I’ve started outsourcing more of what I spend my time on to Virtual Assistants (VAs). I think outsourcing is smart for a variety of reasons, including:
Enables you to focus on what you’re good at
Your time is worth more than $5 per hr (you can find VAs for less than $5/hr!). You can probably create more value than $5 in one hour, so it’s profitable to outsource.
Enables you to stop doing stuff you hate (like data entry, formatting, etc).
Virtual Assistants are actually quite good, and fast, at things that you may not be (such as design)
Ultimately, with the time I’m freeing up by hiring virtual assistants, I’m enabling myself to make more money and have more fun. I’m also able to get more done, faster (which means more money, faster).
I needed some help getting started with Virtual Assistants, so I reached out to my friend Nate Ginsburg with some questions. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation. Nate provided some great advice on getting started with virtual assistants, including what to outsource, how to hire, and more.
I think almost everyone could and should be using virtual assistants…for business, personal life, even if you have a full-time job. My advice is to find tasks that don’t require a high degree of emotional intelligence (for example data entry or finding information), tasks that you are not good at doing, tasks that take you a long time, or tasks that you hate doing, and find someone to do them for you at a much lower amount of money per hour than the value of your time. Then you can focus your time on work that you find more fulfilling, are better at, and that creates more value for you.
What Tasks to Outsource
Nate: I think it’s good to have a relationship with a General VA that you can just pass things off to as they come up. For example, any web research stuff, such as the apartment hunting, I could quickly pass off to my VA. I know her, she’s good, and it saves me the hassle of having to continuously find someone. She also helps sometimes with hiring. I pay her ~$4.50/hr I think and i’m happy with her work. You can def find good people for ~4/hr and you can figure out ways to use them once you start that relationship.
Mike: What about outsourcing video and/or audio editing for a podcast/video course? Are those good things to outsource?
Nate: Definitely! I’ve had my brother edit my sales videos which has been a big help for me. I’ve also found podcast editors on oDesk and know there are a bunch of audio guys available. I actually could refer you to someone i worked with a while back who was pretty good.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
Mike: Would you recommend oDesk for finding a General VA, or just for specific tasks?
Nate: I’d think of a task or two you’d want someone to get started with and post a job specifically relating to that. As you screen applicants I’d think that some would start to stick out as better to work with. Then just hire someone and try them out. If they are good, then continue running with them. At the first sign of them being not-good, move on to someone else.
Where to Find a Virtual Assistant
Mike: How would you recommend finding a good General VA? What is your take on Zirtual?
Nate: Honestly, I’ve used oDesk pretty much exclusively and have always been able to find what I’ve needed.
I’m familiar with Zirtual but think they are quite a bit more expensive then I’ve gotten used to paying on oDesk. If you’d rather pay a premium and not deal with a hassle of finding someone, Zirtual could be a good option.
Tips for Delegating and Hiring
Nate: I highly recommend making screencasts and sending video instructions. That has been a game changer for me.
Mike: Do you think it would be possible to outsource apartment hunting? Basically I want to tell them my criteria and then have them show me where to sign hah.
Nate: Yeah, I definitely think you could to that. Well, maybe you’d have to do a bit more than ‘just sign’, but I think you could have a VA definitely help with the process. You could def give someone a list of criteria, have them compile places that fit in a spreadsheet including contact info. From there, you could have them call to set up appointments etc. Think something like that could help? You could list your criteria in the job description and have them compile a few sample listings as part of the job application.
Mike: I like the idea of breaking down the project into tasks and having the VA complete a task before hiring to see if they are capable as a screening strategy.
How to Pay Your Virtual Assistant
Mike: Now that you have the VA(s) you like, do you continue to pay them through oDesk? Or do you just pay them offline using paypal or something? Do you just send them work and have them send you an invoice? Do they bill you on an hourly rate?
Nate: For my main VA, I mostly just keep her on hourly using oDesk. I loose a bit of $$ using oDesk but it’s easy.
When possible, I try to put the projects into ‘fixed price’ and yeah, definitely try and get them off of oDesk and onto Paypal.
Mike: Thanks Nate!
To learn more about outsourcing and virtual assistants, check out Nate’s Udemy course, “Outsourcing For Solopreneurs: Double Revenue; Half The Work”