As a Virtual Assistant, “what exactly do virtual assistants do” is a question I am asked on a pretty regular basis. That’s often a hard question to answer in just a few sentences. Virtual Assistants have come to be so many things to so many different kinds of businesses that there's no real quick-and-easy answer to that question.
What Does a VA Do?
A virtual assistant’s job is to assist a business owner with various tasks. They could be anything from simple administrative tasks like data entry to more skilled, complex services like video production. Essentially, any task someone can't or doesn't want to do — and they're willing to pay to outsource it — is up for grabs as a VA.
Many VAs end up working for online entrepreneurs. The jobs they do range from the very typical (things like scheduling and responding to customer inquiries) to the cutting edge (editing podcasts and managing blog sponsorships).
Online entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones hiring VAs, though. Any business owner might look for help taking care of their basic tasks. Real estate agents, journalists, and nonprofits all work with online assistants, too.
If you have been wondering if this is a career path for you, here are 68 Virtual Assistant services that you can offer to business owners. I’ve broken them up by general category, but there’s no boundary around what you can and should offer as a VA.
General VA Duties
There are some things you’ll be able to do for a huge range of clients — they’re the type of thing that many businesses need and they don’t require much experience to get started. Here are a few ideas:
- Data Entry
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Email Management
- Database Management
- Monitoring Voicemails
- Generating Reports
Blogging and Digital Marketing
Bloggers, online entrepreneurs, and traditional businesses with a web presence are all focused on how to make the most out of their reach on the Internet. There’s a huge amount of opportunity in the digital sphere if you’re interested in working for non-traditional employers especially.
Types of businesses that hire VAs for this kind of service might include bloggers, business coaches, web-based fitness experts, or any company that has an online store. You could do anything from writing content for the site’s blog, to working on podcasts, to handling online customer support inquiries, to building websites, and anything in between. This is one of my favorite things about working as a VA — there’s absolutely no limit to what you could do.
This is a shortlist of some of the most obvious and most frequently hired-for VA services in blogging and digital marketing:
- Affiliate Manager
- Article/Guest Posting Submissions
- Pinterest Marketing
- Blog Assistant
- Ezine Creation
- Pay Per Click Management
- Content Writing
- Keyword Research
- Podcast Editing and Submission
- Website Design and Management
- Blog Management
- Sales Pages
- Tracking Website Analytics
- Product Launch Management
- Online Ad Management
- Webinar Set Up and Promotion
- Video Sales Letters
- Upload Photos to Online Sharing Sites
- Search Engine Optimization
- Community Management
- Blogger Outreach and Relationship Development
- Social Media Assistance
- Email Marketing
- Creating Landing Pages
- Giveaway Management
- Writing Product Descriptions
Online marketing gets a lot of buzz, but offline marketing isn’t dead! Many businesses and entrepreneurs still advertise using traditional methods — think restaurants, landscaping companies, and dentists.
- Direct Mailings
- Desktop Publishing
- Graphic Design
- Flier and Brochure Design
- Event Support
Business Support (Online and Offline)
There are some things that pretty much all businesses need, whether they’re online or offline. There are lots of opportunities for VAs to be of help doing business support. These are a few ideas to get you started:
- Phone Answering Service
- Online Customer Service (email, chat, social media)
- Offline Customer Service (inbound/outbound phone)
- Document Coding
- Appointment Setting
- Project Management
- Graphic Design
- Order Fulfillment (Physical and/or Digital)
- Follow-Up with Potential Customers or Joint Venture Partners
- Shopping Cart Management
- Prepare and Distribute Press Releases
- Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Creation
- Convert Documents to PDFs
- Book Speaking Engagements
- Lead and Sales Generation
- Grant Proposal Management
- Recruit New Potential Team Members
- Oversee New Team Members
- Reputation Management
- Preparing Slide Presentations
Skill-Specific and Industry-Specific Opportunities
Finally, there are skill-specific and industry-specific opportunities for anyone with special experience or interests.
- Real Estate Services
- Personal Shopping
- Travel Planning
- Event Planning
- Author Assistant
- Writing and Updating Resumes/CVs
- Ebay Sales Assisting
- Online Profile Creation and Optimization
- Translation Services
And here’s the great thing: this whole list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Virtual Assistant services you can offer!
What to Offer as a VA
There's no real “answer” to what you can and should do as a virtual assistant. Part of the equation for you should be what you enjoy doing, how many hours per week you want to do it, and whether you want to focus on a particular type of business or industry. If you still aren’t entirely sure where to begin, think about what you can offer using the strengths and experience you already have.
Some people like to outsource the tasks they find boring, like uploading posts into WordPress or creating brochures. Others will outsource the things they could figure out on their own, but choose not to (usually because it makes more sense to just pay someone else to do it). This could be building and managing a website, mailing postcards to every home in a particular area, or bookkeeping.
As a prospective VA, you need to understand that every business owner must understand the value of hiring a VA. The main benefit of bringing someone like you onboard is to free them up to do other things that will generate even more income than they’ll end up paying you. It’s all about the bottom line.
Once you figure out how your skills can save time, money, or both for a prospective client, you’ll be able to offer your services in a way that presents you as a real solution to a problem, as opposed to just another bill to pay. (Pro tip: This is called positioning.)
Once you’re ready to get serious about virtual assisting as a possible work-from-home career, take a little bit of time to read up on how to get started. You can also pick up this big list of possible virtual assistant services from Gina Horkey.
If you need to brush up on your skills, FreelanceU is where I learned several in-demand service offerings as a new virtual assistant.
When you are ready, I'd highly recommend signing up for this free 5-day client challenge. It's a game-changer!
First published April 2014. Updated November 2019.