Picture, if you will, a personal day. You relax, sip wine and soak up the rays while enjoying a book you haven’t touched in a year. As the sun sets on a perfectly relaxed day, you open your computer to find a single email in your inbox from your Virtual Assistant. Listed are all of the things accomplished that day while you rested. And all it cost you was $40. Total billable hours net you almost $200. Not a bad day of sun beams and relaxation.
I’ve had a Virtual Assistant for nearly a year now. He cleans up my email inbox daily, unsubscribes from spam emails, and responds to a list of ten different types of business emails that come in on a regular basis, sort of like an FAQ with the human touch. When I need it, he makes website changes and will take care of small projects when they are available. In short, I have more time to create content and pursue hobbies. On average, I have an extra 10-15 hours a week.
Before I hired him, I did a lot of research, making sure that the Virtual Assistant industry was not taking advantage of people in need. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The cost of living adjustment and currency conversion of the US Dollar to the Indian Rupee, for example, is quite impressive. So paying someone $5/hour will go a long way and provide a sustainable income for someone in one of these countries.
Before you hire a Virtual Assistant, read these helpful tips so that you can be prepared when you set out to hire your first VA and do more work with less time:
You will become a manager
A Virtual Assistant will do your work and will usually do a great job. But your name is still on the bill. Be ready to make sure that everything is being done properly. You will also be responsible for providing enough work to keep your VA active. Keep them busy and they’ll keep working for you.
Require that your VA follow up with links and attachments where available. Check their work and make sure they aren’t relaxing too much on the job. A diligent VA is a good VA.
There will be a time commitment
The first few weeks, you’ll constantly answer questions, check everything they do, it’s exhausting. But once a good Virtual Assistant starts locking into the way you want things done, you’ll be able to let go and then you will find yourself with more time to do the important things.
Take your time during interviews
There are no stupid questions during the interview. Because of the distance, you will likely be conducting your interviews via email, video conferencing, or a telecommunication service like Skype. This forfeits your ability to see some red flags. So ask lots of questions. It’s important that they sync up to your vision and not the other way around. If they aren’t capable of doing what you ask, it’s okay to thank them for their time and move on.
Get specific with what you need
Make sure they are proficient in Photoshop if you need images to be edited, and ask for references. You will need to be very particular from the interview and into the job about what skills you need in your VA and what exactly you need them to do. Don’t tell them to find some stuff on the music scene in Chicago. Tell them that you need 15 articles from different media sources that discuss 15 different music venues within Chicago proper and talk about the history, music genre, and owner of each club and they have three hours to do it over the next two days. If you don’t give details, they will use a lot of time (and your money) without you getting the results you want.
Watch out for snakes
Seek out integrity. A lot of VA applicants will tell you whatever they think you want to hear. They may disappear on you for weeks, only to find out that they got another job. Sometimes, you will find that you are getting stuff much later than you wanted, only to discover that they have twelve clients and can’t keep up with the orders. Or they may take your money without actually doing the work.
Require a steady stream of communication
My VA emails me every time he’s completed a task with quick reference (links or screenshots) of the work. If I want to check on the work, I can easily take a look. If I don’t need to check it out, I still get a checkpoint that he’s finished and I get the peace of mind that he’s getting it done.
Build trust slowly
Don’t give them all of your logins and bank information out of the gate. If they steal your identity, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. Give them small, easy tasks to begin with and increase the responsibility as you learn that they are trustworthy. And be patient. In time, you will be able to give them more and more, thereby freeing up more and more of your time for the important stuff.
What other questions do you have about Virtual Assistants? Let me know in the comments below.