Make Time to Market by Hiring a Virtual Assistant

If you feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to take care of your clients’ needs and market your business too, and especially if you cannot afford to hire a marketing pro, I’ve got a solution! Make time to market by hiring a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant (VA) provides services to businesses, including handling clerical/administrative, technical or creative tasks. Since the VA you hire may not be located in your same community (or even in your same country), you will probably communicate with one another via email or phone.

Most VAs work on an hourly or project basis, although depending on your needs, you may want to negotiate a retainer agreement with the one you hire. VA hourly rates typically range from about $25 to $75, although they can be more or less depending on the specific task you need performed.

Things a VA Can Do For You

Here are some examples of the things you can use a virtual assistant to do for your firm:

• Develop and maintain marketing databases

• Format and send email newsletters

• Handle all of your word processing needs

• Maintain your books

• Do Google searches

• Help you manage your email messages so you do not miss the important ones, respond to routine emails, etc.

• Register your blog with blog registries

• Post new entries on your blog

• Add images to your blog posts so that they are more eye-catching and therefore, more likely to be read

• Help you identify strong key words to add to your web site and include in your blog posts

• Research content for your blog posts and articles

• Create and manage your social media accounts -- find new people for you to connect with on LinkedIn, promote your events on Facebook and Twitter

• Keep up with new social media sites and educate you about how to use them

• Manage your website

• Manage your calendar

• Take care of your billing

• Help you turn your articles into ebooks that you can sell on your website

• Arrange your webinars

• Schedule conference calls

How to Find a Reliable Virtual Assistant

Before you begin looking for a VA, define what you want one to do for you. For example, what activities are eating into the time you could spend marketing and what tasks are being left undone? Also, identify the specific skills and knowledge you want in a VA and decide how much you can afford to pay for one.

There are a couple ways to find a reliable VA. First, find out if any of your business associates are using VAs. If they are, ask for a referral.

Second, visit the websites of VA organizations like International Virtual Assistants or the Virtual Assistant Networking Organization.

Third, Google the term “virtual assistant” adding information about the specific kinds of things you need help with. For example, “virtual assistant social media” or “social media virtual assistant.” The more specific you can be, the better your search results.

Fourth, search on Craigslist or post a request for a VA on that site.

Screening Candidates

Once you’ve found some good candidates, do your due diligence by:

• Scheduling a phone appointment with each one so you can determine if the two of you “click” and so you can judge how well each candidate communicates. Strong verbal skills are important if you want your VA to contact your clients or potential clients.

• Visiting their websites. Are the sites attractive? Is the copy well-written?

• Asking to see some samples of their writing if you will be asking your VA to draft letters, emails or other kinds of written communications for you.

• Checking their references. Ideally the references should be in your same industry and/or should be business owners for whom the VAs have provided the same sorts of help you need.

• Looking at samples of the work they have done for other clients, assuming they can share that information with you.

After you’ve chosen a VA, put all of the terms of your relationship in a written agreement.

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