An as-told-to essay was written based on a conversation with a virtual assistant. She has an income verified. For clarity, the following has been edited.

I had been searching for the perfect remote job for years while I was traveling full time.

I quit my job as a paramedic in order to work as a ski instructor and as a deckhand on superyachts. I tried to teach English online for Whales English, but I didn't like it and didn't have enough hours to make ends meet.

I came across the 90-Day VA course in an ad online

I didn't know anything about being a virtual assistant. I thought I would have to be a personal assistant. Depending on who you work for, it can mean a lot.

woman sitting at a desk with her laptop
Erin Morris.
Courtesy of Erin Morris

I watched the free hour-long introductory video and thought, "This is what I want to do." In addition to teaching 11 modules of new skills, the course dives into creating a portfolio, finding and applying for jobs, and topics like accounting, taxes, how to get paid virtually, and sending contracts.

My account is on the internet. I host any of the documents that I made for homework and assessments during the course for potential clients to see.

Virtual assistants can specialize. Four of us in my training-course accountability group and a network of fellow classmates went in different directions. One of us is a web developer, the other is a business coach, and the other is a social media manager.

I was making $1,500 a month in January 2021, but now I make $6,000 a month.

I got my first client before I'd even finished the course 

I was hired by my first client when I was just two months after taking the course. I made graphics and wrote a caption for her social media. It was not very complex. I was asked to write caption for social media by some clients.

I got some of my first clients through a company that runs courses and posts about building funnel, marketing yourself and your services, and doing copywriting. Through this platform, I was able to find my early clients. Potential clients reach out to me through social media, as well as a couple of online directories, Her HQ and Hire a Marketer.

I specialize in sales and Funnels now that I have a lot of clients who hire me to do them. A sales page or email sequence is a string of five or six emails that people receive after they sign up for a mailing list.

Being a virtual assistant is the best role for me because I love traveling

I was the person who would work, save up, quit the job, travel, and then start again. Even though I knew it was not a sustainable lifestyle, I was still in that cycle.

I enjoy working abroad because of the freedom I get. I've worked in a number of countries. I'm looking into house-sitting if the role includes accommodation and I stay in the same place for 90 percent of the time. Sometimes I meet up with my friends while I'm traveling.

I'm moving to Portugal soon after I return to Australia. I can choose when to work during the day and mostly stick to regular work hours, as my work is deadline driven, but if there's a morning yoga class I want to attend, or if I want to hike and explore in the afternoon, I have that flexibility. I can visit home whenever I want now that I have a steady income and I feel like I'm living my life more fully when I'm abroad.

At first, I charged clients an hourly rate and worked with two to four clients at a time

When I first started out, I didn't know how to package my services because I didn't know how long it would take.

I charged $20 per hour and worked up to $28 per hour. I'm sure I could have gotten more, but I had a limiting belief. It's easier for me to package my services because they are custom designed for my clients.

In the last three months, my business has grown a lot. Three months ago, I charged $600 for a sales page, and now it's $1,500.

One of my clients asked me to do three sales pages and three email sequence. I quoted her the full amount. I might be writing a sales page for a client for over a thousand dollars. It took me two years to make good money, but it has been worth it.

One way to make starting out as a VA affordable is to sign up for volunteer opportunities through websites like Worldpackers, where you work a few hours a day in exchange for free accommodations. You have time to build up your virtual assistant work.

Don't wait for clients to come to you if you want to start out well. It's great practice to apply for all the roles you want. Soft skills like being reliable and proactive are more important than years of experience.