It’s no surprise that with our increasingly technological based society even our colleagues and employees have become virtual. For instance, Katrina (co-owner here at TOTS) and I have never met in ‘real’ life. However we have been successfully running our online business together for over 3 years.
As a busy blogger, and mother, when my life gets chaotic I take the chance to step back and see where I can downsize. There are always parts of business that we do not enjoy, or are not particularly good at. This is where a virtual assistant may come in to play.
A virtual assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
In the world of blogging there are several types of VAs. For us here at TOTS, we occasionally use a Social Media VA. They can help share blog posts, engage on social media and improve the look and feel of your social media accounts. VAs also can create blog posts, transcribe podcasts, maintain your books, improve SEO optomization or make extraordinary images. With VAs who are experienced, they will likely have specialties and preferences of the types of work they do. They will likely be able to do tasks in a fraction of the time it would take you to learn and complete.
Being based entirely online, a VA is the only way to go for TOTS. Honestly, like many bloggers, I work from home, often at night and around my children’s schedules. I don’t dress up, have a fancy office or have set hours. For these reasons, a ‘regular’ employee would not work for us. Virtual assistants are often very much like bloggers, and may have a blog themselves. Communication is usually done online and occasionally on the phone. My priority is my children and for this reason, online work is my favourite type.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when using a Virtual Assistant:
Ask for referrals. Any experienced VA will be able to provide previous employers. Be sure to ask the right questions when speaking to one of their current or former employers. What was their best asset? How timely was their work? What is their biggest weakness? It is important that you get to ‘know’ the person whom you will entrust with some very important tasks.
What is their turnaround time? Personally, I need to have a VA that can turn something around in a matter of 1-2 days. Other people might be okay with projects typically taking a week. Ask the VA to be upfront and realistic.
Asking for a time log is always a good idea. When hiring, ask if they are willing to provide a time log. This is especially important for social media VAs. You should monitor where they are spending their time and the subsequent results you are seeing.
Encourage them to use the tools that you use to save time. For us, we use Hootsuite to schedule some social media posting. We also use Ahalogy for our pinning. Make sure that they are comfortable with the tools you use. It is also important that interaction is real and genuine.
Give them access. Virtual assistants will need access to your social media accounts. For Facebook and WordPress this is simple as you can add them as an admin. For Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (along with others) you will need to give them your passwords. So be sure to change the password to something you feel comfortable with sharing (and not the same one as your bank account).
Use Google Docs. We use Google Docs constantly. Post ideas, passwords, contracts and our business goals are all in there. As a two owner and multi-author blog, it is essential that the right people are given access to the right information in order to complete their tasks.
We strongly encourage the use of the right virtual assistant for your small business or blog. They are a time saver and can help you make more money by taking away some of the tasks that take up a lot of time, or you are not that comfortable with.
This post was sponsored by 247virtualassistant.com. All thoughts are our own.
Have you hired a VA before? What was your experience?