Why I Hire a Virtual Assistant
Why should you hire a virtual assistant? Well…if you were like me, you would start your day looking at your diary, your mammoth schedule, check your 150 unread emails (if I was lucky), prioritise my tasks and then start to plough through them. Eight hours later you are still ploughing through them and feel like you are just treading water and not actually making very much distance….
If this is you, then a virtual assistant may also be for you too!
Let me tell you why I hired a virtual assistant to get me out of this cycle.
After a couple of weeks of burn out I needed either a break or some help. I decided on a week’s break but during this break I didn’t want to walk back into the same routine so as you do, you jump on Google and try to find an answer. I stumbled upon Upwork, a site where you can post jobs to outsource to a virtual assistant anywhere in the world.
Due to the internet, virtual assistants have become a hot topic. A recent study shown that in 2020, freelancers will dominate the workforce. It is predicted that there will be more freelancers than not, so there is a lot of resource to tap into!
So the question is:
What can I outsource to my Virtual Assistant?
The simple answer is anything, but there are definitely things I would and would not recommend outsourcing to your virtual assistant.
As a blogger, the things I outsource to my virtual assistant falls into four categories:
- Social Media
Housekeeping is the administrative tasks that relate to your business. As a blogger the housekeeping tasks consist of things such as:
- Receptionist Duties
- Responding/moderating emails and blog comments
- Customer Support
- Managing my Calendar
- Creating/Managing Word documents and Spreadsheets
- Transcribing Videos
- Proof Reading
- Adding images, alt text, tags etc to blog posts
- Reporting & Analysis
Social Media management can be a tedious task alone. The administrative social media tasks you might want to consider outsourcing to a virtual assistant are:
- Creating Social Media Accounts
- Social Media Scheduling
- Social Media Management
- Uploading Videos
- Social Media Analytics
- Social Media Reporting Weekly/Monthly Summary
Designing beautiful images and designs takes someone with time on their hands and excellent attention to detail. As a business owner, the one thing you usually don’t have is time on your hands! Some of the tasks you can outsource are:
- Blog Post Image Design
- Pinable Pinterest Images
- Logo Design
- Banner Design
- Infographic Design
- Website Design
- Landing Page Design
- E-book/E-Course Design
- Video Editing
Imagine all of your key word research was done for you so that you can just concentrate on content creating and adding value? This is why SEO tasks are so useful to outsource to your virtual assistant. Some SEO tasks to outsource are:
- Keyword/SEO Research
- Site Analysis
- Creating Back Links
- Keyword Reporting
This list is just a few things I outsource myself and things I will consider outsourcing in the future. So you might be asking yourself
Why should I outsource this when I can just do it myself for free?
That’s a good question. My response to this would be to ask yourself, how many of these tasks do you need to do and how many are adding value to your business?
Time Is Money
Go through this list and ask yourself
With a little guidance, coaching or training manual could this task be done by someone else?
I find that all of the above can be done by anyone with the right guidance, coaching or training. This means you can spend your valuable time on the tasks that add value and grow your business.
Remember that time is a depreciating asset. You cannot make time back so you need to protect it with your life.
Posting for a Virtual Assistant
Creating a great post for a virtual assistant starts with an excellent job description. You need to know exactly what you require. The more specific you can be the more suitable the applicants will be. On the flip side, the more vague you are with your job description, the more unsuitable people you will have applying for the job so take your time to get super specific on this.
Also, make sure to post the relevant experience or qualifications required or desirable. This also includes skill level. Specifying basic knowledge required or expert in a specific field will only laser target the requirements to be successful in the role.
The final thing to do is analyse the feedback you are getting from your job posts. If you are not finding suitable candidates then it may be that you were not specific enough in your job description or something was misleading. If so, go back to the drawing board and tweak your job description where required.
Interviewing a Virtual Assistant
I would strongly recommend interviewing your virtual assistance. In fact, it is a MUST DO. With the powers of Google Hangouts and Skype it is even easier to interview your virtual assistant face to face. What I’m saying is, there is no excuse to not interview your prospective virtual assistant!
So now that you have shortlisted your potential virtual assistants it’s time to interview them. If you have no interview experience, don’t be worried at this point. Don’t think of it as an official interview but just a way to make sure they are suitable for the role you are posting for.
What I would recommend is having a list of questions that display the applicant’s knowledge and experience. Most virtual assistants will allow you to see their portfolio of past work to get a sense of what level of quality to expect from them. If you use Upwork to post for a role, you can also see comments from previous employers.
After the interview, you could ask them for a second interview or discuss exact requirements from them and negotiate cost.
Virtual Assistant Cost
The first thing I want to tell you is that virtual assistants aren’t slave labour. Virtual Assistance can be anything from $5 per hour to $100’s per hour. This depends totally on what you are trying to outsource.
There are countries that charge much less than others but this does not mean the quality of work is reduced. You have to remember that the cost of living varies from country to country.
Training Your Virtual Assistant
Now that you have posted for a virtual assistant, interviewed, agreed on the right candidate, negotiated pay, this is where the fun begins.
Experience goes a long way but just because someone has experience this doesn’t mean they don’t need any sort of training. The easiest way to do this is to discuss via Skype or Google Hangouts the tasks required of them to establish knowledge and experience levels. This allows you to do a GAP analysis on what training requirements are needed.
I would recommend creating a Google Drive or SharePoint that you can both access with a range of files on to support the virtual assistant. These could consist of things such as:
These don’t need to be war and peace but just simply a manual of how to complete a task you require of the virtual assistant that they can refer to when required. This can be just a one pager.
This can just be a flow chart showing the process required from start to finish. Again, not war and peace!
IFTT cheat sheets
A document to state “If This Happens Then Do That” is a great tool for times you are not available to assist. This is extremely useful if there is a big time difference and you don’t want to be disturbed during most needed sleep!
A gardening calendar is useful to plan what tasks you require them to do on specific days of the month. A great tool to use for this is CoSchedule. This has great features that fit hand in hand when your company has virtual assistants.
121’s & Feedback Sessions
121’s and feedback sessions are a must with virtual assistants. You need them to feel part of your organisation and team. Having regular Skype or Google Hangout calls are a great way to catch up, iron out any issues face to face, build relationships with staff and help develop and motivate them!
My final comment on training is to not rush this process. The more time you spend up front ensuring your virtual assistant has the clarity they need to succeed, the less time you will spend addressing any issues later on.
Things to Consider Before Hiring A Virtual Assistant
There are things consider before hiring a virtual assisting. I’ll give you four quick tips:
Time Zone Differences
Outsourcing anywhere in the world means time zone differences. This could mean outsourcing to somewhere on the other side of the world with large time differences. This isn’t a problem but when you’re virtual assistant has a query or needs your help and your fast asleep, this isn’t always as productive! Just something to bear in mind!
Language barriers can be frustrating, especially if you are consistently rephrasing the question or request. This can waste a lot of time and again can be counterproductive. This is another reason to interview face to face or over Skype/Google Hangouts to make sure you are comfortable that languages will not be an issue. Don’t just take it when someone says fluent, that they are actually fluent!
Treat them as an employee
The whole reason for training, coaching, 121’s and development is because even your virtual assistants need to be valued and treated as an employee. They are part of your team regardless if they live thousands of miles away!
Give them a role
Your virtual assistant isn’t your Joey, doing the tasks that you don’t want to do. They may do administrative tasks or the time consuming tasks but they also play a pivotal role in your business. Give them a role and make them feel valued is my final tip!
If you are on the fence about hiring a virtual assistant, I hope this post has helped clarity the tasks you can outsource, reasons to hire a virtual assistant, things to consider and some useful hints and tips! I recommend visiting Upwork – How It Works page to read more about their services to support you hiring a virtual assistant.
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