What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

I found this picture on Pinterest and it turns out that ModCloth sells it :)How did you start with your virtual assistant work? This is something that I am asked often. I am definitely not an expert, but I do want to share what I know. My extra income posts seem to be a hit with everyone so far.

If you haven’t read them yet, please read a super long summary about my extra income,  Ways to Earn Extra Income Part 1, and then of course So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?

Virtual assisting is something that I recently started doing. It doesn’t comprise a very big percentage of my extra income, but it is still something. I like to be diversified just in case anything does happen to one of my other extra income streams (yes I realize that I am not fully diversified because a lot of my extra income is earned online – just in different ways).

Now even though it does not comprise a very large percent of my income, making some extra money by being a virtual assistant is nice. I can work from home and can see results immediately.

A virtual assistant or freelancer (for the sake of this post, the terms will be interchangeable) helps a business run, all while staying virtual (most likely at home or at their own virtual assistant business). You can be contracted for one project (such as blog design) or it can be a continuing job such as replying to e-mails and comments.

 

A lot of you have asked “Why would anyone hire a virtual assistant?

Well, why WOULDN’T someone hire help? A business is a lot of work, and if you can outsource some of the things that need to be done so that you can focus more on the end goal and direction of your business, then why not? Also, one person realistically cannot do everything. When help is needed, it’s best to look for it because your business could end up going downhill because of it.

A business owner also does not want to sacrifice quality. Quality tends to be sacrificed when one person is trying to do a 5 person job. That’s where a virtual assistant can come in!

 

A lot of you have also asked about pay

This is a hard question to answer. Pay can be anywhere from $15 to $100+ per hour. You can also get paid per project (such as per written article), instead of on an hourly basis. It’s really hard to say just because there are so many different tasks that can be done.

If any of you wouldn’t mind, please share what you generally make or request when you do virtual assistant work. It’ll be helpful to everyone! And I’ll also include you in this post if you do as well. Thanks!

A virtual assistant can be pretty much anything, but today I wanted to focus on how you can be a virtual assistant for a website. I’m not too familiar with other forms of virtual assistant work (such as online financial services, data entry, etc.), so I did not want to jump into that until I researched it some more.

 

Possible virtual assistant tasks/ideas:

1. Social Media Assistant. Have you ever felt like there are so many different forms of social media and it’s all very hard to handle? Imagine if you have a business or multiple businesses you are trying to handle. Working through all of these can be very hard. You might help with their Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blog, etc., all in order to connect with the target audience.

 

2. Website Design. When I started FITnancials, I hired Andrea to design the whole blog. She did a great job. This is something that I never could have done myself. Website design is very important, especially for a new blog because it can set the tone for your blog and helps you with a good start. And if you’re like me, then you have no artistic or creative skills at all, so a website designer is needed badly. Now she wasn’t a “virtual assistant” and was entirely a freelancer, and this is where the interchangeable terms come into this post :)

As a website designer, there are so many things that can be done: whole website designs, social media icons, logos, banner advertisements and so on.

 

3. Editor. An editor does many things and can encompass many different industries. For this post we will talk about being a blog or website editor. A blog editor helps manage the actual writing of the website. Before articles are published, the editor may read through it, edit it, proofread, and then eventually publish the piece.

The editor may also handle search engine optimization (SEO) in order for the business/blog/website/etc. to rank higher in search engines and therefore be seen by more people. SEO will be talked about further in yet another post.

 

4. Market Research. Depending on the business and the market, research may be needed. A business needs to learn who it’s target audience is, and also how to reach this audience. If you don’t have any skills with doing this, then usually hiring someone is a lot more helpful.

A market researcher can find your audience, inform you on how to reach this audience, tell you what type of articles or products you should focus on and everything else. Have you ever wondered how to improve your business or how competitors are handling different things? A market researcher can help you with this.

 

5. Writer. As you all know, I have recently added on a staff writer to my blog. Jordann has been great. She adds a new perspective to my blog and I always enjoy her posts. Hiring an additional writer to your blog can make things a lot easier. You have one less post to worry about, and you can engage your readers with more than one viewpoint.

Also, with multiple writers, you can focus more on other things that are going on with your website. A writer can also manage the blog altogether. Many businesses do this that are not blogs. Such as a hotel that has a blog on the side. They are usually not focused on blog writing, so hiring someone who has a background in it usually makes it a lot easier on the company.

 

6. Personal Assistant. This is a category that I made up to encompass all of the other things that a virtual assistant can do. This includes: replying to emails, replying to comments, answering questions, scheduling meetings and so on. There are so many things that an assistant can do.

 

How do I start?

A lot of you have also asked how I find my virtual assistant work, and who employs me currently. I don’t feel like I should be stating who exactly I help because of privacy issues, but I do want to help you all find your own VA jobs! Instead of making this a whale of a post, you will have to come back next week to learn more about how to actually obtain the jobs.

Hopefully this post serves as a way for you to brainstorm possible ways to earn additional side income. Until next week, think about what talents you could offer! Right now, I’m sorry, hopefully this post wasn’t just a tease :)

EDIT: Read my follow up post on how to become a virtual assistant.

Are you a virtual assistant? Have you thought about becoming one?

On the flip side, have you ever hired a virtual assistant? Why?

Comments

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty says

    I used to be unable to understand why someone would hire a virtual assistant. I also thought it was weird that people sometimes hire assistants to comment for them. Now I totally understand! There are only so many hours in a day!

  2. Laura S. says

    I write for services and I have private writing gigs as well. For an ongoing private gig I receive $13 per article (400-450 words). When I accept a sponsored post for my blog, the pay averages $40.00. The pay for writing for different services varies widely. If it is short and sweet, I may do it even if the money isn't great.

    Very informative article, thanks for sharing!
    My recent post Chromebook Giveaway

  3. Jordann says

    I can definitely understand hiring a VA, the time required to grow a blog is insane, it would be nice to outsource some of the tasks. That said, it's not worth the money to hire one right now. I really like staff writing, the timing is so flexible, and you can really work at it as much or as little as you want.
    My recent post Why I Care About What I Eat

  4. @danilee_13 says

    I am very interested in your advice on where to start. I would love to do this for someone and be able to actually work while I'm at home with my little. I can't wait until next week!
    My recent post How To Organize Your Menu Planning

  5. Daniel says

    I recently hired my first personal assistant to help me with a project I'm working on that will hopefully bring in more income in 2013. It's definitely worth the price, the only question is whether the results will be good. I've spent more time than I'd like making corrections so far, but if it even breaks even now, it will help me increase earnings tremendously moving forward.
    My recent post Buy New or Buy Refurbished?

      • Bella says

        Something that people need to keep in mind is that hiring a VA has it’s learning curve just as if you were to hire a “physical” assistant or an employee. There are different ways that people work and communicate…not to mention the different personalities. Some managers try to micromanage and some VA’s are extremely resourceful, self-starters and require little hand-holding. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot if you expect someone who has no idea how you work, to come in an totally take over for you and get it done right off the bat. If it’s a good VA, they’ll communicate, ask questions along the way and clarify. Turning over a project just for the sake of getting paid is not the best win-win solution for either party. In my opinion, a VA’s job is to help your client succeed. When they succeed, you succeed.

  6. christineslittleblog says

    I would love to do some virtual assisting or staff writing on the side! I really like my new job but my salary kind of got cut in half. The price you pay to not hate going to work every day. ;)
    My recent post Things Are Different Here

  7. studentdebtsurvivor says

    I'd consider both hiring a VA and being a VA. I really love to write, but would love to have someone do the social media posting and technical side of things. I think it's great that you have a writer. Like others have said it adds another dimension and probably gives you more time to focus on other things that are important to you. A win-win in my book.
    My recent post Honoring Dr. King’s Birthday With a Day Off?

  8. @Finance_Fox says

    I think VAs are great, but my issue is finding someone who's committed to you and your business. Far too many people get into it, mismanage how much they take on and then leave at some point – making it difficult for anyone as they search, training, support and all that jazz needs to be done all over.

  9. Dianne says

    Thanks for the post. I've been considering doing VA work during a yearlong break from my career. Looking forward to hearing about how to get started.

  10. Canadianbudgetbinder says

    Thanks for sharing this. I've thought about hiring a VA and can justify the expense I may need one in the future but right now I'm a one man band. It's a lot of work that's for sure but I enjoy it. As long as there is a balance it's good for me.
    My recent post Why Has My House Not Sold?

  11. Budget & the Beach says

    I'm kind of doing a little more of that here and there, mainly with social media help. It's hard to juggle my "main" freelance career with my blog and doing that though. I don't know how you find the time sometimes. It's 10 and I want to go to bed but want to make sure I read my favorite blogs. It's a great way for people to earn some extra money though and learn some new skills in the meantime.
    My recent post Dream Technology

  12. Pam says

    I am planning to become a VA in 2013. I began the research a couple of months ago and am moving toward that goal. I want to feel confident that I can offer someone a service that will be valuable to them so I did not want to jump in too quickly. In the meantime, I have a small office support job that will be bringing in a few extra dollars each month until I can find a VA job or two.

    I really appreciate your willingness to share about your experience and provide us with some recommendations and tips. I will be eagerly awaiting your upcoming blog posts.

    Perhaps some of the other people who commented that they would like to hire a VA in the future could share in one of the posts what exactly they would be looking (e.g.the type of tasks they would want done, how much of a time commitment they would expect, etc.) for in a VA. That might prove helpful to those of us considering this type of work.

  13. Lea@bpo24hour.com says

    I don't know how you find the time sometimes. It's 10 and I want to go to bed but want to make sure I read my favorite.That might prove helpful to those of us considering this type of work.ogs.

  14. Bradd says

    Hi, I’m in a search of a virtual assistant well actually not me but a friend of mine. Can someone lead me to the right place please?

  15. Lynne says

    Hi, I love your articles and I learn more from them. Are you still in need of virtual assistant? I am a writer but I cannot find good rates from clients. Please message me on my email.

    Thanks a lot,

    Lynne

  16. Nesie says

    Hi Michelle. I really appreciate you writing this about what VA’s can do as I am a VA my self. It really helps those people who haven’t heard about us. So for those people above who plans to have a VA.
    I am actively seeking for a new employment .

    You can add me on Skype: nesie.virtucio

  17. Kei says

    Thank you for this post, I have been managing my Virtual Assistant Team for the past 5 years now. My Virtual Assistant Business has transitioned into a full service Digital Marketing Agency over the years and our clients are small business owners. From a client’s point of view, as an entrepreneur myself, I tend to do as much as I can for my own business, but yes, having help so I can focus on the more important aspects of my business is very important.

  18. Cat says

    Thanks for the article and all your posts in making extra income. I quit my job of 13 years and am doing freelance graphic design now. But I want to expand into VA work as well, since I think those would tend to be longer gigs and I have lots of skills besides designing brochures, posters, etc. (WordPress, writing/editing, Powerpoint, Photoshop, designing ebooks, social media, and other skills). So now I’m doing research on how to go about making this happen for me. thanks!
    Cat recently posted..Maria Forleo On The Value of ArtMy Profile

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