Virtual assistants are all the rage these days. Since Tim Ferriss democratized the concept with his book “Four Hour Work Week”, virtual assistants have become increasingly popular.
And yet, many founders still don’t outsource.
The reason why people don’t outsource after the fear for poor quality is that they don’t know what to outsource.
Yesterday I had another discussion with a founder I respect who wasn’t using virtual assistants because he didn’t know what they could do for him.
This article is a braindump of all the ways a virtual assistant can be useful to an online entrepreneur.
This is an area where people think virtual assistants are used to spam by commenting on forums and creating forum profiles. Here is a list of tasks they can do for you without being spammy or without using black hat techniques.
Find the contact details of bloggers in your niche: You can then contact them to ask them to review your product or to start building a relationship with them.
Set up or optimize your Google Adwords campaigns: What I usually do is create the campaign with the first ads and keywords as a guide and ask my virtual assistant to create more variations based on them. Her goal is to beat my original ads.
Set up or optimize your Facebook Ads: Similar process for Facebook Ads. This is for example what my virtual assistant created yesterday:
Note: although I will refer to the girl working with me as my virtual assistant to stay in the scope of this article, she is so helpful that I usually call her my co-founder from the Philippines 🙂
Regularly market your services in Craigslist: If you are selling services in order to bootstrap your online business, you can ask your virtual assistant to promote your services on popular websites like Craigslist.
Directory submission: Although the SEO value of directories has diminished in the recent updates, it is still valuable to submit your business to local directories and niche directories simply because real people might browse these directories.
Create a squidoo lens: Squidoo lenses are used to boost your SEO. Ask your virtual assistant to create a few useful lenses around your niche.
Submit press releases: Writing a press release is only one side of the equation, the real time consuming part is to submit your press release to the press release websites. Your virtual assistant can create the accounts for you, store the credentials in a shared document and submit the press release for you.
Your virtual assistant can help you monitor the internet looking for people who needs you.
Google Alerts on steroids: Google Alerts is a god send when it comes to passively receiving opportunities in your mailbox. You can receive notifications when someone is has the problem you are solving.
But there is also a lot of noise in the results that Google Alerts sends, and more often than not you stop looking at them after a while.
If it is your case, ask your virtual assistant to use Google Alerts to monitor the results and brief you when she finds something of interest.
Monitoring Twitter, Linkedin groups and other forums: Similar to Google Alerts, except that the virtual assistant can also notify you if there is an opportunity for you to provide value in a discussion instead of just promote yourself. Being helpful is the new marketing.
Filter freelance jobs for you: If you are a freelancer, finding jobs online can be time consuming. Virtual Rockstars is a tool that aggregates jobs for you but it is still time consuming to filter, and contact the job owners. Get the virtual assistant manage this.
Organize interviews for your blog: On a recent interview on Mixergy with the founder of AllFacebook, you can learn that interviewing famous people is a great way to bootstrap your initial blog traffic. Your virtual assistant can find the contact details and contact the people for you and if you only do email interviews, she can even manage the whole process by herself!
Summarize great Quora questions to turn them into blog posts:your virtual assistant can write but may not have enough knowledge in your niche to write good articles. Point her to great Quora questions and ask her to synthesize the answers into a blog post.
Find blog posts topics: Your virtual assistant can search the web for popular topics in our niche. Having a clear list of topics to write about will make you a more prolific blogger instantly.
Comment management: If your blog is big enough you may start getting headaches with all the spam comments you get. Get your virtual assistant to delete them.
Article submission and promotion: Each time you post a blog post, your virtual assistant can submit it to social media websites like Digg, Reddit, BizSugar, Twitter, etc… She can add value by adding a comment next to the link instead of just posting the link like automated feed publishers would do.
Transcription of your podcast or video: If you run a podcast, get your virtual assistant to transcribe it into text. You can reuse this text in a blog post related to the podcast.
Proofread your blog post: If you want to offer an article to an important blogger, you may want someone to review your article before you send it.
Recruit affiliates: If you have an affiliate program, you need to promote it. One way is to submit it to big affiliate programs directories.
Twitter and Facebook management: Give your virtual assistant a list of RSS feeds to subscribe to (or a opml file) and she can curate and tweet about important articles for you.
Create a Facebook page: You can have a Facebook page that gives away an eBook only if the visitor likes the page. Get your virtual assistant to create all that for you.
Hire a freelancer for you: I have used virtual assistants in the past to help me find more specialized freelancers. It costed me $20 to get two assistants find the developer who helped me with developing TaskArmy. Anton was great.
Pay other freelancers: If you deal with freelancers often, paying them in time is important but easy to forget when you have other priorities. Your virtual assistant can help you with that.
Manage other freelancers: When your virtual assistant does not have the technical skills to accomplish a specific task, you can ask them to take care of the project and outsource it themselves. For example, recently my co-founder had recorded a video and we needed someone to edit it, add our logo, add a background music and cut down the scenes to the essential. My virtual assistant took care of finding the right person and managing the whole project.
Train other freelancers using screencasts: If you start expanding beyond one virtual assistant, you can ask your first virtual assistant to record videos to train your future additional virtual assistants.
Answering support requests: Most support requests can be answered by your virtual assistant (and you can ask your virtual assistant to update your FAQ as she get new requests).
Live chat: When you are not online, your virtual assistant can take on the job of answering live chat requests on your website.
Twitter: If people are asking questions in Twitter your virtual assistant can make sure they are answered in a timely manner. If someone says something nice about you, your virtual assistant can monitor it and retweet it with the Twitter account of your business.
Note: of course you can do that yourself, it looks trivial enough, like most tasks listed here. But the sum of all the small tasks really adds up and being able to delegate them takes a big weight off you. You’ll see, it feels good.
General business assistance
Web research: You can ask your virtual assistant to list all the most popular CSS galleries for example (then you can ask them to submit your website to them).
Data entry: You could ask your virtual assistant to find a more complete description and picture for each product in your ecommerce store.
Document your business: Your virtual assistant can start drafting all the procedures you have in your business to give you a head start. You can simply edit and add details to them.
Regular metrics reports: I ask(ed) my virtual assistant to prepare a weekly report that aggregates the metrics from different services (Google Analytics, MailChimp, my web app dashboard, etc…). Thanks to that, I get a feel of where the business is going. Without a virtual assistant to do that task, I would only do it once in a while, when I remember to do it.
eBook creation: Your assistant can put your best material together and find a designer to make the cover. Sell your eBook or use it as an incentive for people to subscribe to your newsletter (like I have done here).
Manage your A/B tests: You are running A/B tests on your website right? Good 🙂 Then your virtual assistant can take care of that side of the business.
Keyword research: Using tools like Market Samurai, your assistant can look for keywords you should target on your website.
Monitor and identify SEO opportunities: Using Google Analytics and Google Keywords, your assistant can highlight keywords that are driving traffic to your website. You should focus more on these keywords to increase your organic traffic.
Set up your WordPress website (or coming soon landing page): If you are working on a product that is not yet ready, ask your virtual assistant to put a coming soon page using the free LaunchEffect theme. She can of course help you set up the sales website for your business too and help you find the right theme.
Set up auto-responder: You are building a mailing list on your website, aren’t you? Nurture your mailing list by getting your virtual assistant to set up an auto-responder by using content you give her, or that she writes herself or that she synthesizes from other sources.
Outsourcing is really a mindset (or learned skill) and it becomes a second nature to identify what can be outsourced and not. Your business is unique and you will come up with unique ways of leverage your virtual assistant talents.
Unique tasks my virtual assistant helped me with:
- Pick better pictures for the popular TaskArmy services.
- Remove any dodgy looking services
- Submit our affiliate program to affiliate program directories.
- Write more blog posts
What about you? what did you delegate to your virtual assistant?
Please share in the comments.
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