Erin Booth is a virtual assistant and coach who’s helped over 32,000 solopreneurs start their own VA businesses. We asked Erin to share her take on how freelancers and VAs can work together to build sustainable, efficient freelance businesses.
How to Bring on a Virtual Assistant
When should freelancers consider bringing on a virtual assistant?
When it comes to hiring a virtual assistant, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer. But if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or like you’re not delivering your best work, it might be time to bring in some help.
Here are the most common signs that it’s time to introduce a trusted partner into your business:
You don’t have time to complete all of your priorities. This is the single most common reason that people opt to hire a VA.
Your work is suffering. You could be behind on your own billing or client maintenance, or you’re spending too much time on things that don’t result in direct income — like scheduling meetings.
Someone else might be better suited for a task. Maybe you’re not an expert in web design or Google Ads but you know those elements would benefit your business. Or maybe there’s a task that you simply hate doing (I’m looking at you, bookkeeping). Hiring a VA in these niches would definitely be an option for you.
How can freelancers determine what tasks a virtual assistant can take on for them?
Before you bring on a VA, it’s important to understand how much time you spend doing admin tasks vs. direct work for your clients.
The best way to do this is to document everything you do over the course of a week or two. At the end of the week, assess how much time you’ve spent on admin type tasks vs. direct work for your clients.
This process can help you identify what types of time-sucking tasks you can immediately offload onto a VA and make sure that your focus remains on working with clients.
Having said that, I have a quick and simple exercise to help you create a laundry list of items to delegate. Choose a task (like setting up calls, for example) and ask yourself:
1. Do I like doing this?
2. Is it repeatable?
3. Can it be delegated?
If the answers are No, Yes, Yes, then you’ve found tasks to delegate!
Pro Tip: Pay close attention to tasks that result in direct income. These high ROI tasks are best to delegate. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, ask your VA to send out pitches or keep a running list of potential projects.
Where can freelancers find a VA?
There are two main ways to find a VA: You can sign up with a VA-matching agency (like Zirtual or Time ETC), or you can find a freelancer on your own. There are pros and cons to each method.
In a nutshell, agencies will match you with a VA on their payroll but will charge you a premium price for the service. Finding a VA on your own can be more cost-effective since you control the budget, but it takes more work upfront.
Regardless of which route you opt for, it’s helpful to jot down a job description for your VA:
- Get clear on the type of assistance/tasks you’re seeking.
- Consider your budget carefully, and plan out how many hours per week or month you anticipate needing assistance.
- Include a call to action so assistants know exactly how and where to respond to your listing.
Sharing this listing on your social media profiles is a great place to start. You can also ask your peers if they have VA recommendations, or consider listing your job listing on platforms like Fiverr.
What are some ways to determine whether or not a VA is going to be a good fit?
When you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant, it’s important to get a feel for who they are as a person. After all, you’ll be working closely with this person for (potentially) years to come.
Video chat is the perfect way to do this. It gives you an opportunity to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for the role, and you’ll get a feel for their personality right off the bat.
And while a great VA will take the lead and ask you pertinent questions about your business, your goals, and your current needs, you can also ask candidates about their work experience, rates, typical turnaround time, etc.
What other advice do you have for freelancers who are considering hiring a virtual assistant?
A great VA wants to become your right-hand person, your trusted confidant, and your partner in growth. But this kind of partnership takes time, trust, and work to build.
Don’t feel discouraged if you and your VA aren’t on the same page from Day 1. Give yourself time to learn how to be a clearer communicator and better delegator, and give your VA time to learn your work preferences and communication style.