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How Do I Become an Email Management Virtual Assistant? My Expert Interview with Rachel Severns

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How do you specialize in email management as a virtual assistant? I chat with Rachel Severns, EMVA and course co-creator, to find out!

Are you a master organizer and email aficionado? Did you know that you can actually make a career of managing other people’s inboxes by becoming an email management virtual assistant (EMVA)? 

It’s true! Rachel Severns, the owner of VirtuallyDone.us, was able to make a full-time income by offering email management as one of her core services. She also teamed up with Gina Horkey to create the Email Management for Virtual Assistants course, which helps new and veteran VAs become email management masters. 

In this interview, Rachel shares with us how she got started as an Email Management VA and some of the many benefits that come with offering it. So, if you are looking for a lucrative service offering as a virtual assistant, you will learn a lot of valuable info in this interview!

Hi, Rachel! Can you tell us how you got into being a VA and became an email management virtual assistant?

When our youngest went to school, I had this nagging thought about what I was going to do. That didn’t necessarily mean ‘go back to work’ but I knew I had experience and skills that could be used and were probably needed. With a husband who has an unpredictable schedule, I knew I couldn’t go to corporate America to find a job. Nor did I want to. So I sort of just hung out being a wife and mom for a few years, wondering what I should do.

My dad and I have always had an ongoing conversation about ‘if only we could work from home and ACTUALLY make a living’. One day, he sent me a link to the post from Horkey HandBook, Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Virtual Assistant – I have no idea where he found it.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I began the course.

My second client came through Gina’s lead service and had over 20k emails that needed to be sorted, deleted, and filed. It was quite a learning experience.

That email cleanup project showed me that I really liked email management and I decided to seek other clients who needed email help. I finished cleaning up that inbox and saw that there were so many other email-type tasks I could complete for my client. So the cleanup project turned into a long-term client and I’m still working with them today!

One thing led to another and, over the course of time, I had a full roster of email management clients!

What are the advantages of specializing in email management as a virtual assistant? (AKA Becoming an “EMVA”)

I love being an EMVA because, like any other VA, I can work from anywhere and time zones aren’t an issue.

I can easily time block my time and service a number of EM clients every day.

Email never stops coming in. So whether you are doing a cleanup project or ongoing email management, it’s a need that’s always begging for more attention. Job Security!

EM is also an excellent way to channel my organizational skills.

And it’s such an intense need for most people that when you take care of their email, they are extremely appreciative!

You can also make a handsome rate of pay because clients are so relieved to have your help. You have the potential to make a full-time income while only working part-time hours.

Lastly, helping people (your clients, but also their customers) is very satisfying!

Most email management VA clients use Gmail, so be sure you understand the basics of the
Gmail is the most used platform for EMVA clients.

Does an EMVA need to learn multiple email platforms? (Like GSuite, Outlook, or others)?

It’s not likely you’ll need to learn anything other than GSuite – at least I haven’t. Most people use Google for email. The only exception is if your client uses a platform like Help Scout or Zendesk, etc.

I do have a client that has switched from Gmail to Help Scout since I’ve been working with them. I actually like Help Scout a lot. It was not difficult to learn.

Do you need any other tools to become an effective email management virtual assistant? 

Trello is the #1 tool I use. I have a Trello board that I use privately to organize SOPs. Sometimes, I also have a board I share with the client. I use Trello every day with every client.

Google Drive helps me keep track of various documents. 

That's about it! One of the reasons I love email management is that it's fairly simple.

How do you go about identifying the client’s specific email needs to effectively manage their email?

It’s not an exact science! Honestly, I just log in to their email for the first time and start poking around their account to see what the largest issues are.

However, I do have a module in the online course that lists out a number of questions to go through the first time you log in to your client’s account.

How much about a client’s business do you typically need to learn in order to adequately respond to customer emails? 

It’s true that you need to know a little something about your client’s business. In reality, how much really depends on what sort of customer service your client wants you to provide.

I have learned quite a bit about each of my client’s businesses over time, even if they aren’t having me answer the specific or technical questions.

If you need to know more about their business, they’ll be willing to teach you or give you resources to learn.

So, would you need to offer other services as well, or could you potentially make a full-time income by becoming an email management virtual assistant? 

You can definitely make a living by just providing email management!

What about for the side-hustlers (and work-from-home moms) out there? Is email management a good choice if you only have a few hours a week? 

Yes! You can work as little as 30 mins a day or as many hours as you can get. EM is really a great option for being able to set your hours.

What skills do you need to have to specialize as an email management virtual assistant? 

You need to have organizational skills and be able to work out a mess. You also need good communication skills, the ability to create processes, prioritize, and keep cool under pressure.

What’s your favorite thing about email management?

The people I work with, hands down. I have really great clients!

When you have good clients, they make it easy to work for them and handle the messes in their business.

What’s the most challenging thing about it?

For me, the most challenging thing is leaving emails in the inbox. My goal is to handle every email, every day. Sometimes there are so many emails that this is not feasible. It’s hard for me to walk away from an inbox that still has unanswered emails in it.

Only have a few minutes at a time? You can still earn – EMVA work can be done in small chunks of time!

What are the benefits of taking your and Gina’s email management for Virtual Assistants course?

Gina and I have over 10 years of combined experience with EM, and the first thing you get is to learn from us are the things that took us a lot of time and trial/error to figure out.

Our course provides a lot of useful information, including:

  • In-depth Gmail tutorials
  • How to streamline email and make yourself irreplaceable
  • The difference between email clean up and email customer service, and how to master both skills
  • How to help clients establish more healthy and productive email habits
  • A Trello tutorial to help prepare you for collaborating with clients
  • Templates, printables, and cheat sheets for our course members
  • The skills and confidence you need to provide value to your clients that will have them happily paying your monthly invoice

If you have even the slightest interest in becoming an EMVA, do it! Don’t wait.

There are clients out there, and money to be made. The sooner you step into learning, the sooner you’ll be able to realize your dreams!

Do you have any advice for someone who’s interested in becoming an email management virtual assistant?

With that said, when you decide to take the EMVA course, take your time. There is so much information in this course that you’ll want to be sure to digest it and learn it rather than just racing through it.

Thank you, Rachel!

What's Next?
Wondering if email management is a good fit for you?

Email Management is one of the most needed and outsourced roles for many small businesses.

This makes it a perfect skill to learn as a new VA! Especially if you're still learning some of the other more specialized and technical skills.

Rachel and Gina Horkey teamed up to create the Email Management for Virtual Assistants course, which helps new and veteran VAs become email management masters. 

Part of the program includes access to hot leads looking for VAs with the exact skills you'll learn in the course.

Do you think you'd make a good email management virtual assistant?  Join the conversation – add a comment or question below!


    1. Hi Sakshi,

      As far as tools go you need an email provider such as Gmail (or G Workspace) and some sort of communication/organization software like Trello. Having Skype or Zoom is also useful to be able to talk in real-time with your clients as needed.

      Your basic work will consist of deleting, archiving, sorting and filing emails. So you need to learn the functions in Gmail to be able to do this. These include making folders and subfolders, making filters, etc.

      To be an efficient EMVA you need to have good organizational and communication skills. So you can work on polishing these up as well if you need to.

      Let me know if this answers your question. If not, let’s keep the conversation going! 🙂


  1. How do I get started to becoming an EMVA? I have no prior knowledge but I’m willing to delve into it and make the most of it.

    1. Hi Don,

      You have two options (provided you are ready for training):
      1. Freelance University
      2. #FullyBookedVA

      Both programs are membership programs (either monthly or annually, as you want) and have an initial course to get you set up as a virtual assistant/freelancer. So your bases are covered in that respect. From there you can take the email management course to gain the needed skills.

      You can check out our review of Freelance University (which will actually be updated within this next week – we are nearly finished with the updated version). I love the place. I’ve had access twice to be able to write the review and now again to update it and I love it there. They have presently reduced the membership fee due to the pandemic and members are grandfathered into that price as long as they remain a member. Also, even though the site says that enrollment is closed, when you join their mailing list they may offer you a limited-time offer to join (which they are doing at the moment.)

      I don’t have a review of #FullyBookedVA yet as Gina recently combined all her courses into this one program. But you can read about the individual ones to get a feel of her courses in this post:30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. I’ve found Gina’s courses to be good as well, though the membership is more expensive in comparison.

      Hope this helps.
      Let me know if you have any other questions,

    1. Yes, Denise, you can learn how to start a VA agency in Gina’s #FullyBookedVA program once you have passed the VA foundations exam. When you pass the exam, you get access to the skills courses (including Virtual Assistant Agency) and leads, and you get a certificate.

      There is a chart on the #FullyBookedVA page that shows exactly what you get and when if you are interested in more details.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,

      1. I was actually wanting to join to get access to the skills courses. I really need them. How long would it take to get through the foundational part needed to get certified and be able to get everything in the course?

        1. It really depends on you, Denise – your previous experience, the time you can commit to it and your work ethic.

          Some students have completed the Foundations course over a weekend, while others over a few months. In general though, most students are able to finish the material and begin launching their business in about a month.

          The program is self-paced. So you are in control and as long as you are a member, you have access to all sections of the program, whether you are in the Start, Build or Scale phase. And as you advance through the program you’ll continue to have access to the VA Foundations course and the#FullyBookedVA community.

          I hope this helps.
          Let me know if there is anything else,

    1. Hi Denise,

      If an important email is deleted you will be able to retrieve it, if you realize it soon after. Most email provider’s default is to empty the deleted emails every 30 days.

      Yes, sometimes a personal email comes through. In this case, there’s usually a protocol about how to handle that. Some clients will want them in a specified folder, other clients may want you to just leave it there. This is one of those instances that is usually client specific.

      Hope this answers your questions!
      If not, let me know,

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