Virtual assistant services are a key ingredient to helping startups and early-stage companies get off the ground.
Sure, entrepreneurs are superheroes, or at least they like to think they are. And being a micromanager may be necessary at first.
But as time goes by, it’s important to start letting go of the steering wheel just a little bit.
Outsourcing some of your time-consuming responsibilities to a virtual assistant will help you focus on core business activities and scaling your business.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- What Are Virtual Assistant Services?
- How To Decide What You Should Outsource To A VA
- 100 Tasks To Outsource To A Virtual Assistant
Let’s get started.
What are virtual assistant services?
A virtual assistant is someone who provides various services to entrepreneurs or businesses from a remote location.
Virtual assistant services have substantially grown over the years.
A virtual assistant job is attractive to most individuals, as it offers:
- Flexible hours.
- Remote working.
- Competitive pay.
- More family time, etc.
If you don’t believe just how popular virtual assistants (also known as VAs) have become, look at any website with contract listings. You’ll see thousands of VA job postings.
How can a virtual assistant service help you?
A VA can both scale your business and shave off hours from your workweek.
Small business owners (SBOs) can also benefit from hiring a VA, like no employee-related expenses, no separate office space, no downtime concerns, etc. You simply pay the VAs for the services they performed according to the terms of their contract.
According to business experts, a professional and reliable VA often becomes as important to the team as a permanent employee and should be treated as such.
When you have trust and dependability, VAs suddenly become integral to the organization, and that’s when you realize you have a diamond in your hand.
And sometimes, you may suffer from burnout because you’re overloaded with tasks and responsibilities — particularly if you’re a one- to five-person operation.
The smart decision would be to hire a VA or contact a virtual assistant company to help you find the right VA for you.
Here are seven mundane and repetitive tasks you can outsource to virtual assistant services for rates as low as $3 per hour:
- General Virtual Assistance
- Content Writing & Management
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Digital Marketing
- Social Media Management
- Web Development
- Audio & Video Editing
It’s important to realize that a VA service will likely not maintain expertise or complete assignments in all of the above fields. Small business owners have to take on a VA with a specific skill set and then move on from there.
For example, if a VA is adept in writing, you can hire them for content writing and digital marketing. You could also hire an experienced virtual administrative assistant or executive assistant to handle data entry, reminder services, and appointment scheduling.
VAs will hone in on tasks that usually kill your time as an entrepreneur, helping you focus on your company’s growth.
Essentially, VAs are time savers, and time is an important commodity in business (and life).
How to decide what you should outsource to a VA
When you’re a small business owner, you’ll have hundreds of tasks to fulfill before the day is done. From bookkeeping to social media management, there’ll be a lot on your daily plate.
Chris Ducker, a virtual CEO and publisher of ChrisDucker.com, recommends every entrepreneur create a “3 Lists to Freedom” for immense entrepreneurial success.
Here are the three lists that’ll help you delegate your time more effectively and boost productivity:
- Things you hate doing.
- Things you can’t do yourself.
- Things you shouldn’t be doing.
The first item is very simple: write down what you dislike doing in your business on a daily basis. This could be anything from bookkeeping to administrative tasks.
The second thing is the company’s daily elements you don’t have any experience in, consisting of social media marketing to graphic designing.
Finally, according to Ducker, the third placement will fundamentally change your business and is a ‘game-changer.’ So ask yourself honestly: “what shouldn’t I be doing?” Remember, you’re not a superhero.
Ducker says this is essentially the road map to taking on a virtual assistant or VA.
100 tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant today
Here’s a list of tasks you can outsource to a skilled virtual assistant:
1) Responsibility: General Virtual assistance
Like labor costs, administrative support costs are a major burden on small businesses when measured in both time and resources.
Administrative tasks like email management, invoicing, handling customer inquiries, and FAQs can reduce the amount of time a small business owner has to focus on other essential activities.
That’s where a general virtual assistant can help. They can perform the tasks of an account manager, marketer, project manager, or anything you need.
They work similarly to a personal assistant but from a virtual office in a remote location. So you can avoid overhead costs such as renting real estate for an office, purchasing office equipment, etc.
Here are some mundane administrative tasks that your virtual personal assistant can complete, so you can focus your energy on growing your small business:
1. Bookkeeping and payroll duties: calculate hours, add expenses, update salaries.
2. Receptionist and answering service: handle incoming phone calls, leave voicemails, and check messages.
3. Database building, entry and updates (sales, lead generation, contacts, CRM, etc.).
4. Perform banking needs, like paying bills and transferring funds.
5. Write and send client invoices.
6. Create, format, file, and present weekly reports on sales, deliverables, hours, and tasks.
7. Check emails, respond to customer inquiries, and manage spam.
8. Organize technical support tickets and participate in customer support.
9. Create and send out greeting cards, invitations, newsletters, and thank you notes.
10. Calendar management: establish, update, and manage important events.
11. Schedule potential client meetings and other sales appointments.
12. Launch and maintain cloud computing accounts (DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive).
13. Convert, merge, and split PDF files.
14. Prepare training manuals for a new remote worker.
15. Compose documents from handwritten drafts, faxes, and dictations.
16. Create forms or surveys for customer feedback.
17. Proofread documents and other office materials.
18. Produce graphs from your spreadsheets.
2) Responsibility: Content writing & management
One of the biggest myths around is that anyone can write content, including content marketing endeavors. This idea is untrue, which is why a lot of content marketing projects fail.
Like anything else, content writing is an art form.
It would help if you had a writing or marketing expert who can plan and execute a content campaign. In other words, a graphic designer or web developer shouldn’t be in charge of writing blog posts, press releases, or newsletters.
An excellent content writer and blogger will understand:
- How to write to a specific audience.
- How to write in a conservative yet engaging tone.
- How to get the point across without spending several paragraphs to get there.
Here’s what virtual content marketers can do:
19. Article and blog post creation.
20. Guest posting and guest blogging.
21. Compose press releases and newsletters and submit them to news release directories.
22. Produce content marketing material, such as infographics, white papers, and ebooks.
23. Design brochures and create content to put inside.
24. Publish extensive how-to guides and industry-related book reviews.
25. Translate company marketing materials into other languages.
26. Write and submit op-ed pieces to newspapers and websites.
27. Generate listicles (list articles) on industry-related matters.
28. Respond to comments made on the business’s blog.
29. Interview industry sources to write an in-depth report on markets.
30. Interview previous customers to compose case studies.
3) Responsibility: Search engine optimization (SEO) & digital marketing
You might have amazing plans for your business.
That’s great, but you also need an excellent website and product pages to attract eyeballs and gain recognition in order to meet those plans for the future.
A dedicated assistant with experience in SEO and/or digital marketing will prove invaluable to your company. The right VA can boost web traffic, sales numbers, and brand awareness with the right SEO and digital marketing techniques and strategies.
Here’s what a digital marketing VA can do:
31. Develop, update, and optimize an SEO and web marketing strategy.
32. Conduct keyword research for websites and perform a blog analysis.
33. Set up and create landing pages.
34. Start an in-depth competitor analysis (targeted keywords, ranked content, SEMRUSH positions).
35. Manage sitemap and webmaster submissions.
37. Off-page optimization: commenting on other blogs, participating in forums and message boards, and responding to the public on YouTube and news websites.
38. Monitor weekly and monthly Google Analytics reports; observe site traffic.
39. Design advertisements (banners, side panel graphics, etc.) and find appropriate, high-traffic websites to place them on.
40. Handle email marketing responsibilities including, creating a new list of email contacts, email newsletters, and promotional copy.
41. Establish follow-up emails and auto-responders, updating them according to response rate.
42. Design logos, ebook covers, headers, icons, and other graphic elements.
43. Look for a copywriting or content marketing firm to post branded content.
44. Reach out to media outlets and influencers to garner profiles by publishers.
4) Responsibility: Social media management
According to a Sprout Social survey – The State of Social Media Investment, 91% of executives expect their company’s social media marketing budget to increase more than 50% over the next three years.
Social media marketing has become essential to the growth of any business.
And with a large portion of the budget allocated to this area, you don’t want to waste more than you have to on labor.
A dedicated virtual assistant with a social media skill set will understand how to get your business noticed, retweeted, liked, and shared on social networks.
Simply put: they’ll know more than just hashtagging.
Leave it to the VA and save time and money on these tasks:
45. Open social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram.
46. Come up with detailed social media profiles and insert links to the company website.
47. Write, edit, and share posts on social networks (a content creation strategy).
48. Perform a social media audit: conduct a thorough analysis on traffic, shares, and mentions.
49. Observe the company’s competitors on social media by looking at rankings, online visibility, and keyword prioritization.
50. To help maximize your small business’s mobile social media presence. Writing broadcast messages and automated messages for social media and other types of marketing like WhatsApp.
51. Research key hashtag conversations of the day and find out if it fits in with the company’s messages and marketing objectives.
52. Engage with the audience: respond to inquiries, share relevant information, thank customers for mentions and purchases, and posting promotions.
53. Update all social media accounts regularly.
54. Create pinnable pictures for Pinterest.
55. Run a social media contest or challenge.
56. Upload photos to Flickr, Pinterest, and Instagram as part of marketing strategy.
5) Responsibility: Web development
Content management systems (CMS) have made it a lot easier to start a website.
But you should leave your business’ web development to a seasoned professional who studied this in school.
Web development has greatly evolved in the last ten years alone, and the coding aspect has become a lot more difficult to understand.
An experienced virtual assistant will have the skills necessary to design a website that will have:
- Quick loading times.
- Easy usability.
- Business and contact information.
- A good navigation system.
- A high ranking on search engines.
It may be easier said than done, but sometimes it can be a lot harder to achieve these aims.
So here are some web development tasks a VA can do:
57. Web design, planning, and developing — including WordPress websites (if there is no business website).
58. Provide technical support through coding on WP webpages.
59. Install, customize, and update WP plug-ins and themes.
60. Maintain the integrity of the website as well as functionality, security, and troubleshooting.
61. Install and support payment gateway and ticketing systems for eCommerce sites.
63. Optimize the user interface (UI) and cross-browser compatibility.
64. Add tags and images to websites and blog posts.
65. Perform regular backups to prevent data loss.
66. Create online forms for content submission, customer feedback, or inquiries.
67. Start affiliate marketing and launch such campaigns for the company.
68. Set up, monitor, and manage other affiliates and respective links.
6) Responsibility: Audio & video editing
Again, the likes of YouTube and Microsoft have made audio and video editing somewhat easier.
But this is for very simplistic audio recordings and videos. If you want to amplify a podcast’s quality or a YouTube video, you have to employ better software, equipment, and editing.
A skilled VA will understand all of these, especially editing.
Even if you have weak equipment, your VA can make your webinars and podcasts look and sound amazing and stand out from the rest of the crowd in your niche.
Here’s what you can outsource to a professional video editing VA service:
69. Basic video editing: splicing intros and outros and inputting graphics and music.
70. Upload files to YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo.
71. Edit audio files by removing background noise and improving volume levels.
72. Management and maintenance of audio and video equipment (cameras and mics).
73. Trim footage segments and produce rough and final cuts.
74. Record, edit, and set up podcasts and insert them onto a webpage.
75. Creating and editing rudimentary graphic design tasks on Photoshop and other image editing software.
7) Responsibility: Miscellaneous
Sometimes, you just need to have some random things done around the office. It could be anything from taking notes during meetings to buying items for the office.
But after a while, you realize that you’re spending a lot of time on non-essential tasks, which hurts your business by taking away productivity.
Here is what Alec Bowers of Abraxas Solutions told the Huffington Post:
“It became clear when tasks from my personal life started to interfere with my ever-growing schedule. It wasn’t as much of a problem before – but after that line was crossed, it became a trade-off between getting all my work done or neglecting the personal errands.
Thankfully, now I can delegate much of my personal life to my assistant, as well as some of those small business tasks that ate time.”
Your VA can accomplish the general daily tasks while saving you money on higher labor costs.
You usually pay VAs an hourly rate; so, you can avoid paying a high monthly salary to a full time employee.
Here are some tedious tasks you can outsource:
76. Write down minutes from meetings and then create a detailed document.
78. Transcription of voicemail, video or audio, podcasts, and meeting recordings.
78. Recruit potential team members and contractors or freelancers.
79. Research important data, statistics, and facts for meetings and use the data to create Powerpoint presentations or blog posts.
80. Perform generic errands for the office, including buying items online, arranging locations for office parties, and hiring a cleaning service.
81. Place ads on career websites, review resumes, and contact the right candidates.
82. Interview job applicants and speak with references.
83. Train on-site employees, virtual staff members, or freelancers.
84. Turn raw data into a detailed report and slideshow.
85. Develop and deliver slideshow presentations.
86. Search for hotels, book airfares, and map out business trip itineraries.
87. Monitor and report on the latest industry developments and trends to brief SBO.
88. Collect documents for tax season.
89. Create a business-wide project management system online.
90. Manage projects: stay in touch with subcontractors, email reports, use online calendars, and call team leaders to inform them of deadlines.
91. Send a gift card or thank you note to your clients on holidays and anniversaries.
92. Speak with customer service representatives for tech support, banking issues, etc.
93. Conduct background, credit, and criminal checks on staffers.
94. Run an internal office or challenge so employees can receive bonuses.
95. Put together welcome and goodbye packages for both clients and staff.
96. Search for and contact industry experts or guests to participate in podcasts and webinars.
97. Provide suggestions and recommendations when the company isn’t meeting its monthly, quarterly, and annual goals.
98. Manage customer refunds.
99. Produce customer care scripts for customer service requests.
100. Contact clients regarding overdue payments.
Looking for the best virtual assistant service to outsource these tasks?
Check out the 25 Virtual Assistant websites to find skilled VAs
Today, businesses of all sizes focus on reducing costs, boosting profits, and becoming lean and mean.
And with employee management costs soaring — payrolls, benefits, taxes, and insurance — it’s more feasible for a company to outsource work to virtual assistance services.
It’s understandable if you’re concerned about taking on a VA. You may think they’re unreliable or won’t get the job done at the pricing you agreed to. You may even feel they’ll subcontract out the work. These are all reasonable worries.
However, a survey by VA Networking paints a picture of what the typical skilled virtual assistant is like: married with children, college-educated, working full-time (31 to 40 hours per week), maintaining several clients, the majority don’t subcontract and have a very low turnover rate.
This type of professional won’t risk losing clients with shoddy work and deceptive practices.
If you’re looking to grow your business at a reasonable cost, then a VA is your solution.
Feel free to check out our complete guide to outsourcing to understand how to outsource tasks to VAs.
Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve work productivity and help keep track of what your team is working on, even when working remotely.