Social media virtual assistants are a thing and this is what they do

Who knew?

Who knew?

Ever wondered how influencers find the time to post pictures on Instagram several times a day, respond to comments and engage on other posts, while sometimes having a full time job too (other than using Instagram pods of course)?

Two words: virtual assistants. Or social media assistants to be precise, kind of like a digital era PA if you will. While this job didn't exist even five years ago, it's now a genuine - albeit secretive - thing.

Most virtual assistants are recommended by word of mouth on (you guessed it), social media. If one does some great work for an influencer, they'll be likely to be recommended by another.

Discreetness is key too. A VA will rarely reveal who they're working for, and when wanted to track one down to interview for this piece, I only managed to do so through a blogger friend, who posted on a dedicated thread.

The VA, who wished to remain anonymous, got in touch, and told me all about what the job actually entails...

How did you get into the VA business?

Back in my late teens (around 2010) I started a blog. This naturally fizzled out when I started working full-time but it taught me lots of valuable skills which at the time, I just assumed everyone knew or could teach themselves like I did. A few years later, my sister asked if I could help her set up a food blog.

When I set up her blog and social media, she was amazed at how I did it. She said there were people out there that would pay for me to help them set up and manage things like that so I started putting the feelers out there, asking close friends and local business owners if they needed any help with general digital tasks.

Fast forward to today and I have a range of clients who I help with a variety of digital and creative jobs. I still have a day job but it's a great flexible additional income which has really helped me save for my own property.

Do you seek out people or do they find you by word of mouth?

I find people online and on Facebook groups where I see lots of posts from bloggers and website owners who are seeking help. It would be nice to get to a stage where people are referring my services, but for the time being I'm more than happy with the clients I seek out.

if you work in an office

How much do you earn?

My current rate is £15 per hour, which I think is competitive and reasonable.

What types of results do you achieve?

I've managed Instagram accounts where I've seen a 2,000+ increase in followers and the brand was very happy. I've also helped bloggers and brands with SEO content, meaning they get more exposure online.

I helped one influencer grow a following of 1,200 from scratch within five months, and another add 6,000 followers to their account in six months.

I love it when being creative and trying new ideas pays off for the client and they are happy with the results.

What type of people ask for your help?

Generally it's individuals who either work for a brand or for themselves that don't have time to complete smaller tasks like update social media channels or reply to emails. Sometimes it's an ongoing client or someone who just wants me to produce a presentation as a one-off. It's a complete mixed bag really.

if you work in an office

What's a typical working day like?

I get up at 7am and check my emails then start scheduling social media in for clients about 8am before I leave for work. I spend my one hour lunch break working through any creative tasks like PowerPoints and blog posts. Then I'll get home about 6pm and check emails again and work on smaller tasks like proofreading documents for people. This can all change day-to-day though, it all depends on deadlines set by each client. Then it's bedtime at 11pm! Lots of coffee is required to keep going but I thrive off keeping busy.

How many virtual assistants are there out there?

This 'gig' style economy is becoming more and more popular so I imagine there are quite a few VAs out there now. It's quite attractive to work for yourself or make extra income remotely and pretty much anyone can do it if they know how to use a computer.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.