the company and I was given a fair chance by our Managing Director to create a new entire department and I could say it was a success, given the short period of time. 

In order to be control of the decision making and progression (which was limited in my job) I looked into what I could do from home, utilizing all my skills as well as be my own boss!

Melissa: I started my business coming up for a couple of years ago now. I decided to start up ‘officially’ after running a franchise, running events that relied almost solely on social media. I then realised that I enjoyed the social media aspect more than running the events! After working on a couple of businesses and having success I decided to take the leap and start up on my own.

The blog writing aspect ties in nicely with my background as a professional writer too, allowing me to utilise more of my skills. I wanted to start a business that catered specifically for smaller businesses. I tried to think of the kinds of things that would benefit me being a small business and realised that not having to commit to a service/sign a contract would be a big plus for me. This means my clients are under no obligation to work with me for a set time period or spend a minimum amount, although I’m very fortunate as many of my clients end up staying with me for the long haul!

3. What qualities or skills do you need in your line of work?

Jay: I would say the skills you need are: an eye for detail, efficiency, good telephone manner, admin experience and forward thinking.

Rosely: In my line of work, two most important qualities are reliability and integrity.  It is very important that when I am given a task, I finish it on time and always update my client of the work progress.  My aim is to make my client’s life easy, without having them to check up on me and chase the work given to me.  I value honesty and having strong moral principles.

Skills-wise, for myself, I offer general administration services and creative design; therefore, there is a need for competent IT skills, especially being able to use Microsoft office programs. Good oral communication and written skills are also important.  As mode of communication is frequently done through emails, one must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with their clients.

Melissa: There are lots of qualities and skills that I think you need to be a social media manager. You need to be a good writer, be able to think creatively and outside the box when required, have good people skills and patience too.

Organisation is also a big one – sometimes when you’re working with several clients you need to make sure you’re on top of things at all times. Being flexible to accommodate clients’ timescales/when they are available to get back to you is also a big plus for this type of business.

4. What services does your particular VA/Social Media Management business provide?

Jay: My services include: Telemarketing, Email and Project Management, Data Entry, Research and Customer Service to name a few.

Rosely: I offer a complete range of services, including : Data Entry, Creating and Updating Spreadsheets, General Typing, Formatting and Updating Documents, Microsoft Office Work (including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher), Managing and Scheduling posts to Social Media Accounts, Online Research, Creating Newsletters, Email Management Branding, Creative Design for Social Media posts.

Melissa: I offer general social media management services, including content creation, posting, scheduling and watermarking. I basically try to free up your time by managing your social media platforms, and doing everything that that entails.

I also offer social media training and writing services too including blogs and content for websites.

5. What is the best part of your job?

Jay: Having freedom.  I have my son at home for 3 days of the week and we work around each other.  The other benefit is, if my daughter has something on at the school, I am able to attend.

Rosely: The best part of my job is being my own boss! I can also be selective with my clients, by identifying the ones that best suit my skills and personality. Most of all, the best thing is the time that I get to spend with my family, especially my young daughter, so that I can be with her as she grows up. This time is precious!

Melissa: The best part of my job is working across such a wide range of industries and with lots of different clients. I’ve learnt so much along the way, and love to be there when my clients realise the benefits social media can have for their business.

I’ve even managed to show a social media cynic the benefits of this type of advertising and managed to prevent them from closing down their platforms…and even better, they’re now getting clients from social media too! 

6. What tips would you give for someone who is thinking about starting their own VA/Social Media Management business?

Jay: Do your research.  Don’t head into the industry thinking it will be a quick fix.  It took me 9 months before I could say that I was established.  It’s worth it in the end.

Rosely: To those who are thinking of starting their own Virtual Assistant business, you have to make sure that you educate yourself about building a business.  Carry out lots of research, to find out the tools that you need to deliver the work virtually and understand how to manage different types of clients. 

It is also important that you have to look at your finances as it will take a while before you could earn a living from your business.  I am grateful that I have a very supportive husband who helped me financially when I set up my business. If you think you don’t have enough resources to start up your own Virtual Assistant business, I suggest you find a part-time job- at least it will help to cover some costs.

After you decided what you want to do, list your set of skills that you are confident and comfortable to offer to clients. Being your own boss, you also decide what to charge, but make sure your charges are within the standard of what the Virtual Assistant industry offers (again do your research!).  Do not undervalue yourself just because you are starting, you know your worth and your capability.  Surely there are paying clients out there who are willing to pay for your skills and expertise.  You can start creating the name of your company, create a decent logo and sort the legal stuff that you need to run your VA business (registering with HMRC whether you decided to be a sole trader or limited company). 

Lastly, keep on marketing!  Tell all the people you know what you do, even they are not a potential client, you may never know who they know that might need your services.  Market your business online and offline, whichever you think is more productive and could get the results that you need.  If you are able and you have a budget for a professional website, I suggest you do it and have your business cards ready and always with you wherever you go. Don’t stop learning – keep yourself on top of new developments in the VA industry.

Melissa: Tips would be to have a clear idea of what it is you’re offering and why someone would get value from choosing you over someone else. I would also say that when it comes to business, anything goes! Nothing surprises me anymore.

To find out more information about our experts, you can find them here on the following links:

Name: Jay Guest
Company/Business Name: Pink Star PA
Email: info@pinkstarpa.co.uk
Business Website www.pinkstarpa.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pinkstarpa
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pinkstarpa/
Name: Rosely Werner
Company/Business Name:
Email: info@themoderndeskpa.com
Contact Number: 07951 037715
Business Website: www.themoderndeskpa.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rwerner.themoderndeskpa/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rwernerpa/
Name: Dr Melissa Fletcher
Company/Business Name: MinaMax Business Promotions
Email: minamaxbusinesspromotions@gmail.com
Contact Number: 07814221714
Business Website: www.minamaxbusinesspromotions.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/minamaxbusinesspromotions
Instagram: www.instagram.com/minamaxbusinesspromotions/

Summary:

Here is a list of the key 13 tips on how to become a VA/SMM; not only mentioned by these experts, but also other pointers raised in this blog post:

How to Become a Virtual Assistant/Social Media Manager

  1. Determine your niche and what skills you can provide
  2. Create a website describing your service packages and experience
  3. Ask yourself- who is your ideal client? What are their struggles? How can you help?
  4. Find your market – Where are they hanging out? Which social media sites will you more likely find them in? LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest?
  5. Offer expert advice – If your ideal client is hanging out in Facebook Groups, use the opportunity to offer helpful advice in a way that doesn’t make you look like you are trying to make a sale!
  6. Search online on recruitment pages that are looking for virtual assistants/social media managers and register as a member.
  7. Apply for virtual assistant/social media management jobs, send in your CV and covering letter providing your best pitch.
  8. Conduct an online interview to determine if you are a good fit for the company. You also want to check if the client is a good match or you!
  9. Sign a contract with the company/business owner, outlining the job description and agreed payment terms.
  10. Get to work! Try to get the tasks done, before the deadline initially, to show your efficiency, as well as ensure future work with them.
  11. Provide best quality results.
  12. Ask for testimonials to add to your website. Have these available for other prospective clients.
  13. Keep learning! With the world of digital transformation it’s important to be a step ahead of latest trends and tools. For example, video marketing or SEO.

Finally, don’t see other virtual assistants or social media managers as competition. Instead, see them as people with whom you can have a healthy professional exchange, share ideas, resources. There are many social network groups you could join to help you along the way. This will help to both grow your knowledge base and also more importantly avoid feelings of isolation, especially if you work from home.

Good Luck! Hope your career as Virtual Assistant/Social Media Manager becomes a success!

Related Blog Posts:

15 Productivity Tools To Help Small Businesses

Best Virtual Assistant Software And Business Tools

16 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business (Infographic)

Benefits Of Hiring Virtual Assistants Using The Cloud

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