Outsourced Virtual Assistant Blog Archive
Just a short update to let you know that I’m still working on keeping you informed about outsourcing your life effectively.
Actually, to use my time more efficiently, I have moved to an area closer to my day job, saving me hours of time each week. Hopefully, I will be able to invest that time into stuff that matters (doing sports, meeting friends, writing for my websites).
Also, I have a cooperation with a friend of mine, who is called Frank, who is better than me at the area of monetizing. With that, I mean turning your web business into real profit.
Anyways, Frank and me plan to make an interview series like the two with Stefan that are already posted (Part 1, Part 2). When I will be sharing my experience with working with virtual assistants, my team of VAs will be re-publishing the interview, uncut, so that you can learn as well.
A project that works surprisingly well is traffic generation using viral list mailers. The ROI of traffic for time and money is great if you do it right. I’ll be sure to post more specifics in the future. But if you want to see the developement of this project (and any other projects my VA and me work on) in real time, then be sure to stay tuned to the diary of my VA.
How about you? Are you still on the fence for outsourcing? Do you feel it’s not for you, too expensive or difficult?
What would it take to convince you otherwise? I assure you, it’s very doable and affordable. All the tricks are right here, on this website. Nothing is taking you back.
If you are ready to start the journey into more productivity and business independence, then sign up for the free training via email on the right of this page.
To use my favorite outsourcing service, just follow this review.
by Full-time Virtual Assistant
(from the Philippines)
Audio Recording Experience
I had this experience wherein I was tasked to conduct an audio recording that should be spontaneous in regards to my feedback on various posts found in the website Ideal-Helper. The purpose of this activity was to see if I could express my thoughts and express whatever I feel during that moment. Here are my thoughts on my very first—yes, you read it right—first audio experience.
Breaking out of the Shell
Prior to this audio recording stint, I actually had this uncomfortable feeling whenever I am recording my own voice. It may be just I am conscious of the act itself. It actually took me three tries for the first of the three recordings to be somewhat audible for me. In the first two salvos, my voice was so soft that I can’t understand what I was saying.
On the third try, I was more at ease and recorded my thoughts as if I was just talking to a friend; which was like I was having a friendly conversation (and the reason for this task). Then everything was just spontaneous and free-flowing. The flow was really so natural 🙂
A confidence-boosting Experience
The whole process went a smooth as silk. All three recordings were conducted and done as the task intended me to do. I soon got the hang of it and I am now eager to do more of this kind of activity. I now felt that there’s no difference in having a conversation and recording my thoughts as I speak. This activity gave a boost to my confidence in terms of speaking then listening to my own voice though audio recording.
I consider this experience a highlight of my job as a virtual assistant. I can definitely say that being a virtual assistant does not only rely on creative and writing skills. The ability to express my thoughts through speech brings a new dimension to the job title.
This kind of activity is highly recommended for virtual assistants and their employers to try. This is also a form of communication that will hasten and give ease to the communication process.
(Francis, 26 May 2015)
400th Work Update from My Virtual Assistant
Today, my main virtual assistant has posted 400 diary entries into his virtual assistant’s diary. Since each of his entries is a work update of one or two days, this means that my virtual assistant not only has worked more than 600 days for me but also he has kept a diary for all of this time. If you want to know what I am using outsourcing for, it is all transparently published on my VA’s diary.
Since I have three websites now, his work is divided among those three websites. He also helps with all other sort of online projects, some of them directly earning me money. I’m very happy and I’m proud to be able to show off the diligent and disciplined work from my main virtual assistant. And I hope for many hundred more entries to come.
The Importance of Daily Updates
I always stress the advice that, if you work with virtual assistants, it’s important to communicate with them daily. The minimum you should expect is the daily report from your virtual assistant, especially in the beginning.
For myself, after years of working with him, I have asked him to report to me three times a week. Still I find myself reviewing his work updates as well as his real time screen recordings from my favorite outsourcing solution.
For one, I am of course looking out for what my assistant’s working on. But for the most part, if I have to be honest, it is just fun seeing work being done by someone else other than yourself and still reaching your own goals.
This post is a shout-out to my ever faithful and hardworking virtual assistant. And I hope that it is interesting to you too. Please let me know and give a hand to my virtual assistant in the comments.
Recently, Manila is experiencing flooding due to the heavy rain brought about by the storm. Actually, it started last month (July), while they were experiencing storms and heavy rain, here in Davao is still suffering from the summer’s heat or the heat that is brought by El Nino a few months back.
And just two days ago (August 25, 2014-Monday), a raging storm makes its presence felt by flooding and storming then again Manila. And we felt that raging storm here as well on the island of Mindanao.
We just then felt the “rainy months” last week and this week. And in connection of the recent events, this is why we’re still experiencing rotational brownout because we seldom experience rain in a week or month.
This is a link where you will see the raging storm last August 25, 2014-Monday that it lasted in some parts of the country until Tuesday and that they’ve been advised earlier Monday night on the national news from PAG-ASA that there will be no school at all levels and for employees—to work at their own risk.
Sometimes, we do not experience storms here in Davao even if Manila is already flooded. So, it varies on the path of the storm or how strong is the storm. I think I mentioned that in my post about typhoons.
Do check my post here about typhoons in the Philippines
Although we’re still experiencing storms from time to time, the good thing is, it’s not that serious from the last time.
And I am thankful for it because it only means a cooler and less irritating surrounding that makes work comfortable.
Do jump in on the comment box and join the thread!
(Aug 12, 2014)
My full-time VA, Jomvie has had a lot of trouble with a test task that involve transcribing audio files. For him, the challenge was high and the difficulty of the task was high too.
Since I am outsourcing transcriptions to a specialist, including the transcription of these very words you are reading now, I know that it is feasible to do the transcription on a high quality level. The only thing I didn’t know is if this task is very hard to do or not.
Here Comes the Challenge – The Employer Becomes the VA
I asked Jomvie to try recording an audio file about a topic which I then had to transcribe. The transcribed results from my work as a virtual assistant can be read here.
Here is how the challenge went step by step.
Step 1: It’s 5:51am in the morning.
I went up very early to start this challenge before I go to my normal day job. I opened the audio file and listened to it using WinAmp. I tried to find the right settings for the volume and noted that audio quality is acceptable, but it is not very easy to follow the content of the recordings, in a word by word fashion.
The audio is good enough to understand the meanings, in general. That’s not the problem. But transcription means word by word transcription and that is the challenge.
Step 2: Trying to find out if keyboard functionality with WinAmp helped the transcription process.
Since I know that I will have to write down my transcribed words and then rewind the audio file repeatedly, I tried to figure out this technical roadblock before even starting. After 3 minutes of research, I come to the conclusion that with WinAmp, the software which I normally use to listen to Mp3 files, I don’t have this rewind capability easily. Of course, I can simply tap my left arrow button to rewind the recording. But that doesn’t work if the WinAmp window is not in the focus. While I do this research, the audio I have to transcribe runs in the background continuously.
Step 3: Choosing Foobar for transcription.
Foobar is a free software that can play all sorts of music formats. Another nice to have option is that you can set up customized shortcuts with your keyboard for different commands. The one command I set up there was to rewind for 5 seconds.
It is now 5:58am. The nice thing is the keyboard combination works even when fiber is not in the focus, but your writing window, for example, Word is in the focus. So,
Step 4: Open Word and Foobar next to each other in two windows.
Now I start the actual transcription. It’s 6am. To be honest, I have an unfair advantage because I have listened to my 6-minute recording from Jomvie for 16 minutes now on loop.
So I’ve heard the recording a few times. A real transcriptionist does not have this kind of advantage. He starts with the transcription process at the worst, from the very first time he listens to the audio. On the other hand, I believe that transcription gets easier with experience and a few technical tricks.
Step 5: I finished the transcription.
Conclusion, this work was hard. It was very hard in the beginning. It took me a few minutes to get used to it and I always felt that my progress of transcription was very slow. Also, the end result of my transcription was a very crude text with lots of question marks where I did not understand a word from the audio quality, for example. So there is definitely some proofreading necessary. But in the end, I was able to transcribe 378 words in 17 minutes. This means that my transcription speed is 20 words per minute on average for this job.
All in All, the Experience was Interesting, but Doable
I remember that during my transcription work, so during those 15 minutes of concentrated work; there were some times where I really went into the zone, mentally, and could write almost as fast as Jomvie was talking in his recording. Other times, I had to correct every second word all the time. I believe that with some experience, a good transcriptionist, mostly, can get into that zone.
Also, there are some other tricks I can think of using a hardware like foot pedals to rewind and fast forward your audio recordings. Using audio settings to reduce the playback speed of the audio, in general too, for example, 80% of the speed.
For my very first transcript and with sometimes challenging audio quality and without proofreading, I am all in all happy with my transcription results. On the other hand, I know that the transcription is too hard for me to do as a professional job.
I don’t feel I have the patience or the concentration abilities for that. So this gives me new respect for anyone doing transcription work. And I highly recommend that you try a similar exercise to transcribe some sort of post before you assess the quality of your transcriptionist.
By the way, a few days later, I proofread my post by re-listening to the audio once. So I had my proofreading done in 5 minutes.
My opinion still stands that transcription is one of the fastest and most efficient tools to get written content down to paper from your thoughts without suffering from writer’s block or a lack of concentration.
Please join me in the comments if you agree or think otherwise.
(Full-Time Virtual Assistant from the Philippines)
Recently, I had this episode of headaches that is mainly caused from light-sensitivity and that lead to an Eye Strain and along with its associated symptoms that lasts for days. And the worst thing that had happened is that I had to stop in the middle of a shift since I can no longer take the pain and plus the nauseous feeling that becomes more annoying.
In view of the fact that it disturbs me from working, I decided to take shifts:
• 4 to 5 hours in the morning
• 3 to 4 hours in the evening
The reason why I divided my 8-hour shift is to get my eyes some rest away from the computer. And during those hours I took some time off, the sun glare coming into my room is too bright that it bounces back to my computer monitor that worsens my headache. And not only that, starting from hours 2:00pm until 4:00 pm (Philippine time) the room is too humid that makes it uncomfortable to function—in short, not conducive.
So, I started timing the right hours to when to take some rest, stop and then back again to work. My morning shift starts at 9:00 am or 10:00 am and then onwards until the time I lose focus and feel irritated from the temperature inside the room, I take a rest and gain some strength and then back again until I am able to accumulate 4 hours for my morning shift and rest to regain for my second shift.
During my morning shift, I must say it is comfortable since my brain functions well at these times (although there are times I feel like to procrastinate :).
From my previous working hours, I noticed that after lunch at 1:00pm until 3:00pm, I feel unproductive and my brain often freezes and can’t stay focus on anything. So, this is one of the main reasons with my experiment apart from my recent eyestrain episode.
After hours of rest, I feel renewed and refreshed and it feels just like another 9:00am evening version. I noticed whenever I start working after dinner, my brain is calm and the surrounding is quiet and the temperature is cool.
But, the only thing is, when I work until at the wee hours of the night, I will not get enough rest for the next morning, I can’t randomly go out or whenever I feel like it. Working at night is likely a dilemma since pros outweigh the cons or sometimes the other way around.
So, when I am asked which timing I would prefer, I would still like working in the morning. Of course, after your morning shift you can do anything and do the things that you want.
There are just some stuff you can’t avoid, especially prolonged sitting can cause back ache so I have to rest for a while and stop my time on Hubstaff or inevitable events that will pop out in the middle of my shift.
These are also factors that will prolong my working hours. That’s when I decided to make shifts and since I am just comfortably working at home, it also gives an ease that I can catch up with my work.
Regardless of the series of events may it be good or bad, working in the morning is still my most preferred working hours and I am glad even if my employer is in a different time zone, he would allow me to work on my most comfortable time.
If you’re a virtual assistant, which one do you prefer; an early bird or a night owl? Do let me know why you prefer being one. And same goes to all the employers out there, what is your time preference fro your virtual assistant?
Do jump in on the comment box and let me know what are your thoughts! 😀