The internet has become so entwined with many people's lives that a disruption in service or a downed connection can cause major anxiety. After all, many people use the internet to pay bills, shop, check their bank accounts, and keep in touch with loved ones.

But, the internet is far more than a convenience for many people: It is a way of life, and it is the avenue by which more and more people are making a living. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit know that money-making opportunities abound online. One of those opportunities is virtual assisting.

As more people begin their own businesses both online and offline the need for qualified virtual assistants grows. Business owners often have so much to do but not enough time to get it done. That is where a virtual assistant comes in.

But, what is a virtual assistant? Well, it really depends upon to whom you talk. The definition of a virtual assistant varies, but what most will undoubtedly agree is that a virtual assistant, who is himself or herself an entrepreneur, provides professional assistance to business owners. That assistance may be creative (ghostwriting), technical (editing), or administrative (data entry), depending upon the client's specific needs.

Virtual assistants work from home, using their own computer equipment, and most communication with clients is done via the internet (email, instant messengers, and voice chat programs like Skype) or via the telephone or fax.

With whom you work really depends upon your goals. Many virtual assistants opt to open their own businesses which allows them complete control over who they work with, what work they do, and how much they charge. Those virtual assistants who start their own businesses may do all the work themselves, or they may also hire other virtual assistants to help them with the overflow of work.

Other virtual assistants prefer to work for already-established virtual assistant companies where they can accept assignments as they are offered while still others work as freelance virtual assistants. Which avenue you take really depends upon your own goals and expectations.

As a virtual assistant, you will likely never meet your clients. Your clients may be in your own town, across the country, or halfway around the world. Because all of your communication is done via the internet, phone, and fax, there is no need to meet your clients face-to-face.

For example, if your client wants you to create a database in Access, he may send you all of the information via email so you can begin working. Most information between a virtual assistant and her client is transferred via email or fax, although there are times when snail mail is necessary.

Now that you know the definition of a virtual assistant, you are ready to consider whether a career as a virtual assistant is the right option for you.

Next: The Virtual Assistant: What To Expect

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