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How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You With Research


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

7 minute read

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The role of the admin assistant dates back decades. Entrepreneurs and business owners have always relied on assistants and secretaries to manage their day-to-day work and even some parts of their personal lives—from schedule and correspondence management to hotel and restaurant bookings.

So, it’s not surprising that in the 21st century, the role of the assistant has gone virtual, giving you access to an impossibly large pool of qualified candidates.

But what else can a virtual assistant do other than take meeting notes and keep track of your calendar? While the role is incredibly flexible, one area where virtual assistants can have a significant impact in the lives of business owners’ is research.

Several important tasks require research—from article writing, proposal drafting, and pitching services to clients, to analyzing your competition and creating new products.

Here, you’ll learn more about the role of a virtual assistant, the tasks they can carry out, and how a research VA can help companies and entrepreneurs increase their productivity.

What Is A Virtual Assistant?

You may be asking yourself, "What does a virtual assistant do?"

A virtual assistant, or VA, is an administrative assistant that handles the less urgent, often repetitive, but still necessary tasks that would fill your day.

Virtual assistants are usually self-employed and work as individual contractors either directly with their own clients or by teaming up with agencies, on a remote basis.

While the role can be quite broad, as their range of professional skills are often highly transferable, it’s common for VAs to specialize in certain areas, such as administrative tasks, marketing, content creation, or project management.

See: 7 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help You Work Smarter

Who Needs A Virtual Assistant?

You would struggle to find any industry that doesn’t need at least some kind of research. While some may require more specialized knowledge, there are many different ways a virtual assistant can be a valuable asset in this regard.


Marketing research is a fascinating area, and virtual assistants can be of great help to find the right information to boost your business. Virtual assistants can easily research industry trends and create summaries for teams to use in their proposals or projects.

Another way to make great use of a VA is keyword research. This allows businesses to identify the key terms that their audience is searching for, as well as the competition in bidding for them. This knowledge is vital for helping brands improve their SEO, reach a wider audience, and generate more traffic.


Media is a particularly research-heavy industry, as every piece needs to be as accurate as possible.

Virtual assistants can help journalists and researchers with managing interviews and appointments, filter written sources, create summaries of sources, data, and graphics, and they are also good candidates for proofreading and fact-checking work.

With a virtual assistant’s help, a reporter or freelance content creator can get essential facts and figures faster, allowing them more time to focus on the big picture and ensuring their piece’s quality.


VAs can be invaluable for authors. While you may often find them managing a writer’s schedule, inbox, social media accounts, or email newsletters, they can also support research for new projects.

For those just starting out, a virtual assistant can help you search for agents and publishing companies when you’re looking for representation and publication deals.

More established writers will benefit from a research assistant to help them collect facts and figures, locate online or offline sources, find the contact details of potential interviewees, and collate all the information they need for their writing.


It is not uncommon for virtual assistants to have a background in law, so basic legal research and fact-checking could both be handled by a VA.

If you prefer to do your own research for cases, a virtual assistant can help free up your time to do more of the work you want to focus on. Booking appointments, following up with clients, transcription, and inbox management, to name but a few, can all be taken off your plate.

IT and Tech

To be successful in any industry, businesses must understand their markets, and IT and tech companies are no exception. Virtual assistants can help identify trends, conduct competitor analysis, and create and send surveys to collect customer feedback, the results of which can be crucial in helping you create outstanding new products or improve your existing ones.

Not only that, virtual assistants can help search for industry events, either for networking opportunities or to showcase your products. And if you want to keep your team members’ skills and knowledge sharp so they can always deliver a high standard of service, you could leave it to your virtual assistant to source the best courses and training opportunities available.

How A Virtual Assistant Can Help

If you don’t see your industry in the list above, fear not! There are several other ways that virtual assistants can support you with your research needs.

Specific topics

As a business owner, you’re probably well aware by now that when it comes to reaching new customers and growing your brand, content is still king. But coming up with new and interesting content ideas for your blog and social media accounts can be tough, not to mention time-consuming.

A research virtual assistant can help take some of the pressure off by exploring current trends, conducting keyword research, and sourcing examples for curated content. With their insights and input, your marketing team can focus more on the strategies that will help push your business even further.

Facts and figures

Have you ever spent much longer than you expected looking up one particular piece of data? This time adds up, taking away your focus and energy from more impactful tasks.

It’s not just content that a research virtual assistant can come in handy for. Whether it’s for policies, a presentation, or a proposal, your VA can help you find all the information you need. With the right experience, your VA may even be able to create outlines or first drafts for you to build upon, saving you even more time.

Products and services

With so much to consider and often so many options to choose from, purchase decisions for your company aren’t always as quick and straightforward as we’d like.

As the head of your business, I can guarantee that there are much more important uses of your time than comparing internet providers, stationery suppliers, or office furniture. Instead, your virtual assistant can look into all the solutions available and present you with the best options based on your criteria.

Venues and accommodation

Whether you’re scheduling an out-of-office meeting, hosting a conference, or planning a business trip, virtual assistants can help you find the perfect location to suit your needs.

Personal research

What many people don’t realize is that virtual assistants are not strictly limited to work-related tasks. In order to make the most of your time and do more meaningful work to grow your business, you absolutely should consider letting your VA handle some of your personal tasks.

Thinking of booking a vacation but don’t know where you should go? Visiting a new city and want to know the best places to eat? Need to buy a gift for a friend or loved one? Simply provide your virtual assistant with some criteria and guidelines, and they can do the rest.

What’s The Bottom Line?

When it comes to getting the information or answers you need, virtual assistants can be your secret weapon.

By freeing up the time you would normally take to find facts on a particular topic, conduct market research, or even find the perfect gift, you’re able to make a much more valuable investment of your time and energy into reaching your goals.

But don’t waste your valuable time trying to hire virtual assistants through trial-and-error. Our expert team at Time etc will find the best-suited candidate from our vast talent pool to help you and your business succeed. To ensure that you have a great experience as well as great results, we have a rigorous 10-stage application process for VAs looking to join us, with only the top 2% of assistants making it through, on average. Not only that, we offer all our users a lifetime happiness guarantee.

Try a virtual assistant for free today or speak to our team to build a plan that’s tailored to you.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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