Virtual Assistant Summer School: How We Do It!

It’s Week 3 of our Virtual Assistant Summer School Session and we are turning up the heat in the classroom with this week’s topic: How a VA works. These are nuts and bolts, peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream…you know, the things that make the world go round in beautiful order. A Virtual Assistant is only as good as the systems they have in place so let us break it down for you.

#1 What A VA Does

We’ve already discussed what a VA does in previous weeks so we’re just giving you a quick rundown. This is your warm-up…get ready.

A Virtual Assistant typically tackles the following tasks for his or her clients; but, of course, the sky’s the limit.

  • Scheduling
  • Managing Email
  • Social Tasks
  • Online Research
  • Data Entry
  • Bookkeeping
  • Travel Research and Scheduling
  • Industry Research
  • Social Media Management
  • Data Presentations
  • Website/eNews Management

#2 Where Does a VA Find Clients (or where do clients find them)

One of the first things you may be wondering as a new Virtual Assistant is where to start. You ask, “I’m ready to do this but where do I get my clients?”

First, consider that the best place to start finding clients is by subcontracting with another VA. In fact, over here at Team CMVA, our team includes three Virtual Assistants. As a new VA, perhaps teaming up with an existing VA to gain quality and necessary experience may be where you need to go to get this ball rolling.

Second, consider volunteering for a committee or league in your area. This is about building a reputation with other people in your community by showing them how hard and effectively you work. Road/running races, food pantries, hospitals, Junior Leagues, etc are always open to volunteers and new contributors who have the skills you possess. Give it away and see what good comes of it, both for others and for your business.

Third, Advertise. Duh. People don’t know what you have to offer until you tell them. The most basic way to do this is to create a Facebook page and then run a corresponding Facebook ad. Its ground floor but it works. Hand out business cards, try a local mailing to small businesses in your area, talk to your friends and family, and take someone out for coffee.

Finally, be active in the industry. Get around your peers, offer to speak, attend conferences or webinars. Whatever it takes to start mixing and growing.

#3 How Does a VA Earn Money?

Pay structure can be a daunting, mind-bending conundrum. You want to get paid for your work, but you don’t want to price yourself out of a job. The most basic straightforward way is based on the hours. You can base your rate per hour of work, estimate the time it will take to accomplish requested tasks (ie. Daily social media management), track your actual time, and then issue an invoice based on time worked.

Or, you can solely base your pay on tasks performed, regardless of how long it takes. For example, you can execute a weekly email for your local organic pet supply store on a flat fee. It may take you two hours or ten…doesn’t matter.

Or you can operate on something like a hybrid of the two: time-based but task oriented. For example, you may want to offer packages, like we do at Team CMVA, that offer a set number of hours per month for a defined set of tasks.

Whatever method you choose, you must be consistent and communicate details and expectations with all your clients.

#4 What Training Does a VA Have?

Virtual Assistants will come from all backgrounds with all levels of education. A college degree is never a bad place to start. Then there are online courses and certifications designed specifically for Virtual Assistants but, the truth is, nothing is better preparation than experience. And the training should never stop. We are always growing and learning. We learn new tasks, we learn about new tools and tricks of the trade, we grow with our ever-changing virtual environment and expand our own horizons along with our clients’ expectations.

#5 How Does a VA Stay Organized and On-Task?

A client expects us to keep them organized and on task. Therefore, we must stay organized and on task. Often times this means we use creative online tools and apps. Other times this means we get a little obsessed with color-coordinated paper calendars and are not even remotely ashamed of the amount of colorful post it notes, highlighters, notebooks, and washi tape we have stashed away. (Honestly, the Target Dollar Spot kills us every time…)

Whatever method you chose, make sure it works for YOU! It must work with your lifestyle as a Virtual Assistant. If you enjoy the creativity of a paper calendar, then use it. If you much prefer the on-the-go ease of apps then do that.

Here are our favorite organization and task keeping tools.

Task Management – Asana

Stay On Task – Focus Booster

Stay on Top of Customer Service and Social Media - HootSuite

The Everything! Including client management - Dubsado


Next week we wrap up our Summer School Session. Until then, we’d LOVE to hear what your favorite task and organization tools are!

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