One of the best things I did when I started my business was outsource (aka hire a virtual assistant) very early on. It wasn't an easy decision since I'd only just started making a few dollars but since I was working full time at my day job as a celebrity personal assistant and had a family of 5 including 2 toddlers and a teenager, I new there was no way to get it done without adding some help. I now have a team that I literally couldn't do this without but I started by just hiring 1 very part time person.
I jumped in, interviewed a few, and hired my first virtual assistant, a.k.a. V.A., on Elance for 5 hours a week (she was from the Phillipines and charged $7/hr) and to my surprise that first month she was already paying for herself with the work she was doing. I'll talk lots more soon about finding the right assistant for you, if you don't already have one, and how to manage a team but today I wanted to answer that comes up over and over again, which is what can a virtual assistant do for you.
But first, if you think you can't afford to hire help, I encourage you to flip that around and realize you can't afford NOT to. Because a stagnant to do list is costing you money every day. The truth is that if you list out everything you do each day for your business (do it!) you'll notice that at least half of those tasks don't actually require YOU. They just need to get done. And chances are you're constantly putting things of until tomorrow, or next week, because you just don't have time. I get it, I totally do, but this is one of the best ways to create more time in your schedule and once you start getting help it will become rather addicting. 😉
Without my team there's no way I'd be able to start this new site while still running Hollywood Homestead and having a young family of 5. That's for sure and I truly believe outsourcing is one of the crucial steps to having a highly profitable business without losing your marbles.
So, what are some of the tasks you can have a virtual assistant do for you on your website or blog? Here are just a few to get you started:
7 Tasks You Should Outsource to a Virtual Assistant TODAY:
- Formatting blog posts: This is one of the first things I got help with. I was doing a lot of recipe posts and even just formatting the ingredients and instructions with headers, and numbers and bullet points took time, let alone adding the affiliate links. It's true; it just takes a 15-20 minutes but when you add that to titling the image and sending out a newsletter it made me want to shut the computer and postpone it till the next day. If instead you can just quickly type up the draft and have her format it, chances are you'll get it out quicker.
- Image creation/ ideation– I don't remember when was the last time I had anything to do with the images on Hollywood Homestead other than the occasional one I don't like and ask to be redone. I'm terrible at it and I haven't a clue how to get the watermark on there. Here's an example of a photo I took care of before I had help (I mean, wow), and here's one of the ones that one of my assistants did. I guess she doesn't have to worry about job security. 🙂
- Social media: This is a tricky one because I've found thru trial and error that it's tough, if not impossible, to outsource social media too much without losing your voice and connection with your audience. I've always replied to all the comments on social myself but I've found the happy medium is to use a combo of a social media scheduling tool and my assistant's help to schedule the actual posts and recycle the content we've worked so hard on and then go in there to reply to questions and comments myself. If you have a large social media following, having an assistant check for spam and delete and/or ban anything that gets out of hand at least when you're on vacation can be a great help.
- Tech fixes: Why spend 50 hours googling/youtubing how to do something that a pro can do in 1 hour. The few times I tried to take care of web tweaks myself I've usually made even more of a mess than what I started with. Note: you'll need a tech savvy assistant for this. I have 2 coders that I use as needed for both sites and there are also services like WpCurve to get you started for a small investment.
- Comment moderation: This is just an idea, but the truth is I haven't outsourced this because I like connecting with audience in the comments. I would highly suggest though that you use a spam filter like Akismet ($59/year) to save you from 99% of the spam you would otherwise have to deal with.
- Content Creation: This is another optional one. If you're a control freak like me (high five!) chances are you'll be reluctant to get help with creating content for your blog. But there are different ways you can do this and you don't necessarily have to relinquish control. You can do anything from hiring a ghostwriter to having contributing writers to simply having an assistant help you put together a round up of posts you've already written like this one which requires mostly pulling excerpts from posts you've written as opposed to writing from scratch. Having an assistant help you pull content from your site to put together the first draft of your ebook, so that you're not staring at a blank screen is absolutely priceless.
- Customer service: Once I had 2 ebooks that were selling well and I was busy working on my third it became clear I needed help with the customer service so I could spend less time in my inbox. Even though it only took a handful of minutes each day it was important to me that customers who had trouble downloading their book or wanted to clarify something or just say thank you, received a reply right away. I started handing this over by copying my assistant on replies for about a week and asking her to create a template of replies in a google doc. I then created a support@[mysite].com email with google apps and set an auto-reply on it saying we'd received the email and would reply within 2 business days. I asked her to check it once each business day and to bcc me on replies for the first week until I felt comfortable removing myself from the equation. My assistant now handles 80% of customer service and forwards me any that outside the norm and any that she thinks I'd like to see. After 2 years of working together she has a pretty good idea of which those would be.
So, as you can see there are a lot of tasks that can be handed over to someone else so you can spend more time working on your ebook, or course, or blog posts, or hanging out with your friends and family.
You don't need to go start with all of them. Just start getting ONE thing off your plate and see how it feels.
Now I'd love to hear from you! What questions about outsourcing or managing a team do you have? Please leave a comment below and if you found this post helpful I'd love it if you shared it with your friends!