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25 Projects You Can Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients--usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices.

Virtual assistants work from their own office (hence "virtual"), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession. It is estimated that there are about 40,000-50,000 virtual assistants worldwide. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and fax machine. Although the occupation gives a degree of independence, work is on a contractual basis, and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Virtual Assistants work as executive assistants, secretaries, legal assistants, real estate assistants, office managers, etc.  Virtual Assistants are often used by small business owners and individuals who need smaller everyday tasks taken care of. 

A virtual assistant is an independent contractor, not an employee. They set their own rates, operating standards and policies, pay their own self-employment taxes, and manage the work and how it is carried out.

We’ve compiled a list of 25 projects where a Virtual Assistant (VA) could help you get your work done faster. We will show you the broad range of skills available to help you get work done - letting you focus on what you do best.

Research

1. Sales Leads
Without sales, you don't have business. But if you’re spending time meeting prospective clients and servicing existing customers, it’s hard to find new leads. A VA can find and research individuals, companies, and technologies, via blogs, websites and forums.  They can prepare reports and briefs to help you determine who to contact next. With the right information in hand you can focus on developing new business relationships instead of having to spend time researching.

2. Fact Checking
Blogs, podcasts, videos, and other media continue to make it easy for us to communicate. Every day, more and more people use those tools to reach out to customers, clients, and friends. To be persuasive, you need facts on your side; nothing ruins your credibility quicker than inaccurate information. A VA can double-check facts, provide statistics and backup information, and verify data to make sure you always put an accurate foot forward.

3. Products or Services to Buy
Not sure which car meets your needs? Looking for a home theater system but can’t make sense of all the different models and specifications? A VA can take into account your budget and preferences, sift through the options, check out reviews and recommendations, and create a short list of the prime contenders for purchase. Plus, a VA can comparison shop, find the best deals possible, and even arrange the purchase if you prefer.

4. Products or Services to Sell
Say you’re interested in starting a business – any business – but with all the competition, you’re not sure where to start. A VA can perform a lot of basic research: Products already marketed that can be privately labeled, products you can buy wholesale and sell at retail, products you can license so you have the right to sell them… the possibilities are endless. If you’re already in business and are considering adding a new product or product line, let a VA handle basic research while you focus on your core business.

5. Speechwriting
Say you’ve been chosen as the best man at your friend’s wedding – congratulations! But what will you say when it comes time to give the toast? Don’t spend hours struggling to find the right words. A skilled writer can turn your thoughts and ideas into a touching and humorous toast that everyone will remember – and you’ll enjoy giving. But don’t stop there – any time you need to make a speech or give a presentation, imagine how confident you’ll be knowing you’ve got the perfect script to follow.

Data Entry / Word Processing

1.
Turn Business Cards into Outlook Entries
Networking is critical in most businesses. Putting information from business cards into your Outlook address book helps you stay organized and automatically organizes your phone or PDA. Who really has the time to do this? You can fax/scan the business cards you receive, or send Excel or Word contact listings to a VA who can transfer the information for you. You’ll always have the information you need at your fingertips.

2. Website Registration
Many websites require you to register to access certain articles and information, sign up for newsletters, or post your contact information for other visitors to see. Registering can be a tedious process – so outsource it! Compose a list of websites you wish to register with, along with your contact information, and allow a VA to take care of the rest. You can also ask the VA to research other relevant sites you haven’t listed, and to sign you up there, too.

3. Collect Contact Information
Need specific information about current or prospective clients? With a little research performed by a VA you can collect all the data you need, including phone numbers, email addresses, social media links, etc. They can then enter the collected data into spreadsheets, documents, address books… whatever is most useful to you.

4. Article Submission
Posting articles in article directories, press release directories, and other websites, can be a great way to build an audience and generate links to your website or blog. Hundreds of directories exist. Make the process easy by hiring a VA: Simply provide your articles along with a list of directories you wish to submit to (or ask the VA to create a list for you), and your words can be seen by thousands of readers worldwide.

5. Craigslist (or another classified listing site) Posting
If you sell a product and want the maximum exposure possible, posting to online classifieds can be a great way to get the word out. But posting ads on a regular basis to a number of sites and cities can be exceptionally time-consuming. Give a VA an ad template, a list of cities, and the rest of your requirements, and your ads will appear on schedule. You can spend more time fulfilling orders instead of endlessly prospecting for new clients.

Event / Trip Planning

1. Meetings
A well-planned and executed lunch meeting with one important client could be as important to your business as a meeting with 20 or more participants. Every meeting has the potential to make or break your company – make sure they are planned flawlessly! A VA can research venues, make reservations, schedule the appointment with participants, and even follow up a few days ahead of time to make sure your plans are all set. Let a VA take care of the details so you can focus on accomplishing your goals at your meetings.

2. Prepare Participant Bios
You’ve probably seen movies or television shows where a politician or leader has names and personal information whispered into his or her ear just before he greets another person. While a VA can’t attend the meeting with you, they can provide the next best thing: If you provide the names of people who will attend your event, or any other event for that matter, a VA can give you background information, recent news, and other tidbits that will help you make a great impression on everyone you meet. Then, instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” imagine yourself saying, “Nice to meet you… congratulations on starting your new product line. How is that going?”

3. Travel Research
Planning a trip, but aren’t sure how much to budget? A VA can provide detailed research and a breakdown of potential costs including flights, accommodations, local transportation, and daily expenses (like food and entertainment, etc). If you have multiple destinations or departure dates in mind, costs can be broken down by location or season to help you make the right decisions for your business trip or vacation.

4. Slideshows
Creating a compelling and interesting slideshow is tough. So is having the right tools and techniques to zoom, pan, and fade individual slides to keep your audience engaged and your images looking their best – while making the maximum impact possible. Whether you’re showing personal photos at an engagement party or wedding, or you’re a contractor showing off past building and construction projects, make sure your slideshow looks great and functions perfectly.

5. Wedding Planning
Many brides-to-be (not to mention their parents) say that planning a wedding feels like a daunting task. Sourcing vendors, screening proposals, and checking references and credentials can be overwhelming and incredibly time-consuming. Don’t let the planning process outweigh the excitement of your wedding. Give a VA some general guidelines like cost, number of guests, and your basic preferences, and they’ll create a short-list of venues and vendors… or even make the arrangements for you.

Social Networking

1. Blog Posting
First a caveat: If you have a distinctive writing “voice,” only talented writers will be able to mimic it and create blog posts that “sound” like you. But don’t let that stop you from hiring a VA to help with your blog posts. Virtual Assistants can collect news, keep up with trends, do research… even write rough drafts of posts that you can then shape into your “own” distinctive style. And to keep the conversation among your readers going, a VA can respond to comments left on your blog, alerting you when a comment requires your expertise to answer.

Many bloggers generate a mixture of posts. Some are simple news recaps and updates while others are more like opinion pieces. Let a VA help you make your blog more robust… while also making it easier to maintain and keep fresh.

2. Commenting and Linking
Leaving comments on blogs and social media sites is a great way to make new connections and leave backlinks to your own sites and blogs. A VA can take care of the process for you. Create a list of sites (or have the VA create it), give guidelines on comments you’d like to leave, and off you go! You can also have the VA send you links to new articles or sites that you should check out personally.

While you’re at it, a VA can respond to comments and questions left on your sites and blogs, too.

3. Profiles and Accounts
Want to benefit from social networking but don’t have the know-how or the time to start? Hire a VA to create your accounts and profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and/or other social networking sites. Once you’re all set, you can focus on creating and developing relationships.

4. Social Media
Social Media sites like Facebook are great ways to network and create social connections – but managing your accounts can take time away from other productive work. A VA can keep up with your friend requests, respond to messages, and keep you informed about your account activity. You can take it a step farther and hire an application developer to apply current solutions or develop a new tool to keep you on the cutting edge of social networking.

5. Online Dating Profile Management
Online dating continues to grow in popularity, and believe it or not you can outsource the online dating process. Tim Ferris, author of the bestselling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, did just that. A VA did all the legwork – sifting through responses, and short-listing the people who seemed like a great match.

General Administrative Assistant

1. Voicemail Management
Do you receive a lot of voicemails? Do you spend a lot of time in meetings and dread having to check your messages? A VA can check your voicemail on the schedule you set, prioritize your messages, and even email summaries to you in case you’re not in a position to receive calls. A VA can also return routine and emergency calls, saving the important or sensitive calls for you to make when you have the chance.

2. Email Management
Even if you receive hundreds of emails each day, chances are a number of them are routine – and if they’re routine, that means a VA can respond to those emails using guidance you provide. Then all you’ll need to do is respond to unusual or out of the ordinary emails. You can take it a step further and have your VA forward emails only you can handle to a separate account; that way you’ll never see or need to deal with the hundreds of emails your VA can handle for you. If you feel like you type the same response – to different people – more than once, a VA can handle the task.

3. Wake Up Calls
Don’t want to miss an important meeting? Or just want to make sure you get up on time? You don’t have to trust the hotel desk clerk or your alarm clock. A VA can serve as your personal “good morning” provider, and can remind you of important meetings, appointments, or other information to ensure your day gets off to a great start.

4. Gifts and Cards
Whether they’re our friends or our customers and clients, all of us want to remember important people at special times. Provide spending guidelines and other basic information, and your VA can track down and ship the perfect gifts, send online cards, or mail pre-signed greeting cards to everyone on your list.

5. Thank You and Follow-Up
Many businesses send notes or make phone calls to recent purchasers. It’s a great way to say “thank you” and also to answer any questions and proactively resolve potential problems. A VA can send thank you cards or make post-purchase calls to new customers or clients, creating a memorable personal touch that can help drive repeat business and build long-term business relationships.

 

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