What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

What do virtual assistants do? How did you start with your virtual assistant work? What does a virtual assistant do? How much does a virtual assistant get paid? These are all questions I am asked often. I am definitely not an expert, but I do want to share what I know. My extra income posts seem…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: April 22, 2021

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

What does a virtual assistant do? What is a virtual assistant and what do they do? How much does a virtual assistant get paid?What do virtual assistants do? How did you start with your virtual assistant work? What does a virtual assistant do? How much does a virtual assistant get paid? These are all questions 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, 75 Ways To Make Extra Money,  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?” Or “What does a virtual assistant do?”

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 being a virtual assistant pays.

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.


So, what does a virtual assistant do?

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 its 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.

Related: How To Become A Bookkeeper


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 if you are interested in today’s post What Does A Virtual Assistant Do. If you are interested in starting a blog of your own (which I highly recommend if you want to become a virtual assistant), I have a tutorial that will show you how to easily make a blog of your own in just minutes. You can find the tutorial here.

Are you a virtual assistant? Have you thought about becoming one? On the flip side, have you ever hired a virtual assistant? Why?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. 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!

    1. I thought it was weird when I first started blogging as well, but now I understand completely.

    2. Susan

      I have been a VA for 9 years. Typically they are for virtual business and ecommerce. No benefits are involved so it is an affordable way for business owners to retain talent and not have to dish out what a store front business has to offer.

  2. I LOVE the idea of hiring out work! I would totally hire a virtual assistant if I could justify the costs. I especially love the idea of hiring an additional writer, as you have. I agree 100% that the new perspective on a site is worth it – there is a definite difference between voices/topics/perspectives.
    My recent post 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Energy Bill

    1. Thanks! Glad you like that I have a staff writer ๐Ÿ™‚ I do feel that the additional view is great.

  3. Laura S.

    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

    1. Thanks for the pricing information Laura ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Rachel

    Looking forward to the follow-up post! I feel like I am qualified to do a few of these things, so I'm interested in learning more!
    My recent post The Best Products for Chapped Lips

    1. Hopefully I'll have that worked up soon and ready for the beginning of next week.

  5. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence

    I though about applying for VA jobs but my life was too hectic to stick to a schedule. There are plenty of jobs on odesk, elance and taskrabbitt, although people out of the US bid very low and it is hard to beat a $50 per month VA.
    My recent post 13 money resolutions for 2013: #11 give back!

    1. Yeah $50 per month wouldn't really be worth it to me if there was a lot of work to be done for that $50.

  6. Like Holly, I never was able to understand why someone would hire a VA. However, now I totally see why someone might need one. I have definitely thought of hiring one myself and may do so in the future.

  7. I am on the fence about hiring a VA right now, mainly because my site doesn't bring in enough money to support one. But as soon as the site starts raking in the dough, it is one of the first things on my list!
    My recent post 10 Quotes to Get You Motivated

    1. Yes, it's always nice to have someone helping out!

  8. Thanks for the informative post. I use a couple of staff writers for one of my sites now, but haven't made enough to hire more done yet as I'm trying to bootstrap the enterprise.

  9. therandompath

    Informative as always Michelle! Can't wait for the next post in this series ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post Would You Spend Money On It?

    1. I can't wait for it also haha

  10. And I'm glad to have you on as a staff writer Jordann ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. @danilee_13

    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

    1. Hopefully next week's post is helpful! I'm trying to do as much research as I can on it.
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  12. I have a VA and I LOVE HER. She manages my life.
    My recent post How to Ask for a Discount

  13. 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?

    1. Hopefully it all works out, sounds like it will.
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

      1. Bella

        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.

  14. christineslittleblog

    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. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    My recent post Things Are Different Here

    1. Haha Christine I hope you eventually get to do something that you love! ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  15. studentdebtsurvivor

    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?

    1. Thanks! Glad you like that I have a staff writer. I love her as well haha ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  16. kimateyesonthedollar

    I don't particularly enjoy social media and don't have the time to do it right. I'd certainly hire that out if I made enough money to justify the cost. I also didn't get the comments for hire thing at first, but I can see how that might be nice. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean! My sister is learning all of the different social media, but it's definitely a lot to handle in the very beginning.
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  17. 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.

    1. I agree and of course know what you're talking about. Hopefully you find someone great soon (if you haven't already)!
      My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  18. Sounds like you already have a ton on your plate, I don't think I could do VA if i were you either.
    My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  19. I agree, I don't think I could justify doing something small.
    My recent post What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

  20. Happy_Homeowner

    Great post! I'm currently investigating some VA opportunities, and I look forward to something working out

  21. Dropthatdebt

    Great post ! Can't wait to read next weeks post to see how you do it!
    My recent post The Perfect Price : Dry Shampoo

  22. Canadianbudgetbinder

    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?

  23. Pam

    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.

    1. Michelle

      That's a great idea for a future post! Thank you so much. I hope you become a VA this year.

  24. Michelle

    Hope they are useful!

  25. Skye

    I would like to know how I could get started as a VA as I want to do it but don't know where to get started.

    1. I have a post going live this week about it. Stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post $3,340 in Extra Income, Life, Wedding Updates

  26. Lea@bpo24hour.com

    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.

  27. Bradd

    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?

    1. What type of assistant are they looking for? I may be able to recommend someone.

  28. Lynne

    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,


  29. I have done virtual assisting once. Maybe I need to look into doing that again. Great idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Kei

    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.

  31. Cat

    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!

  32. Holly Storm-Burge

    I have thought about both. I need to make extra income through my blog, but once I get moving, I would love to hire someone to help with the more time-consuming and mundane tasks.

  33. excellent information. I have recently assisted a VA with several projects. I am now offering my own services for that of content writing and VA task. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Shanna ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Jennifer

    I’ve always thought I’d like to do editing. By the way, you have a misplaced apostrophe in #4 above….. There’s no apostrophe in the word “its”, because it is a possessive pronoun, not a contraction for “it is”. See? I’d love to help someone with stuff like that!

    1. Thanks for noticing the error. I write so many blog posts and common things like this get overlooked when I am speed typing. But yes, I do know the difference ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. nicole dziedzic

    Awesome post! I have thought about becoming a virtual assistant before but had know idea where to start and find all the info that I needed, this is so helpful! Great way to make money!

  36. I am looking into being a Virtual Assistant and offering some of my skills for a fee. I don’t know why I never thought of this sooner. I have been applying for companies but a lot of times if you do not already have experience you get skipped over. I would like to do it on my own and am trying to find clients. I am hoping to create my own business doing this. Thank you for all this information and I absolutely love your site! So much awesome information in one place.

  37. I really need to get help but am unsure yet what to hire out and how much is reasonable to pay. I am exhausted trying to keep fingers in too many pies. A very interesting read. Thanks x

  38. Ann Cromer

    I’m doing the research now to become a VA. Thanks for your helpful articles!

  39. Leslie

    I am currently virtually a VA ๐Ÿ˜‰ with one of my employers. I do freelance work for a small flooring contractor. This contractor is computer challenged in an in an industry that is going more and more electronic every day. I handle the electronic end of product submittals and contract document submission as well as review projects to bid, send required plan sheets to the printer and compile end of job documents maintenance and warranty books. Most of this I do from home, only occasionally being required to go in to the office. I currently work 60-80 hours a month. My husband and I are currently downsizing from 2000 sq ft home to a 5th wheel RV that we bought used and abused. We took on way more of a RV remodel project than we anticipated but are finally seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel and should be putting the house up for sale shortly. Can’t wait to start our adventure and hoping the freelance work will help sustain us! I’m also a bookkeeper, but haven’t figured out quite how to go totally virtual with that skill.

    1. Erin Cotter

      I’m currently a Virtual Assistant. I know there is one virtual assistant service that’s offering an affiliate program to promote the virtual assistants. Its called Myvirtualassistantrocks.com and they offer a 10% commision on sales. I’ve worked for multiple companies but started out as a receptionist and customer service rep in stores with actual business and worked as a TA in my college’s Physics department & on newspapers & magazines. There’s so much a Virtual Assistant can do for a company. They get a great deal!