How I Hired a Virtual Assistant and Why I’m So Glad I Did
Back in May I read a post on Simple Mom that completely rocked my world as a wannabe professional blogger. I strongly recommend it if you want your blog to be more than a hobby. She asked several bloggers to talk about how they manage to get all of their blog work done while also managing a household and raising kids.
Guess what? THEY DON’T! Every single person that Tsh interviewed had some kind of help.
The day I read that post, I was up to my eyeballs in product reviews, half-written blog posts, emails that were going unanswered, and I had a whiny toddler on my hands who just wanted to play with her mommy. And don’t even get me started on the house.
A lightbulb went off. I realized that the state of chaos I lived in was not so much a reflection of my inabilities. It was, rather, a reflection of the fact that I had more on my plate than one person could possibly handle. So often we see the fruits of other bloggers’ labor, but we have no knowledge of what it took to create those successes. Unfortunately, our inner voices start to tell us that other people are smarter, faster, cleaner, happier, BETTER than we are, and we just don’t have it together like we should.
After mulling the idea over for a few days, I decided that I needed to take a leap of faith and spend some money on my blog to see what would happen. I put a post up on my site announcing that I was looking for a Virtual Assistant (VA). I also tweeted it out, and a few bloggers re-tweeted it for me, which helped the word spread. Within 3 days I had 11 applications in my inbox, complete with cover letters and resumes. Just as it is in more traditional fields, it seems to be an employer’s market in the Virtual Assistant field. There is NOT a shortage of qualified talent. So if that is a worry holding you back, let it go right now. Seriously.
I narrowed the group down to 5 candidates based on the initial information they gave me, and then I offered them each a Skype or phone interview. I also told them what I was able to offer in terms of pay and hours. Give careful thought to what you can afford to pay and what seems reasonable to you. Just because the “industry standard” says one thing, don’t feel confined to it. You may not be able to get the VA with 10 years of experience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find someone with a tremendous amount of potential. I let the candidates decide if they wanted to continue based on what I could afford. Some didn’t, and I totally respected their decisions. But a few did!
I had two excellent interviews and then made my choice (which was a tough one…that’s a great problem to have when you are hiring). Choosing the right person is a critical step in the process, so be sure to give plenty of time to reviewing resumes and conducting thorough interviews. Think really hard about areas where your blog is weak and needs a lot of help. Also, what are the tasks you are dying to hand over? If your candidate has little to no experience in these areas, that’s a red flag.
Once I made my hire, I created a document with a lot of helpful background information about how my reviews and giveaways work (that’s my niche), and all the areas of help that I needed. My VA had this document on day one of the job to help her get her bearings. I also was very clear about what items needed to happen every day, and which items only needed to happen once a week, or as needed. Offering this kind of information will help the assistant get started faster and will help the person be able to work on their own, even when you might not be online to answer questions. Clear communication is absolutely critical for success when working with anyone, and a VA is no exception. You want to make sure that they are good communicators, and you also need to be excellent at getting feedback to them, answering questions quickly, and being very specific with what you are asking them to do. Nobody can read your mind, so don’t leave your hopes and wishes for your blog in there!
Here are the four ways that I have been impacted the most by having a VA for the past two months:
First, I truly think of my assistant as someone invested in my blog, just like I am. It has been INCREDIBLE to have another person to bounce ideas around with and to “talk shop” about my blog with on a daily basis. It actually makes me want to work even harder knowing that someone else is is on board, too.
Second, I am happier because I have passed along some of the work I was growing so tired of doing every single day. I have a review and giveaway on my blog almost every day, and each one of those requires additional promotion to ensure success. There are multiple sites where the posts get listed, not to mention the tweets and Facebook posts. My VA handles all of that for me. This is bliss, people.
Third, because I’m not having to handle all of those post updates daily, my time is freed up to pursue more strategic endeavors, such as finding ways to monetize my blog. This has been very successful! Every month I have been able to find enough work to pay for my VA and then some. Much of this money that I’m earning is getting re-invested in the blog by way of a major blog upgrade and joining some paid membership sites that help me connect with marketing reps much more easily. I know that these investments are going to pay off in the form of having a higher quality blog that more people will want to visit regularly.
Fourth, my assistant also has a knack for strategic thinking, and when time permits, she helps me think about ways to improve different aspects of my blog and my social media presence. This is HUGE to me, because I kind of stink at Twitter and Facebook! It’s good to know your areas of weakness and find someone who can help you grow in those areas. My VA is doing just that.
So yeah, now I’m spending significantly more on my blog every month than I ever have in the past. I’m also making significantly more money and finding myself feeling significantly happier. It was the best decision I ever made for my blog.
Tiffany blogs at Stuff Parents Need about products and services that make life a little less hectic and a lot more fun for parents of young children. She gives away cool stuff almost every day on her site, so pop over and check out her site; you just might win something!