Oh, I have to tell you about Alf and Freelancer.com.au. Oh, my.

thank-you-for-calling

I’ve been making a few changes to my blog. It’s a gradual thing. Mostly I don’t really know what I’m doing and haven’t had the time to do it…so I hired a virtual assistant. And it’s made me so happy. A stack of people have asked me about this. So here’s a little rundown:

* Why a virtual assistant?

A VA is someone you hire online to help you with stuff you’re, quite frankly, over doing. People use them to help with their kids’ homework (which I find sad), to manage their diaries, to transcribe stuff…a guy hired a freelancer to plant a stink bomb outside his mate’s place on the other side of the planet!

A VA, though, is perfect for blog help. You can hire someone to transcribe, tag, format, design, upload your posts and videos and images, copy edit (and spell check) posts, manage the comments, do all your social media interconnecting, manage your SEOs (and simply do all the stuff that you need to do to optimise traffic…which does my head in, personally), research stuff, write stuff…pretty much run the whole bloody thing…which is what a lot of corporates and doctors etc do.

* Where does one find a VA?

I used Freelancer. It’s the largest outsourcing service site in the world and they’ve just launched here in Australia. I met them on a Morning Show segment and they offered to lend me a hand finding someone. You simply log on and post the job on their messageboard, then sit back as experts around the world bid for the gig. You need transcribing done? A typist in Calcutta will put their hand up. You need your blog posts tagged properly? An IT graduate in The Philippines will respond to your tender with a rundown of their previous work and a rate.

* Expensive?

Nope. We’re talking about $5-$10/hour for qualified expert help. I wrestled with the idea of paying someone in a second-world country so little…but realised I’m paying them to do what they trained to do, and am paying them more than what they’d be paid by local customers…all of which ensures these new economies are able to foster their skilled labour.

* Me, I’ve hired a VA to…

…help with upkeep and technical tweaking. Alf (more on him in a moment) doesn’t upload stuff or research. He simply moves stuff around for me, advises on SEO stuff, cleans up things, suggests improvements…it’s a work in progress. I’ve used a VA in the past for small tasks. But I went to Freelancer to find someone who could actually work on my site with me, and actually tell me what to do. I like this. I get tired of having to know what I want. Often I don’t. So I posted asking for someone who was a WordPress expert and social media advisor and asked applicants to suggest what I needed done to my site before we started. Ergo, Alf.

* Interested? Keep this much in mind…

– The Project Name should state clearly what you need e.g. ‘Bright Logo Required for Edgy Wine Company’ not ‘I need a logo’

– The more detail in the Project Description, the less chance of misinterpretation

– Providing examples helps

– Browse other projects similar to yours for ideas

– Set an appropriate budget – if you have a significant amount of work, set a realistic budget (use other similar projects as a guide)

How do I know which freelancer to choose?
– Price – don’t always choose the lowest bidder. The bids will be low anyway – approx $5/hour – so go for other factors…

– Reviews – Just like eBay, Freelancers are rated upon completion of each project.  Look for Freelancers with a high star rating and who have completed multiple projects.

– Portfolios and past work – take the time to look through the freelancers portfolio to see if they are at the standard you are looking for.

– Private Messages – give priority to those Freelancers who have personally taken the time to message you in detail about your project.

– Request samples from freelancers before you award them the project, to prove they fully get what you’re after.

* And so it was that I employed Alf from the Philippines…

Alf has changed my life. I chose Alf cos he totally got what I was after and was able to tell me in his response what HE THINKS HE COULD DO TO IMPROVE MY BLOG. His work is great. But more than that he is the clearest communicator I’ve ever come across. And starts his emails off with lovely little openers like: “I hope you are in the best of health and spirit.” You can check him out or employ him here. He has two degrees – a bachelor of science and a bachelor of entrepreneurship and has been a freelancer for 9 years, specialising in wordpress, blogging, social media and graphics work.

* Consider a retainer

I’ve hired Alf on a monthly retainer. I flick him questions and requests as they arise and he tweaks things as he sees issues, too.

* Which brings me to my number one tip for employing a VA:

Communicate clearly and kindly.

If you’re not sure what you’re after, say so and that you’d like two suggestions. Or whatever. This has been one of the really beneficial side effects of the VA process – it’s got me communicating clearer. And forced me to think about what I really want from my blog. Which quite, frankly, is to:

Communicate clearly and kindly.

Do you have any questions? Post them below and I’ll have someone from Freelancer try answer them for you!

Have your say, leave a comment.