6 Steps to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Your Online Business
Wondering how to hire a Virtual Assistant (also known as a “VA”)? Hiring a virtual assistant is the right next step to grow your business if you find yourself spending time on repetitive tasks.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant and Know You Will Get a Return on Your Investment
You want to go faster and you need to get things off of your plate to make that happen. I totally get it. Wondering how fast you will you get a return on your hiring investment? The secret to a getting a quick return is focusing on your desired ROI before you even post an ad.
6 Steps to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Your Online Business
Step 1: Decide on the tasks you will outsource
Step 2: Write your job description
Step 3: Create your interview process
Step 4: Post the opening online
Step 5: Narrow candidates and conduct interviews
Step 6: Review project assignments
Step 1: Decide on the tasks you will outsource
There are certain tasks you perform in your business that are solidly in your zone of genius. These tasks drive growth and revenue in your business.
The whole point of outsourcing is to free up more of your time to be in your zone. Before you hire a VA, identify how this new hire will help you spend more time on revenue-generating activities.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant Exercise: What should I outsource first?
This 5-min video walks through how to identify the tasks that you perform in the business that add the most value. Everything that lives outside of your zone can should eventually be moved off of your plate.
Take out a sheet of paper. Ask yourself, “Where should I be spending my time to drive growth and revenue in my business?”
It can help to think about these four focus areas:
- Creating – Your expertise is a product that is being sold in your company. Everything you create brings value to your customers and adds revenue potential to the business. Examples: creating content, courses, next level offers, developing ad campaigns, creating free lead generation content, hosting a TV show, recording a podcast, writing a blog, etc.
- Capacity – When you focus on building capacity to serve more clients, you add revenue potential to your business. Examples: hiring team members that leverage you, coaching your team to higher results, documenting tasks you want to outsource, creating systems that automate finding and serving your clients (evergreen launches, ad campaigns, email campaigns), etc.
- Serving – You likely spend a chunk of time taking care of your existing clients. Examples: working with one-to-one clients, developing custom projects for clients, leading a live QA call critiquing client projects, etc.
- Teaching – As an expert, a big part of what you do is teaching your methods for getting results. This is directly connected to how you generate revenue. Examples: teaching workshops, creating an online course, developing tools for your clients to use, etc.
Determine the Value of Your Time
Some wise person once said to me: “You either spend money to save time or you spend time to save money.”
Start-up entrepreneurs tend to stay far too long in the “spending time to save money” mode. The impact of the money they are not making is enormous.
If your goal is to personally generate $250,000 in annual revenue, then the average minimum dollar amount per hour you must generate working 40 hours a week is $125 per hour (working 50 hours a week).
$250,000/ 50 weeks a year x 40 hours =$125 per hour
What tasks are you performing that are not worth spending $125 an hour to perform? Interesting way to look at this, right?
Understanding this can help you think differently about what you can afford to invest to outsource low-impact and repetitive tasks.
Where are you wasting your valuable revenue-generating time? Make a list of the tasks you want to outsource.
Here’s a quick list of tasks you could hire a virtual assistant to help you with:
- Scheduling client sessions, meetings, and personal appointments
- Proofreading course material, emails, blog posts, and social media posts
- Organizing your office (and/or home)
- Purchasing and replenishing office supplies, groceries, pet food, etc.
- Sending invoices to clients (and following up on late payments)
- Researching blog posts or programs
- Answering client questions via email (or phone)
- Organizing receipts, invoices, and other financials
- Booking business or personal travel
- Setting up webinars or Zoom meetings
- Maintaining a dashboard of statistics for social media or during your launch
- Uploading program material to your course hosting platform
- Creating and maintaining a database of images, videos, and documents
- Backing up and updating your computer
- Basic audio or video editing
- Following up with freelance designers, photographers, or videographers
- Sending gifts or thank you cards
- Responding to social media comments or questions
- Uploading emails to your email service provider
- Creating Powerpoint or Keynote decks for presentations
Step 2: Write Your Job Description
This may seem like an obvious step. But, creating your job description and listing out exactly what your new team member to do will help identify the right candidate. It will also make sure your candidate understands what the role entails.
If your role description is unclear, qualified potential applicants may not apply. Similarly, unqualified applicants may apply because they don’t understand what skills they need to be successful in the role.
I recommend you include a filter test in your application. For example, for a social media content role, we ask applicants to list five Facebook pages they believe produce high value content. We also ask them to explain why they chose these pages. With this filter test, I can quickly see what the applicant thinks is “high value content”. With the right filter test, you can quickly eliminate applicants who don’t get what you are trying to do.
Sample Job Description
Notice the “Here’s what a day in your life could look like” section. In this section, you can outline specific tasks the role includes.
Social Media & Digital Content Manager for Business Consulting Company in New Orleans, LA
We’re the team behind a fast growing marketing company that’s been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, SUCCESS and Fast Company, and we’re looking for a rockstar Social Media & Digital Content Manager to add to our team here in the New Orleans area.
We serve the expert entrepreneur who wants to grow their small business. Our programs and services include online coaching programs, live events, and done-for-you marketing and design services.
As the Social Media & Digital Content Manager, you will be responsible for driving organic traffic for our company and scaling our content efforts so we can reach more small business owners.
- Organize and curate our library of content so we always have high-quality, valuable content to share
- Manage all social media campaigns, notice trends, and optimize lead generation from social media
- Test new types of content, copy, and creative to improve results (video clips, GIFs, images, audio, etc.)
- Repurpose existing content in different formats across platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc) to scale our reach
- Optimize content for search, including identifying keywords, planning our SEO strategies, and improving our search rankings for important terms
- Monetize our organic traffic and coordinate with our team to improve conversion rates from social media content
- Track and Analyze our organic traffic efforts so we can improve and scale our lead generation activities
- Own the organic traffic in our company and hit our goals for new community members each month
In a nutshell: you will be responsible for delivering a targeted amount of traffic and new leads per month using organic traffic strategies.
Here’s what a day in your life could look like:
- Participate in a daily team huddle with our local and virtual team members to share progress (and celebrate our wins with a round of green juice shots)
- Create our Content Strategy for the quarter and share with the team, outlining how we will increase organic traffic and lead generation to hit (or exceed) our goals
- Coordinate with our graphic design team to create new creative for upcoming projects (or jump into Photoshop and create a draft to share with the team)
- Plan and execute a split test by creating two versions of a Facebook post to test headlines and images
- Repurpose a 5-min long video into different clips and post on Instagram and Facebook
- Own and update the tracking of your content distribution and testing projects
- Analyze the results of your latest tests, report on performance, and share your ah-ha’s with the team so we can better understand our customers and create content that better serves their needs
- Write and optimize a blog post based on competitive keyword search analysis that you perform
- Meet with our Launch Manager to discuss a new program launch and review your strategy for organic traffic generation
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
- 3+ years experience developing strategy for increasing organic traffic and creating online content that drives sales
- Strong copy writing skills and ability to repurpose written content in our brand voice
- Proven ability to brainstorm new content ideas and create new content out of existing resources
- Hands-on experience collecting, using, and acting on data gathered from social media outlets, Google Analytics, and others to improve results
- Ability to confidently present new ideas and collaborate with others
- Clear, warm, and engaging written and oral communication skills, both to clients and with our team
- Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail — you’ll be managing a lot of content and data, so organization is critical
- A developed design “eye” – you know when an image or page doesn’t look right or match up with our brand standards and can suggest ways to improve (or bonus points for knowing how to do it yourself)
- You need to be tech savvy and resourceful — you know a lot, and what you don’t know, you will figure out with a quick search
- Familiarity with online marketing tools like Ontraport, WebinarJam, Clickfunnels/Leadpages, Teamwork a plus
- Experience creating visual content (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, etc)
- Experience running paid traffic (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google)
- Our community is filled with amazing business owners across many industries especially personal development, business coaching, and health/wellness… If you have an interest in wellness, you read non-fiction books, you follow personal development experts, or you have an interest in entrepreneurialism, this is a huge plus.
Step 3: Create Your Virtual Assistant Interview Process
Your interview process will vary based on the type of position you are filling. When hiring a Virtual Assistant, you will want to ask questions related to attention to detail, communication style, availability, and technical skills (if applicable). For example, here are some sample interview questions:
Tell me about a recent project you completed and the results you helped your client generate.
What tools do you prefer to use to create…
Chat with me about a difficult client you worked with and how your handled the situation.
If you are recruiting a specialized role such as a launch expert, it is important to determine if they have the core skills needed to produce the results you are looking for. Just because someone hangs up their shingle as a “Facebook Expert” or “Launch Manager,” does not mean they have experience running successful Facebook campaigns or launches.
Here is a suggested interview flow (more details below)
- Application with questions that will help you narrow and filter candidates
- Short Skype or phone interview.
- Assign a small assignment
- Skype interview debrief of the project
- Assign larger project for a fee
- Review projects and discuss next steps
Step 4: Post Your Job Opening Online
Once you have complete your list of tasks you will be outsourcing, your job description, and your interview process, you are ready to post your opening online.
There are four places you can post your job opening online:
- Your own website and link to it from social media
- Freelance sites like Upwork
- Job classified sites like LinkedIn or Indeed.com.
- Specialized sites that cater to specific areas of expertise
Here is a list of recommended posting sites:
Step 5: Narrow Candidates and Conduct Interviews
Once the applications start rolling in, it’s time to narrow candidates and conduct your interviews.
First, pay close attention to how well the applicant follows your directions. If they ignored questions or directives, this is a sign that they are not likely a good fit. You are looking for attention to detail. I use a “1 time and you are out” rule in interviewing. Remember, candidates show up at their best during an interview. If they can’t focus on attention in the interview, they are not going to miraculously get better while working on projects for you. Trust me on this one.
Here is an overview of the interview process:
Short Skype Interview: In this interview you will get a feel for the applicant and their skills. I recommend asking for desired compensation in this interview. This will let you know if the candidate is in your compensation range before proceeding to project phase.
Limited Scope Interview Assignment: Ask the applicant to complete a small project. The choice of project should be designed to demonstrate the quality of their work, speed, collaborative approach, timeliness, and general thought process.
Skype Interview: In this interview, you review the work they sent over and discuss. This is an important part of the interview because you can quickly see how open the individual is to feedback.
Larger Scope Project for Fee: You can slice off a specific project you want to engage the candidate to perform for a fee. For example, you might ask them to take one video you record, develop a blog post, and create content for all social media platforms from the content, along with a plan for how they will promote it. Alternatively, you can ask them to gather statistics for your business dashboard (email open rates, webinar attendees, social media statistics).
Next, we will talk about what to look for in the project results.
Step 6: Review Project Assignments and Hire Your Team Member
Once your candidate completes their first assignment, you will likely know if this is a good fit. Ask yourself “Did they…”:
- Deliver on time?
- Follow directions?
- Focus on results?
- Achieve the desired outcome?
- Collaborate well?
- Take feedback constructively?
Most importantly, do yo you enjoy working with them?
A well-defined, short-term project can quickly help you answer these questions.
Once you find your new team member, you’ll agree on compensation. Virtual assistants usually work under a monthly package of hours. Hourly rates vary from $6 per hour for someone based overseas doing data entry or basic research to $50 for someone who is a highly skilled project manager, technical assistant, or customer care specialist.
I fully appreciate how difficult it can be to bring on new members to your team. It’s likely that the things you need to focus on this year to grow your business are going to require that you free up time. When you intentionally approach hiring, you will see faster returns.
Ask yourself: What could I take off my plate right now that would free up time for me to focus on growing my business?