The benefits of hiring a virtual assistant are endless. How many times have you wished you could clone yourself? A good VA is basically a clone of you in your self-publishing business.
So, when is a good time to hire out? What’s a good metric to determine when it’s time to start delegating duties?
That’s what we’re going to discuss in this post.
This post was originally published here on SPwD in July of 2018, so it’s getting a refresher here 5 years later. It’s a great time because I’ve been working with my assistant, Ava, for 7 years now! I can’t believe that.
What she has helped me accomplish these last 7 years has been nothing short of amazing. I would not be where I am without her.
Table of Contents
How Do You Handle Hiring?
Like so much of my content, this topic began as a comment on my YouTube channel:
Long-time viewer of the channel New Book Creations dropped a suggestion…
I was wondering if you have a video on how you handle hiring.
As a newbie who eventually wants to grow without running myself ragged, this info would be so helpful to know how to begin the process.
My channel is populated by content that started just like this and I thank you all for the loyal views and questions over the years.
Hiring out comes down to time versus money and strengths versus weaknesses.
Identify where you are strongest in your business.
Are you a great writer?
Then, find ways to free up your time to write more.
Are you good at marketing? (I know, pipe dreams!)
Focus on sending folks to buy your books online.
If you’re not great at cover design, then you shouldn’t bother with designing a cover for your books.
You should be writing the follow-up book while you have a hired professional handle your cover design.
The Time vs. Money Paradigm
This is something I still struggle with to this day. As a full-time author and content creator, I have time, and I do okay with money as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to watch my bottom line.
Delegating tasks is convenient, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in handing off the things you don’t want to do.
When it comes down to it, you can outsource everything if you have the discretionary funds to do so. That’s not really for me, but I can see why some folks would find that appealing.
You have to measure what you have more of – time or money.
If you don’t have much cash flow, then you’ll have to rely on what my old pal Rob Archangel calls sweat equity.
So, if you’re an aspiring author whose strength lies in writing yet can’t afford to hire out, then you need to be prepared to learn how to do it yourself and painfully work through the process of self-publishing your book.
If outsourcing is important to you, you will find a way to afford it. Even if it’s just your book cover.
The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how beneficial it is to have another set of hands working for you. It has the potential to transform your entire business and change the way it operates for the better.
- Increased productivity – This is a natural by-product and really the desired outcome of the hiring and delegating process.
- Expertise and support – Now you have a person with a specialized set of skills that you can brainstorm with. Imagine what that could do for your publishing business.
- More time – You’re going to find yourself with some extra time on your hands. Use it wisely.
- A professional on tap – Need a book edited? My VA is equipped to do this and many other self-publishing task. It’s so nice to have a highly trained professional at the click of a few keys.
- Scalability – If you want to see your business grow by leaps and bounds, a VA can help you do that by taking more menial tasks off your hands while you procure more income streams. You might even find a VA who can procure those income streams for you! That’s a win-win!
- Additional perspective – I ask Ava a lot about her opinion on things. For example, I have sent her offers I’ve received for software and tools many times to get her opinion on the legitimacy. It’s great to have a viewpoint besides your own a few clicks away.
- Cost-effective – While a good VA is expensive, it’s also a great deal. You don’t have to hire an employee and deal with all of the hassle and expenses that come with that. You’re only paying your VA when they’re actively working on your projects. They handle the cost of their office space, equipment, software, etc.
- Cost – It’s going to cost you some money and time. Good VAs are hard to find and they are expensive. If you find a cheap VA, that’s red flag numero uno.
- Communication – You’ll need to develop a means to communicate with your virtual assistant. Whether that’s via phone, email, messenger, or whatever. You need to use a method that’s sustainable and efficient for you both.
- Finding the right fit is hard – I was really fortunate to find Ava. She’s a rare gem. While she was knowledgeable out of the gate, I’ve been able to kind of mold her over the years to be an even better fit for my business.
- Trust – You are sharing your business with another person. There may be times when you have to share sensitive data or passwords, so you need to be able to trust your VA.
- Be prepared to relinquish some control – You might be in self-publishing because you like the creative control it gives you over your work. I get it completely! Working with a VA is going to require you to give up some of your control from time to time. If you’ve built trust with your VA, this shouldn’t be too painful.
How to Find the Right Professional
When looking for the right professional, don’t settle based on their price point. Hire high-quality professionals, even if it comes at greater expense. I look for professionals who have a history in their chosen profession, a portfolio of example work, and testimonials or reviews.
All you VAs out there, this is what your website should have on it ^.
To start, you can look into freelance platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. My preferred methods are….
Word of Mouth
Networking with other peers in my industry serves me in more ways than one. The biggest benefit is to get recommendations on quality freelancers and trained virtual assistants.
In fact, this is how I found my assistant Ava.
She and I were loosely associated in some Facebook groups, but never really connected until our mutual friend in Mary Thibodeau recommended we connect.
I was sick of hiring cheaply outsourced virtual assistants who I had to interview, train, and struggle with communication (since English was their second language). So, Mary suggested I try Ava Fails.
It only took one gig before I KNEW Ava was a fully trained professional who could handle the tasks I’m weakest at like website development.
If you’re looking for a place to network with other self-publishers just like yourself. Here are two free places I’ve created that I think you’ll find meet your needs:
Yeah, I know, this isn’t the most scientific method, but you can find exactly what you’re looking for by simply using Google to search for the exact skills you need covered.
Ava actually has a page on her website that is optimized and designed to pull in leads for her VA business.
You shouldn’t waste your time and money in training up your virtual assistant. It should be a simple process of setting expectations and your VA fulfilling those expectations.
Early in my self-publishing career, I was led to believe hiring cheaply outsourced virtual assistants was the way to go. All I had to do was shoot a video that trained up the assistant and done. But, that was NEVER the end of it.
I always had to correct mistakes, answer tons of questions, and reshoot the training video to accommodate those previous issues.
Hire slow, fire fast doesn’t just mean to hire someone who’s grossly underqualified and priced then slowly train them up.
It means to research your options, interview candidates, take them for a test drive and then hire them. If it doesn’t work out, then fire fast.
As a newbie who eventually wants to grow your self-publishing business without running yourself ragged, I feel your pain.
If you don’t have the cash to afford it, then you’ll have to sweat it out and build it slowly by yourself.
How Much Should I Be Making Before I Look for a VA?
If you want a specific metric to know when to hire out, I’d say wait to hire out until you’ve broken at least $1,000 per month on a consistent basis.
And, even then, you’ll have to limit your budget to about ten percent of your monthly earnings and wait until the earnings hit your bank account.
If you hold out until you’ve consistently earned $1,000 per month for three months straight and save about 10% of the earnings, then you’ll have about $300 to budget towards various tasks.
Don’t blow your budget all at once, spend wisely and save even wiser still.
Don’t be afraid to put a limit on your VA. In fact, this helps them fill their schedule more efficiently. I’ve always given Ava a time limit per week ranging from 5 to 10 hours. Limit them to what you can afford.
Have You Worked with a Virtual Assistant?
What was your experience like? I’d really like to know below in the comments. I’ve read a few horror stories, but it would be great to know if there are options for folks from people just like them.