You’ve started a business?
First things first:
Let’s celebrate the incredible growth of your business and the fact that you’re just so darn busy.
But, you know what success brings?
A heavier workload.
You’re going to NEED some help.
Someone to handle the admin
Someone to deal with the technical work
And even someone to manage your diary.
So, what’s the first solution that comes to your mind?
(You guessed it.)
A virtual assistant!
So what’s a virtual assistant ?
A virtual assistant is an independent contractor who provides the help of admin, technology, creativity , etc., and works remotely.
Read More: Wikipedia on Virtual Assistants
They do everything - yes, everything - over the internet.
That’s why they’re ‘virtual’ !
So, before we delve into the details of virtual assistants, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
(Don’t tell anyone!)
I always tell my clients to get a virtual assistant.
Just like one of my clients from last year.
After she hired her first virtual assistant online her stress levels evaporated.
She had an independent bookshop and was just starting to expand when she faced a problem:
She didn’t know how to master the marketing through social media.
And you must know how it’d disadvantage a business in this technological era.
Thankfully, she hired a virtual assistant who was proficient in managing her official website, Twitter, and Facebook.
For example, her VA - Sam - wrote compelling stories about the process of picking books on her social media.
And guess what?
At the end her profit went up by a whopping 27% .
But did you know it took me 17 hours to find her a virtual assistant?
Well, that’s why I decided to write this article.
I’m here to save you some time by showing you how to hire one!
In this article we’ll go through the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant, their typical tasks and potential characteristics, the actual costs of them, and some handy tips for interviewing them.
That’s right - get your calendar ready.
Interviews are inbound!
When I think about virtual assistants three subjects come to mind: money, time, and happiness !
Now, let’s go through each of them.
|3 Subjects||Client examples|
Here’s the main benefit of hiring a VA:It’s cheaper for you as it lowers labour cost .
But it’s more than just saving you forking out another salary .
As an employer you need to cover:
Sick days .
Holiday leave .
Worker’s compensation .
Medical/dental benefit .
But all of the above aren’t your responsibility anymore when you hire a virtual assistant.
What’s more, it saves your money on equipment as well.
And this is exactly what happened to one of my clients!
The computer repair technician was paid $60 an hour in her small technology company.
Before she hired her virtual assistants she needed to spend nearly $1500 on computer maintenance every month .
However, after hiring a virtual assistant the price went down to half of the price !
Virtual assistants in other time zones can help you whenever and wherever!
One year ago I had a client based in London .
Now, let’s do a little bit of maths.
12 a.m. in London is…
16 p.m. in Los Angeles - his VA not only finished her cup of afternoon tea, but also finished editing my client’s blog posts.
His virtual assistants made his wishes come perfectly true overnight !
Hands up if you enjoy work?
No? Just me? Well prepare to start feeling good!
It’s not only a feeling but a fact .
It’s proven that those who work from home are 22% happier than those who don’t.
And a higher level of happiness leads to…
My client once talked about this with his VA, Becky.
Becky used to work downtown San Francisco as a fashion designer.
The job was well-paid, but the work quality was so unsatisfactory as the office faced a loud busy road .
Finally Becky quit her job and worked at home as a virtual assistant, enjoying her quiet and fresh air !
Her productivity was never again bothered by the cars and people’s loud talk!
And now, what does that mean?
That hiring a Virtual Assistant is a WIN-WIN for both employers and employees!
To be honest, it could be anyone.
A housewife might be a master of admin .
A university student could be a specialist in social media marketing .
And that barista may be a genius for bookkeeping !
Now you see that the VA possibilities are everywhere.
Question is, what should you look for in a virtual assistant?
And how do you know if they can work for you?
Well, I've decided to make things that much easier - that’s right, I’ve compiled the best characteristics you need to see in your VA!
|Job categories||Best characteristics|
To find a master of admin , you need to consider if they have attention to detail .
Would they be able to organize the contexts and the publishing dates of articles?
Are they potentially good at communicating with whoever they need to?
And let me tell you, talented virtual assistant like this truly exists!
As a writer, my client had a bunch of original screenplays she was keen to send off to producers ...
She wrote day and night, feeling that she was living in her wildest dream.
However, when it came time to edit the pages , she felt so helpless.
It was when her VA - Sandy - showed up and became her savior!
Sandy used her bullet-journal skill to locate the pages.
She then invented a series of signs to mark the dates and sequences of pages.
So, after that my client never had to worry about the editing thing!
Social Media Marketing
To find a specialist in social media marketing , you’ll want to know how much they know about the different platforms .
Do they know the newest characteristics of Instagram ?
And do they know the ins-and-outs of LinkedIn ?
My client as a vintage shop owner was on both of the platforms.
But it was until her VA - Christian - came in to help that she knew the way to differentiate the use of them.
Christian posted formal blog posts, such as articles on the brand’s history on LinkedIn in order to attract more customers.
And he used Instagram to interact with these customers .
Two months later when my client started another of her pop-up shop in East London the new vintage shop welcomed more customers than ever!
To find someone who’s brilliant at bookkeeping you’ll need to have a close look at their maths knowledge .
(Something I will never have that much of!)
And don’t forget their ability to the records and data .
Take my client:
2 years ago they were considering expanding.
She had such a great ambition but was unbelievably unconfident with the numbers .
And guess what happened next!
All me to introduce another awesome virtual assistant!
My client’s VA - Tim - had a fantastic knowledge of numbers.
He could already picture the whole financial situation within minutes of reading the first email .
Years later, my client told me more than once that the career wouldn’t have gone so smoothly without Tim’s help!
Read More: Part Time Bookkeeper
Whew - that’s a lot!
Well, I’ve got one tip left for you:
Consider their personalities as well.
After all, everyone likes to work with whom they’re in sync!
If everyone’s in sync, everyone’s working to the best of their abilities!
Here’s the easy answer:
Anything that’s relevant to your job or life.
Take a look...
|What they offer||Client examples|
Hiring a virtual assistant online gets you to focus on your own current priority .
All you need to do is show your talent .
Work at what you’re good at .
My artist client was really good with graphic design .
But boy, the story wasn't the same with words...
Fortunately, his VA - Jennifer - came to his rescue.
She livened up his content thanks to her skills in storytelling marketing .
However, Jennifer never forgot about the commercial significance of content :
She applied her great understanding of SEO to each piece of writing.
And of course, the posts shot to the top of Google !
My client no longer had to worry about his website content.
And he could finally stick to what he knew best.
The quality of photos and videos on my client’s website was immaculate.
But the clicks were disappointedly low...
Thankfully, his VA - John - had an idea!
He improved the website navigation by including clearer instructions .
Also, John got the website more user-friendly by rearranging the site layout .
Because he knew how much user’s experience depended on the quality of site layout, especially on their phones .
Finally the photos and videos received the clicks they should’ve had!
Sure, virtual assistants can be experts at difficult tasks…
But they can be just as awesome at those pesky things you don’t have time to do!
This could include:
Answering the phone calls .
Taking clothes from and to the cleaners .
Taking deliveries from post offices .
Take a client I started talking to 3 months ago:
She never bothered to check the grammar on her e-mails or on her blog.
(This was a roadblock on her highway to success…)
So, her proofreader VA - Steve - helped her with that!
It’s the most important question, isn’t it?
To figure this out, you’ve got two things to consider.
The rate of pay and the conditions according to which you pay .
|The pay rate||Pay according to|
Hourly : You pay them depending on the hours they work for you.
Job content : To evaluate its level of difficulty and complexity.
Monthly : You pay them at a certain point each month. Usually for long-term work relationships.
Their availability : To what extent they can cooperate with your time.
Per project : In this case, you don’t pay according to time but based on the completion of every single work.
Their job experiences : To see what actual and soft skills they possess.
1.The job itself needs to be considered .
You wouldn’t pay someone who posts on Instagram $60 per hour.
Same, you wouldn’t pay a crisis management executive only $15 per hour.
Instead, you’ll want to evaluate how challenging and complicated the job content is.
If it requires specialist skills , the price will be high.
If it requires a lot of effort , the price will be even higher!
To give you a gist of the prices, I’ve brought together the average rates for different tasks.
(You can thank me later!)
An admin assistant who manages excel, proofreading, and scheduling, etc., is paid $10-20/hr .
A marketing or accounting assistant who helps with finance, copywriting, and PR, etc., is paid $20-40/hr .
An executive assistant who deals with high-level admin work, IT management, and strategic planning, etc., is paid $40-50/hr .
2.Their job experience
(This one matters the most!)
What I want to say here is,
Try to evaluate it EXTENSIVELY !
Let’s say you want to start a coffee shop .
You need someone who has strong knowledge of, well, coffee .
And isn’t your candidate a lot more attractive when he/she has experience in retail ?
The other point is this: don’t just look at their most relevant job experience.
Look at the other job types as well .
That’s how you can assess their potential.
For example, an admin assistant as a former consultant might have a good communication manner .
A literary researcher as a former editor might be good at time management .
An event organizer as a former accountant might have incredible analytical ability .
Above all, never forget that the higher job quality you pursue, the more you need to pay.
It’s like when you bought that $1 spatula last month.
How long did it last? How many times did you cook your dinner with it before it officially melted?
Well, someone else bought the $20 spatula.
It didn’t melt in their frying pan.
It didn’t snap after 2 weeks.
In fact it’s still doing a great job!
Quality costs money - it’s simple!
Read More: 10 Things to Outscore to a Virtual Assistant
I get it - interviews are scary.
Whether it’s over Skype, over a phone call, or typed in an email, interviews with VAs can feel rather strange.
Lucky for you, this is not hugely different from how you interview other types of employees!
But your good fortune doesn’t stop there.
I’ve made a list of questions you need to ask at the interview.
That’s right - all you’ve got to do is ask them!
(Oh, and listen to the responses, of course.)
1. What’s your weakness?
Let’s just be honest.
I’m not a saint.
We simply don’t live without weaknesses.
So, try to see whether your potential virtual assistant can be honest with you in a smart way.
Someone genuine will tell you, for example, that they are insecure with uncertainty ,
Or rather, they can be impatient .
(Just like me!)
But if you find that their weaknesses shows mostly in limited situations , perhaps you don’t have to be too worried.
As an interviewer, don’t miss the chance to assess their communication skills and how they cope with their disadvantages.
2. How do you handle emergencies?
As we all know there must be some things remaining unexpected, So try to see in what ways your potential virtual assistant’s deal with such situations.
Do they ask for help ?
How much can they apply the lessons from their previous experience to the current problems?
And are they able to reveal their weaknesses and accept support?
3. Have you worked from home before?
This is necessary to know whether your candidates know the potential work ethic of a virtual assistant.
It’s important that they know how to arrange a proper routine that fits both of their home and work life.
Discipline is a ‘must-have’!
Also, try to know the appropriate communication methods that work for both of you.
It could be Skype.
It can be a phone call.
What about an email?
You name it, you can do it!
And now you must be wondering if there’s something you should know outside of traditional interviews.
It’s the negotiation of pay !
In traditional interviews, people do not necessarily talk about money in their first stage.
But interviewing a virtual assistant is different.
You want to be as clear as possible from the very beginning .
Be transparent about how much you can offer and any possibility of re-negotiation .
Fact is, as much as they are happy to help you, you have to respect their profession in return.
You know about hiring a virtual assistant online .
And you even know what they can do for you .
But I’ve decided to take things one step further.
That’s right - I’ve answered the questions we get everyday from business owners just like you.
Q: What makes a virtual assistant the most different from an in-house one?
A : Where they work, of course!
But there’s more to it than that.
Remember the time and money-saving I told you about?
But beyond that, a virtual assistant can work very efficiently because their task can be a lot more specific .
Sometimes an in-house assistant runs more than one kind of errand.
Fixing printing machines.
Arranging meeting rooms.
But all your virtual assistant works on is the very particular task you assign .
Q: Where are virtual assistants located?
A : Remember that earlier we just talked about the benefits of virtual assistants being in different time zones ?
So obviously your virtual assistants might be just about anywhere in the world !
Then you should know the other wonderful thing about it:
Apart from the time difference , you should take advantage of their language ability and cultural knowledge of their own countries .
This is particularly helpful when you want to develop your career in other cultures .
Say this year you’re ready to target the Chinese market .
It’s no surprise that getting a native Mandarin-speaker gets things a lot easier.
After all, we all know how much it takes to learn and master a new language.
You need someone to help secure your career before you can greet in languages!
Q: Are virtual assistants contracted to work for me for a certain length of time?
A : This comes with an easy answer.
You can hire them either temporarily or permanently .
Just make sure that both of you’re happy with each other.
And make the contract clear , of course!
Not a fan of your VA?
Firing them just requires a click of your mouse.
No awkward meetings, and no hurt feelings - just efficient work!
Q: What’s a trial period?
A : Good question!
For some of you who never hired a virtual assistant online before, this must be full of uncertainty.
That’s why I always suggest that my clients take advantage of a Trial Period .
This way, you and the candidates get to know what both of you truly need and offer .
You see not only the work they can do for you but their work ethic and - of course - their personalities!
Or maybe you can even improvise a task to test their real abilities !
Good things take time.
And a Trial Period is there for you to develop your good work!
So now you know the best way to tick tasks off of your to-do list.
And you even know how to hire a VA!
But we want to hear from you:
What do you like the most about hiring a virtual assistant online?
What types of work do you want to assign to your new virtual assistant?