You can gain massive leverage by hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to streamline your agency's operations. Outsourcing your day-to-day activities to a VA will allow you to concentrate on high-value work while eliminating bottlenecks in your production. A recent boom in remote work has resulted in increasing demand and availability for quality VAs. Many people are adjusting to working from home for the first time.
The following are a few of the many benefits of hiring a virtual assistant for your agency:
Cost: You will save on office space for in-house employees and labor overseas VAs can cost as little as $3 per hour.
Skill: The days of unskilled, unqualified virtual assistants are long gone. Today's virtual assistants are likely to be fluent in English and knowledgeable about many software platforms.
Scale: By adding new VAs to your team, you can easily keep up with demand.
The following article will explain how you can hire a VA with as few headaches as possible.
Ready? Let’s get started.
The first thing you should do before posting a job ad or reviewing a single resume is to understand what your VA will be doing for you.
While it's tempting to hire a "catch-all" VA that can do everything from Photoshop to cold calling to handle your bookkeeping, you can't reasonably expect a new VA to handle every aspect of your business from Day 1 — especially if they're on the other side of the world.
Creating explicit duties is another reason for starting with specific responsibilities. Successful agencies have clear processes for every aspect of their business.
Some questions to help you define the role better:
To help you get started, here are some sample role descriptions for demand-generation agencies:
Email automation specialist
Additionally, you will have to use tools such as Mail-Tester, GlockApps, and Zapier, and you must have a strong understanding of CSV files.
Deliverables: Build campaigns and test deliverability. 1-2 hours per launch.
The candidate will be making cold calls to prospects to schedule appointments. The candidate must be fluent in English and speak with a clear and easy-to-understand voice. Dialing software, Linkedin and email will be used. An extroverted personality, a positive attitude, and the ability to handle rejection are required.
Deliverables: Making 3-5 appointments per 8-hour shift. 200 calls per shift or 3 hours of talk time.
As virtual assistants have grown in popularity, you will have no shortage of opportunities for finding and recruiting talent. Here are three platforms I recommend and have used successfully:
A freelance marketplace like Upwork matches employers and contractors from all over the world. If you're looking for your first virtual assistant, Upwork is a great place to begin your search.
First of all, Upwork does not have a minimum project size, so you can easily test out new freelancers on small jobs to see if they are right. Even before hiring a new VA, you can see their Upwork rating, as well as public feedback from their past clients. With Upwork's built-in tracking tool, you can also keep track of your VA's hours automatically.
Upwork has two major downsides: high rates and a lack of talent. Upwork charges freelancers anywhere from 5-20% commission, so an Upwork freelancer is usually more expensive than a VA you hire directly. Additionally, top freelancers receive offers daily and may not be available to work with you
Pros: Transparent rating system, built-in time tracking, low time commitment
Cons: High commissions, more expensive than other sources, and hard to find the best freelancers.
Databees is a full-service agency that manages a team of VAs in India specializing in custom lead research. If you need human-researched leads, Databees is an excellent resource.
When hired through Databees, the process is extremely simple: You can hire a VA on a weekly or monthly basis, provide the relevant information to an account manager, and then receive your lead spreadsheet.
Databees is great because you don't have to hire staff or deal with day-to-day issues. Your account manager will handle all communication, so you can concentrate on running your business. Their account team is very thorough and spends a lot of time making sure your researcher understands the project.
On the other hand, you won't be responsible for any technology subscriptions or other hard costs associated with customized research. As with Upwork, Databees researchers are more expensive than a direct hire.
Pros: Completely done for you, easy process, thorough researcher vetting.
Cons: Expensive, limited to specialized lead research.
With OnlineJobs.ph, employers can connect with Filipino VAs. I have found some fantastic VAs through OnlineJobs, but it took some time and effort.
You can post your job description after creating a paid monthly membership and waiting for submissions. You can also view freelancer profiles and contact them directly.
OnlineJobs takes no commissions and you pay the freelancer directly, so the prices are some of the best in the industry.
You can cross-reference Facebook profiles, as well as the freelancer's documentation, to make sure your VA is not a scammer. This isn't foolproof, but it's a nice feature.
The portal has some tools for keeping track of employees, but honestly, you'd be better off managing payments through your own project management or CRM software.
Pros: High hourly rates for VAs, a wide variety of skills, ID verification.
Cons: Requires a lot of due diligence, and requires a paid monthly membership to hire staff.
The next step is to post your job on whatever platform you decide to use once you've written a clear job description.
A job ad should include a sentence like this: "Please include the word 'yellow' in your submission, so we know you've read it."
By doing this, you are able to quickly find freelancers who don't copy/paste submissions, are detail-oriented, and understand English well enough to follow your instructions.
The best way to narrow down the candidates is to wait a day or two before filtering through the responses. Once you have a decent number of freelancers, you can narrow them down.
Cover letter: Are the instructions followed? Is the grammar mostly correct?
Related skills: Is their background and work history appropriate for the job you've posted?
Samples: Do the samples match the quality you want?
Price: Is the price within your acceptable salary range?
The cheapest offer isn't always the best. Keep a freelancer in contention as long as they are within your budget. You don't want to pass over the best VA for a few dollars.
In some instances, agencies skip this step. But if this is a long-term hire, you will save a lot of time and headaches if you conduct a 2-step interview process.
To start, send a quick email to the freelancer to get some more information about their specific skills, past clients, and overall demeanor. The email doesn't have to be overly lengthy.
Thank you for your submission. Can you tell me about a similar project you’ve done with [JOB-RELATED TASK]?
Once you've narrowed down your list to the best 3-5 candidates, schedule a quick Skype interview. In addition to getting a sense of the candidate's personality, you will also be able to check if they have a strong internet connection. This is important if your VA lives in a small town.
Here are a few questions to get you started. I usually keep a few standard questions for every candidate, and then ask additional questions based on their responses:
Now comes the fun part. When managing your VA effectively, you need to set clear expectations and provide clear guidelines for each task. Here are some questions to ask yourself before bringing on an employee:
If you have to spend 40 hours training your employee, there's no point in hiring them. Create some onboarding materials so your VA can get up and running without too much 1-on-1 training.
In order to hire a new employee and onboard them seamlessly, you need to build sustainable, repeatable processes.
With Loom, you can quickly record shareable videos with just a few clicks. It is a free Chrome extension you can install on your computer.
Aside from providing step-by-step instructions in a Google Doc, I also record quick Loom videos showing how I perform certain tasks in real time. This is especially useful when explaining multi-step processes, such as cleaning data or uploading campaigns.
Pro-tip: Videos should be under two minutes long, and you should be able to break apart a task into multiple videos if necessary. You do not want a VA to have to search through a 20-minute video just to find one piece of information.
For paying your staff, you have several options. If you are using Upwork or Databees, you can use your company credit card. For direct payments, I recommend PayPal or Payoneer. Ask your VAs if they prefer one option over the other—both are reliable.
In addition to the hourly rates, there are also currency transfer fees and transaction fees if you are using a credit card. You could technically pass these costs to the employee, but it's usually better to pay them on your end. Also, if it's a full-time employee, consider the possibility of paying monthly healthcare premiums. (They are generally very affordable compared to healthcare premiums in the United States).
Make sure you know any local payment laws for direct hires, such as the 13th Month Pay in the Philippines. (Employers make this additional payment to their employees every December).
The process of setting up Payoneer requires you to provide a passport or other proof of identity.
Your agency can grow at an incredible rate by outsourcing your day-to-day duties to a virtual assistant. While it takes some upfront work and expense, it is one of the best investments you can make.