Why hiring a VA for your business is the best thing ever

With business becoming increasingly more social media and platform orientated, it can be hard for Joe Blogs, pottery maker to keep up with the ever unfolding changes in algorithms, marketing strategies and the likes. You started your business to sell something, make something or help people do things, not to spend hours engaging with people online, emailing or even creating content to share. It could also be that you have no idea where to even start with these strategies as part of your business. That is totally ok. It shouldn’t be rocket science, but it feels like it.

So enter the revolution of the virtual assistant. Someone who understand the platform you are wanting to grow, or can simply do the tasks you don’t have time to do. We are diving head first into what having a virtual assistant means to your business

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant or (VA) is just what it says – someone who provides you with assistance, virtually. This means that they can provide assistance from a remote location. VA’s are a great way for small businesses, who might not have the cost for overheads of staff, to contract someone remotely to provide support for smaller business tasks such as social media management, email management, updates, website maintenance etc.

Virtual assistants have become far more flexible and easy to remote into businesses,  thanks to technology changes and improvements, high speed internet, video calling, document sharing, message platforms and apps.

What does a virtual assistant do?

How long is a piece of string? Yes annoying as this might be, they could do anything from sending emails. researching brands, competitors, keeping track of statistics, social media engagement, document management, transcribing services and so much more! The list is literally endless. If you need someone in your business that can help you – then chances are there is that person online ready to help you out!

Nicola, Blogger from My Inner Creative writes about what she uses her VA for:

My VA is amazing. As a round up blogger, I have heaps of images I need to embed. It used to take me hours to set up, my VA now goes in about 2 days before I am ready to write about the post and digitally uploads all the images  with the correct tags, captions and SEO. I can then just go in, write the content and post. It makes blogging so much easier!

Madeleine Raiford-Holland, Creator of Moderately High Maintenance Blog talks about how she uses her VA;

My VA does Pinterest as well as Instagram management for me. For pinterest, she creates pins for new content that are on brand. She schedules pins on tailwind as well as adds pins to group boards and tailwind tribes. For Instagram she handles commenting and interaction with posts.

Nate Masterson, the CMO of Maple Holistics, a company dedicated to cruelty-free, natural, and sustainable personal care products talks about his use of Virtual Assistants;

Social media is time-consuming, yet vital to your marketing strategy. The point of a virtual assistant is to take out as much of the time-consuming part of your social media marketing by having your VA poor over the minutia of content in order to find what’s relevant. You can also have your VA to schedule out your content over a reasonable period of time. A VA can also monitor your Instagram by tracking keywords and keep you up to date on what deserves your attention.

VA can also help build your network by connecting you to the relevant people. VA also helps track your progress and keeps your goals on the forefront of your campaigns. Using VA to help keep your profile fresh is also really important, because it allows you to remain fresh and up to date. There’s nothing more boring than the same background and, the same pictures. The key here is to be engaging and that means appearing as active as possible which is where the virtual assistant can really give you a competitive edge.

How can a virtual assistant help with Instagram or Pinterest?

As these are the two platforms we focus on here at The Pinnergrammer, I thought it best to talk about these

Madeleine Raiford-Holland, Creator of Moderately High Maintenance Blog talks about how she uses her VA for Instagram and Pinterest;

My VA does Pinterest as well as Instagram management for me. For pinterest, she creates pins for new content that are on brand. She schedules pins on tailwind as well as adds pins to group boards and tailwind tribes. For Instagram she handles commenting and interaction with posts.

Erica Hartwig, Director of Operations, Organic Moments Photography talks about how her VA freed up time for her to be present with her family;

Having a virtual Assistant is one of the best decision I made. I was spending a lot of time on social media with my phone in my hand. Even after I was done working I would be at home with my kids instagramming or on Pinterest.

I own a wedding photography company and being active on both Instagram and Pinterest is crucial. I decided to hire a virtual assistant to take some of the burden from me. They comment and like other pages, interact when someone commenting on my pictures as well. Since hiring them I have grown my following over 15k.

They only work 4 hours a week. I am happy with their communication, they are always there when I need them. Before hiring one I recommend to read reviews. Start it as test project and go from there. I started originally with a 4 week goal. Once my goals were met, I was happy to keep using their services.

What business improvements might I see using a Virtual Assistant?

This is all dependent on how clear you are about YOUR business goals and strategy. One of the key aspects of using a Virtual Assistant is to make sure you are using clear communication and there is no room for misinterpretation.

Jess Bahr, from FatGirLifts talks about how shes seen significant Instagram engagement on her account thanks to using a virtual assistant;

The best way to earn engagement on Instagram is to engage with other accounts, but it takes so much time. In order to do this more efficiently I use a VA to help manage my Instagram (FatGirLifts). The VA works 10 hours a week, searching through Instagram for content and accounts that I should engage with and looking for top performing content I can emulate. The key factor in hiring a VA to help you with any social media work is finding someone who is passionate about the platform because they will have a desire to learn how to crack the platform and passion for the industry.

How much do virtual assistants really cost?

This varies based on experience, location, and a variety of other key cost factors. If you are using upwork you can potentially get offers for as low as $3. I have found the middle range for virtual assistants to at around the $20-35usd mark, this price obviously going up if they are specialists in certain areas, such as email sales funnels or social media management.

Many virtual assistants charge a monthly flat rate for xx amount of hours on your business, or there will be a project based fee which means, you will get a project brief – outlining milestones and you will pay a deposit then pay at each milestone.

Is it ethical for me to pay a Virtual Assistant below minimum wage?

Let’s talk about this rationally for a second. Minimum wage in New Zealand and Australia is very different to minimum wage in Togo or even India. Minimum wage is again different in the USA. So lets unpick this for a second, and I might very well have to get up on my high horse about this.

In New Zealand the current minimum wage is $16.50NZD which is about $10.98USD. Now lets look at Armenia, minimum wage in Armenia is 55.6o Armenian Drum which Equates to about $0.11 USD. So when I see people in chat groups saying “I would rather employ someone locally” What that is really saying to me is – I dont want to support people in a worse situation to me. In New Zealand we have excellent public health care and social support. Where as these other countries do not. So I am more than happy to pay my $7USD/hr to a virtual assistant as this is 6363% more than their countries minimum wage.

Often VA’s are also setting their own rates, so if they are comfortable with doing the work for you for $5/hr, then while you can say – hey, I would rather pay you $10/hr, you don’t actually have to. But a key issue here is to remember that you are often paying for what you get. And while I am of the mind of supporting those is environments less fortunate to the one I am in – it also means you might not get someone, where english is a first language.

How much time will a virtual assistant spend on my business?

This is totally dependant on your business and the cost associated. Many virtual assistants will offer a monthly fee for 10 hours a month, and outline what will happen in those 10 hours. Others can work part time or even up to 20 hours a month.

Syed Farhan Raza, The Growth Hacking Guy Founder at The Inbound Crew says he only hires full time;

I only hire full time but remote VAs. No part-timers. No freelancers. As I take a lot of time hiring and training them and want to have a long-term business relationship. They typically work 30 hours per week with weekends off.

Melissa Smith, The PVA / Virtual Assistant Matchmaker & Trainer talks about some of her clients and what they typically need or ask for;

To start, most clients only need 5-10 hours of work a week (10 being on the high side). Once you have the engagement, leads, or conversation you are looking for then you might adjust for more hours. However, in the beginning, more than that and you are not going to see a return on your investment fast enough.

Why should you hire a virtual assistant?

So let’s look into some more great reasons to hire a VA.

Melissa Smith, The PVA / Virtual Assistant Matchmaker & Trainer again talks about some of the benefits shes seen with using VA’s;

My clients have seen the plan they designed working. It’s not just about having a following or a large audience. If you don’t have a plan for what you are going to deliver in exchange for a call to action it doesn’t matter. You might have clients who want to buy and don’t know how. You could have people who want to follow you and don’t know where to sign up.

The client may simply want to know what posts are resonating and which aren’t. The key to hiring the right VA to help you reach your goals is to make sure that VA has been successful in the area already. If the VA works in Instagram what is her following? How are her graphics? What kinds of hashtags is she using?

If the VA is in the area of Pinterest what does she really know about SEO? Remember, it’s not a social media platform. She should have a deep understanding of SEO. Additionally, no matter what platform the VA should know the latest trends before you do.

Do I need a contract?

Do you want to know the details of writing the perfect contract? Check them out here

What I can tell you, is that communication is never black and white and you will want to make sure that you have some sort of agreement in place that outlines your expectations. I’ve heard so many chilling stories from both experienced and new business owners who’ve had to remedy some ‘misunderstandings’ about what was expected of their virtual assistants. And some of those situations turned quite nasty, so to help keep the lines clear, having those expectations outlined is key to a good relationship.

Although  a contract won’t always prevent a virtual assistant from not sticking to your agreement, it definitely helps to prevent any confusion as to what they have been hired to do, timeframes, your payment terms, where  your money is going, does and doesn’t include as well as defining confidentiality. If there are then any later misunderstandings you can refer back to the contract you both signed.

I have included a basic template for you to download and use – its a starting block and I highly advise you seek legal advice if not going through a business like Upwork etc.

We have included a really easy to edit free Virtual Assistant Contract Template for you to use – You can grab it in our freebies section here

How can I find a virtual assistant near me? Where can I find virtual assistants?

There are a number of agencies that match virtual assistants with businesses. You can also use tools such as UpWork, WeWorkRemotely and WorkingNomads.

Another great place to find VA’s is in Facebook groups and asking for recommendations is an amazing way to get a really good VA.

Do Virtual Assistants go above and beyond?

Sweet Tea Social Marketing CEO Heather Heuman helps Christian Businesses, brands and non-profits talks about the benefits of using a VA;

I have an amazing Virtual Assistant on my team that has worked with me for nearly two years. She handles my E-mail and keeps it to ‘Operation Zero Inbox’ every week, she creates custom graphic for multiple brands, including mine and she edits and submits my weekly podcast episode.

My business has been improved by having a remarkable VA because it allows me to not wear all the hats and have someone else to help carry responsibilities, but more importantly, execute them as well. My VA works 20-25 hours per month and is paid a flat-free per month.

The number one way my VA goes above and beyond is by making me feel that she belongs with my brand and embraces that she is part of the ‘we’ when I talk about my company even though she has other clients.

This is priceless and definitely adds to the company culture of growth, limitless opportunities and progress forward.

Melissa Smith, The PVA / Virtual Assistant Matchmaker & Trainer again talks about when VA’s go above and beyond;

My favorite part of working with VAs in specialized areas is they always tell me when I’m doing it wrong or make suggestions to help me do better. In the beginning, most VAs aren’t automatically going to make the tweaks needed without your permission.

However, once you’ve established a relationship they will feel comfortable (and so will you) with automatically making changes and simply letting you know they’ve been done which saves a ton of time! For instance, letting you know it’s time to change your lead magnet or you need new photos or graphics, suggesting new tactics and strategies used successfully others. Proactiveness is one of the greatest ways a VA can go above and beyond.

Madeleine Raiford-Holland, Creator of Moderately High Maintenance Blog talks about how she uses her VA for Instagram and Pinterest;

This may be taken for granted but my VA goes above and beyond by making my life easier. I have had past VA’s that ask so many questions that could be answered just by looking at my website or prior social posts. I felt like I spent more time answering their questions than I would if I had just done the work myself. The true mark of a great VA is someone who is very resourceful and goes above and beyond to make life easier.

So should I get a VA?

Absolutely – If it fits within your business budget and you can find one that will help you meet your goals and strategies, why not?

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