April 3, 2013, 4:48 am

How to Change a VA into an Extension of Your Brain

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Alternative Income,Blogging,Business
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If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I’m obsessed with productivity. I feel sick each time I see inefficiency. If you plan on doing something, take a few minutes to organize yourself and make sure your work will be 100% productive. I’ve highlighted my productivity techniques in the following 8 articles:


  1. Stop Trading Time for Money
  2. Get Your Things Done 100% of the Time
  3. Why I Miss My 1 Hour Drive
  4. The Not To Do List
  5. The Cure for “I don’t Have Time”
  6. What’s the Power of Sticky Notes?
  7. The Face You Should Be Making Each Day of Your Life
  8. Tricks to Gain 1 Hour Per Day


These are all great tricks but there is a common problem with all these articles; they all rely on YOU! I don’t know if you have noticed but YOU are quite limited when it comes down to productivity:


–          You only have 24 hours in a day

–          You automatically have to spend a few hours eating, sleeping and… well… working 😉

–          You get tired

–          You have a life


For all these good reasons, you can’t be always be productive. If you are working on your sideline from time to time, you probably find it frustrating to fall behind on everything else all the time. I know the feeling; I’ve been through this pain.


Get a Virtual Assistant and Solve Your Problems


I’m a man of priorities. While I truly enjoy making more money, I didn’t want to do it at the expense of my family. This is why I’ve decided to bump up my website cost structure and hire Virtual Assistants (VAs). After a while, my two VAs have literally become extensions of my brain. They know how I process information and about my way of thinking. They are now able to adopt my methodology and make things run the way I would.


I don’t even have to worry about anything as they do it as well as I would do. Sometimes, I read comments, articles or email answers done by my VAs and I truly feel that I wrote that! The best part is that I wasn’t even involved in the process and don’t even influence them!


Here’s an Exhaustive List of What they Do for Me


Just to give you a few ideas what they could do, here’s a list of tasks I pay for:

–          Edit, format, add pictures and publish articles

–          Comments/read other blogs

–          Reply to emails

–          Manage marketing campaigns

–          Pay writers, brokers

–          Write articles, manage other writers

–          Keyword research

–          Find topics to write about

–          Promotion

–          Brainstorm for other sites

–          Comment/improve eBooks I write


Each VA has their own skills and abilities. I dispatch tasks to be done weekly or monthly plus I send them emails from time to time for specific projects. This is why most of their work is known upfront and they don’t have to communicate with me to achieve their tasks. I do spot check once in a while to make sure everything is being done according to my standards.


Tasks I Outsource to Single Contract VAs


Sometimes, I don’t need someone to work full time for me and I can’t ask my regular VAs to complete these tasks. Some tasks require more experience and background in a field my regular VAs are not familiar with. This is a list of things I have to find specific VAs for a one time task:


–          Blog designs / templates

–          Logo designs

–          Coding / programming

–          Edit previous posts

–          eBook Covers


Where in the Hell do You Find Qualified VAs????


I’m sure that you get the idea by now of having someone work for you. If I can make $50 an hour out of a task, the point is simply to find someone who will charge me less than that to achieve it. The difference between the VA cost and the revenues from the task is kept in my pockets.


The other way around is also true. If I was to spend many hours to complete a task and not even end-up with a nice results at the end, the cost of paying someone to do it for me would equal to saving several hours of work. As time is worth money, you can save by outsourcing too.


In order to do such magical arbitrage, you need to deal with highly competent individuals. I picked my 2 main VAs from two different worlds:


Pick a Blogger


Martin is a blogger and works online for a living. He actually authors a site called Start Freelancing Now ;-). I’ve been working with Martin for so many years I don’t even remember how it all started ;-). I appreciate his enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and get things done. If you pick a blogger to work for you, you will save a lot of time as you won’t have to train him/her too much. This is probably the biggest advantage: the blogger will be ready to work for you the next morning and provide you with great results.


Pick from Family and Friends


V is my feminine version. She’s like me on many points and I truly appreciate working with her. She is also my sister-in-law which made the decision to employ her very touchy. My partner and I thought about it for a long time before we offered her a job. Today, we feel that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. She is able to work part time and take care of her child and we have someone working on a steady basis on various projects. When you pick among your friends and family, you have the advantage of knowing the good and the bad points of the person. You know exactly what to expect but it’s also important to clearly set expectations. If you are not clear about what is expected, the situation could result in a very delicate issue.


Pick a Professional


Bloggers and friends are very good to use as “main VA”. Those VAs will do several tasks and work with you on a daily or weekly basis. Depending on the task, I use several sites as reference to find VAs:

For logos and designs, we usually use 99 Designs. For a very cheap price, you are able to get profession work done. What I like the most about it is the option of getting dozens of designs and pick among them to buy what you truly had in mind. Dealing with a single designer will limit your options and you won’t be able to go back and forth 20 times to improve logos. With 99 Designs, you can explain what you need and you have plenty of designers offering their drafts for free. Then, you pick one and start working with him.


I’ve had a hard time to find main VAs through oDesk and eLance. I’m not saying it’s not possible but I’m saying that I don’t have the experience to help you out with this. However, a good friend of mine does: Quinn from Cubicle Free is currently offering a free eBook about how to get your VA from those two sites.


However, I do use oDesk for several other tasks. When I need a programmer to code a few things on my site, this is definitely the perfect place to go to post your need. Within a few days, you are set with a profession that won’t charge you an arm and a leg to do the job. I’ve also used oDesk for specific writing contracts. Since you can find writers in any field, it’s easy to find what you are looking for with a great level of English.


Publish Your Questions!


I’m sure you have tons of questions about hiring a virtual assistant and I would like to hear them. I’m willing to share my experience on this topic but I’m just not sure where to start. So go for it! I’m all yours…




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by: OttawaGuy | April 3rd, 2013 (9:19 am)

Hey TFB,

When you say “If I can make $50 an hour out of a task, the point is simply to find someone who will charge me less”

How do you quantify a task (ROI) on things like designs, coding or even articles…

by: The Financial Blogger | April 3rd, 2013 (12:42 pm)

Great question!

this is where you have to reverse the situation and ask how many hours of your time you would require to do design, coding, writing.

I value my time worth at least $50/hr. If I need to spend 20 hours learning coding a simple line while I can have the whole code done for $250, it’s a no brainer. On the other side, if I can code something in 3 hours, there is no point of paying the $250.

It’s not always easy like this but I try to keep my task within my range of talent and outsource everything else :-).

Hey Mike!,

Thanks for mentioning the free ebook my friend – I hope your readers will get a lot out if it.

I know you use VAs very effectively too – but what I found is that many people don’t know where to start…. or worse they do start but fail because they try to give the wrong things to their first VA. Hiring a VA for the first time can be hit and miss prospect but it does not need to be that way.

The “5 steps” helps to prioritize things in terms of 1) What makes you money 2) What you hate doing 3) What you can easily outsource.

By going through the five steps, what you end with is a list of the things that are most likely to be successful at outsourcing. I also included some bonuses for anyone who is serious – like a job description that gets results.


Wow it really has been a long time Mike! Thanks for keeping me on board. It has been a blast. And the answer is forum. We met on the now defunct “Money Blogs Network” forum I believe.

Interesting! I am an intern at an office that owns and manages multiple blogs and this sounds very similar to what I do for free! I’ll have to look into being a VA when I’m finished!

This article was very interesting. It’s not something that I would need but more like Morgan said, something I could do. I appreciate this post because it is informative in more than one way. Thanks!

Choosing a family member or friend is a good idea when it comes to them knowing you enough to answer and create things the way you would like them. However working with someone close to you may be hard. If not someone close to you, a VA may need to spend some time reading a lot of your material and answers to questions to figure out how to comprehensively complete the work you want them to do but its definitely a good idea for productivity.

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