I Hired a VA (and it’s Awesome)

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I Hired a VA - Here is What She Does

Many of you already know Pauline, from Reach Financial Independence. She is out there hustling on the internet and has some great results to show for it.  Quite a while ago, she hired a VA, or virtual assistant. It really piqued my interest, as I have read about people hiring VAs before, but I had never quite figured out what I could get a VA to do that would be beneficial to me.

Consider that problem solved!

One really fantastic aspect of the internet is that you can hire anyone, from anywhere in the world. I know of several people in the United States who do VA tasks, plus people in the Philippines, and in South America. I also know location-independent folks who hail from one place and are able to move around wherever they see fit. It is a pretty fantastic move to be earning Australian dollars while living in Buenos Aires, for example. Another upside of being able to hire anyone, from anywhere, at the rates that apply to that location.

I hired a VA, but what do I get her to do?

Uploading Posts

On this site, and also on Unique Gifter, I have several writers. In addition to that, I frequently write my posts offline, on my commute home, typing them up as word documents and then adding links and additional details when I have an internet connection again. I now forward all of the posts that staff writers create and about half of the ones that I make, to the VA.  She uploads and reformats the posts.  Then she adds keywords, meta data, tags and puts them into categories.

Adding Images

She also finds images for many of the posts, primarily using MorgueFile for its royaly-free and no-attribution required images. She puts them into PicMonkey (affiliate link, but the free version is great and doesn’t even require creating an account!) to add a watermark and a title overlay, saves the image with the post title as the name, then inserts them into the post and sets the featured image.

I also have a problem on Unique Gifter where my old theme always displayed the image that was set as the featured image.  My new theme (which I absolutely love, yay Genesis framework!), does not do that. That means I have dozens of old posts that do not have a picture visible. I have asked the VA to go through and update the old images, so that they match the format I am using now, and to insert them into the posts. She’s doing it a lot faster than I was, that’s for sure!

Adding Alt Tags to Old Media

In shocking news, I am fairly lazy. Most of the time in the past, when I have uploaded an image, I’ve done nothing more. There are actually lots of places to add keywords and help your chances of getting more traffic, in the descriptions of photographs. This is another thing I’ve asked the VA to slowly work away at.

Creating Post Templates/Drafts

Some posts are very similar in style to others, like link round ups and budget reviews and whatnot. Having tentatively scheduled, pre-named posts gives me a quick and easy place to save links that I discover and want to share, plus makes it faster for me to write the posts.  I really love this!

Finding New Blogs to Follow

There are so, so many blogs out there! Plus, they write on an absolutely huge variety of topics. The VA adds blogs to a big list I have, so that I can check them out, comment and meet new people.

Scheduling Social Media

When I post something new, WordPress and Jetpack will post about it when it goes live, which is usually at 8am Central. If you’re not on twitter at that moment, or when a round of twitterfeed posts goes by, you’re not going to see it. Scheduling social media takes a bit of time, but it absolutely worthwhile. Now I can easily have a new post tweeted a few times in a day, by having the VA set it up in HootSuite and CoSchedule (affiliate link, they have a free 14 day trial).

Setting Up Social Media

It might be just me, but I find that the twitterfeed website takes forever and a day to open and then to perform any action. It frustrates me, what can I say. My life is much improved by sending a quick email asking for someone’s blog to be added to my twitterfeed!

Creating and Fixing Amazon Links

It turns out that you can move too quickly for Amazon. Sometimes, links that look like they are correct, go to the previous thing that you were linking to. Obviously this is rather frustrating, especially when you have created huge resource lists which go to Amazon (like my 500+ Stocking Stuffers for Adults, or What to Register for if you Already Have Everything), like I do frequently. If I have written a post, I ask the VA to double check the links for me, and if they are incorrect to replace them with new ones.

And More

I am quite confident that I am going to find more and more things for the VA to do, as I know that I will come up with more ideas over time and we will get more used to what the other person can do and likes doing.  This is FAR from an extensive list, this is just what I hired a VA to do, so far.


What part of blogging do you wish that you could outsource?

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    • says

      My VA doesn’t write, she does a lot of behind the scenes stuff and has her own login. She uses a different name than me for commenting, too, because she’s not me and I would hate to make it look like I read the posts of friends but then have no recollection of them at all!

  1. says

    Cool! Cat (Budget Blonde) recommended I seek out some VA work to help me accomplish my financial goals and I’ve been wondering what I’d be doing (especially if I approached someone who couldn’t think of what to outsource). I like being armed with this information and think of me if you know anyone in the market 😉
    Kirsten recently posted…My Magic NumberMy Profile

  2. says

    Thanks for the shout out Anne, glad you are enjoying hiring out the tedious tasks! For everything else a VA cannot do, there is Fiverr, I did server migrations, got my logos done, some graphic work for my land development, etc. it is a steal for one off tasks instead of asking the VA to look into it for hours.
    Pauline recently posted…Side hustle ideas, part 1My Profile

    • says

      It’s pretty awesome,that’s for sure! One of the problems though is that there’s always another thing you could be doing, so I find it mostly frees up my time for even more tasks!

  3. says

    I’ve always wanted to hire a VA to do menial tasks for me, but I only want to do it after my blog income is sustainable enough that it justifies the cost of hiring a VA. I’m actually curious where you found your VA and how you hired them — since obviously not every VA is good.
    Suburban Finance recently posted…Are Gym Memberships Worth The Cost?My Profile

  4. says

    I would definitely like to outsource some of the social media aspects of blogging. Just not enough hours in the day to keep up with everything. I would love to start a Facebook page for my blog, but that requires a lot of time.
    Liz recently posted…How to Pack for a Work TripMy Profile

  5. says

    !!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited when this post popped up on my feed reader! I read The ‘4-Hour Workweek’ a few months ago and the idea of a VA has been floating around in my head since then. Especially since Tim Ferriss recommends a person get one even before they need one. What convinced you to give it a go? What site do you use? Was it trial-and-error or did you get connected with a great one right away?

    I think it would be nice to get someone to proof my posts and do web design. I’ve been doing everything myself but I think it’s unwise to keep playing Superman much longer!

    Can’t wait to hear your reply, Anne!
    Will @firstqfinance recently posted…How to MAKE Money with Back-to-School ShoppingMy Profile

    • says

      I read that book a few years ago and have been thinking about it ever since! I decided that I wanted to try to grow multiple sites, so I had to do something differently. I’m talking about how much I’m making/spending/etc. for this site in the newsletter, including this experiment in strategy.
      I was able to get a referral from someone who already had a VA, who thankfully had enough time to work with me as well. She was originally found via problogger job boards, I believe.
      Proofing may cost you a pretty penny because you will likely be looking for a native English speaker. Web design might be a good one, though.
      It’s nice to be able to outsource, but there is still SO MUCH TO DO! I find it just pushes me further down my giant list of to-dos, which always grows faster than I make it through.

    • says

      They are really all over to the map, but I think they start around $2/hour. For native English speakers the sky is basically the limit, but I have seen a few people say they work for around $15/hour. I suspect some would work for less, though.

    • says

      I would say these things are directly responsible for large results, but they don’t have to necessarily be done by me. I have been amazed at how much work I have been able to send her way, initially I thought it would only be a few hours a week but boy was I wrong!

    • says

      Spread the word near and far, and check out some of the posting boards. I would say, though, that networking with other bloggers, especially on twitter, is the best idea.

  6. says

    I’m totally into the idea of getting a VA. The thing is I am not in the mindset of “spending money to make money” so I might turn my fiancé into my VA. :) Get him to do some of the behind the scenes stuff since he’s pretty tech-savvy (he better be considering his field!), but that gives me a bit more time to figure out awesome post ideas (I’m floundering again, LOL… I need to remember to write a well-thought-out list next time I am in the zone).
    Alicia recently posted…Quirks I Learned From My ParentsMy Profile

    • says

      I wish I could get my spouse to do work for me!! That would be the day. Sometimes, I can ask questions and turn the answers into part of my post content (shhhhh!).
      I use a notepad app in my phone to jot things down when I think of them.

    • says

      There are definitely upsides!!I find that the list never seems to diminish, though. There are still a million and one other things that I could be doing. I do recommend getting a VA, though!

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