Last week I talked about how I ended up hiring a VA and all of the awesome tasks that she does for me. Obviously, there is rather straightforward explanation of why it is good for me, as she frees up my time to focus on other things (ahem, and to be lazy). That said, there’s actually several additional benefits, which may not seem obvious on the surface.
I know that some people already do several of these things themselves, but I was not one of those people. Props to you if you are one of those organized, or extremely systems-based people already. There are definitive upsides to doing some of these things, even if you aren’t planning to hire a VA immediately.
I have had a fairly consistent approach to some aspects of my sites for a while, but not solidly consistent. One of the most obvious areas for this is photos, especially the odd size that I use on Unique Gifter. Hiring a VA forced me to standardize my approach to things and to write it down and solidify it in my mind.
I created quick step-by-step job aids to send the VA, so that she would be able to replicate what I do in a consistent manner. I had to decide if the black image borders should be 12 wide or 8 wide, for example. Most of the time I’ve just eyeballed it. Money Propeller was so new that I had to decide what pictures should look like for it, right from the get-go.
The mini-headers that break up posts, like the word “standardizing” above were another thing I needed to decide how to do on a regular basis. Should they be bold, or Heading 2?
These are the biggest examples, but there are many little places where I had to pause and think about how I should be doing things consistently, so that I could communicate that to the VA.
Writing More All At Once
Having someone to upload and format posts has been motivating me to write more in batches. As I explained in I Hired a VA, I do a fairly large amount of my writing offline, on my commute, so I forward the posts in Word documents to the VA. It seems inefficient to me to send them to her one at a time, so I have found it a motivation to write more posts in a shorter amount of time, so that she can do say four posts all at the same time and get a good flow and system going. I’ve never asked if it actually makes a difference to her, I’m just assuming that it does because that’s what happens for me!
Freeing up my Time
This one is pretty darn obvious, but do you know how awesome it is to go log into your blog and see ten complete drafts, ready to go with SEO and pictures and everything, that weren’t there before? All I have to do then is figure out when to schedule them. (And re-read the posts that I wrote, checking the spelling and grammar, because I am absolutely horrible at doing that immediately after I have written them, so I just don’t bother.) Bam!
It’s really quite fun and encouraging to see this, it feels less like a one-man-show where everything 100% relies on me, because now it doesn’t! If I don’t feel like blogging for a bit, the show will go on (especially because I’ve scheduled posts out until the end of December, woot woot!) I now have the luxury of free time when I don’t feel like dealing with blog stuff; I can pass it along.
Fewer Shiny Objects
I think that having a VA is also more efficient. I haven’t calculated out how long it takes her to do things versus how long it would take me, but much like trading housekeeping chores with someone else, when you don’t have distractions available to you, you get things done a lot more efficiently. I just cut down the number of steps that I need to do in order to create and publish a post, so there are a lot fewer points in the process where I can get distracted by something entirely different. I am more likely to get distracted when I am switching between different tasks.
What do I Enjoy?
Other than writing, which can also be outsourced via freelancers or even via ghostwriters, I can choose to outsource pretty much anything to a VA. That option means it has forced me to think about which parts of blogging I enjoy the most, so that I keep them for myself. The tricky part for me is that I like different things at different times, so it’s best for me to pick and choose, so far.
One thing I dislike doing is scheduling social media in bulk, so I have absolutely handed that task off, as otherwise I forget to post things, most of the time, despite having all of the tools at my disposal.
Those are the ways that hiring a VA has been so good for me. Even if my online income collapsed and I had to go back to doing everything all by myself again, the process has been a good experience and absolutely a learning experience.
If you are considering working with a VA, but aren’t quite sure about it, try starting with Fiverr gigs. Pick a few tasks that you want off your plate ASAP and you are willing to pay $5 to have disappear. You might be able to work out a relationship with the person you find, or at the very least you can dip your toes in the water.
Do you have very standardized approaches to things, or do you wing it each time?