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What Is a Virtual Assistant? A 101 Guide

What Is a Virtual Assistant? A 101 Guide

Virtual assistants are an excellent alternative to hiring full-time employees. Learn what they do, their skills, and how to hire one for your business.


The COVID-19 pandemic compelled employees to shift from the traditional office-going to work from home. While some chose to pursue their passion and become an artist, a chunk built their start-ups, and some became independent contractors (ICs) or virtual assistants (VAs).

VAs step in when companies don’t want to or can’t hire full-time, on-site employees. These professionals provide much-need respite to owners of expanding start-ups who find it increasingly challenging to keep the business running smoothly. With daily operations, administrative tasks, and new hurdles every day, employees wear multiple hats.

But you can run out of employees, or they can burn out. In a fast-paced setting, you want to avoid overwhelming team members by giving them more than they can handle.

Here’s all you need to know about what virtual assistants are, what they do, how much they make, and more.

What is a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistants are remote workers who perform administrative tasks for clients and often work part-time. They can also take on a personal assistant role for someone in a senior position.

What exactly does a virtual assistant do? 

The "virtual" in virtual assistants means VAs can complete all their tasks online. They only need a high-speed internet connection, a working laptop, and clients to cater to. Some VAs have the know-how and manage both technical tasks and administrative support. Here are a few common responsibilities:

  • General admin tasks: VAs manage calendars, schedule appointments, check emails, and answer phone calls.
  • Project management: A VA's day-to-day duties include holding meetings, following up with team members, and writing project reports. Sometimes, entrepreneurs put them in charge to oversee whether projects are completed on time and within budget.
  • Bookkeeping: Financial support is the foundation of every business. However, smaller coaching businesses may not have the budget to hire a finance department. In that case, they can turn to VAs for help processing payments, monitoring expenses, and creating spreadsheets.
  • Market research: VAs learn about the company, its products and services, and its target audience. Next, they evaluate other players and create a competitor analysis report, highlighting rivals' strengths, weaknesses, and marketing strategies. 
  • Social media: Social media platforms –– such as Instagram and TikTok –– are central to promoting brands, products, and services. VAs specializing in social networking help with social media management and marketing, including replying to comments, updating bios, budgeting ad campaigns, and more.

Virtual assistants’ services vary depending on the industry and client requirements. While some specialize in e-commerce and social media, most VAs perform essential admin work. This makes them valuable assets to small coaching agencies looking for support as they scale.


What skills does a virtual assistant have?

A good VA must possess a few fundamental hard and soft skills, including:

Effective communication

A quality VA must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills. They constantly communicate with existing and potential clients as well as team members via phone, video calls, emails, and messaging services, so their speech and writing must be clear and purposeful. Clients often appreciate an eloquent professional who's easy to talk to.

Time management

No matter how much money a business makes, it can't buy time for its employees. That's where VAs help — they take some work off everyone's plates, multitasking and handling multiple clients and schedules. 

Time management is vital for busy owners and senior employees facing time constraints. A good VA ensures certain events don't clash with others and help employers streamline their workflow.


Employers often ask VAs to manage and remember passwords, client data, birthdays, holidays, appointments, reminders, and more. Assistants who specialize in social media marketing also follow strict posting schedules. Staying organized keeps info accessible and helps everyone stay on track.


Employers ask VAs to perform market research –– including studying various topics, competitors, and trends –– often on short notice. VAs must fact-check to ensure the data is accurate and reliable. Plus, they may have to come up with answers for client issues. For these reasons, business owners and clients value VAs who are prepared and resourceful when a situation demands it.


Business owners must ensure the VAs they recruit are dependable. For instance, sometimes, VAs receive urgent tasks at odd hours, so recruiters should discuss the arrangement with the VA beforehand to avoid gaps. As the point of contact between employer and client, a VA’s dependability boosts the brand's reputation and builds trust between both parties.

What is a virtual assistant’s salary?

According to Payscale, a remote or virtual assistant job's average base hourly rate in the U.S. is $17.31, but salary ranges and hourly rates widely vary. 

Entry-level VAs may start at $8–$12 per hour to complete basic admin tasks, such as data entry and checking emails. But seasoned VAs may make up to $27 an hour, as they handle more complex tasks like customer support, website maintenance, and project management. Some freelancers even find work for higher pay.

How to hire a virtual assistant 

Hiring a VA is cost-effective and helps you maximize growth, as delegating a large chunk of work takes a huge weight off your shoulders. With a VA, you can fully focus on more important tasks. You may even find a VA who surpasses your skill level at specific tasks.

But how do you find such an individual?

The good news is there are many candidates, so you won't have trouble finding someone who suits your needs and budget. Invest a little time in narrowing down the perfect VA, and rest assured.

Since virtual assistance is an online job, you can find VAs on freelance platforms, such as Upwork and Freelancer. Both websites have assistants with different specializations and experiences. Plus, you can view other employers' feedback before hiring. VA services are also available through agencies or job platforms like LinkedIn.

Free up more time with Practice

Growing your own business takes time and effort. A virtual assistant supports you daily and does plenty of legwork so you can turn your attention to other more important things.

But if you want to free up even more time, consider using Practice's Client Management Software to help with calendar management, invoicing, and client data. 

Our professional systems and resources, designed with coaches and small business owners in mind, allow you to learn more about clients, automate tasks, and streamline your workflow. Try it today.

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