As I mentioned last year, I decided that it was time that I get a virtual assistant. A lot of people over the last few months have been asking me about my virtual assistant and what she does for me, so I decided to put together a list of things that you can outsource to a virtual assistant.
I know that when I was doing my research before getting a virtual assistant, there were a lot of vague responses to this question, so I hope that I can put together a solid resource for you on what you can do with your virtual assistant and how it can make your life easier. I’m also writing several follow-up posts on the whole process of finding and onboarding a virtual assistant, so stay tuned over the next several weeks if this is a subject that interests you.
Virtual Assistant vs. a Freelancer
The first thing to consider is the difference between a virtual assistant and a freelancer. While a virtual assistant is technically a freelancer, not all freelancers are virtual assistants. In fact, I utilize both freelancers and my virtual assistant in my business.
The best way to consider your virtual assistant is just like you would a regular employee – except that they are working for you remotely. You hire a virtual assistant to work either part time (20 hours a week) or full time (40 hours a week), and you pay them as such. A freelancer, on the other hand, is someone you pay per project or task. Some freelancers do repetitive tasks for you, but they are still just doing a single task. A virtual assistant can do multiple tasks, and basically has full time work to do for you.
Think about what you need when considering a virtual assistant of if a freelancer will do for what you need.
The Main Types of Virtual Assistants
If you’ve decided that a virtual assistant is right for you, you should understand that there are five main types of virtual assistants, and even within the four main types, there are a lot of different specialities that you would want to check out during an interview to make sure that they are the right fit for you.
General Virtual Assistant
A general virtual assistant is just like it sounds – someone who does a little of everything. This is the type of virtual assistant I hired, because I didn’t need someone with special skills in advance. I could easily teach everything that I needed done. The best way to think of a general virtual assistant is the same way you would think of a personal assistant in the office. They can do a little bit of anything to help you get the job done.
Content Writer Virtual Assistant
Some people need something more specialized, like a content writer. This type of virtual assistant is a writer, and can turn out articles or posts for you all day long. If you have a writing intensive need, it may be best to get a content writer for your virtual assistant.
Web Developer Virtual Assistant
If you need someone to help you build websites, then a web developer virtual assistant is what you need. This is where there are a lot of specialities beyond just web development, but they can help you put together and maintain websites. Look for virtual assistants that can work in the platform you need (say Wordpress), and have experience with the technical side of things.
SEO Virtual Assistant
If you want someone that just does SEO, there are virtual assistants that specialize in SEO and internet marketing. This is more than just content writing or website building – this would be someone who knows how to put it all together to improve your search engine rankings. Examples include backlinking strategies, Web 2.0 properties, and more.
Graphic Designer Virtual Assistant
Finally, you may need someone that does graphics – for your websites, for marketing, for ads – whatever, then you should look for a graphic designer. This is a good example of when it may be smarter to get a freelancer versus a virtual assistant. If you only need a one time graphic design (like a logo), getting a part time or full time graphic designer just doesn’t make sense.
What I Outsource to my Virtual Assistant
There are literally limitless options of things that you can outsource to a virtual assistant. For me, the biggest thing my virtual assistant does is social media management.
Right now, she manages all of the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, G+) for my websites:
Everyday, she schedules the posts to promote, and follows up on past promotion as well. She also goes through a list of sites that I’ve provided and promotes other posts that are relevant as well. If she finds a post interesting on another blog, she will promote that. I try to have her maintain 5 other posts for every one of mine that gets promoted, especially on Twitter. That really improves engagement.
Another task that I outsource is social media backlinking and carnival submissions. If you read my post on Social Media Backlinks, you would know that it is important to promote your posts across a wide variety of platforms. However, this is very time consuming. My virtual assistant uses a tool I provided and takes care of this for me.
For carnival submissions, I used to pay a freelancer to submit to carnivals for me each week. By having my virtual assistant take care of this, I was able to reduce costs and bring everything in-house.
Finally, my virtual assistant helps me with a wide variety of research tasks as needed. A good example was researching what colleges and universities offered hedge funds for their students to run for my post: These Schools Offer Their Students Hedge Funds to Run. That post alone got me about 5 .Edu backlinks from the respective schools, and was a great resource post.
Other Tasks You Can Outsource
There are a ton of other tasks that you can outsource to a virtual assistant, not just the ones I mentioned above. Talking to some of my online friends, here are some other common tasks that I know virtual assistants do for them:
- Research, research, and more research. Virtual assistants are great for researching things. I use mine for researching blog posts, but you could use one to help with a eBook, find products, identify customers, and more.
- Bookkeeping and Accounting. If you find the right virtual assistant, they could help you with bookkeeping and accounting. In fact, Pat Flynn talks about his bookkeeper he found on Elance in his latest podcast – Session 53.
- Email Management. I’ll talk more about this soon, but you can have a virtual assistant help you manage emails and respond to emails.
- Calendar Management. I’m going to be asking my virtual assistant to help me with this soon, but they can help manage your calendar.
- Event and Trip Planning. This one requires a lot of trust, but once you have it, they can really help you plan a lot of things. Phil from PT Money said that he leveraged his virtual assistant to plan out FinCon 12 last year.
- Comment Management. As your blog grows, you’ll have to deal with comments. A virtual assistant can be a great community moderator.
- Data Entry. If you have some data entry or statistical analysis you want done, a virtual assistant can be great to put all the data together for you.
The tasks that you can outsource to a virtual assistant are pretty limitless, and this is just a small list.
For reference, I found my virtual assistant through Virtual Staff Finders. I’ll share more about my story finding a VA in an upcoming post.
If you have a VA, what tasks do you outsource? If you’re considering one, what do you want them to do to help you?