A Guide to Your Virtual Assistant Journey

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Technological advancement has favorably brought an upper hand of opportunities for businesses all over the world. This change has led small businesses and enterprise owners to ride on the massive cultural shift both in its workforce and workplace. New markets have emerged and the new technology starts to create new products and services.

With the rise of the digital age as well, there was an increase in the number of solo entrepreneurs, and many of them started outsourcing administrative tasks for cost and productivity reasons.  As a result, the demand for Virtual Assistants grew rapidly. The aftermath is, more and more emerging businesses start to appoint virtual working people to help them run their business.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Generally, a virtual assistant is a self-employed person that gives professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office. Administrative tasks are the customary work of virtual assistants, but they may also assist with any other functions needed by the clients.

They may accommodate marketing, web design, bookkeeping, and many other services. Some virtual assistants are specialized in a specific skill set, and they only perform duties related to those skills. Other virtual assistants specialize in an industry, such as a virtual assistant whose niche is assisting realtors.

Types of Virtual Assistants

  1. Generalist Virtual Assistant 

Generalist VAs or commonly referred to as General or Admin VAs are often similar to administrative professionals. This type of VAs supports multiple business functions and carries out a variety of administrative tasks, such as data entry, creating documents, managing calendars, and appointments, and responding to emails.

  1. Social Media Virtual Assistant 

Social Media VAs typically have a solid grasp on all the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn). Some may also possess expert knowledge in one platform. Social Media VAs does not only schedule the posts, but they also implement and monitor all aspects of your social media initiatives.

  1. Content Management Virtual Assistant

Content Management VAs do the research and provide the business owner with traffic-generating ideas. The owner creates the content, based on those ideas. Then the Content Management VA steps in again and handles publishing, promoting, and repurposing.

  1. Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant

Digital Marketing VAs are the ones who implement tactics related to business sales, content and strategy. Though they, too, may have their hands in content management, Digital Marketing VAs possess additional expertise in the back-end tasks for digital sales efforts.

  1. Systems Virtual Assistant

Systems VAs are focused on helping the owner manage the systems and operations of the business. Like the digital marketing VA, the systems VA is highly tech-savvy. They are skilled in technological areas such as basic website maintenance, connecting apps to eliminate manual steps with tools, and creating repeatable workflows for routine client interactions with software.

How Does a Virtual Assistant Work?

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Virtual assistants typically work from home, performing tasks that an administrative assistant or secretary would normally do. They may also simply work as employees for a company.

A VA’s Work From Home setting may include a laptop or computer, web camera, noise-cancelling headphones, high speed internet connection and a backup internet as well. For some, a backup power source is also secured. It is also best to work in a quiet, conducive environment – free from external distractions. This allow VAs to focus on productivity and goal completion.

Skills and Qualities a Virtual Assistant Must Have

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A good VA is not just about the factor of being able to help someone with their administrative or technical needs. There are a lot of personal qualities required in order to be successful in this field. And if you are planning to start working as one, you have to be aware of these qualities before you start your VA journey.

a.  Word Processing Skills

This is one of the first set of skills you should possess as a VA because word processing is a fundamental task which is always performed by virtual assistants and is hardly left out. It comprises but is not limited to data entry and typing, so one must note that it is not just about writing or typing but also ensuring that the work is 100% accurate and free of typo errors.

b.    Oral Communication and Writing Skills

In the virtual society, modes of communication are regularly done through fax and emails that is why it is substantial that you must be able to communicate with the clients in both written and verbal manner. You will be expected to cater to tasks such as sending reports, managing emails, or making presentations, and having excellent communication skills is an edge especially on keeping a client or getting new ones.

c.    Computer Skills

Needless to say that the basic equipment a VA uses is a desktop or a laptop and of course a reliable internet connection. All of your tasks will be done with the use of a computer so it is expected that you have a grasp of basic computer skills. Be sure to have at least basic knowledge on programs like Microsoft Office, Google Drive, and the World Wide Web in general.

d.    Self Motivation and Discipline

As a VA, motivation, and discipline are essential. For example, getting out of bed on time and getting yourself ready for work should be a discipline. Also, several things could get in the way of concentrating on tasks like non-important phone calls, a favorite television show, or browsing social networking websites. Because the nature of the job allows more freedom, one must be motivated and disciplined enough to succeed.

e.    Quick Thinking and Effective Decision Making

If you’re a quick thinker, you pick up new information and ideas easily and “process” that information swiftly. Quick thinking is a valuable ability in a world where the pace of change continues to accelerate. Decision making is a critical skill for effective and most importantly, efficient task completion. The capability to think and make the right decisions promptly is vital especially in times when the client leaves a specific virtual assistant task and would not be around to answer questions or clarifications. In such instances, – it is best to be resourceful and find out the answers on your own.

f.     Love for Continuous Learning

This kind of job is dynamic and can provide plenty of variations. To stay at the top of the game, keep in mind that you always have to learn daily. It is just the same as the common saying that “if you don’t love what you do then you won’t succeed no matter how hard you thrive”. Treat every day differently and watch out for learning curves.

g.   Organizational Skills

Last and definitely not the least, a virtual assistant knows how to organize files and materials in a sensible and effective structure. Moving from one project to another – or even, doing multiple tasks at once – can make it hard to track necessary files if they are not organized or named properly. File management and organization is crucial in the success of collaborative projects.

Essential Virtual Assistant Softwares and Tools

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Software tools are the best partner for remote workers, it helps you do tasks easier and more effectively. Here is a list of the most common virtual assistant software programs that will help you with task delegation and automation.

 1. Hubstaff – Hubstaff is a web-based time tracking and project management tool that is super simple to use. It enables you to store all the files, tasks, due dates, and discussions with the appropriate project. Hubstaff comes with remote employee monitoring features, such as URL tracking and application use. It can take screenshots at random times and calculate productivity levels based on mouse and keyboard activity.

2. Dropbox – Dropbox is a continually improving service with plenty of features. Not only is it file storage system but also allows file sharing across different PCs. Once you add a file to your Dropbox account, you can get a link to the file and share it. You can also create a shared Dropbox folder that can be accessed anytime. It’s simple and easy to use. When you have all your documents synced with Dropbox, you can share any file at any time without having to move it to a special folder. It also serves as a great backup system should you need it.

3. Google Calendar – This is a web-based application that makes it easy to share your calendar with your team on a need-to-know basis. For personal VAs, a lot of work go into managing executive calendars. This ensures that everyone is aware of each other’s commitments and don’t end up double-booked.

4. Google Apps – Google Apps is one of the most widely used business apps in the world, and it’s with good reason. Their tools are intuitive, comprehensive, and make collaboration easy. Not to mention, everyone is familiar with G Suite, so there is usually no need to train virtual assistants on the software. This includes a wide range of tools useful for online collaboration.

5. Buffer – Buffer is a social media management tool that brings all of your social media profiles into one convenient location. Rather than having to log in to each of your separate social media profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more, you can connect your social media profiles to Buffer and then use Buffer to manage all of your profiles.

6. Trello – Trello is a project management tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. Imagine a whiteboard, filled with lists of sticky notes, with each note as a task for you and your team.

How To Become a VA Without Experience

The first thing you should know is that a college degree is not necessary to become a virtual assistant though it will likely put you at an advantage when it comes to landing clients. The best way to start your VA job with perfectly zero experience is through education, training, and getting certificates. The first thing you’re probably doing is searching online for training courses on how to become a virtual assistant.

You may want to start your ride by watching educational and tutorial videos on free online sites like YouTube to get a quick background of the things you will come across in the future if you will choose to pursue your Virtual Assistant path. Self-education is a productive way to start your training as you have the chance to process information about the job.

Subsequently, you will have enough time to assess your willingness and preparedness and after that, you can finally start with your VA journey. If you found out that you have at least the basic knowledge and skill set needed for the job, then you can start taking online courses. These courses are very useful and once completed will secure you a certificate that you can put into your CV or resume which will surely help you effortlessly land your first client.

Trainings to Get You Started

To start your training, here’s a list of sites that offer FREE training for newbie Virtual Assistants like you.

  1.  Google Online Marketing Challenge is a tutorial that offers courses and modules covering digital and search engine marketing, search and display advertising, campaigns via mobile, social media, and video, as well as for analytics. Google AdWords Certification is also available for the VA who aims to excel in the digital marketing niche.
  2.  Hubspot Academy offers the following courses for free to everyone: Inbound (marketing methodology) Certification, Email Marketing Certification, Inbound Sales Certification, HubSpot Design Certification.
  3.  Quicksprout University offers beginner, intermediate and advanced courses on SEO, Link Building, Content Marketing, Paid Advertising, and Social Media, as well as courses on Email Marketing, Reputation Management, and Conversion Optimization. All presentations are on video.
  4. Search Engine Journal is an authoritative site with heaps of articles about how to make the most of SEO, content marketing, social media, and paid search. They have a FREE ebook – Search Engine Journal Whitepaper: “What Works in Content Marketing: Case Studies & Tools for Success” that will assist VAs in their search for the best practices in content marketing.
  5. Moz SEO for beginners is a ten chapter module that covers everything a beginner asks. Questions like “how a search engine operates”, “why search engine marketing is necessary”, “keyword search”, “usability, experience and content”, “search engine tools”, and “how to measure and track success”.
  6. Social Media Quickstarter combines email marketing with social media marketing through its modules: Facebook 101, Twitter 101, LinkedIn 101, Pinterest 101, Instagram 101, Google+ 101, YouTube 101, Snapchat 101, and Blogging 101.
  7.  Udemy offers more than 40,000 courses conducted by experts in their field. Udemy students can learn and earn certificates at their own pace on any device. They offer free courses for Python, Java, and Microsoft programs. Sign up to their newsletter and receive updates on their promos where you can get up to 70% discounts (maybe more) on paid courses.
  8.  Coursera aims for its students to learn better and faster, and designed their teaching methods with these four key ideas: Online Learning, Mastery Learning, Peer Assessments, and Blended Learning. Students can learn at their schedule and earn certificates for their course.
  9.  WordPress 101 by WPBeginner is FREE a video tutorial on how to create and manage a website using WordPress as a platform. Just create an account to view the videos.

Benefits & Advantages of Becoming a VA

The bottomline of working as a VA is, it will definitely give you freedom. Being able to work from home, you will have control of your schedule and can work when and from wherever you want. It’s just a matter of discipline and commitment on how you will manage and do great on the tasks entrusted to you.

Another good thing about being a VA is that you have a big chance to meet and work with the most interesting people. You can always choose whom you want to work with and you can choose on the tasks or projects you are passionate about to work into.

Apart from that, you will be able to expand your horizon of knowledge and skills by learning a lot of new skills every day. And if the moment comes where you decide to shift in a corporate world, you could probably get hired easily because of all the skills and experience you have.

Join Us

Here in The Writers’ Block PH, we value every aspiring individual who is willing to accept the challenge and eager to learn the ins and outs of working as a VA. The company is always enthusiastic in helping someone who exhibits desire and commitment to pursue the journey of becoming a skilled VA. We do provide free training and our team is gladly here to guide and help you hone your skills with the process. The company’s vision is to mold a multi-skilled VA with long-term goals and can compete in the global setting. 

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