The Tools That I Use To Run My Virtual Assistant Business

 

The Tools I Use To Run My Virtual Assistant Business

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.

I get emails nearly every week asking about the programs, apps, software, etc., I use. I’m always happy to lift the curtain to give people a peek  but, I figured instead of answering each email individually, I’ve decided to write this blog post.

So without further adieu, here is the list in no order of importance.

Email: Gmail  and Google Apps for Business

I adore Gmail – not just for the easy-to-navigate interface, but because it’s so easy to organize! You can also add fantastic apps like Boomerang to make managing your overflowing inbox a breeze and Rapportive for helping me see who I’m emailing with.

Proofreading: Grammarly

It goes without saying that virtual assistants write a lot of emails. Whether you’re writing emails to prospects or to a client, it’s crucial that you use correct grammar and punctuation. Grammarly is my go-to tool to check everything I write and I can’t live without it. No seriously, I don’t publish anything anymore without Grammarly. What I love about Grammarly is you can add their plugin to Google Chrome and it will check your writing whether you’re writing an email, a social media post or a blog post.  It literally follows you around your computer screen to where ever you’re writing to save you from making embarrassing mistakes.

 Document Sharing: Google Drive and DropBox

Google Drive (formerly known as Google Docs) is an online software suite similar to Microsoft Office.

I use it to create action plans for my clients, as well as saving all my client specific information. It’s easier than DropBox and accessible whether I’m on my desktop computer, my laptop, or someone else’s computer.  It’s pretty much vital to any virtual assistant.

DropBox is another must have document sharing software.  You can save any type of file to DropBox.  Just create an account and share folders with your clients and you have a great way to share files/folders instantly.

Merchant Services: PayPal

PayPal is the golden standard.  Your clients don’t have to have a PayPal account to pay your invoices with PayPal.  All they have to have is a valid credit card.  It’s a simple and easy way to start taking payments as a new online business, and I recommend it to everyone starting out.  

 Invoicing and Accounting: Freshbooks

Freshbooks has a ton of features.  From time tracking, invoicing, and accounting this is an all-in-one solution that I’ve been using since 2008.  I’ve researched competitors and I’ve always come back to Freshbooks.  Freshbooks is free for just one client (bummer), after that it’s $19.99 for their seedling plan.   I have to offer up an honorable mention to another invoicing and accounting tool called Harvest.  While I don’t use Harvest many virtual assistants swear by it so check both options out.

Online Conference Calls: Skype or Google Hangouts

I’ve been using Skype for as long as I can remember.  It’s super reliable and you can share your computer screen with for free during your call.  That said, Google Hangouts has been amazing and I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. What I love about Google Hangouts is you can add up to 10 people to the call at no extra cost.  Both Skype and Google Hangouts have smart phone apps so you can hold a conference call from your phone when you’re not at home.  Super helpful when you clients need to talk you when you’re not at home.

Project Managment: Asana and RedBooth

I’ve been using Asana for awhile now but I’ve also used RedBooth (formerly TeamBox) and I love them both.  Whether you have one client or several you must use a project management software to stay organized.   If you have virtual assistants that you sub-contract work to you can add them as team members to both platforms and have complete visibility as to where things stand with each project/client.

Shopping Cart Software: eJunkie

This is my number one recommendation to people starting out online who want to set up shop quickly and easily. For $5 a month e-Junkie lets you sell your digital products and programs simply by creating a new product, uploading a digital file or pointing to a page on your site for a program and naming your price.

Then you can choose from a range of payment methods like Google Checkout or PayPal and embed that code straight into your website o ensure people can `buy now’ and setup a simple affiliate program.

This is a great suggestion to clients who want to sell stuff online and want you to manage everything from the backend.  Super simple and cost effective.

Domain Name Registration: GoDaddy

I’ve been using GoDaddy since I created my first website.  I only use them to purchase my domain names.  I never use them for hosting.  See below for my web host recommedations.

Web Hosting: HostGator and BlueHost

I’ve been using HostGator for awhile now and I’ve got no complaints.  They give you a variety of plans to chose from and allow you to upgrade at any time.  I went from their Hatchling plan of $3.95 per month to their Baby Plan when my traffic increased.

BlueHost is what my clients use to run their WordPress sites and I love their customer services and ease of use.  Highly recommend!

Email Marketing: MailChimp

I’ve been using MailChimp for a few years now and I love it.  They offer a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers.

I recommend it to anyone starting out in email marketing because it’s so simple to use, and easy to navigate. You can create campaigns easily and setup autoresponders to go out automatically each time you get a new subscriber to welcome them.

Online Photo Editor: PicMonkey or Canva

Whether I need an image for a blog post I’ve just written or my client needs an photo touched up for his/her website I use PicMoney or Canva.  PicMonkey and Canva are favorite tool for entrepreneurs because they are both easy and quick, allowing you to add text and overlays to photos for blog posts. If you can’t afford Photoshop check them out.

Website Creation: WordPress.org

I love my WordPress website and I firmly stand behind this platform and encourage other virtual assistants to set up a WordPress site.   WordPress offers thousands of free themes.  Once you’ve loaded up your  theme WordPress sites are easy to update.  If you can use Microsoft Word than you can add a new page on to your WordPress site.  There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube on how to get your WordPress site online but I’d recommend checking out Lynda’s WordPress Tutorials.  They are free and have various skill levels starting from beginner to advanced WordPress training.

Once you install WordPress you have to pick a them. Right now I’m loving two themes for WordPress. They come from  Elegant Themes and the first is called the Divi Theme.   Divi is a great theme because it’s responsive across all devices (phones, tablets, etc) and is super easy to use.  The next theme that’s a huge hit is BlueChic Themes and my personal fav is the Jacqueline Theme. These themes are great if you have a small budget for website design.

What software are you using to run your virtual assistant business?  List your suggestions below in the comments so everyone reading can benefit.

See you in the comments!

Rock on,

Reese

39 Responses to The Tools That I Use To Run My Virtual Assistant Business

  1. Zika Olofin says:

    Hi Reese,

    I love that you use simple tools. One tool that has been suggested to me in recent times is Active Inbox and Active Collab. What do you think of these? Would really love to know your take on this.

    Plus, I think I need training in Admin. Looks like I did exactly what I shouldn’t have done: in your terms, “slap up a website” and thereafter sit and mope and wonder what next, simply because that is what you were taught to do for your “personal branding.” So now I’m stuck. Would love some help from you. How do I roll?

    • Reese says:

      I’ve never heard of either of them. Please tell me more! And we will connect soon over the phone and I’ll fill in your questions! xo

  2. Reena says:

    Hi Reese,
    Great information! I am currently in the process of starting my own VA business. Do you have a direct contact where I could get some information on getting started? Thanks!

  3. Mariane says:

    Hi Reese. Thank you for sharing the softwares you are using to run you virtual assistance business. I’ve used most of your tools especially Asana. It is a very useful tool in managing your tasks. Looking forward for more softwares tips in the future,

  4. Maliquea says:

    Hi Reese,

    First of all I would like to say that finding your website while I was trying to research more about becoming a VA is the best thing that could have ever happened to me, and is truly inspiring me to make my dream of working from home a reality.

    My question is if you have ever taken calls and screened calls for a client as a VA – if so, what type of software do you use? How does that work?

    Thanks so much, Can’t wait to hear from you xo

    • Reese says:

      Wow, Maliquea! What a compliment. Thank you! I’m glad you found me. If you’re handing calls for a client you’ll want to have a software that forwards their calls to you. It’s called a virtual phone system. I remember a software like Grasshopper does this but you’ll want to research all the options. Much love coming your way!

  5. Lori says:

    Thanks always Reese. Your always a life saver to that we have an idea of what we need training on..

  6. ikwo says:

    Thanks Reese.

  7. Tracy Fazzio says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these excellent tools! It’s a great start for someone just opening a business. I’m going to use Freshbooks to start out because of your suggestions! I was going to spend an arm and a leg for Quickbooks but that can wait!

  8. Carlo Borja says:

    Great comprehensive list of Tools, Reese!

    Was wondering if you have used a time tracking/time management tool before? Was surprised none of them were mentioned here.

    At our virtual company, we use Time Doctor. We find it essential for virtual teams and remote workers.

    • Reese says:

      Hey Carlo! Yes, I use Freshbooks. I’ve been using it since 2008 and can’t say enough about the company and their customer service. Check out their time tracking section. It’s amazing.

  9. Becky says:

    I really like how you use different companies for hosting. I never purchase domains with my hosting company. I like knowing that if my hosting company goes down from something major I can point my domains to a new host and upload my backups to be back in business.

  10. Lucy says:

    Reese, you help light my path. I thank you for such an informative post, especially for a newbie like myself. I am in awe at all that you give so freely. Thank you for the chat earlier. You rock!

  11. John Hardy says:

    You did it again Reese! I have been using Redbooth for several months now with my client, plus we can integrate Dropbox with it. I am also beginning to use Mailchimp as well.
    Keep up your great work!

  12. Evonne says:

    I see you use Freshbooks and said to check out Harvest, what are your thoughts on quickbooks. I use most of the tools you mentioned, thanks very informative.

    • Reese says:

      I don’t use Quickbooks so I can’t offer feedback but perhaps others can comment. I know that many people use Quickbooks. That said I know there are many alternatives to Quickbooks online today. I’d review them all before making a decision.

  13. Indy says:

    Thanks Reese!!! I always look forward to your posts!!! Your advise is always awesome!!!
    I use Intuit Payment Network to receive payments. It only charges .50 cents per payment!

    • Reese says:

      Indy, much appreciate my friend! I love hearing feedback like this. It makes my day! I’ll have to check out Intuit thanks to you!

  14. Nancy Benn says:

    I’ve used my Google calendar, spreadsheets & task lists to keep my projects in order, but now I’m growing my team, it’s probably time I looked at Asana or Redbooth.

    Google Drive & docs is so versatile & when a colleague was struggling to create a survey in Survey Monkey, found my recommendation of Google Forms a perfect solution.

    I wouldn’t be without Evernote & whilst I use Mailchimp for clients’ newsletters, I find Mad Mimi is much quicker & simpler to use. As a client had already connected her Twitter account to Hootsuite, I had to find an alternative. Although you don’t get any newsfeed, the free version of Social Oomph is great just for scheduling tweets.

    Xero & KashFlow are popular with VAs for online accounting & I use Clear Books for a clients’ invoicing whilst Capsule online CRM system is free for up to two users.

    Keep up the great blogs Reece & the fantastic info & resources you provide 🙂

  15. Great list … I use many of the tools you listed. I haven’t tried PicMonkey or Canva, so thanks for sharing those tools. I agree Photoshop is expensive and, from what I’ve been told, has a relatively steep learning curve.

    • Reese says:

      My pleasure, Elaine! PhotoShop does have a steep learning curve. That said there are so many free learning options out there with regards to PhotoShop like CreativeLive or various courses on Udemy.

  16. Connie Cannon says:

    Thank you for sharing Reese! This is a great list and I will certainly check everything out. I am used to Basecamp and like it but I think it’s a bit expensive, right? I hope to get my newly formed VA business up and going soon so wish me luck. Thanks again for the great info!!

    Warmest regards,
    Connie Cannon

  17. Molly Baker says:

    Great list Reese – thank you for sharing! I currently use Basecamp and I really like it, but I’ve heard good things about Asana too. Have you tried Basecamp? If so, what do you like better about Asana?

  18. Hi Reese: Wow!!! These tips are amazing. It is so difficult to sometimes get answers to questions, especially if you are new to the Virtual industry. You exceeded my expectations, many, many thanks.

    Please feel free to contact me for any subcontracting work or to touch base with each other.

  19. Laura Holley says:

    Thanks for sharing! I am a *brand spanking new* VA, still trying to transition out of FT corporate to FT VA and I only have small bits of time weekly to try and figure out what I think are the essentials for someone just starting out. The amount of info out there is enough to make my head explode so this blog plus the Must Have Software for Virtual Assistants Parts I & II were so helpful! Thanks so much!

  20. Kym Hanna says:

    Hi Reese – once again you have set the bar high. This is a great post with such a wealth of information done concisely. I’m so chuffed that I am already using the majority of the ones you have outlined and there are some that I am yet to install or make a decision on – I have been tossing up between AWeber & MailChimp and whilst I was leaning towards AWeber initially (because I thought it would be easier to use for a newbie), I am now leaning towards MailChimp (besides it has such a way cool name….) – you have just helped me immensely. Thank you a big bunch for sharing your knowledge. Kym

  21. Geniece says:

    Forgot to mention this in my earlier post but I also use godaddy for domain names, business email, and my online calendar. Their prices super cheap and they have great customer service to help with any issues or questions. I also use mailchimp, paypal, and Skype as well.

  22. Geniece says:

    Hi Reese! I’ve evolved over time with my website presence. I currently have a free blog on wordpress.com and just this past weekend purchased hostgator for hosting and will be migrating or creating a website through wordpress.org. Your blog posts seem to always be on point with what I’m doing or what I need to help me in my business. And you provide simple steps to help me get things done. I’m so glad I met you via Skype early last year. And great idea on the virtual assistant t-shirts. I’m excited to receive them and start wearing them. Thanks Reese.

  23. Jien Tumanda says:

    I love that you use simple tools, that are affordable too (if not free). These are really all the things that can get you started in a VA business. Thanks for the great post Reese.

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