For many small business owners, hiring a virtual assistant (VA) is the next step after developing a solid marketing plan. This is why I do it. Delegating time consuming tasks to an assistant not only allows you to focus your energy on new directions for your business, but it also allows you to take a step back and analyze the efficiency of your marketing strategy from an outside perspective, or, you know, you go crazy.
The following are some of the ways that a VA can help you advance your marketing strategy:
- Managing social media. Maintaining an active social media presence can be very time consuming to do alone. This includes regularly posting on social media platforms, engaging with current followers and actively seeking out new conversations to participate in.
- Writing articles for promotion. Hiring a VA to write articles to use for various promotional tactics, like posting to web 2.0 platforms, can free up your time to write content-rich pieces for your own website.
- Setting up blog posts and managing comments. Tedious tasks, like uploading and formatting posts, as well as managing website comments from readers, are often best handled by an assistant.
- Designing a new website for branding purposes. Branding is a critical part of a small business marketing strategy, especially online. However, if you don’t have the skills to design your own website and promotional materials, like business cards and info graphics, so that that they leave a lasting impression on your customers, then you should consider outsourcing the work to someone else who does. A poorly designed branding campaign, or lack thereof, can have a negative effect on your business.
Finding the Right VA to Hire
Although the decision to hire an assistant may be easy to make, finding the right person to help you further your business isn’t always a straight forward task. There are many factors to consider, like skill level and availability.
Here are some tips for finding a VA suited to your business needs:
- Post your ad for a VA in the right place. Although it is possible to find a VA using Craigslist, Twitter and LinkedIn, posting your job ad in a marketplace dedicated to freelancers will net you the best response from qualified workers. You may also want to consider posting an ad in a forum centered on virtual assisting.
- Clearly define the tasks you need accomplished. Make sure that you fully explain the tasks that you need potential candidates to commit to. Being upfront in your ad decreases the chance of hiring an unqualified applicant. That being said, this doesn’t negate the importance of properly screening applicants in the first place.
- Ask to see samples of previous work. In addition to looking at previous work, you may also want to consider paying for a small trial assignment, which will give you a better idea of the type of work you can expect.
- Start with smaller tasks before advancing to larger projects. Although it may seem counterproductive to your goal to move forward, starting with small projects will give you a chance to see how compatible your VA is with your business goals. Despite being a skilled worker, some assistants just aren’t a good fit for your situation.
- Keep a backup of your website files. If you are hiring a VA to work directly from the backend of your website, then it’s a wise idea to ensure there is always a back up of your content. Mistakes can and will eventually happen.
Tips for Working with an Overseas VA
Hiring an overseas VA has both its advantages and disadvantages. One of the primary reasons that people choose overseas VA’s is the price difference. However, a lower rate for work completed doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be paying less in the long run. It’s also important to factor in time zone differences and language fluency. If you have to spend an extensive amount of time correcting basic grammar, formatting and spelling mistakes because your VA does not speak the same language fluently, then you may be better off hiring an assistant that meets your needs better – even if they cost more per hour.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind if you’re contemplating taking parts of your marketing strategy overseas:
- Take screenshots and make videos to accompany your project instructions. Although these materials are time consuming to make initially, they can save both you and your VA from frustration when a question arises and you aren’t available to answer it immediately due to time zone differences.
- If you choose to hire a VA who is not fluent in your native language, then you may want to consider using a translation service to proof their final work. For example, EVS Translations offers proofreading and formatting services that can help streamline the process.
Choosing to hire a VA is a decision that only you can make for your business. It’s crucial to have a well thought out marketing plan in place and a clear handle on your business finances before looking to outsource some of your workload. Outsourcing to a VA prematurely can potentially cost you money in the long run, especially if you have not defined the tasks that you need help with. However, when done properly, hiring an assistant can free up your hands so that you can work towards advancing your business, not just running it in the background. For information on crafting a sound marketing strategy, check out the SBA business planning resources.