It doesn’t matter what online marketing role you end up in, whether it be brand building, lead-gen, product/servic...
You’ve made the decision to make your life easier and to help your online business grow with a virtual assistant. Anything that makes your life better takes work though; a good VA won’t just drop out of the sky you know!
Some of you might opt to take the super-easy route and just toss up a quick thread on a popular online site like Freelancer.com or Digital Point and hire the first person who responds to your request. It doesn’t get much easier than that, right?
The problem with the quickest and easiest option is that you’ll end up spending more time going through different workers, dealing with poorly done work, missed deadlines, etc. – before you find the right fit.
Your valuable time would be far better used following the following 6 (relatively) easy steps.
Agencies tend to cost more money than freelancers found through online forums and classified sites like Freelancer and Craigslist. They can come with advantages though, often offering assurances about their employee’s work ethic, training, ability to meet deadlines, and will back their claims with a money-back guarantee. Good agencies also have a wealth of available staff and can complete large projects in shorter time.
The advantage of using a freelancer is the potential to find a hard-working, knowledgable “diamond-in-the-rough” that you can communicate with more freely. Freelancer’s also aren’t bound by contracts with an agency, meaning more flexibility when it comes to pricing and time availability for your specific projects.
It’s a good idea to figure out what you need done, then shop around to find what sort of virtual assistant services you need and the price range you’re dealing with, then figure out your cost vs. reward potential for the jobs you need completed.
This step could easily be swapped with #1, depending on the complexity of the projects you need completed by your virtual assistant(s). A well thought, perfectly edited job listing sets the stage for your expectations and will (hopefully) help limit the number of unqualified applicants.
This step may add time to the hiring process that you just don’t want to spend. However, using multiple platforms will give you the biggest pool of potentially qualified applicants. Offer the job on classified sites like Craigslist and industry/niche related sites, and on job posting sites for freelancers like Freelancer.com, or online forums with popular classified sections, like Warrior Forum.
You can also contact a virtual assistant company like 24/7 Virtual Assistant to help you assign tasks to qualified freelancers.
This is another area where an agency can make life easier, as they do the hiring for you in exchange for (sometimes) a little more money.
Just because this is all happening in a virtual environment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see each other at least once. This is very important when hiring freelancers, as they often don’t have a reputation to back their skills and satisfaction rate.
Many fly-by-night entrepreneurs and agencies will have a picture of a fancy office, or room full of hard working people on their website – when in reality, they’re one person working from their mommy’s basement. Worse, they may claim to be an established professional designer or writer, etc. – only to see them in person and realize they haven’t even graduated middle school yet!
Professional freelancers and agencies know that feedback and referrals are what establish confidence in their ability to satisfy your needs. Don’t rely just on a freelancer’s on-site ratings, or how many glowing reviews pop up in Google for a specific agency. Dig deeper. Ask for real references, people you can call or hit up on Skype to ask a question or two about the VA or agency.
Scrutinize all reviews, particularly negative ones about poor performance, missed deadlines and poor communication.
Don’t jump into training your new hire without pondering everything you want your employee to know and perform. Like Santa Claus, you want to make a list, then check it twice! Even more times if necessary. If you’re confused about what you expect from them, they will be too, obviously.
Allow for a few mistakes at the start, but don’t hesitate to move on if mistakes and constant time-consuming questions and clarifications become the norm and take up more of your time than it would if you were doing the tasks yourself.
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