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Virtual Assistant Blog
A lot has been going in behind the scenes on Ideal Helper. We have moved to WordPress. (If you are a SBI owner and want to move to WordPress, I am happy to help.)
I have started studying with new resources in order to help you better profit from my experiences in outsourcing to Virtual Assistants (as an employer or an assistant).
And my VA and I are working in the background on setting up systems (quite a lot of them, actually) that would make it easy for anyone to get started with VAs, hiring, training them with my screen videos, having the right tools and approaches and so on. (It is not publicly available yet)
In my mind, this is both the best way for me to record my knowledge for myself for the future as well as for you to get the best training possible without investing 6 years of trials and error and more than 10 000$ to get where I am.
My question to you:
Is this interesting to you? Can you profit from video instructions on all aspects of outsourcing with VAs?
Including step by step instructions and insights into
- The whole hiring process
- Tools that are best used
- Training to be given away to your VAs
- Instructions on typical tasks like picture and video editing, research and transcription
It makes no sense for me to publish posts on outsourcing if they are not useful for you. It is my motivation to inspire you how awesome it is if you have a right hand person (or team) turning your thoughts, ideas and projects into reality. Sometimes literally overnight as you sleep.
This experience of getting results especially with my websites and online business way faster than if I would be working alone has been priceless to me. And it is the reason I have been continuing to outsource and will continue to do so as long as I can.
But where do you stand? Are you perhaps curious if this could be something for you? Are you confused because you don’t know what a Virtual Assistant is or can do for you?
Or are you perhaps a freelancer yourself and looking to learn how to best partner up with an employer that treats you fairly and with respect for a mutual win-win situation?
Please do share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I look forward to get to know you better.
Ideal Helper moves to WordPress! After long years on a previous hosting platform (SBI or Site Build it), all the best lessons and news about working with VAs will be presented to you on a fresh design on WordPress.
Luckily, I don’t have to do this alone, and working with my VA on the setup of this WP is a bit like Christmas. I look at what I see, tell my VA what I wish for, and he makes it happen.
It would be doable on my own. But if you have an assistant taking care of detail-oriented work such as setting up plugins, researching documentation, playing with the code…
It’s hard not to lean back (and also focus on some other tasks, like working out content).
Pre-researched Themes for WordPress
Although my VA does lots of the work behind the scenes, the final decisions are left up to me. In this case, he researched the best WordPress themes along with alternatives for which sort of themes it should be. We went with Genesis after him comparing different alternatives.
Then, he gave me a choice of 5 good premium themes based on my budget and his assessment of the website’s content. Let me know in the comments if you are interested in his research and I can post it as an update to this post.
I went with the “Executive” theme you see right now (as of 2016) and purchased it. My hope is that the content is clearly readable and easy to find for you.
Installing the theme
To be honest, I just left this task to my VA as he is more adept in WordPress as I am right now. Since there was no problem for him, I assume the setup is pretty straightforward for anyone familiar with WP.
Setting up the page layout
As I want to optimize the layout for readability and especially the mobile format, I am not re-creating 1:1 the old design from Ideal Helper.
Although I was happy with that old design so far, I feel that the fresh design as you see it now makes the site look a bit more professional.
I believe that Virtual Assistants are professionals and their potential employers (you perhaps?) are also looking for a professional behaviour. That’s why a professional look is what I am shooting for.
Also, I felt that the previous design was a bit too “busy”. My goal now is that my site gives you a clear direction where to go next to reach your goal.
Reworking all the existing content
To move the content from one platform to another is not copy-paste easy, unfortunately. But it’s the perfect example of a task that should be handled by your virtual assistant. Of course, you can always do it yourself. Be prepared to work for a few weeks on nothing than optimizing and fine-tuning your content.
Or, you just train your assistant and let him do it.
Or, you simply contact us for a quote for doing it for you. This way, you don’t have any headache with hiring, managing and training your assistant.
In the past few weeks, my virtual assistant and I have been busy with a few side projects. The first side project involves Evernote and essentially outsourcing my brain.
My virtual assistant helps me organize the tons and tons of ideas that are buzzing through my brain and that made me the creative center of my website. My virtual assistant is the hardworking and organized side. 🙂
The second project involves moving sites from SBI to WordPress as well as converting SBI sites from BlockBuilder 1 to BlockBuilder 2. If you are interested in support with moving to WordPress, feel free to contact us. At the moment, I’m having a little bit of backlog. But as soon as I’m free, I’m happy to help you out.
Expanding my team
Since my sites contain quite a few Content 2.0 submissions (guest submissions or submitted by myself, to allow me to have a blogging function with my SBI sites), I have hired more staff to do the WordPress conversion.
This works really well, and if you have a site with many C2 submissions, you can be sure to get fast results for your conversion. It’s also set up in a very secure way (subordinate accounts for the Content 2.0 helpers, that will not be able to modify any part of the rest of the site).
Having virtual assistants working for you at low costs is effective and fun. However, there are some disadvantages of outsourcing work to foreign countries. If you are aware of those outsourcing disadvantages, your business will be that much more successful.
Language barrier between you and your virtual assistant
English is the most common language a must have skill for any kind of outsourcing work.
For example, if a virtual assistant only speaks Spanish , the majority of the employers will not be able to work with him.
Outsourcing is not effective if the freelancer
- can’t talk English properly
- can’t express or elaborate well in English
- can’t understand instructions
- and can’t give proper feedback about his work.
The minimal requirement to a freelancer is that he can speak, understand and communicate in English.
Notes to Virtual Assistants having trouble with English:
- If you can’t express yourself well in English, working satisfactory will be hard.
- English skills still can either be learned with free materials on the internet.
- Also, ask your boss to give you extremely clear instructions, so that you can learn one task at a time.
If you were to choose to outsource work to one provider today, I wish you three things:
- You treat your provider with respect.
- You don’t get screwed over.
- You a freelancer who knows English well and is bright.
Everything else is totally optional!
Exception: If you need a specialist
If you are looking for a specialist, perhaps a programmer , you cannot start with a newbie with only English skills. For this you will just have to pay more. There is always a price of high quality.
Look for the optimal freelancer for everything else:
But if you have a specific, private task, you only need a guy or a girl who
- knows English
- is quick with answering
- and honest
Then you can do anything.
Finding the right VA needs experience
One of the bigger disadvantages of outsourcing is that you have to learn it, just like any other skill. The tips on ideal-helper, which come from years of real-life experience from both the employer and freelancer points of view, will help you with that.
And if you want to make your life easier, be sure to choose the right outsourcing company for your needs. My choice lies with Odesk.
Outsourcing work costs you money
This is on of the disadvantages of outsourcing that goes without saying. Still, you should calculate your budget before starting to work with a freelancer. It would be frustrating for him, too, if you were to fire your assistant because you run out of funds.
Fortunately, if you know how to hire a virtual assistant at the right place, you can keep costs extremely low, down to 1$/hour.
What tasks can’t you outsource?
One of the smaller disadvantages of outsourcing is that even if you are hooked on the concept, there are things which your Indian personal assistant cannot do for you, even if he wanted to.
- Physical work
- A medical doctor can’t outsource the treatment of his patients.
- If you are an architect, you can’t hire a virtual worker to carry stones.
- If you are specialist, such as and scientist, you can’t outsource working e.g. with your expensive microscope.
- You should never outsource your tax matters.
You can outsource some of the above mentioned tasks if you write up a real contract to respectable outsourcing company. If you take care of all legalities set up an iron-clad NDA , you might be able to make an exception to some of the examples I listed above.
Managing your VA needs time
Before you start actually saving time by working together with your personal assistant, you need to invest some time training him and adjusting to each other.
Don’t be disillusioned if the first days you pass way more time writing emails and clarifying things when you just wanted to chill out at the beach while someone else works for you.
Here is my method to getting there faster:
Use screen recording software to show him exactly what you want. This goes way faster than writing emails and is actually better suited for training your virtual assistant.
You can’t simply fool around. You now have responsibility for your VA
When you have actually hired a person to work for you, you are in a working relationship. Take it as seriously as your employee takes the money he earns for giving his best for you, and think about some ethics in business basics.
You cannot just abuse the fact that your worker lives in a poor country and consider him a modern slave.
Having responsibility for another person, who probably is looking up to you, is one of the smaller disadvantages of outsourcing. Still, keep it in mind and never take the services of your worker for granted.
Those Outsourcing disadvantages are not much of a problem?
In reality, hiring virtual assistants is easy, fun and effective for almost everyone. Just that many people don’t even consider doing this.
The disadvantages of outsourcing listed on this page are there to help you profit the most from a freelancer when you do hire him. If you keep them in mind, as well as using your common sense, you will be fine.