“I have so much to do I don't know where to start.” “I never get a day off.”
“I ́ll never see the end of my to-do list.”
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you need a virtual assistant (VA). A virtual assistant is hired to do tasks you don't have time for or are out of your realm of expertise. Essentially, anything that doesn't have to be done in your presence or on location can be given to your virtual assistant. All kinds of people hire VAs – some clients are busy families with modest incomes and others are millionaire CEOs.
There are many reasons, besides feeling a little too busy, to hire a VA. If you don't have the space to take on a new staff member, or the budget for another computer, taxes, and insurance on top of the new salary, consider a virtual assistant. VAs are often cheaper – a good one is worth every penny at top rate, but in the long run they are far less expensive when factoring in the other costs. Perhaps you have a temporary increased workload and don't want to take on a new permanent staff member. Virtual assistants have flexible workloads – just like there are good reasons to hire one, there are great reasons to BE one, and that includes being able to work whenever they want. Often you wake up to the project you are expecting at the end of the day.
A VA takes on diverse projects. Some mornings might be spent planning a five-year-old's birthday party and her family's trip to Disneyland; then the afternoon is dedicated to chasing leads, doing bookkeeping, and updating the website of a motivational speaker who focuses on high-end real estate brokers.
Many VAs specialize in particular fields. I have identified six specialties plus one free-for-all, though others may group some together or get more specific. Some VAs fall into more than one category, especially since the division is fairly arbitrary and will depend on the person.
General assistants. These do it all, but most of the time highly technical work will go to other VAs. It depends on the skill of who you hire. These VAs answer your emails and do your scheduling, data entry, online research, lead generation, bookkeeping, social media management, blog maintenance, and email marketing. They also handle the odd jobs – event planning, travel itineraries, mail sorting, and pretty much any other task the client doesn't have time for and the VAs contracts to. This could be as minor as personal shopping or sitting through the hold music for the cable company.
Web assistants. These specialists are in demand. From email design to website design and development, these are the jobs that are incredibly time-consuming and can make some people's eyes glaze over. Database building and maintenance, application development, site optimization, SEO, Wordpress, applications, third party integration – all words that sound familiar, all things you might want to learn but probably won't because you have too much to do
already. Even a business owner who knows their way around this technology really needs to hire a third party to maintain all of this. To keep it all up to date and functional can be a full-time job in itself depending on how quickly the company grows or how tech-centered it is.
Audio and visual specialists. Podcasters will need audio file editing, and YouTubers need video editing. YouTube in itself requires specialists for comment curation and promotion, and podcasters need organization of files and feeds. Transcriptionists are a hot commodity; audio and video conversions are important for SEO purposes.
Graphic artists. Logo design is essential, and in this day of social media, occasional redesign is also necessary. Images for websites and social media, including infographics and icons keep these virtual assistants busy. Marketing requires heavy graphic design skill.
Content writers. These virtual assistants may ghostwrite or guest write for your blog or provide guest writing on other blogs. Sales copy is time-consuming and repetitive but necessary, so outsource to a skilled writer while you work directly with clients. Product creation or editing online course content, brochures, articles and other publications consume plenty of time that can be better spent on other tasks.
Project managers. These VAs are essential for one-time projects without staff to take it on. This VA comes in and depending on the resources of the company, can outsource all the work themselves or delegates tasks to staff members but oversees the entire project. Often but not always, these VAs only work with one to two clients at a time and move on once their contract is finished.
Jacks and Jills Of All Trades. Beyond these categories, you'll likely encounter some who fit part into one, a bit into another, with a sprinkle from one or two more. They might double as life or business coaches, home and business organizers, parent coaches, fitness trainers and nutritionists. A VA takes their unique set of skills and packages it into a marketable set of abilities you'll never want to do without again. You never know what needs you didn't realize are being unmet.
The decision to hire a virtual assistant is never to be taken lightly, but once you find one, you'll curse all the time you wasted with an inbox stack threatening to bury you from its peak near the ceiling. We're cheaper than full-time staff and typically require less training and monitoring. While staff tends to look at new assignments as a chore, a VA will tell you outright if something is beyond their capacity in some way and oftentimes gets excited to jump into new territory to broaden their skills. Give a virtual assistant a try! Your newfound unstressed free time will leave you wondering why you waited so long.
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