Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants Part II

My community showed their appreciation for my blog post on Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants.   The buzz around that post was so much fun that I decided to create a part II and list even more software that I use and recommend for any virtual assistant.   Get to know the following programs if you don’t already.   Talk about time-savers!

 

Evernote

Evernote is a software that allows you to capture all of your ideas into once place.   You can save things from the internet and from the real world.   Snap a picture of a something you see on the street and upload it to your Evernote so that you can use that photo elsewhere (like a blog post!).  Have an idea and you need to record it immediately so you don’t forget it?   Use Evernote to record your voice and upload it to listen to at a later time.  Have a website that you love and want to remember?  With the use of Evernote’s web clipper you can easily save the entire web page (text, photos and links) to your Evernote account.   There’s even a collaboration tool built-in.   The possibilities are endless.

evernote

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prezi

Prezi is the shizzle people!   Prezi takes presentation creation to the next level.  Think whiteboard meets presentation.  You are able to zoom into your slides for effect and create a more visually captivating presentation that is sure to fascinate your viewers.  It’s no wonder that the founder of Ted Conferences invested in this company.   If you haven’t heard of Ted Conferences, time you got on that bandwagon.

Audacity

One of my readers (Karen Brockman) suggested this software.   Audacity is an open source software that allows you to record and edit audio.   This is important because in today’s world of online business a lot of entrepreneurs are selling their expertise online in the form of podcasts.   It’s often our job as virtual assistants to assist with the recording and then edit it for packaging to be sold on our clients websites.

Gimp

What is Gimp?  Think Photoshop but a free version.   Now I happen to have Photoshop because I have a background in graphic design but not every virtual assistant has the money to invest in such an expensive program.   Enter Gimp.   Gimp is a free image manipulation program that allows you to retouch images.  There is a ton of things you can do with this program such as color correction, fixing red-eye, extract your subject and put them on a new background.   The list goes on.  More good news, Gimp handles most file extensions so even if someone is sending you a file created in Photoshop, Gimp can handle the file format.

Freshbooks

I have been using Freshbooks since 2008 and I swear by it.   Freshbooks in an all in one invoice, accounting and time tracking software.   Freshbooks offers a free service to manage 1 client and anything over 1 clients will cost you $19.95/month.   What I love about Freshbooks is that I can integrate PayPal into my invoices so my clients just need to click on the “Pay Now” button and voila, the transaction is complete.   I also love Freshbooks timer.   When I begin working on a clients project I just start my work timer and when I am doing I log the time into my timesheet.   I am able to log my time down to the second.    Each week I export my timesheet data to my clients in an excel spreadsheet that Freshbooks put together so my clients have complete visibility into how much time I’ve worked on their projects.  If the cost for Freshbooks is a stretch check out Harvest.

Open Office

OpenOffice is an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office and similar software suites. It’s absolutely free to download, and it contains programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics databases and more.

 

Do you have any more software tools to add to the list?

Thanks for reading and please do leave a comment below, I love hearing from each and every one of you.

With my respect,

Reese

67 Responses to Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants Part II

  1. Theresa says:

    Hi Reese,

    I just have a question about a few other tools I am considering buying to start my business.

    Do you think it makes sense to purchase Microsoft Office Suite? Currently I have use of it through my 9-5 but at home I have been using Google Docs. Is this sufficient?

    What about antivirus software? I use McAffee Total Protection, is this enough?

    Thank you so much for all of your advice. It truly helps.

    -Theresa

    • Reese says:

      I barely use Microsoft Office Suite and definitely use Google Documents so I’d say give it a shot without and see how that works. You could always use an Open Source program for a Word alternative. I can’t advise you on antivirus, sorry!

  2. Amanda says:

    BaseCamp!!! Basecamp is a life saver for me! Take Google Docs, Calendar, Messenger, and DropBox and put them into one software…TADA! BaseCamp. And it does SO much more. I require it for all my clients, nothing gets missed, it replaces the 50000 emails, discussions can be specific to one topic so you don’t get confused with information, you can “block” things the client sees that your team is working on…it’s completely irreplaceable.

    Zoom is like Skype, Hangouts, Quicktime, screen share, and recorded transcripts all in one. You can have a free account until you need to upgrade and still get all the features.

    HighRise. The most detailed, intuitive and amazing Client Management System I’ve ever seen. It’s made by the same developers of BaseCamp…so I’m not surprised by the capabilities.

    For hosting and domain iPage hands down. They are the Apple Product of the hosting world…and make GoDaddy look like the Microsoft. They are easier to navigate, cheaper (unlimited free emails for each domain, for example), better customer service, and they are ranked in the top ten amongst web developers.

  3. Nats says:

    Hi Guys,

    Awesome, AWESOME group here. Such valuable information – thanks everyone. I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the screen/computer sharing aspect. Can anyone elaborate on what’s best out there and value for $, ease of use (I’m NOT uber techy AT ALL). I’ve heard of logmein, join.me and teamviewer, but am open to this fantastic group’s guidance! Thanks a million.

    • Reese says:

      Thanks, Natalie!!! Try Jing as well. As for additional options for screen sharing you can use Google Hangouts. Also have you heard of Jing? Not a screen sharing option but GREAT for screen shots and quick screen recordings that are great for quick tutorials. XO

  4. Martina says:

    I love Asana for task management. It connects with Google Drive and Harvest now….

  5. This is a great post! Thank you Reese!

  6. Jan says:

    Great resources! However, I was looking at the FreshBooks site and their pricing structure, and they’re saying the service is free for managing up to ONE client. This is great if you’re just doing it for yourself though. I’m noticing from the dates on the replies here that the last comment was almost a year ago. Perhaps there structure has changed since then…? I’m going to look into it for managing my own stuff for now.

    • Reese says:

      Jan, you are right. It looks like Freshbooks has changed their policy and now only allows for one client with their free plan. That’s a bummer! A great alternative is Harvest. Check them out.

    • Reese says:

      Jan, thank you for catching that. You’re right, Freshbooks now only allows 1 client on their free plan. What a bummer! I know Harvest is a great alternative so check them out as well.

  7. […] Some time ago I published one of my most popular blog posts Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants.  It was such a hit that I decided to publish Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants Part II. […]

  8. Osholene says:

    Thank you very much Reese. Your information is very helpful especially for newbies like me.

  9. Lon Phillips says:

    Another great program is IQTell. You can sync all your calendars and email addresses and Evernote is part of the program. It.s an excellent productivity tool!

    One of the people in an Evernote group I’m a part of said that Astrid will cease to be after the middle of August. BUMMER!

  10. Rehana Ismail says:

    Wow, Thank you so much Reese. Your information and tips are invaluable to me.
    God bless.

    Warm regards,

  11. Carolyn says:

    Reese,
    This was a great post ! Thanks for the two parter.
    I am enjoying your posts.
    The comments were all so helpful- I wrote a list if over 40 web based/ apps for VA to use . Fantastic!! Thanks for sharing everyone!

  12. I ended up ditching FRESHBOOKS – I used them for years, but did not like the feature bloat. It really got cluttered with with tons of stuff that I never used and it all got in the way. Works great for many people and you should try it, but if you only have a few clients – try using PayPal invoice system. Very nice.

    If you only need to kick out an invoice now and then take a look at this:
    http://billable.me/

    (you can edit out the VAT line)

  13. GIMP is cool, but I found paint.net way easier.
    No – – it’s NOT web based but the name of it does imply that.

    If you use GIMP – try this .. you may find it easier to use. (free)

    http://www.getpaint.net/

    (no connection with them at all, just a happy user)

  14. One thing I did not about Evernotes is that if you ever want to delete your account, it’s difficult. You have to erase one “notebook” at a time and then do the same thing in the trash area. Plus you can only disable your account – you cannot delete it. After 6 emails with their tech support – I was finally able to get it deleted. I started using OneNote and loved it – so I deleted Evernotes and did not want client info sitting there unused – so I wanted it purged. OneNote is really nice and data can be shared between computers and hand help devices.

  15. Sharon says:

    Reese,

    I am so thrilled to have found you and this list of resources! I’ve been exploring some of the options, but am having difficulty finding an all inclusive program. I am looking for one that integrates email & contact management, client relationship management, project & task management with Gantt chart, time tracking, billing and accounting. I have three personal clients that are long-term and I am not managing other VA’s, and don’t intend to. I looked at Feng and it provides many of the components I am looking for at a fairly reasonable rate. But I just don’t want to sign on the dotted line until I review all possible options. Do you know of any other options?

    Thanks for all you do! Your website and blogs have been a lifesaver! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reese says:

      Sharon, perhaps someone can chime in and help you with this question. What comes to mind (although I haven’t done the research for you yet) are programs like BaseCamp, Wrike, ZoHo, and then there is a new program for virtual assistants called Digital Sorbet. I use BaseCamp and Freshbooks to manage my clients.

      • Sharon says:

        Reese,
        Thanks for the info on Digital Sorbet! LOVE IT! Looked into BaseCamp, Wrike, AceProject and Feng, but they were too complicated for this stage of my business. I cannot thank you enough!

  16. Jim S says:

    Thank your for your very useful and well-written posts, this one especially. I use Hootsuite to manage social media and RSS feeds – it’s definitely something to check out.

    I’m just beginning to explore the idea of the VA business. I have 15 years of C-level experience and the thought of not having someone around signing my paychecks is both exciting and anxiety-producing!

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

  17. Ann-Marie says:

    Great post Reese! Thanks to you and everyone else for your suggestions. I look forward to trying them out. You can never know too much!

  18. Jessie D says:

    Thanks for all the info ladies 🙂 I agree it would be good to have a “3,4,5….” for these freebie postings 😉

  19. Lorena says:

    This is just great! Thanks for the information.

  20. ShannonP says:

    I recently discovered a program called Paymo that has a time tracker on it and allows you to assign tasks and update project status either from an app on your desktop/smartphone, or from the web. I have been using it for a few days and I really like it. There is a free version to get started and then some paid versions to have some more robust features and more users (like if you are assigning projects to a team). My favorite part is the simple start/stop timer to keep track of how long you are working on a particular project and can bill accordingly if it is an hourly project.

    I also use Join.me with one of my clients. It is a screen sharing program as Anna said, but you can also let someone access your computer with just a click — and if there are more than just the two of you sharing the screen, you can choose WHO gets to have access to your computer. A program I have used a time or two with another client is Team Viewer 7, which allows remote access to your computer. I haven’t used LogMeIn yet as I have only so far used what my clients were already familiar and comfortable with.

  21. Nicola Jacobs says:

    Hi Reese and Anna, thank you so much for the information. I am seriously considering becomming a VA, I will by honest, here in New Zealand I have never heard of a VA or of companies using VA’s, but definitely willing to try.

    • Reese says:

      Hi Nicola, This is the perfect time to jump into the VA industry. There are a few VAs in my community from New Zealand by the way so you’re not alone. There IS a market for VA services in New Zealand.

  22. Anna says:

    Brilliant post, Reese! Talking tech is one of my favourite parts about being a VA. I have tried almost every type of software or online program out there in my time. My overall aim is always to find the best product for the best price. My list:

    ~ I used to use Freshbooks and recently moved to Wave Accounting for my bookkeeping AND invoicing. No time tracking and no PayPal integration, but completely free.
    ~ I track time using an app called “Timesheet” on my Android. Free.
    ~ For awesome videos — PowToon (which I highly recommend everyone checks out!). Free option available. Animoto is not too bad if you want a quick vid. Free.
    ~ For grammar and spellcheck both online and offline — Ginger. Chrome app for online and you can also download it to use in any type of document. Free. (Ginger + PowToon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti82_0RfRJ8)
    ~ For graphic design — Inkscape. Awesome and free!
    ~ For file conversions — Zamzar. Freaking awesome I tell you. Far better than any other out there. Free!
    ~ Online storage — DropBox all the way. Free.
    ~ Screen sharing, video calls, and chat — Join.me, Oovoo, or Skype. All free.
    ~ For screen recording — either CamStudio or Debut Video Capture. Both free.
    ~ To download videos from anywhere on the Internet (including YouTube) — YouTube Downloader or RealPlayer Downloader. Both free.
    ~ For audio playback (for transcription) — can’t go past Express Scribe. Free.
    ~ For social media maintenance and scheduling — Hootsuite, Buffer, or Tweetdeck. All have free options.
    ~ Email campaigns — love MailChimp! Free.
    ~ Task management — Podio (does a whole lot more as well), TeamworkPM, or Astrid. Have also used Todo.ly which isn’t too bad. Free, free, free, and free (I think I may be a Scrooge!).

    I’m sure I use more, but they’re the main ones I think. I think the only software I’ve actually paid for is Microsoft Office Suite and Box Shot 3D. I can create brilliant book covers in Inkscape and turn them into 3D books, CD sets, etc. quickly and easily with Box Shot 3D. Handy tool.

    I also think I should probably stop typing before I think of more! Hope that gives some people some more ideas. The possibilities are endless really! And as small business owners or soloists, saving a few bucks without compromising quality is always optimal. I hadn’t heard of Prezi thogh so I’ll definitely have to go check it out. Thanks for the list, Reese! You may need to do a Part 3, 4, 5 . . . 🙂

  23. […] subject titled Must Have Software For Virtual Assistants.   There is a part II of that blog post here.  You’ll find a TON of information about what software you need to learn and […]

  24. Daniel says:

    I think it is very important for virtual assistants to have a tool where their employers can see what they are working on since they are not there most of the time to check it out. We actually have been using Time Doctor (http://www.timedoctor.com) which is a time tracking software that lets employers manage their remote team effectively.

  25. Tina says:

    Hi Reese,
    You have so many great tips here. I am wondering, how or what product do you use to keep your clients information safe? I currently have McAfee Total Protection. However I wonder sometimes if it really does the trick.
    Any suggestions?

    Thank you
    Have a great day

  26. Tina Vos says:

    Hi Reese,
    I am very new to the world of VA and building my collection of tools to provide great services. I am grateful to you for sharing your expertise.
    Thanks again
    Have a great day
    Tina

  27. Inkscape – to avoid loss of resolution when resizing, up or down.
    ColorMania – colour picker and colour schene generator

  28. Anthony says:

    Hi Reese, thanks for sharing these tools! I love Audacity and Gimp, these are my favorite tools since I do photo and musing editing. But for time tracking I love using Time Doctor, although Freshbooks is also a good pick but the major feature of Time Doctor that is not available in other software is the priority feature and the ability to know how much of the day a person is focusing on their priorities – so this makes it more useful not just for me but for freelancers as well.

  29. Lora says:

    Hi – I just signed up, this list is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!!

    I also have a background in photo editing, and LOVE picmonkey.com for free, easy and great quality photo editing. No need for advanced training. Created by the original designer of Picnik.com, which is now Picasa by Google.

    Also, for a program that’s functionality is more similar to Photoshop, but free, try pixlr.com. It’s also available as an app in the Chrome store.

    Thanks again, looking forward to trying your suggestions!

  30. Reese,

    Thanks for the great software tips. I’ve never heard of Freshbooks and Gimp. I’ll look into them. Great blog!

  31. Hi Reese, I am a new subscriber and a very new VA. I SO appreciate your blogs. They have been super helpful to me. All content is top notch so far! I used a few of these in the corporate world. I do have a lot of experience with “Audacity” and have used it to do voiceovers. It would be great to do video with the audio. Anyone have any recommendations for me? Thanks for your time and energy!

    Your fan,

    Lori

    • Reese says:

      Thank you so much for the comment and compliment, Lori! As for as recording video and audio just get a great webcam. You can literally record straight from your computer and upload it directly to YouTube. It’s become so simply to get video online these days. Once the video is on YouTube you can mark it public or private and there are a few privacy settings as well to make the content even more private. Check it out!

    • Anne Marie says:

      Vimeo is another video uploading site that allows for more flexibility than YouTube depending on your needs.

  32. John Hardy says:

    Hello, there is another program which I am trying for free called Grammarly. It is similar to spell check in Word, but more advanced. It checks grammar as well as spelling ( hence, the name, grammarly). A neat feature is selecting the type of document( general ,professional, academic and a few more). There are different levels of payment. Check them out at http://www.grammarly.com

  33. Beth says:

    Reese,

    Again thank you for sharing!

  34. I’m using everything except Gimp. For that I have SnagIt from Techsmith 🙂

    And it’s nice to know another Freshbooks fan. What are your thoughts on it becoming an levelling up as an accounting tool?

    By the way, you should definitely check out Wave Accounting (bookkeeping) and then ASANA for project management in case you haven’t.

    • Thanks for the Wave Accounting tip – checking it out right now. Looks pretty neat. Also, am definitely a fan of FreshBooks.

      Just wanted to mention as a former radio producer – if you do a lot of audio editing for clients and can afford to get your hands on professional software like Adobe Audition, it’s 100x better than Audacity. Audacity isn’t bad for free software though, despite a bit of a learning curve. (It’s been a couple years since I’ve tried it, granted. May have gotten easier!)

      Also, great blog! Thanks for the fantastic info!

    • Reese says:

      Hey Nica,
      I did see that Freshbooks has added cloud account to it’s repertoire. I haven’t checked it out yet. Post a review it you find one!

  35. Kim Hanley says:

    Hi Reese!

    For task management, I LOVE Astrid. I create a list with my client’s name as the title and then share it with them. They can then be notified immediately as a task is completed. I can also assign tasks directly to them – like – send me the file, etc. They are able to just go into their list and add things they need me to do. There’s a free version that has unlimited lists and users. The Premium version is under 5 bucks a month and has some great benefits.

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