Male customer service representative activating a We can help you button on virtual screen.

Male customer service representative activating a We can help you button on virtual screen.

One of the benefits of the internet is that it gives people the chance to work even if they just stay home. Online freelance jobs and virtual assistant jobs can be considered the future of work all over the world. Professionals coming from different backgrounds and specializations are given the opportunity to work within their preferred location and work hours. They can also control how much they want to work, and as soon as they are established, they can also somehow dictate how much they can earn.

If you are a mom who wants to take care of your children while making some money, you can. If you are a person with disability, you can work at home and stay comfortable. But what are the basic skills you need to have in order to be an effective virtual assistant? Here are some of the most important ones:

1. Communication skills
If you are working as a virtual assistant, you will often have to communicate with different people online—your clients, your teammates, the customers of your clients. Having good communication skills, both verbal and written, is imperative to succeed as a virtual assistant. Being able to clearly express your thoughts in writing is especially important because most of your work online will involve email correspondence. Poor communication skills will lead to misunderstanding, which can cause project delays and costly mistakes. Make sure you brush up on your English language skills before applying as a virtual assistant.

2. Interpersonal skills
This skill set refers to the way you interact with people. You need to have an approachable, friendly personality that will make clients feel comfortable to talk to you. You may not be meeting your clients or teammates in person, but you can convey a pleasing personality online by being polite, professional, and pleasant in all your dealings, whether written or verbal.

3. Intrapersonal skills
Intrapersonal skills should not be confused with interpersonal skills. Intrapersonal skills refer to how you communicate to yourself to help you in any situation. This skill has something to do with managing your own emotions, feelings, and moods. A person without good intrapersonal skills has poor self-control and will be often moody and difficult to deal with. To improve your intrapersonal skills, take time to talk to yourself and advise yourself when you feel bad about something. When you have this ability, you will be able to work well with others in your team.

4. Good computer knowledge
As a virtual assistant, you will work mostly in front of your computer. For that reason, you should at least know how to do basic troubleshooting for your computer when it slows down or malfunctions. You should also at least know how to avoid viruses and malware to avoid work interruptions and protect your work and your clients’ confidential data.

5. Phone etiquette and netiquette
Respect keeps the workplace harmonious. Even if you are not with your client or teammates physically, you still have to ensure they won’t get offended by you. Knowing the proper way to talk to somebody over the phone or on Skype is an essential customer service skill.
Netiquette is also important when chatting or when writing emails. Rules like “no all-caps” and others should be followed or else others will find you annoying and offensive, which can create conflict at work.

6. Internet and software-savvy
Most people know how to use the internet to search, post in social media, and watch videos on YouTube. However, there are some aspects of the internet that you get to know only after years of using it. For example, many people know only Google as search engine when there are others like Bing that’s also giving out good results.

Software-savvy means that you can easily learn how to use new software even without having to go through rigorous training. You take the initiative to learn new software programs that can make you more effective and efficient at your job. This can include software programs for designing, making presentations, communication, and the like.

Do you have what it takes to be a virtual assistant and start earning money while working from anywhere? If you don’t have some of these necessary skills, don’t worry. You can definitely improve them with practice and discipline.

Removing word with pencil's eraser, Erasing Oops !

Removing word with pencil’s eraser, Erasing Oops !

Working as a virtual assistant comes with many advantages. You have greater control over your time, you no longer have to endure long work hours, you can wear clothes that you want, and you can work from just about anywhere. If you are a parent, you also have the privilege to look after your little children when you work as a VA.

However, these advantages can work against you if you don’t have the right combination of commitment and discipline to combat the challenges that come with working in a virtual office or from your home. As mentioned in an article published on Forbes, Debra Benton’s The Virtual Executive book reveals that with 20 to 30 million professionals working from home at least one day per week, bad work habits are becoming more common.
So what are the most common mistakes that VAs can make and how can you avoid these? Read on.

1. Not dressing up for work.
Working from home gives you the freedom to wear clothes based on your mood and preference, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dress up for work. Research shows that what you wear affects your performance. Wearing your pajamas or sloppy shirts while working may make you feel lethargic and send you signals that you can relax during work time.

2. Saying yes to every work that comes your way.
When working as a freelancer or a VA, you might get too excited by income opportunities that you can become tempted to accept more than what you can handle. Be realistic and manage your time wisely. Plan your work schedule monthly, weekly, and daily. A well-planned calendar can help you better assess how much work you can accept from clients. Saying yes to every account or task assigned to you will not only stress you out, but will also cause you to fail and lose clients due to unmet expectations.

3. Not setting up a proper workplace.
Setting up a home office is important for VAs. Having your own office at home takes you away from the many distractions that can kill productivity—TV, food in the kitchen, playing kids, chores and more. Designate a special place for work and put work-related supplies in this area so you don’t have to leave your office space when you are working. Also, avoid opening websites that aren’t needed for work while you are in your home office. Browsing websites and social media pages wastes too much of your work time.

4. Working excessively long hours.
While you are not bound by a 9-5 job, this doesn’t mean that you should work 12 hours per day or even more. This is a bad work habit that not only reduces productivity and creativity, but also ruins personal relationships. Don’t let your work overtake your life. Set a specific time for working and limit it to the standard 8 hours per day.

5. Not taking the time to expand your knowledge and develop your skills.
You do not have a manager to evaluate you or an HR team to look after your career growth. As a VA, it is your responsibility to carve your own path to success by not just settling for what you already know, but by also finding ways to continuously further your knowledge and develop skills that will help you serve your clients better. Attend seminars, workshops or pursue higher learning that are relevant to your career goals.

Be Professional
To be a successful virtual assistant, you have to exhibit professionalism at all times. Build good work habits from the very beginning. This will help you build lasting work relationships with your clients as well as earn a positive reputation online, a great factor that directly impacts how much work will come your way in the future.

Young businesswoman writing marketing strategy concept with huge pencil

One of the first steps to successfully hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is writing the right job description. After all, it’s the right job description that attracts the right kind of applicants. This job description will be posted on job search sites, freelancing sites, your website and even your social media sites. However, no matter how many times you post your job description, you will not be able to find the ideal person for the job if it lacks the most important details.

What Should Be In the Job Description?
Writing a job description for office-based employees and virtual assistants are not very much different from each other. The description usually includes the job title, the summary, the main functions or responsibilities, skills, location, and the type of employment whether it’s full-time or part-time work. The main difference between the regular job description and the ones for VAs is you need to include the timeframe or project duration and indicate your budget for the project or the job.

Here are other tips to follow when writing job descriptions when looking for virtual assistants:

1. Write with results in mind.
Before writing anything, think of the results that you want to achieve with hiring a virtual assistant. Set your goals. Why are you hiring a VA in the first place? List the outcomes you want to see when you hire this VA. For example, if you are hiring a graphic designer, your goals can be expediting the process of creating ads or marketing collaterals, daily creation of social media graphics, and the like.

2. Make your job title as specific as possible.
The job title is the first element that the applicant sees. Make it as specific as possible to encourage the right candidate to click on it and read the entire job description. Many clients make the mistake of just writing “Virtual Assistant” as the title. Accountants, lawyers, graphic designers, writers, web developers, can all be virtual assistants. This is why you need to specify what type of virtual assistant you are looking for.

3. Start your statements with an action word.
When you write the duties and responsibilities, start with an action word. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recommends beginning statement with an action word, followed by your subject, then mentioning the specific activities.
An example is: Write blogs monthly by suggesting topics to write about, finding two to three keywords per blog, and submitting them for approval and posting by the 4th Friday of the month.
The action word here is “write”
The subject is “monthly”
The tasks associated with this subject are “suggesting topics to write about,” “finding two to three keywords per blog,” and “submitting them for approval and posting by the 4th Friday of the month.”

4. Write the skills and qualifications you are looking for.
What kinds of skills and qualifications are you looking for in a VA? Your answer should depend not only on the requirements of the job, but also your company’s culture. Would you like someone who is passionate about learning and communication because your business is all about teaching English as a second language to Asian students? Or would you like someone who loves to travel because the task involves maintaining a travel blog?

5. Indicate the project duration, budget, and type of employment.
To save your time sorting through applicants, you can narrow down your search by indicating the project duration, how much you are willing to spend on the project or the salary, and the type of employment (whether it’s full-time or part-time work). These details are important because virtual assistants work with so much flexibility that most of them set the limits on how much they can work in a day or in a week. A lot of them also accept multiple projects at a time. It would be also good to provide a link to your website so applicants can see if they are comfortable to work in your industry. By indicating the duration of the project and the level of commitment you need from your VA, potential applicants would be able to assess whether they can take on the job.

The right virtual assistant is out there, looking for their next big project or employer. Attract the right candidates by writing a job description that conveys what you truly need. The five tips above should guide you on putting together a clear

Richard Branson said it best when he boldly declared that time is the new money. For many years, management has declared that those who work long hours are deemed more productive. But today, it just isn’t so: time is the new standard with which people are judged and the more hours of it spent on working, the worst it is for a person’s well-being and reputation.

For entrepreneurs, even more so. As the captain of their respective ships, they should be the ones at the forefront of espousing work life balance and showing the right way by being out the door by 5pm. Of course, this is easier said than done. With responsibilities ranging from business development to marketing to operations, what is a consummate business owner to do?

Here are some ways to help you fight the workaholism plague and get back your hours:

1. Hire people correctly.
No aspect of a business is affected by the concept of opportunity cost than human resources. As a prized commodity, people in a business can derail or fast track its progress. For the business owner, hiring correctly makes the big difference from sleeping eight hours a day to literally being hospitalized every two months due to exhaustion. It is not just about choosing the right people, but more so, hiring the people and putting them in the right places in the company where they can be most productive and effective. Also, the number of people to hire counts a lot.
In the end, the bucket stops at the top and if the owner cannot hire right, he or she will end up doing all the tasks needed to keep the business going. The best way to mitigate this problem is by opting for outsourcing. This does not place a big strain on the company budget but at the same time, it quickly fills the spots needed. Hiring a virtual assistant allows business owners to focus on conceptualizing strategies and other tasks that require high level decision-making.

2. Stop multitasking and know one’s strengths.
For one, it is not effective, and two, studies have shown that multitasking can successfully do just one thing: shrink one’s brain.
Instead, set a timeline for each task and delegate. This frees up the hands of the entrepreneur to focus on the things they do best. As much as control is the name of the game, it does not do anyone any good.

3. Rest.
It’s easy for people to run on adrenaline, but what good does it make a person? Exhaustion simply leads to bad decisions, which then lead to more wasted time rectifying mistakes whether big or small.
Instead, rest. Sleep the right amount of hours and wake up refreshed and ready to go. Have time for leisure and other pursuits as these will help fuel creativity. The time it took to take a nap or to go for a quick swim may save you from signing a wrong contract.

4. Know what matters and tackle them during peak performance hours.
As Robin Sharma, a leading motivational speaker and consultant for many CEO’s, says: what gets written down gets done. A list that’s filled to the brim is not a good list. Priorities are few or else, they’re not really what it’s supposed to be.

The best way to solve problems is by first knowing what time one is at the most optimum level of productivity. Then, begin with the hardest tasks. Eat thy frogs first and the rest shall be peanuts—with a few minutes to spare after.

workToday, many companies are working with virtual assistants as an integral part of their business operations. It’s like being in a full-fledged office, except that the office only exists on the internet. You can talk to your teammates and clients through chat and VOIP services. Virtual assistant jobs pay well with less hassle. So what virtual assistant jobs are in demand these days?

Search Engine Optimization Services
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is the driving force of internet today. Businesses need SEO experts to get their websites to rank high on Google. If you have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively help a website rank well in search engines, you can apply as a virtual assistant for companies needing SEO help.
Some of the possible job descriptions to watch out for are:
• Submit articles to social bookmarking sits and web directories
• Search for high value keywords using online tools
• Write meta descriptions

Blogging for Company Websites
As companies embrace blogging as a way to motivate people to buy their products or use their services, bloggers and web content writers are also becoming in demand. If you have good writing skills, then this job is for you. What’s great about this job is that you don’t have to be in constant communication with your client. You just write the required articles and submit them to your client for approval. It may also be part of your job to actually post these articles to their blog site.
The job descriptions for bloggers or web content writer may include:
• Writing articles relevant to the company niche
• Proofreading your own work
• Researching for good topics

Marketing, Social Media, and Email Management
Social media is an important marketing, public relations as well as customer service tool for businesses, this is why almost every company now has its own Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media pages. These companies are always looking for people to help them update and maintain their social media accounts.
If you are interested in social media and you know how to manage it and create strategies for it, then this type of job may be for you. Also, some clients may be too busy to take care of their own email, so they would hire someone to manage their email accounts for them.
Job descriptions for marketing, social media, and email management jobs may include:
• Posting for Facebook
• Composing Tweets
• Posting product photos and ads
• Responding to comments on social media pages
• Read and reply to emails

Online Research and Lead Generation
If you are good at researching online, then you would have a good chance of landing this job. Most CEOs do not have time for time-consuming research tasks. This is why many business owners hire virtual assistants for research-related jobs. You may be asked to search for a specific topic, look for ideas, or verify information.
Some possible job descriptions for these jobs are:
• Search leads for products
• Research ideas for product launch

Working from home is now becoming the new normal as more and more professionals are seeing the practicality and comfort of working as a virtual assistant. You don’t have to travel to an office, so you save money on fare or gas, and you save time too because you no longer have to commute or drive to work. More importantly, with a high level of commitment and competence, there is a great earning potential for virtual assistants who work hard to become the best at what they do.

Starting a business is one of the best and worst decisions a person can come up with. As much as being your own boss brings with it a level of freedom and independence, entrepreneurs are also the most stressed and harassed, having to deal with the needs of the business almost 24/7 without rest. While you can see business owners spend their weekdays doing activities they love other than business, it does not mean that they have fewer responsibilities.

Simply put, choosing to be in business is hard work and it takes a lot of commitment from a person when they finally take the plunge. Here are some ways to break into the jump and make it more manageable:

  1. Know the market.

The last thing a person can do is invest all their hard earned savings on a whim. It is important to remember that getting into business is part intuition and part calculated risk, but is never about gambling. Following one’s passion can be great, but it also makes for very risky business decision basis. Knowing your market is one of the first crucial steps that you should do when starting your own business.

Today however, an article on Entrepreneur suggests that knowing your market today shouldn’t be limited to getting details on their income, gender, ethnicity or education. Entrepreneur suggests taking your marketing strategies to the next level through personalization and customization and that means understanding the lifestyle of your customers. Understand the lifestyle of the generation where your target market belongs. You can also do your research by area. There are also tools that you can use to study your target market’s behavior, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.

  1. Know the underserved market.

Another good way to get into business is by knowing the underserved market. What makes your life miserable? One may be surprised to know that it’s also what makes others’ unbearable and these underserved customers are actually willing to pay for a service or product to ease off the hassle.

Being in the underserved market also makes one a highly uncontested market, something the bigger players will be very wary to get into. This translates to income at the fastest way possible. In addition to knowing the underserved market, it would also be good to think of how you can beat the competition. Jim Koch of Boston Beer co. and Samuel Adams Boston Lager says in an article published in Business Insider that your business is only feasible if what you are offering is cheaper or better than the alternatives.

  1. Prepare for the worst.

Although getting into business is a true act of faith, one must also not get into it without a safety net of at least six months. Anything is possible in business, unfortunately, including bankruptcy. If the person has a family to support, blindly getting money into a business without ensuring that they can live comfortably is a reckless move.

Preparing should also include the right paper work to protect the name, the finances, and the assets of the business from unscrupulous people.

  1. Delegate.

Budget may be a concern when you are starting a new business. However, multitasking just to accomplish everything that needs to get done from accounting to financials would not be beneficial for your business. If hiring is not an option at the moment, consider outsourcing to virtual assistants. It is best to outsource tasks that are repetitive in nature, those that are time-consuming, and technical tasks that are not part of your skills set. As a business owner, it is important that you oversee all processes without losing your focus on growing and grooming the business to reach its full potential.

Manage Key Shows Leadership Management And Supervision

In the world of information technology, working is no longer confined by distance. In fact, because of the internet, many managers and business owners are beginning to appreciate the concept of virtual assistant or VAs. Virtual assistants are skilled workers who work at home through the internet and they can bring significant contributions to your business if you manage them well.

The great thing about using VAs is that you don’t need an office for them, which should save you a lot of money. But because they are working far from you, managing VAs is a little different from managing office workers. Here are some tips to help you bring the best out of your virtual assistants.

1. Be friendly but keep some distance.
As a manager, it is important to help maintain a harmonious relationship with your VA team. That means being friendly to your virtual assistants. Reach out and talk to them in a kind manner. If you plan to build a long-term work relationship with your VA, get to know them personally. Appreciate their work style and strengths. A harmonious and positive workplace is always more productive compared to a work environment with tension. Even if your VA’s only work online, tension can still manifest if you don’t treat them with kindness and respect.
However, being friendly does not mean you should let them cross the line between boss and employee relationship. You can still be friendly while being in control. By all means smile they greet you, but don’t forget that you are still the boss.

2. Always have an open line of communication.
Because they are working at home, you can’t readily talk to your VA’s like you do regular employees. You need a reliable chat or VOIP software that you keep open during work time for communication. If you are using Skype to communicate with your VA’s for example, make sure your Skype is open during work hours. This is to ensure that if they have questions, they can easily contact you. A VOIP and chat software are also important to maintain that office feeling for your VAs, which would drive them to be productive.
Additionally, always have regular meetings through chat or conference calls. This is to ensure that they can tell you if they are facing any problems relating to work and so that you can tell them your expectations.

3. Always check the progress of their work.
Unlike real offices where you can see if an employee is slacking off, it is difficult to know what virtual assistants have been doing, unless you keep them on video surveillance or ask them to log in to a time tracking software that takes screenshots as they work. As a manager, it is your responsibility to look after your contractors by checking their work progress. You can request for daily, weekly, or monthly updates. Tracking their progress will drive them to finish the task without being lazy.

4. Don’t withhold your praises or constructive criticisms.
One trait of a good leader and manager is that they know when to praise and when to criticize constructively. When your virtual assistant does a very good job, make sure you praise them to make them feel your appreciation. If a virtual assistant’s performance is below your expectations, let him know in a way that is objective and constructive. Explain why you are unhappy with his or her work. Relate it to the goals that you have set at the beginning of the project.

5. Pay on time.
The best way to keep your virtual assistants happy aside from praising their excellent work is by paying them on time. Paying promptly conveys professionalism, respect and appreciation for their work. It also builds trust, an important factor for building a thriving work relationship. When you pay on time, you will have loyal VAs who will do their best for you.
If you manage a team of virtual assistants, follow the tips above. Always be kind, but be strict when needed. Take time to communicate with them. Never hesitate to call them out for unsatisfactory performance and praise them for a job well done. When it comes to managing virtual assistants, maintaining professionalism by paying on time and treating workers with respect ensures a fruitful and long-term work relationship.