You’ve got a lot of tasks that you need to finish, but you just don’t have the time to do it all by yourself. A virtual assistant could help you but what tasks would you let him or her work on?
How can you be sure that virtual assistants can replace you properly? I am sure that you have pondered on these questions already. Hiring a bunch of incompetent virtual assistants would do you more harm than good.
Then again, you know that you need help and virtual assistants are basically your only choice. But where do you even find virtual assistants whom you can trust to complete your tasks?
We’ve answered all of these questions in previous installments, and today we want to focus on something a little different. We’ve noticed a peculiar and rarely mentioned issue. Most people are unaware about what and how much they can even outsource in the first place. In this installment we want to help you understand exactly what you can and should let your VA handle for you.
Virtual assistant tasks that can be outsourced
Emails are probably one of the biggest time wasters for most entrepreneurs. Imagine working hard on a particular task, getting into the zone or into the flow, and suddenly, a new email appears.
You start answering that email and before you know it, you’ve totally lost the flow in the previous task. It takes you a minimum of 20 minutes to get back to the previous task. That’s what interruptions do to focused workflow. Just imagine how many hours you have lost by getting interrupted by emails.
It’s best to have someone handle all of your emails. Getting interrupted by emails is almost never worth it. Your virtual assistant could handle most emails for you. And even if some of the emails were urgent, your assistant would let you know.
Telephone calls interrupt you in the same way as emails. Most entrepreneurs have customer service departments, but that’s just not enough. Even most ‘personal’ calls that you get are still not worth your attention in most cases.
Real emergencies are rare. That’s why you need to get a virtual assistant to help you with personal calls. Without telephone interruptions, you will get to save valuable time. You’ll realize that even most so called ‘emergency’ calls are simply distractions.
Every entrepreneur needs a secretary. A secretary answers calls and keeps an eye on your schedule. If there are places you need to go to and people that you need to call, it’s best if someone reminds you to do it.
Sure, you can download some software that does it for you, but procrastination can still keep you stuck. You’ll complete your chores much faster if you let your virtual assistant remind you.
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Whether you need to enter data in Word or Excel, you lose time on such petty tasks. Let’s say that you are preparing a PowerPoint presentation. You know what you’re going to talk about, but you haven’t assembled the actual slides yet.
Fetching the data and doing research is the hard part. But it’s quite likely that you’ll also spend a couple of hours doing the actual PowerPoint slides themselves.
A virtual assistant could do the slides for you and save you a few hours. Heck, if the topic isn’t too complicated, a virtual assistant could even handle the research part.
Bookkeeping is not an easy chore. It takes up a lot of time since it consists of recording bills, invoices, payments etc. If you hired a virtual assistant for this job, you would need to really trust them.
You’re going to be giving over your private information, such as passwords, to a virtual assistant. It’s important to hire someone whom you can rely upon.
Bookkeeping is probably going to be the hardest task to give up to someone else. But if you do find a trustworthy virtual assistant, expect to save an additional few hours on bookkeeping every week.
If you’re doing research by yourself, why wouldn’t you let someone else help? The only thing you need to do is to provide clear instructions for the research project and that’s it.
If you’re working on a project where you need to research various topics and subtopics, imagine how fast you would be able to do it if you already had most of the information.
Writing an article is so much easier with virtual assistants. They will gather most of the relevant information for you and you’ll have a nice head-start. You can even tell them to write a summary for each topic or subtopic to help you get the subject fast.
Client and partner management
It’s always a good idea to send a gift card to your clients on holidays and anniversaries. That can be a real chore because it takes up time and it requires creative effort. But you cannot afford to ignore your partners or clients.
Your virtual assistant wouldn’t even need a lot of information for this task. Sending out gift cards or holiday cards is really easy.
You could even get your assistant to congratulate a partner or a client on a new job or deal, especially if your client or partner uses social media.
Business trip, anyone?
If you have ever traveled anywhere, you know what a hassle it is to find cheap airplane tickets. It’s always cheaper to get tickets if you plan far ahead though.
Instead of looking at airline websites every day to see if ticket prices have dropped, get a virtual assistant to do it for you. You can also get them to find good hotels for you to stay at.
If you’re very busy, you can get your virtual assistant to plan most of the trip for you. Specifically, they can find all the places worth seeing and all the possible car rental options.
P.S. Don’t be surprised if you start asking your virtual assistant to book private trips for you as well.
Keeping an eye on the competition
When selling a certain product or service, you always have to know how the competition’s doing. That would include checking out their prices and seeing what they offer for those prices.
Doing it yourself would probably be too exhausting and stressful. But a virtual assistant could perform those chores for you every week. You could also tell your assistant to check out online reviews on you and your competition.
Being informed about your industry
What could be better for your reputation than staying in touch with the latest developments in your industry? Think about it, you probably admire companies which post the latest news and industry developments on Twitter or Facebook.
Guess how much time it would take for you to do it alone? Too much time. It’s such an easy task for a virtual assistant. Any virtual assistant could get acquainted with your industry in a few hours max.
With the help of a virtual assistant, you could have at least one news item every few days. This would do wonders for your reputation.
Social media management
Do you have a profile on any of the leading social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook? If you do, you have probably gotten more than a few comments or questions on social media platforms.
Social media management is a perfect task for virtual assistants, especially if you are present on more than one social media website. Virtual assistants can handle comments and questions, and they can regularly share updates about your business.
Content creation for blogs
Blog posting is one of the biggest components of successful content marketing. It’s also one of the most time consuming chores. Just researching the given topic takes up a lot of time. After research, you have to write and format the articles.
A virtual assistant can help you achieve a good blog posting frequency. They can do the parts that you hate (for example the research). If you like research and writing, but hate doing the formatting and SEO, they can do that for you.
By hiring a virtual assistant to write a blog post for you weekly, you can save at least 4 hours a week. Your virtual assistant could also help you monitor your website in order to make sure that your content is up to date.
Websites require constant maintenance of some sort. And chances are, you aren’t really an expert on web design or development. Having a virtual assistant for website maintenance puts you at ease since you’re leaving a complicated task to a professional.
Virtual assistants as trainers
Why would you train your employees on how to use a certain software or service when you could leave this job to a virtual assistant? Virtual assistants would be able to train your new employees using Skype, for example.
Where do you find virtual assistants?
Finding virtual assistants is harder than figuring out which tasks to outsource. There are so many websites that offer virtual assistant services or list freelance virtual assistants.
- freelance websites like Hubstaff Talent and Freelancer
- job boards and classifieds like Craigslist
- social media groups such as those on LinkedIn
Finding virtual assistants on freelance websites, job boards and social media platforms is harder than you think. It’s true that there are millions of contractors on those websites. But it’s also true that there is a lot of uncertainty when hiring someone you don’t know.
Nobody can guarantee that your chosen contractors will do a good job. And chances are, you’ll be assembling a team of virtual assistants, instead of just one individual.
How can you ensure that a team works and cooperates well together? After all, it’s a bunch of strangers trying to collaborate on projects and tasks together. Conflict can easily ensue in those cases.
Tips for finding good virtual assistants
Whether you are searching on freelance websites, social media platforms or job boards, you need some general advice on landing good virtual assistants.
Freelance websites and job boards are frequented by millions of contractors from all over the world. With so much on offer, picking just one can be overwhelming.
Most well respected freelance websites have tests for languages and certain computer skills. But don’t just rely on those tests alone. Check out the candidates’ portfolios. See if they have any good reviews. Ask for reference letters from their previous employers.
If you need someone to just enter data in Excel for you, then you don’t need to know much about your contractor. Just test him or her and see if they can do the job well. But for more complicated tasks like blog posts, you’ll need to see their portfolio and check out their reviews.
Social media websites like LinkedIn have virtual assistant groups with lots of contractors. The difference between LinkedIn and freelance websites is the issue of anonymity. It’s harder to be anonymous on LinkedIn, everything is more transparent there.
Building a good reputation on LinkedIn is not that easy for contractors. If you see that some virtual assistant has a lot of praises and recommendations, it means that he or she is legit. But you should still double check every claim and test them properly yourself as well.
The easiest way to find virtual assistants
Let’s face it, the internet is full of scammers and low-skilled contractors who desperately need your money. There is a great chance that you won’t find the right virtual assistants on freelance websites, job boards or even LinkedIn groups.
Even if you do find some contractors online, there’s a great chance that they won’t satisfy your requirements in the long run. And then imagine trying to assemble a couple of mediocre virtual assistants into a team? That is a whole new level of difficult.
Why take the hard path when you could take the easy path and save lots of time?
Presenting Hubstaff Talent
Hubstaff Talent connects virtual assistants and clients with efficiency and finesse. It’s a free directory for companies looking for remote talent across the globe. There are no markups and no fees on either side (freelancer or business owner). That means virtual assistants get exactly what their client pays them. Search through 3000+ virtual assistants and virtual assistant companies or get bids on your job.
This free platform displays a virtual assistant’s hourly rate, skills, experience, availability, resume, and languages spoken. Virtual assistants also have the option to add a short “about” description to provide more information on themselves. Profiles can be filtered by skill, availability, years of experience, or country. You can also run a search for keywords or phrases.
Our staffing service is actually integrated and part of our employee management platform – Hubstaff. This means that everyone you hire can log their hours and track their work through our software. It means you get to see exactly what they’re doing when and how.