Most people who haven’t done it before think that starting a business is expensive. And while that’s true for many types of businesses, it’s really not necessary to spend a lot of money when you want to start a virtual assistant business.
Most of the expenses revolve around technology. You’ll need a working computer (which you probably already have), and that’s pretty much the only “large” expense on the docket.
So what’s the cost of a new virtual assistant business? Let’s take a look at some of the key expenses so you can get rolling!
1. Your Website
Your website is probably one of the first things that came to mind when you first thought about starting a virtual assistant business. Websites come with four-digit price tags, if not higher, and that’s a hefty expense to take on.
There’s also the option to DIY your website, but if you’ve never built a website before, that may seem like an intimidating project.
There’s good news, though. While it’s possible to run a successful VA business without a website, it’s also absolutely, 100 percent possible to build your own website.
Gina has a great tutorial right here that unpacks exactly how to build that bare-bones website. It’s laid out in the seven key steps to getting your site off the ground, and I highly recommend it.
Building a site from scratch might be a little intimidating, but it’s totally worth the effort. If you can DIY a “good enough” website to start, you’ll be ahead of the curve.
The most important thing to remember when you think about your website is that “good enough is good enough.” You want to aim for done, not perfect, and if you spend more than a week tinkering with your website, you’re spending too much time on it.
News flash: There’s no such thing as a perfect website.
You need to let go of the idea of a perfect site, and embrace the idea of a functioning site. When you focus on getting up a bare-bones site that communicates the essentials about you and your services, you can then move on to other business-building ventures.
Ultimately, it’s that doing that will get your business off the ground … not the flashy website. Trust me.
If you’re still not sure what virtual assistant services you can offer, we’ve put together a list of over 150 services that webpreneurs need help with.
Now that we’ve got that covered, here are some of the actual expenses associated with your website:
- Domain: Usually this will run you anywhere between $1 (if you catch a special) and about $12.
- Hosting: Hosting can be bought monthly or yearly. Typical hosting fees will run anywhere between $4/month and $11/month, depending on where you go and whether you’re paying monthly or annually. We use Siteground (<<affiliate link) for hosting, and we highly recommend them.
- WordPress theme: There are other places you can build a website, but we really think WordPress is the absolute best place to be. It’s secure, stable, and easy to learn. When you build a WordPress site, you have to pick a theme. It’s another word for the visual design of the site. Themes can be free or a one-time paid expense, and paid themes typically range from $30 to $200. Our favorite theme designer is ElegantThemes (<<affiliate link), though there are quite a few good ones out there.
2. Virtual Assistant Training Costs
Training isn’t necessarily required to get started – you can read plenty of information about being a VA in the various corners of the internet.
But the benefit of training, especially if you’re sure this is what you want to do, is being able to condense all the information you need, in the right order, and in one place.
It will also give you a singular focus and help you build momentum in your VA business. A good training program will also connect with with a community of like-minded professionals that you can learn from (and learn with)!
I’m a huge fan of paying for training when you’re moving into a new business space, if there’s any way you can afford it. The time you save from having to “figure it out on your own” means you can get started significantly faster, with a much better idea of what you’re doing, and start making money right out the door instead of piecing things together here and there and flubbing your way through the next few months.
For training on how to start a VA business, you definitely want to check out Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. There’s nothing else on the market that can compare with this course, and it’s launched hundreds of successful VAs. You can be the next success story!
For specific skills training, the world is your oyster. If you want to specialize in, for instance, being a Pinterest VA, there’s a course for that. There are also great courses for things like copywriting, b2b copywriting and Twitter.
If you want to specialize in implementing sales funnels, check out the free LeadPages training. If you want to be a ConvertKit VA, they offer free training on their website. (These are pretty lucrative niches, by the way!)
Training is optional, in a sense. But if you’re just getting started with the idea of a freelance business, I’d highly, highly recommend it.
3. Software Expenses
The longer you’re in business, the more software you may find you’ll want to buy. There’s good news, though ‒ a lot of what you’ll need when you’re just getting started is free! These are examples to get you started:
- Google Drive: Drive can replace Microsoft Office entirely; plus, it’s all stored “in the cloud” instead of on your hard drive, which keeps your computer happy.
- Social media platforms: Whether you use these for marketing, for client work, or for both, they’ll pretty much all be free for you.
- Time trackers: If you bill hourly, you’ll want to use a time-tracking software. Many of these have free and paid versions, and the free ones are usually good enough to get you started. Check out Toggl and RescueTime. Alternatively, you can just track your time the good old-fashioned way by just googling “timer” and selecting the stopwatch.
- Project management: The two main project management systems that you can use for free are Trello and Asana. Asana “feels” a lot like traditional project manangement platforms, whereas Trello takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s really awesome once you do. You may find that some clients use one and some clients use the other, but go ahead and pick the one you like the best to use in your own business.
- Image editing: Free services such as Canva and PicMonkey are good for creating graphics and images, both for yourself and for clients. There are some limitations, but for the most part the free versions robust enough to get the typical job done.
The other main software you need to consider is invoicing software. Freelancers love invoicing software because it helps track payments, and these days a lot of these services will track other things, too ‒ expenses, time, and even project progress.
Our favorite is FreshBooks, but it comes at a monthly fee that not every newbie wants to carry (which is totally understandable!). On the other hand, if you’re in the United States, and plan to be paid via PayPal, invoicing through Freshbooks will save you a lot of money on PayPal fees.
If you want the benefit of an online invoicing service without the price tag (or the bells and whistles), you can make custom, nice-looking invoices (WAY better than PDFs!) with free invoice sites like Invoice Generator and FreeInvoiceCreator.com. You’ll have to keep track of your invoices going out and the payments coming in, but at least your invoices will look good!
Note: There may be times when a client will pay for a software for you to use, such as Basecamp or BoardBooster. It helps to be familiar with a wide range of platforms, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start paying for everything right away.
4. Professional Memberships (Optional)
When you’re just starting out, I’m all about bootstrapping.
That said, I’m also all about giving yourself as much of a head start as possible. That’s what this section is about ‒ things that are optional but could be a big help.
Related to coursework, we have professional memberships. This can be anything from a monthly ongoing training program to a lead-finding service (like our VA Leads service) to a paid mastermind or other closed network that helps you plan and strategize for your business.
There are free alternatives to professional memberships, though. Gina’s VA course offers a Facebook group for all course participants, and this is a great place to bounce your questions and ideas off other VAs who are anywhere from beginner level to established virtual assistants.
And there’s also the Freelancers Union, which is a great place to plug in and get the scoop on all things freelancing.
Adding It All Up
There you have it: A comprehensive list of things you might (or might not) spend money on when you’re ready to start a virtual assistant business.
If I had to make a recommendation, I’d say go for a custom website, pay for monthly hosting until you can afford to do the annual plan, and pick ONE course to get yourself started. That’s more or less how Gina began as a freelancer, and I personally built a website using a free theme and then joined a professional association that included training.
What’s the key lesson here? It’s this:
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to get started as a virtual assistant.
What it does require of you is action.
So what’s the next thing you can do today to get your business up-and-running?