This post is written by Ashley Yap, the Director of Business Development here at Be My Travel Muse.
I remember sitting in an open-air cafe in Bali, Indonesia, ordering yet another glass of iced matcha latte while working on my laptop. It had been a year since I worked full-time as Kristin’s virtual assistant. Around me were people of my kind – graphic designers, video editors, and freelance writers, all working on their laptops. I thought to myself, what a cool world we live in!
Working remotely has been such a blessing. Whenever I get asked “so what do you do for a living”, I often have to explain what in the world a virtual assistant is, and how I managed to score a job a million girls would kill for (Devil Wears Prada, anyone?).
So, what is a virtual assistant?
Many entrepreneurs and independent businesses employ virtual assistants to complete tasks they need support with, but do not need their employee to be on location. The job scope of a virtual assistant varies from one business to another, but in a nutshell, a virtual assistant is a personal, administrative, and/or executive assistant who can virtually (no pun intended) do anything to help make their employers’ lives easier, from a remote location.
What does a virtual assistant do (job scope and schedule)?
Virtual assistants tend to work on social media, emails, and administrative tasks, though the details of a VA’s job scope varies from one business to another. As a virtual assistant to a travel blogger, here’s what I do on a daily basis:
- Social media management: I help design pins and IG Stories slides for Pinterest and Instagram, schedule posts on all platforms, consolidate comments and DMs we receive for Kristin to respond to, and contribute ideas to help boost our social media engagement. I also monitor our Facebook groups, BMTM Solo Female Traveler Connect and BMTM Female Travel Blogger Accelerator.
- Email management: On a daily basis, we receive about 25-35 emails from companies, tourism boards, agencies, publishers, and readers. I pitch to and negotiate with those who are interested in a partnership with Be My Travel Muse, decline unsuitable proposals, and forward emails that need to be responded by Kristin personally.
- Website management: We have a pretty awesome site – planning a trip to a new country? we have destination guides and itineraries to close to 50 countries around the world. Traveling for the first time? We have a dedicated section with everything you need to know about solo female travel. Feeling spiritual? You can find all of our best spiritual blog posts here. I work on improving the site to help readers find the information needed as efficiently as possible.
- Video Management: I edit some of Kristin’s videos on her YouTube channel.
- Administrative work: I provide statistics reports and send invoices to our clients, conduct research on destinations (I found these awesome off the beaten path places in Thailand), help plan upcoming blog posts, create case studies, and provide support for any other kind of admin work Kristin needs help with.
- Others: Since my boss is a serial entrepreneur, my job gets super interesting sometimes. We worked on the Photo Muse Masterclass, launched the BMTM Women’s Adventure Tours, and a clothing line, Wanderbabe Clothing. I love brainstorming ideas and watching her babies grow!
Here’s what a typical work day for me looks like:
8am: I am a morning person so I start my day early! Since there’s often a 15-hour time difference between Kristin and I, we communicate mainly via Asana and FB Messenger. I’d check both to prioritize my tasks for the day, followed by checking all of Be My Travel Muse’s social media platforms and doing the necessary scheduling for the day. I’d then respond to emails, and create visuals for the new blog posts lined up for the rest of the week.
12pm: I tend to get into an afternoon daze after lunch, so I’d spend some hours away from work and chill for a bit.
4pm: Back to work. Refreshed from the afternoon break, I spend the next few hours working on any current projects we have in hand.
6pm: And work’s out!
What are the qualifications and requirements for a virtual assistant?
The qualifications required differ from one company to another. In general, administrative and computer skills are fundamental. Having another unique skill helps tremendously as well, like video editing, coding, and accounting.
But I personally think that what matters more is your accountability, communication skills, and creativity. Working for yourself means there’s no one to supervise you at work, and you need to hold yourself accountable and complete your tasks on time. Since you are not communicating with your employer in person, communication skills are also important to make sure that all information is being delivered correctly. Finally, being creative is a great bonus – The perfect sidekick should be able to stay proactive and see what others can’t see! You may be asked to brainstorm for new business ideas, create business proposals, so being able to think on your feet really helps.
How much can a virtual assistant earn?
Like all jobs, it depends on your skillset and experience, but on most job search sites, inexperienced virtual assistant are paid about $15/hour. With a more robust skillset and a couple of years of experience, you could make up to $30/hour.
While I work exclusively for Kristin, many virtual assistants support multiple businesses and that’s how you can potentially earn high income with virtual assistance jobs.
How to find a virtual assistant job?
I had been a Be My Travel Muse reader for a while when I saw her Facebook post looking for help on social media. My passion for solo female travel and curiosity for how a travel blog works scored me the job. As the business grew, she needed more support, and I joined as a full-time employee shortly after quitting my previous job.
So I’d say keep a lookout for such opportunities from your favourite entrepreneurs, because you never know. If you think it’s appropriate, you might wanna try reaching out to them directly to see if a position is open. There are also various platforms that connect virtual assistants to companies, including Upwork, Dynamite Jobs, People Per Hour, Flex Jobs, certain Facebook Groups, and conferences like TravelCon.
What are the best things about being a virtual assistant?
Here comes the beautiful thing about working remotely – you can be based anywhere in the world (with stable Internet connection)! If you’ve always wanted to live on an island, you can move to Bali; if you like the city but want to keep living costs low, Lisbon is great; for somewhere cool and alternative, you’ve got Berlin – the options are just endless. While I am based home in Malaysia as I prefer living close to my friends and family, I have the freedom to fly anywhere and stay there for as long as my visa allows me to. In the past 3 years, I have spent at least a month in Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Europe, exploring different places and cultures while working.
In addition, you will enjoy full control of your work schedule, as long as you can complete your tasks on time. This means that if you want to take a day off on Tuesday, you can. And because you don’t have to waste time on commuting and unproductive meetings, you can spend more time doing other important work and personal tasks. Since working as a VA, I am able to cook more and spend more time with my friends and family.
Being the Robin to your Batman/Batwoman, you can expect rapid growth in all kinds of experiences. My job opened my eyes to things I never knew before. I pick up new skills as I go, and I get paid to learn new things! The cherry on top is definitely the chance to travel to Thailand and Japan with Kristin as part of a partnership. It was the coolest thing ever!
When being a virtual assistant sucks
Like most remote jobs, it gets lonely. I sometimes miss having colleagues to chit-chat with, especially since I used to work in a large company. You will also need to be mindful of work-life balance, as it can be hard to draw a line when you work from home. While I try to stick to my work schedule, I do find myself checking emails and social media outside of working hours very often. In addition, many virtual assistants, or any remote workers for that matter, have less job security and benefits than most office jobs. You will also only get paid for the hours you put in work for, so this is a rewarding job only if you are willing to put in the effort.
Final word of advice
I’ve been working as a virtual assistant for close to 3 years now, and I love every minute of it. If you are planning to work remotely, I highly recommend giving virtual assistant jobs a shot. Personally, I think the most important thing about being a virtual assistant is to love the company, the work, and your employer. You are about the be the Robin to a Batman/Batwoman, and you will spend many, many hours assisting one person, so your life will be 10x easier if you enjoy doing things for them. Be ready to go above and beyond because your role is highly crucial!