May 17, 2015

7 Tasks to Outsource to your Virtual Assistant Today - Sylvie McCracken


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 knew 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 Philippines 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.

YouTube video

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!

7 Tasks to Outsource to your Virtual Assistant Today - Sylvie McCracken

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10 thoughts on “7 Tasks to Outsource to your Virtual Assistant Today

  1. Good read.

    Many writers forget to include social media accounts handling as a main task VA can handle. But you not only mentioned it, but explained it pretty well too.


  2. Great advice! I just listened to your “6 Proven Steps to create passive income with ebooks”, and now I am over here reading a lot of your posts and am learning so much!
    I am ready to take my blog, website, online classes and soon-to-be-published ebook to the next level and can’t do it all myself anymore. (I have three kids and a homestead to take care of, including lots of animals!)
    My Question: I am a control freak as well. Ahem. So it’s hard for me to think of delegating but I know i have to. But how do I find someone to delegate to? where to look? Whom to trust? Do you have any ideas on how to find a personal assistant, and how to know if they will do a good job?
    Thanks so much for your time!

    1. Hi Corina,
      So glad you liked the webinar and the blog 🙂
      Those are all great questions. I’m going to add them to the list for future blog posts since I have a lot to say on all that. I currently have a mini course all about that inside my Create Passive Income with Ebooks course only thru January 20th but I do plan to create more videos all about outsourcing in the coming months.
      In the meantime, so you don’t put off taking this important step, start with word of mouth referrals which is still my #1 piece of advice when hiring. Ask your colleagues for a recommendation and hire someone even for just a few hours a month.
      Hope that helps for now and stay tuned to my email newsletter for more on this soon,

  3. Hi Sylvie! based on your experience, what are some basic prerequisites a va should possess? for example, i need help with seo, technical stuff, and video and image creation. what do you think are some essential criteria and what are great questions i can ask that will help me choose a right fit?

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Great Qs! And I think I’ll address those more extensively in a future post but in short, the “prerequisites” are going to have to depend on your needs, you budget and how much direction/teaching/training you want to do (usually determined by your budget). The ONE thing I would highly advise is that you don’t ignore character, honesty and personality because if you two will be working together for a while you’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit. Skills are teachable (for the most part); character is not. Reviews, references and portfolios (in the case of design work for instance) are all important as well. One of my fave questions to ask at an interview is “what did you like and what did you dislike about your last job?”. You’re bound to get some good insight from that one.

      Hope that helps till I write a longer post on the topic!

    1. Ilene,

      VAs vary in skills and focuses. I like to hire people that have strengths that are my weaknesses. So yes, you could hire a tech savvy VA. They typically are more expensive. As far as cost goes, you can hire a VA from the Phillipines for as little as $3/hr (I never have paid that little but have nothing against it) or for as much as $70/hr for a VA that is certified in certain technical skills (more of a coder but some of them call themselves VAs).

      Sometimes it’s hard to know what you even need until you get started with someone and it takes a few weeks to get things going but once you do you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner! Even just 5 hours a week and starting to hand off everything you’re not great at or hate doing is an awesome start.

      Hope that helps and thanks for your Q!

  4. This is a nice list of what VAs can do for you. You can also add e-mail management to this list. most of these tasks are related to blog management, which most people have no time when they’re handling their own business. On worst case scenarios, business owners don’t know how to handle their blogs, so getting a good va would easily solve this problem.

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