#MyBestTenList: Tasks to Outsource to Virtual Assistants

One very good thing about the world we live in right now is that the more we grow, the easier our lives get. And this is only made possible by the various advancements we experience, especially in technology and every other aspect of life.

New innovations spring up regularly, previously untapped knowledge forts get unlocked, and revolutions surface at different facets; business, health, education, etc. even governance.

Over the past years, there has been a revolution online, especially in the way and how we get things done. Every business person wants to cut costs – and time – at different levels of their businesses, where possible. This has led to the positive surge of some particular set of people that tend to make work – and ultimately, life – easier.

I’m talking about the ‘Virtual workers’. They’ve come – and keep coming – in different forms. We know some as Virtual Assistants (V.As), and some are simply called Freelancers, among other names.

Some of us are probably already familiar with these guys. But a lot of people do not even know how to use these guys and the benefits attached therein. Some other people are just skeptical about entrusting these guys with their ‘lives’.

It’s normal to feel this way, but I’ll tell you these guys are the best thing that can happen to any business.

How?

Entrepreneurs are already busy enough with doing what they do best; that which their businesses originally require. Yet, there are a lot of ‘other’ activities and tasks incidental to your business’ success, which are sometimes boring, take a lot of quality time doing or require a lot of time learning.

These ‘other tasks’ are the major jobs of some people, and they are out there to help you do them, so that you can spend more time on what you do best and become more creative and productive. These people are, of course, the Virtual Assistants.

Those who use VAs often talk about how good the experience always is. One common thing among these beneficiaries’ testimonials, is that they ultimately experience an increase in income in the long run, which eventually justifies their hiring of a V.A. And most of them say outsourcing to a V.A is something they’d love to do over and over again.

Chris Ducker of @VStaffFinder recommends business owners make a list of the things they hate to do. Then everything they can’t do. Then the things they should not be doing. That grocery list is the to-do-list for outsourcing.

Now all you need is a virtual assistant to do it.

I sometimes feel V.As are omnificent and omniscient, because it seems like there’s no limit to what V.As are capable of.

A V.A can do everything that could possibly be done without his/her physical presence required.

Nina Feldman lists 101 ways to use a Virtual Assistant. Even though I’ve not used a V.A that much –because of the financial side of the story 😉 – I have a list of my best tasks to outsource to a V.A, many of which I’ve done and enjoyed doing. Some I still do.

My best 10 (in no particular order) are:

  1. Reminder: appointments, meetings, calls, emails, tasks, anniversaries, events, ANY other thing you need to remember!
  2. E-mail Services: email screening, sorting, reply, sending, scheduling, autoresponders and newsletters, every other thing related to emails and emailing.
  3. Events planning: meetings, conferences, webinars, teleconferences,
  4. Internet marketing: SEO, marketing strategy, content marketing, guest posting, social media,
  5. Social media: profiles creation and writing, marketing, management and engagement, SEO,
  6. Research: market, competition, information, article content, keywords, data & statistics,
  7. Secretarial & personal assistant services: appointments, making calls, bookings & reservations, payments, accounting and book-keeping, auditing, human resources, public relations, this is really unlimited!
  8. Transcription and translation: audio to written, recording – and later transcription – of calls, interviews, webinars, inter-languages translation,
  9. Writing and Editing: articles writing, eBooks writing, design, editing, proofreading, eBook formatting, keywords research, articles spinning, submission, blogging, PRs, copywriting & SEO copywriting, guest blogging, newsletters and autoresponders,
  10. Websites: design, development, maintenance, marketing, critiquing & auditing, SEO,

These are simply the top 10 tasks I’d always love to outsource, out of the seemingly countless outsource-able tasks.

Talk about keeping the best for the last. Websites (design and maintenance) is something I cannot stop outsourcing. I’ve not had time for my blog in the past and would just be taking it seriously soon, now that I’m through with school. However, it’s not without commendable beauty and smooth functionality.

I only have Jo to thank for this. She has been my omniscient life-saver. And through her, I enjoy the benefits that come along with outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant. I’ve been able to present myself as a professional freelance writer to my clients and earn more as a result.

You can check out her handiwork on my blog Lucrative Pen.

P.S: Which tasks do you outsource most? And which would you love to outsource more in the future? Kindly share with us in the comments section.

Author Bio:

Yomi-Alliyu Oludami is a professional freelance writer and the founder of www.lucrativepen.com, a blog that teaches how to write for money and traffic. You can visit his website to learn more or hire him for your writing projects.

You can also follow him on twitter @oludami_LP.

Using virtual assistants to reduce payroll costs

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As a business grows, it becomes harder and harder to deal with everything in-house.  Taking on more staff might not be an affordable solution, especially when it comes to sourcing specialist skills that are not needed all the time. Hiring a virtual assistant is an increasingly popular solution. When it comes to payroll, it can be a real money saver.

Top-level talent, low level cost

One of the reasons entrepreneurs are often headhunted is that they’re known for having a multiplicity of skills. In a small business, everybody has to be able to do a bit of everything. Being able to do everything, however, doesn’t mean being able to do everything well. Having access to a specialist can make a big difference, especially when it comes to finance.

Paying for a specialist as a full time staff member can be very expensive in comparison to what a small business brings in.  It basically means that, much of the time, that business is paying for skills it isn’t using. Salary, tax, expenses, holiday pay, sick pay etc. can quickly add up. Using a virtual assistant means only paying for the hours when they’re actually needed, with none of those subsidiary costs. It can massively reduce the overall cost and can potentially give a business access to a much more talented person than it could afford to keep on staff.

Better payroll management

When it comes to saving money, a skilled payroll handler can make a big difference. The complexity of pay and tax systems can be confusing, especially for an organisation that is in the process of expanding its staff or has a lot of part time workers. It’s easy for a non-specialist to make mistakes and these can be expensive. Where underpayment happens, it can also lead to a loss of staff goodwill.

Taking on a virtual assistant to handle payroll can eliminate these problems and can potentially save a lot of money. It makes it easier to be flexible about staffing issues without the worry that this will further complicate an already difficult job for the business owners.

Finding the right person

To get the most out of hiring a virtual assistant, it is of course important to find the right person. This can be a complicated process as it’s advisable to seek recommendations or get references in order to make the choice with confidence.

One approach is to make use of umbrella companies or agencies that provide virtual assistants to suit a range of different requirements. This is a much safer way to find payroll solutions as it means things like qualifications, experience and general competence will have been pre-assessed. Establishing a good relationship with an organisation of this sort can also make the process easier when you want to hire a virtual assistant for another type of task.

The real beauty of bringing in a virtual assistant to handle payroll is that it frees up existing staff to do other things—that is, to concentrate on the aspects of running this business that they’re really good at.  This in turn can enhance its competitiveness and keep it ahead of the pack.

How Freelancers Save You Time and Money

I am a freelancer. I have my own business and have clients who hire me on a monthly or PAYG basis. But some freelancers use their spare time to earn a little extra money on the side of their full-time jobs.

Not only am I a freelancer myself, I also outsource to freelancers when the need arises. When I set-up my business I hired someone to design my logo, and also customise my website theme (I wasn’t a WordPress expert at that point!). 

I am quite particular what freelancer websites I use to hire freelancers and accept jobs from. I signed up to quite a few when I first started out, but it soon became clear that PeoplePerHour was one of the best. My very first client came from PeoplePerHour, and to this day I still get the odd job from this website even though I am not currently very active on there.

So how can a freelancer save you time and money?

Last week one of my clients asked me to perform a task that I just didn’t have time to complete myself. I decided that as the job was fairly simple, but would take probably 3 or 4 hours of my time, that I would likely find a freelancer who would be able to do the job for me. I popped over to PeoplePerHour and started looking for a freelancer who had the skills I was looking for. It didn’t take long to find quite a few freelancers who would be able to complete this task, so I spent some time looking at the feedback for my shortlist. I soon narrowed my shortlist down to one and dropped the freelancer a message asking if she’d be able to undertake the work for me. She came back to me within a few hours and agreed that she could take it on. I gave her further details, told her how long I wanted her to spend on the task and left her to it. 

The task itself took the freelancer 4 hours and 48 minutes to complete. Her rate was very reasonable, and a lot less than my own hourly rate which meant I not only saved time myself, but also saved my client money in the process. 

I appreciate that by hiring someone whose hourly rate is quite low is something many people have a problem with and in fact I used to have similar misconceptions about this. But everyone needs to earn a living, and if this freelancer can work for this rate and live comfortably then I am happy to pay them to get the job done. I never hire someone on rate alone, I look at their experience and the feedback from other clients.

Hourlies on PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour introduced Hourlies some time ago now, which have been extremely popular. I have a few of these hourlies set-up on my profile, I think they are useful for advertising single, one-off tasks you can complete quickly and easily.

Today I received an email from a member of PPH saying one of my hourlies had been included on the PPH blog and Facebook. I quickly clicked the link and found this great video showcasing some of his favourite hourlies of the week – I’m at 2.08!

Did you spot me? I like the fact he says “see how happy she is sorting out your inbox!”

Hiring a Freelancer

  • Find a reputable freelancer website such as PeoplePerHour
  • Create a shortlist of freelancers who you think can perform the job for you
  • Look through each profile and the feedback from past clients
  • Send an initial message to the freelancer and ask if they are able to complete the task and the timeframe
  • Make a decision and hire the freelancer, if you’re purchasing an hourlie pay for it immediately so the freelancer can get going straight away
  • Don’t forget to provide feedback following completion of the task, this is so important for freelancers!

Have you outsourced to a freelancer in the past? What have been the benefits for you?

Check out my PeoplePerHour profile and hourlies to see if there is something I can help you with.

Getting the Best Deals on Your Home Office Purchases

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Jamie Griffiths is a content writer for Approved Index – the UK’s leading B2B marketplace for buyers and suppliers of business products and services.

In the digital era setting up a home office to accommodate your new self-employment necessarily involves purchasing some new kit. Often these purchases go one of two ways: either you spend countless hours determinedly hunting around for the very best deals or you take the easier option of shelling out what is probably a bit too much money.

Neither of those is the ideal outcome for the cash-strapped and time-poor start-up business person. Some kind of compromise is required so that you’re not distracted from your core activities for too long while still getting a decent deal on your equipment. The following tips should save you time and money whether you’re looking for cheap photocopiers, a business phone system or a new PC.

1. eBay is your friend…

If you’re not scared of a lack of manufacturer warranties then eBay is the place to look for your home office equipment. As well as independent sellers off-loading their used hardware you’ll also find many businesses which offer refurbished and reconditioned multi-function printers, telephones, desktop computers etc. Sometimes these companies will even offer their own warranties to provide that all important peace of mind. Sticking to the eBay seller rating system will ensure that you’re not about to be ripped off by non-existent goods.

2. …but do your research first

Of course it’s all well and good recommending eBay as a place to buy your equipment, but that doesn’t answer the more fundamental question of which equipment should I buy? Google searching a type of product with ‘reviews’ only turns up pages of SEO-ed content which is usually of no help whatsoever. Instead, go to Amazon or another large online retailer which has a customer review facility. Search for the type of product you’re after here and use the star rating system and user comments to narrow down your search. Apart from general user experience keep an eye out for comments on the price of consumables (e.g. toner cartridges). Once you’ve found a suitable solution you can then try to find the same product for cheaper elsewhere.

(Reminder: Be a good citizen; when you’ve purchased your item, leave a review for future users)

3. Don’t be rushed

While you don’t want to waste days looking for your office equipment neither do you want to get stuck with the first product offered. If you are going to buy from a dealer and enjoy a manufacturer warranty you should still take the time to compare prices across several sites. Type the product name as precisely as you can into Google and then check out the shopping results (by clicking the ‘Shopping’ link under ‘Search’ on the left hand side) for a quick overview of prices.

4. Check the delivery rates

I may be stating the obvious now but always check that the delivery price is included and the time frame. Some retailers offer only their very slowest delivery options for free and these usually also have restricted delivery times (though if you’re working from home that shouldn’t be a problem).

5. Don’t be afraid to return

Phones not up to scratch? Copier not working the way it said it would? Vital PC components missing? Then send it back. Check before you purchase that the seller accepts returns (eBay Buyer Protection can resolve such problems eventually but it’s always best to ensure the seller has their own agreeable policy) and that they’ll cover the cost of sending the unsuitable item(s) back.

I hope you’ve found the above advice helpful. All that remains is for me to wish you good luck in kitting out your new home office and the very best of fortune in your self-employment!

Professional Services Swap Shop

I thought I would do a shorter blog today, not only because it’s Monday and it’s taking a bit longer than normal for ideas to pop into my head, but also because this afternoon I have my first meeting with my new French teacher.

Last week I got speaking to someone on Twitter because they lived in the same area as France as me, and they offered French lessons, something I have been looking for since I moved here in October. It soon transpired that not only did he live 20 minutes from me and taught French but he was also interested in my virtual assistant services.

Remember the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop?

We had a discussion on the phone that day and agreed that he would provide me with one-to-one French lessons each week in return for help with his business, using my virtual assistant services.  What a great idea, swapping services so we both get what we need.

It’s the first time I’ve even thought about doing this, maybe there is a professional service you’re looking for and can offer your own services in return?

I am looking into some advertising opportunities for my business this week, so if you’re in that line of business and looking for some virtual assistance, get in touch, maybe we can do a swap?