In this episode I’m talking to my VA, Holly Smith from The Genie VA, about how to find a virtual assistant, what you should ask before you hire someone, how to prepare and set up processes, and much more.
What does a VA actually do?
A VA in essence is very similar to a PA, but works virtually and normally offers a larger range of online services for online businesses as well as brick & mortar businesses. You can work with an individual VA or a team/agency and they can help you with admin tasks, blogging, organizing your files, and many other aspects of your business.
They help you regain your time so that you can focus on your zone of genius and can allow you to spend more time doing tasks that are going to increase your revenue. VA’s can also assist you with tasks that may speed up what you’re already doing. For example, they could start doing Facebook Ads for you, which may increase your audience quicker than if you weren’t going to use ads because you didn’t know how to.
How did you become a VA? What is your background?
I had been looking for ways to work online for what seemed like years, and when the pandemic hit I took the chance and used the time to learn new skills and pursue my dream of working with people around the world.
- I found online courses to help me become a virtual assistant & learn the necessary skills
- I used skills I already had from previous jobs, and my new-found knowledge from the courses to decide what services I wanted to offer
- I was in hospitality for 10 years, and the wedding industry for 3 – customer service has always been at the forefront of all of my jobs
What did you learn and what qualifications did you have to gain? What did the courses add?
You don’t need specific qualifications to be a virtual assistant. A lot of skills that you would have picked up or learned in the past and in previous jobs can be used – so it’s not like you’re starting from scratch. I decided to take a few courses because I wanted to prepare myself the best way I could and also feel confident in the services I was providing. I am Tech Skills Certified with the Bucket List Bombshells and also Work Online & Travel The World Certified which basically teaches you how to run a business online.
The courses taught me skills that are more specific to online businesses – e.g. email marketing, blogging, and things I would never have used in my day-to-day life or in a ‘normal’ job. They opened my eyes to the online world and the kind of skills that you need to run a business.
How strict are you with your niche? How did you choose your niche?
I’m not overly strict with my niche because as long as the services match what we’re offering and the person aligns with me and my business, I’m more than happy to offer my service to anyone! I like the variety that working with different industries brings to me and to the business.
I eventually landed on the small wedding & elopement photographer niche because I had worked in weddings for the last three years, have a huge passion for it, and am always in absolute awe at the shots these photographers produce. I also saw a need for support because they have long days out shooting, and very rarely have time where they are sat responding to emails and inquiries.
How do people find a VA that’s right for them?
I definitely recommend spending the time looking for the right person. Hopefully, you’re wanting to work with this person for a long time, so it’s important that you get on well and can trust and rely on them.
- The first thing to do is make sure that you have your goals and tasks prepared and listed down – having a clear idea of what you’re outsourcing so that you can communicate this effectively to someone else
- Put things into sections – what your VA must have experience with, the programs they need to know, and then things that are ‘nice to have’.
- Make sure to get on a call with every single person you are considering. It’s important to see people face to face to build that trust, familiarity and also see how they present themselves
- Think about whether your VA needs to know about your industry in order to work with you
Once you have decided what tasks you’d like to outsource, it’s time to get the word out there and look for someone to work with you. You can use Facebook groups like the ones linked below, or matchmaking services where they help you to find someone who fits your requirements.
You can also ask people in your network for referrals or if they know anyone who has been recommended to them or already works with them and they can vouch for them! Creating a landing page or form on your website for people to apply is also a great way to weed out applicants who may not put much effort into initially working with you.
Examples of tasks that a VA can handle for you:
- Email marketing & launch support
- Freebie and graphic creation (Pinterest pins)
- Blogging – formatting, editing, and publishing blog posts
- CRM platform management (Dubsado, Honeybook, etc)
- Collecting reviews and feedback
- Facebook group moderating
- Create landing pages and funnels
- Inquiry management & customer support
What is the price range for hiring a VA?
Overall, the price range varies depending on the VA’’s location, experience, cost of living, and what services they are offering. You can work with VA’s in the Philippines who charge as little as $2 an hour, and then in Eastern Europe and the US, you would be paying anywhere between $30-$60 an hour.
You’ll need to consider what tasks you need help with – if they are specialized or not, and budget accordingly. You will also want to think about the time zone you would like your VA to be working in.
Tips for delegating & communication:
- Use project management programs like Asana/Trello, etc to assign certain tasks, set deadlines, link out to useful resources and communicate on specific tasks
- Slack or WhatsApp are both great for day-to-day/quick questions. This means that you’re not sending & receiving constant emails back and forth – no one needs MORE emails in their inbox
- Create a Google Drive or Dropbox folder with all of your onboarding documents, tutorials, and brand info to avoid repeat questions being asked, and to allow your VA to have access to all of the information they may need
Questions to ask a VA before working with them:
- What their working hours are
- If they have past experience working with people in your niche or in the areas you’re hiring them for
- What timezone they’re in
- If they have business insurance
- Onboarding process – what happens next