How to Start a Virtual Assistant Business as a Side Hustle

Learn how to start your money-making side hustle.

side hustle success

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If you’ve been around these parts for more than a minute, you know that I was a virtual assistant for over 10 years. Yep - providing virtual services, like social media management and web design, was my bread and butter for a long time. And if you’ve kept up with my weekly newsletter and blog posts, you know that after 10 years, I decided to call it quits.

If you missed that part of my story, you can go back and read it here.

But today, I’m gonna talk about how being a virtual assistant can be the perfect side hustle.

How do I know? Because I did it for a long time.

And here’s why you could/should/can side hustle as a virtual assistant:

side hustle as a virtual assistant

You can set your own schedule.

Okay, let’s say you work a full-time gig, 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. After working all day, taking care of the fam and whatever else your calendar tells you needs to be done, you only have, let’s say, 5 hours per week to dedicate to client work. Take on a client who needs social media posts created each week. Do the work on the weekends. The key is to be realistic about how much time you have to work. You don’t want your side hustle to turn into a burden. It’s supposed to help, right?

Sit down and take an honest look at your current schedule to see where you can realistically fit time in for your business.

You can set your own rates.

You either love your day job or you’re not in love with it. And part of the reason might be of what your job thinks you’re worth. Even after cutting the cable and eating Ramen noodles for days on end, it’s still hard to make ends meet. Your virtual assistant side hustle can bridge the big divide. Price your services accordingly, though, and don’t work for cheap. Otherwise, you’ll hate the work.

Okay, in this post, we’re gonna talk about how to get your virtual assistant business up and running as a side hustle. There are some steps that may or may not pertain to you but I would suggest you go through all the steps in order so you don’t have to go back later and do it all over. The goal is get you up and running as quickly as possible but we also don’t want to be sloppy about it, you know?

You’re not only providing important virtual services but you’re setting up a business. Wow, how amazing is that? You’re gonna be a business owner, yo!

So, let’s get started and walk through the steps to launch your virtual assistant business.

Now, I’m assuming your mindset is strong enough to do launch a business but if you’re struggling in that area of life, make sure to pick up a copy of my free mindset ebook.

Let’s get started, shall we? We’ve got a lot to cover!

Figure out your why.

Before you even think about doing virtual assistant work as a side hustle, sit down and figure out why you’re doing it. When you’re sitting up late at night working on a client’s website, you might ask yourself, “Why in the world am I doing this?” Then you’ll remind yourself you’re putting money away for retirement or your child’s college fund, or your dream is to quit your full-time job and you’ll find that motivation to keep pushing through.

Figure out what you’re good at.

You’re good at something whether you believe it or not. The trick is to figure what you’re really good at and turn those things into money-making services. If you’re stuck deciding on possible things you can do as a virtual assistant, grab this little freebie of 150 ideas. I’m sure something will jump out at you.


Turn your talents into profitable packages.

Now that you know what you’re good at, it’s time to turn those talents into packages. I suggest creating packages versus charging clients per hour because it’s easier to meet your financial goals. I talk about creating packages in this blog post so make sure to check it out.

How to Make your First $500 as a Virtual Assistant

Set your financial goals.

How much extra moolah do you need to put away each month to meet your goals? Would an extra $500 per month help? $1000? Having a figure in mind before you get started will keep you on track and you’ll be less inclined to accept low-paying client work.

Do your research.

Virtual assistant rates vary wildly and that has to do with expertise, skill level, cost of living, to just mention a few things. Research what other virtual assistants are charging to see if you’re in the ballpark. You can also use a calculator like this one to help with the whole “what should I charge?” question.

Make sure you have the right equipment.

At a minimum, you’ll need a computer, reliable Internet connection, office software (Google Docs and Sheets will suffice), and a way to communicate with your clients (email, Google Voice or Skype, for example). You can add more things along the way as you grow. Check out some of my favorite tools here. Many of them are free!

If you’ve got time during the start-up phase, go ahead and take care of the following steps.

Come up with a name for your business.

Get any licenses and permits.

If you’re in the United States, apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You can use this in place of your social security number and it only takes a few minutes.

Set up a business bank account. Keep your business finances separate from your personal!

As a virtual assistant, you’ll need to have an online presence. You’ll want folks to find you and learn more about what you can do. Now, know this:

As a business owner, you’ll have to make some type of investment in your business. And not all of those investments will pay off right away.

That’s the risk of doing business.

So taking the time to figure out branding colors and creating a logo might be necessary as you grow. But don’t waste time in the beginning for this type of thing when you’re trying to make extra money.

Clients don’t care about your branding colors and logo.

They want to know what you can do and how your services will solve their immediate problem.

Create a process

What you will need is an organized process. Time is at a premium when you’re working a side hustle. The reality is that if you’re working a side hustle, you’re saying “no” to something else - going out with friends, skipping your sister-in-law’s baby shower, something is getting shifted to the side as you work toward your goal.

You’ll need a process for billing and how to onboard clients. A well-oiled process will make your busy life so much easier.

Again, keep it simple in the beginning and expand as you grow. No sense in sinking money into a tool that doesn’t work for you.

I recommend Wave for client invoicing. It’s simple yet robust enough to handle your business finances. 17Hats, Zoho and Freshbooks are other options.

If you want to keep it really simple, Paypal is the way to go. Most online business owners are familiar enough with Paypal and don’t mind receiving invoices that way.

The onboarding process (signing a new client) needs to be simple enough for your clients. Too many steps and an impatient client may walk. Even worse, a haphazardly put together process won’t cut it either. Below are some resources to take the hassle out of onboarding:

How to onboard a new client

My VA Bundle - includes a contract to use with clients, a checklist of things you should ask a potential client when you speak to them initially and 12 other helpful resources

13 free forms, templates and checklists every virtual assistant needs

Find your first client

Oh, finding that first client can be a struggle but when you do - total bliss!

When it happens (and it will!), I want you to have all your ducks in a row. That’s why we walked through the other necessary steps first. How bad would it be if you landed a new client and you didn’t have your contract or billing ready? Yikes!

There are a few ways to find that elusive first client. Let’s talk about it.

Facebook groups

You’re probably already on Facebook but are you hanging out in the right places? There are Facebook groups for everything out there and I bet you can find your ideal client in one of them. Make sure to check out my VA Bundle for a list of 100+ Facebook groups plus other resources. When you get in there, read the rules to see if you can promote your services. When in doubt, ask the admin of the group before posting.

Membership Sites

I’m a self-confessed introvert but networking online is my cup of tea! Below are some my favorite sites that are chock full of resources to find your first client.

International Virtual Assistant Association - requests for proposals (RFP’s) are emailed to members as they are posted. Paid membership.

VA Networking has loads of free resources as well as paid, including a members only forum where RFP’s are posted.

Click here for more tips on how to find and land your first client.

Okay, I don’t want to launch a business. I just want to earn a little side hustle money, ya dig? Got any tips for me?

Sure do! Launching and running a business isn’t for everyone.

If you’ve got the admin chops to cut it virtually but don’t want the hassle of running a business, there are plenty of virtual assistant companies waiting to hear from you.

A post of 15 virtual assistant companies

Transcription is also a way to earn some money on the side and this type of work is extremely flexible. Here are ten transcription companies to launch your side hustle.

And did you know I send out work from home leads every week? Sure do! Sign up and you might find something that’s perfect for you.

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    Ready to dive a little deeper into this whole virtual assistant thing?  Here are some more posts to help you in your journey.

    5 Free Ways to Find Clients

    19 Things New (and Old) Virtual Assistants Must Know

    4 Ways to Market your Business without a Website

    7 Terms You Need to Know if You’re a Virtual Assistant

    Real Talk about Being a Virtual Assistant

    That’s it for now. Let me know if any of this helps you. Until next time!