As a freelancer/entrepreneur, there’s a definite limit to how many things you can do in a day.
Of course, being involved in the industry of web development means that you may have planned out your day to work on one project, only to have to deal with an emergency a client suddenly makes you aware of and that demands a quick fix.
You really can’t blame clients for taking this attitude with you, as the websites you create for them serve an important business purpose. If these online properties are down or broken in some way, it reflects badly on the client and, ultimately, on you (even if the client is the one who broke the website!).
At any rate, in order to grow, and in some case to maintain your sanity you’ll eventually get to the point in your business where you just can’t be completely effective on your own.Whether you want to make more money, or just need some backup to provide excellent service (or both), you’ll want to consider the implications of growing your WordPress business by building a virtual team.
Whether you want to make more money, or just need some backup to provide excellent service (or both), you’ll want to consider the implications of growing your WordPress business by building a virtual team.
The perfect place to start is by hiring a virtual assistant.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Help can be known by many different titles in your freelance business. You might opt to hire a full-time employee if you’re growing fast, but most people start with a part-time employee or contractor as they scale up. The distinction between a contractor and an employee is a fine line, but legitimately claiming someone as a contractor can save you big time in payroll taxes and other associated costs.
A virtual assistant is one type of contractor that many online businesses turn to during their initial growth phase. The name “virtual assistant” does a good job of describing what they do – helping you to execute tasks while they working remotely.
You can hire a virtual assistant to work with you for a number of different tasks. Most people start their virtual team with a virtual assistant who focuses on research projects to help their business and general administrative functions.
That said, you can also hire more specialized VAs who have experience with specific business activities like social media, graphic design, and of course—WordPress development.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who knows a little bit of everything to start who can be coached through whatever they don’t know with regards to common tasks you deal with in your WordPress business.
As you grow, you’ll benefit from growing your team with more specialized members to execute different business functions.
How Outsourcing Tasks Helps You Spend Time on More Important Work
The point bears repeating: you only have so much time in a day to accomplish things.
Some freelancers wear double-digit hour workdays and working on weekends as a badge of honor, but that sort of bodily stress is hardly sustainable, and definitely not enviable.
The fact of the matter is that there are definitely some things you don’t personally need to be doing.
Think of it this way – not every task in your business is directly revenue generating. You should start making a list of these things as potential tasks to hand off.
Outsource tasks such as these to someone else, so you can focus on what only you can do.
If you’re really good at/enjoy sales, outsourcing major business tasks is a great way to build your business if you can provide proper training to your team, and maintain high-quality output to customers.
How to Build Your Virtual Team
Once you’ve recognized the need to grow your WordPress business with a virtual team, the next questions you’ll inevitably have revolve around where to recruit contractors and how much you should expect to pay for help.
First, a look at where to recruit team members:
- Upwork: A decent general freelance market representing people from all over the world.
- Fiverr: A project-based freelance market with many offerings starting a just $5.
- onlinejob.ph: A job board for hiring Filipino virtual assistants.
Some of the most affordable virtual assistants come from countries like India or the Philippines. Individuals from these countries work off of very low hourly rates.
Some people think it’s unethical to take advantage of their willingness to do so, especially as it lowers the payment bar for freelancers worldwide. Others justify hiring virtual assistants at low rates from these countries because they have a very low cost of living compared to many across the globe.
When it comes to hiring help for your business, budget is an important consideration, but it’s just as important to realize that there’s a point where you can’t scale your business without spending money on your team.
The trick to being effective is to sell more projects and retainers at a rate high enough to satisfactorily support the members of your team without taking away from your ability to make decent money.
Onlinejobs.ph offers the following guidance for setting full-time rates to add virtual assistants to your team, based on specific service offerings and specialties:
The thing is, just because you think you can get away with paying the bare minimum, it likely won’t spark a sense of loyalty in your virtual assistant. It’s better to pay a few dollars above the minimum rate per hour so that you can build a team that lasts.
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Less contractor turnover results in smoother sailing for your WordPress business.
It’s also important to realize that most virtual assistants are looking for full-time work, or part-time work with the potential for full-time work as they help you to increase efficiencies in your business. Of course, in order to bring on a virtual assistant full-time, you’ll need to create an ongoing list of tasks to outsource and learn how to effectively delegate without creating more work for yourself.
Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant
The specific tasks you outsource will depend heavily on the nature of your business. You might want to start brainstorming before you get to the hiring stage so that you can give virtual assistant hopefuls a taste of what it would be like to work with you. Think of tasks in terms of:
- Things you really hate doing
- Gathering research to guide decisions or to keep you up-to-date on WordPress trends
- Things that don’t require specialized skills (unless that’s what your virtual assistant specializes in)
- Individual pieces of a project that you will eventually pull together yourself before sending off to a client
- Help with client-facing tasks, like client onboarding
When it comes to WordPress specific tasks, your virtual assistant can help you in a number of ways, even if they’re not highly proficient in the platform.
Consider delegating WordPress-related tasks like:
- Installing themes
- Installing plugins
- Editing content
- Uploading images
- Bulk changes across several pages/posts
- Speed optimization
Besides working directly within your business, consider the implications of hiring team members to help with sales (as affiliates if it doesn’t make sense to hire someone outright), marketing, and even for business tasks like bookkeeping and accounting.
Figuring out what tasks to outsource is just as much about the skill of your virtual assistant as it is about how much you trust them. If you’ve just hired a new virtual team member, get them started with basic behind the scenes work before assigning them any client-facing tasks.
When client-facing roles become necessary, create a branded company email address for them to respond from to keep things consistent and less confusing for your clients.
Basics of Delegating to a Virtual Assistant
If you’ve ever held a role as a manager, the art of delegation will likely be familiar and comfortable to you. But if you’re a freelancer who’s never been a position to tell others what to do, it can be a little uncomfortable.
At any rate, here are some basic considerations to delegate tasks like a pro:
- Vet each potential team member with an interview and paid test assignment. Having multiple rounds of consideration will help you to get a more multi-dimensional view of what it might be like to work with this person. Take note of how easy or difficult it is to communicate with them, and how closely they follow your directions to execute your test assignment. Just please don’t insult your applicants by not paying for the test assignment – it’s a great way to get off on the wrong foot with a potential contractor.
- Create a process for project management. Tools like Todoist, Trello, Planio, or Asana are all popular in the web development world. Play around until you find one that fits your style and needs. Some project management tools multiply in terms of cost when adding team members, others allow for more stable/affordable growth.
- Create a company intranet. Use a simple solution like Google Sites to add documents and instructions for frequent processes and WordPress basics (if necessary) for members of your team to refer back to. It’s also a great place to store client-specific information. Taking the time to write things out once will save you money in the long run, especially if you’re frequently onboarding new contractors. For sharing sensitive information like client passwords, consider a password management app like LastPass.
- Provide basic guidance for task execution. Especially when you just get started working together, set expectations for how you want a task to turn out. It can be helpful to set a certain time limit and ask the virtual assistant to ping you before doing more work once the time limit has been reached.
- Set clear deadlines. Your virtual assistant may work in another timezone so make sure to specify due dates in your Never assign a task without any due date, as it may be put off forever.
- Check for agreement and invite questions. If you don’t do this, your virtual assistant may be hesitant to ask for clarification and may create a final product that wasn’t exactly what you needed. Save both parties time by inviting and addressing questions upfront.
- Give feedback after each project. This will help you to get better results over time, as your virtual assistant learns what you like and what you consider ideal.
Virtual Assistants Can Help Grow Your WordPress Business
Create additional efficiencies and revenue opportunities in your business by hiring help. Start small with a general virtual assistant, and expand your team over time to include more specialized roles.
Through trial and error, you’ll learn how to delegate tasks without creating extra work for yourself.