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Setting Your Virtual Assistant Up For Success

Sharon Vornholt
5 min read
Setting Your Virtual Assistant Up For Success

In last week’s article I talked about successful delegation and outsourcing; the big picture in other words. This week I wanted to really go into what your duties and responsibilities are as the business owner since you ultimately play such a big part in setting your virtual assistant up for success.

Here’s a clue: it’s all about the work you do upfront, and giving that person ongoing feedback especially in the beginning of a new “task”.  You want to make any course corrections that are needed quickly.

Creating Procedures and Systems

There is no getting around the fact that you have to spend the time upfront in order for these types of relationships to work for both of you. I know I was totally unprepared for just how much work would be involved at first.

As the business owner, you want to get the job done correctly and in a timely manner. Therefore the person you have hired needs to be absolutely clear about the exact steps they need to take in order to do a good job for you. What I found out very quickly was that even though I thought I had every step detailed perfectly, there are these tiny bits of knowledge that we accrue over time that perhaps the other person doesn’t have. So you really have to keep drilling down the instructions until you get it right.

The good news is that once it is done, you have this roadmap that you can hand off to another person down the line if and when you need to do that. I put everything into Dropbox in a “shared folder” for my VA.  Any cloud storage site will work. I just happened to start out using Dropbox which is free and virtual assistants are familiar with this particular site.

Creating a “Task Package”

I have put together a “Task Package” that contains all of the information the VA will need for each individual job or task. You can make your own version that fits your business and the particular job or task you are outsourcing, but it should be very detailed. Remember that it needs to be broken down into baby steps.

This “Task Package” is what I created for my VA to post “We Buy Houses Ads” daily on CraigsList.

1. An Overview of “Things Needed and Training Materials for This Ongoing Task”

2. Overview of the job or task

3. Craigslist Rules

4. Craigslist Login Information

5. Sample Posting Schedule

6. List of “We Buy Houses Ads”

7. Website/Squeeze Page URL’s to insert into ads (clickable Links)

8. Graphics to Upload into Ads (Houses with a sold sign)

9. Training Video on How to Use Craigslist

I will go over each one of these in a minute, but right now I can already hear someone saying that this seems like overkill. I can assure you that it isn’t.  Even with these instructions, there were some parts of the instructions I had to change and “tweak” because my VA had never used Craigslist.

Breaking Down the Parts of the Task

1.”Things Needed and Training Materials for This Ongoing Task”

This is simply a list of the items in numbers 2-7 or kind of a checklist for both of us to ensure that she has every single thing she needs to do the job. Don’t make the mistake of trying to put everything into one long instruction sheet.

2. Overview of the job or task.   This is where you will write an overview of the job. Here’s an example:

Overview of the Work:

I would like you to post one ad on Craigslist each morning before 10:00 AM (my time zone). Since you have indicated that you are available to do this on Saturday and Sunday, that will be 7 ads per week.

Please keep a log of which ad, website and account were used for posting each day. I would like you to put a copy of that log into our shared Dropbox folder twice a month; once around the middle of the month and again on the last day of the month. I want to be able to track the ads and the websites to see how they are performing and tell if some are working better than others. *You will get a notice to approve each ad as it is posted so you will know it is done.

3. Craigslist Rules:

Craigslist is a simple site to use, but there are some rules. The main rule to worry about is that “an ad must be off the site at least 48 hours before it can be reposted”. You could actually change the ad text but if it contains a URL or link to a website, it is considered the same ad.  I will want you to pull down (delete) each ad after 48 hours to be sure we adhere to this site’s rules.

4. Craigslist Login Information

I have created several accounts and the login information is below for each account. Remember to delete any ad that has been up more than 48 hours. *Please do not share this information with anyone or have anyone do the posting for you.

5. Sample Posting Schedule

I gave her a sample posting schedule since she has multiple logins, seller ads, and website URL’s. I want her to be clear on how to do this.  Once again, I want to be sure to follow the site’s rules and regulations.

6. List of “We Buy Houses Ads”

I supplied her with a list of ads to be rotated. Some are long and some are short. Each one has a unique title.

7. Website/Squeeze Page URL’s to insert into ads with “Clickable Links”

It is important that these be rotated in order so that the same domain doesn’t appear too often on one account.

For anyone that doesn’t know how to do “clickable links” on Craigslist, here is the code you use to make your URL back to your website “clickable”:

<a href=”http://PutYourWebsiteURLHere.com“>Sell Now!</a>

The link will be hidden inside “Sell Now”.

*As a note, sometimes these links “get broken” or stop working, and you have to put them in again.  There are two things you need to do each time:

  • First of all, have your VA check the links to be sure they work each time an ad is posted.
  • Secondly, put your actual website address below the clickable link just in case the link doesn’t work for someone.

8. Graphics to Upload into Ads (Houses with a sold sign)

I pulled up about a dozen pictures online of houses with sold signs over them for her to use and make the ads fresh each time. I need to find a couple more so the graphics will not repeat within a 2 week time period.

Related: How to Use The Craigslist Map View To Reach More Tenants

9. Training Video on How to Use Craigslist

I made a screen capture video using one of my new favorite free tools called Screencast-O-matic which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.  I started with pulling up CraigsList.org, selecting my city and state, signing in and then went over each step for creating an ad. In hindsight I realize that I omitted a step, and that was a mistake.  You know what they say, “sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know until you mess something up”.

The following video will give you an example of an actual video I use to explain how to use Craigslist.

I didn’t show the exact “copy and paste” step. While this is pretty basic for you and me, it might not be for someone else. So I need to re-record this video to include the actual “copying and pasting the ads and links step” into the new video.  Each step is needed so it needs to be included for anyone that would do this job in the future (thinking long term).

I also decided that rather than to have a 15 minute video (the most you can record with the free version of ScreenCast-O-Matic), it would be better to have it broken down into several 5 or 6 minute videos.  Once they have watched the tutorial initially, if they forgot one part of the process they could go back and just watch that part.  I’m always learning too!

If you have you created any procedures for VA’s I would love to hear about them.

Photo: Garrett Gill

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.