How a Freelancer can Use a Virtual Assistant
You don’t have to be a high-powered business executive to want to look for ways to up your productivity and work more efficiently. Like many people out there, I've read Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek and explored the possibilities of working with a virtual assistant. As I searched the web for the various ways in which people have used VA’s, I found all kinds of people from stay-at-home-moms to college students are making use of virtual assistants. Traditionally, most VA work has been related to back office tasks like payroll, tracking inventory, spreadsheet management, email handling, book keeping, data entry and that sort of thing. Although I could see the benefits of outsourcing that type of help, (and some I do), what I was looking for was a little simpler.
I’m a creative independent contractor (film/video editing) who also runs a healthy-living blog on the side. I own my own two family home, which doubles as rental property/income. I don’t sell “widgets”, I don’t have an inventory and I don’t have a staff. What I do have is a disorganized client list, a website in desperate need of updating, an exploding blog readership, a separate a accountant, book keeper, payroll company, tenants, two cats, elderly parents and a 115 year old house.
I don’t need a glorified answering service. What I need is some help.
The other thing that I don’t have was a huge budget for my outsourcing needs. Unlike most dedicated “competent” assistants the most my budget allows (right now) per month for some outside help is approximately $200 or less. So armed with that information I set out to find a VA service suited to my needs. I decided to share that info here in a series, so that maybe it might help someone else drowning in work, that could use some affordable help.
Make a List
From working with virtual assistants in the past, before I started pricing companies and individuals, I knew I had to determine EXACTLY what I needed to use a VA for. So I grabbed a legal sized college ruled notepad and set aside a couple of hours on the weekend, to do what I call a “brain dump”. That’s when I just make a huge list of everything I can possibly think of that I need to do. I didn’t really separate that first list into categories, because that would slow me down. I just needed to get everything out of my head and onto that pad. What I ended up with is probably the longest todo list in the history of anything, but I was satisfied that I had a handle on everything that I needed to get done.Continued on the next page