Hello there fellow VA and welcome to world of Virtual Assistance! Whether you’re new to entrepreneurship or a seasoned work-for-yourself kinda professional, this is going to be such an exciting journey! Virtual Assistance is unlike most industries and requires ongoing, relentless committment to explaining what you do, who you are and why potential clients should partner with you to meet their business needs. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of job titles a Virtual Assistant might adopt or which title might be the best for you to identify with based on your skill set, then keep reading!
It’s going to be important for you to understand from the beginning that no two VA’s are the same; we each have different philosophy’s about what we want to call ourselves, how much experience is needed, and even the fees for services we offer! We each have different plans that we follow to start-up our business and even different ways that we operate our business; no one method is the right way for everyone. Your business is your brand and will reflect whatever it is you want it to reflect so its going to be extremely important for you to establish your brand identity early on. A major part of establishing your brand identity in the Virtual Assistant Industry is identifying the type of VA you want to convey to the public. The best thing you can do while you’re still in the business planning phase of starting up your VA business is READ AND LEARN as much as possible and then start making actionable steps towards working your business plan! You’ll figure out who you are and what you want to do as you work with your first few clients. Your first step is to read and learn!
I remember beginning my journey into the virtual assistant world and feeling the urge to learn as much as possible. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been scouring the internet for all types of tips related to successfully starting and operating a VA business. My hope is that my posts will introduce you to some helpful information that you can use to begin your own educational journey into the business industry we now call “Virtual Assistance”.
The Virtual Assistant Occupation vs. Intelligent Virtual Assistance
Let me begin by pointing out that the Virtual Assistant industry is fairly new and is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s often difficult to keep up with market trends. During your search you might have also noticed that some people are still confusing virtual assistance (the occupation) with “intelligent virtual assistance” which is more or less dealing with the use of artificial intelligence systems that emulate human interaction to perform particular tasks, like customer service” A popular example of intelligent virtual assistance is Apple’s Siri.
Virtual assistance, the occupation, is something that is altogether different from Siri. Wikipedia defines the virtual assistant occupation as this:
“A self-employed professional who provides administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office”.
When I get tired of people misunderstanding what I do as a virtual assistant, I just tell them that I complete the same tasks as an office administrative assistant would complete only I do so from a location that is NOT located in the office. Granted, I provide way more services than admin. support but most seem to understand a little better what I do if I describe myself as an administrative assistant (Shrugs). Do what works best for you, the key is to explain what you do in a way that your listener understands.
Different Levels of Experience
The fact is, like most professionals, Virtual Assistants bring varying levels of expertise and experience to the services offered. The entry-level VA will usually have limited experience completing the specific tasks requested and may even have limited to no experience working as a Virtual Assistant for an actual paying client. This isn’t always a negative though. In a multilevel virtual assistant business, an entry-level VA will be instrumental in providing hands on, day-to-day support on client projects being handled by a higher ranking VA and then reporting back to a Project Manager or Lead Virtual Assistant with progress made or obstacles encountered. If a virtual assistant is not actually working in a multilevel VA business and instead works as a solopreneur, it’s likely they are involved with all aspects of a client project from start to finish. They might need a little more direction and training but all in all, an entry-level VA is still an asset to any business team, especially if their skill set compliments the needs of the business.
In addition to actually completing tasks on behalf of their client, a skilled Virtual Assistant can also offer consultant services. Experienced Virtual Assistants will come to the table with their own expertise related to the tasks requested by offering professional advice and insight into what’s needed to maximize progress. This advice and insight typically classifies the VA as a “consultant”. So, minimal training is typically required just to orient skilled VA’s to the company and to the tasks requested.
Certified Virtual Assistants make up the third, final level of Virtual Assistant professionals you might come across. Becoming certified is most certainly not required if you’re seeking to become a Virtual Assistant or if you’re starting up a Virtual Assistant business. However, there are serious benefits to obtaining certification from a respected organization that has proven to equip virtual professionals to work in the industry. Certification courses typically provide training in a number of areas to include business startup requirements, how to manage your time, documentation needed to operate your business and task completion training as well. For those Virtual Assistants looking to quickly establish credibility in the field, becoming certified could be a smart business decision on your part. Something to think about!
Different Categories of Virtual Assistants
In this section you’ll find details about the various types of VA’s (this list is not exhaustive, as I said you could create a category of your own based on what your client’s business needs are). There are some VA positions that will require certification or some level of formal education, (depending on your client’s specific needs) but most positions simply require you to have experience completing the tasks requested. After reading about each, take some time to really figure out which best describes you based on your current skill set; which VA category below lists the type of tasks you could potentially complete today (without any additional training)?
When most people think of virtual assistant this is the type of VA they think of first. The VA who provides administrative support to businesses or professionals is known as a Generalist Virtual Assistant. Virtual office assistants complete tasks such as: scheduling meetings/appointments, managing and organizing online business calendar, organizing or responding to business email, creating documents, reviewing documents, data entry, cloud storage filing/management and other administrative related tasks.
A Marketing Virtual Assistant is often called a “Social Media Manager”, “Digital Marketing Manager” or some variation of the two. A virtual marketing assistant might complete tasks such as setting up profiles for you/your business on the popular social media platforms, creating content for posting, scheduling posts, search engine optimization, analyzing analytics, monitoring and replying to post comments and much more. Skilled Marketing VA’s also assist businesses with creating marketing plans that include analysing your market, identifying target audiences for your services and creating weekly to monthly steps to be taken for maximum exposure to the potential clients.
Your virtual bookkeeping assistant will take care of tasks related to record keeping/bookkeeping procedures, budgeting, inventory management, payroll processing, bank and credit care reconciliation, cash flow projections, account reconciliation and QuickBooks management (or other online software management).
Data Entry VA
Although data entry is a task that could be included in the responsibilities of a Generalist VA, more intense data entry needs should be outsourced to a VA who specifically identifies themselves as a Data Entry VA. A data entry VA completes time-consuming tasks such as preparing, compiling and sorting data for entry, reviewing data for accuracy, updating and deleting unnecessary files, tracking data, generating reports and entering into a customer relations management system and more.
Research Assistant VA
Virtual Research Assistants are typically assigned tasks such as searching for credible sites for up to date information based on client needs, compiling research data, converting research into a simpler format, searching for important statistics, etc.
A technical Virtual Assistant assists with managing a company’s business blog and/or website page. WordPress is one of the popular sites being used currently for business blogging and a skilled Technical VA will assist businesses with blog maintenance, general technical support and search engine optimization (seo). Blog maintenance includes (but is not limited to) identifying, installing and setting up various plugins, page/post updating, and menu/widget updating. General tech support involves fixing errors, broken links and security issues. Whereas search engine optimization of course deals with ensuring posts and pages are easily discoverable by those searching online for a company’s type of service. A technical VA will assist clients by helping them to track keyword performance and conducting SEO audits using Google Analytics Integration (or similar software).
Product Launch VA
There are a number of tasks that a virtual assistant can complete to assist a business with launching a product. Tasks completed by a Product Launch VA include: webinar design, email marketing/Facebook ads, writing a press release, integrating and customizing e-commerce solutions on business website and more! Check out this post by Jennie Lyons where she explains more about how partnering with a VA could help streamline a business’ product development/launch process!
Keep in mind that most Virtual Assistants provide a wide array of services to their clients and often become like a one man show so it is not uncommon for a VA to identify with more than one type mentioned above. Choose the type that aligns most with your current skill set and with the type of services you intend to offer. Worst case scenario, you’ll change the way you identify yourself if you discover down the road that there is a title that better fits your brand identity. Don’t think too long about it… starting your Virtual Assistant business requires decisive action.
Enjoy the Journey,
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