For busy professionals, it can be tough to manage a full-time job plus a side career (and yes, this goes for stay-at-home parents too!) Particularly for those of us trying to transition our side hustles into full-time work, it can be almost impossible to get tasks for our side hustle completed, while managing our regular jobs, family commitments, and daily life-tasks. It’s times like these you just wish you could clone yourself!
While cloning ourselves isn’t possible (yet), it is possible to get a variety of tasks taken care of on a consistent basis by hiring a virtual assistant. Also, let’s face it: there are some tasks that you just don’t like doing. By outsourcing some of these tasks to a virtual assistant, you can get rid of tasks you dislike, freeing up your time to work on projects that are more fulfilling to you – and your clients.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Generally, people hire virtual assistants to complete tasks they find tedious and time-consuming, although some outstanding virtual assistants can also be tasked with writing posts and designing graphics. A virtual assistant is a freelancer who assists with or completes a variety of tasks usually done by you. Virtual assistants generally work from home, on their own equipment, and are paid for the services rendered.
You can hire a virtual assistant on an hourly or contract basis. An hourly basis is fairly standard, but if you have a larger project (like taking old posts and creating a new e-book), you could hire your virtual assistant for that contract.
While you can find virtual assistants almost anywhere, do keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Some people have success working with overseas virtual assistants, while others find the quality to be lacking. If in doubt, ask your professional network via Twitter or by commenting on websites for recommendations.
When to Hire a Virtual Assistant – and When Not To
Consider hiring a virtual assistant if any of the following applies to you:
- Your to-do list is never-ending and overwhelming
- Your to-do list is made up of little tedious projects, like scheduling HootSuite, responding to tweets or reposting content to Google+
- You don’t really like marketing (or aren’t good at it) on social media, but know it’s important to do
- You receive the same or similar email messages from prospective clients that don’t necessarily turn into a paying job, but still have to be responded to anyway
- You wish you had more free time to write (or design, market, etc.)
- You want to be more productive and less stressed
If any of these reasons sound like you, you might want to hire a virtual assistant. Beyond the reasons above, a virtual assistant can also help you in your daily life. If you’re a busy person trying to manage a career and a business, you can hire a virtual assistant to book appointments for you – including travel arrangements, doctors’ appointments, and even grooming for your pet.
It may sound luxurious to have someone do this for you, but think of it in terms of money. How long does it take you to do, for example, social media marketing? Between posting to HootSuite (or regular Twitter), Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., maybe it’s an hour or 2 out of your day.
If you’re charging $50 or more per hour of work, you’ve just lost $50-100 or more. That’s not to say marketing doesn’t have its value – clearly it does. But does it make sense for you to do all that marketing, or a virtual assistant who charges $20-30 an hour to do that for you?
Here’s where we get to when you shouldn’t hire a VA: when you’re not bringing in that much money. If you don’t make $50 or more per hour from your side hustle, it might not be worth it for you to hire a virtual assistant right now. Keep doing what you’re doing and focus on generating higher paying work.
Once you’ve reached that breaking point – where you could make more money if you had the time – then it’s time to consider a virtual assistant. The cost now should pay for itself when you’re working for more clients.
What Tasks Should You Outsource?
You can outsource almost any task to a virtual assistant, but here are some that many freelancers choose to outsource:
- Screen emails and respond on your behalf
- Format your blog or website posts for SEO, add tags
- Set up an editorial calendar for your blog or business based on your ideas/client needs/etc.
- Perform research – if you’ve ever needed statistics or quotes for your writing, your VA can do work on this for you ahead of time
- Transcribe your podcasts for listeners who want to read and review w
- Create social media-friendly images and go through old blog posts to update your images
- Schedule and confirm appointments and travel arrangements
- Compile blog posts into an e-book that you can market
This is only a small list of what virtual assistants can do for you – if there are other tasks you don’t like to do, it’s more than likely you could outsource them to your VA.
Tasks you likely wouldn’t want to outsource to a VA include bookkeeping, reconciling accounts, intensive website management. While these tasks can be outsourced, you’ll want to find a reputable freelancer who specializes in these tasks. You wouldn’t want to choose anyone to migrate your website, install new themes, etc. unless the VA has specific knowledge and familiarity with that process.
Avoiding Miscommunication & Frustration
Be aware that starting from scratch with a virtual assistant will not be a “set it and forget it” experience. Eventually, if your VA is good, you will get to that point, but don’t expect a hands-off approach right at the beginning. Follow these tips for having a successful relationship with your VA – one that saves you time instead of giving you headaches.
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- List tasks you want your VA to perform so that there’s no confusion on what you want done. This will make sure you both are on the same page when it comes to tasks and allows the VA to allocate his/her time accordingly.
- Create step-by-step instructions. Sure, it’s time consuming in the beginning, but think about how long it took you to learn it! By creating step-by-step instructions, it will save your VA time (and you money) and ensure that you’re getting exactly what you want. Also, if it doesn’t work out with your VA, you have instructions for the next one you hire.
- Set up email response templates. Particularly if you get the same variation on emails (pitches to review items, books, etc.) or inquiries on your rates, create generic response templates your VA can use. Your VA will obviously add more personality to the email, but by creating a generic response template, you’ll make sure your VA covers everything you would want covered.
- Build in time to review your VA’s work. Your VA may be a rockstar, but you may want something specific mentioned in a tweet blast or Google+ share. Make sure to review your VA’s work to make sure it sounds like you, represents your work ethic, and covers everything you would.
Until cloning ourselves becomes a reality (get on that, Google), your next best option is to hire a virtual assistant. Think of it as a gift to yourself: by taking the tedious tasks off your plate, you’re allowing yourself time to relax and think about your clients or customers and their needs. It could be the very thing you need to catapult yourself into hiring earnings!
Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says
Soooo…. I just found out that a friend of mine outsources about 1/3rd of his job. He sends about 20hrs of work per week to a virtual assistant. All of his reports and analysis are done by someone else. He swears by it. He’s doing great at work and he’s home for dinner each night. Seems like a good deal.
Wow, that’s awesome. That’s the sign of a successful VA relationship – he can focuses on what matters more to him (including being home for dinner each night) and his reports and analysis still get completed on time! Win-win!