Ten Handy Tools for the Savvy Virtual Assistant

Technology is vital for virtual assistants. But what tools are out there? This handy article gives ten fantastic tools for the modern VA that promise to transform your working processes.

By Crystal Redhad-Gould

Ten Handy Tools for the Savvy Virtual Assistant If you are just getting started as a virtual assistant you should prepare a list of tools needed to get your business up and running. Over the years I have found a lot of new innovations to make my life as a virtual assistant as trouble free as possible. I have a completed list of over forty tools that I use at some point or another. For the purpose of this article I have listed my top ten – these I use almost daily.

Add some VANA to your day! If you have a quick question, need some motivation, need to connect with another virtual assistant, have a work overflow, or simply need to vent, then head on over to VANA and I promise you will always find the support your are looking for.

I have to admit that this is one of my all-time favorite tools. It’s quite a bundle wrapped in one small package. You get an instant messenger, free video calls, free calls to people on Skype, cheap SMS, cheap calls to phones worldwide, conferencing, and much more.

Microsoft Outlook
I use Microsoft Outlook as an email client. It is superb for organizing, calendars, has solid spam and phishing filters, and seamless integration with to-do lists and scheduling. You can also create virtual folders, a great tool for keeping emails organized and the search feature makes finding emails a snap.


EverNote is an all-in-one notes organizer that enables you to keep track of notes, to-do items, memos, sketches, and website snippets. It integrates with Internet Explorer and Firefox, allowing you to add website excerpts, source code snippets and other items directly from your browser. You can choose to sort your notes into categories, password protect them, export them to XML and more.

EverNote supports several notes templates, which allows you to add to-do lists, Excel-like spreadsheets for expenses (that automatically calculate a total), phone notes, contact information and shopping lists, in addition to regular text notes or handwritten notes (via mouse or pen tablet). All that plus the ability to search through your notes! The bottom line is I use EverNote for everything. There is a Pro version but I personally never felt the need to upgrade: the free version meets all my needs.

After trying several other print-to-PDF packages that left watermarks or other nags, I finally found CutePDF and have discarded all the others. It is freeware and contains no nags. It does require Ghostscript to be installed as well but both installs are straightforward, and I just take all of the defaults. Once installed, it is maintenance free. Just select CutePDF from the list of printers, click OK, give the output file a name and folder, and you are done.

A virtual assistant needs to have some sort of FTP software to update websites and to accept and transfer files. I use and recommend SmartFTP. Simply put, this is the best FTP software you can acquire for free. I was having trouble connecting with other programs, so I decided to try SmartFTP. Best decision ever! The interface is very “user-friendly” and it connects on the first try. The ability to click and drag and have multiple sessions open is also extremely helpful.

Every virtual assistant should seek to set up a blog. I recommend Wordpress as the platform for your blog. It’s free, easy to install, and you can find thousands of high quality themes and plugins.

A virtual assistant must have a means to track client hours. I use Timestamp, a very simple reporting utility that helps you stay on top of working time. It also comes with a handy reminder, letting you know when its time to go home!

MyFax lets you send and receive faxes through email from as little as $10 per month and includes one hundred faxes free per month. The price is standard and the support is terrific.

Groove Virtual Network
Groove Virtual Network is a great tool for keeping in touch with clients far and wide. Maintain a sense of teamwork between yourself and your client as you can do virtually anything in Groove. You can hold online meetings, store files and folders, save threaded discussions, scribble on whiteboards, share calendars, and track project information and timelines – very important to my clients.

There you have it, ten handy tools that you can easily access, and most of them are free. For an up-and-coming virtual assistant, it doesn’t get any better than free.

Crystal Redhead-Gould is the managing principal of Five Star Executives, a virtual assistant practice. Crystal is a frequent speaker at small business forums across the Caribbean and the author of Unwritten Rules: Become an In Demand Virtual Executive. More can be found out about her work at www.fivestarexecutives.com and www.caribbeanassist.com.

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