The first time I hired a virtual assistant to run my site was a disaster. Even worse, it was all my fault.
In 2009, I was running a site about email marketing. I was writing posts every day to try and get it off the ground, with the dream of eventually quitting my full time job to become some kind of highly paid email marketing consultant.
Unfortunately, I had hardly any free time. I had a full time job doing copy writing for an online gaming company, and I had a very young daughter to take care of. I’d lie awake unable to sleep – burning with all the plans I hadn’t had time to do!
So, I decided to hire a virtual assistant.
All I knew was:
- You can hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines for $300 a month
- Filipinos speak great English
- They can do tasks that you don’t have time to do yourself
So I hired a virtual assistant called Kim for $300 a month.
Within 48 hours, I realised I’d made a huge mistake. It was clear that outsourcing my site to Kim wasn’t going to work.
The posts I asked him to write were okay, but they were formulaic and not up to the standard I wanted. Kim’s English was good – but by the time I’d thought up an idea for a post and outlined the content, I could have written it myself.
Looking back, my mistake was obvious. I was asking him to do something unrealistic – writing my posts. I didn’t know it at the time, but trying to outsource the core activity of creating useful content is a huge mistake.
Interestingly, that’s not where my outsourcing story ends – in fact, it was just the start.
Instead of giving Kim writing tasks, I decided to throw him other building tasks that would give me more time to spend writing.
This turned out to be hugely successful – and has massively freed up my time to this day.
The hard part is knowing what tasks to outsource. So, here’s 4 building tasks I recommend giving to your virtual assistant:
Task 1 – Post research
The best way to get value from a virtual assistant is to have them help you with research.
Say you’re writing a post about the top 10 screen casting applications on the Mac. You’d ask your assistant to create a document featuring all the software he can find in this category. Next to each piece of software, you’d ask him to list the name, price, and website address – as well as the main features of the software.
Or, let’s say you’re planning to write a post about how to barbecue a trout. You might ask your assistant to find other articles about barbequing trout that you could read before you start writing. You’d ask him to find somebody a YouTube user who’s posted a video of themselves cooking trout on a barbecue – and set up an email interview with them, so that you have some quotes to put in your article.
You want to get to the point where when you sit down to write a post, you’re basically walking into the kitchen and finding all your ingredients washed, chopped, and laid out – so all you have to do is assemble the parts and serve up the result.
Task 2 – Finding posts to comment on
Another great job for your virtual assistant for is finding posts to comment on.
When you know your topic reasonably well, the hard part about commenting isn’t cranking out the comments – it’s is actually keeping up-to-date with other people’s posts.
So, ask your virtual assistant to create a list of sites in your niche that you want to monitor. Then, have your assistant look at them two or three times a week and send you a daily or bi-weekly email with a digest of what’s been posted.
Then you can quickly dash off your comments, and your assistant can post them on your behalf – under your name, with a link back to you.
Task 3 – Interviews
One problem you have as a blogger is finding fresh content to post. Interviewing other authors is a brilliant way to get expert content quickly. You can ask your virtual assistant to spend one or two days a week finding other bloggers in your niche to interview.
Usually, fellow authors are happy to be interviewed – and they’ll often share the resulting post with their audience too. If you give your assistant this task one two days a week, then pretty soon you’ll have a steady flow of autopilot interview content for your site.
Task 4 – reviewing other sites
One tactic that I’ve tried with one of my websites was reviewing other websites in my niche. It works really well – it was great content and it won me a lot of respect and gratitude from fellow bloggers in my industry.
He’s what you do. Ask your virtual assistant to go out and find other sites similar to yours and write out a quick 40 to 50 word summary of what’s on the website.
When she has 10 of 12 of these, you can combine them into a list post that can sit on your website as a great piece of cornerstone content.
Make sure you link to all the sites featured of course. It’s good SEO to link to other pages in your corner of the Internet, and it also encourages other bloggers to reciprocate and link back to you – which never hurts.
A post by Ian Harris.