Ready to grow your online business? Check out these 10 tips for hiring a virtual marketing assistant, plus how to avoid common hiring pitfalls.
If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance you’ll need to hire help at some point in order to grow your business. (Hint: I believe outsourcing is one of the best ways to grow your business!).
But how do you find that perfect person and where do you even start?
In this post, we’re breaking down the steps of hiring one of the first roles we recommend hiring out–a Virtual Marketing Assistant (VMA)–along with detailed examples of the job description and other assets we used in a recent hiring process.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is a virtual assistant?
- Tip #1: Get clear on your needs
- Tip #2: Define personal characteristics
- Tip #3: Outline specific job responsibilities
- Tip #4: Define your team values
- Tip #5: Detail company perks
- Tip #6: Share with your community
- Tip #7: Where does your candidate hang out?
- Tip #8: Include a skills test
- Tip #9: Ask the right questions
- Tip #10: Decide With Your Gut
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, or VA, is also sometimes called a freelancer. It just means you operate as an independent contractor to help small or online businesses grow.
They might have a specialized skill set like graphic design, social media marketing, or copywriting, or offer virtual admin support.
If you’re looking to hire support for your business, starting with a VA is perfect. You can set how many hours you want and what projects you want support in, empowering you to take the process as fast or as slow as you want.
There’s never been a better time to hire a VA, with more people than ever before wanting to work virtually from home–you’ll have an even bigger, more qualified candidate pool to pull from!
Ready to find your perfect VA? Keep reading for our top tips!
Tip #1: Get Clear on Your Needs
What is it you really need? This will pave the way for you to write a job description outlining what areas of your business your new hire will help with.
Think about what areas feel overwhelming to you, where you waste your time and where your time is best spent, which tasks you’re good at but not great at, or what really moves the needle for your business. Which tasks can only YOU do?
For now, start general. What’s the core focus for the position you want to hire? Try writing a paragraph introducing the job and the primary function and role of this person.
Here’s an example: We are looking for a Virtual Marketing Assistant (VMA) to partner with our Director of Operations to drive sales and deepen relationships through social media management, affiliate program ownership, public relations, and customer service. This role is an integrated, core function of our team. We anticipate our VMA to have previous marketing and/or sales experience as well as online business knowledge.
Tip #2: Define Personal Characteristics
Now that you know your needs, it’s time to write down what this position looks like so you can find your perfect candidate.
Before you get into the nitty gritty job description, first think about the personality traits, talents, experience, and characteristics of this person. The more clear you are, the more your prospective candidates can in turn be clear if applying for this position is the right fit for their needs and wants.
Here’s an example of our recent Virtual Marketing Assistant job post where we candidly included EXACTLY the type of person we were looking for:
Real talk: This position and the founder (Kate) have high expectations.
But if you’re the person I’m looking for, you’re the type who gets motivated by high expectations.
You’ll be great in this position if you…
- Are familiar with the business model of bloggers.
- Have an artistic skillset that includes creating graphics in Canva.
- Have marketed on the Pinterest platform utilizing Tailwind.
- Have been a part of businesses that leverage affiliate programs to market their products.
- Cultivate strong relationships and easily communicate value propositions. This role is responsible for generating relationships that want to affiliate with our brand.
- Have public relations experience to secure new podcasts and media features to increase backlinks, grow our presence and establish Kate as an industry expert.
- You are an effective communicator – proactive in outreach, professional in delivery.
- Enjoy communicating with clients by managing inboxes. You are committed to the success of our business so much so that you proactively respond to reader comments on our social channels. If you don’t have the answer, you find it.
- Are a self-starter, eager to take initiative and anticipate the needs of the team, affiliate relationships, customers, and readers.
- Have no problem picking up the phone to deepen a relationship or pitch our brand.
- Have a history of following through and closing the loop of assignments.
- Prefer a team environment over an individual contributor role.
- Take initiative on needs and don’t give up until it’s satisfactorily completed, even if it’s slightly out of your scope. All hands on deck is the team atmosphere you prefer.
- Pride yourself on being resourceful. Before asking a question, you naturally look for ways to find the answer independently.
- Have a positive, high-energy attitude and “get it done” mindset that searches for solutions instead of focusing on struggles are essential. You think about your work in terms of outcomes and results, not hours worked.
- Prefer working in a supportive role, rather than being the owner/CEO/visionary/face of the business. This is a behind-the-scenes job and you need to be comfortable without public recognition.
- Are efficient and succinct.
- Exude a high level of professionalism and emotional maturity. (We understand everyone has a personal life, but we don’t love drama).
- Technology comes naturally. You don’t have to be a pro or coder-type, but a general understanding of online tools would make us a good combo.
- Inherently compassionate, empathetic and truly want to help others
- Can handle tight deadlines, last-minute requests, and quick changes
- Take ownership and pride in your work, whether you’re doing high-level projects or more tedious administrative tasks (there will be a mix of both!)
- Work during the hours of 10-4 EST and have dedicated childcare (if necessary) so you can focus and be available for calls during work hours.
- Prefer to work in an honest, candid environment; Have thick skin that can handle direct, honest feedback, be coachable with no ego and course-correct when needed.
- Have a little woo in your life. We talk about cycle syncing, working with the phases of the moon, manifesting and the law of attraction, etc. Skeptics need not apply.
- Prioritize self-care, movement, nature, healthy food, relationships, mindfulness and spirituality into your life.
Tip #3: Outline Specific Job Responsibilities
Now that you’re clear on the type of person you’re looking for, the next step is to write down the tangible tasks and talents this person will be responsible for, like being great at graphic design or having experience with a particular software.
Here’s an example from our Virtual Marketing Assistant job description:
Social Media Management
- Create social media images using Canva – to be posted on Pinterest, Instagram, IG Stories, and other platforms.
- Schedule Pinterest pins to tribes, group boards and Smart Loop on Tailwind.
- Perform keyword research for Pinterest.
- Gather and monitor data and trends to add strategic value to our social presence strategy.
- Stay apprised of industry-specific trends as related to social media.
- Contribute to social media strategy.
Affiliate Program Management
- Research potential affiliates.
- Locate appropriate contacts – name, title, contact information.
- Outreach by phone, email, message or other means to gather interest from leads.
- Create collateral to educate and inform partners of The Six Figure Blog Academy and our other digital products.
- Nurture dozens of relationships simultaneously with appropriate follow up and hyper-personalized communication (not mass emails).
- Track engagement of affiliate program leads and report to leaders.
- Keep records of program metrics.
- Expand the strategy of our program.
- New affiliates bring in a minimum of 4 sales to 6FBA monthly.
- Create outreach campaigns to grow KKs presence, exposure, and expertise.
- Secure media features with online outlets.
- Pitch various podcasts for Kate to be featured on.
- Develop and distribute materials for PR purposes.
- Respond to reader and customer emails, taking ownership of customer (and prospective customer) issues and follow problems through to resolution with the intention of increasing conversions, satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
- Become familiar with our business so you can independently respond to customers.
- Manage multiple inboxes and respond to customers within 24 business hours.
Tip #4: Define Your Team Values
Once you’re crystal clear on the job description and type of person who fits your position, it’s time to share your team values. What’s the point of hiring someone who seems like the right fit and may have the proper experience if they won’t jive with your company culture?
For inspiration, here are my company’s values. When someone reads this, they’ll know off the bat whether or not they’ll fit in well with our team.
Confidence: Why Not Us?
- We dream big and don’t let fear hold us back
- Positive Inspiration, Friendly, Lifting People Up, Believing in Ourselves and Our Students/Readers
Growth-Oriented: Always striving for realistic perfection and excellence
- The company’s success is your success
- Hungry for achievement and success
Integrity: We Actually Care and Always Do The Right Thing
- Accountability: We do what we say we’re going to do and follow-through
Commitment: No matter what, we find a way
- We’re resourceful and dedicated and make shit happen
- We’re always willing to help and jump in wherever needed
Always Learning: Interested in continuous self-improvement
- Professional and personal development
- We take courses, read books, listen to podcasts, attend conferences and do what it takes to always be learning new skills and improving ourselves
Fun + Creative: When you love your work, it doesn’t feel like work
- There’s a playfulness to our work
- We have a family dynamic on our team
Radical Candor: We care personally and challenge directly
- Open dialogue with respect, honesty, and empathy
- We receive feedback graciously and are never defensive
Our Core Focus
- Purpose/Cause/Passion: Serving and inspiring with holistic solutions
- Our Niche: Approachable resources that help people live their best lives
Tip #5: Detail Company Perks
Once your prospect knows that they’re a great fit with your team culture, you can encourage and excite them further by sharing your company perks! What is about your team that makes you special? Do you have any company benefits?
Here’s an example of the perks and benefits I offer my full-time employees:
- Competitive compensation with room to grow, bonus commissions and annual raises based on performance
- Complete autonomy–I don’t care when, where or how you work, so long as you get the job done. Now, responding to team messages during the day would be important though.
- Forget the traditional corporate culture. Kate only lasted 4 months in it for a reason, and KK’s culture couldn’t be more opposite–no micro-managing, no “working” just to look busy, no clocking in and out, no asking for time off to go to a doctor’s appointment or pick your kid up from school or have a personal life. No need to apologize or ask permission. I don’t even need to know the details! I’m not paying for seat warmers. There is no such thing as being late to work (although there is such a thing as missing deadlines). You’re not a child who needs to be watched and constantly told what to do. You choose how you get your work done. Your time is yours, so long as the work gets done and the clients are happy.
- A group of co-workers that’s more like a family–we really like each other and talk often about so much more than just work. We are here to support each other and often get together in-person, whether it’s for happy hours, team trips or a friendly phone call or video chat. We even take professional and personal development courses together, attend conferences and workshops together and prioritize learning and genuine connection. We like to work hard and play hard!
- While taking care of business, we like to take care of our community and the environment too! Kate will match up to $500 per year of any monetary donations you make to charity.
- Full-time employees will have the potential for Health Benefits and 401k matching in 2020.
If you’re a one-person show and don’t have any benefits yet, that’s okay. Emphasize other appealing aspects of the job, like having autonomy and being treated like family, like I did above.
Tip #6: Share With Your Community
Job post ready? Great!
Now it’s time to share it and start getting the word out! I definitely recommend asking your existing audience. If someone is already familiar with you and your values and is part of your community, then there’s a good chance they’d be a great match for your team culture–or know someone who is.
You’d be surprised how many people are skilled in something you may need and dying to work with you. I know I was!
I recommend sending an email to your list and posting the opportunity on social media. Especially for a virtual marketing assistant who you likely want to handle social media, your ideal candidate just might be hanging out in your Instagram stories!
I found my first VA over 3 years ago my emailing my list the job opportunity, and she is still with me today as our Content and Community Manager. This strategy can really work!
Tip #7: Where Does Your Candidate Hang Out?
Speaking of which, it’s important to think about where your ideal hire is looking for opportunities.
Are they a professional on LinkedIn? Are they in Facebook groups for women entrepreneurs or moms? Are they looking at job boards and sites like Monster.com or working with a recruitment agency?
The more you can think like the person you want to hire, the more likely you are to find them. Wherever you think they are, advertise and post there!
Tip #8: Include a Skills Test
Once you receive all the applications and resumes and pick your favorites, I then email those candidates and have them complete a skills test. These are sample job tasks, like writing an Instagram caption, or creating a graphic in Canva, or doing keyword research.
The skills test reveals SO much! You can see the quality of their work right off the bat and get a sense for how they follow directions (shockingly, most people don’t!), if their style is on point for your brand (and if not, is it something teachable?), and they way they interact with you via email during this time.
Usually this narrows the pool to just a few top choices. Then, the next step is a video interview.
Tip #9: Ask the Right Questions
During the interview process, it’s all about asking the right questions and really getting to know your candidate. Beyond their work experience, it’s asking questions that get at the root of how this person thinks and what they value to see if they’ll fit in well with your company culture.
Here are some examples from my recent VMA interview:
- Tell us a little more about you–what’s your family life like and how have you been faring during the pandemic? What are your values… what’s important to you?
- If you didn’t have to work for money, what would you be doing?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- After reading through the job description, how confident do you feel that you could complete these tasks?
- What tasks from the list on the job description are you most excited about? What tasks are you least excited about?
- What 1-2 things about the role do you find most challenging?
- What tasks and projects do you really ENJOY doing? What parts of being a VA light you up the most? What tools, systems, and projects do you really love working on?
- Which clients have been your favorite to work with and why? (for those that freelance/have clients/currently a VA)
- If you don’t know the answer to a reader question, what would you do?
- How do you plan to learn about Kate’s brand so you can easily and accurately answer questions that come to the inbox?
- If you’re trying something and it’s not working, what do you do?
- What are your career goals? Why do you want to work here? What are you looking for in an employer?
- Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work.
- What do you need from us in order to do this job to your best ability?
- What motivates you, or makes you happy?
- What is your love language?
- Do you feel you could find meaning and fulfillment in this job?
- How do you handle criticism and negative feedback?
- Do you have any other clients at this time? Are you comfortable working only for us?
- Are you comfortable starting with $X/hour to start and Y hours per week for a flat fee of $XX per month or YY hours per week?
Tip #10: Decide with Your Gut
Once you’ve completed all the interviews, it’s time to decide and make an offer. This part can feel super hard when you feel like you have more than one candidate that could be ideal for the role, or when no one in particular rises above the competition.
Here’s where I recommend following your gut and intuition. Someone may seem great on paper and maybe even tell you all the ‘right’ things during the interview process, but your gut STILL might be saying no, even if your mind can’t quite figure out why.
I’ve learned this the hard way and have had to fire a few people shortly after hiring. In hindsight, I can look back and realize that I wasn’t super excited about the hire in the first place, or that I felt like maybe there was some risk given their current situation or priorities in life but hired them anyway. This never worked out in the end!
The team that is with me today have all been women that, off the bat, I was beyond thrilled to hire and immediately felt like they were the right person for the position. Getting to know your gut and trust your instincts and intuitions is a skill that takes practice, but we all have it.
Hiring can be stressful, but once you get the perfect person, all the effort is SO worth it and is key to your business growth!
If you’re looking for more insight on hiring a Virtual Assistant or how to learn the skills and become one yourself, I highly recommend you listen to this podcast episode where we talk all about how to become a Virtual Assistant and work-at-home mom!
What are you best hiring tips? Let us know in the comments below!