Four Tips for Hiring a Professional Virtual Assistant
My name is Alissa and I blog over at Rags to Stitches and I also run a blogger media marketing agency called Pollinate Media Group. I often get asked how I’m able to manage both the blog + the business…. to which I answer… with help! The key to running a successful business that can scale and grow truly is hiring help. I know that taking the plunge and hiring help can be a big decision to make so I thought I’d give you a tips I’ve learned a long the way that might help you determine if and how you could use a virtual assistant.
1. Be Aware of your Needs.
Take a look at all the things you need to accomplish each week both for your blog + in your personal life. Once you’ve made that list, figure out what things on that list you truly love to do and then hire help to do the rest. Here are some things that were on my list:
- Social Media Shout outs?
- Emailing Sponsors?
- Filtering through general blog inquiries?
- Putting together pictures and information for giveaway posts?
- Emailing giveaway winners?
Once you determine your needs, then as you’re talking to different people about the possibility of being your assistant, you are able to be upfront with them about what you need and in turn they can come up with a cost (per hour or per month) for their services. If you don’t have a good idea of what you need before hiring someone, you may not hire the perfect person foryou. It’s so important that if you’re going to hire someone to help you with the day to day that your personalities complement one another. After all, they will be representing you and your brand and you’ll be working together closely each day.
“When you hit a point where you can’t find time to create great content, it’s time to hire help!”
2. Let’s Talk Budget.
So now you’ve determined you need help and you know what your needs are, let’s talk about the budget. I know, no one likes to talk about money, but it’s so important to face this issue. Here’s why: you can’t hire an assistant if you don’t make enough money to pay them and still cover all your other daily expenses. However, I will say it takes money to make money, so when you’re working your budget, figure out other places you can cut costs so that you can hire your Virtual Assistant. Hopefully having that person to walk alongside you day to day will help grow your business because your emails won’t be falling through the cracks. Know that you may break even for the first couple months between paying for sponsorships + your Virtual Assistant, but as you have more time to dedicate to content, your blog will grow and in turn you’ll have more sponsors. The end result? More profit. Before you begin the search process:
- Have a budget in mind
- If you find someone you want to work with + they have a preset hourly rate, find creative ways for you to achieve your goals and them to meet their hourly rate.
- Most importantly remember it takes money to make money.
“Your business can’t grow if you’re doing it all, but it can grow with the right person on your team to help”
3. Understand the Value of a Virtual Assistant.
Now you’ve figured out your budget and found the perfect Virtual Assistant, it’s time to utilize your new assistant to help you with that list of tasks each month. As you do this it’s important that you remember you’re Virtual Assistants time is valuable as well, meaning they can’t just drop everything at the drop of a hat to help you with something you decide you need help with. I can say this because I’m totally guilty of doing this. When I hired Skye one of my biggest mistakes was that I didn’t make that list I just mentioned above and then when I decided I wanted to delegate a task I would text her or email her and ask her to do it. Then, when it didn’t get done “quick” enough I would do it myself. Let me tell you it was a disaster! Frustrating for me, frustrating for Skye. First of all, your Virtual Assistant has a life too, outside of working for you. So in order for her to be organized or effective, you need to be organized and effective! Second, don’t expect everything task you delegate to be done immediately. It’s ok if emails are returned in 24 hours. If you’re worried people will be frustrated by a lack of response, create an auto response email so people know you received their email and will be responding in 24-48 hours. Here’s what I recommend to help you get started with your VA:
- Create an email account for your Virtual Assistant
- On your sponsor page, communicate that you have an assistant that they can email with additional questions.
- At the end of the month start looking ahead at the next month and figuring out your blogging calendar
- Email or share via Google Calendar (or a virtual calendar) a rough outline of what the month looks like (you can always add to it)
- Have template emails that you create together for welcoming new sponsors, group giveaway posts, individual giveaway posts, etc. These templates can always be personalized, but the general information is there so it’s not left out of important monthly communication with sponsors.
- Give your VA usernames and passwords to any social media accounts you want them to have access to and set boundaries for what they can and can’t do when using your social media outlets
I’m sure there are plenty more ideas than the ones I’ve listed above for you, but there’s a few to get you started.
4. Finding a Virtual Assistant.
- Ask friends who have a Virtual Assistant
- Don’t be afraid to interview multiple people – you need to find someone who is the best fit for YOU.
- Be upfront about your expectations
- Hire someone who can handle constructive criticism
- Don’t hire someone you can’t be direct with
- Try not to hire you friends
- Don’t be in a hurry! You want to find the right person to work with. I had two Virtual Assistants before I worked with Skye.
My Virtual Assistant, Skye, also has a list of Virtual Assistants that can help you get started in your search process. I know that relinquishing help can be scary, but it opened up so many hours in my day that allowed me stress-free time with my kids + my husband. Time that I had lost before I had a Virtual Assistant and can never get back.
About the author: Alissa Circle is the woman behind her life and style blog Rags to Stitches where she shares her loves, dreams, struggles, and personal triumphs. She and her husband, Kyle, are the dreamers behind Pollinate Media Group. Alissa was recently voted as one of the Top 25 Mompreneurs 2012 by Circle of Moms. She also travels and speaks at conferences around the nation. Connect with Alissa, and Pollinate Media on Twitter and Google+.