Hiring a Virtual Assistant: A Step by Step Guide

Hiring a VA header

Hiring a VA doesn’t have to be difficult!

As a creative business owner, you’ve probably considered hiring a virtual assistant at some point or another. If you’ve read my post, 4 Reasons to Hire a Virtual Assistant in 2020, then you KNOW that hiring a VA will save you time, energy, and money so that you can get back to doing what you really love! 💟

Sounds pretty great, right? 

It is! But before you can dive in, you’ll need to do some genuine soul searching about what this means for you and your business. I’m sure you have some (well justified!) concerns about whether or not this is the right next step. 

I get it. Truthfully, I’d be more concerned if you weren’t at least a little apprehensive! 

Your business is your baby, and it feels kind of scary at first to hire a real-life person (who’s going to need to be paid at some point). Growth can be intimidating! 

But don’t get it twisted. This step is ESSENTIAL if you want to scale your business and take it to the next level. 

Okay, enough with the heavy. Now that you’re sold on the idea of hiring your first-ever virtual assistant for your creative business, and you feel confident that this is in alignment with your overall vision, you might be wondering how the heck to go about it. 

Don’t worry! I’ve got you covered. 🤠

Let’s tackle the following 6 steps together! 

Side note: I’ve put together a mini 7-day challenge for hiring your first ever VA where I break down each of the steps to erase any doubts you may have. If you’re on the fence or feeling overwhelmed, I’ll be there to *virtually* hold your hand through it all! You can sign up for the mini-course HERE

Step 1: Understand your time and budget constraints before hiring

One of the greatest gifts that your virtual assistant will give you is time. ⏰

I cannot stress this enough – if you constantly feel like there isn’t enough time in the day (no matter how many times you remind yourself that you and Beyonce both get 24 hours in a day to shine like the STARS you are), then hiring a VA will work wonders in your life AND in your business.

Hiring a VA - Beyonce letterboard

But, before you can take this step, you need to understand how much of it you are wasting. Tracking your working habits will help you see where your time actually goes. 

Spending hours and hours answering the same old emails you feel like you’ve responded to a gazillion times over? Poor use of time. 

Agonizing over designing a gorgeous, eye-catching Instagram feed every week? Poor use of time.

These time-sucks…well, suck. Ask yourself: how much value could you be creating for your clients if you didn’t have to worry about those menial tasks? (Hint: a lot). 

By keeping a log of how you spend the majority of your time, you’ll be able to identify potential tasks that you could delegate to a third party. 

I recommend using free tools like Clockify or Toggl to get started. 🛠

Next, you’ll want to evaluate your budget. This one seems kind of obvious, but it’s important for this step. 

In my last post, I mentioned that virtual assistants charge anywhere from $20-40 an hour depending on their services and experience level. Of course, there will always be outliers, but that’s the typical going-rate in most cases. 

Some VAs also offer packages that group similar or complementary services together for a flat-rate. It really depends on what you’re looking for! 

Regardless of your preferred pricing structure, it’s valuable to gauge how many hours you realistically can afford to pay someone and compare it to the amount of extra time you need/want in your schedule each week. 

Here’s an example. Katie is a talented florist who is struggling to manage her client inquiries – her inbox is OVERFLOWING! After logging her hours for a week, she realizes that she spent a whopping 5 hours responding to the same old boring emails – a task that she hates doing. 

After evaluating her monthly discretionary income, Katie sets aside a $100 weekly budget to cover the cost of working with a virtual assistant. Based on that budget, Katie understands that she should hire someone with an affinity towards email correspondence who charges $20/hour or less.

Simple enough, right? You can apply this same formula to any area of your business – it’s totally up to you!

Step 2: Evaluate which tasks you can afford to delegate

Much to Abby Lee Miller’s dismay, not everybody is replaceable. 

Hiring a VA - Everybody's Replaceable

Yeah, I said it! 👀

There are certain things in your business that only YOU can do. These tasks are like little trade secrets you keep all to yourself – your own secret recipe to success.

Stay with me here. To become a master at the art of delegation, you gotta dig deep to see which to-do list items you’d feel comfortable letting a stranger (*gasp*) take over.

I know, I know. The thought of loosening your kung-fu grip on the reigns of your business feels terrifying. After all, who could ever manage YOUR business better than you?!?!?!

I’m not suggesting that you hand over the keys to your kingdom to everybody, but I AM saying that you should at least let somebody in through the side entrance (once you’ve established trust and tested his or her ability, of course). 

It’s very common for us solopreneurs to be overachievers who try to take on everything. Most of us are workaholics who don’t believe in getting a full eight hours of sleep a night. No job is ever too much! 

Asking for help is okay! More than that – it’s important for your own sanity and well-being! 

Trust me on this one – there are certain tasks that would benefit your overall productivity to let someone else do. Whether that’s managing your books or your social media or even writing blog posts, I can guarantee you that there’s a VA for that! 

Write down a list of your least favorite weekly tasks or a project that you’ve been putting off for some time. Narrow it down to your top 3 and get to searching! 

Step 3: Dive into your search for the perfect fit

Here’s where it gets exciting! 

Similarly to targeting your ideal customer, there are a couple of ways to go about finding your perfect VA. 

Option 1

Search within your network. 

Whether you’re reaching out to family, friends, or your professional contacts, ask around to see if anybody has recommendations for a virtual assistant that they know or have previously worked with. 

This option is the most accessible because your established set of connections is the most likely to want to help you because they already care about you! Got a venue friend who loved her social media VA? Ask her if you can snag that email! 💌

The possibilities are endless here, so don’t be too shy to ask!

Option 2

Resort to the Internet. There’s no shame in Googling! Check out freelance sites like Fiverr or Upwork to find a Grade-A VA for yourself. 

With Upwork, you can post a job (free of charge!) and freelancers will come to you. Imagine that – talented professionals fighting over the work you HATE doing! Crazy to think about, right?

With Fiverr, the freelancers post “Gigs” and set certain packages and prices at their own discretion. You can search for general areas of your business that you need help with and go from there. 

Upwork and Fiverr have some key differences, but both can help you achieve the same goal of finding the right person for the job. It really just depends on if you want to personalize your project ahead of time or simply find a similar package that closely suits your needs. 

Step 4: Interviews + Hiring

Whichever path you take, you’ll want to create an application (or a job description at the very least) to identify your top 3-5 prospects before you start the interview process. 

Once you’ve received a number of applications and found some star candidates, you’ll want to reach out to them to schedule your interviews. For the sake of efficiency, I recommend using a tool like Calendly to let your interviewee find a time on your calendar that works best for him or her.

Alright, now that you’ve got your list of the best of the best in hand, you’re ready to start the interviewing portion of the hiring process! 🤩

So, how exactly do you do that? Being interviewed is never easy, but it’s actually pretty nerve-wracking to be on the other side of the desk, too! 

Maybe you don’t see yourself as qualified enough to interview someone. Relax! This is a common misconception that many business owners face – especially the first couple of times. 

The trick is to make sure that you have a clear idea of what qualities you are looking for in a potential new-hire and have a set of questions prepared. 

When it comes to your final decision, try your best to evaluate each candidate holistically and compare his or her values, prices, and services to what you’d want your ideal virtual assistant to offer. 

No pressure, but this decision could drastically improve your business or become a huge headache, so make sure you choose wisely and avoid rushing into giving someone the job just because he or she “seems nice.”

Finally, give yourself a deadline to have all the interviews completed and to officially make your first hire!

 This is also an important time to think about drafting an employment contract (depending on the length of the project) and potentially a non-disclosure agreement if needed.

Interviewing and hiring is probably the hardest step, but you can do this! As your cheerleader, I’ll be the first to say I believe in you to make the right choice and rise to the occasion!

Step 5: Put your VA to the test

If it comes down to the final two candidates and you’re stuck, this step might just be your saving grace.

PUT THEM TO THE TEST!!! 🔥

Sure, you might feel like Jeff Probst from Survivor giving your interviewees the ultimate challenge, but it’ll pay off if it means hiring the right VA.

Hiring a VA - Survivor

I recommend having a small project that you’d trust someone else to tackle. Nothing crazy – maybe just a week of unpublished social media posts or a marketing research assignment filled to the brim with interesting statistics you’ve been curious about but haven’t had the time to seek out yourself. 

This provides your candidates with an opportunity to show off what they’ve got and also some free (or relatively cheap) labor for the time being. 

Even if you were able to narrow your list of candidates down to the best one, it’s still a good idea to test him or her to make sure that they’re legit. 

Also, a lot of virtual assistants tend to offer a free trial week anyway. For us, it’s worth the pay-cut if it means we’ll win you over as a long-term client! 

Step 6: Moving Forward with Your VA After Hiring

Hiring your first VA? No problem!

Finally, you’ve made it to the last step. Pat yourself on the back for making it this far! 🙌🏻

At this point, you’ve found an awesome virtual assistant, and hopefully, he or she is providing you with everything you wanted and MORE! 

Now, it’s time to evaluate how your working relationship will look moving forward. 

Is this someone that you’ll be working with every week? Is he or she taking a permanent position as your email manager or your graphic designer? Or is this more of a one-off situation?

At this point, you’ll want to think back to the first step and compare your needs to your realistic budget and time constraints. While VAs are great in many ways, they do require some degree of direction, so you’ll want to make sure you have the time and work available before signing off on a long-term contract. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is how you’ll communicate. Do you prefer communicating via text, email, or video chat? Establish your chief mediums of communication because that will be absolutely CRITICAL when it comes to collaborating in the future. 

Finally, remember to speak up! If your VA is underdelivering or isn’t giving you what you asked for, it’s okay to let him or her know. This is YOUR business and YOUR reputation is on the line. Step into your power and calmly communicate your expectations and work to evaluate how you can make practical adjustments moving forward. 

Conclusion

Whew! There you have it, folks! 

We covered a lot today, so to recap:

  • Hiring a virtual assistant will save you time, energy, and money. You should do it if it’s in alignment with your goals for your business.
  • Steps:
    1. Understand your time and budget constraints
    2. Evaluate the services you need help with and are willing to delegate
    3. Dive into your search for the perfect fit!
    4. Interviews + Applications
    5. Put your VA to the test
    6. Moving forward with your VA

Those simple 6 steps can completely alter the way you do business. Want more? Sign-up for my mini 7-day course so that you can have your very first VA onboard in ONE WEEK! 

Best of luck, gang! Don’t be afraid to reach out if you have questions.

I’m rooting for you! 👏🏻

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I'm Calla Hamlin, a native Texan girl in love with all things weddings and online marketing for girlboss entrepreneurs. Now, I'm sharing my passions to simplify wedding event management for the lovebirds and the pros! 

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