TL;DR - Giant freelancing platforms and virtual assistant job sites can be overwhelming — but don’t be intimidated. You can make decent money helping someone (or a business) schedule travel, set up meetings, manage expenses, even do some light proofreading or social media work. Level up your skills and carve out a niche for yourself, and you can make even more cash.
If you’re good at scheduling meetings, booking travel, data entry, organizing files, and maybe even some light social media posting, you can turn that secretarial experience into part or even full-time virtual work.
You can find virtual assistant work on general freelance sites (aka “mega-boards”) like Fiverr, Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, and Flexjobs. There are also platforms that specialize in virtual assistant gigs, like Fancy Hands, Belay Solutions, Magic, Time Etc., Prialto, and WoodBows. Joining both types will maximize your chance to keep your hours full and your wage slightly elevated.
Hi(gh) Profile: How Do I Get Started?
On mega-boards like Fiverr and Upwork, your profile is everything — it’s essentially your storefront, where you list your skills, define your working hours, and set your rates. You’ll apply for work through “bids,” so you’ll have to check the boards regularly. Potential employers might also contact you directly based on your profile once you’ve built up a good reputation with high ratings.
So you really have to promote yourself. If you’re fluent in another language and can offer translation services, be sure to put that in your profile too!
Other sites, particularly the ones that specialize in virtual assistant gigs, operate differently — instead of being a marketplace, they’ll bring you on as an independent contractor. So you’ll have to send an application to the company, and they’ll assign or offer you assignments on behalf of third-party clients, while paying you a set rate.
How Much Can I Earn?
On mega-boards where you can set your rate, you might see freelance virtual assistants charging $20 an hour and up. Virtual assistants with a niche — like creative design skills — might charge $40 an hour or higher.
On sites that are contracting you to work for third-party clients, pay can be significantly lower, starting in the $10- to $13-an-hour range. Some even have task-based pay, which can pay as low as $3 per task. But that task might only take a few minutes, like setting up a hair appointment.
Many job boards act as a payment intermediary. After a project is finished, your client will send payment via, say, Fiverr, and you’ll see your earnings show up on your end. These platforms often allow you to withdraw funds directly to your bank via ACH or to a PayPal account. By contrast, virtual assistant staffing websites might pay you via direct deposit every other week. Make sure the payment settings align with your financial setup and short-term cash needs.
Where Do I APP-ly?
Not too long ago, virtual assistants had to comb through extremely general remote work job boards and send out hundreds of emailed resumes — without a lot of clients to show for it. The right gig was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Nowadays with mobile apps and specialized job websites, your path to finding virtual assistant work is much faster and simpler.
Be sure to differentiate between which platforms are app-based, which are just websites/job boards, and which are both. For example, Freelancer, LinkedIn Services, and Fiverr are not only websites where you can browse open jobs but also apps you can download, on which you can chat with clients. That means you can look for work while you’re on the go, in addition to when you’re in front of your laptop.
Other platforms, like Flexjobs and Guru, are more bare-bones job boards where you’ll find potential clients looking for help with projects.
If you’re on an app-based platform, push notifications can be a great way to keep on top of leads, but irrelevant notifications can also pile up and distract you from finding work. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, you can adjust the frequency of notifications and only check job boards and emails on a set, structured schedule.
How to Stand Out
On the plus side, working from home means you can email in your fuzzy socks and never have to commute. On the other hand, being a remote worker means you’re competing with many people around the world for gigs.
Competition for virtual assistant work can be fierce. But we have some tips to help you get noticed.
- Mega job boards like Fiverr and Upwork tend to reward workers for carving out a niche at what they're really good at. So, instead of advertising yourself as a jack of all trades who can do scheduling and social media management and SEO and transcribing, it’s best to stay in a lane of related skills. For example, file organization, formatting and cleanup, project management, and light proofreading. What’s implied is that you can do all these related things very well, instead of doing a bunch of unrelated things just okay.
- To be seen by potential jobs, you’ll need to build a history of good reviews to show on your profile. Ask friends to buy your services ASAP, so they can give you five stars and leave glowing reviews.
- Another smart way of managing your profile on Fiverr or Upwork is to include pricing tiers for different sets of services. (Think: Hulu plans with no commercials, limited commercials, with live TV, etc.) Offer packages like Basic, Standard, and Premium, offering tasks of increasing complexity (for example, proofreading a blog versus making HTML changes) and price breaks for booking a lot of hours at once. This shows you have a deep understanding of what every task involves.
Call Center? Say No and Hang Up
While you’re searching for work, you might stumble onto a gig working for a chat or call center. Don’t do it. Remote call center work can be exhausting, extremely low-paying, and in some cases, illegal.
In fact, ex-employees have alleged that so-called “chat moderator” jobs are actually bait-and-switch fronts for erotic chat services, and that they had to “chat” from fake dating profiles. Yikes.
Also, these jobs pay pennies per chat and some workers don’t get paid at all. A much better use of your time would be to build up your virtual assistant skills and your reputation, and create the most detailed and persuasive profile possible.
How to Book More Hours
If you want to create solid part-time or even full-time work for yourself, you’ll have to diversify your gig searching. The trick is to build up your reviews and profile on at least one of the mega-boards like Fiverr and Upwork, while also applying for jobs on platforms that specialize in virtual assistants for hire, like Fancy Hands, Time Etc., or Belay.
With experience, you might find yourself getting into a good flow with regular clients while using one-off assignments to augment your income.
But remember, burnout is real. Companies and clients might pressure you to work around the clock — which you already know is unhealthy. Set boundaries for your work, including an “end of work day” time cutoff. This will help you stay sane and show up as your best self.