ASP 26: How to Find (and Manage) Virtual Assistants to Help Your Author Business

Quote of the Day:

“Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.”

Edwin Booz

Steve, you use a virtual assistant. What kind of work do you have her do?

Glori uses Trello to manage all the tasks I ask her to do. These include:

  • Tracking Amazon sales, earnings, book promotions, campaign ads, etc.
  • A bit of email management
  • Creating images for social media and blog posts
  • Creating SlideShares and PowerPoint presentations
  • A bit of social media management

How has having a VA helped you?

Virtual assistants free up your time to focus on your business, and to get grasp on the bigger picture. It allows you to focus on your 80/20 tasks, rather than busywork that gets in the way of your writing.

How to Create Your ‘3 Lists to Freedom’ to Start Outsourcing More Effectively! by Chris Ducker can help you determine what stuff you should focus on, and what tasks you need to delegate.

Steve asks Barrie and Ron what’s stopping them from hiring a VA.

Ron and Barrie, why have you not hired VAs?

Ron: Superhero syndrome—the belief that you’re the only who can get things right.

Barrie: The process of hiring and training a VA seems overwhelming.

For an author and online entrepreneur, what are some typical things a VA can do?

Marketing and research are a great place to start, in addition to all of the typical secretarial work.

At what point in your online journey should you consider hiring a VA?

You know it is time to get a VA when things are starting to break—when, at the end of the day, you realize you only spend a fraction of your time on writing and other activities that are essential to your business.

You don’t have to hire a full-time VA at the beginning. You can start by hiring a part-time VA. Go with whatever fits your budget.

One thing that I do is create task documents that explain processes for my business. This way, my VA knows just what needs to be done.

Where can you find good VAs?

I learned everything about virtual assistants from Chris Ducker’s VirtualStaffFinder.com, a headhunting company that looks for qualified virtual assistants in the Philippines.

What’s involved in the hiring process, and how should you interview a VA?

Throughout the process, you spend about $400. It is important to let them know what skills you’re looking for in your VA. They then look for three general Vas, and go through the vetting process. You then interview each candidate via Skype.

Once you hire them, they’re on your payroll.

You can also hire via Upwork.com, especially if you are looking to hire someone part-time for a particular task, such as social media management.

What kind of questions should you ask?

You know, I just Googled questions to ask. But Virtual Staff Finder does a battery of tests to know the level of skills of the virtual assistants in their database.

How do you make sure your VA doesn’t run out of things to do?

Create “daily,” “weekly,” “monthly,” and “one-off” tasks. Then, eventually, I also create long-term projects.

What can you expect to pay your VA?

Chris Ducker suggests $700 to $900 a month, full-time.

What should you do if you’re unhappy with the VA’s work?

Make it clear that the VA is on a trial period for the first 30 days. (This is convenient, because Virtual Staff Finder provides a 30-day guarantee.)

If you don’t use VSF, “test out” some VAs on Upwork.com with a few test projects. Then go with the VA who does the best work, and who you work with best.

You can also help your VA find his or her next job, especially if you enjoyed working him and her.

Useful tools for working with virtual assistants:

Conclusion

VAs can be a great benefit to your self-publishing business, as they free you up from busywork and allow you to focus on your 80/20 activities. Make sure that you vet your VA before taking them on full-time. And try to create standard operating procedures so that your VA knows what to do in different situations, and can work autonomously. The last thing you want to do is micromanage them. By creating systems for everything in your business, you’ll have more free time for your priority tasks.

That’s it for this week. As always, check out APchecklist.com.

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