Are you curious about what a virtual assistant is and what they do? Are you thinking about hiring one but don't know where to start?
This blog post will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about virtual assistants. We'll cover what a VA is, what they can do for you, how to hire one, and how to work with them.
By the end of this post, you'll have a better understanding of whether or not a virtual assistant is right for you!
Virtual Assistant FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions on Virtual Assistant Services
You can click on these links below to jump on a specific section:
- What Are Virtual Assistants?
- What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
- How Are Virtual Assistants Different from Regular Employees?
- Who Hires Virtual Assistants?
- Why Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant for a Startup?
- How Much Do You Pay a Virtual Assistant?
- How Can Virtual Assistants Boost Productivity?
- How Do You Hire Your First Virtual Assistant?
- How Do You Manage Virtual Assistants?
What Are Virtual Assistants?
A virtual assistant or VA is an individual who provides certain services for your business from a remote location. Depending on the setup, virtual assistants can work for your business on a part-time or full-time basis.
Virtual assistant services fall under the wide umbrella of outsourcing. Want to learn more about the history of virtual assistants? Read all about the rise of the virtual assistant here!
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
VAs have a wide range of skills and expertise. Their work can be divided into three broad categories:
- Administrative Support
- Marketing Support
- Systems Support
Many VAs specialize in providing administrative services. Just like a regular administrative assistant, they're pros at administrative tasks like:
- Data entry: This could involve transcribing meeting notes, adding data to spreadsheets, or updating client records.
- Inbox management: This involves sorting and responding to emails, filtering spam, and flagging important messages.
- Answering phone calls: VAs can help you manage support requests and handle customer inquiries.
- Scheduling meetings: This includes sending out meeting invitations, coordinating with attendees, and preparing meeting materials.
- Making travel arrangements: This includes booking flights, hotels, and rental cars.
A VA marketing specialist can help you upscale your marketing and social media strategy. Here are a few marketing services your virtual assistant can provide:
- General or marketing research: This includes conducting market research, competitor analysis, and customer surveys.
- Search engine optimization: This includes optimizing website content for search engines, building backlinks, and tracking website traffic.
- Social media management: Your dedicated VA can help with tasks like creating content, scheduling posts, and engaging with followers.
- Email marketing: Virtual assistants can also help with email marketing tasks like creating newsletters, sending out automated emails, and managing subscribers.
- Lead generation: If you’re looking to generate more leads for your business, you can hire a virtual assistant to help with tasks like research, outreach, and follow-ups.
- Content creation: This could involve anything from writing blog posts to designing infographics to creating social media visuals.
You can definitely count on your VA’s organizational skills, too! They're quite flexible, so you can talk to them about other specific tasks you want them to do.
Additionally, system support specialists are familiar with different business software and programs. They can help you maximize programs like Ontraport, MailChimp, and Zapier.
These are just a few examples of what a VA can do for your business. But this barely scratches the surface.
Do you want to learn more about virtual assistants? Read about important VA qualities and the other services they can offer here!
How Are Virtual Assistants Different from Regular Employees?
There are key differences between regular employees and virtual assistants.
Most regular employees physically report to work. Meanwhile, virtual assistants can work from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a reliable internet connection. In fact, many of them are off-shore VAs!
In many cases, regular employees are also full-time employees. On the other hand, VAs offer more flexible employment set-ups. They can work between 20-40 hours each week. This is why many business owners hire a VA on a need-to-need basis.
In addition, virtual assistants work with multiple clients, which makes them quite different from regular employees, who typically work for one boss.
Who Hires Virtual Assistants?
Many businesses can benefit from hiring a VA. VAs offer the following advantages:
- more cost-effective than having a full-time employee
- helps free up your time
- lightens the workload of on-site employees
- reduces the need to train in-house employees
- helps streamline business processes
- improves customer service
- minimal commitment
- increases productivity
That’s why more successful companies are turning to VAs! It’s not just big companies either—entrepreneurs outsource work to virtual assistants, too!
Why Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant for a Startup?
Startups and small business owners usually have fewer resources than larger, established businesses. After all, there’s a lot of work to do when you’re starting a business!
More often than not, a startup team will be stretched out too thinly. It isn’t uncommon for them to juggle multiple roles and most tasks.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do in a day. Many startup teams often struggle with time management. It’s also important to give you and your team regular time off to recharge and avoid burnout.
Hiring a virtual assistant can help address some of these startup issues. Hiring a virtual assistant usually costs less compared to onsite employees.
You can outsource a wide range of tasks to help lighten your team’s load without breaking the bank. That way, your personal life doesn’t have to take a backseat to your business.
How can virtual assistants help startups succeed? Read how this business owner expanded her business with the help of offshore VAs.
How Much Do You Pay a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistant fees will depend on the following factors:
- the nature of the work
- the number of hours needed
- the virtual assistant’s skills, qualifications, and experience
Here are three common VA payment models:
You can pay your virtual assistant an hourly rate for the services they provide. This is the most common payment model for VAs. This means that you only pay your VA once their work begins, and unused hours aren't charged.
The hourly rate can be a good option if you have a set number of hours that you can work each week, and if your workload varies from week to week. The remaining hours can then be used as needed, or banked for future use.
You can also agree on a fixed price for specific projects or milestones. For example, you might pay a flat fee to have someone design your website or write 10 blog posts.
If you need regular help from a VA, you can set up a retainer agreement. In this case, you would pay a monthly fee in exchange for a certain number of hours or tasks.
In most cases, the VA company takes care of remitting their compensation and benefits. There’s also more accountability when you hire through a VA company because they screen, train, and monitor the VAs.
There are also VAs that operate as independent contractors. However, when you engage with freelance VAs, you need to spend some time negotiating their rates and work hours.
Remember, freelance VA rates will vary. Some may charge an hourly rate and others might charge on a per-project basis.
Freelance or company-based—what’s a better experience? Learn more about the differences between VA companies and freelancers here!
How Can Virtual Assistants Boost Productivity?
By hiring a VA, you aren’t only getting an extra set of hands--you’re hiring highly skilled individuals who are trained to automate and streamline processes. A good VA will know how to maximize productivity apps and help make sure that everyone’s on the same page.
Administrative and busy work are inevitable in any business, but you don’t need to be weighed down by it. A VA can take over so that you can spend more time following leads and growing your business.
Looking for more ways to get the best from your virtual assistant? Here are some work tips you can try!
How Do You Hire Your First Virtual Assistant?
Before you begin the hiring process, it’s important to know what you need help with. It’s helpful to list down all of the tasks or outcomes you want to delegate to your VA.
If you’re hiring a freelance virtual assistant, you’ll need to take charge of the screening, the phone interview, and the whole application process. You'll also have to iron out other details before you finalize their engagement.
On the other hand, a virtual assistant company can help simplify the entire onboarding process. This is because VA companies have already screened and trained their virtual assistants.
After sending in an inquiry to a VA company, a representative will get in touch with you to set a meeting. During the meeting, they’ll try to get a good sense of your needs. They’ll use that information to match you with one of their in-house VAs. On top of that, a good VA company will continue to provide support through the entire onboarding process.
During the onboarding process, don’t forget to set up your business security systems! That way, your VA can access what they need.
Are you interested in learning more about the VA hiring process? Here are some killer strategies you can use to successfully hire your first VA!
How Do You Manage Virtual Assistants?
Managing remote employees can be a little different from managing on-site employees. A small business owner has to be comfortable with delegating and remote supervision if they want to hire a VA.
Here are a few management tips you can try with your VAs:
Set Communication Channels
Communication breakdowns can happen in any work setup. You can save a lot of time if your VAs know the best way to get in touch with you.
Maximize technology and set up a dedicated instant messaging program (e.g. Slack) to communicate with your virtual assistant. You can use this to give them quick updates or provide answers to any questions they may have.
Another good communication tool is video conferencing. You can use this to discuss more formal topics, like performance reviews.
Set Clear Expectations
Working with someone remotely can be challenging for some entrepreneurs. However, you need to trust your VAs if you want the relationship to work.
It’s important to keep track of your VA’s progress, especially when you’re just getting started. Check in on them every now and then to see how they’re doing.
You can use tools like Asana to monitor your team’s progress. This project management tool can help you stay on top of things and make sure that everyone’s on track.
Establish a Workflow
A workflow refers to the steps you would need to take to complete a task. This is especially important if you are delegating routine work (ex. bookkeeping).
Give Timely and Constructive Feedback
VAs are eager to improve and do their best work. You can help them with this by providing timely and constructive feedback. This also helps establish a healthy, professional relationship.
Respect Their Time Off
When your VAs take a break or go on vacation, try not to contact them unless it’s an emergency. They’re entitled to rest just like any other employee.
Establish a Routine and Schedule
To help maximize your VA’s working hours, establish a proper routine and agree on a work schedule. That way, you know the best time to schedule real-time conversations with your VA. This also helps reduce VA burnout.
The global pandemic has forced businesses to change the way they operate. More and more companies are now turning to remote work setups, and this includes hiring virtual assistants.
If you’re thinking of hiring a VA, it’s important to do your research and understand what you need. You also have to be clear about your expectations and manage them properly.
If you still have more questions about what virtual assistants are and how they can help your business, check out our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about VAs!
And if you're still curious about how to get started with hiring a VA, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you get started on your search and find VAs for your business!