Are you a Virtual Assistant? Or looking to launch a Virtual Assistant business? Then the one thing that you will already know is that time is money.
To be a successful Virtual Assistant you need to be productive with your time. Luckily, due to the internet there are a number of free and low cost tools for Virtual Assistants to help make you more productive and your job easier.
In this article we will detail tools Virtual Assistants can use for:
- Building an online presence with website builders
- Ensuring you have a professional email address
- Communicating with clients via chat and video
- Managing tasks and your workload
- Tracking time spent on projects and tasks
- File sharing and collaboration
- Scheduling posts and managing social profiles
- Creating forms to collect data
- Accepting payments from across the globe
Therefore this article is positioned as the essential guide to tools that Virtual Assistants can use in every part of their business. We will start from the top, creating your online presence, before moving through the various tools that you will need to manage your VA business.
By the end of this guide you will have a thorough understanding of the tools available to Virtual Assistants and be in a much better position to manage your Virtual Assistant business in a productive and efficient manner.
So let’s get started….
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Website Builders
Tools: WordPress, Squarespace, Wix
So, how do you choose between them?
WordPress is amazing in terms of customization; you can tweak whatever you want to optimize design and appearance. However, you need to code to optimize your website (you may have to hire someone for that). You can still have your website even when you don’t know how to code but it won’t be as good. To soften the blow, there are many third-party plug-ins, both free and paid, for added functionality. Follow this link if you want to follow a WordPress tutorial for beginners, should you choose this website builder.
Wix is the polar opposite of WordPress with regards to having a background in programming. It uses a drag and drop mechanism that allows you to stretch your creativity without writing a single line of code. Setting up your website using Wix is painlessly easy.
Squarespace is as good as (if not better than) Wix with regards to design. It provides you with a large assortment of templates to enable you to design your website. The tradeoff is that it is slightly more difficult to use for beginners.
As a VA, design flexibility ought to be a consideration whether you are designing a website for your client or for your own use. Each of the options discussed above have their pro’s and con’s. Regardless of what option you do choose, however, having a website gives your Virtual Assistant business an air of credibility.
Alternatively, you may just be looking to build a landing page. In that case, here’s a comprehensive list of landing page creators.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Email Hosts
Tools: G Suite & Zoho Mail
Choosing the best provider can be a challenge for anyone who hasn’t used a custom domain for their email address, but most of the providers provide clear steps to help get you up and running. As a Virtual Assistant, you should opt for one that is easy to set up, easy to use, and one that gels well with other tools you use.
- They offer a decent amount of storage space.
- They are relatively cheap
- And is G Suite’s case integrate with a variety of other Google tools
I prefer G Suite but I’ll leave this one out for you to judge.
G Suite is cheap and it syncs with other tools in the Google ecosystem; tools like calendars, sheets, forms, etc. and that alone is enough to sway someone who uses those tools, especially if they let GMB Gorilla manage your list when it comes to particular parts of that suite.
If you are cash strapped, Zoho is free for up to 25 users and they provide a bigger storage space than G Suite for paid options. While Zoho Mail isn’t as integrated with Google’s other tools they do have their own calendar, tasks and doc creation tools that can easily fill the gap.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Communication Tools
Tools: Slack, Zoom & Skype
Fast and reliable communication is the cornerstone of the Virtual Assistant’s profession because communication is important between a VA and a client.
When looking for a communication tool you can opt for one that supports video, voice and text or use a combination of tools to achieve the same outcome. In fact, we often find that Virtual Assistants use a variety of communication tools so they can fit with the preferred tool(s) of their client.
Having a good understanding of all the options can, therefore, be beneficial. Of the many tools available, let’s look at on Slack, Zoom, and Skype which meet the basic requirements but differ in some aspects.
Skype is almost synonymous with video conferencing. It allows you to video chat, share files, and send direct messages to your clients. There is a free version and a paid one. Although the free one is quite solid, the paid version has more features that give you more control over your experience.
Zoom is a more comprehensive video conferencing tool than Skype offering features like individual meeting URLs, breakout sessions, and a customizable video conferencing experience. It is great for online meetings and group messaging. It also allows better interaction with features like virtual hand raising.
Moving away from video conferencing Slack is often seen as the go to tool for text based communication and chat within teams and between Virtual Assistants and their clients. Slack also has a free tier.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Task Management
Tools: Task Pigeon
As a Virtual Assistant hopefully you will build a large and thriving business with multiple clients and projects. As the number of clients you service increases, so to does the complexity of managing your tasks and workload. That’s why most Virtual Assistants look for a task management tool that can help them track and manage the tasks they are working on each day.
When looking for a task management tool as a Virtual Assistant one of the main things to look for is a tool that is easy to use. Often project management tools are overly complex and require too much time to set up and manage. One tool that is ideally suited to Virtual Assistants is Task Pigeon. Task Pigeon is a straight-forward yet powerful task management tool that allows you to categorize your work or projects, create, assign and manage tasks, collaborate and comment on tasks you share with your client or team members and upload files from services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box.
In addition, one thing that a lot of Virtual Assistants find themselves having to do is create multiple accounts to manage each individual project. In Task Pigeon there is no need for this. You can use the “Private Category” feature to ensure that a client can only see those tasks and projects that relate to their work. This helps you manage everything from a central environment while restricting access of clients to only their tasks.
Best of all Task Pigeon also has a free tier that is ideally suited to Virtual Assistants.
If Task Pigeon isn’t a fit there are other task management tools to look at.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Time Tracking
Tools: Toogl & Time Doctor
Toggl is a popular option that allows you to track time on a designated desktop app and online. It is easy to use and it generates reports if you want it to. It also has a wide variety of integrations.
Time Doctor is often pitted against Toggl but it has some distinct features. For example, it allows you to track two tasks that are taking place simultaneously eliminating incidences of double tracking. It also alerts you when you get distracted and visit sites that are not work-related.
As an alternative, if you are a Virtual Assistant who uses platforms such as Upwork you will often find that the platform offers built-in time tracking tools, therefore removing the need for you to license a separate tool.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – File Sharing and Management
Tools: Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive
- Dropbox: When you sign up, you receive 2GB free although you can earn more space through referrals. It allows you to manage files and access them using all your devices. You can access documents even when you are offline and its security features (password protection and expiring links) are relatively robust.
- Google Drive: Integrates well with Google Docs and helps autosave files as you work on them. When you sign up, you receive 15 GB of free storage space. As it integrates with Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc it is a solid option for instances where you will be collaborating with your client or other team members on a common project.
- OneDrive: Provides you with 5GB of free space when you sign up. It has security features like password protection and expiring links. If you have a Microsoft Office subscription it is likely you also have access to a premium tier of OneDrive by default. If you are big user of Microsoft Office tools you can also benefit from their auto-save functionality and ability to open and edit docs on the fly.
They all allow you to integrate third-party apps. Google drive syncs well with native apps like Google Docs and sheets and Onedrive does the same with Microsoft-based apps. Dropbox does not come with inbuilt editing apps like the other two but it integrates Microsoft Office Online as well as IFTTT and Slack.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Social Tools
Tools: HootSuite, Buffer, MeetEdgar
- Ability to manage multiple accounts at once from a single platform (which is usually required if you have many clients).
- You can schedule content to post on a specific timeframe.
- You can gain greater insight through built-in analytic tools that help you gauge the success of your social media campaigns.
For tools you can use as a Virtual Assistant let’s look at Hootsuite, Buffer, and MeetEdgar:
- Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to work with multiple accounts. It enables you to post, schedule posts, and interact with your audience. With regards to interacting with your audience, you can like, comment, and message them directly. The downside is that its dashboard can look a bit congested.
- Buffer: Buffer works with multiple platforms, has the scheduling feature, and has a nice interface that doesn’t look congested. On the downside, you cannot view your feeds directly on the platform.
- MeetEdgar: It works with multiple platforms and it categorizes your content for better organization. You can post content from it, schedule posts, and send posts repetitively. However, it doesn’t let you interact with your audience directly.
Tools For Virtual Assistants – Form Creators
Tools: Paperform, Typeform, Google Forms
Tools: Paypal, Transferwise, Payoneer
PayPal is the most popular platform because many clients are aware of it and it has the biggest presence worldwide. The main downside is the high fees it charges for its services.
Payoneer is an alternative worth considering because it has a presence in many countries. It allows you to withdraw directly to its compatible debit cards and exchange rates for international transactions are favorable.
Transferwise has great exchange rates and low fees but its major drawback is that it is absent in many countries. It is only available in 48 countries.