Every business needs a virtual assistant to function at its peak. They are a necessity to keep around if you have a lot of work to handle – which is why you need to know everything that they can offer you. They are also a good option if you need someone to work for you hourly instead of a full-time schedule every day.
No matter if you are looking to become a virtual assistant or want to hire one for your company, you should know how they may help you or how much you have to pay for virtual assistant services. Everything involved with the work and management of a virtual assistant is in this article.
In This Article
What Is a Virtual Assistant and What Can They Do?
Virtual assistants are people that provide a series of services for businesses or entrepreneurs from a remote place. Their work can involve many digital marketing tasks, from managing events to scheduling appointments and personal errands. A virtual assistant can do virtually everything (pun intended) that a normal secretary (or even you) would do for the company.
According to writer and Investopedia digital editor Will Kenton, the virtual assistant duties can be rather variable, who underlines a few factors:
“While there are no hard-and-fast educational requirements to become a virtual assistant, many clients will look for virtual assistants who have some higher-level education or specialized training. A few online companies and community colleges offer courses and certification for virtual assistant skills. A virtual assistant should be tech-savvy, have a wide range of computer skills, and high proficiency with commonly used software and business programs. A virtual assistant specializing in bookkeeping should be adept at basic accounting tasks, such as account reconciliations and double-entry bookkeeping.” 
Virtual assistants are practically an extension of you at your workplace – only that they deal with things at a distance. Among the most usual things that a virtual assistant does for a business, you may see the following:
Management of social media.
- Management of emails, appointments, and calendars.
- Event managing.
- Basic digital marketing tasks.
- Report preparation.
- Personal tasks such as booking restaurants or hotels.
- The list is practically never-ending. The assistants might not be there in person, but they are still quite important – as Louie Ortiz of Monbi.com also outlines.
“Virtual assistants are pretty much like Jarvis is to Iron Man; you can’t see them, but you know you wouldn’t be able to do anything without their help. A virtual assistant can take up your tasks when you do not have the time to do them yourself and otherwise keep you organized. They are like an extension of you – only instead of doing these tasks for themselves, they are doing them so that you don’t have to. They help manage your life so that you don’t run around chaotically – making something that every businessman needs to bring in their life.”
Virtual assistants will virtually help you do anything that you are too busy to do yourself – short of walking your dog and personal errands like that. However, if it involves managing your time and resources so that you can perform better, then they will do anything they can to help keep you on track..
Benefits of a Virtual Assistant-Why You Need One Too.
Virtual assistants can be found everywhere nowadays, particularly in this day and age of technology. Here are a few reasons why you should hire one yourself.
1.You'll Be More Involved in Your Company.
Let’s say that you are a mid or senior level employer that has quite a few people working under your employment. You are stuck between choosing two options: you can either play an active role in spearheading the growth strategies or prepare routine reports every day. Which one would you feel more inclined to choose?
You would choose the first option, wouldn’t you? It seems more important and interesting – and let’s face it, who likes to be stuck in a room every day, doing reports and being bored to death? No one – but someone still has to do it.
You may choose to become actively involved – but this does not mean that you are given a free pass to neglect all those other repetitive tasks such as finances or email. Without this “boring and repetitive” work, the company would crumble, and you would no longer be able to get anything done.
So, how do you get involved with your team while ensuring that all that daily work is done? You give it to a virtual assistant to handle it for you, of course. They will take the bulk of work from your shoulders, remotely doing the tasks so that you may put your focus into more pressing matters.
2.It Helps You Reduce Costs.
While you might think that getting a virtual assistant will increase the costs of running your company, it is quite the opposite. Virtual assistants cost less to hire than a full-time employee – particularly if the company is small and they would not have much work to do. This way, you may choose to pay virtual assistants on an hourly rate and save money.
Aside from saving money on the pay, you will also be saving costs. Each full-time employee will eventually have to go through a training process after they have been hired. This way, they will become up-to-speed with the duties and tasks that they have to undertake – a task that can cost you quite a lot of money.
That being said, by getting a personal assistant, you can hire people that are already experts in the field. This way, you will not have to waste precious time and resources on training your new assistant, and you can go straight to solving the problems that have to be addressed.
3.It Saves You Time.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons why you need a virtual assistant is that they can save you quite a lot of time. We all know that time is money – particularly when you are dealing with a growing business.
Let’s say that your small business has grown quite a bit, but you still do not have an HR team. You’ll be tempted to ask your employees to do this – but you should not have to waste their time with long hours of screening recruits, posting job ads, and organizing interviews; their skills would be put to much better use by doing the job that they are supposed to do. Just like your time is precious, so is theirs.
All this tedious work can be avoided, and you may use the professional to work on the job instead. Virtual assistants can help you by bringing you verified experts, this way, ensuring that you don’t have to waste time training them. Plus, since you will no longer have your employees multitasking, you may get the job done much faster as they stay focused. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Plus, not only will it save time for your company; it will save time for yourself as well. This way, instead of wasting long hours on boring tasks, you can use that time to do the things that you want in life, to relax, to travel – something that founder and CEO of Transactly also points out:
“Relaxation is self-explanatory. These are agents who want to simply free up more time to take it easy, travel, spend time with friends and family, etc. Then, there are those interested in growth. These agents want to get more done. They hire assistants to delegate specific tasks so they can focus on new business. Hiring for growth can be complex, and it should be well planned out.” 
What Can a Virtual Assistant Do for Me?
When you’re asking what a virtual assistant can do for you, the correct question would be to ask, “what can’t a virtual assistant do for you?” Virtual assistants are pretty much the “Jack of all trades,” and there are many virtual assistant jobs that you may outsource to them.
While there may be many things down that list, here are just a few skills and aptitudes that a virtual assistant generally has. In essence, here are the answers to the question, “what skills does a virtual assistant need?”
You guessed it right: one of the main things that a virtual assistant can do for you is that they can handle your administrative work. Long story short, they will be your assistant – the only difference being that they can work from a remote location. As such, thy will be taking on all the work that a typical assistant would, which includes:
Answering your phone calls
Scheduling your meetings and appointments
Organizing your calendar and your to-do list
Providing basic data entries
Booking your traveling arrangements
This is basically what your average administrative assistant does. The only difference here is that the virtual assistant does not require a desk placed in your office. Aside from that, the work is pretty much the same as that of an administrative assistant.
Aside from hiring them for administrative work, the virtual assistant may double as your personal assistant as well. Here are some of the most common tasks that they might do for you regarding your personal life:
They can organize your calendar or to-do list
They can book your traveling arrangements for vacations and weekend trips
Help you make personal purchases such as books, gifts, hardware, stationery – and maybe even clothes if you need them.
Many of these tasks that do not necessarily have to be done by yourself in person may easily be outsourced to a virtual personal assistant.
Every company needs to focus on content writing if they want their sales to have any success. Have you noticed why so many large corporations post blog posts so consistently? They don’t do it because they have so much time on their hands; they do it because it boosts their search engine optimization (SEO). This brings traffic to their website – something that will benefit your company profits.
Practically, by ensuring that you have a well-organized blog, you will reap the following benefits:
You will have more prospective clients finding your services on search engines.
You will have more people clicking on your website
You will have more conversion in the end
Content creation is rather time-consuming, which is why hiring someone to oversee the entire process might be a good idea. Sure, you might write the draft of the post yourself – but your virtual assistant may handle technical things such as optimization, upload, image research, and so on. It’s all up to your skills and preferences, as well as theirs.
Bear in mind that for the content to be consistent, it should not have a different style each time you post something – which is why you might only want to outsource it to a single virtual assistant. This way, you will be certain that every piece features a personal touch and that it does not lack in quality.
Many small business owners believe that the virtual assistant should be able to do your taxes and handle other similar financial aspects. Sometimes, they can – but they don’t have the training to do so in most cases. That’s the job of an accountant, not an assistant – and while the virtual assistant may have some basic knowledge, they won’t be able to go that deep for you.
However, they can help you manage your finances instead. They can help make sure that you maintain your budget, keep track of expenses, and make purchases – therefore, ensuring that your finances remain transparent and easy to follow. This way, you should be able to avoid the last-minute run the moment tax season pops around the corner. This is all because you’ll know what to expect.
5.Social Media Management.
When it comes to weapons that you can maximize in your marketing plan, social media management is one more thing that you should add to the table. If there is any efficient way to get your clients to notice you and actually interact with your product, then social media is certainly the way to go. As Roosterly VP Atanu Shaw states, social media is necessary if you want your business to get exposure and win likes:
“As consumers spend more time on social media, the platforms also become the go-to source for product and brand information. With more than 60 million Facebook Pages, brands are reaching millions on the social media platform. In the same report by We Are Social, it was revealed that posts on a brand’s Facebook Page reach 10.7% more people than its current number of followers. It was also revealed that 4.2% of all Facebook users who see a Facebook Page’s post engage with it — be it by reading a status, liking a post, watching a video, or clicking a link.” 
That being said, not everyone has the bandwidth necessary for you to actively operate social media accounts – in which case, they might want to outsource it to their virtual assistant. To put it simply, your virtual assistant will be responsible for the following tasks:
Scheduling your social media posts
Creating content that they may share on your social media account
Analyzing reports and statistics
Engaging with the ones that are following your social media pages
It’s quite important to have someone with experience managing this part of your marketing strategy, as it might be quite complex to engage with your followers – not to mention time-consuming.
Research is likely one of the most time-consuming processes of them all – but at the same time, it is an essential part of your business’s growth strategy. Without good research and insight, you won’t know the most effective steps to boost your growth.
In terms of research, you will need the help of a person that is a natural at “crunching” the data. Among their tasks, one of the most important ones would definitely be:
Observing and keeping track of the services and products of your competition
Analyzing consumer trends
Finding appropriate formats for future press releases
Screening applications for affiliate programs
That’s certainly quite a lot of work to do there. It makes sense that giving all that work to a fellow team member would not be such a spectacular idea – particularly if they already have other duties to take care of. Instead of focusing on what matters, they’ll be stuck with doing endless research and wasting time. This is exactly why you might want to turn to a virtual assistant – not overwhelm your workers.
Every self-respecting company has an effective customer support policy set in check – which is why virtual assistants can prove great use. Why may you ask? Well, it’s quite logical if you think about it. If your customers have a problem with your product, they will try to get in touch with you to have the matter resolved.
That being said, there’s no reason why you should be interacting yourself with the clients. Since this only addresses concerns that might appear with a product, you can get a virtual assistant to answer their matters. After they’ve had enough time to go over what your product has to offer, they should be able to provide decent answers – sparing you the need to have to constantly go through mails and pick up your phone.
We’ve all been there: you woke up one morning and went to check your emails only to find yourself bombarded with quite a significant number of unread emails. All you can think of is that you feel like the Millennium Falcon put face to face with the Death Star. It’s impossible to respond to all those emails when you have so little time during the day. You need to focus on improving your product – not answering emails.
It’s like the big elephant in the room: the more you ignore it, the bigger it gets, causing your inbox to flood. For that reason, you might want to outsource everything email-related to your virtual assistant. They will read your emails and see what email requires an answer and which one needs your attention in particular. To put it simply, when you outsource your email management to your virtual assistant, they will:
Go through the emails that you received and weed out the spam
Filter and organize your inbox
Answer job inquiries, along with follow-ups and general questions
Manage your email list and carry out your email marketing campaign
The result of this is that your email will be fully functional – but you won’t have to lift a finger for that to happen.
Where Can You Find Virtual Assistants?
At this point, we can pretty much determine that virtual assistants are an essential part of the team – even if we do not necessarily have them in the room with us. They can boost your productivity, take the boring things off your hands – and overall help you manage things much better.
But now to address the actual question: where do you find these virtual assistant companies or individuals? How can you find someone trustworthy to handle your important work? What will the interview process look like? One thing to note here is that it will be different in comparison to your standard assistant recruiting – mostly because you won’t be meeting them face to face.
Plus, since they are remote workers, you will have to deal with a few associated risks: how can you be certain that they will be working diligently? Is there any way for you to verify their credentials? Can you trust them? These are all quite valid questions, and there are a few tracking tools that can help you in that regard – but right now, we will start with places where you can look.
Freelancing marketplaces are likely some of the most efficient ways to find a virtual assistant, mainly because everyone looking for jobs or offering ones will probably post them there. With these platforms, you can practically go through a few prospects and choose the one that suits your fancy the most.
If you think that the process is difficult, then you could not be any more wrong. Here is what it entails:
You begin by posting a job listing on the freelance platform
Freelancers may respond to your post if what you are offering is appealing to them
You may go through every reply and see which one suits you the most for being your virtual assistant.
There are a few catches, though – or should we say challenges. First of all, you need to be very clear when you are writing the job description. Most of the time, arguments tend to arise on the payday – and in most cases, it was because of misunderstandings regarding the requirements.
Moreover, each posting tends to have quite many replies, depending on the platform you are using. While you may have a larger pool to choose from, it is most of the time too much to go through all of them.
To avoid any bogus applicants, you might want to skip shady freelancing websites that you heard nothing about and focus on those around for a longer time – and are, therefore, more reliable.
Upwork: Upwork has quite a detailed screening process, which means that the bogus candidates will be rejected right from the very start. Plus, since freelance virtual assistants can bid for jobs, those that are not committed enough will not go through with the process. This means that an Upwork virtual assistant will likely be a professional who knows their trade.
Freelance My Way: If you are looking for virtual assistants to put in charge of your content and administrative work, then Freelance My Way should certainly be on your list. Plus, you have the option of paying your freelancers only when your goals have been met.
Smashing Magazine: This platform holds one of today’s best design marketplaces. Therefore, if you are trying to outsource to a web designer or a developer, this place should prove reliable.
Some may require a fee to place a listing, whereas others are completely free. That being said, you should not let the prices deter you – particularly if you are looking to find a good person to outsource to.
If you want to ensure your virtual assistant is not bogus, you might want to consider virtual assistant companies. Most people working for these agencies are heavily screened, so you can ensure that you are only getting high-quality assistance. You may contact them with your requirements, and they will choose the virtual assistant that meets your preferences.
2.Virtual Assistant Companies.
If you want to ensure your virtual assistant is not bogus, then you might want to consider virtual assistant companies. Most people working for these agencies are heavily screened, so you can ensure that you are only getting high-quality assistance. You may contact them with your requirements, and they will choose the virtual assistant that meets your preferences.
When it comes to tracking your virtual assistant tasks every day, you are bound to have a few questions. To make it easier for you, here are some that have been answered for you.
How do you track the time that a virtual assistant spent on a task?
Virtual assistants generally charge on an hourly rate, which is why time is money here. That being said, while we do hope that every virtual assistant is nice and honest, we can’t ignore the fact that they could inflate the time it took just so that they could get better pay.
For this reason, to ensure that you are paying for the hours that they have worked, you might want to make use of tools such as the Time Doctor. All the virtual assistant will have to do is click upon the start button, and Time Doctor will take it from there and track exactly how much time it took them.
How do I know they are working on the tasks?
Good, now you have a way of tracking how much time your virtual assistant spent on the task – but how do you know they spent that much on the task? They could have started the timer and went for a nap in the meantime.
This is why the virtual assistant software that you use should also have some sort of inactivity tracker to it. Let’s take Time Doctor, for example: if there hasn’t been any keyboard or mouse activity for more than 3 minutes, the aimer will assume that the virtual assistant is on a break, and it will hit pause. This way, you will only be paying for how long your employee was working actively.
How do I make sure they are addressing my tasks?
Your virtual assistant may be on the computer, typing away on Facebook chats, watching cat videos on YouTube, etc. They may even be shopping on Amazon, for all you know.
For this reason, tracking apps should also come with some website monitoring abilities. For instance, with Time Doctor, you can blacklist the websites that are not related to work (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and so on). If the virtual assistant accesses any of those websites while the timer is working, a popup will be asking them if they are still working.
This feature is a good deterrent to ensure that they are getting back to work. Plus, as an employer, you will also get a poor time usage report for your virtual assistant, telling you exactly how much time they spent on a blacklisted website. This way, you will only be paying for the hours in which your virtual assistant has been actively working.
How Much Do Virtual Assistants Cost?
There are quite a few factors that you will have to keep in mind when determining the pay scale of your virtual assistant. Here are just a few of them:
1.Type of Work.
Quite a lot of the money that you pay depends on exactly what kind of work they are doing. For example, if they are doing basic administrative work, such as handling your phone calls as your assistant, you may have to pay around $15-$20 per hour. If you need someone to handle inbound calls as a customer service executive, that payment may be bumped up to $25-$30.
The more complex the task is, the more you will have to pay them. Digital marketing, for instance, may easily have you paying around $50 an hour, as it requires more detailed work.
The more experienced a virtual assistant is, the more you will have to pay them. Suppose they are backed up by years of experience. In that case, they will always bring up a lot more expertise – and with that expertise, you will be receiving higher professionalism – something that Louie Ortiz, CEO of Monbi, also notes upon.
“When it comes to choosing virtual assistants – or simply, any kind of independent contractors – to work for you, you can expect to pay a great deal if you want quality. The phrase ‘you get what you paid for’ is popular for a reason. If the independent contractor is from the same country as you and is asking for less than your average freelancer, it might be because they are barely starting, and you might not get good results from the very beginning. Granted, it might also be a marketing strategy for them to attract company owners – which is why you always need to check their credentials.”
In some cases, you might not want to take it the wrong way if they are asking for more because this means they are capable of providing you reliable results..
Nationality is also determinant of how much you will be paying for your virtual assistant. There is a reason why so many businessmen are outsourcing to countries such as India, as they are far cheaper than the Western world.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be compromising the quality in any way; they’re only asking for less because that is how their currencies work. You’ll be getting the same level of quality – but will only pay a fraction of the normal price for it.
Steps for Paying the Virtual Assistant.
You’ve already determined how much you want to pay a virtual assistant – but now you are faced with another question: what is the actual policy on paying these virtual assistants? Here, you can go one of two ways: you can hire a company that will outsource a virtual assistant to you – in which case, you’ll be paying the company, and they will direct it to the virtual assistant.
But what happens if the virtual assistant is not a part of any company? What if you are working with an independent contractor? What are you going to do from there on? Well, here are some things you need to know before giving them their payment.
1.Pay After They Finish the Job.
Under no circumstance should you be paying a virtual assistant in advance? In fact, no freelancer should be paid in advance; it’s remote outsourcing 101. If you already gave them the money from the very beginning, there is no guarantee that they will actually get the job done.
It might be ok to give them a partial payment – but you should only do it when you have the certainty they won’t leave you hanging. For example, you might give them partial payments if you have already worked with them before or if they have great credentials. That being said, you might still want to avoid paying upfront unless the nature of the task asks for it.
2.Use Established Payment Methods.
When you are giving payment to a remote virtual assistant, you must make sure that your money is not going places that it shouldn’t. For this reason, you might want to use payment methods that have been widely recognized, such as PayPal, TransferWise, or Payoneer, depending on what your favorite options are. And here are the reasons why you should do so:
They are more trustworthy and reliable
They are transparent in regard to their surcharges and fees
Currency conversion is more reliable
The chances are that every freelancer will have an account on them.
Ideally, you should go for the most popular options, as you know for certain most virtual assistants will already have them installed.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant
Are you thinking of becoming a virtual assistant? Well, if you are looking to get some flexibility in your life, this job might be a good fit for you. It does not matter where you are working, as you do not have to be present at a physical office. You could be working in a cabin in the mountains or a beach in Bali, as long as you have a high-speed Internet connection.
Technically speaking, you are hired by a person that outsources their work to you – but practically, you are your own boss. You’re the one who takes the job you believe is most suitable for you, and you’re the one who decides what your schedule will be.
That being said, before starting on the road to becoming a virtual assistant, there are a few things that you might want to remember first:
1.Determine What You Are Offering.
If you have read the sections above, you probably know what companies expect you to do as a virtual assistant. If you are determined that this is your calling, then you need to give some serious thinking about which skill set represents you the most.
Have you worked with customer services before? If so, you might be suited as a customer support virtual assistant. Or maybe you have good communication skills – in which case, you might be interested in social media management. It’s important to know exactly what set of skills you can offer so that you are not overlooked as a candidate.
2.Choose Your Business Structure.
You might be your “own man,” but that doesn’t mean you can work just whenever you feel like it. You need to create a structure so that you do not leave your contractors waiting.
Are you planning to be a full-time virtual assistant? Or do you want to keep this as a side job so that you can earn a little bit of extra cash? This is quite important, as it will tell you precisely how much work you will take on. For example, you should not take up work, such as customer support, to work part-time as a virtual assistant.
3.Set Your Pay.
One of the perks of being a virtual assistant is that you are free to set your salary to see fit. However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind:
You are an independent contractor, not a full-time employee. This means that you will have to pay the taxes yourself as a self-employed individual.
This comes with no legal benefits – so, you won’t be getting medical insurance, 401k, dental, and so on.
You will have to consider extras such as high-speed Internet connection, web maintenance, and possible office renting.
When you set the payment that you are about to receive for your services, you should keep these factors in mind. You might ask for about 25% more than you would ask for the job as an employed person for starters. This should help cover the necessary overheads. That being said, a good tip would be to scroll through freelancing platforms and see exactly how much people are getting paid for the job.
4.Create a Website.
Here’s the million-dollar question: why would you need a website if you already have your name on the freelancing platforms? Well, you might not necessarily need a website – but it will sure help boost your credibility.
If you are serious about being a virtual assistant, then a website will make you look more professional. And the more professional you look, the more reliable you will seem. If your potential contractors see you as someone reliable, there is a higher chance that you’ll be getting the job.
5.Build Your Network.
Building your network is a mandatory step when trying to make a name for yourself – and this doesn’t only apply to virtual assistants. Each person that is providing a service or a product should work on creating a decent network. This is also something that growth hacking specialist and digital strategist Sarath CP stresses upon:
“In the business world, it is all about WHO you know and not about WHAT you know. If you want your business to thrive, you must have enough reliable connections and few to null enemies. With the help of the connections, you can easily call them to get some help that is needed anytime you need something. Through networking, you would be able to connect with highly influential people you wouldn’t be able to connect with easily without the networking.” 
If you wish to be a successful virtual assistant, you will have to build your network to create connections within the virtual assistant industry that will bring you high up. Here are the steps necessary for you to conduct proper networking:
Determine your field: You must know where you can find the potential employees before you even think of setting a meeting with them.
Search for prospects: Once you’ve determined the field, it is time that you look for good prospects. Start looking for small businesses that might require a virtual assistant.
Build a social media presence: Be smart and use the current technology to your advantage. Like and share your LinkedIn and Twitter posts to get yourself out there first, and after that, you can formally make your pitch.
Pitch regularly to potential clients: Once you are confident enough that you are appearing on the radar of your potential clients and that you have made a name for yourself, you may go ahead and set virtual meetings with them. Outline what exactly it is that you do and how you may be of benefit for them.
Give them a trial period: First, clients may be rather skeptical of your outsourcing skills, particularly if they don’t see any actual reviews on your page. To make up for this, you might want to give them a free trial first – just so that they can try out the waters. Not only will this be good practice for you, but it will also determine the client to try your services. What do they have to lose, after all?
By building your network, you will have a trust layer between yourself and your potential clients – which will eventually give you more profit.
6.Apply for Freelancing Marketplaces.
There’s a reason why this was left for last. Well, while it makes sense to set yourself straight on the freelance platform, you won’t be the only one that had that idea. There are far too many people on those platforms for you to stand out. You will just be one of the thousands of people that are looking for a job.
This is why you need to build a website first and build some meaningful connections – because, between you and your average Joe with no connections, you’ll likely be chosen because you are popular. While these marketplaces are very useful, don’t use them as the only ways of finding a job as a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants are no longer such a rarity; they have become something that we need to boost our productivity. Their schedules are flexible, and they may be hired for the time you need – which is why this is convenient for both the freelancer and the one doing the hiring. Plus, if you want to be actively involved in a company’s management, it is great to have someone you can rely on for the technicalities.