7 Terms You Need to Know if You're A Virtual Assistant

The excitement you have when you decide to launch your virtual assistant business - wow! You start Googling “virtual assistant”, hanging out in Facebook groups and soaking up all the knowledge you can find. And there’s a lot of it, isn’t it?

Then you start seeing the same terms over and over again. You’re too afraid to ask in the Facebook group because you don’t want to seem like you don’t know. But you don’t know, right? And how can you learn if you don’t ask?

Well, there are a few terms you’ll be seeing now that you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a virtual assistant.  Let’s dive in, learn some new things and then you can go into those Facebook groups with confidence, ok? Let’s get started:


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Virtual assistant

Let’s start at the beginning: what the heck is a virtual assistant? Because if you’re going to call yourself that, you’ll want to know what it means, right?

It’s pretty simple: a virtual assistant is a person who provides services virtually. A virtual assistant is a business owner, meaning they are responsible for their own taxes, insurance and other business expenses. That’s the simple part.

The not-so-simple part is the services a virtual assistant can offer. The answer to that is pretty much anything! Ask yourself: what things do you like to do? What service can you offer right this second that you don’t have to learn?

There are some services you can offer as a general virtual assistant that don’t require a lot of technical skills. However, in order to grow your business and make more money, you’ll want to add more skills to your arsenal. The Budding Business Owner Bundle is a resource for folks just like you who are just starting out. Click here for details and if you purchase it, I’ll send you a copy of my VA Playbook - free! Just send me a copy of your receipt and it’s all yours.


When you sign a new client (and you will, boo! I’ve got faith in you), you will want to request a retainer. A retainer is when the client pays you upfront for services. Why do you request a retainer?  Well, it holds the space for your clients and protects you in the event the client doesn’t pay. You can either request a partial retainer, say 50% if it’s a large project, like web design. Or if it’s a social media package, for example, you can ask for one-month payment upfront. Asking and collecting the retainer is part of the onboarding process.

Email marketing

Spend enough time online and you’ll hear over and over again how important “the list” is to business owners. What the heck are they talking about? “The list” refers to email subscribers, folks who make a point of signing up to receive information via email. Email marketing is communicating with those subscribers by sending emails. For example, I share updates with my subscribers on a weekly basis: tips to grow a virtual assistant business, resources and leads. Done well, email marketing can be very helpful to business owners and as a virtual assistant, it’s helpful to know what email marketing is how to help clients make the maximum use of it. Most clients use an email provider to send emails to subscribers. Some popular providers include ConvertKit, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, MailerLite and Active Campaign.

HubSpot has a free email marketing certification course if you want to learn more and apply those concepts to future clients. Clients will love you for it!


Since we're talking about email marketing, now's a perfect time to launch into funnels. We could go really deep with this but for simplicity sake, the short definition as it relates to email marketing is this: guiding prospective clients/buyers through a sales process. Let's say your client has a new ebook they want to promote. You can do that by sending a series of emails to email subscribers, ending with a final one urging them to purchase. A funnel is a whole lot better than an in-your-face, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am email, pushing a product. Folks like to be wooed and sales are no different. 

Here's a blog post that explains funnels in detail.


As a virtual assistant, you can find clients one of two ways: either find them yourself or subcontract under another virtual assistant. If you subcontract, you'll receive tasks from another virtual assistant and submit invoices to the virtual assistant for payment, not directly to the client. If you're struggling to find clients on your own, subcontracting can be the solution. Reach out to other virtual assistants and pitch your services. Facebook groups are also a place where you can find subcontracting opportunities. Note: subcontracting rates are lower than if you had found the client yourself. Keep that in mind when submitting your proposal. Here's a list of virtual assistant companies that may be hiring.


While you’re out there looking for clients, you might stumble upon the initials RFP, which stand for Request for Proposal. That means get your proposal ready and send it over, baby. You'll need to spell out your terms, such as services you'll offer and how much you're charging, to name just a few. The proposal is your time to shine so put your best foot forward.

Discovery call

I love discovery calls. Why? That’s my time to get to really know a potential client and for them to learn about me and my services. In short, the discovery call is something like an interview but think of it more as a “get to know” session. As the right questions to learn if it’s a good fit.

To help with the discovery call process, make sure to download a copy of my swipe file that includes what questions to ask potential clients.

Discovery Call Checklist

Download the discovery call checklist

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This list will get you started and hopefully give you more confidence as you navigate the online space. Let me know how you're doing in your search for work, ok? And let me know if there's anything I can do to help.