Authors have plenty of things to do along with writing. On average, you must write a thousand words in a novel, update your social media account, and issue a newsletter. If you’re a self-published author, you’ll need to check out the freelance editors, research the book cover trends for your latest edition, collect keywords for advertising campaigns, and check for errors in your audiobook. Of course, you can always find things to please your fans; there will always be opportunities to grow your brand. And it seems you can’t outsource any work because just one failed job can bring down everything you worked so hard to create.
Many think so. However, the truth is that you may be able to get rid of some of your work without collapsing your career. Of course, doing so is frightening and requires trusting someone you can’t fully control, but the risk will free up your time to grow your business or achieve a better work-life balance. Successful writers know this and often hire virtual assistants (VAs) to help them see how much better a person can improve their life.
It is coherent if a thought causes your throat to close in terror. Of course, no one wants to change the winning formula, and no VA will do everything you want. Also, they will not be able to perform every task as fast or accurately as you. But if you are stuck or tired, it is worthwhile to hire someone. Experience always comes with predicaments, and training will be required, but your reward will be more free time and possibly more money. Advantage? Here are five helpful tips for training your new virtual assistant. Master the process, and you can also become a less stressful and more productive writer.
Set realistic goals
Training can sometimes take a toll on your patience, but it’s not always the assistant’s fault. Undeniably, some virtual assistants are slow to assimilate or show no signs of fulfilling expectations. However, sometimes the problem lies in the unrealistic expectations of the author. Your virtual assistant, for example, maybe a hard worker but may not be able to do what you want in your desired schedule. This is understandable, especially if they have no experience. After all, without knowing the best practices required for each assignment, can you expect a newcomer who hasn’t published a book to enhance the podcast look or create a Facebook ad campaign as quickly as you?
It’s a good idea to ensure your expectations match their skill level before starting. Some virtual assistants, for example, may follow basic instructions for data entry — for example, submit a pre-written social media post on the scheduling app. Still, they can’t create a complete media campaign policy from scratch. Others are more experienced and can oversee many projects while developing strategies and making operational decisions. The latter is more expensive, so keep this in mind when you ask your $10 per hour assistant to perform work usually carried out by someone with a $ 40,000 salary. If you want someone having expertise, expect them to spend a lot of time training, or you pay them more per hour.
Many ways can be adapted to perform a single task. For example, you ask the VA to “collect details” of the influencers you want to work with for the upcoming launch. What does this mean? Would you like to input basic influencer contact details into a spreadsheet or create an in-depth profile including information on numbers of followers, genre engrossment, and talking points that you can incorporate into your setup? It can be unclear if you say you want to get the job done quickly but want to do some in-depth research. Such misunderstandings lead to unsatisfactory work and can lead to the cancellation of the project’s schedule.
One of the best means to avoid such mistakes is to record your process for the tasks you want to outsource. It’s better to perform a single task at a time and record your operations before your virtual assistant takes over. While you’re there, create a guide on each step, including tips on doing specific actions and how to do them. Also, note how long each stage takes to give the VA an idea of the expected schedule. Recording the process adds extra work in the short span of time, but there are several benefits:
- Steps act as checklists that help virtual assistants check their work.
- Time recording keeps them on schedule.
- The guide ensures that the task is completed using the method of your choice.
Over time, the more work you distribute, the more you can create instruction manuals. In addition, you can refer VA or another collaborator if they have a process question.
Assigning a wide range of tasks to a new VA might be a good idea when they start working for you and double your free time overnight, but this approach can cause serious problems in your business if your assistant can’t handle it. This is true even if you are hiring a complete novice or an experienced star because everyone takes the time to adapt when joining a new company, even if they already have experience. Unloading all the tasks at once on your new assistant and watching from far how they thrive in the heat, many writers find themselves fighting the fire in all directions.
In most cases, making it easier for them to take on new roles is better. Start by giving the VA a basic task, maybe log in details to a publishing account where he/she can’t do much damage. Once you are sure they are reliable and efficient, you can give them more work and access to more of your business accounts. This step-by-step method enables you to communicate more clearly while training your virtual assistants and does not overwhelm them with information on multiple functions. Of course, doing so takes more time to reach your ultimate goal. Still, patience reduces everyone’s stress levels, minimizes potential mistakes, and provides a more confident employee who better understands your needs.
You may think that you don’t need to meet your VA when a simple email can provide the same information, but meetings – even video calls – offer many benefits to ignore. According to a Bloomberg article, 80% of business people surveyed believe that meetings “create space for difficult and timely business decisions and encourage more complex strategic thinking.” In addition, many Psychology Today articles suggest that meetings enhance human relationships and inspire trust. Organizing regular meetings helps you connect to your virtual assistant machine in places where text-only communication is impossible. Moreover, it nurtures understanding and creative input, transforming two unrelated people into a real team, perfect with empathy and sincerity.
However, the main advantage of the meeting is the subtlety. Giving feedback via email or social media is easy but has its limitations. You can add many shades before generating more questions than answering email. Wrong text can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary insults. In contrast, regular VA video meetings provide more opportunities for intervention where all interested parties can ask questions and share their thoughts. Whether you hold weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings, doing so can be of great value. Remember to pay your VA for this meeting as it is considered part of their job.
Play to their strengths
Publishing is complicated. Successful writers who can afford a virtual assistant have often become multilingual, learning how to write, advertise, code, design, and more. When looking for a VA for the first time, you may want someone multifaceted like you. Even so, virtual assistants like these are extremely rare. Even the most competent ones have limited skills, so they can’t do everything you want. Not only that, but passion is also to be considered. Employees do great work when they love what they do, and virtual remote assistants are no different. So, even if your VA has a lot of skills, that doesn’t mean they want to use them all.
Pay attention to what they do well and what they say to get the best out of your VA. Don’t miss out on a VA assistant who works 15 hours weekly for you because they don’t like performing two-hour weekly tasks. If you’re happy with your virtual assistant but have a hard time with a single job, why not outsource this simple task to someone else, and have the happy workforce of a freelancer who loves their job? Dividing the workload complicates your work, but it also means having another assistant in the process that you can trust if your original virtual assistant disappears.
Over to you…
It takes time and effort to train virtual remote assistants. What you can take away from experience is that the process prepares you to be a better manager, giving you skills you can use to grow your business or automate its processes. Properly executed, it will withstand plenty of adverse conditions. This is a great way to thriving your company and regain your free time.