50 Ways to Use a Virtual Assistant

September 27, 2011

50 ways to use a virtual assistantby Justine Parsons

Do you know you need help but not sure what to delegate?  Here are 50 ways to use a virtual assistant and free up your time, business or personal.  Imagine, your very own personal assistant to take over the tasks that take up your time and while necessary, are not particularly productive – a cost effective way to delegate on a task by task basis.

  1. Industry Research – If the facts are there, your virtual assistant can find them much cheaper than anybody else can.
  2. Product Research – Like number 1, but for products. Have your virtual assistant find and rate products based on whatever criteria are most important to you: price, features, quality, design, popularity, or anything else.
  3. Search Engine Optimization – Great for a Website or a Blog.
  4. Your Taxes – GST returns, PAYE and more, a virtual assistant can calculate and file your returns for you.
  5. Calendar Management – “Have your people call my people.”
  6. Idea Creation for Your Blog or Newsletter – Running out of ideas, have your virtual assistant come up with a list of topics, they can even research and draft your articles for you
  7. Reminders –Don’t forget something important.
  8. Bill Payments – If you hate doing it, why not outsource it?
  9. Bill Audit – Have your VA review your statements before paying them to make sure you don’t overpay!
  10. Grocery Shopping – Your virtual assistant can even create your online shopping account and base list of items to help save you more time.
  11. Other Shopping – Need a gift, something special?  Have your virtual assistant come up with a priced list of options.
  12. Event Planning – Want to meet a big group of friends for dinner?  Have your virtual assistant find a location, send out invites, answer people’s questions, and generally take care of logistics.
  13. Trip Planning – Same as above; your VA can book your flight and accommodation, make your reservation and plan your itinerary.
  14. Internet Marketing – Have an AdSense or other internet marketing campaign? Let your virtual assistant run it for you.
  15. News Digests – Feed readers are a good way to keep on top of the news, but sometimes there’s just too much information for you to handle. Have your virtual assistant prepare a daily or weekly digest of the top news that matters to you.
  16. Backlink Building – Have your VA help drive traffic to your site.
  17. Web Design – Many virtual assistants specialize in web design; revamp your blog or website.  Ask for a site audit.
  18. Contractor/Vendor Research – Thinking about purchasing a service for yourself or your startup?  Have your VA check out potential companies first.
  19. Hire Screening – If you’re hiring, have your virtual assistant screen potential candidates first and only forward the top candidates’ resumes on to you.
  20. Call Answering and Forwarding – Skype and a VA with good speaking skills can go a long way to making a small business seem more professional to current and potential clients. You usually don’t have to pay virtual assistants to man the phones except for the time they actually spend talking because they can work on tasks for other clients while they wait.
  21. Comment Management – Avoid dealing with the spam and have your virtual assistant manage comments on your blog or forum.
  22. Comment Response – Have your virtual assistant actually respond to your comments, too.
  23. Email Response – Same as number 22; if an email asks a common question, have your virtual assistant answer it for you.
  24. Email Sorting – Building on 23; have your VA read your email for you and separate out those emails that require your personal response; if it works for CEOs and heads of state, it can work for you, too.
  25. Email Rules and Templates – Save time and improve your professional image by using rules and templates to respond to emails.
  26. Networking Research – Networking is important, but there are a lot of networking events that waste time and don’t add value. Have your virtual assistant sort through the invites you get and find the ones that will best serve your agenda.
  27. Keeping You in Touch – Create a list of important people in your life who you don’t see regularly, and have your VA schedule a call with one or two of them every week.
  28. Making You Hard to Reach – The opposite of number 26; have your virtual assistant screen your calls and filter out the people who waste your time.
  29. Tracking Things Down – If you need to find anything, an expert in a given field,  blogs on a certain subject, someone’s mobile number, or the best Pizza in Auckland–have your virtual assistant search for it.
  30. Managing Voicemail – The same principle as managing email.
  31. Following Up – Have your virtual assistant follow up on outstanding items for you. If you do a weekly review, have your VA follow up on all outstanding items for you.
  32. Meal Planning – After your virtual assistant organizes your party, have her plan the meal, too. You can even have her order your groceries for you, per number 10.
  33. Diet Planning – Need to lose a few pounds? Set a goal and have your virtual assistant organize a diet and exercise plan for you that fits your lifestyle.
  34. Wedding Planning – A glorified version of number 12. Let your virtual assistant find the top 5 vendors (for flowers, the cake, the reception venue, the band, etc.) that meet your criteria, and then choose from those 5. This will save hours.
  35. Cost Management – If you’re running a project, use your VA to help you manage costs. Many virtual assistants are trained accountants and can manage the budget and provide audit services.
  36. Data Entry – If it’s time-consuming and repetitive, you can get excellent rates.
  37. Data Review – Same as above; if you don’t control the data input but need to validate it anyway, a good VA will lower costs considerably.
  38. Fact Checking – Great for journalists and business people alike; let your virtual assistant help you do your due diligence by checking your notes, someone else’s facts, or anything else the might be subject to mistakes, typos, or bias.
  39. Fact Finding – Need a specific statistic on global warming or everything there is to know about Abe Lincoln’s childhood? Put your virtual assistant to work on finding the facts.
  40. Interface Testing – Need someone to click buttons until your software breaks? Virtual assistants are perfect for the task, especially when you’ve written good test scripts.
  41. Interface Design – Need a trained designer on a budget? A good virtual assistant will work wonders.
  42. Record Management – Have a large data set that needs to be updated manually? Have your virtual assistant scour the internet and work the phones for those hard-to-find phone numbers, addresses, and any other data you might gather yourself.
  43. Grant Writing – Some virtual assistants specialize in grant writing. If your startup is of the social or non-profit variety, a good virtual assistant could be invaluable.
  44. Subject Matter Briefs – If you’ve ever been scheduled for a meeting on a topic about which you know very little, a virtual assistant can be a great help. Have them find or write a short, five-page summary of the topic, major concerns and implications for you, and recent news.
  45. Finding What Works – Have your virtual assistant find the people, companies, or organizations that already know and practice what works in your field.
  46. Avoiding What Doesn’t Work – Sometimes knowing where people made mistakes is just as valuable as knowing how the succeeded; have your virtual assistant find out both.
  47. Finding New Clients – Having a fresh perspective has never been cheaper; have your virtual assistant look for clients for a given product or service without specifying an industry or giving too much detail. You may be surprised to find that you can adapt what you’re already doing to someone else that needs it.
  48. Network Administration – Many virtual assistants are trained network administrators, and the vast majority of network administration tasks can be done remotely.
  49. Motivation – Need somebody to keep you accountable for that goal that everyone says can’t be done? Have your virtual assistant take you to task.
  50. Discovering New Opportunities – Want to save time and money in more ways than you can count? Challenge your virtual assistant to come up with new ways to save you or your organization time or money.

Using the services of  your very own online personal assistant will free you up to work on your business, spend time with your family or play that round of golf you keep putting off!

 Your turn: What tasks could you outsource to free up your day?

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2 Comments

  • Ortiz says:

    Great list of things to do.
    I also find virtual assistants more cost effective than hiring regular office assistants. You don’t have to spend money on bricks and mortar and have an actual office. You just got to create a virtual workspace.
    If I could add one small tip on searching for a perfect employee, one thing to consider is their skills. How would you know if someone is a great VA? You could start by observing their verbal and written English. If it’s great then it’s a good sign. Like Filipinos, they tend to be better educated and more professional if he/she got a good command of the English language. You could read more tips on hiring a great VA on this blog:
    http://www.staff.com/blog/hiring-a-virtual-assistant/
    You might find it helpful.

    • Justine Tatt says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      The biggest difference I have found between an in-house office assistant and a Virtual Assistant is that VA’s are business owners who work with a range of clients. This benefits the client as the VA often has a wide area of expertise which is used to help improve the client’s own business.

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