Post sponsored by
The words “Virtual Assistant” tend to inspire either a love or hate response. Anyone who has yelled at Cortana or Siri will be well-acquainted with their quirks and might find it hard to have any patience when it comes to using the AI helpers.
Rather than being a computer-generated presence, the Virtual Assistants we’re talking about today are very much real people.
Caroline Wylie of Virtually Sorted explains: “The name does put people off, and when you introduce yourself to someone as a Virtual Assistant inevitably someone will pipe up ‘Ah, so you aren’t really here then’. You get used to it!”
These online business managers or freelance secretaries are able to deal with all the little bits and pieces of admin that eat away at your time. When you contact a website for customer service these days, chances are a VA is behind the personalised response you get.
“For the first time this year in the UK VA Survey we saw social media join traditional VA services (such as audio typing and general admin) as the big earner. It demonstrates just how many small businesses and solopreneurs are outsourcing their online presence to VAs due to lack of time. It’s those kind of small tasks which tend to fall off the bottom of the To Do list or get rushed due to lack of time,” says Caroline.
What does a virtual assistant do?
Your Virtual Assistant can complete any task a PA or secretary would normally do, including arranging travel, sending letters, formatting/spellchecking documents, arranging personal tasks and helping with marketing. It seems the only thing they haven’t quite mastered is virtual coffee…
Caroline explains: “For many entrepreneurs, their VA is the building block to growing their business – it’s often the missing puzzle piece for how you get from a small website to a big business.”
The majority of virtual assistants’ clients tend to be small businesses who don’t have the budget or need to hire full-time admin or marketing staff. Using a VA means they get the skills of a full-time employee but only pay for what they need on an hourly basis. Like Uber, but for admin!
How to get the best out of your first virtual assistant:
- Get them to quote for the whole job – hourly rates range from $2/hour to £40/hour, but a VA who understands the task properly and is experienced in how to complete it will be much faster and get better results than someone you have to hand-hold through the whole experience. That means it can actually be cheaper to hire a more expensive assistant.
- Keep your data secure – the VA should be registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a Registered Data Controller. Look for the “SVA Approved” and/or “VA Certified” logos which show your assistant has been registered with their official body.
- Take your time – don’t outsource in a rush, do it when you have time to brief the job properly and evaluate the results. If possible look for tasks that are self-contained and which you repeat regularly, so you can hand them over every day/week/month.
- Don’t let a virtual assistant loose on client tasks initially – check their work with internal or personal tasks first.
Fancy trying a virtual assistant yourself? Virtually Sorted have teamed up with Gadgette to offer 2 special deals to readers:
Free blog review:
What could a blog assistant do for you?
- Make suggestions for improving SEO
- Post articles for you
- Write tweets and Facebook posts
- Suggest and research blog topics to create year-round fresh content
- Create digital resources such as workbooks, memes, videos
- Run competitions
- Drive traffic to your site with an email newsletter
Gadgette blog offer:
A full blog review including SEO audit, blogging prompts list, blog calendar download, and social media tracking pack. Worth £100.
Why use video captions?
- YouTube is owned by Google and therefore videos are given high preference when cataloguing search results.
- While the description in your video can list keywords, you may get penalised for repetition of keywords if Google sees this as an attempt to manipulate listings. Transcripts/captions can contain the keyword many times, and therefore boost your search engine ranking for that keyword.
- Using captions on your videos increases accessibility of your site for deaf and hard of hearing viewers.
- Uploading a transcript of the video to your website creates more search engine text and allows users who prefer not to view videos (or don’t have enough data) to still access your content.
- Having the captions to a webinar or presentation can be an easy shortcut to creating digital products for sale.
Gadgette transcription offer:
We’ll transcribe up to 30 minutes of your webinar, video or podcast – use it for YouTube subtitles, a download for participants or the basis of a standalone digital product. Worth approximately £40.
Then sit back, relax, and load up the new series of Kimmy Schmidt. Much more fun than transcription, right?
Main image: Pexels. This is a paid advertising post by Virtually Sorted.