As employers and employees have embraced remote work, and technological advances like cloud computing have made it possible to distribute teams worldwide, administrative tasks have gone mostly online.
It’s no longer a necessity to have an executive assistant sitting at a desk outside the boss’s office, as they can now perform the vast majority of duties from a remote location.
The rise in popularity of using virtual assistants (VAs) is a step in this evolution, providing businesses with personalized, always-on support without the constraints of a physical office.
There are often some misunderstandings around a VA’s role, though, and what services they can provide. In this article, we’ll examine the current state of the virtual assistant market, which VA services are most in demand, and provide tips on choosing a VA who can provide the services that best match your needs.
What Is the State of the Virtual Assistant Industry in 2023?
Hiring virtual assistants isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2005, Christine Durst wrote The 2-Second Commute, addressing the “exploding ranks of freelance virtual assistants.”
While that book (and its lofty predictions) may have been slightly ahead of its time, the virtual assistant market is now experiencing a significant growth period for several reasons.
As businesses become more comfortable with remote work, distributed teams, and outsourcing in general, the demand for virtual assistants has skyrocketed.
Virtual assistants are now used across many industries—from small start-ups to large enterprises—to manage tasks that are normally time-consuming or in need of special skill sets.
Professionalism and expertise
VAs are not just taskmasters; they are skilled professionals who often possess specialized skills, education, and industry knowledge that can be vital to a business. They can be skilled in marketing, social media management, customer service, project management, and much more.
VAs are no longer seen as a “cheap alternative” to an office-based secretary but are recognized for their high professionalism and expertise, which is further growing the demand for their services.
Many VAs are seasoned professionals who have college degrees and vital business knowledge and experience to draw from.
While many virtual assistant roles are part-time, full-time virtual assistants are becoming more popular as businesses recognize the variety and volume of work that can be effectively undertaken from a remote location.
This has led to a rise in full-time employment opportunities for highly skilled VAs. In fact, many VAs work full-time, either through a single client or by combining multiple clients.
The virtual assistant market is growing at a fast rate. Its CAGR sits at 37.29%, representing expected growth of nearly $27 billion by 2027.
Job seekers and employers are both taking notice of this booming market. More professionals are choosing to build careers as virtual assistants, and more businesses, from start-ups to multinational organizations, are increasingly opting to use VAs to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
What Are the Most In-Demand Virtual Assistant Services in 2023?
VAs can perform a wide range of administrative and creative tasks, but some specialized services are in higher demand than others.
The most in-demand virtual assistant services in 2023 include:
1. Executive assistant
An executive virtual assistant is crucial in managing day-to-day operations for senior executives or business owners.
They can cover basic administrative services, like:
- Managing correspondence through email and phone calls
- Taking minutes during meetings
- Setting and maintaining appointments
- Regular calendar management
But they also are often involved in documenting transactions, preparing reports, and some degree of decision-making. They ensure the smooth running of daily activities and are expected to handle sensitive information with utmost confidentiality and professionalism. But above all, their role is to take non-core activities off the plate of their client.
2. Customer relations manager
A virtual customer relations manager is pivotal in maintaining and improving customer relationships. They manage customer queries, concerns, and complaints promptly and effectively to enhance the customer experience.
Their duties involve:
- Processing customer orders
- Maintaining customer databases
- Conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys to gather feedback
They liaise between the customer and the relevant business departments to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Digital marketing assistant
A digital marketing virtual assistant’s core responsibility involves using numerous digital channels to promote a brand or product.
This includes managing SEO and Pay-Per-Click advertising, handling email marketing campaigns, analyzing website traffic, and providing actionable insights. They also assist in developing and implementing online marketing strategies, tracking their success, and identifying ways to improve digital campaigns.
4. Content creator
A content creator VA generates digital material, including blog posts, articles, infographics, newsletters, and white papers. They closely monitor trending topics relevant to the business and create informative, engaging content around them.
Proofreading, editing, and optimizing content for SEO are also part of their role.
5. E-commerce assistant
An e-commerce VA’s role spans a wide variety of duties, including:
- Maintaining product listings
- Managing inventory
- Streamlining customer service
They handle the research and analysis of market trends, manage product returns and refunds, and monitor sales performance. They focus on managing and optimizing e-commerce operations to boost sales and improve customer experiences.
6. Project manager
A project management virtual assistant is charged with the organization, planning, and overall management of the entire process of completing a project.
They coordinate with team members, track project trajectories, manage deadlines, and ensure all tasks are completed correctly and within the stipulated time. They also manage risks, solve problems, and act as a bridge between the team and the stakeholders.
7. Social media manager
VAs can be the backbone of your social media marketing. They can enhance your online presence by managing your social media accounts, devising and implementing posting schedules, creating engaging content, and responding to comments and messages.
Social media VAs analyze performance metrics to enhance social media engagement and reach. They strategize to target specific demographics and user groups, enhancing brand visibility and customer engagement.
8. Virtual event coordinator
This role primarily involves the coordination and management of virtual events. It includes:
- Managing invitations
- Hosting the events
- Providing technical assistance
- Collecting feedback post-event
A virtual event coordinator ensures seamless execution of all virtual meetings, webinars, or conferences.
9. Research assistant
VAs skilled in research techniques can conduct detailed online research on various topics as required by the client or business. They compile data, analyze it, and present it in a format that is easy for the client to understand. These could include competitive analysis, industry trends, potential partnerships, or client profiling.
10. Personal assistant
The role of a personal assistant involves managing both professional and personal tasks, offering greater work-life balance for individuals or business owners.
Personal assistant services could include a broad range of tasks like:
- Managing personal schedules
- Booking flights or travel accommodations
- Setting reminders
- Performing personal shopping
- Making necessary payments
Their duties are not limited to professional tasks, allowing them the flexibility to handle your personal responsibilities and administrative tasks.
How To Know Which Type of Virtual Assistant Is Right for You?
Given how fast the virtual assistance field is growing, employers and job seekers will be trying to figure out how to make the most of this trend.
Companies need to find out which type of virtual assistant will best meet their needs, while job seekers need to identify the niche that aligns with their skills and interests.
We’ve broken down the most important things to consider when deciding the type of virtual assistant required or the category you wish to specialize in.
Every competitive advantage counts, and finding an efficient, dedicated virtual assistant for your business could provide a significant one.
Here’s how to know which type of virtual assistant is for you.
Identify your needs
You must first determine what kind of help your business needs. Do your tasks revolve more around administrative duties like email management, scheduling meetings and presentations, or coordination? If so, you might need an executive assistant.
However, if your needs are more specific like you want to improve your social media strategy, including SEO and content creation, a specialized VA would be more adept at handling these tasks.
Start by listing tasks that are time-consuming or beyond your expertise and classify them into categories (admin, marketing, customer relations, project management, etc.).
- Administrative: Scheduling, email management, data entry, reporting
- Marketing: SEO, content writing, ad campaigns, social media posts, website management
- Customer relations: Handling customer queries, managing complaints, and maintaining customer relationships
This list you end up with will give you a clearer idea of what kind of VA you need.
Consider your budget
There are a wide variety of pricing options for working with virtual assistants. The cost of hiring a VA will depend on their level of expertise, their specialization, and market norms. But it will also depend on whether you are hiring a full-time VA or, for example, working with a VA agency where you are billed for a certain number of tasks per month.
Knowing how much you can invest in hiring a VA is important to manage your expectations and get the best return on your investment.
To set your budget:
- Determine the hourly rate you can afford: Can you afford to hire a professional, high-skilled VA whose hourly rate might be higher, or do you prefer a beginner VA with a more affordable rate? Do you need to consider hiring a VA from a region with a lower cost of living to make hiring a VA a possibility for you?
- Decide how many hours you need: It’s important to identify how much time you need your VA to work. This can be full-time, part-time, on a per-project basis or a set number of hours per month.
- Look at long-term costs: Consider the financial implications of hiring a VA in the long run. For instance, higher-skilled virtual assistants may have a higher hourly rate, but their expertise could potentially lead to cost savings elsewhere in the business.
After calculating an estimated budget, start looking at different outsourcing options. Nearshoring from countries like Mexico can reduce costs while receiving high-end, professional expertise.
The average salary for a virtual assistant from Mexico is $8–15/hour, which, because of the lower cost of living in the country, still represents a competitive wage that can attract top talent.
Research virtual assistant niches
Once you’ve mapped out your needs and budget, the next step is understanding the different types of VAs available. Each VA specialty can bring different skills and advantages to your business.
Here’s how to do it:
- Look for industry-specific VAs: Certain businesses might benefit from VAs with expertise in their industry.
- Check out their services: Look into the exact services each type of virtual assistant provides and align these with your task list.
- Reviews and ratings: Check ratings and reviews of VAs in your chosen niche to get a sense of their proficiency and reliability.
Recruiting companies like Near can help significantly, as they assess your needs and match you with a suitable virtual assistant. Remember, the more specific you can be about your needs and expectations, the better your chances of finding the perfect VA for your business.
For job seekers
If you are considering a virtual assistant job, navigating the VA industry can be challenging, but it can open doors to exciting opportunities when approached strategically. Here are some important considerations for job seekers:
Recognize your skills
The first step is understanding your skills and identifying where you excel. Start by listing your core competencies, job experiences, and technical skills.
- Do I have administrative skills? Have I managed emails, appointments, and other administrative tasks before?
- Can I handle customer relations management proficiently?
- Do I have a knack for marketing strategies—perhaps specifically digital marketing skills like creating adverts for social media platforms or running a YouTube channel?
- How proficient am I in content creation, editing, or curation?
- Do I have experience in e-commerce platforms?
- Can I organize, manage, and plan multiple projects efficiently?
- Do I have experience in research and data analysis?
Reviewing your past work experience can help you uncover skills you may not initially recognize and find strengths that can help point you in the right direction.
Choose your niche
Once you’ve identified your skills, the next step is deciding on a niche that aligns with those skills and your interests. Consider where you can apply your skills best and what specific services you enjoy doing.
For instance, if you have a background in marketing and enjoy creating ad campaigns, consider specializing as a digital marketing assistant. If you have experience in event planning and coordination, you might excel as a virtual event coordinator.
If you are lacking in some of the skills necessary to pursue working in your chosen niche, then look for courses that will help you fill the gaps in your skill set.
Look at virtual assistant agencies to see what jobs are available
Have a look at the websites of virtual assistant companies and agencies that list VA jobs to see what roles are in demand and the type of skills and experience listed in the job descriptions for the roles you want to pursue.
If you are in Latin America, Near can be a great resource for job seekers looking to enter the virtual assistant industry. We serve as a bridge between businesses in the United States and candidates in Latin America. You can find virtual assistant jobs on our job listings page.
Remember, it’s vital to keep growing your skills and stay updated in your chosen niche. This keeps you competitive and ensures you continue to provide top-notch services to your clients. A career as a virtual assistant can be highly rewarding—it all starts with identifying what you can offer and finding the right niche for you.
The shift toward remote work, facilitated by the steady advancement of tech to facilitate coordinating with your remote team, has significantly bolstered the demand for VA services.
Their roles are diverse, and their responsibilities can range from handling all of your administrative tasks to managing your social media presence.
Adding a virtual assistant to your team can be an effective way to streamline processes, boost overall efficiency and allow you time to focus on running your business.
If you’re ready to explore if hiring a VA is right for you, book a complimentary remote recruiting consultation with Near. One of our experts will help you identify the best virtual assistant services for your unique business needs and get you set up with a list of VA candidates you can interview for free.