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Welcome to our Work at Home Virtual Assistant Newsletter.

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We hope you enjoy this newsletter and we wish you much success with your Virtual Assistant business.
Working Virtually with Clients
by Kathy Colaiacovo 

As a Virtual Assistant, working remotely, or virtually, is going to be how you do the majority of your work for clients. Whether local or global clients; in most cases your business model will not account for onsite visits.


Onsite assistance will require travel time and this will take away from the hours you have available for billable work. Yes, you can bill for travel, but the most efficient way to work as a virtual assistant is by doing everything as virtual as possible.


Once you have made the decision to allow for onsite work or not, then you need to prepare yourself for dealing with people that WILL want you to meet in person for consults, and even work. My business model is purely virtual, and really no exceptions. Because of this my consult policy is also virtual, no exceptions.


This may seem harsh but the reality is that if I can work successfully with people all over the United States and Canada from my home office in Nova Scotia, then I can do the same for local clients.


The other reality is; if you cannot do a consult virtually, chances are you will be less comfortable working virtually as well. (Call this a lesson learned early on in my VA business)

I do like to meet clients in person whenever I can, but prefer to save this for after we have started working together in order to ensure the 'virtual' part of our relationship is well defined.


So, now you wonder? How do you do all this work for clients virtually?


A big aspect of the success to working virtually with others is to use many online tools and programs that allow you to do things faster and more efficiently online as well as sharing access to programs. Here is a list of several I use regularly, many of which are free.

Have the client set you up with an email address for their company and then setup additional account in your email program.  This allows for you to send and receive emails under an email address for your client's business which makes it appear as if you are a direct part of the firm.


For instant messaging there is nothing better than Skype.  It allows for online chats (group chats) as well as computer-to-computer calls - at no cost.
Ring Central allows you to have a line for voice mail through the client's system.


Webinars or Webconferences are much different than phone conferences.  They allow for the speaker to show a presentation, speak to the audience and even participate via live chat.  The audience can also speak to ask questions if they have a mic. Some also allow for people to call in via phone or dial in via web.  These are fee based services. Very interactive and great for training sessions.



Smartsheet and Basecamp are two I use regularly. With both you can assign users and access.  Then you can assign work and include files with extra info and receive notices of updates/completion. It allows many members within one team to keep track of all the work/tasks happening without repeating and sending separate emails to everyone.


If you have large files to send via email, a better way is to use a file sharing program that allows you to drop the file in a password protected online area and have the recipient go there and pick it up.  Saves with bounced files.
You can also 'zip' up a file to make it small enough to email. 
Google also has Google Docs, which are fabulous for collaborating on word docs or spreadsheets. Google Docs is the most common, though I prefer smartsheet. It allows both parties to update and edit a document and saves it in one place.  NO errors in versions.

Smartsheet also allows you to give a person access to only certain rows of the sheet and you can set reminders, and emails tasks or comments directly through the smartsheet. A big timesaver. As well as long as you have 'shared' a sheet with someone, both parties can view and edit the sheet at the same time.
People needing to keep track of hours either for billing clients or just to know and understand how much time a task takes you to complete.  There are a few options.  I prefer My Hours as I can export my reports to excel and save them for a backup, or email them directly to clients. Time Stamp is another I have used though it is not as easy to read/follow with regards to reporting.


Access to other computers.  Working virtually sometimes entails using your clients computer.  It does work better when they have a network and more than one.  These allow for you to sign in directly to another computer and use it as if you were there.  The only thing you cannot do is hit print and have it print in your location (some pro paid accounts have this option).  It prints wherever you are remotely.

Keeps many parties in the loop on appointment and allow for others to book appointments for you. Google Calendar is top notch.
Paid systems available that have options such as letting clients choose times form specific open areas of calendar and more.

Google has such a variety of applications it is almost hard to find time to learn and use them. My favourites are:

Gmail - web-based email which is where I send 'junk and signup type emails'. But when out of office you can also forward your outlook email or other accounts here to ensure nothing gets missed. Can also import up to 5 other email addresses and then use this email system as your main one.  I use GMAIL as my main email because when travelling it allows you to access anywhere and also syncs up nicely with my android cellphone.

Analytics - Even top SEO and Web people use Google's free analytics to learn more about their website traffic, stats and habits of visitors.

Reader - The reader allows you to add blogs here so that when you check it any new posts to blogs you subscribe to can be viewed in one easy place and not via several emails from many feeds.

Docs - See above.

Calendar - See above.

Alerts - These are great for online reputation management of you or others.
Kathy Colaiacovo, is a Virtual Assistant whose firm specializes in Social Media Services but they also assist clients with many other business support needs; websites and maintenance, blogs, newsletters, eZines to name a few. Clients value this support in order to create the time needed to grow their own business. Kathy invites you to learn more about working with a Virtual Assistant by signing up for her monthly eNewsletter, you will also receive a complimentary copy of her Productivity Guide for Entrepreneurs .
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