Have you ever worked with a boss or a client who micromanaged every single thing that you did?
I mean, every. Single. Thing.
It’s quite possible that this person was looking over your shoulder every other second, giving you unsolicited feedback before a project was finished, or maybe they “fixed” every contribution you made to the team.
You may wonder why they even bother to pay you for what you do.
Those types of people are a nightmare to work with, because they don’t trust you. They never learned how to delegate, and they don’t know how to let go.
As you are growing your digital marketing agency, you will eventually find (most likely sooner rather than later) that you just don’t have enough time in the day to complete all of the tasks that are necessary for growing your business.
At this point, you have a few choices:
1) Let important assignments slip through the cracks as your business stagnates and/or declines.
2) Work 80-90 hours a week to grow your business yourself, and then experience burn out.
3) Hire an outstanding VA. Delegate tasks to experience growth without working yourself into the ground.
*Ding Ding* We have a winner (In my opinion, at least).
I believe that it is ESSENTIAL to find good help in order to grow your business. Not only will you be able to attribute the success and growth of your business to your new team, but your health and your family/personal life will thank you.
I dare say most of us know that delegating tasks and outsourcing work to a virtual assistant (or “VA”) is the next right step for our business, but some of us are intimidated to begin the hiring process. We are scared that outsourcing won’t turn out to be the good investment we thought it would be, that we won’t find the right person, or that we will have to become a *gulp* micromanager.
Before we press on, let me introduce myself. My name is Abbey Ashley, and I have built my business around training Virtual Assistants.
Over the past year, my business has helped aspiring virtual assistants start their own at-home business from scratch. I’ve taught hundreds of students in my courses, and have made upwards of $200,000 in the past 6 months over at The Virtual Savvy, a virtual assistant training school. It came with a LOT of hard work and delegation!
In this post, I will tell you step-by-step how to hire a QUALITY VA for your business! Follow the steps in this post, and you will be on your way to delegating and outsourcing for your business in no time.
- Where to find a Quality VA.
- What qualifications and personal traits to look for.
- How to onboard your new Virtual Assistant.
- How much you can expect to invest in your new team member.
- And more.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s talk a little bit more about the WHAT and the WHY.
Before beginning any process, it’s imperative to have a thorough understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
So, what is outsourcing exactly?
Outsourcing is the process of hiring another team or individual to complete various assignments for you.
Specifically, digital marketing agencies will hire virtual assistants to offload tasks to, so that they can get more done, faster. (This is crucial in a fast-paced ad environment!)
What tasks should I outsource?
Common tasks that are outsourced generally fall under one of two categories:
1) Time-consuming, monotonous, or labor-intensive tasks that can be easily done by someone else (with minimal training and/or a detailed process).
2) Tasks you aren’t naturally skilled at (think graphic design, copywriting, proofreading, etc.)
To give you an idea of what tasks you can outsource, here is a list of 25 most common services offered by virtual assistants:
- Content Creation (blog posts, templates, email sequences, etc.)
- Email Newsletters
- Video Editing
- Sales Funnels and/or Facebook Ads
- Customer Service and/or Email Management
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
- Custom Sales Page Creation
- Social Media Management
- Community Management
- SEO Services
- Webinar Setup and Assistance
- Transcription and/or Data Entry
- Billing and/or Processes
- Internet Research
- Responding to Blog Comments
- Maintaining an Editorial Calendar
- Social Media Graphics
- Ebook Content and Design
- Accounting and/or Bookkeeping
- Affiliate Management
- Branding Services
- PR / Press Releases
Why should I hire a Virtual Assistant?
Most business owners that I talk to all have the same problem – we are all spending way too much time on the small stuff!
We are spending MORE time on things that DON’T make us money.
However, if we could outsource the majority of our maintenance tasks, then we would have more time to spend on the things that will actually sell our services and bring in income.
The bottom line—your individual productivity is limited by time. Whether you have 10 hours or 60 hours a week to work on your business, there is still a limit.
When you start outsourcing, that time gets multiplied. When a business owner masters the skill of outsourcing, there is literally no limit to what you can get done.
And who doesn’t desire unlimited time?
So, let’s dive into the particulars of who to hire, where to find them, and how to get the perfect person on your team!
(The steps outlined here will be a complete guide to get you started, but feel free to tweak any of the steps along the way and tailor them more specifically to your business.)
I know I need to outsource, but I’m new to the outsourcing process. Where do I begin?
The very first step in finding a quality VA is to write a detailed job description.
This part is very important, so pay close attention.
In order to do this, you need to know one-hundred percent what tasks or assignments you want to outsource, as a vague job description is almost always the start of a confusing and disappointing process that ends in unmet expectations.
In your job description, you need to be crystal-clear on precisely who you’re looking for and what exactly they will be doing for you. This will also help initially weed out unqualified candidates.
Here’s what I recommend:
Recommendation #1: Make a thorough list of all of the tasks that you do on a regular basis.
Include EVERYTHING. Group them into separate categories, if necessary. These categories could be grouped by subject, such as social media, email, client work, communication, blogging (etc.), or they could be categorized by frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly).
Recommendation #2: From this list, circle all of the things that you could potentially outsource.
Include things that you don’t have time for, tasks that you are not naturally skilled at, chores you don’t enjoy doing, or duties that are important to maintaining your business but don’t necessarily bring you income or profit.
Recommendation #3: Based on this list, decide which type of Virtual Assistant you need to hire.
The two main types of Virtual Assistants are generalists and specialists.
Which type of Virtual Assistant you need strongly depends on a few factors: which tasks you specifically need help with, how much you are willing to pay, how much time you are willing to invest into training, and how much communication you want to have with your Virtual Assistant.
Generalists will be able to help you out with handling more TYPES of tasks, such as general admin work, ad campaign reporting, and social media posting, whereas a specialist usually only handles one to two types of work, tops. A generalist will (more often than not) charge LESS than a specialist. However, a generalist will also need more of a time investment from you (in terms of training and regular communication) than a specialist, who is typically more adept and experienced in their particular line of work and more of an expert in their craft.
Sometimes, if you are reviewing your list of tasks, you might realize that a couple of people who are more specialized in their craft might be a more ideal fit for your business than a generalist VA might be. For example, if you need someone to work on your website, someone to write blogs, someone to create social media graphics, someone to help with ad campaigns, and someone to handle general admin work (manage emails/perform data entry), it might be helpful to hire multiple people who are more specialized instead of trying to find a unicorn person who is skilled and enjoys all of the above tasks. Let’s be honest – when people aren’t enjoying the work, they won’t perform it to the best of their ability.
Recommendation #4: Based on the above exercises of determining which tasks to outsource and which type of Virtual Assistant you are looking to hire, you are now ready to write a precise job description.
These questions will help you get started in creating that job description:
Your Blog / Website / Social Media
What tasks are you looking for a VA to assist you with?
How many hours per week or month will you need assistance?
What is your budget?
Is there anything else that a VA should know about you or your company?
Now that you have your amazing job description, you need to know…
Where do I find a Quality VA?
Here are my top recommendations for beginning your search:
Personal Referrals: Ask other business owners that you know and trust who they use to outsource their tasks to. Virtual Assistants generally have more than one client, so it’s possible they might have capacity to work with you, too!
Email List: If you have an existing email list, this is a great place to start to find the newest addition to your team. Someone who already believes in the vision of your business could be a perfect fit for you.
Facebook groups: Entrepreneurial facebook groups are overflowing with entrepreneurs, freelancers, and virtual assistants who have capacity to work with you. Posting your job description in these groups will guarantee the proposals to come flooding in. My Facebook group, Virtual Assistant Savvies, has close to 15,000 virtual assistants for hire.
Marketplaces: Upwork and other similar sites are a great place to start finding freelance virtual assistants who are available for more work.
Congrats! The proposals are coming in to your Facebook via messages and comments, and some are even landing straight into your inbox. Now what?
What qualifications/personal traits should I look for?
As you are sifting through the proposals and deciding which candidates make your short list to interview, consider the following qualifications and personal traits.
Please remember that a Virtual Assistant is a business owner and an independent contractor, and therefore, a resume should NOT be required. (They are not an employee!) Rather, each Virtual Assistant should be judged on his or her capacity and competency to handle the tasks at hand.
• Prior experience in completing tasks written in the job description.
• Examples of past work, or the ability to complete a quick trial project.
• Effective communicator with a quick communication turnaround (24 business hours is standard).
• A portfolio, website, and/or testimonials of past work and client praise.
• Ability to provide their own contract and billing process.
• Quick/natural learner
• Goes above and beyond
• Doesn’t need overly explained/detailed directions or hand-holding
• Takes initiative in your business
• Naturally thinks of ways to improve/grow your business (a.k.a. Is excited to work with you!)
• Is honest/transparent
• Takes responsibility for his or her actions
• Takes personal pride and ownership or his or her work
Did you find your person?
Great! Let’s get them onboarded to your team.
What does the onboarding process look like?
Here’s what the typical process looks like when you are onboarding your new virtual assistant.
Step #1: Set up an initial meeting via phone or video conferencing call.
Outline the job description and expectations, and get to know one another on a more personal level.
You may decide to work with this person for a trial period or on a trial project, to make sure you are both the best fit for each other. I normally recommend this at the beginning of all working relationships. (At the end of the trial, you can both decide whether you love working together. Either party can decide not to continue for any reason.)
Step #2: Have clearly defined expectations regarding how many hours the Virtual Assistant will be working for you and when.
Also find out when you can expect an invoice, how much you are paying them, and how they will track time/hours for you.
Step #3: Sign a contract.
This is IMPORTANT. Even if you are just starting out with a trial run, working with your Virtual Assistant, a contract needs to be clear on all expectations even during the trial period.
Step #4: Define a meeting schedule that outlines how often you would like to meet with your Virtual Assistant.
You can use this meeting to review completed assignments, stay on track with your goals, and make plans for future projects.
Step #5: Set communication expectations.
Working remotely is great. However, boundaries need to be set and clearly communicated around how each party prefers to be contacted, and when they are available via email, phone, or an alternate communication method (like Slack or Teamwork). Remember, your VA is an independent contractor so you are not able to tell them exact hours that they need to be available. This would cross over the client / independent contractor relationship.
Step #6: Train your VA.
Training will differ depending on who you hired, and how much guidance they need completing specific tasks. A VA who writes blog posts will need minimal training versus a VA who is learning the intricate processes and rhythms of your business. Remember that training takes time, and he or she will not be perfect at their job right away. I have seen it generally takes 4-6 weeks for a Virtual Assistant to become fully acclimated with a new client.
How much should I expect to pay a quality VA?
I recommend a generalist VA to start their business at no less than $25/hour. Keep in mind that this is the rate for beginner Virtual Assistants who don’t have many clients or much experience. You can typically expect to pay between $30 – $50 per hour for a generalist VA.
A Specialist is more experienced in his or her craft, and will generally charge anywhere between $50 – $100 per hour for his or her services. Remember, this person will be fast and efficient at what they do, and will require VERY minimal training (which is less of a time investment for you).
Advanced Virtual Assistants will generally charge a monthly retainer OR a project-based fee, which will vary greatly depending on the project. You can most likely expect to pay anywhere between $1k – $5k+ a month for VAs who are incredibly advanced and have been in the industry for a long time.
Finding the right person or people to help you in your business means that they deeply care about you and your business, and they take responsibility and pride of ownership in their work.
They won’t just be faceless virtual assistants. Almost always, your team becomes your friends.
Best of all, when you master the art of outsourcing, that means there is no limit to how big your business can grow.
No micromanaging necessary.