What Is a Virtual Assistant?

bsetc

New Member
Simply put, a virtual assistant is someone who provides administrative support to business owners but does not necessarily perform these services in the owner’s office. This is the aspect that makes us “virtual.” Although some virtual assistants do spend time in the offices of their clients, most do not.

Most virtual assistants work with a wide variety of clients from across the country they live in or from around the world. Being that the work is virtual, the possibilities are limitless when it comes to location.

Virtual assistants also charge for their work on an hourly basis. Every virtual assistance business is different in that they may have hourly packages setup or retainer rates but most just charge a flat hourly rate for their services. The clients then pay the virtual assistant for the work that he or she performs for them in a given pay period. These pay periods are also defined by the virtual assistant themselves.

Most virtual assistants work from home and have their own home office setup. This allows flexibility in the hours that you would work and it also allows you the comfort of working in your home.

There are various types of virtual assistants. Most virtual assistants are focused on the administrative aspects of assistance and they provide services such as word processing, editing, proofreading, document creation, scheduling, event management, file organization and other similar tasks. These virtual assistants generally charge in the $15 to $25 dollar range per hour.

The next type of virtual assistant would be what I call the ‘web savvy’ virtual assistant who does administrative based support but also has experience in the operations that are required to run an online business. The tasks that are included here include shopping cart setup and maintenance, website maintenance, autoresponder management, blog posting, etc. These virtual assistants can charge a bit more since their knowledge is at a higher expertise level than the administrative based virtual assistant. These virtual assistants generally charge between $20 and $40 per hour.

The last type of virtual assistant would be someone who considers themselves more of an online business manager. This person would work with their clients in a business partner role and provide a mutually beneficial relationship for them. What I mean by this is that this type of virtual assistant would be much more inclined to evaluate the operations of a client’s business and suggest ways in which he or she could improve their processes. These virtual assistants generally charge $50 and above per hour.

The types of skills you would need to be a virtual assistant really depends on what type of virtual assistant you are looking to become. At the very least, one must be knowledgeable with the office based software programs – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc. – and the Internet. You must be able to have general knowledge of these things before you can begin to serve your clients or you will cause frustration to both yourself and your client.

On a higher level, you will learn and acquire a broad spectrum of new skills. You may already be talented in the area of web design or copywriting, as an example, but you may not know aspects of shopping carts and autoresponders. The best part about being a virtual assistant is that you can take the time out to learn these things because it will only help to further your business.

Being computer savvy is a requirement – you won’t become a successful virtual assistant if you are not computer savvy. Most business owners want to trust that when they send their work, they won’t be paying for training time or time spent figuring out how to do the requested task. If you aren’t yet computer savvy, I would highly recommend taking a course at a local college or career development institute so that you can learn the basics.

Other skills that a virtual assistant must have are communication skills and the ability to manage their time. Focus is also a key part of being a virtual assistant. Due to the fact that most virtual assistants work from home, it can be very easy to get distracted by friends, family, the phone, the television, a good book or your bed.

Communication is important because you will be the sole operator for all aspects of your business. You will need to talk to your new customers; you will need to send e-mails to potential clients who are asking questions about your services and most of all, you want to be able to clearly communicate what it is that you do.

Time management plays a huge part in being a virtual assistant. You need to know how to prioritize your to-do list so that you don’t fall behind and miss deadlines.

You also want to be someone who is eager to learn and willing to put in the time to learn new technologies and new industries. Not all of your clients are going to be in one specific industry. I work with people from the fitness industry to the marketing industry to the body esteem industry. It’s never the same and it’s ever-changing.

Want to Use This Article on Your Website, Ezine or Blog? You Can! Just Include the Bio Below…

Erin Blaskie is a virtual assistant and the owner of Business Services, ETC. Erin supports business owners with their daily operations - helping them fr*ee up their time so they can get back to doing the ‘life’ stuff or focus on the revenue generating items. Feel fr*ee to contact her via her website at http://www.bsetc.ca.
 

DBlakeVA

New Member
I would like to use this on my site. Is there a way to link to the article without linking to the forum?
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
You can reprint the article on your site as she suggests at the end - but note:

Want to Use This Article on Your Website, Ezine or Blog? You Can! Just Include the Bio Below…

Erin Blaskie is a virtual assistant and the owner of Business Services, ETC. Erin supports business owners with their daily operations - helping them fr*ee up their time so they can get back to doing the ‘life’ stuff or focus on the revenue generating items. Feel fr*ee to contact her via her website at
http://www.bsetc.ca.

If you want to link to the original I think you'll need to contact Erin directly for that info.
 

Tess

Administrator
Staff member
Sure thing :)
I'm sure she'll appreciate your double checking.
I think you can find the original if you follow the link to her blog and look through the archives.
 
Hello,

While a nicely written article, I believe it continues to perputrate a misconception about virtual assistants compensation by classifying "generally" that VAs who provide admin services charge within the $15-$25 range. I'm not sure where this generality comes from, but based on economics alone, it is difficult for a business owner to sustain a profitable business charging these rates. Individuals charging within this range often continue to maintain the employer/employee mentality and associated compensation expectations, and within 5 years are out of business. The above is not meant to hurt feelings or set rates, but instead offer documented info from the US Census Bureau about life expectency of startup businesses and setting rates.

Skilled and executive VAs or those with office manager or higher credentials and provide general admin services, bill higher than the quoted range, because they are experts in providing word processing, editing, proofreading, document creation, scheduling, event management, file organization and other similar tasks. To me, it is inappropriate to assume "rates" and categorize which type and level of services fit into which category, when "generally" speaking, inexperienced and new VAs entering the industry tend to charge lower rates -- due to their prior employment compensation history -- not the true value of their experience, experitse and market share.

Experienced VAs value their offerings at a higher rate because they understand supply/demand, know how to factor compensation schedules, and even though generalists, bring added value to their offerings, which in tern requires higher compensation. So, if this article is written based on evaluating new or inexperienced VAs, than it may be accurate, (and should include a qualifying statement); but if written based on evaluating the industry as a whole, which consists of VAs with office manager and higher experience, I tend to disagree with the blanket statement of what a generalist charges. It is truly inaccurate and perputrates an industry-impacting misconception that is difficult to combat with the potential to depress earning potential.

That's just my opinion,
 
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