The fateful day when I realized I needed an assistant came on a Wednesday.
While drowning in my poor attempts at website coding, horrible layouts, a looming writing deadline, LM’s four molars breaking through AT THE SAME TIME, Husband deployed with infrequent contact, and 8,000 emails—many of which needed answering yesterday—I realized something.
I turned to myself and said, “Self . . . I can’t do this.”
Working With a Virtual Assistant
Being a parent is hard. Throw work on top of that and it swirls into a disaster. There are schedules to merge. Priorities to make. Sales to increase. Books to publish. Health to maintain. And heaven forbid—mouths to feed.
*eyes whiny dogs and toddler*
I found that paying for a virtual assistant makes it a little less hard.Bottom line: as a working parent, I don’t have time for everything. So I pick my work priorities carefully.Click To Tweet
I reached out to Cristina with Faithfully Social and said, “halp!” So she threw me a chocolate donut and we started scheming, starting with a list of responsibilities for her, a massive overhaul, and major rebranding.
‘Cuz why not?
We worked together for several months. She helped get me organized, brought new ideas to my business, and helped me think outside the box. While I wrote, she optimized my website. We aren’t working together anymore because finances and life situations didn’t allow for it, but I had a wonderful experience hiring a VA, and I learned a lot about delegation and working with others.
A Checklist of Requirements
This will look different for everyone, but for me, the following criteria had to be met.
- Flexibility. I live and breathe toddler-and-needy-Vizsla-military-wife time. Which means I’m all over the place and miss or rearrange deadlines as needed. Things shift. My assistant needed to be okay with that.
- Inherent organization. I am not organized. (see above)
- Professional bearing—with a hint of spice. I just can’t take life too seriously. But when it’s time to knuckle down, it’s time. Maybe we sometimes tweet crazy one-liners from our business meeting, too.
- Clear communication. When I’m in author-blogger-nap-time mode, I’m kind, but firm. I need someone who doesn’t take giving orders or writing to-do lists personal. #itsnotyou
- A Sounding Block. Someone I can say, ‘Hey! Just had this marketing idea. What do you think?’ or forward them an email and say, ‘Hey! Let’s do a cookbook!’ or ‘Hey! I started this project and need organization help.’
- Someone who knows their crap. I needed someone who could help me in the industry, with the industry.
- Number one priority: Katie writes. If my virtual assistant couldn’t understand that their goal was to make it easier for me to write and interact with fans, it wouldn’t work.
- Self motivated. Look, guys. I can hardly get myself outta bed. Not doing it for my virtual assistant.
From what I’ve heard and experienced myself, success is all about finding the right person. They should fit like a puzzle piece.
Here’s what our division of responsibilities looked like.
—I create all content.
—I make decisions.
—I handle all fan interaction—blog comments, social media, emails, etc.
—I write books.
—All the other things that I sent her.
We shared a folder in the Google Drive with folders, spreadsheets, calendars, to-do lists, password stuff, and then connect with Skype sessions as needed. Her goal was to sweep away stuff so when I have writing time, I focus on what matters—my readers and my writing. She’s has a life too. By common consent, most of our magic happened Thursday and Friday. We communicated through FB messenger. She proofread my posts or told me when I’m getting too in-the-clouds or wrote out a pretty calendar so I could see it all.