Freelance writing is often a solitary business, but once you’re beyond the rocky beginning, it can make sense to hire a right-hand helper to add rocket fuel to your income. How? Add a VA!
A VA is a virtual assistant, which simply means someone who works for you, assisting you in any kind of administrative way, but not in person in your office.
I spent waaaay too long without a VA, and don’t want you to make the same mistake.
What Does a VA Do?
The question should really be, what doesn’t a VA do? There are all kinds of VAs, both general and specialized, who do all kinds of things. Some of these are:
Email management, Facebook group management (approvals, moderation, puts peoples’ questions in a spreadsheet for answers), scheduling, managing websites, social media, sending invoices, spreadsheets, podcast management (publishing, show notes, researching shows to be a guest on), course management (uploading course files, responding to client questions), document management, project management, and much, much, more!
What Can a VA Do for Writers?
A VA can do any administrative task that a writer needs, but I’m recommending the below 6 things to start with, especially in the beginning. And I highlight email management!
With someone else handling your email, your brain space is calmer for the deep work of writing because the constant shallow work of checking and responding to email is taken care of. You can even let your VA know that they can call or Vox you if there is an urgent email that you need to respond to.
1. Email management: set up folders, filters, respond to, highlight for action, etc.
2. Bookkeeping. This probably shouldn’t cost you more than about $50 per month and it’s a HUGE weight lifted off your shoulders.
3. Website management: check plug-ins, fix broken links, moderate comments, publish posts, add opt-ins, etc.
4. Social media: schedule, write, post, competitor analysis, edit, collect resources, etc.
5. Content help: research, proofreading, etc.
6. Send client invoices and track payments.
Is a VA Only for Rich People?
Outsourcing is a great way to leverage your own time. It doesn’t have to cost as much money as you might think.
For example, my writing rates can be $200 per hour. If I spend $20 an hour on a VA, outsourcing tasks that I don’t need or want to do, that’s a great return on my investment! Better deal than the stock market…
Once you reach a certain level in your business, it doesn’t make sense for you to do all the things anymore. It makes more sense for me to pay someone $20 to do an hour’s worth of whatever stuff that I hate so that I can focus on landing another high value client.
Now, it did take me a few years to get here. If you’re still struggling, you’ll probably have to be your own VA for a while. But girlfriend…once you hire the right VA, you’ll never want to be without one.
I’m buying my time back. I can then go do things that have a higher value for my business.
I’m not saying that VA’s aren’t valuable, they’re incredibly valuable. I literally couldn’t run this business without one!
My awesome VA frees up pockets of my time that add up into big chunks. I can then work on my course or on a marketing campaign. I can start work on my Facebook ads and things that generate a lot more revenue for me.
This is maybe 10 hours monthly. If someone charges $20 an hour and you have them for 10 hours a month, that’s $200. If you pay $200 to free up so much of your brain space and time, you may look at outsourcing some of these tasks.
Note: different VAs have different rates. Tech VAs or specialized VAs can charge more.
You Can Hire Too Quickly, But Not Too Soon
The sooner you can onboard the right someone to help you, the faster you’re going to grow. And do take your time finding the right someone–recommendations from others are a good indicator.
I get it, it’s nerve wracking when you hire because you’re promising, “I’m going to have work for you. I’m going to have money to pay you in the coming months!”
But if you’re steadily at $1,500 to $2,000 a month, it’s time to start thinking about a VA who can take some of the menial stuff off your plate so that you can spend more time on client work, finding higher paid clients, or taking coursework to build your skills. Then you can go land really high paying stuff!
You can do whatever it is that you’ve been putting off since you don’t have time because you’re too busy doing this other stupid stuff that you don’t need to be doing.
Once you’ve crossed into some level of stability and it’s time to start putting maybe 10% of your income back into your business–a nice benchmark!–think about things you can begin to outsource.
Housecleaning? Outsource so that you don’t have to spend three hours on a Saturday cleaning every bathroom. You can pay a cleaning lady to come to your house for $80.
Then you can take those three hours and spend them marketing yourself. Maybe you get $500, $1,000, $2,000, or even more from the results of that marketing. You just bought your time back and you made a lot more money with it!
That’s the idea. For some, it’s going to be cleaning ladies. Others, grocery delivery service. Or childcare. But for some of us, one of the first things to do, or maybe the next thing to do, is to bring on a VA.
Steal My VA
Okay, no, don’t actually steal her, but I’m happy to share! If you’re looking for an assistant, I highly recommend mine.
Her name is Heather Shepherd. You can find her online at breakingtheconfines.com. Tell her I sent you!
She’s the only reason that people like me exist and I’m very thankful for her.
As always, you can find me in the Facebook group. We’re called the Ink Well Guild. You can request to join and Heather will approve you–as long as you answer the questions–and then you can ask away!