I know people who use Virtual Assistants and swear by them, and I know a lot of authors who are swamped with trying to run a blog and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Snapchat, etc., and still find time to write – but don’t think they can delegate any of these tasks, and don’t think they can afford a VA.
So I asked my friend Michelle to explain what a Virtual Assistant is, and what she does, and to answer some basic questions for our group.
If you have additional questions or want to know more, ask your questions below as comments (others may have the same question) or contact Michelle directly. I’ll then ask her to answer it here, too, as a reply, and everyone can see her wonderful, friendly demeanor.
A note to Dan’s readers: This post may come across as quite self-promoting, I know. I am writing about what a virtual assistant is because I AM a virtual assistant. I feel great about what I do, love helping people get organized, and think many people can benefit from quality assistance. What I’m not doing is writing to convert dozens of readers to clients. I work with only a handful of clients at a time, so that really isn’t my goal at all! If you are interested in more information, I would be more than happy to consult with you, and I have a wonderful network of great VAs who I can refer you to if we aren’t a good fit or if I just don’t have the bandwidth to help you.
That being said…
What is a Virtual Assistant??
I’m not talking about Facebook’s “M” or Siri or Cortana, here. A Virtual Assistant is (generally) an independent contractor who provides business support for multiple clients remotely. Some are generalists, and others have specialties. There is a very wide variety of personalities and skills in the VA industry. It has been growing for well over a decade and shows no signs of stopping.
As a VA, I work personally with creative professionals in order to maximize their time and efficiency and make them more productive and profitable. It’s a partnership in which I take over administrative tasks so that my clients can focus their energy on things only they can do.
If you are a writer, you need to put pen to paper (or, you know, fingers to keyboard)! All of the other things: the invoicing, website management, research, bookkeeping, travel planning, newsletter scheduling – those things should be handled by someone who can’t do what you are gifted and trained to do best.
Why Contract a Virtual Assistant??
I generally find that I can complete a client’s administrative and business support tasks in about 50-75% of the time it takes a client to do the same task, so not only does the client gain that much time, but the work is completed SOONER than it would have been if the client was handling it alone. Here are a few other quick reasons.
Partner with a VA so that you can…
- Keep up the momentum of your growing business by letting your VA take care of things quickly.
- Take a step back and look at the bigger picture of your business while your VA takes care of more of the nitty gritty stuff (including reports and analytics to help show you the progress you are making).
- Avoid burnout by delegating the things you hate and focusing only on what you love to do.
What is the Cost of a Virtual Assistant??
Of course, dollars do matter. As I said earlier, there is a lot of variety in this industry! You may pay anywhere from $2-$200 per hour, depending on what you need help with and the skills/experience of the VA, or you may pay a set retainer per month. Essentially, you can find a VA on any budget! I will caution you, though, that you get what you pay for. I have gone through several VAs of my own, and I’ve seen this to be true.
What would it mean to you to finally be organized and on top of your back-end business tasks that bog you down? To know that nothing is falling through the cracks?
What sucks up your time that you DREAD doing? How would it feel to get that off your plate?
Examples and More Information
I’d like to leave you with a hopefully-inspirational list of tasks that you, as a writer, could delegate to a Virtual Assistant. (Note: it will be up to you to make sure the person you partner with is capable of performing all of the tasks you need assistance with, so make sure to vet your candidates! Some of the tasks below require specialized skills.)
- Research & Fact-Finding
- Scheduling Interviews or Promotional Activities
- Email Sorting & Screening
- Invoicing & Bookkeeping
- Proofreading & Editing
- Website Set-Up & Maintenance
- Publishing Assistance
- Copyright Registration
- E-Newsletter Management
Michelle Martinez partners with busy creative professionals to maximize their time and efficiency and keep them organized. She is the all-in-one solution for her client’s virtual business support needs. For more information, please visit http://michelle.io or email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @MichelleAssist on Twitter!
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.