You already know that trying to do everything yourself is not the path to success. For one thing, there aren’t enough hours in the day! You’ve heard of virtual assistants (also known as VAs), they seem to be popping up everywhere. You know there must be tasks you can outsource but what exactly can a virtual assistant do for you?
In this article you will learn:
- 5 tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant immediately and see the results
- Some ideas for what else you can outsource
- How do I find a virtual assistant?
What tasks can you give to a VA today?
Let’s not overthink it, here are some tasks that you can outsource relatively easily with a good return on investment.
1. Email management
Emails are a time suck. Do you start your day thinking, I’ll just quickly check my emails… and then before you know it, it is almost lunchtime! The actual work you had earmarked has fallen by the wayside and your to-do list is now bigger than it was at 9:00am, despite working all morning.
That’s not the way it should work…
Your VA can:
- Filter email and manage spam
- Unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists
- Create folders, label and file emails
- Create rules or filters so that emails don’t even hit your inbox in the first place
- Flag as priority
- Respond to enquiries on your behalf / send holding emails
These things will keep your emails manageable and your inbox focused, so you can concentrate on what’s important. Of course, you will need to provide guidance on your preferences and how you like to prioritise but once you’ve got that down, you’re laughing.
Maybe you’ll be Team Inbox Zero? Maybe not, but at least you won’t be swamped by emails any more.
2. Social media
Yet another time suck. How often does a “quick” check of your IG account turn into endless scrolling? Ditto Facebook. Snap Twitter. And Pinterest. Plus LinkedIn. It just keeps going.
That’s before you’ve even started with creating your posts, and actually posting them, and replying to comments and messages. Fitting all that in, plus working in your business is an issue all small business owners face.
The struggle is real.
But what kind of social media tasks can you outsource? Your VA can:
- Schedule posts across different social media platforms with copy and images provided by you
- Find images for posts – ideally from your catalogue but also from stock image sites
- Create graphics, often using Canva or also Adobe or other software
- Resizing graphics and images to optimise for different platforms
- Repurpose blog posts, vlogs or other marketing material into social media posts
- Create original copy for posts
- Reply to comments and direct messages on your behalf, which we all know is very important for engagement levels
There are even more things a VA could help you with, such as running ads, hashtag research, collating and interpreting insights. But keeping it simple, just picking one or two of the above would free up some very important time for you. Perhaps start with managing the scheduling for your various social media accounts and take it from there. Consistency is key with social media management so that’s a good one to get nailed.
3. Data entry
This is definitely one to hand off if you can. Data entry does not gain you clients or customers or earn you money. It takes you away from the tasks you should be doing.
Your VA can do things such as:
- Ensure contacts and your CRM (if you use one) is up to date
- Add/update/delete database entries for customer information
- Digitise paper information so that you can have a paperless office
Basically anything data entry-related, outsource if you can. You want to outsource admin work and it is exactly these types of tasks that take you away from the core of your business.
4. Email marketing
Do you find yourself with a bunch of ideas for newsletters but either don’t have the time to get them out or don’t have the foggiest where to start? That’s where your VA can help.
Your VA can:
- Set up a MailChimp account (or MailerLite or whatever you prefer)
- Create newsletter templates
- Upload and update mailing lists
- Set a consistent schedule so you are talking to your audience regularly (so long as you have something useful to say and not just emailing for the sake of it!)
- Create content for your newsletter
- Proofread, schedule and send newsletters
- Create landing pages and sign up pages
Your email list is SO important when it comes to marketing your business. You can even track the click rate, conversion rate and money made through an email campaign! It often gets pushed down on your list (understandably) but your VA can make it a priority. Just remember to always send a test email first!
Another area where you can easily lose hours down a rabbit hole, watching random YouTube videos that are only vaguely connected to your original search matter (been there, done that). But a VA can keep focused and give you what you need.
The types of research you can give a VA:
- Competitor analysis – always good to keep an eye on what your competition is up to
- Sourcing information on company websites
- Vendor/supplier research
- For presentations and pitches
- Keyword and hashtag research
Remember, you might need to share log-in information to access specialist search tools or websites. And be clear about what level of detail you want, if you have any expectations of the format of the research and anything in particular you want. As with any good relationship, communication is key.
So we’ve looked at some tasks you can offload pretty quickly, but you may now be wondering…
What other tasks can I outsource to a VA?
Answer: virtually anything (pun intended).
Here’s a bonus list of 10 to give you an idea of the kind of tasks you can outsource:
- Customer and client relations – answering enquiries send via email/social media platforms, sending thank you emails, following up on potential leads
- Manage your blog – publish blog posts, keyword research, SEO optimisation of posts, moderating, filtering and replying to comments, adding tags and images
- Content marketing – writing blogs, creating social media posts, repurposing already created content into new posts, graphic design creating graphics, infographics and images
- Document creation – templates, eBooks, lead magnets, worksheets, PDF conversion, merging and splitting
- Website updates and maintenance – ensure your VA has the requisite knowledge to do this. If so, you won’t need to get your web developer every time you want to change some wording
- Reporting – weekly/monthly/ad hoc reporting ( for example: sales, deliverables etc), data cleansing, analysis and visualisation so that you have meaningful data for yourself and for any stakeholders
- Slideshows – Pass over those PowerPoint or Canva presentations to your VA to make your content sparkle. Maybe even pass over the research and writing part too.
- Invoicing and following up on payments – when you are too busy to send the invoice for work you’ve done, you’re too busy to do it all!
- Bookkeeping – ensure your VA has the requisite skills and experience and be aware that this does not negate the need for a qualified accountant
- File management – organisation of Dropbox/Google Drive, creating file naming conventions, folder systems to make finding everything so much more time efficient
How do I find a virtual assistant?
So you’re convinced that a virtual assistant is the way to go. But how the heck do you find one that you want to work with? Chances are, you are a small business, perhaps the sole business owner and entrepreneur. Handing over work to someone else is a big deal.
The question becomes, how do I find a good virtual assistant? How do I find the right virtual assistant?
Delegation can a very powerful tool, but it can also be a challenge to let you. You want to get this right.
You can try the obvious thing of doing a Google search, but the search results don’t necessarily fill you with confident. Hmmm.
I’d suggest getting a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust, if at all possible.
Or if you know a virtual assistant, ask them! They may well offer you their services (seems obvious) but if it is not their area or they don’t have capacity, chances are they know someone who’d be interested.
You can ask on social media, for example in the Freelance Heroes Facebook Group or on LinkedIn, but be prepared for a deluge of comments, emails and direct messages. Hint: Learn beforehand how to turn comments off your post. Trust me.
But at least you have some options now. Time to do some research (ironically, the kind of thing you might be looking to outsource).
Other things to consider when hiring a virtual assistant
Whilst looking at the various VAs that you could work with keep in mind the following:
- Are they insured?
- Are they registered with the ICO?
- Do they have a website?
- What does their social media look like?
- Does their LinkedIn account have recommendations?
- Do they have the experience you want?
- What do you think of their tone of voice and style on their website?
- What skills are you looking for?
- Do they understand your business?
A virtual assistant, just like an in-person assistant, can be a life-line and the backbone to your business success. So, just like dating, you need to make sure you’re compatible.
A 20-minute Zoom call should tell you enough about whether you and your prospective VA want to work together – it is a two-way street, remember – and you can take it from there.
When you’ve found “The One”, decidedly easier in a virtual assistant than in love, then it is time to get going and delegate, delegate, delegate.
Can they do the job?
I completely understand how it can feel to hand over work to someone else (“but they aren’t going to do it properly!”). As a self-confessed control freak, I genuinely feel your pain. It is a very real reason why many entrepreneurs are reluctant to outsource to a VA.
But I also know that when you do manage to delegate and your world – and business – doesn’t implode, that can be hugely empowering. Not to mention massively beneficial to you both personally and professionally.
Perhaps with those little bits of admin and data entry that take up your time – valuable time which could be better spent working on client matters, strategic development, or spending time with your loved ones.
Soon you’ll be thinking, what other tasks can I give my virtual assistant? You’ll wonder how you did without one. There is a whole world of Virtual Assistants out there, ready and waiting to help make your life that little bit easier.
I should know, of course, being one of them.