Updated January 13, 2019.
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Not every virtual assistant wants to specialize in a niche.
Not every virtual assistant is ready to specialize in a niche.
Not everyone who wants to work from home as a virtual assistant has outstanding tech skills.
Some virtual assistants just want to do general administrative work and not do other high-tech niches. That's totally okay. If you're just starting out with basic administrative skills, you can launch a virtual assistant business. How do I know?
When I launched 11 years ago, I supported real estate agents -- preparing contracts, making calls, scheduling contractors. Nothing really high-tech about it but definitely needed. But as time went on, and with the real estate market tanking in 2008, I decided to learn more. My business doesn’t look like anything like it did in beginning. Who knew I would get paid to manage Pinterest accounts and coach new virtual assistants? But general administrative work was a good start, for sure.
Instead of looking at what you think are inadequate skills, think of the value you’ll bring to the right client:
You’ll save them a boatload of time so they can work on revenue-producing tasks.
Your client’s stress factor will go way down because you’ll be handling their important back-end stuff.
Yes, skills are important. But so is the value you bring to the table.
In your client’s eyes, you will be a rock star and not a mediocre, ordinary virtual assistant. You will have solved their problem, you will have provided a service. And that’s what matters.
And if the feeling of inadequacy is standing in your way, causing you to feel some kind of way when you see other virtual assistants share skills that you might not have (yet!), then consider enhancing your skills. I’m all about continued learning, especially in this industry. You’ll not only help yourself but you’ll be an asset to your clients if you learn new skills.
Don’t let fear stand in your way of launching your business. If you want something bad enough, you’ll make a way.
So, let's dive into some things you can do as a general virtual assistant. To learn more about what a virtual assistant is and how to onboard a new client, click here.
Dealing with email is a time suck, for sure. But for online business owners, checking and responding to email in a timely, efficient manner is key to customer satisfaction.
For example, let’s say your client just launched a course. There are bound to be lots of emails from students about payment, accessing the course, sales notifications and plenty more. Trust me, a product launch has lots of moving parts and if you can get in there and take email off the course creator’s plate, they will love you!
Below are some ways to manage emails in Gmail and Outlook, two of the most popular email programs.
Answering phone calls
If you’re blessed with a quiet workspace and don’t mind answering client calls, go for it! You probably don’t want to give out your home or cell phone number to clients so consider setting up a virtual phone number, like Google Voice.
Busy business owners have busy schedules and they need you to keep all the balls in the air. In order to offer calendar management, you’ll need access to their existing calendar, if they have one (Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal are some of the most used options). Determine their preference for meeting times - do they prefer to meet in the early mornings or later in the afternoons? Make sure to add the calendar widget to your smartphone so you won’t have to be glued to your computer all day. Use a time zone converter to avoid embarrassing mistakes and always send an email confirmation.
Booking appointments with clients
Use your newly created Google Voice number to set appointments on your client’s behalf. Make sure to add them to the calendar, too!
Email Follow up
I love sending customized thank-you’s to clients but I don’t always have the time to do it. Thank you emails are an opportunity to promote other products or services and you can also ask for feedback on the purchased product. Come up with a script (approved by your client, of course!) and start emailing.
Oh, yeah - transcription. This area is growing by the day. With all the Facebook Live sessions, YouTube videos and podcasts out there, online marketers are increasingly looking for someone to transcribe the content. Why? The finished product can be repurposed into a blog post for folks who prefer to read (like me).
There are some companies out there who will hire transcriptionists with little or no experience so if transcription is on your radar, this might be a way to get started. You’ll need transcription software, a foot pedal and a headset to start.
Setting up Email Autoresponders
Online marketers will tell you their email list is the sweet spot of their business but for many, it’s the most neglected part of their business. Go too long without sending an email to subscribers and they will forget about you. As a virtual assistant, you can set up the initial welcome message and freebie opt-ins for subscribers in an email marketing software, like ConvertKit, Aweber, Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
I know I have lots of content (blog post drafts, freebie opt-ins, stock photos) on my computer and at scheduled times, I will move them to Google Drive in order to free up space on my computer. Again, another time suck and a problem you can solve for an online business owner.
How to manage files in Google Drive
How to manage files using Dropbox
Research topics for blog posts and newsletters
Again, staying visible to readers and subscribers is important for a blogger but it takes away major time from creating content. Help them out by coming up with blog post and newsletter ideas to keep them ahead of the game. One way to do this is to scour Facebook groups to see what questions are being asked by their target market.
Make vacation plans for your client, research hotels, create itineraries based on their interests, arrange car rental and book the arrangements. You’ll be like their own personal concierge!
Use tools such as Expedia, Travelocity or Kayak.com to get the best deals. And while you’re at it, sign up for Ebates, where you can save money to shop online. Make a purchase on selected sites and you’ll get cash back. Easy peasy!
Keep track of important dates for your client, like birthdays and anniversaries. Offer to select the gifts and arrange to ship on their behalf. Again, Ebates is a great way to shop online and save money at the same time.
Create sales reports in Excel
Turn your client's sales figures into a pretty awesome report for your client. This post explains how to do that in Excel.
Preparing Slideshows in Powerpoint
I recently was a virtual summit guest speaker and having my virtual assistant create the slideshow in Powerpoint saved me a lot of time. And with many online business owners speaking at summits, doing this can keep you pretty busy.
Set up Social Media accounts
Having an online presence is important but setting up the online accounts takes time. Follow these links below to set up social media accounts for your clients and get them up and running socially.
Publish blog posts
Take the content written by your client and present it to the world by uploading it to the blog platform. The most popular platforms are Wordpress and Squarespace - tutorials are below to show you how to publish new content.
Reply to blog post comments
Speaking of blogs, one you upload that post there will be comments. Get in there and comment (also called moderation) because readers want to know that there's a face behind the blog. Make sure your comment is more than just, "Great post!" Add value, tell them why the post is helpful. This resource may help.
Comment on other blogs
Commenting on other blog posts is a way to promote your blog because you'll probably leave your link. Plus, it's just a nice thing to do to show support to other bloggers. Just say more than, "Nice post!"
Answer support tickets
ZenDesk is a platform used to manage customer support tickets. Users might send a chat message or an email about a product. The key is to be prompt, professional and provide a helpful solution.
Comment in Facebook groups
Each week I go into active Facebook groups and promote my latest blog post as well as answer questions from other Facebook users. But let me tell you, it takes time away from other things. You'll save an online business owner a lot of time by taking on this task.
Place recruitment ads for new team members
As the team grows, you can take on the role of hiring assistant by placing ads for new team members. Screen them for your client and set up appointments. Here's a list of online job posting sites to get you started.
Was this helpful? I hope this got you thinking of ways you can provide value to your clients. And make sure to check out the free training for virtual assistants.