virtual assistant

What Is A Virtual Assistant and What Do They Do?

Jump to:

  1. What is a virtual assistant?
  2. What do virtual assistants do?
  3. How much do virtual assistants cost?
  4. Industries that virtual assistants work in
  5. Benefits of virtual assistants
  6. How to find a virtual assistant
  7. Virtual assistants can help scale your business
  8. FAQ

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant often referred to as a VA, is a career-oriented professional with proven industry and educational experience. They work remotely on any task that doesn’t require an in-office presence. 

What do virtual assistants do? 

While it’s certainly easier to just say “anything that can be done remotely”, we’ve seen businesses leverage virtual assistants in several ways. Other than specific niche activities such as video editing for content creators, we see our companies typically fill a few key positions with remote talent. Below are just a few examples of the most common roles a virtual assistant can fill.

General Administration

They can handle a wide variety of “busy work” tasks local experts often prefer not to juggle with their more specific, higher-end responsibilities. For example; filing paperwork, inputting data, managing inboxes, coordinating meetings, etc.


The world of advertising and social media management benefits greatly from a virtual assistant because they can often do it from anywhere. As well as during the hours your local staff is often not present. They can handle things like responding to comments and messages, posting scheduled content, and tracking and reporting analytics. 

Sales Assistant

A virtual assistant can be great for sales support as an inside sales agent. From phone prospecting tasks like warm and cold calling, lead screening, client follow-up, and lead nurturing too. As well as analytic tracking and reporting.

Real Estate ISA

Much like with sales, a virtual assistant can benefit real estate brokerages and agents as a remote ISA. Tasks like lead generation and nurturing, data input, document review, and even coordinating and scheduling appointments can all be done remotely. All while brokers are serving their clients up close and personal.

Service and Support

Many of the above areas of expertise can be combined into general service and support with a virtual assistant. With excellent English speaking skills and fierce loyalty, a virtual assistant is great for the frontlines of your business, facing customers. They can respond to inquiries, provide tech support, schedule appointments, route calls, and messages, and so much more.

How much do virtual assistants cost?

Pricing will always vary by region, for any professional. The average cost to employ a local assistant full-time in California is $21 an hour, or $59k per year after other fees are taken into account. Such as insurance, benefits, and PTO. A virtual assistant with the same level of experience and skills is on average $1,988 per month or $24k per year. That’s including insurance, benefits, and PTO because here at MyOutDesk we handle all of that for the assistant ourselves. Our customers only pay one flat monthly rate. That’s roughly $34k in savings, for the same kind of reliable, experienced professional. 

What industries do virtual assistants work in?

Below are just three examples of industries that commonly leverage virtual assistants for a variety of roles. 

Law firms, administrative tasks

A big part of working in law is all of the paperwork. Reviewing, entering, filing, and organizing paperwork can quickly drain an educated law professional. A lot of firms outsource this kind of role to a remote working virtual assistant, so as to lighten the load for their local experts. Allowing them to focus on client relationships.

Digital Marketing, social media management

Today more than ever, social media plays a crucial role in just about any business advertising effort. Hiring a virtual assistant to stay on top of your various social media accounts and applications can be invaluable. Your local staff can focus on their specific job duties while a virtual assistant handles everything from article selection and copy review, photo curation, market analysis, and even community management. 

Real estate, increased focus on customer service

Successful real estate professionals understand the importance of delegation. A good agent/broker should focus on the client relationship, and provide high-quality customer service which can’t be found elsewhere. By delegating tasks to a virtual assistant, they can do just that without being stretched thin. This can include, again, social media management, lead filtering, email writing, ad posting, and so on. 

What are the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant?

Support your non-virtual employees

Decrease the workload for your local talent, freeing them up to focus on higher-value, dollar-producing tasks they are more accustomed to. Keep your local experts happy and supported, and reduce burnout.

Save a lot of money

Save up to 70% on typical employee costs, by spending less on wages, benefits and insurance, PTO, and office overhead. The quality of work and efficiency remains the same if not improved, and you pay less to achieve it.

Have more time for yourself

Buy back your time with a virtual assistant, by delegating anything that can be done remotely. Freeing yourself up to focus on whatever you want to do. Be that growing your business or having more time with your family.

How can I find a great virtual assistant?

Virtual Assistant Provider Services

There are many virtual assistant providers available. MyOutDesk is the largest virtual assistant provider in the world, serving over 7,500 clients. Including several Fortune 500 companies, for over 15 years. Combine that with over 800 verified 5-star reviews, and it’s clear why growing businesses of any size come to MyOutDesk for support in a variety of industries. MyOutDesk also goes beyond what typical virtual assistant services offer, by offering extensive background checks and interview processes for all hired assistants. As well as guaranteed full-time availability, flexible hours, and even proprietary tracking software for managing your assistant.

Talent networks and communities

Fiver is a popular service for finding contract-based virtual assistants, typically for one-off projects. If you need something short-term, or just one assignment, Fiver is often a decent solution for hiring off the cuff. Due to the professionals there all being individual contributors, there are inherent risks and uncertainties to be aware of before hiring. It is very much a “get what you pay for” business model.

Individual Job postings

There are more people now than ever, seeking work they can do from home. Providing virtual assistant services is an easy way for them to secure that opportunity. But again, it comes with risks and uncertainties. Local freelancers have no company to vouch for them or hold them accountable. By hiring someone this way you put your work and your business at their mercy.

Virtual assistants can help scale your business

In short; hiring a virtual assistant(or two, or three) can be extremely beneficial for any business trying to grow as efficiently and effectively as possible. In the past, outsourcing roles and jobs seemed reserved only for large businesses, or it seemed outright frowned upon. Nowadays, it’s suitable and affordable for businesses small, medium, or large. And it’s become increasingly accepted as a desirable business model, especially with the growing acceptance of hybrid business models allowing professionals to work from home. Why spend more to hire someone in your city for any of the jobs mentioned above? When you can save up to 70% by hiring a professional who is just as experienced and capable? The only difference between the two is where they log in to work for you. They are just as reliable, loyal, and anxious to work. Save time, save money, and save the mental health of your local professionals. By leveraging the age-old practice of outsourcing specific work to proven virtual assistants. 


What skills does a virtual assistant need?

A virtual assistant should always have, at minimum, the typically expected skills of any assistant professional. Such as; good communication, proper time management, self-discipline and motivation, organization, confident typing abilities, technical know-how, and lastly, being detail-oriented. On top of the expected skills, they should also possess a reliable computer and high-speed internet, as well as a safe and quiet place to work.

How do I find a virtual assistant that specializes in my industry?

Many virtual assistant service companies state which industries they serve on their website. You can also search by experience and specific skills on services like Fiver. MyOutDesk hires virtual assistants for a variety of industries, so as to provide a wide variety of capable professionals for just about any business. Many skills and talents overlap between industries anyway, meaning a proven virtual assistant is often capable of serving a variety of industries in similar roles.

What are the risks of hiring a virtual assistant?

Hiring any professional will always come with risks. You’ll never find a hire who is a 100% safe bet with zero risks. The trick is to understand which risks and benefits are most relevant to you and the work you’re outsourcing. The main risk associated with virtual assistants is the lack of physical presence, which can lead to difficulty getting ahold of them in times of need, or not knowing what exactly they’re working on. These kinds of risks are mitigated when you have tracking applications for keeping in touch with your assistant. MyOutDesk has proprietary software that any business can customize and utilize to their liking, allowing them to monitor their assistant’s activity, location, and time-tracking.

MyOutDesk can save you up to 70% on the employment cost
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