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An Internet Marketer’s Guide to Finding a Virtual Assistant

An Internet Marketer’s Guide to Finding a Virtual Assistant

So you have launched a great site with an awesome product/idea. You are generating new sales all day, every day. You have people lined up to JV with you, your phones ringing off the hook, and you don’t know when the last time you slept a full 8 hours was. Congratulations and welcome to the world of a successful internet marketer! You’ve reached a plateau that most internet marketing newbies only dream of. You are on your way to guru status.

But what do you do next? Your email box is full, your brain is storming with ideas, the programmer needs your help with the next project, and you have 10 voicemails to return. It’s becoming extremely hard to focus on just one thing. You know you need to hire someone to help you out, but the problem is that you have no office space (as you work in your living room converted into an office), and don’t have the slightest clue about local, state, and federal laws regarding employees and taxes (nor do you have the time to learn).

You just want a reliable person who will focus on the projects at hand, complete the tasks in the time allotted, and be there to help you grow your business to the next level. Its time to hire help, it’s time to find a reliable and professional VA.

What Can a VA do For Me

Just what is a virtual assistant anyway? You know you’ve heard the term on marketing forums and through associates, but what exactly do virtual assistants do? A virtual assistant/personal assistant (VA) is considered to be an executives right hand person.

Virtual assistants handle many day to day activities including answering/returning calls, scheduling appointments and trips, research, answering emails and customer service questions, link exchange management, project management, scheduling updates for your website, managing your forums and blogs, building relationships with your JV partners, seeking out affiliate programs, copywriting (very important), creating and managing personas, registering and keeping active domain names, and basically making your life and business run much smoother.

They are a highly skilled group of individuals whose focus is on creating a win-win situation for their clients through effective time management. They save client’s countless hours, weekends, and overnighters by prioritizing their lives and schedule to accommodate family time, business trips, and overall sanity. So at this point, you must being saying to yourself, wow! I have got to get myself a VA. Where do I find one and how much is this going to cost me?

The Cost of Hiring a VA

There are so many different avenues to take when looking for a reliable VA. The first one being how much do you want to pay for a VA? The rule of thumb when looking for a virtual assistant is to know that cheaper is not always better. Simply stated, you get what you pay for. Are you looking for someone trained in the marketing industry? Or maybe you want someone who is going to offer more personal assisting services as well such as booking appointments and trips.

I have been in this industry quite a long time and have had clients who not only wanted someone who was spot on when it came to knowing how to navigate and manage a website and blog, but they also wanted someone who would call up and schedule their dentist and doctors appointments as well as find them a reliable cook and maid. Typically speaking, if you are looking for an all around professional and experienced VA, you are going to pay between $30-50 (USD) per hour. Some VA’s charge more for specialized services such as SEO, e-book writing, etc. If you are looking for someone to just answer the phones and a few emails here are there, you are probably going to pay between $8-15 (USD) per hour. Be careful when hiring a VA in this price range and make sure that they are experienced (or you are willing to train) as they will most likely need it.

You don’t want to have a lot of turnover with your growing company as time equals money and you don’t want to train someone just to have to fire them and re-train someone else a few months later. Make sure you find out their short-term and long-term goals. Most professionals will tell you that this is their chosen profession or career.

Finding a Reliable VA

The great thing about working online is that there are many reliable and wonderful places to seek out contractors. You can check out sites such as Guru.com or Elance.com. It’s where potential contractors bid for your project or virtual assisting opportunities. Craigslist is another great place to find potential VA’s. They usually advertise in the services section as well as under resumes.

Another good way of finding a reliable VA is through message boards as well as word of mouth. Other marketers are going to know of or heard of a good VA. Most won’t want to give out the info as they don’t want to run the risk of losing a great asset to their business. A lot of internet marketers trade insider information and will pass on information regarding potential VA’s they have worked with and had bad experiences or poor work performance from. Make sure you ask a lot of questions if the VA has claimed to work with so and so but no longer does. There may be a reason that the marketer is no longer retaining their services.

Retainer and Work Agreements

Make sure you have an agreement outlined in the very beginning and both parties know the parameters of the work to be completed. A professional VA should have a work agreement, retainer structure and work portfolios ready and on hand for you once initial contact is made. This is a good way to weed out the desirable from the undesirable candidates.

What exactly is a retainer agreement? Just like a lawyer requires an upfront retainer so you can have access and reserve their services, so does a professional VA. They want to make the most our of the time that you allot to them. And by retaining their services for a specified period, usually over the course of a month, you not only have their undivided attention, but you also know that you will always come first in their business. Most VA’s will also offer a price break for retaining a certain amount of hours of work per month. Always ask a potential VA about their retainer arrangements.

Contracting a VA is Not the Same as Hiring an Employee

This is one area where internet businesses and marketers get a bit confused. Hiring a VA is NOT hiring an employee. A virtual assistant is running a professional business that offers a much sought out service. They want to make it a win-win situation for both themselves and their client. Therefore, they have set office hours, rules, and guidelines. They work on their time and schedule and will do everything possible to accommodate you, but they are not your employee.

Therefore, you cannot expect them to work strange and long hours, or be there every moment of your day (unless you are retaining them enough hours to constitute 8 + hours a day). If you are a micromanager, unable to be online frequently, or want an employee in your office or home, then you should consider hiring an actual employee who, in the end, will probably cost you way more in taxes, fees, and headaches. With a potential employee, you will pay for down time, sick time, bathroom breaks, socializing etc. Remember, a professional VA’s time is ALL productive time which helps your business grow, prosper, and reach new heights.