Online platforms can be really overwhelming when you’re first stepping into the remote business world.
It feels as though every virtual assistant and every business owner uses something different. One person recommends this, while the other absolutely swears by that.
It makes it really difficult to figure out the best software for virtual assistants to use when you’re just starting out.
I know what it’s like to feel like you have to know the in’s and out’s of every single system that’s out there, but thankfully, you simply don’t have too. It’s totally okay (and frankly, encouraged) to learn on the job as you’re working within your own business and client’s businesses’.
As you make decisions on what you want to use to run your own business, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the most popular softwares available right now.
Every single one of these systems has positives and negatives. It’s just about finding what works for you and your needs!
And if you have no idea what your needs are, know that all of these are great choices because there’s thousands of virtual assistants out there using all of them – every day.
The most important thing is just to pick something and get started so you can start booking clients and making that money!
- Client Relationship Management Platforms
- Graphic Design Platforms
- Time Tracking Platforms
- Project Management Platforms
- Email Management Platforms
- File Organization + Cloud Storage Platforms
- Stock Image Websites + Libraries
- Website Platforms
- Creative Marketplaces
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Management
- PDF Managers
- Call Schedulers
- Video Conferencing
- Password Management
- Contract / Document Signing
- Virtual Assistant Courses
Client Relationship Management Platforms
If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know my obsession with Dubsado. It’s my favorite CRM Platform because of it’s automation capabilities and the customization options available for templates. Ever since the business launched, they’ve been growing in popularity with Virtual Assistants and solopreneurs alike. They’re one of my favorites for a reason!
Honeybook is another fabulous CRM that’s known for its usability, even by the most tech-impaired. The company was founded on the concept of community over competition, and that’s something I can absolutely get behind. If you need something that’s easy to hop into and start using right away, this might be your ticket!
This is another one of the best tools for virtual assistants, because it has great templates built right into it that you can simply plug and play to get started immediately. They also have an app so you can check in on your invoices and proposals while you’re on the go, which is super handy when you’re balancing a day job, travel, kids, and a life. 😉
This platform skyrocketed in popularity when it was announced that the service was entirely free. Virtual Assistants and freelancers ran to it in order to cut down their monthly expenses which is totally understandable. Unfortunately, it’s not free anymore (the developers have to make money too!) but it’s still a great affordable option that has all the capabilities you should need.
Graphic Design Platforms
Canva has really become the go-to design tool for creating simple and easy marketing materials for all solopreneurs and small business owners. This system has made great design accessible without having a giant marketing budget. They also have a library of templates for every situation ready to use for yourself or your clients.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud is the true industry standard for digital artists and graphic designers. So if you are interested in offering graphic design in any serious capacity, I highly recommend learning this collection of apps and softwares. They give you way more creative freedom and flexibility, but they do come with a learning curve as a result. So it won’t hurt to start now!
I really feel as though Canva beats out Picmonkey in popularity, but I know a lot of people still use it and love it. It’s another user-friendly option for simple social media graphics. It’s also a good bit cheaper than Canva, so it could be a great budget option for you. However, I feel as though the extra money you invest in Canva makes it well worth the extra resources it includes.
Time Tracking Platforms
I’m absolutely obsessed with Toggl. I highly recommend it for newbie virtual assistants that need a simple and easy to use time tracker. It helps you keep your time records organized by client and allows you to understand where/how you’re investing your time into your business.
This is my second favorite time tracking tool. If you need a time tracker that’s easy to use that also has invoicing capabilities, definitely check out Harvest. They have a lot of integrations that allow you to connect the other software for virtual assistants that we’re talking about in this post! Doing so give you way more automation capability and because of that – way more time saved!
Project Management Platforms
Oh, asana. My love affair runs deep for this platform. At the time of writing this, I truly believe it’s one of the best tools for virtual assistants. Asana allows you to create and assign tasks for different projects you’re working on within your business. It also allows you to collaborate with clients in it too, so you can keep yourself organized while balancing different tasks for people.
I’m so happy to see Clickup growing in popularity because it’s extremely easy to use and really customizable. That’s the feature of their system that I feel makes them stand out amongst the rest of the Project Management Platforms right now. You can really build the system the way it’s going to work for you (or your clients). Of course, it sill has all the essential elements of a PM software like task and project creation / organization.
Trello is an oldie but goodie. I’ve personally never jived with this software, but that truly comes down to personal preference. It’s still a great system that so many people absolutely obsess over, and with good reason. There are really unique integrations and connections you can make with their platform that allows you customize it to your process, regardless of what systems you choose for your biz.
Email Management Platforms
Google Workspace (Previously GSuite)
This is one of the systems that you don’t want to invest in from the start, but once you do – You can’t believe you waited as long as you did. Google Workspace is the “business” version of regular google services and gives you access to more file storage and other capabilities that aren’t available with a free account. It also gives you a branded email address like [email protected]!
File Organization + Cloud Storage Platforms
Dropbox is one of the go-to cloud storage companies for a reason. They do what they do really well, and they directly integrate with many of the other top softwares we’re talking about today. So it makes it really easy to implement their system into your business processes. They also finally added a live editing option that allows you to make changes to files live with your clients without having to send copies of the file back and forth constantly.
This is another no brainer system that just works. Google is google for a reason afterall, my friend! Google Drive is another top competitor in the cloud storage market because their features are top-notch and fulfill virtually every need of the average small business owner.
This tool is literally every spreadsheet nerd’s dream. You can create “tables” for everything within your business to keep it organized and streamlined. But you can also integrate your other platforms to store files and create automations within the spreadsheets too. So that when you do something in one of your platforms, it will automatically add them to the next instead of you manually doing it. Again, spreadsheet nerd’s dream… 😉
Stock Image Websites + Libraries
Pixabay + UnSplash + Pexels
I’ll be honest in that I don’t think that there’s any real, strong difference between pixabay, unsplash and pexels. They are all fabulous free stock photo platforms that you can use for your own marketing purposes or your clients. So I’m sort of grouping them all together here. If you are managing your client’s social media or designing websites where you need some beautiful, free imagery, I highly recommend checking out these websites. They feature the work of extremely talented photographers that share their work for use to gain exposure.
Kayla, the founder of Ivorymix, created a stock photography membership I love. Although the main bulk of her images live inside her paid programs, she offers a collection of free photos for those of us that are on a budget or don’t have a need for endless stock imagery where a membership is worth it. So definitely check her out! Ivorymix is great if you resonate with the “pretty” stock images you see all over pinterest and instagram and want to have some for yourself. 🙂
Squarespace is one of the industry standards for great website design platforms. Their drag and drop builder and built-in free site templates makes it a no brainer. If you are interested in offering website design services or need to get your own biz website up and running, Squarespace is a safe choice for the tech-impaired!
Not to be confused with wordpress.com – WordPress.org is one of the most popular website systems in the world and it’s free! However, be prepared to invest in a high-quality website theme to pair with it in order to get the most out of it. It’s estimated that wordpress powers over 30% of the entire internet. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and can really grow with you over time.
Another popular option in the website world is Wix. Many virtual assistants love this system because again, it comes with a drag and drop builder and website templates that are ready to use right away. The only caveat with this platform is that because of it’s great usability, I find that it has more limited customization. So you might not be able to make it as SEO friendly or pretty as you wanted. So, fair warning!
I love creative market! This website is basically the amazon of graphic design materials. You can access thousands of designers who create social media graphics, website templates, fonts, stock photos, logos, and more. They also have free weekly downloads where creators offer some of their products for free to gain interest in their “shops” on the site. So you can grab some goodies at no cost on a regular basis!
You probably already know Etsy for it’s beautiful, handmade goods. But did you know that there’s thousands of digital products that designers sell there, too? So you can shop there for some of the same products like website themes, fonts, fill in the blank PDFs and more! The best part is the designers usually include DIY directions to walk you through using their products, so it makes it super easy to put them to work for your biz.
QBO is the industry standard for a reason. They have the features that can grow with you as your business does and they integrate with most of virtual assistant tools that we use and love. That allows you can setup the system to automatically track your invoices and expenses! That’s what really makes them stand out for me, because accounting is one of the “unpaid” tasks we have to do as business owners and this can save you hours every month!
I used Freshbooks for the first year of my business and I loved it. It’s extremely easy to use and it fills a few different needs for VAs with its time tracking tool, invoicing, and expense tracking. It’s definitely not a full-service accounting system, but it’s more than enough in the early stages as a newbie freelancer.
This is the up and coming competitor to Quickbooks Online. Xero is a true full-service accounting program that can grow with you as your business does, the same way QBO can. The only catch is that it doesn’t integrate with quite as many other softwares, so just make sure they work with your other systems before diving in. Overall though, they’re super easy to use and your (future!) bookkeeper will probably be just as happy using them as they would QBO.
This system is famous for being the “free forever” accounting platform. It integrates directly with your bank to pull in all the data for you automatically, the same way the other systems do. However, I find that the interface of Wave can feel really clunky and confusing to use. Some people really love it and don’t feel that way at all, so if you need a budget option – this could be a great software for you!
Taxact is the little brother to Turbotax, but is still widely known and recognized in the tax preparation industry. When you become a business owner, tax time can turn into a hellish nightmare if you don’t prepare correctly or use the right virtual assistant tools. That’s why platforms like this can be a lifesaver (if you’re in the US obvi!). Taxact is my recommendation for everyone that is not using Quickbooks, because it’s easy to use and cheaper!
Turbotax is basically the same as taxact if I’m being totally honest. They fill the same need and solve the same tax-time nightmare problems we all have. The only advantage of turbotax is that if you use quickbooks online, you can import all of your data automatically into turbotax. That feature alone saves you so much time, it’s worth the extra buck you spend with turbotax.
I love mailerlite if you are just starting out in your email marketing endeavors! Usually Virtual Assistants aren’t focusing on email marketing a ton at the start of their business, but the sooner you start – the better. Mailerlite’s interface is extremely easy to use, it’s really affordable and it has all the basic automation features you need when first starting an email list.
Once you get a little further into email marketing and list building, activecampaign is a fabulous tool. It gives you more advanced automation features that a lot of clients and business owner’s need for more advanced funnel building. Activecampaign is known for usability and their visual automation builder that helps you see the customer journey from start to finish.
I used mailerlite at the start of my business and then switched to convertkit when I needed more features and capability and I was not disappointed! This is a very commonly used system amongst online business owners and for good reason. They have all of the essential automation features you need and integrate with basically everything. The only downfall with them is that their email templates can be gnarly to customize.
If pretty email newsletters are your thing, look no further than flodesk. They came onto the email marketing scene more recently than the others, but creative business owners have been flocking to their system. It’s extremely easy to use with their drag and drop email builder to end up with something graphic-designer-worthy. The only downfall is that their automation capabilities are more limited than many others.
Social Media Management
If you or your client creates evergreen content, you’re going to love smarterqueue for a social media scheduler. They have a unique evergreen feature that allows you to automatically republish the same content on a regular schedule to keep your feed fresh with no extra work from you. It takes a little bit to learn the interface, but it’s overall a great software!
This is one of the most commonly used social media schedulers on the market. Later is used by countless online business owners and virtual assistants alike. Along with the ability to schedule on all the main social platforms, they have a great visual scheduler that helps you see when, what and where the given post you’re scheduling is going to be shared.
Interested in Pinterest Marketing? You need to get on Tailwind. This is the go-to platform for Pinterest Management and Pinterest VAs. They also have a lot of great scheduling features built for instagram, but their real bread and butter is Pinterest. So if you or your client is interested in Pinterest and/or instagram marketing – This is your scheduler!
This company built its reputation on having a pretty, but still super user-friendly instagram scheduler. Planoly’s interface makes you remember that you are a creative business owner, with the beautiful aesthetic. Although I don’t personally love it for other social media platforms, it is one of the best for instagram marketing.
This is another one of the go to social media schedulers for business owners. However, I don’t personally feel that it does anything super extravagant that the others don’t do for a cheaper price. That’s why it’s not my first choice, despite the fact that it does have a great interface and all the features that you need to be successful.
Facebook Business Suite
Facebook doesn’t give posts that are shared from social media schedulers (aka all those listed above) the same exposure that those posted directly on the platform get. The good news is that those scheduled within Facebook’s Business Suite do! You can schedule and share posts to facebook and instagram the same way you would on other schedulers, except with Facebook’s Native free tool. It’s the best budget option because you get more exposure “juice” and it’s free!
Ever wonder how people create those PDFs with checkboxes and fillable text sections? It’s with PDF Escape! This is by far the best PDF tool out there that’s totally free. PDF files can be a total pain, but this simple software solves 95% of PDF struggles. It is a little old-school in it’s interface, but it works and that’s what matters at the end of the day!
Online call schedulers make booking discovery calls or planning meetings a breeze. Calendly is one of the industry standards for creating links that share your availability for calls. Their platform is relatively affordable and super easy to setup. It also integrates with your calendar to add the bookings automatically. It’s everything ya need!
Acuity has essentially all of the same features that calendly does. The only major difference is that Acuity is owned and operated by Squarespace, so it integrates with their website platform really easily. Because of this, I recommend it over Calendly if you’re a Squarespace user. Overall though, it’s a super easy to use system – even if you’re not on Squarespace!
I have to admit that I was super late to jump on the Slack train, but I’m so happy I did. My team used to keep all our communications within our PM platform, but Slack makes it so much easier to ask quick questions and keep projects moving along. Slack is basically an instant messenger program that’s totally free. You can invite your clients, subcontractors or anyone else and make communication easy and organized.
This is the main competitor to Slack. It truly fulfills the same need slack does, but it’s just another option from another developer. I don’t find that it’s used much in our industry, but I do think it’s a great alternative if you need something else. So don’t sleep on it if that’s your situation! It works great and gives you the quick and easy communication features you need with clients.
One of the best, most effective ways to communicate with your clients or team members remotely is to record your screen as you’re talking through a project or a task. That’s why Loom is amazing! It’s a really easy browser extension that you can use to visually show your issue or concern with your client. They give you a 5 minute recording limit for a free account, which is usually plenty to chat through most basic things that come up!
When you find that visuals aren’t really needed, Voxer might be your answer! This messaging system allows you to send short voice memos back and forth to your clients, instead of spending time writing things out. It can save a ton of time! Some people are audio learners so it can be really helpful for them to chat this way for that reason, too.
2020 was the year everyone learned what Zoom is. haha! There’s a reason why it is one of the top softwares for virtual assistants when it comes to live video chatting! I have used a lot of different video meeting platforms to meet with clients over the years and I can vouch for the reliability of Zoom over almost everything else. They have top-notch security and you’ll experience way less freezing and connection issues with them.
Google hangouts is a great, budget friendly alternative to zoom. You can use their video chat features with any google account and it offers many of the same features Zoom does. However, the reliability isn’t quite as strong as it is with Zoom. Nonetheless, it’s a great free system when you need it!
Password managers are a safe and effective way to share login credentials with your clients and team members. As a Virtual Assistant, it makes swapping between client accounts really easy because it will automatically fill-in the credentials of each client into the login page. I’ve used Lastpass for years and I’ve been super happy with it. They allow you to store and organize all your logins however it works for you and to send sharing links to clients to gather their information safely.
1Password is the main competitor to Lastpass and virtually fills the same need. However, the main difference is that their business plan is a little more expensive at the time of writing this, so I would tell you to hop in with Lastpass unless you find that 1Password works better for you for a specific reason.
Apple Passwords / Chrome Passwords (internal use)
As you build your business, you’re going to create what will feel like 153,456 accounts. (Yes, that’s an exaggeration.) That’s why I recommend using one of the built-in password keepers that Google Chrome and/or Safari offers. They are great for internal use to keep your business passwords safe, but they don’t cost you anything extra when you’re getting up and running.
Contract / Document Signing
You absolutely have to have a client contract as a virtual assistant. But this also means that you absolutely have to have a document signing platform. Docusign is great when you only need the ability to add a signature section to an already existing document. So if you are using a contract you already have, check out Docusign! They offer 3 free signatures a month, which is great for your wallet!
Hellosign is another system that allows you the ability to upload and send your already existing agreement to your clients for signing. I feel as though Docusign and Hellosign are pretty even competitors based on what the average VA needs, especially because Hellosign also offers 3 free signatures per month, too. So it’s really your choice – both are great!
This is the system I originally started with when I was building my business. Along with signature capabilities, they also have a library of contracts and templates you can use instead of creating them from scratch. The catch with this is that they have a more limited free plan. So once you max that out – ya gotta pay up! 🙂 But the extra features justify the investment in my opinion if this is the direction you decide to go.
Virtual Assistant Courses
The Virtual Assistant Blueprint
You didn’t think I’d miss the opportunity for a shameless plug, did you? 😉
I highly recommend checking out my signature program, the Virtual Assistant Blueprint, if you want to learn the in’s and out’s of building a virtual assistant business. I give you every single secret in my little black book to landing high-quality clients, I help you choose the best platforms for your needs and provide extra support as you need it at every step of the way.
You’ll never be left wondering if the action you’re taking is right when you have someone who’s been there to ask!
There ya have it! The Top Software for Virtual Assistants to know and use. Which ones have you heard of or use already? I’d love to hear your opinions!