12 FREE Tools To Make You A Better Virtual Assistant
Whether you’ve just started your VA business or you’ve been at it for a while now, your return on investment (ROI) is something to keep front-of-mind to avoid throwing money into something that turns out to be a bit of a black hole.
It feels awful to invest in something you are hoping will generate clients or income, only to have it fall flat and have been a waste of time and money.
With this in mind, it makes sense to take advantage of anything free that might help boost your business.
Now, I know not a lot is free in this world, but I’ve put my thinking cap on to come up with a list of 12 of the best FREE tools that can help you reap the rewards in a host of different areas.
Whether you are looking to improve your efficiency, generate more referrals, look extra polished and professional, or communicate like a pro, these tools are a financially risk-free way to kick your virtual assistant business up a notch.
Cliché as it may sound, when it comes to the following list, you have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain!
Free up some megabytes in your brain by only needing to remember one master password, and let LastPass take care of the rest. This incredible time saving (and butt saving!) tool seems to make it into the top five of almost every list I make. If you are a VA, this is the number one tool you must, must, must have!
Your clients will be happy, as you won’t need to ask them for the password again and again. Best of all, you AND your clients can sleep easy knowing their private information is safely encrypted and not floating around your office on a piece of scrap paper. Incredible that it’s free because it is so useful you’d expect them to charge an arm and a leg for it.
Step up your virtual assistant game by using separate Chrome profiles for each client you work for (plus one for yourself). "Why?" You ask.
Having individual profiles for each client reduces the risk of 'cross contamination' – i.e. accidentally sending something from the wrong account to the wrong person.
That awkwardness is easily avoided with this free tool! Best to keep things nice and tidy and prevent a huge drama that makes you look highly unorganised and unprofessional.
Technically not a stand-alone tool, bookmarks are free and designed for quick reference and access. If you’re not using them in conjunction with Chrome profiles, you should be.
Using them will speed up your efficiency when working for clients. Simply log in to your clients Chrome profile, and all the relevant bookmarks will be right there for you! Huge time saver!
THE SNIPPING TOOL
This is a handy little free tool I use every single day. If you're using a PC (rather than a Mac), you're in luck because it is pre-installed. Just search for snipping tool in your ‘Start’ menu and voila, there it is!
It is handy for showing someone something from your screen via email, and for taking snips of things for documenting processes or providing instructions.
(To enable the same function on a Mac, hold ‘command’ + ’shift’ + ‘3’ and drag a box around the area you want to snip. This will then save as an image to your desktop).
You’re likely already familiar with this free tool, and use it to message friends and family all over the world for free. WhatsApp has become the communication tool of choice between my team of VAs and their clients.
Aside from the fact that it is as easy to use as your regular phone messaging system, the voice recording function takes away all the emailing, voice messages, and countless unnecessary phone calls.
We recommend using the voice function to send voice recordings for most of your communication. Our clients love this efficient, instant form of communication.
Grammarly is a cut above the average built-in spell checker! Install the free version of this tool on your Chrome profile and relax knowing those pesky errors will be stopped at the gate! (It even picks up mistakes like writing ‘you’ when you meant ‘your’ - That's the one I always make!) Once installed, Grammarly detects errors whenever you write anything on a web page; that includes Gmail emails, your social media posts, and in Google Docs.
Note: (The free version conducts critical grammar and spelling checks only. The premium version unlocks advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure; gives vocabulary enhancement suggestions; carries out genre-specific writing style checks, and even allows you to turn on a plagiarism detector that checks more than 16 billion web pages! It’s a fantastic tool!)
With HD video and audio and built-in collaboration tools that allow multiple participants to share their screens simultaneously, Zoom is my VA video-calling tool of choice.
It is packed with loads of features and offers an excellent remote control and screen share options. (Very useful when you need to do something on your not so tech-savvy clients computer!)
This amazing tool has been a recent discovery for me. I’m going to go as far as saying that Loom has become my holy grail! I use this free tool every single time I need to delegate a task with more than a few steps.
It works by recording your screen and your voice so you can 'show' someone what you need them to do. Working this way prevents things being lost in translation and is very helpful for saving time and communicating with remote staff, or even your clients.
Speaking of clients, it is especially awesome when you introduce your client to Loom, and they go on to create video instructions to help you complete their tasks!
Savvy Top Tip: Download videos so you can upload them into the VA processes document that you create for each client.
If you like lists and having a good visual overview of all the projects you have on the go, Trello is a free visual project-planning tool that you won’t want to go without. We use it as an engaging, visual way to brainstorm, plan, and delegate tasks.
For those starting out in the virtual assistant world, I always suggest using this tool to help create your visual 'business plan'. Trello is a great place to put all your ideas, thoughts and goals. For those of you who love vision boards, this tool is excellent for that too!
Almost as exciting as the fun 90’s arcade game of the same name, Airtable takes the best aspects of spreadsheets and databases and puts them together allowing you to create functional lists that can be used in a number of ways.
In addition to storing information in a spreadsheet that’s visually appealing and easy-to-use, Airtable is powerful enough to act as a database that you can use for customer-relationship management (CRM), task management, project planning, and tracking inventory.
I love it and use it for all of my VA registers (client list, team list, supplier list, lead management list, asset register, accident register, site hazard identification list, our recruitment process, and surveys).
Any time we need to create a list of something, we do it in Airtable.
Send e-newsletters and other client communications for free while your email list is under 2000 subscribers! With all the cool new features, in addition to sending out a monthly communication, I now have landing pages (standalone web pages that our contacts or potential contacts can ‘land’ on when they click through from an email, ad, or other digital location) and automated campaigns set up in MailChimp.
You can really get stuck into MailChimp and have it driving people to your VA business! Set up a subscribe button on your website to add more people to your mailing list, and when you run competitions at expos, you can have the entrants details added to your list too. We even have it set up so whenever someone downloads the free resources on our website or our pricing guide, they get added to our mailing list too!
The Nozbe free version offers lists with a twist and has everything you need to get started. Take from me - you'll need a comprehensive to-do list app to keep track of everything you have going on (especially when you start to bring on clients!)
In addition to syncing with your Google calendar, it is available on all devices, so you will always have your list with you wherever you are. As a Nozbe free license user, you can have up to five active projects, including both private and shared ones.
Isn’t it great to see a list of 12 great things where you don’t have to pick and choose which ones you can afford! You can download or implement all of these for FREE.
In saying that, even just implementing one can have a massive effect on overall productivity, as well as highlighting to clients your level of professionalism and organisation.
If you have feedback on my selection or can think of other great free tools, feel free to share your thoughts with me.
I hope you feel inspired to try these free tools. I would love to hear how they positively impact your virtual assistant business moving forward.
Have you downloaded the FREE 7 Step Guide To Setting Up A Virtual Assistant Business? Click here to access.
As the founder of New Zealand's leading virtual assistant company, I'm an expert on how to run an efficient and high performing business. As a creator at heart, I love sharing my knowledge with others. Brought up on a dairy farm and attending boarding school from a young age, I am fiercely independent and a confident risk taker. With a love of snowboarding in winter and wakeboarding in summer, the outdoors is where I find joy, but nothing beats running around with my boys of 6 and 5 and have an immensely supportive partner who is also my best friend.