It takes more than hard work, know-how, and experience to become an incredible virtual assistant. The best VAs also use the top tools in the industry to boost their work to the next level! It’s 2018 and we have dozens of options at our disposal. Unfortunately, that also means that if you ask 10 VAs what their favorite tools are, you’ll get a hundred different answers.
I’ll have another post later listing many more options to help you launch your VA business or tackle tasks for your work-from-home career. For now, let’s start with the top ten MUST HAVE tools you need to get started.
Most of the following are completely free or have a limited free package.
Dropbox is a free download which allows your client to easily share folders with you on a large scale. The best part? It’s all in the cloud. If your hardware malfunctions, your computer dies somewhere on the road, or your home office goes up in flames (worst case scenario), the files will survive. Easy access from any computer you have access to, anywhere in the world! Just log in and go.
My go-to tool for scheduling social media posts for multiple clients. Set up an auto-posting schedule, then upload your beautiful images and messages to send. I sit down once every few days to refill the lineup, which then posts without further intervention. Easy peasy!
Buffer posts automatically to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. The free version only allows you to pick three of these.
I use Buffer for Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin, but prefer to use Tailwind for Instagram and Pinterest. For me, this is a layout decision. I don’t find it more convenient to have all five platforms visible within one tool, especially since the marketing strategies for Instagram and Pinterest are so different. I also prefer Tailwind’s layout for seeing my post lineup, editing captions, and setting my schedule. Tailwind has a super handy hashtag tool that recommends the best hashtags. Create a “hashtag list” for a specific project and instantly attach up to 30 hashtags onto a post with the click of a button!
Asana is a phenomenal tool for team management. For clients with large projects and a full team, I use Asana to make sure we’re all on the same page. This tool lets you track projects from start to finish, keep up with deadlines, communicate about new developments, and share files. As a virtual assistant, the free version is adequate for most projects. Big clients may provide access to the paid version.
Wave is an accounting tool which allows you to track your expenses, send invoices, and record your monthly/annual income. It’s great for watching your business progress. The paid version allows you to have a “Payroll,” recording payments to your employees. Wave works in conjunction with Stripe, a payment alternative to Paypal which accepts credit/debit payments and transfers in over 100 countries. The one downside to Wave is that it can come off as too complicated and too much information for a small-scale personal business.
For small-scale purposes, Paypal is the standard. It’s easy to use, it’s well-known, it has a great customer support service, and all of your clients are likely to have an account already. I use Paypal whenever possible, but I track all of my business expenses and monthly income per client elsewhere. Set yourself up with a business account. The one downside to Paypal is that they can withhold payments for over a month at a time. This is most likely to happen early on, but as you gain credibility, money will become instantly available.
This goes without saying, but you can’t start a virtual business without Skype! You’re going to need a free solution to international calls. Trust me, the phone bill will add up fast without it. Skype, like Paypal, is well-known, free, and easy to use. Meet your clients and partners face to face and hold professional meetings online using this tool.
Canva is a go-to tool for every virtual assistant I know, including myself! Sure, it’s not the fanciest design tool out there, and it won’t make the cut if you’re selling real graphic design work. But if you need to put together gorgeous social media images, promotional posters, welcome packages, etc. this is the tool for you. The free version is perfect for most tasks, it’s fairly intuitive, and it’s been tried and tested by thousands of virtual assistants.
I’ve found that Pixabay is surprisingly unheard of among the virtual assistant crowd, but it’s fantastic! Most of the images I use on VA Without Borders are Pixabay images. That should speak to how much I love this tool. ;) Pixabay provides absolutely gorgeous, high quality images at high file sizes. They are free to download and can be used for commercial purposes without attribution. Just leave the photographer a “like” and a tip for coffee when you feel like it.
If you’re not doing great SEO on all of your work, it’s definitely time to up your game. KWFinder is a keyword tool that helps you find the best long tail keywords for your project. I use it almost daily. It shows the SEO difficulty of each keyword and provides hundreds of suggestions, showcasing monthly search volume, trend, and more. Here’s a great YouTube tutorial on how to use KWFinder.
Whether you’re just getting started or are a small-business pro, these tools can help give your work a new edge! Enjoy, and let me know what you would add to the list.