Category Archives: Internet Software

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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How To Use Google Drive To Organize And Share Files

Of all the online software I use, Google Drive is the one I use the most.  Whenever I am coaching an aspiring virtual assistant on the ins and outs of the virtual assistant business I usually always mention the importance of learning how to use Google Drive. Google Drive is an office suite of productivityContinue Reading

10 Responses to How To Use Google Drive To Organize And Share Files

  1. Thanks for this reminder. I was just thinking what is the best way to share a working file with one of my clients and temporarily stored it in Dropbox but I think our Shared Google file will work better. Sometimes I’m not fond of Google docs due to lack of formatting options but it does allow for teams to work on the same docs. Thanks, again, for the tips and reminders!

    -Linda

  2. Robin Carter says:

    Reese,

    I just love you! Everything you share is practical and so useful, and you share it so that it is easy to understand and implement. Thank you!

    ~ Rockin’ Robin

  3. Nicole says:

    This was very helpful. As a travel and event planner I am looking for a virtual roledex of sorts. One where I can store contact info, as well as events books and notes. Going to try and create something in Drive

  4. Dependable Assistsnce-Janna says:

    Hi Reese,
    My friend shared this with me as I’m just starting out and need lots of information to be an successful VA. I will definitely be wanting to sign up to receive your information that you share.

    Janna

  5. Jan says:

    Terrific tutorial. I am just starting to make more use of Google Drive. I have just recently learned that you can color-code the folders. Right-click on the folder and choose change color from the pop-up menu.
    Thanks again Reese for being so generous with your information.

  6. HJ Albanese says:

    One of my clients put all his templates for us on his Google Drive. Each one has formatting including bold, bullets, tabs. paragraphs, and a font he likes. When I copy and paste this document into an Outlook email, it loses ALL the formatting which is a huge waste of time for me (and cost to him) to reformat it.

    How can I get these docs in Google Drive to go into a new Outlook email and hold the formatting?

    I never have this “lost format” problem with DropBox docs.

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5 Tips For Controlling Email Chaos For Your Virtual Business And Clients

As virtual assistants we are often asked by our clients to manage their email inbox.  If you are not managing your email communications by using some sort of system than you’re doing things wrong. In this blog post I am going to talk about some of the most widely used email management techniques and systems.Continue Reading

5 Responses to 5 Tips For Controlling Email Chaos For Your Virtual Business And Clients

  1. Ellen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these great tips! I’m on so many lists that my inbox gets flooded. I’ve had to set up a separate email account just to handle my subscriptions. I’m definitely going to try out some of your suggestions. This is great!

    Thanks Reese!

    Ellen

  2. Joan says:

    This is a great article. Right now all I have been doing is moving any emails I need to follow-up on into “Tasks” and then I assign a date to them so I can remember to follow-up on it. I’d like to try out some of these tools instead.

  3. Pam says:

    An invaluable tool that I am using is called Yesware (yesware.com). It’s overall benefits are:

    Email for Salespeople.
    Track emails, create templates, CRM sync, & more.

    Find out who opens your emails and clicks on your links.
    Email templates help you say the right thing, real fast.
    Sync emails to your CRM with one click.
    Get insights into your email with reports.

    Even though it highlights its usefulness is more targeted to salespeople, there are benefits to everyone. 🙂

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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 programsContinue Reading

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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