In Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Work Week (aka, my 2nd Bible) [This link leads to Amazon. Full disclosure: As an affiliate, I earn a commission if you purchase through this link.], he dedicates an entire section to VAs and the benefits of hiring virtual assistants to do almost any task for you. At first, I was reluctant to agree with the idea of outsourcing because I was always the one who wanted to do all of the work myself. But, after reading more about VAs and how they could help me, I soon realized the huge advantage I would have by making a VA a part of “my team.”
Now, understand that there are a lot of people out there who use VAs for almost everything they do. If there was a way a VA could cut up their steaks and feed it to them, they'd probably have them do that too. Tim gives an example of a man who asked his VA to “make up with his wife” after they had gotten into a little quarrel. The VA sent his wife an apology letter and some nice flowers. I think if I did that, my wife would be pissed… anyways, I digress.
I'm not so much about outsourcing my personal life, but I did learn that my life was better after outsourcing the things I wasn't that good at (and even things I was good at) and the things I didn't enjoy doing.
It been almost a year since I first cracked open Tim's book, and I've since hired a VA on 10 separate occasions, for 10 different projects. I have yet to hire one to do personal things like plan a trip to Asia or find a venue for a birthday party that has a nice room large enough for 25 and serves chicken tikki masala, but here are a few examples of how VAs helped save me some time and ultimately make me happier:
The Smart Passive Income Blog was custom designed by a VA. It's also being redesigned and upgraded as we speak by the same person. The only work I did was point my VA to websites that I liked and which parts of those websites I wanted on mine. After a couple of
- Hours spent, including posting the job on Elance (now Upwork) and communication with the VA: about 2 hours total
- Estimated amount of time it would have taken me to do it all myself: 20-25 days (researching and implementation)
- Results: a custom designed wordpress blog theme (you're looking at it!)
- Cost: $250.00
Search Engine Optimization
When intheleed.com started, I was getting some traffic, but I wanted to take it to a whole new level. I hired a VA who specialized in SEO, and they did a lot of work for me in such little time.
- Hours spent, including writing 2 press releases and blog descriptions for the VA: about 3 hours total
- Estimated amount of time it would have taken me to do it all myself: over 2 months
- Results: the VA and his team posted my press releases to almost a thousand article websites (which created backlinks to my blog), and my blog description to 200 different search engine listings. Within a month, my organic traffic increased by 50%, and I ranked in the top 5 in Google for all but 1 of the 5 keywords I asked for. I was able to reach more visitors, and after my ebook came out, more customers too.
- Cost: $400.00
A lot of times a new business idea pops into my head. In order for me to determine if it's a good one, or one that is marketable, I need some initial web research done. Instead of spending time to do it all myself, I leave it up to a VA. All I have to do is give the VA exact instructions and a blank excel template with the information I want—and 8 hours later I have tons of data to look at.
- Hours spent, including writing a procedure list and communication with my VA: about 30 minutes for each topic I need research for.
- Estimated amount of time it would have taken me to do it all myself: 8+ hours per topic
- Results: One day I'll ask my VA for some data, and the next day it's in my inbox. How awesome is that?! The data is as good as your procedure lists allow it to be, so it's really important to tell the VA exactly how much detail you're looking for.
- Cost: $1.67/hour. Yes, I said $1.67 an hour. (thanks to odesk.com)
Here are some other project I've also hired online help for:
- iPhone applications: Quoc, my business partner at LOLer Apps, actually just wrote an awesome post about why we outsourced our ideas. It's actually his first blog post ever, so if you have any nice comments, I'm sure he'd really appreciate it!
- Voice Talents: I hired a voice talent for my audio book to go along with my intheleed.com ebook.
- A Flash movie: As I'm writing this blog post, I'm actually on Skype at the same time talking to a VA about creating a flash movie for me as a presentation tool for a contest I'm entering. Once it's finished, I'll give you all the details. I'm really excited about it!
Outsourcing work was such a weird idea to me at first, but it has opened up many opportunities and has given me more time to work on things that I really want to do. Personally, it's also really fulfilling to play a project manager role while working on these VA projects.
If you're interested in hiring a VA someday, I wrote a helpful post on LOLer Apps that has gotten some nice buzz on the net about how to maximize the potential of your project while working with a VA. Check it out, because it's applicable to all outsourcing projects, not just iPhone apps.
Have you ever outsourced anything? How was the experience? If you haven't yet, what are your reservations? Any questions?