The Ultimate VA Success Guide: The Virtual Assistant Skills You Need That Nobody Talks About

There are three types of Virtual Assistant skills that you need to be a successful business owner: soft, professional, and hard skills. Why? Because it’s not just about your expertise and experience. You’re building relationships! That’s true for the VA industry and any other service-based industry.

You work closely with your clients and their business and how you work with them is just as important as what you do for them. It all boils down to building and maintaining strong relationships with them.

What Are The Differences Between Soft, Professional + Hard Skills?

Soft Skills Or People Skills

It is how you interact with other people, in this case, your clients. I’m talking about Virtual Assistant skills such as:

  • Communication
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Professional Skills (aka Business Skills)

They are a mix of traits and best practices. Things like:

  • You don’t take on clients before you’re ready
  • All your business systems are set up and ready to go
  • You only take on the “right” clients for you

Hard Skills Also Known As Expertise

These are based on your education and experience – it is your expertise. The Virtual Assistant skills you offer to your clients as services and how you earn a living, for example:

  • Copywriting
  • Inbox management
  • Customer service
  • WordPress
  • Mail Chimp

To become a service professional and charge premium rates you need to master all three sets of Virtual Assistant skills – soft, hard, and professional.

Must-Have Virtual Assistant Skills #1: Soft Skills

We all want to be known for something great and to be recognized for it not only by our clients but by prospective ones too. What do you want to be known for in your niche? Maybe

  • Awesome customer service
  • Exceptional communication
  • Being a professional
  • Or…

Did you notice that in the list above I didn’t mention any “hard” Virtual Assistant skills (services or expertise)? That’s because soft skills are even more important than expertise. Sure, your expertise will help you stand out, but if you have lousy customer service or zero communication, you’ll have issues being successful.

It can take months to land a client and seconds to lose them. My point is that you want to focus on developing your soft skills right along with all other Virtual Assistant skills if your goal is to have a profitable long-term business. And please know that when I’m talking about soft skills, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re an introvert or extrovert. That’s a different conversation.

In my blog post, Master These 8 Unexpected Virtual Assistant Soft Skills To Build Stronger Client Relationships you will find more specifics on the soft skills you want to focus on including:

  • Why honesty and integrity should be at the core of your business
  • Why asking questions is a good thing
  • Ideas on how to handle conflict

Must-Have Virtual Assistant Skills #2: Professional Skills

Most successful business owners want to work with other professionals; in fact, they will only hire someone they deem “professional”. So, what are professional Virtual Assistant skills? I’ll share a few things I look for when hiring a pro: 

  • Runs an honest and ethical business
  • Has implemented rinse and repeat systems
  • Are client-focused
  • Delivers quality goods and services

You could add experience to that list, but I’ve found many professionals when they were just starting their business, so it’s not necessarily a must-have. Remember, there is a level of expectation around how you act when you’re a professional. For example, professionals don’t:

  • Lie about their abilities
  • Take on clients before they’re ready
  • Disappear on clients

Unfortunately, there are people in our industry who will do all of these things, that is why I mention them here. Being a professional has several benefits including:

  • Earn more money
  • Attract more clients
  • Get more referrals
  • Stand out from the crowd

In my post, The Must-Have Skills To Become A Highly Sought-After Professional Virtual Assistant I share more specifics on being a professional including:

  • What you need to be considered a pro
  • Why having systems is important
  • How to be prepared before taking on clients

Must-Have Virtual Assistant Skills #3: Hard Skills

In my blog post on the most in-demand Virtual Assistant skills, I mentioned that admin skills are no longer considered in-demand for a number of reasons. The biggest is that clients can do their own admin work—what they can’t do is implement and operate the systems and technology that run their business.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been in the VA Industry for over 12 years business owners reach out to me almost daily asking for help.  They’re looking for professionals who can help them implement and manage the moving parts of their business.

The biggest request I get is for help with all things Digital Marketing. It’s considered an in-demand Virtual Assistant skill and is the future of the VA Industry. So, what is Digital Marketing?

  • It’s how online businesses market their products and services online.
  • It’s made up of several different channels or skill sets.
  • It’s a system.
  • It’s all about the tech.

There are different levels to Digital Marketing when it comes to Virtual Assistant skill sets. In other words, there are what I would consider basic skills and more advanced ones. If you’re new to Digital Marketing I would recommend starting with the basics. Learning skills such as:

  • Websites: WordPress, Squarespace
  • Email Marketing: MailChimp, Aweber
  • Content Marketing: Blogging, Podcasting
  • Funnels
  • Social Media Marketing

Each of these Virtual Assistant skills is considered in demand and will help you attract more clients and earn more money. If it’s something you want to learn make sure to try out my TechieU Training. I also dive into more specifics in my blog post, Discover Which Virtual Assistant Hard Skills Will Allow You To Charge Premium Rates including:

  • What Virtual Assistant skills to start with
  • Why you don’t want to be a jack or jill of all trades

Hark Skills Bonus Tip: Specialize, Specialize + Specialize

If you’re having trouble explaining to people what you do, it might be because you’re more of a generalist than a specialist. What do I mean? Well to me, a generalist is someone who offers a little bit of everything – like a buffet of services. I did that when I first started because I thought I had to offer everything I could do for clients. And I quickly realized 4 important things:

  • I struggled to explain to people how I could help them because there were so many ways I could help them.
  • It was hard to market my business – which means it was hard to get clients.
  • I wasn’t making enough money.
  • And just because I can – doesn’t mean I should.

The point I’m trying to share is that when you’re a “generalist,” the perception is that you’re not necessarily good at any one thing. The problem with that is it makes it harder to get clients and charge premium rates. Clients are willing to pay more for an expert or specialist than a generalist.

For example, when someone says assistant, they assume right or wrong they are paid less than say a consultant. Because a consultant is an expert in a specific service. The benefits of becoming an expert or specialist are simple:

  • Attract more clients
  • Earn more money

So, how do you know what to specialize in?  That depends on what you enjoy doing. The biggest in-demand services are around Digital Marketing (I’m sure you’ve heard me say that before). Ask yourself if you enjoy:

  • Tech tools
  • Systems
  • Managing projects

Read my blog post, Why Becoming A Virtual Assistant Specialist Will Make You The Go-To Pro + Increase Your Income to learn more specifics including:

  • Ideas of what to specialize in
  • More benefits of specializing
  • How you can specialize in more than one thing


That’s it for today! Please let me know if The Ultimate VA Success Guide: The Virtual Assistant Skills You Need That Nobody Talks About has clarified doubts or inspired AHA moments. You can add your insights or thoughts in the comments section further below.

Thank You – Susan

P.S. Ready to elevate your freedom-based business as a Techie VA or Freelancer? Dive into the realm of digital marketing tech and master the essential tools, including websites, funnels, email marketing, and more, with the all-new TechieU course. Tailored for aspiring Techie VAs and Freelancers seeking freedom and flexibility, this course equips you with the freedom-based skills crucial for success. Don't miss out on the chance to propel your business to new heights!

Susan Mershon
My most popular VA resources

My Most Popular VA Resources

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  1. Sara

    Hi Susan! Which services do you think it’s worth offering in 2024?

    • Susan Mershon

      Hey Sara, I would say anything strategic + techie; such as websites, funnels, email marketing, etc.

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