Online Work Tips & Best Practices

By Nick Loper

When it comes to virtual assistants, a common misconception is that they are just virtual secretaries for you or your business. While they can certainly perform that kind of work — from processing emails to addressing holiday cards — the truth is they can be more than that.

Much more.

In fact, if you limit your virtual assistant (VA) to traditional administrative jobs like playing gatekeeper, booking travel, or setting appointments, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

Here are seven out-of-the-box tasks a virtual assistant can help you with:

1. Customer Service
Keeping your customers happy is critical in any business, but it can also be time-consuming. A virtual assistant can help manage the volume of customer service phone calls, emails, and live chat requests that come in, as well as help streamline your support process.

Bonus Opportunity: If you have your virtual assistant respond to customer queries early in the sales cycle, you can award them a small bonus for each sale they help “close.” It’s a small gesture to help keep them motivated and increase their income, while at the same time boosting the bottom line with incremental sales.

2. Writing Content
Content marketing can be a powerful tool in capturing new business, and there have never been more avenues in which to publish that content. Unfortunately, writing great content is a very time-intensive process — which means it is the perfect job to give to a talented virtual assistant.

Bonus Opportunity: Sometimes writing the content is the easy part; the hard part is coming up with the idea! Your virtual assistant can help keep an eye on industry trends by subscribing to HARO (Help a Reporter Out), creating Google Alerts for certain key phrases, and reading related blogs. All of these will help them come up with ideas to create content about.

3. Proofreading
If your virtual assistant is a skilled writer, they probably also have an eye for editing. You can have them look over your written work before you make it public. Whether it’s an important email, a sales letter, or even a book, having an extra set of eyes on it can be a big help.

4. Research
As an entrepreneur or simply a busy professional, odds are you’re always thinking of new ideas, but may not have time to fully research them. A virtual assistant can be an extension of yourself and do the digging for you.

For instance, there was a car that used to park near my place that was plastered in advertising. I wondered what the IRS rules on vehicle advertising were (for example, if I put a company ad on my car, could I write off ALL of my mileage as an advertising expense?), so I had my VA look into it.

(In case you’re curious, the answer was no.)

5. Lead Generation
If you’re in sales (and everyone is to a certain degree), a virtual assistant can help identify leads. Simply give them a list of instructions and criteria and have them run with it.

For example, in real estate investing that could be, “Contact ‘For Sale by Owner’ listings and ask them these qualifying questions.”

6. Social Media
Maintaining a strong social media presence is crucial these days — both for increasing exposure to new customers and building relationships with existing ones. The problem is it’s always on, and it can be a major time suck.

However, you can give your VA some guidelines (what kind of content to post/retweet, how often to post, how to reply to questions, etc.), and effectively remove yourself from much of the process. Even for personal brands, there is an opportunity to free up a lot of time with a social-savvy virtual assistant.

7. Human Resources
As your business grows, you may need to bring on additional help. Why not have your virtual assistant coordinate your human resources efforts by handling job posting and applicant screening?

You should still interview the final candidates, but in the meantime you’ll save much of the trouble and headache involved with the hiring process.

What kind of work does your virtual assistant help with? Please share your experience in the comments section below!


Nick Loper

Nick Loper is an online entrepreneur and lifelong student in the game of business. His most recent project is, a directory and review database for virtual assistant companies. He has been using online work since 2005 and is the author of “Virtual Assistant Assistant: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with Virtual Assistants.”