What Is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant, in its simplest definition, is an assistant that works remotely. We do not work in your office, and typically, we are an independent contractor rather than a full-time employee of your business.

For some businesses, particularly those that have been around a long time, there are questions about what a virtual assistant is and what one can do for you. So let’s get into some details.


What can a virtual assistant do?


A virtual assistant can do just about anything you would hire an in-office assistant to do, other than handling paperwork (and even that can sometimes be done!).


Just a few tasks a virtual assistant can handle for you are:


  • Forward your phones to be answered
  • Check, sort, and respond to emails
  • Update and maintain your calendar/schedule
  • Create, maintain, update and comment on your social media
  • Create, edit, and proofread a variety of documents
  • Create, edit, and schedule blog posts or website information
  • Data entry
  • Purchasing
  • Accounting


How do I find the right virtual assistant?


Like other assistants, virtual assistants are individuals with their own unique skillsets and talents. Some may handle accounting, for example, while I generally do not. Other may prefer not to handle your social media, while I will.


Hiring a virtual assistant requires you to first have an understanding of what tasks you want us to handle for you. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can just jot down the main tasks you want us to take over, and ask about our process for adding other tasks later.


You should also expect to interview us, just as you would anyone else you intended to hire. This interview process doesn’t need to be as lengthy or complicated as it might otherwise be. But you do want to make sure that we can handle the tasks you need to be completed.


You also want to make sure the vibe between you is good. Solid communication is critical with a virtual assistant, as most of our work will be dictated by verbal or written words, rather than being shown. If it feels like a struggle to communicate clearly during the interview, the work may not go smoothly as that’s likely to continue into the working relationship.


Where do I look for a virtual assistant?


Well, you’re already here on my site, so obviously you’ve already got some idea of how to find one. 😉


My recommendation is to search for virtual assistant businesses rather than using sites such as Upwork. The reason? Sites like that, while they have their place and I’ve worked through them myself, tend to put freelancers in a position where they are in a bidding race to the bottom. They try to price themselves lower than others in order to get the job, and that leads to an underpaid, overworked assistant who feels unappreciated and frustrated. This can lead to poorer quality work or high turnover.


Someone with their own business, on the other hand, knows the value of their skills and has a strong motivation to not only find work but to keep clients happy. You’ll pay more for our services, but the result will be stellar work.


Can a virtual assistant be temporary, part-time, or work in my location sometimes?


The great thing about virtual assistants is the flexibility we provide. Some will happily come to your location if it’s feasible. Most of us are willing to take on clients temporarily, such as helping out with a project or covering for someone else who is out of work for a short time. We’re also usually willing to work part-time.


It is important, however, that you outline your needs upfront. As freelancers, we don’t put all our eggs in one client’s basket. It’s important that we know exactly what you’ll be expecting so that we can ensure that we have the time and skills to successfully meet your needs.


If you’re interested in learning more about what I can offer as a virtual assistant, please contact me for a free consultation.

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