30 Tasks to Outsource to a General Virtual Assistant to Save Time and Money

A general virtual assistant, also known as GVA basically does the same work as a Personal Assistant, Secretary and Office Administrator all in one, only difference is they deliver work online. The trend these days is to hire offshore GVAs in developing countries as the labour cost is lower yet you can still get access to quality staff and graduates.

When offshoring the role of GVA, you can either hire home-based virtual assistants or office-based virtual general assistants. Both options have their pros and cons and your eventual choice would really depend on the stage of your business and your end goal.

The role of virtual general assistants as the name implies is not a specialist role so ensure that you align your expectations accordingly. Don’t expect your GVA to suddenly transform into a content writer, SEO specialist, video and/or audio editor, web developer, designer, telemarketer, sales specialist, accountant and the like all in one. Unfortunately no such super human exists.

However, the good news is that there are a myriad of tasks that you can outsource to your virtual assistant staff to give you more freedom and save you lots of money in your business.

Below are 30 tasks that you can outsource to a general virtual assistant to save you time and money:

1.   Online Chat Management (respond to enquiries from your online chat feature on your website) 

2.   Answer support tickets (via online software such as Zendesk)

3.   Email Management/Filtering
(so you can keep your sanity with an organized inbox)

4.   Follow up with clients (send happy anniversary emails, thank you emails, happy birthday emails etc.)

5.   Calendar Management

6.   Manage and/or Filter Responses to Recruitment Advertisements (based on your criteria)

7.   Set up Autoresponders (eg. on enewsletter platforms like Mailchimp, Aweber)

8.   Set-up Social Media Accounts (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube)

9.   Manage and update Social Media Accounts

10. Book appointments with clients

11. Liaise between you and other internal/external contacts

12. Light Receptionist Duties (answer occasional calls)

13. Research (gather important content on certain topics for blog posts, newsletters or others)

14. Data Mine (gather potential leads from online sources such as yellow pages, association websites and so on based on criteria you provided and compile potential leads on an excel spreadsheet)

15. Database Management (eg. update email or contact lists on your CRM)

16. File Management (organize files using Livedrive, Dropbox)

17. Handle personal errands (hotel and/or flight bookings, purchase online gifts for loved ones / family members)

18. Record minutes of meetings

19. Create basic reports (reports on weekly tasks, sales etc.)

20. Prepare Slideshows (Powerpoint Presentations)

21. Share Slideshows on online platforms such as Slideshare

22. Transcribe (transcribe voicemail, video or audio, podcasts etc.)

23. Manage your Blog (Basic WordPress)

24. Publish posts on your Blog (content you provided)

25. Filter and reply to comments on your blog
 (according to criteria you provided)

26. Blog comments (to create more links to your website)

27. Participate in discussion forums or message (to increase your brand awareness and promote your site)

28. Upload products to your ecommerce website (basic level, no coding)

29. Organize product pricing (on excel spreadsheet with price markup formulas you provided)

30. Follow up outstanding invoices or unpaid bills


When outsourcing the above tasks to a GVA, you will need to train your virtual assistant staff according to your business policies, systems and processes including how to use certain tools and software that they might not have used before. Assumptions are the mother of all muck-ups so ensure you provide comprehensive training. You should have training manuals in place for effective training of your virtual assistant staff. It normally takes about 8-12 weeks for a virtual assistant to get familiarized with your business. Be patient and you’ll reap the benefits of having a VGA.


If you have outsourced to a GVA in a developing country, how was your experience? We would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Web Design and Development Tips

Outsourcing Web Design & Development: 5 Important Tips

Most businesses today outsource their web design and development as it makes more sense from a financial and management perspective. Here are 5 important tips to help you when outsourcing your web design and development:


1.    Define scope and schedule

The main deliverables of your web design and development project should be included in the project scope. Further a schedule or timeline breaking down the deliverables will give you a good indication on how the project should be progressing.


Ensure you communicate your expectations to your web designer and developer before the go ahead of the project to prevent scope creep. Scope creep occurs when you haven’t clearly communicated the deliverables required and so during the project these new deliverables creep in.


Scope creep creates a lot of confusion and wastes project time. So always ensure you clearly state what you require from the project and outsourced provider at the onset.


2.    Know who you’re getting in bed with

Before your outsourced web developer starts work and before payment is made, ensure that you have a contract in place stipulating the agreement terms. However, be aware who you’re entering the contract with, for example, is it an individual or a company? If it’s just an individual freelancer and not a company, you risk not being protected should something go wrong.


If you’re outsourcing the work to a company in a developing country, it is best if a legitimate foreign company in a developed country owns that outsourcing company. This is because the number of freelancers and “cowboy” operators has mushroomed in developing countries since web design and development is an extremely lucrative opportunity. There are many untrained and under qualified freelancers posing to be a company on online platforms such as Odesk and Elance.


3.    Ensure your outsourced partner shares the same vision

In order to know if your outsourced web designer shares your vision, you can view samples of previous work the outsourced web designer has done. However, it is often difficult to verify the legitimacy of this. Unfortunately, it is common especially for freelancers in developing countries to pass off work done by others as their own in order to get clients. Testimonials can also be fabricated. Furthermore, for outsourcing companies especially those that do lots of work for other local web design and development companies, they often sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with their clients restricting what they can show you.


The best option would be to put forth your vision with specific details for the design and development of the website, assess if the outsourced provider is forthcoming with ideas and request if they can do a complimentary 1 page virtual mockup design. It is rare but there are outsourced web design providers who are willing to provide you with all this without obligating you to a sale.


This way you will be able to assess if they share your vision and if they have shown so much effort even without obligating you to a sale then chances are you can trust them to do an excellent job. On your part, you should not abuse this gesture of theirs. If the sample design does not align with your vision even after further discussions, then you would have to politely move on. Just ensure you don’t use their web design sample with another provider due to copyright issues.


4.    Pay promptly according to milestones completed

Usually after signing the contract, the outsourced web designer and developer will require a 50% deposit to reserve the start date on their development schedule. After this deposit is made, other progress payments might be required. Final payment is usually required before everything is up and running on the live site. Ensure that you pay the required milestone payments promptly failing which you risk delaying your project and creating mistrust with your outsourced provider.


5.    Decide on ownership of the website

Although from your perspective you are paying a web developer to develop your site, just be aware that this does not mean you have ownership of the completed site. If your agreement with your outsourced provider does not state the ownership of the completed website, then this means there is silent ownership where the outsourced provider will own the site.


Clarify the ownership of the website and your intentions for the site with your outsourced provider before the commencement of the project.

For example, if you want a custom application created for your site that you intend to later package and resell, then you will need to communicate that to your outsourced provider as that would be significantly different to having a standard website as a source of information for your clients and prospects. Having full ownership of the website will cost more so you will have to weigh the importance of this with your budget.


Using the above tips, you will be able to outsource your web design and development for success.

Outsource Online Brand Management

4 Ways to Outsource Your Online Brand Management to Virtual Assistants

To network online, there’s a lot of WORK to be done. You can either struggle adding online brand management to your very long list of things to do as an entrepreneur or you can be smart and outsource a lot of the less fun and irrelevant parts of your online brand management to virtual assistants.


When outsourcing your brand management, know that your brand is extremely precious so always ensure that you maintain control of it. Your virtual assistants are there to do the monotonous work while the vision and direction of your brand MUST come from you.


4 Ways to Outsource Your Online Brand Management to Virtual Assistants


1. Claim and manage your online spaces (ie. a website/blog site) to build your reputation


When people meet you or first get to know you, there’s one thing for sure that they are going to do – they will Google you. To ensure that they are going to find awesome content about you rather than negative information from some anonymous person posting online about say a drunken stupor you had, ensure that you take control of your brand online by claiming the online spaces that you do have control over. These online spaces might include a domain name with your website, blog, facebook, twitter and youtube videos. You can outsource the creation and management of the domain name, website and social media profiles to your virtual assistant but direct your virtual staff on how you want your reputation to be managed.


2. Make it easy to communicate on online spaces but moderate it


Part of creating a great brand online is to be open to communicating with your audience. To do this, ensure that you allow comments on your personal blogs and social media profiles. Your virtual assistant can monitor any incoming messages and moderate them according to criteria that you set out for this.


3. Track thought leaders and build your reputation


To build your reputation, you need to consistently track the thought leaders in your field and get involved with online discussions. Your virtual assistant can research thought leaders in your field, transcribe or summarize their videos/podcasts/blogs and feed that vital information back to you in an easy digestible and timesaving format. You can also get your virtual assistant to research the thought leaders’ forum questions and discussions so that you can engage with them and their audience through your own comments and answers. The more you engage on the online platforms of thought leaders, the more credible you will seem to others.


4. Invite people and communicate with your peers on your online platforms


In order to foster business and personal relationships, you will need to consistently invite people and communicate with your peers on your online platforms. Other than adding your existing personal and business contacts to your online social networks, your virtual assistant can also research targeted connections and invite them to your social networks such as linkedin. You will need to ensure that you communicate with your online peers. You can guide your virtual assistant on how to answer certain posts or messages, however, always get your virtual assistant to send the reply message to you for editing and tweaking BEFORE your reply is posted.


In order to get the best out of outsourcing your brand management, always collaborate with a reliable outsourcing company with a local presence that can be held accountable.  Outsourcing your brand directly offshore, for example, to a home- based worker offshore would be an extremely perilous thing to do when your brand is at stake.