What is a Virtual Assistant?

You’ve probably heard the terms “virtual assistant” or “VA” getting thrown around by your fellow entrepreneurs … but unless you’ve started working with a virtual assistant yourself, you might still be a little unclear on what one is, or does, or can potentially do for YOU!

Totally understandable, especially since different virtual assistants offer different services, often covering a wide variety of tasks.

However, most of them could summarize their work like this:

A virtual assistant is someone who does online, remote work for their clients. Since all their work is virtual, it needs to be web-based. (Meaning a VA can design fliers for an event, but can’t put stacks of them in your local coffee shops!)

VAs are not employees; they’re contractors managing multiple clients, and they handle multiple workloads.

Again, individual virtual assistants may have specialties they excel at doing, or even workloads they prefer to avoid.

But the types of work they handle generally fall into one of 4 categories:

1. A virtual Assistant Can Do Administrative Tasks

Most entrepreneurs hire VAs to help with simple administrative work, especially recurring tasks that don’t generate direct revenue.

This can include everything from coordinating press requests and managing your schedule, to light accounting and proofreading.

If you’re considering hiring a virtual assistant, that person should be able to:

  • Reply to emails about products and services
  • Respond to blog comments with appropriate resources
  • Respond to messages on your FB page to answer questions
  • Respond to Tweets that contain queries

While some VA’s prefer doing technical or creative work, the vast majority are happy to handle any basic administrative tasks that help keep your business going strong!

2. A Virtual Assistant Can Handle Customer Support

Don’t get me wrong: As the business owner, you’ll need to handle any coaching, training, and closing of sales yourself.

However, a VA can be a fantastic resource for managing and coordinating simpler, less personal customer support tasks.

And since you are likely extremely busy and overwhelmed, entrusting your assistant with essential customer work means questions and queries get answered quicker, making your clients feel valued and supported!

Here are a few customer support tasks a typical VA can handle:

  • Contact clients with failed payments
  • Follow-up personally on cart abandonment
  • Direct customers to resources that can address their questions or concerns
  • Point clients to relevant offerings

Worried that a brand new VA might bungle a few of these during the learning curve period?

Offer her some templates or boilerplate language to use. Sure, scripts can feel a little robotic, but they’ll help your assistant answer customer questions quickly and accurately until she’s comfortable responding on-the-fly.

3. A Virtual Assistant Can Help with Marketing Work

As an online entrepreneur, a huge chunk of the work you do will involve promoting your offerings and ensuring your business is constantly growing.

You’ll want to formulate marketing strategies yourself, of course, but many core marketing tasks can be entrusted to a talented virtual assistant.

Have your VA set up sales funnels. Most sales funnels follow a simple, repeatable pattern: Landing page, lead magnet, intro offer, core offer, follow-up. Although your assistant may not be able to execute all tasks that fall within those categories entirely on her own, she can definitely help you coordinate their execution. You can also ask her which parts of the funnel most appeal to her, and train her to handle them herself!

Ask your VA to help forge partnerships. Set your assistant to the task of investigating and approaching joint venture partners who might be a good fit. This can include individual influencers, brands, businesses, coaches, anyone working within your sphere who has a footprint equal to or greater than your own. Your VA can also scout guest posting opportunities on your behalf.

Get your VA to handle some marketing content-creation: Depending on how deep you want to get into outsourcing content, you may want to hire specialized contractors. But most VAs can handle simple social media posts (announcements, promotion of blog posts or videos, etc.) to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If your VA is a skilled writer, you might even have her work on drafting blog posts or newsletters!

4. A Virtual Assistant Can Handle Technical or Operational Workloads

A handful of VAs are bona-fide tech wizards…but the majority are more comfortable with simple, predictable technical tasks.

You might scare your assistant if you ask her to overhaul your buggy WordPress site, but you should expect her to be able to:

  • Optimize blog posts for SEO
  • Resize images, or tweak them for Insta/Pinterest posts
  • Handle simple help desk requests from clients
  • Schedule emails to your list
  • Research hashtags or keywords

In terms of operational work, most VAs are comfortable working with vendors to pay bills or reorder supplies, renewing subscriptions, managing shared calendars, and handling other web-based operations tasks.

Does this post cover absolutely every tasks that every VA in the universe can do?

Heck no!

You’ll need to do some research and interviewing to get a sense of the work each individual assistant can handle, and many will surprise you with valuable skill sets. This is meant to be a primer in working with VAs; an intro to what you can expect if you’re looking to hire one for your own team.

Speaking of which, I’ve got a fabulous FREE workbook called: What is a Virtual Assistant & How She Can Help You Grow Your Business!



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