Many people choose to become a virtual assistant when they are starting out and looking for online or remote work.
Being a virtual assistant means you can try your hand at a bit of everything which of course makes for a diverse and interesting job, but it also means that you have to have a lot of skills in a variety of different areas!
What does a VA actually do?
The most common tasks for VAs right now are:
Sales and marketing funnels
Website design and Management (incl Landing pages)
Social Media Management & Marketing
Facebook ad specialists (especially video ads)
Copywriting (ad text & shorter copy) and Content writing (blogs & longer articles)
If you're not sure what you'd be good at you can download our free 30+ page guide where we help you determine what skills you already have and figure out what industry or niche is perfect for you.
Focus on one of these niches, learn some skills related to the industry, practice, practice, practice, become the best and then charge lots of money to clients who benefit from your work.
But in order to be a spectacular VA, you need to know a little about everything. You are the person connecting the different departments within the company. You also act as an intermediary for your client and their collaborators, often being the first point of contact for the business.
Broad Knowledge & Good Business Sense
How can you be an excellent facebook ads specialist if you know nothing about social media marketing? Who should you be targeting, at what time, and on what platform?
How do you expect to design a website if you don’t know the first thing about sales funnels and inbound marketing? In order to design a website, you need to know who is visiting the site and what stage they’re at in the marketing funnel in order to build a good landing page and offer them a compelling incentive to learn more about the company, leave their email address, or buy a product or service.
Being an email marketing specialist without being able to write good copy is simply impossible.
So yes, it’s important to know a little bit about everything!
If you are thinking of setting up your own VA firm down the line, you will need to know about other niches for when you outsource work to others. How will you know how good your Facebook ads specialist is if you don't know anything about Facebook ads?
To be an excellent VA means you need to have broad general knowledge and some good business sense!
Innovative and Resourceful
One of the things that VAs might find difficult in the beginning is telling their client when they are wrong or when an idea is likely to fail. A virtual assistant truly stands out when they are resourceful and when they can come up with their own good ideas.
Suggesting new and innovative ways to do things, practicing new working methods and learning to adapt to new technologies and the actions (or inactions) of competitors actually shows that the VA cares about how the business performs. Of course VAs should ALWAYS run things by their clients first, but a smart client who respects their VA will listen to what they have to say.
When applying for a VA position ask yourself if you fit the industry or niche. If you do, explain this to your potential client during the hiring process. Show that you have passion for the work and that it’s more than just a job for you.
The number one skill needed to be a VA is excellent communication. A client should never have to chase up an assistant in order to find out if they completed the latest tasks or if they are going to meet the deadline. It’s the responsibility of the VA to keep on top of things, to follow up and to follow through. Timely responses are important.
The best VAs will go the extra mile. For example, if after receiving no confirmation that a client has gotten an email, they will follow up and with a reminder email, notifying the client of the importance of the task. They won’t ever assume that their client has received an email or a file, just because they have sent it.
Agree upon the best communication methods in advance! You could agree to talk once a week on a Monday at 3pm GMT on Skype to discuss matters and then email everything else during the week.
Do your clients prefer to get non-urgent files in bulk or would they rather get everything as soon as it is available? Before you start working together, make sure that your client is familiar with applications such as Zoom, Dropbox, Google Drive and anything else you may use to communicate and share files.
Communication is 50% listening! Really listen to what your client wants and pay attention to detail. Find out the exact timeframe for the project as well as individual tasks and discuss the budget and any other questions you may have in the very beginning. Bring up anything that seems confusing or misaligned with their goals in ADVANCE!
Willingness to Learn
Clients hire VAs who are constantly looking to improve both personally and professionally and those who are willing to learn. Someone who is interested in learning new skills and competencies is an asset to any business. It gives CEOs the opportunity to branch into new areas and take on new opportunities, knowing that their assistant will be there with them. If a business wants to start creating videos for their homepage, it would be very handy if there was someone who was interested in learning about video editing.
If an assistant is willing to spend time learning a new skill, this itself shows passion for the business as well as the job.
Instilling Confidence and Managing Expectations
Often managers and leaders need confirmation that the risk they are taking will be beneficial to the business and that their team are competent enough to make it a success!
It’s important that a VA can instill confidence in their client, ensuring that they can perform the tasks to the highest quality level.
As well as this it’s crucial to be able to manage expectations. This is often needed when clients expect a huge amount of work in a very short amount of time or when they expect exceptional results immediately. Being able to reason with clients and explain in a courteous and professional manner that these expectations are unrealistic is a valuable skill. Always back up what you're saying with examples of previous work if possible.
One of the best tips I have learned about being a VA is to batch your work. Instead of checking social media constantly and replying to emails whenever they come in, you should set aside certain times to reply to all of these messages or to be active on social media.
I like to have two times dedicated to emailing, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If you do this you should set up an automated response bot so that people expect to wait a couple of hours before receiving a reply.
Batching your work means you still have to do the same amount of work but it will feel like less, as it’s not so spread out. You won’t constantly feel the need to reply to messages the second they come in. You can also be more efficient by batching - even just think about how much time you waste opening an email application or logging onto social media sites.
And of course just like any other job it’s vital that you remain professional at all times.
Don’t correspond with clients very late at night (unless you have previously agreed that this is okay!) or when you’re out with a group of friends at a social event.
Even if you are friendly with your client, it’s important to use appropriate language and to keep things professional. You can engage in small talk but don’t use them as a soundboard to vent about what happened when you went out last weekend.
Think you'd make an excellent VA?
In our next couple of blog posts we will be breaking down the skills needed to be an excellent virtual assistant. Next week we will discuss how to become a master at the Inbound Marketing Funnel. But if you're looking for something right now, check out how to write amazing copy, create better videos and how to not suck at email marketing.
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