Hi, my name is Deena and I’m writing these words from Israel, 10 time zones away from Feldman Creative headquarters in California. I’m Feldman Creative’s new Virtual Assistant, an employee of Secretary in Israel.
Barry, who writes 9/10ths of the posts you read here, has been offering magnetic content marketing for around 25 years (he jokes that that’s my age – I assure you it is not). He’s an out-of-the-box thinker whose talent is the ability to make words come to life, offering his clients creative content solutions.
Feldman Creative is at a point where growth is the inevitable next step and Barry has chosen to make that leap (which is always one of faith) with the help of a Virtual Assistant (VA).
If you are a freelancer bursting at the seams, I will assume a few things about you: You are the creative type, probably an idea person and you’re very good at what you do. Your ability to put your talents to work has made you successful in your field. Finally, your company is ready to grow, but you aren’t sure how to begin.
Challenges in expanding your staff
Growing a team is challenging for many reasons. You need to:
- Be responsible (though much less so with a VA) for someone else’s income.
- Ensure your brand stays strong and doesn’t get diluted with a new voice on the team.
- Continue offering services you are proud of that retain the same quality you have always offered.
- Learn to manage others, finding the balance between micro and macro managing and figuring out which tasks to keep yourself and which to give to the new team member.
- Exhibit some flexibility because with new people come new ideas and new work styles.
- Make sure with the new business model, your talents still have plenty of places to shine.
A VA is such a good option because you can get real talent and intelligence for a fraction of the price of having someone local and/or in-house.
Tasks to give your virtual assistant
This list can be as extensive as your imagination. Here are some examples of tasks you can outsource to a VA.
- Preparing your guest posts from around the web in your blog for republication including: choosing categories and tags, filling in the meta data, putting in pictures and making changes to it so it isn’t duplicate content.
- Writing posts on your blog.
- Researching a topic for your content.
- Assisting in marketing programs such as newsletters.
- Recruiting contributors for the blog.
- Sharing content online.
- Editing multimedia.
Business development tasks
- Setting up a system for lead qualification and putting it into action.
- Automating repetitive tasks (i.e. setting up canned responses in Google Apps email).
- Implementing systems to create a smoother workflow.
Tips for making it work with a VA
Like anyone with whom you’ll work, there will need to be a pleasant rapport between the two parties and both sides need to have good intentions and be as honest and transparent as possible. These traits are particularly important when working long distance.
- Talk on the phone/Skype at least once a week to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s easy to shy away from this but email will never take the place of a conversation and it helps immensely every time.
- If your VA is outside of your country/continent, you might have a time difference with which to contend. As long as both sides are flexible, it works.
- There almost always will be some cultural differences. As long as there are similar work ethics and a shared language, it will work. It’s best to approach these differences with curiosity. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons.
- Everyone should communicate as clearly as possible. And when something isn’t clear, patiently clarify until it is.
- There will be a learning curve. Remember you’re used to working alone. Working with someone else will bring new ideas into the business but also might give you growing pains because your business is your baby and it’s hard to relinquish control.
- Allow space for your VA to give input and share ideas. Having a fresh pair of eyes means a different perspective on your business and your work.
- Go with the flow, trying different task assignments until you find which tasks work best for both of you.
- Remember you’re still the boss. VAs could be gung ho which is great. But you are the one who knows your business better than anyone and so direct the VA as needed.
Growing a business is risky and it needs to be done carefully. Hiring a VA is one of the effective ways to do it and can help you begin to navigate the management of a team. As long as you increase the time available to spend providing the quality products or services you provided up until now, you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction.
Photo by Deena at the Valley of the Cross at sunrise in Jerusalem. Where olive trees meet religion meet art.