Today’s post and podcast features a virtual assistant expert (in the actual sense of the word), Kayla Sloan! We’re here to chat about how to become a VA, whether or not it’s a good fit for you…as well as HIRING your first VA (hooray more time to spend on the tasks you ENJOY doing!).
Hiring a solid virtual assistant is something I’m dreaming of right now…and for good reason:
They can be an extremely effective way to outsource tasks you DON’T want to do, allowing more time to focus on playing video games.
Seriously though, if time is our most previous asset, then there is a ton to be gained by leveraging out the time of others at routine (or mundane) tasks…but it’s also scary.
Paying another human being to work for you, that is.
Luckily, Kayla is here to help us out. She’s a $100k+ VA herself, and also teaches other folks how to further their own VA career or side-hustle. She’s honestly one of the most organized and effective people I’ve met around the blogosphere. She knows her stuff!
Hiring or becoming a virtual assistant – advice for bloggers
We dove pretty deep on this stuff in the interview, so if you’re skimming today….just know there’s a TON more info on the podcast!
What skills should you outsource?
Generally speaking, you should look to offload two different parts of your work:
- Work that is time consuming, or
- Work you don’t like doing
However, there is an important caveat: You can only outsource and hire VAs for work that CAN be outsourced.
The goal is to take repetitive, time-consuming tasks, “admin” tasks and turn those over to other people…
…freeing up more of YOUR time to do what only YOU can do – think creatively, strategically, and more “big picture.”
Specific recommendations for bloggers:
Jeff and Ben recently sat down and walked me through how they hired contractors and VAs for content production.
I.e. writing their blog posts.
That could be a huge time saver, if your specific brand warrants letting another human being actually, ya know….do the blogging 🙂
Other common tasks for VAs
- Email management – Get a lot of emails? Let somebody filter those.
- Social Media Management – Or just use SmarterQueue like a good lazy blogger 😉
- Editing! – This is my favorite. Let somebody else proofread your content for spelling/grammar
- Images – Not a designer? Find somebody who is, and let them do your share graphics, pins, etc.
How much should you pay for a VA?
Well first…Are you looking for someone with experience or someone new?
On the low end, a bright and energetic, but new VA, might run you as low as $15/hr (in the U.S.)
More experienced VAs (who are more likely to do a better job), probably average about $30-50/hr, with some over $60+
Ok, so what type of experience affects price?
Honestly, if you are looking for somebody to hit the ground RUNNING in your own business or blog; somebody who can come in with little oversight and instruction, and dominate your tasks…you’ll want somebody with a few years of VA experience, and you’re going to pay more.
If you have more time to devote to training, or otherwise don’t mind a more hands-on management style, hire a VA with less experience and teach them!
Also, What’s the best way to pay VAs?
According to Kayla, it’s better to start hourly, as you probably won’t be sure HOW LONG a task takes, and you don’t want to under or overcharge for it!
Once you learn a bit more about how much time the work takes, or you get to know your VA a bit better, you could switch to something that makes more sense, such as weekly or monthly.
Whatever you choose…you MUST make sure they have the following though:
The 2 essential traits for an effective VA
A great VA can do wonders for leveraging your time, but in my mind (and Kayla’s in our conversation), there are two mandatory characteristics.
- Fast learner
Fast learner – The goal is to free up more of your time. The slower learning pace a VA has, the more time you’ll need to spend teaching, coaching, and managing. No bueno.
Coachable – Hard-headed rebellious people might not make the best virtual assistants!
Not always, but in general. You want to hire assistants who don’t mind being told what to do, and are willing (if not eager) to learn!
If you’re not willing to take orders, you might not make the best VA either.
Where can we find great VAs?
So, if you’d really love to get personal recommendations and an introduction, Kayla said you could contact her!
You can also go through agencies and freelance/contract work sites, such as:
I won’t cover those here, as I’d just recommend getting with Kayla, who has an army of connections at her disposal 🙂
Should you outsource your work to foreign VAs?
Sure, you can get workers in the Philippines, India, etc for a cheaper wage (even $4-8 an hour), but at what cost?
It might be more of a headache than it’s worth…
Kayla suggest keeping it local (i.e. same country and time zone), for a few different reasons:
- Personal connection – You NEED to TRUST whoever you hire. Like, these people will be heavily involved in your blogs and businesses.
- Language barriers – Nothing slows down work like translating…even in broken English. This can be a huge barrier to getting things done.
- Work hours – Time zones can be crazy difficult to manage, and it’s probably easier to work with another human being in the same time zone…for both scheduling and communicating.
How to become a VA
First, recognize what the work LOOKS like.
It’s not easy, and definitely requires the right kind of attitude. Listen to Kayla’s interview for more info there.
Give it a shot! Kayla knows her stuff.
Additional takeaways from this episode
These were too good to leave out 🙂
The insane power of just asking for things
I really wanted to dig into HOW Kayla was able to transition from her full-time job to self-employed freelancer.
Chances are ALL of us dream of doing that…
But how to we go from side-income to FULL-TIME income on the quick?
Kayla’s answer was brilliant:
The first thing I did was approach my current clients and say ‘Hey. I just quit my job and I’m available for more work. Who else do you know?’
She recognized the power of referrals (see below), and wanted more…so she asked them.
It’s crazy effective, and yet…we don’t do it a lot of times.
Because we’re scared of asking for things? We don’t think it’ll work? We considerate rude or too straight-forward?
Why this works:
Because people VALUE transparency, honesty, and their own time.
Asking for things in a simple and straightforward manner gives the recipient all of those things.
Rosemarie Groner recently emailed me asking for a backlink to a particular article of hers she’s trying to rank for.
Like, not a spammy “hey I noticed you have this roundup post could you link to my content k thanks!!”
It wasn’t that at all. It was simple and to the point. I’m on page 2 of Google for XYZ keywords, and I really want to get to #1. Would you mind creating a backlink for me?
The simplest request, and so honest and transparent. Of course I gave it to her.
- Want more clients? Ask for them.
- Want more sales? Ask for them. (No, really…try keeping it straight-forward, honest, and simple. People see through spam anyways)
- Want referrals? Ask for them.
Oh, and the insane power of referrals
If a random stranger on the street walked over and said
“Hey! I’ve got this friend Pat that I think you’d be a PERFECT match for. Please let me set you up on a blind date!”
You’d run away looking down at the ground. Awkward.
However, what if your best friend said the same thing? You’d be 10x more likely to at least consider it.
That’s the power of referrals.
We as humans are MUCH more likely to trust a given service, product, restaurant, blog…when it’s recommended by people we know and trust.
It’s how I initially started getting well-known guests on the podcast. I name dropped 🙂
The following are all 10x more likely to happen with a strong referral process:
- Guest posting
- Getting on media outlets
- Getting interviewed a podcast
- Getting sales (i.e. affiliates!)
- Getting a job (it’s all about who you know)
Referrals are insanely powerful. Utilizing them however and whenever you can.
Also, don’t JUST be on the receiving end!
Generously give referrals as well, when it’s due. Monica and Kayla are really good at this.
Show notes and referenced links
- kaylasloan.com – woot woot Kayla’s site!
- 10K VA – Kayla’s course for becoming a virtual assistant.
- Michelle Schroeder (I also interviewed her on the podcast here)
- Cat Alford – biggest mentor to Kayla
- Freshbooks link for $0.50 transaction fees!!! This is KAYLA’S affiliate link, not mine 🙂 🙂
- A slob comes clean blog – Decluttering minimalism blog
- Entrepremomer – Inspiration for kick-ass mom entrepreneurs.