A regret of successful creators?

They didn’t hire help earlier for their content-first business.

Given The Tilt’s research finds it takes an average of 20 months before a creator hires any kind of help, I’m not surprised. That’s a long time to go it alone.

That too-long-to-hire timeline likely happens for one or more of these reasons. You:

  • Don’t want to spend money when you’re not making enough to even support yourself.
  • Don’t think you need help because you have the skills to do all the necessary tasks.
  • Don’t have a moment to think about how to get things done; you’re just getting them done.

Waiting to hire help can be a big mistake. It can delay growth or, worse, lead you to become so overwhelmed you quit working on the business. That’s why you should take a few minutes this week to at least consider the value of virtual assistants in creator businesses.

Creators take an average of 20 months to make their first hire, says @TiltNews research. That's too long for those who want to stay in business and keep their sanity, says @AnnGynn. #VirtualAssistant #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

What are virtual assistants?

When I hear “virtual assistant,” my mind conjures up an image closely related to the definition shared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – “an individual who provides administrative services to clients while working from a remote location.”

But I’ve learned over the years those “administrative services” can vary greatly. Decide how their help can best help you and your business. With the help of the ChatGPT tool, I pulled together this list of things virtual assistants in creator businesses might do:

  • Administrative tasks – data entry, email management, calendar schedule, and document preparation
  • Audience and customer service – responding to inquiries, comments, complaints, etc.
  • Marketing assistance – social media management, email marketing, content creation
  • Business operations – invoicing, expense tracking, financial reports
  • Project management – project planning, research, and execution
  • Research – conducting online research, compiling data, interviewing sources
  • Content creation – writing articles, shooting videos, finding images
  • Tech support – troubleshooting, backing up data, maintaining software licenses

As far as the “virtual” part of the job, these individuals work remotely. In many cases, they operate as independent contractors – a good arrangement for entrepreneurs who aren’t ready to invest in a traditional hourly or salaried employee and all the regulatory (taxes, etc.) requirements in that model. Of course, as independent contractors, they can decide when and how to get the work done (in consultation with but not mandated by you.)

Deciding what virtual assistants in creator businesses can do for you

Think about which of those services might be the most helpful to your business. Figure out what you don’t like to do and/or what you’re not the best at. 

Here’s an easy way to figure that out: Look at your to-do lists from the past few weeks. Which ones do you keep pushing to the bottom? Which items never get done?

#VirtualAssistants can help a creator with those tasks they don't want to do or aren't good at. #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

Now, with your virtual assistant wish list in hand, rank the services and eliminate ones that aren’t practical or appropriate to outsource. For example, yes, you may get writer’s block and want to give up creating content for your products. But that’s not practical when the business is built around content from you. Or maybe you hate paying the bills and want someone else to do that. But do you want to give access to your bank accounts to your new assistant? Will you require them to be bonded?

From your ranked list, pick the top two or three services you want to hire someone to do.  

Determining what to pay 

Before you can craft the job posting, you need to think about the financial arrangement that works for your budget and your business model. Many virtual assistants in creator businesses earn between $10 and $40 an hour, depending on the skillset required. 

While you can set up per-project payments, ongoing support from a virtual assistant usually works better with a retainer model – you agree to a set amount of hours (per week or per month) at an established hourly rate. (Reassess after the first quarter to see whether the retainer hours are reasonable from both your and your virtual assistant’s perspective.)

Expect to pay $10 and $40 an hour for a virtual assistant. The rate often depends on the skillset required. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Resource: The Complete Guide to Pricing (written for virtual assistants but helpful to those who hire virtual assistants)

Hiring virtual assistants for creator businesses

Now you’re ready to craft the job description in four parts:

  • Overview of your company – a few sentences about your business, its purpose, etc. (Look to your about-us page so you don’t have to start from scratch.)
  • Description of position – an introductory sentence or two followed by a bulleted list of the services this person is expected to provide
  • Experience required – a bulleted list of the necessary skills to execute the role
  • Why apply – explain (i.e., sell) your business environment and who would most enjoy/benefit from the position.

With that content ready to go, add the compensation range and how-to-apply to the document. Set a deadline for applications/proposals to be submitted. Now, you’re ready to post it. It usually makes sense to publish the opening to your website, then share an abbreviated version and link on promotional channels. Publish and promote the vacancy on your owned channels, share in social media groups visited by virtual assistants, and ask your audience, friends, and family for suggestions. 

Then, go through to see which ones seem to fit best for you. (I like requiring a cover letter/note so I can understand how well they communicate, relate to the business, and market themselves.) 

Narrow the list to a few to interview. Consider a paid test or pilot project to better assess their skills. Once you’ve selected your virtual assistant, the next step is to create a written contract and get it signed by both of you. Actually, you can do this step at any point in the process. Consult with an attorney or other legal expert resource to develop a contract that covers all the necessary points. This important document can detail the relationship, from required turnaround time to tasks to communication frequencies, etc.

With the contract signed, your virtual assistant can begin, and you can breathe at least a small sigh of relief.

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.