How to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant (VA)
As your business grows, you’ll eventually hit a wall (if you haven’t already!) where you know you can’t keep doing everything yourself.
Once you’ve validated your business and it’s making money, smart outsourcing to a virtual assistant (or multiple VAs) will be the thing that really grows your income and business to the next level.
You’ve probably heard this before.
But let me guess, there’s some resistance.
Are any of these are coming up for you? –
- You love your freedom and independence, so the idea of ‘staff’ makes you feel a bit nauseous.
- Your don’t think you can afford support now.
- You don’t think you can trust anyone to take on the tasks you do.
- You have no idea what tasks to outsource to a VA.
How many did you get? All four?
I hear you. Let’s de-mystify them… Play the video above, or you'll find the transcript below.
(...and don’t miss your free workbook to help you walk through what you want to outsource, work out what budget you want to allocate and how to get that ad out there.)
Outsourcing doesn’t need to be a big deal. Start small, gain confidence, and you’ll gradually build up more support around you.
Here’s the Video Transcript
One of the key things you can do to really help you uplevel and grow your business is to get some support – for those tasks that make you feel tired or drained, or you just don’t like doing, so you can focus on the things that you do so well – the ones that will help your business grow.
But outsourcing can bring up a little resistance for small business owners:
- If you’ve been used to doing everything by yourself, you might think, ‘I can’t afford to outsource’ or ‘I might as well just do it myself’
- Then there’s trust… ‘Can I really trust someone else to do as well or in the way that I would do it?’
- Or maybe you’re not sure of what to outsource or how to go about outsourcing in the first place.
With all of these, you can test them so that you can start easily, then gradually grow and build up more of what you outsource in your business.
It’s not like being back in corporate where you have to have employees and premises; with virtual assistants – and there’s a few ways to work with them – you’re generally invoiced for a specific amount and you pay the invoice.
That’s it. They’re not an employee. They’re not ‘on your books’.
Depending on what they’re doing for you, you may have an outline or agreement in place around expectations of the role, confidentiality, etc., but you’re only paying someone to carry out a specific task or sets of tasks.
With all of this, we could dive so deep into each element, but for today’s post, I want to demystify some of this for you and give you the next steps to take you forward if you’ve considered outsourcing – or outsourcing more if you’re already doing some.
The thing about working with virtual teams is it still gives you both freedom.
If you’re feeling some of the resistance I spoke of earlier about potentially having employees, you don’t have to worry about that when working with a virtual assistant or virtual assistants.
You can choose to ask someone to do one specific small task, either because it is a one-off task or because you want to do a trial – then ask them to do the same recurring thing or do more of a bigger project later.
You don’t have to dive in immediately to working with someone every month, you can test it and take it from there.
Decide your budget
You can also start with a small budget. How much you pay someone can vary massively across virtual assistants. You could start at $10 an hour and sometimes even less if a freelancer is based in a country where the wages are lower (they’ll set a rate they’re happy with) – and rates can go up to hundreds of dollars an hour.
Now, to an extent, you do get what you pay for. With the $10 / hour tasks, you’re probably looking at admin-based tasks where you would say to someone, ‘Okay, I want you to do X, then Y, then Z’ – where it’s very easy for them to follow your steps and get the outcome. There’s not much nuance or responsibility where they would need to make judgment calls, it’s following your specific instructions.
This could be something like creating quotes in your brand template that you’d use on social media, or it could be doing some data analysis based on set criteria to help you with your marketing or planning.
In the middle price bracket, you’ll find VAs who do have the skill to make judgement calls and work to broader parameters you set.
Then, towards the higher end of the budget, say $40+, you’re looking towards specialists or specialist VAs. It might be someone who’s building your website or a graphic designer who will create your logo for you, or it could be a video editor who’s going to do some editing for you. It really is a case of working out what task you need, what level of ability you need from the person you’ll be working with and then taking it from there.
What to Outsource
This question comes up a lot – what should you outsource?
Well, the key way I love to find out what you should outsource is to start your own niggles list.
This is just a sheet of paper that you keep on your desk and, as you’re going through your working day, anything that you find frustrating or annoying or you really wish you could give to someone else to do, it goes on your niggles list.
Then, at the end of the week, you review all the niggles that you’ve picked up and have a look for commonalities. If you’re consistently feeling niggles around customer service emails or around doing design work or around writing copy then that will then give you an idea of what you’d really love to be outsourcing.
Normally there’s one thing that’s shouting at you, ‘Please, outsource me!’ – That’s a good place to start.
The kind of things that people often will outsource are:
- Marketing (creating images for social media, writing copy, scheduling your social media posts)
- Handling customer service queries (email and / or social media channels)
- and if you have a product business, packing up your boxes can be outsourced to a fulfilment centre
On fulfilment centres, once you’ve got a healthy, thriving product business with plenty of customers – but you’re still spending quite a lot of time packing boxes and/or going to the post office, a fulfillment center is definitely worth looking at.
You’d bulk send all your stock to them and, as your orders come in, they’d ship them out to your customers. Again, I can dive so deep into this topic, and I’m sure I will in a future post, but for now just be aware that these things exist and are options for you.
Trial to Trust
We’ve talked about starting small, working out broadly what price range you might look at for a freelancer and the kind of things that you may outsource, but another hesitancy I see is around trusting that you can get someone else to do a good job.
So before you dive into a longer project with someone you’d work with regularly, I always recommending trialing to inspire trust.
What’s a trial? Well, just do one batch of the thing that they might do repetitively or one element of a bigger project and check – are they following instructions clearly? Are they doing the work you’re expecting?
Be aware here, if there are issues, that might be because you’ve not been as clear as you could be in your instructions. But that’s still valuable learning for you! If you find yourself in that situation, check what you’ve asked them to do and if you could have been clearer.
Once you feel comfortable working with a person, you can expand on that and work with them on an ongoing basis.
Trials, of course, are paid – you do pay someone for their time to do the work for you, but it’s a lesser commitment because you’re only asking them to do a smaller project instead of something that might have been many hours over a longer time period.
Where to find your V.A.
So now you’re probably wondering, where do I find these VAs?
You’ve got a few options.
The first is online marketplaces such as Fiverr or Upwork. I particularly like Upwork – it’s the one I use most often for specific projects or specialisms.
You’ll start a new task description, say broadly what you’re looking for (e.g., a designer, a copywriter), what kind of expertise you’re looking for (entry-level, intermediate, advanced) and what hourly rate you want to pay – or what you want to pay for the whole project.
Then people will apply for your job and then you can choose who to either interview, or if it’s a small project and you see someone who’s got fantastic reviews, you might just appoint from their application / covering letter. I’ve done that a number of times.
You also have virtual assistants who either are freelance full-time virtual assistants, so that’s what they do for their main job, or work for a VA agency. With agencies, you often have that extra level of protection that if your main freelancer is off sick or on holiday, they will have cover for you as well. That’s the second route you can go down – and particularly useful if you’re working with someone on an ongoing basis.
Then your third route is to advertise to your network. That might be your business network, but it could also be your customer base if appropriate – they’re your ideal customers and will understand your product and service, whatever it is you do. And while they are a customer, they’ll also have skills of their own.
Create a great advert and recruit
Now let’s create a great advert to recruit with!
I walk you through step by step on how to create this in the free PDF download below, but one of the key things is to be clear on is what your outcome is. Once you know the outcome and you know the steps to get there, it means you and the freelancer you can both tell if they’ve done a good job or not.
If your outcome is really simple, e.g., create a hundred quote images to be used on social media, you’ll know the outcome has been reached because you’ll have a hundred quote images you can use on social media.
Hop into the PDF below to work through the rest of your advert.
I hope you found this useful. As I say, we’ve covered quite a lot in a short period of time. I hope it demystifies outsourcing a little for you and lets you see what your next steps are.
Don’t miss your free workbook. It’ll help you walk through what you want to outsource, work out what budget you want to allocate and how to get that ad out there.
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