What's a Virtual Assistant? What to Expect
What is a virtual assistant? We sort of talked about this earlier. This is a jack of all trades kind of position. So we're gonna talk about what you can expect. A virtual assistant can do anything. Well I mean, an individual person can't do anything but the job title can be anything. So it could be like proofreading content, uploading website images, checking emails, managing your community. It's someone who works with you on kind of a more long-term basis, getting to know your business. And since as we talked about, I don't have one, I turned to Jess Cook. So she does VA consulting, so she works with businesses to help them figure out what a VA could do in their business. And also helping to connect them to virtual assistants and she trains them as well. So her number one tip is to look for a VA who can do what you need right now, but also has the potential to grow and do a little bit more. If you hire someone who's a little bit over-qualified, then you know they'll be able to continu...
e to serve you as you grow. So the VA position is someone like we said who works with you continuously and they gain a lot of industrial knowledge. So you spend time training them, you don't wanna just ditch them in two months because you've outgrown them. So finding someone who you can grow with is a really great idea. She also says personality is the number one quality you should look for. Almost everything else can be taught, but you can't teach someone how to be the type of person that you enjoy being around. So this is very different from an illustrator you hire once to do your logo. This is a person you're almost sitting side-by-side with in a virtual situation. So if you hire someone to code your spreadsheet, maybe it's not a big deal if you don't really get along with them, but this is someone you're actually working with in a real sense, so personality, she thinks, is the top thing. I got some advice from her. So she really urges you to do an interview on the phone or Skype or whatever live format, I don't know, Snap or something. Whatever live format you prefer. To see if you click because you are probably going to be communicating with this person, most people with VAs have a weekly meeting where you're really coming together, laying out what you're doing and you're actually working together. Begin by hiring the person on a trial basis with a clear-cut project and a finite end. So okay, I'm gonna have you redesign this ebook for me and come up with a new blog post idea to go along with it. That's an example of something that could end and you could say oh wow, it really took a long time for you to do that. Or, it doesn't have the aesthetic I was looking for, I don't think we're the right fit. Instead of hiring someone to say, answer all of your emails. Right, that's not a very good trial project. You'll definitely wanna evaluate whether their expectations are met at the end of the trial, right, to decide whether to keep working. Don't throw good money after bad, just because you've spent a small amount of money working with a person, doesn't mean you should keep on going with that person, just because you've had a bit of a sunk cost. You really want the right person for you. And expect some training time. No one can waltz into your business and just do everything you do with no training time. You're going to have to set the expectations. And you're investing your time into them to teach them to do what you want to do. And so she says hiring a VA can help you save a lot of time and money, but it's not instantaneous. There's this training period to teach a person to do exactly what you want them to do, but the payoff is so much more future time and also future earnings. Because now that you're getting some things you don't feel like doing off of your plate, you can spend doing more time with the things that earn you money. She also says it doesn't have to be cost-prohibitive to hire a VA. So when she also was a VA and she hooks people up with VAs, she's had clients who've hired someone for as little as $30 a week to work with someone. Because these are a little higher skilled people, you may have some small number of tasks that, like the technical edited, it just lifts such a weight off of your shoulders, and it only took the person two hours a week to do. But you just feel like (sighs) right. And since it's a freelancer, you don't necessarily have a contract of a certain number of hours a week. You can hire someone more on an as-needs basis and feel such an amount of relief by a small number of hours. So this is Tara Swiger, who teaches courses also for Creative Live. She started working with Jess, like years ago. And she said I had been thinking about getting some help in my one-gal empire foevvvver, but I never wanted it bad enough to do all the work involved. Because there is work involved and frankly, I was afraid I'd do it all wrong. Then I realized I could hire Jess and we worked it out together. She asked me questions that helped me narrow in on what I needed someone to do and she also helped me streamline and systematize a lot of the areas of my business, which I know you guys can do. So the stuff that she took on doing, took way less time than it did when I was doing it on my own. And I've talked to quite a few people who have hired VAs and you know, if you're hiring someone with a different skill set than you, and also outside your business, they could have a much clearer idea about what needs to be done. So I have a friend who hired a VA and she's like wow, she just takes my ideas and like makes them into this ebook that's really amazing, right, because that's her skill set. So this is a great way to get a little bit of expertise, a little bit of skills that you need in your business, to fill out what you don't have. So just in concrete terms about what Jess did for Tara was setting up a VA email address and all the website contact forms went straight to her. Establishing a set of stock responses. They started out by co-editing the emails until the VA was fully trained. Proofreading the writing for the site and setting up an automated email sequence. So these are things that are huge time savers but takes a bit of inertia to get going. But then it's allowing Tara to run the business the way she feels like running it.