Virtual Assistant Services: Generalist vs. Specialist

As a virtual assistant, your options for service offerings vary greatly.  

You can choose to be like many others and establish yourself as a general virtual assistant offering any service to any client who will pay you. Or, you can stand out from the crowd and brand yourself as a specialist. That’s where the money is.  That’s where the high ticket offers are. That’s how you can start making more money while working with fewer clients.

What is a virtual assistant generalist?

When you think about a generalist, a Jack of all trades comes to mind, like when you see a general care doctor.  He or she will see you for a sprained ankle, diabetes, a common cold, or a rash on your face.  

This is the same thing when it comes to being a virtual assistant.

As a generalist, you don’t establish a lane for yourself.  Instead, you’re available to do it all for everyone.  Being a generalist doesn’t mean you can’t have success in your business.  There are pros and cons to this strategy, which we will outline later.

What is a VA specialist?

If you choose not to be a generalist, you can become a specialized virtual assistant. As a virtual assistant specializing in a particular industry or service offering, you become an expert in your niche. The keyword here is expert. 

Let’s again compare this to being a doctor. A doctor who is a specialist might focus only on treating children with heart conditions or geriatric patients or skin conditions. When you book an appointment with a specialist, you understand that you are seeing an expert and are willing to pay a premium rate to do so.   

That is why virtual assistants who offer specialized services are often more sought after and paid more for their work. 

Pros of being a general virtual assistant

  • You have a broader reach: As a general virtual assistant, you can market your services to more clients since you don’t have a specific client base that you target. 
  • You have more flexibility: Since you don’t have a specialty, you can easily change your service offerings without updating your business’ messaging. So, If you add graphic design to your current email management and cold calling services, it doesn’t matter because you don’t have a specialty anyway. 
  • You are a Jack of all trades: This might be a bonus to clients who don’t want to hire multiple virtual assistants or who want to be able to pay a lower rate.  They know they can pay generalists less than specialists. 

Cons of being a general virtual assistant

  • You charge lower rates: Generalists get paid less than specialists overall because there’s nothing special about the service you offer.  Your clients can easily turn to any virtual assistant to get the same work done, so it’s more difficult to charge a premium rate. 
  • Your process varies greatly: Since you offer so many different services, it’s more difficult to develop streamlined processes for your company.  Graphic design is very different from creating content which is very different from cold calling, so you’re constantly switching up your processes based on your service. 
  • You turn away quality clients:  The clients looking for expert quality work often won’t select a generalist. So, if those clients come across your business, they are less likely to trust you to do the job. 
  • You don’t have an ideal client: Since you don’t have a specific offering, you likely don’t have a perfect client, making it more challenging to market your services. 
  • You work more to make less: Your clients will pay you less as a generalist, so to achieve your income goals, you will have to work more hours compared to if you got paid a premium rate. 

Pros of being a specialist virtual assistant

  • You are an expert in your specialty: Everyone loves a specialist because there is an expectation of quality service that comes with your experience. When completing similar work repeatedly, you learn your service inside and out, and overtime can focus on improving that service to provide a better experience for your clients. 
  • You can charge more: As a specialist, your experience comes with higher rates.  You can charge more for your expertise and because there are fewer people available offering the same services at the level you offer them. 
  • You can streamline your processes:  When you complete similar work repeatedly, it’s easier for you to develop specific procedures and improve them over time. With streamlined processes, you can spend less time on this part of your business. 
  • You can sell your services easier: Once you identify your ideal clients, you can efficiently market yourself and pitch your services to said client.  
  • You can work fewer hours and still achieve your income goal: When you charge a higher rate, you can achieve your income goal quicker.  That gives you more time to spend with your husband and kids, explore your hobbies, or just take a nap. 

Cons of being a specialist virtual assistant

  • You might have to shift your specialty: If your service becomes obsolete over time, you might have to choose a new specialty if you can’t find enough work to make a consistent income.
  • You have to adjust your marketing if your specialty changes: If you find that your specialty has to change, so will your overall marketing and likely, your ideal client.  That means you’ll have to complete more of an overhaul of your business to reflect these changes. 

What virtual assistant services will you offer?

Ultimately, you can find success as a virtual assistant, whether you become a generalist or a specialist.  However, the choice you make will depend on the level of success and ease of success you desire.  As a specialist, especially if you go into a tech niche, you will find yourself able to charge a premium rate of $50+/hour from day 1, even if you don’t have experience. 

Learn how you can be a well-paid specialist virtual assistant with an in demand tech niche in my program, The Anatomy of Automations.