Must-Have Tools for Virtual Assistants in 2023
So you’ve launched your own Virtual Assistant business. Congratulations!
Now you want to know which tools will help your VA business succeed. You’re in the right place! We’ll go over 30+ tools to help you manage every aspect of your business: From financials to self-care, we’ve got you covered.
Who am I? I launched my VA business in 2012. Learn from my successes and mistakes as I share the tools that I use every day with my own clients.
Who this course is for: VA’s who are new to the industry and are looking for a guide to help them choose the right tools for our trade.
What this course covers: Tutorials that show you how to set up accounts for each tool and what makes each product unique and handy. You can follow me along to create your accounts and learn the basics of how each tool functions in real-time.
Do you have a suggestion for a great tool? Write to me and I will test it out! If it becomes a favorite, I’ll add it to the course!
I’m really excited to see you in the course!
*************************** See what others are saying about the course! *********************
“I’ve signed up for previous VA courses and they were all helpful in their own way. This course, however, tops them all in my opinion. Lots of tips provided that I haven’t got from other VA courses I’ve taken It has made me feel a lot more confident about getting out there as a fledging VA. Thanks loads Erin.”
“I have taken other courses that were far more expensive and still did not get as much info as I am getting here about important VA tools. Really great class and a must-have for first-time Freelance VAs or for any freelancer for that matter.”
“I am getting so much out of this course as a new virtual assistant. She explains things so well and shows you exactly how to do it. A++++“
Welcome to the course! Before we dive into the essential tools for Virtual Assistants, download the corresponding PDF for links to each tool, a brief description, and price.
Password managers keep your data (and your client's data) safe, and they're highly convenient. With a password manager, you don't have to remember strong, unique passwords for all your clients accounts. The password manager stores them for you, helps you generate new, and can even flag passwords that appear on the dark web!
When I initially made this course, I suggested that you take a look at LastPass. While I've been a LastPass user for nearly a decade, they have had two back-to-back data breaches. I can no longer trust, nor suggest that you use LastPass either.
So let's take a look at 3 more PW manager options!
A VPN redirects your Internet traffic through a specially configured VPN server, hiding your IP address and encrypting all the data that is sent or received. The encrypted data is essentially gibberish to anyone who intercepts it, making it impossible to read.
This is a great tool to invest in, especially if you often work over open networks (no password needed) - typically found at cafes or airports.
ALSO, VPNs come in handy if you're working in a different country than your clients. Sometimes, websites might require you to be located in the same country as your client in order to do things like create new accounts on their behalf. With a VPN, you can easily change your IP location so that it appears as though you're working from your client's country as well!
Protect Yourself With A Contract (for Free)
Indy has officially become my number 1 most favorite freelancing tool. It's an affordable "all in one platform" that allows you to manage your entire business from one central website. Features include:
sending airtight contracts, proposals, and invoices right from the site.
track tasks, set timers, and sync to-do's with your calendar.
share and save files.
Indy's platform is perfect everyone, from solo-freelancers to people with teams or subcontractors. This is hands down the easiest and most collaborative tool I've used yet.
Free users can access 2 contracts. If you need more, the pro plan is $6.75/month and comes with unlimited contracts. Yep, it's one of the cheapest and coolest tools around!
Once contracts have been signed by both you and your client, consider sending them this "welcome" email. It includes all the essentials:
Your contact details.
A reiteration of your hours of operation.
A reiteration of your payment details.
Next steps the client can take to get started (sharing calendars, created a branded email account for you).
I'm also including a delegation eBook. This eBook includes a list of common services that your client can start delegating to you. I find that this eBook is particularly helpful if your client still isn't quite sure what types of tasks they can send to you.
Harvest is intuitive time-tracking tool. It's easy to convert time worked into visual reports and invoices, making this a one-stop-shop to monitor your workflow and get paid.
Tracking time is a great idea whether you're charging an hourly rate or a flat, monthly fee. Many people track hours to continue to monitor their time, ensure they're working efficiently, gauge how long certain tasks take. You don't even need to use my go-to tool, Harvest. There are many alternatives on the web and all do a great job of tracking time.
Last but not least, if you are tracking time regularly, consider analyzing your own habits. Are you working as efficiently as you can be? Do certain tasks take you longer to do than others?
Even though I personally charge my clients flat fees, I still track certain tasks so I can better understand how long a certain task takes me. That's how I know that lead generation tends to take me several hours to complete, versus expense tracking, which I can in 10 minutes or less. Knowing how long tasks take in turn helps me to give better estimates to my clients, and plan my workday better.
Wave is one of the easiest money applications and accounting tools to use. It's designed for small businesses and freelancers, like you and me, and is 100% free.
You can also connect your bank account to Wave, which will automatically import and match your banking transactions with your recorded income and expenses. There's an option to manually upload a bank statement into the application or add manual transactions, which is a nice feature if you're not comfortable connecting your bank or credit card information.
You can also download custom reports at the end of the year (or before tax season in the United States). Having hard and fast figures at your fingertips definitely helps make paying your quarterly taxes easier and fast.
PayPal is convenient – all your payment and bank information is stored on your account so money from clients can be easily transferred to your bank account for free. Your financial details and transactions are also encrypted and monitored to help prevent fraud and identity theft.
One of the most popular productivity apps on iOS. Access multiple inboxes from one place, snooze messages, detect and block read receipts, get real-time travel alerts and so much more.
Email signatures are the perfect way to automatically include your contact details at the bottom of every email. Bonus: it's also a great way to advertise your services via email, with little effort.
First up is Hubspot. It's the perfect tool for freelancers who want to include details like their headshot, social media links, and website in their email signature!
Next is Mail Signatures, which works across a handful of different email servers (like Gmail, Outlook, and Thunderbird).
This YT video includes 4 (and a few tools) to find ANY email address. Hunting down emails is often one of the most sought after VA skills. Enjoy!
Method 1: Check their website!
Method 2: Google it!
Method 3: Hunter.io
Method 4: Email Permutator
A simple but powerful tool to manage your clients’ calendars. Create, edit, and manage events on your client’s behalf. Check out our course on Udemy for tips to manage client calendars like a rock star!
Doodle is a meeting tool that helps you find a time that works for everyone in your group without and endless back and forth. The core feature Doodle offers is the ability to create a meeting poll.
You select a set of dates and times for the meeting, send them to the meeting participants, and let them vote for the times that work best.
The benefit of using Doodle versus email is that all the manual coordination involved in figuring out everyone’s availability is done on a single webpage instead of a long email thread.
2020 Update: Doodle is trying to move away from free plans. You can still use the tool (with limited usage) for free by looking for the red "create a Doodle poll" button in the upper lefthand corner of the homepage. For more advanced features, plans start at $4.50 USD per month.
While I still love this tool (which is designed to help you schedule group meetings with ease), I also advocate for keeping overhead low. If you're interested in trying Doodle, I recommend using their free trial for a limited time.
If you are a scheduling maven and find the tool to be useful, you may want to invest!
WTB is a simple, convenient world clock and time zone converter. This tool is my go-to when booking calls between international parties. The best part about it is that its visual, taking the guesswork out of world time zones.
It's a smart idea to have your own automated meeting scheduling tool. You might be familiar with tools like Calendly and Acuity, but today we're talking about a new (as of November 2021) tool that's completely blown me away.
Meet Zcal, the more "personal" online meeting scheduler. In this video, we'll create an account together and discuss the elements that make this tool so ideal for your VA business.
Google Voice isn't a super sleek tool, but it serves an important purpose. It allows you to set up a separate U.S. phone number for work purposes.
Sometimes, you might be tasked with something that allows you to provide a phone number. For example, let's say a client asks you to get quotes from car insurance companies. You know that if you leave your actual mobile number, you'll be inundated with calls from insurance agents that you don't really need.
That's where Google Voice comes in. You can give out your free GV number and when it rings, you'll know that it's not someone in you personal network.
You can also make international calls from GV at a steeply discounted rate (most international rates are $0.02 per minute). If you're ever tasked with calling someone internationally and your phone plan wants to charge you an arm and a leg for that call, GV will be your saving grace.
Zoom is one of best conference meeting software available. By now, you're probably familiar with the platform, but my hope is that this video hits some highlights.
One of best features of Zoom is that it works great with low internet bandwidth (which is ideal for people that have long distance clients or live in an area with spotty connectivity). It has a great screen share feature, and if the organizer ever loses internet connection, an attendee can become the organizer. Phew!
Check out these hidden features (that most people still aren't using). They include screen sharing details, how to "pause" or "freeze" your screen so that attendees can't see what you're doing behind the scenes, and even a stamp feature.
Globafy is yet another tool that doesn't look splashy, but packs a punch. It's the world’s largest free conference call service with no registration required.
I.E, this is the perfect dial-in tool for clients who don't want to use Zoom, or sign up for a free conference call account through something like Free Conference Call (dot com).
Canva, yes that graphic design website everyone uses, is also capable of posting your designs right to your social media accounts.
In order to schedule posts, you'll need a Pro plan, which runs $199/year (or $10/month). While I usually don't advocate for paid tools, this is one that I use again and again and again.
Note, the FREE edition comes with TONS of perks, too.
You may have heard of Later before, it's popular among the Instagram crowd. While Later started predominantly as an Instagram scheduling tool and layout planner, it's become so much more robust.
I've been using Later so much over the last several months that it's replaced my usage of my old trusty platform, Hootsuite.
In this quick video, we'll cover how the Later dashboard works, how to link social media accounts, and how to schedule up to 30 free posts per month.
If Canva isn't your jam, there is a free alternative. Crello is also a simple drag and drop graphic design tool.
Where I think Crello really excels, however, are their templates for animated posts that play like videos (but are better quality than gifs).
Mailchimp is one of the world’s leading email marketing platforms.
For a new Virtual Assistant, MailChimp would be a great starting point to jump into the world of email marketing campaigns. Simply put, MailChimp allows you to create newsletters and share them with your subscribers via email.
Custom templates can be created and saved, avoiding the need to rewrite emails again and again. MailChimp also tracks results to email campaigns, allowing you to make well informed changes to the layout of your newsletter as needed.
You might be asking yourself, "why would I want an email list?" You can use an email list for a number of things, it really depends what your goals are.
? You can create a list of other VAs like yourself and use it to share work opportunities (or ask if anyone has any client referrals).
? Your email list can also be a client waitlist. If you're currently fully booked up but are still getting inquiries from people who want to work with you, pop them into a list. When a spot opens up on your roster, let them know!
Let's compare Mailchimp with a more simple interface called MailerLite. We'll decide who "wins" the competition based on a number of categories.
CRM / Spreadsheets
Airtable is an awesome cloud-based (free) tool that's like a spreadsheet and CRM all mashed into one! In this lecture, we'll go over how to create an account, create a spreadsheet from scratch, and a few key differences between Airtable and its competitors.
Project Management Tools
Now that you've read up on Ora, let's take a look at the interface, including how to create an account and make the most of your tasks.
Simple extension that reminds you to take a break at predetermined intervals. Grab some water, stretch and relax your eyes!
Disconnect and turn your brain off each night with a short but effective guided meditation (English).
New Client Information Capture
If you're not keen on using the Indy platform to also onboard clients, Typeform might be a good alternative for you!
Typeform specializes in online form building and online surveys. Its main software creates dynamic forms based on your needs. Their software has been used by Apple Inc., Airbnb, Uber and Nike, inc. It's a creative and free way to capture details as a freelancer, too!
BONUS: Client Onboarding Spreadsheet
Download your client spreadsheet! This is where I keep all my notes on my clients. From work and travel preferences to important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, you'll never need to ask your clients for their personal info again!
SNEAK PEEK: Must-Have Skills for Virtual Assistant
My latest course (2021) delves into skills training for new and beginner VAs. We'll cover training on the most frequently requested tasks (including but not limited to inbox management, expense reporting, research, lead generation, calendar management, and online purchases).
Take a look at one of the lessons, where we delve into presenting informational research!