What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)?
A virtual assistant is a skilled individual who provides business, technical, administrative, or personal help over the phone or internet. The term is derived from the fact that their tasks are accomplished remotely or ‘virtually.’
Virtual Assistants in a Nutshell
- Virtual assistants (or virtual EA’s) are common for busy professionals to hire
- Prices can range from around $5/hr to up $100/hr, with quality and commitment generally increasing as the price increase
- Many virtual assistants work from remote international locations (e.g. the Philippines or India)
- Common virtual assistant tasks include: checking your email, booking travel, doing online research, setting reminders, scheduling appointments
You can use your virtual assistant for various tasks and chores that you need to do and hire one depending on your specific need. A virtual assistant can do various jobs ranging from business support, technical assistance and even personal assistance.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with hundreds (if not thousands) of virtual assistance websites. Knowing how to find a personal assistant using technology can be quite overwhelming and confusing if you are not used to doing it.
To save you the time and trouble, we have listed a few of the top virtual assistant services:
Magic is a personal assistant on demand where you can ask for services through simple texting. It can provide services ranging from calendar and schedule management to booking flights, ordering food, and hiring cleaning services for your home. Magic will respond to your text anytime of the day, seven days a week so you can get the service that you need fast.
Magic trains and manages the assistants for you and bills by the minute, only when you need it, with no minimum or subscription fee to use the service.
Based in London and Athens, this site lets you hire virtual assistants in as little as an hour for their services. You must do all the hiring and managing yourself.
Formerly Elance and Odesk, Upwork is a freelance platform where employers can hire freelancers by the hour or by project. Upwork currently one of the largest online freelance workplaces but you must do all the hiring and managing yourself.
We’ve listed other notable virtual assistant services that are also worth checking out.
The First Virtual Assistant
Since the 1800s, secretaries had to report to their employers on a daily basis. It was only in 1997 when Anastacia Brice formed the AssistU organization when personal assistant services started to be done virtually through the use of the internet.
Virtual personal assistants carry out their tasks and accomplish them without the need to physically report to their employers. Nowadays, most of the communication between an employer and his personal assistant are done online or through calls and texts.
Virtual Assistant Contract Types
The type of virtual assistant that you should hire depends on your needs. The amount of time want him or her to work, the nature of the tasks you need accomplished, and your financials are all important considerations. Keep these in mind as you review the following types of virtual assistants.
- Report daily to their employers
- Work on a set time schedule
- Salary paid is equivalent to a full-time employee
- Beneficial for employers who need assistance daily
- Report to their employers on specific days in a week
- Work on a set time schedule
- Salary paid is equivalent to a part-time employee
- Beneficial for employers who need assistance only on certain days
- Often project based
- Payment is based on the amount of hours spent working on a project
- Beneficial for individuals who only need a specific project or task accomplished
- Often task based (single or multiple)
- Services are called depending on the need
- Payment is based on the time spent to accomplish a task
- Beneficial for all types of individuals
What is an On-Demand Virtual Assistant Service?
For individuals who need help with their tasks and need them to be accomplished immediately, an on-demand virtual assistant service is the best choice. This is the best option for those who need assistance with their errands from time to time but do not want to hire a full-time, part-time, or hourly virtual assistant.
One can avail of this type of service through an application, online, or text. Examples of tasks that you can ask from your on-demand personal virtual assistant are:
- Schedule your appointments with your doctor or hair dresser
- Plan out a birthday event for your special someone
- Book you any form of transportation and be picked up wherever you are
- Check your emails and tell you any urgent messages
- Place an order and have it delivered anywhere
For example, Magic!, which is an on demand VA service, was able to order cupcakes for an individual and have them delivered to the Washington Post anonymously to show his gratitude:
On-Demand virtual assistant services are getting more and more recognition because of the fast and reliable way they can accomplish tasks for people. Anyone can avail of this type of VA service and expect small and big tasks to be carried out for them.
What Can You do with Your Virtual Assistant?
With the increase in the demand of virtual assistant services, varying types of personal assistance are used all over the world. Unlike before when formal employers are the ones who hire secretaries or personal assistants, nowadays anyone can be a boss and have a personal assistant.
More and more services can be asked from a virtual assistant, examples of which are:
General or Administrative
- Keep track and maintain your schedules and calendar
- Schedule you appointments and meetings
- Book your flights and hotel reservations
- E-mail, website, and blog site creation
- Troubleshooting of technical errors on your website
- Online account maintenance and updating
- Setting up of social media accounts
- Finding images for your social media posts
- Creating the content of your social media accounts
Product or Program Launch
- Extensive Researching for your product
- Researching on competitor products
- Strategizing for product launch
- Creating posters, images, and brochures
- Creating brand logos
- Creating infographics
- Writing content for blogs, researches, etc.
- Article spinning
- Copywriting and editing
Audio and Video
- Editing of existing audio and video files
- Intro and outro creation
- Transcribing of audio and video files
Location Specific Assistance
Our conveniently connected, modern world allows even remote personal assistants to handle many location specific tasks.
Consequently, the following article provide tips on what you can ask of your virtual assistant based on specific locations:
What You Should NOT Ask Your Virtual Assistant to Do
With the multitude of things that a virtual assistant can do, some employers and clients can go overboard by expecting their virtual assistants to be able to do everything for them.
Expect him to come to your office or home
Virtual assistants provide their services and promise to accomplish the tasks you ask from them virtually. This means that they are not regular employees who can be asked to report to your office whenever you want or need them.
Do something illegal
You know the law where you live in, so you also know what is legal or illegal. Anything that crosses the boundaries of legality like asking your virtual assistant to purchase an illegal product and have it delivered to you or take down your competitor’s business is something you should never ask your virtual assistant.
Do the impossible
Your virtual assistant has limitations too, just like you do. Asking him to do impossible things like ‘setting up a date with Kylie Jenner’ or ‘plan a trip to the Moon’ are impossible for anyone, as well as your virtual assistant.
Do something for free
If you are looking for a virtual assistant to do an errand, chore, or task, then you should know that you will need to pay him for the services he has provided. You should never ask your virtual assistant to do work for you and expect it to be free of charge.
In conclusion, if you want to do the work of screening, hiring, and managing a full-time, dedicated virtual assistant, we recommend Upwork.
However, If you’d like access to a team of virtual assistants, available 24/7, without dealing with hiring, training, and managing, we recommend Magic.