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This month, we’re celebrating our 5000th student at Horkey HandBook, and this is a great time to reflect how things have changed since the launch of the first 30 Days or Less course.

When Gina first launched the website and the online biz, about five years ago, having to explain what a virtual assistant does was a daily occurrence.

Oh, how things have changed!

We’re now at a point where more and more entrepreneurs are looking to work with support professionals and virtual assistants to save time, money, energy, and stay ahead of the competition. And we’re not just talking about online entrepreneurs here.

Take realtors, as just one example of brick-and-mortar businesses that can benefit from having a VA on board. In today’s guest post, Dave Lawrence, the head of sales and marketing at Follow Up Boss (a platform that caters to realtors) tells us how working with a specialized virtual assistant can be a revenue booster for real estate agents.

Take it away, Dave!

According to a Workfront survey, most people spend less than 45% of their workweek on their core job activities.

Where does the rest of the time go?

Well, according to the survey, 14% of their time is spent on email and a whopping 40% is spent on meetings (read: interruptions) and other administrative tasks.

Let’s pause to think about that for a minute.

If you work 40 hours per week, you likely waste 16 of those hours on low-impact tasks that don’t move the needle on your business. Just think of all the appointments you could book if you had those extra 16+ hours per week!

And the truth is that most realtors work way more than 40 hours per week.

That’s where a real estate VA can help.

A real estate VA can be the firm right-hand of any high-performing real estate business, handling all your business systems and the admin heavy-lifting, so that you can spend more time connecting with and converting more leads.

And yeah, we know what you’re thinking: Isn’t a VA just some digital errand-runner?

Not if you use them right. In fact, when Minnesota-based Realtor Dan Frank realized he “literally couldn’t digest the amount of business” coming in, he hired a VA to help take his commissions to the next level, without working extra hours.

So, how can you use a VA to grow your real estate business?

Let us count the ways!

What does a real estate virtual assistant do?

First, let’s make one thing clear:

Virtual assistants (VAs) and Inside Sales Agents (ISAs, experts at lead response) are NOT the same thing.

A real estate VA does a lot more than just lead response. They can handle anything from marketing, operations and even sales. And according to most successful agents, they should be the very first hire for your real estate business.

And if you’re reading this, you’re probably dying for some help right about now. Be careful not to rush into it. While a VA can definitely take a ton of tasks off your plate (more on that in a minute), it’s best to slowly transition them into your business so they can help you build your systems as you grow.

Once you’ve seen a firm uptick in transactions, then you can get creative and start using your VA to their full potential.

Here are just some of the ways a rockstar VA can help you skyrocket your revenue.

1. Offload the boring admin tasks

No salesperson likes spending time on paperwork when they could be closing deals instead.

Fortunately, VAs are well-versed in business administration and can easily lighten that load.

Here are some common areas you can delegate:

  • Calendar management (think: scheduling and coordinating meetings)
  • Consistently responding to emails and other messages on social media
  • Personal admin tasks (holiday cards, organizing family events, etc.)
  • Any and all other red tape

Depending on how you’ve set up your business, your admin requirements will vary—and if you have no idea where to start, don’t worry.

Your VA can help streamline your workflows so you know which tasks to offload first.

Pro tip: With every task you hand over to your new VA, ask them to help you create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for your business. Together, you can build your entire business system as you go.

2. Stop getting buried in transaction management

Speaking of boring admin tasks, let’s talk about the massive amount of time agents can win back by offloading the transaction management process to a super-savvy VA.

Here are just a few tasks a VA can take over for you:

  • Input listings into the MLS, including all applicable attachments and photos.
  • Handle your sales from ratified contract to verifying the closing disclosure.
  • Hold all parties to a timeline.
  • Keep you compliant all the way through.
  • Set up an automated workflow for all of the above.

Rainmakers like Barry Jenkins, team leader of the #2 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Team in the US for 2018 have saved over 15 hours per week by working with a VA to automate the “science side” of the business.

And guess what? Barry doubled his transactions in the process.

Pro tip: Use Zapier as your “digital duct tape” to connect your transaction management systems to your CRM and make the entire process 100 percent seamless and trackable.

3. Win with marketing

Real estate marketing gets more sophisticated by the minute and it can feel impossible to keep up with.

In the words of real estate VA, Diane Sweeney, “[Agents] need to be connecting with clients, showing houses and selling them, not hanging out on Facebook scheduling posts or creating ads.”

Depending on the size of your business, a VA might not be able to replace your entire marketing team, but they can definitely make things easier by taking on some of your most important marketing tasks.

Here are some things to think about when hiring a marketing-savvy VA:

  • 50% of real-estate buyers find the home they purchase on the internet. A VA can promote your listings on social media and build a presence in areas where potential buyers are hanging out.
  • Real estate blogs that publish 20+ posts a month bring in 5x more traffic (read: way more leads) than a blog that doesn’t.
  • Some VAs have a knack for graphic design which can save you hundreds or even thousands on hiring a designer.

Pro tip: Consistency is the name of the game in real estate marketing so ask your VA to structure their agenda so that they’re spending at least a little time each day keeping your marketing channels fresh and up-to-date.

4. Make your listings memorable

Today, 94% millennials use the internet to shop for a home.

Bottom line: You need your listings to shine.

Here’s how your VA can help you create unforgettable listings:

  • Help you find, hire and manage a great real estate photographer.
  • Make sure every home is well-staged and camera-ready.
  • Upload all listings to the most relevant sites.
  • Update listings with the latest data.
  • Create a listings checklist to make the entire process faster for everyone.

Pro tip: Make sure your VA knows the best listing sites to use and the important nuances of each. For example, some third-party listing sites can take approximately 72 hours to sync MLS data, which can be a major source of confusion for customers. A smart VA can plan updates accordingly and be ready with a professional reply for any incoming inquiries.

5. Provide stellar sales support

The internet is growing at a rate of one million new users each day.

And the competition is fierce. The agents who win will be those that go above and beyond to create a genuine connection with leads and customers.

Here’s how an awesome VA can help:

  • Although 86% of consumers read online reviews, only 32% of real-estate websites have testimonials. A VA can handle tedious review collection and build solid social proof that will give you an edge over your competitors.
  • If you’ve been in business long enough, you probably have a growing database and client network. A good VA can work with your CRM system to help you manage (and maximize) your leads.
  • Your VA can help you create your business systems by organizing the right training, scripts and processes to make it easier for everyone on the team (even new agents) to follow a high-conversion sales process.

Pro tip: Ask your VA to set up prompts in your CRM that can help walk new team members through your sales process. In Follow Up Boss, you can customize an Action Plan to alert your agents to the next step when following up with a lead.

Delegate, but be smart about it.

A good VA can be a true catalyst for your real estate business.

The only catch? You’ve got to do it right.

Once you start winning back your time, it can be tempting to over-delegate. Be careful not to delegate high-priority tasks like meeting clients or signing contracts. The goal is to eliminate the things that aren’t worth your time, so you can spend your energy growing your business.

And remember, it will take time (and experience) to fine-tune a system that works for you. But with the right tools and support, VAs can be the best-kept secret for any top producer.

Dave is the head of sales and marketing at Follow Up Boss, responsible for helping real estate teams to achieve growth within their business. He regularly connects with leaders in the industry to bring their experience and learnings to the doorstep of ambitious realtors worldwide.

The post 5 Ways a Rockstar Real Estate VA Can Help Skyrocket Your Revenue appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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Horkey HandBook by Marcie Sextro - 2w ago

We’ve done it!

We’ve reached another major milestone!

Horkey HandBook has over 5,000 students in just five years!

How are we going to celebrate?

By having the BIGGEST, MOST EPIC GIVEAWAY!

We aren’t kidding! This giveaway is so big you’ll be telling all your friends about it!

The 5,000 Student Giveaway includes EVERY course we’ve ever created.

Who should enter this giveaway?

Anyone who wants to start or scale a virtual assistant business.

What’s included in the giveaway?

Enough resources to start a virtual assistant business, learn new skills so you can niche down or scale it later on into an Agency. 

Will you split the prizes?

Nope, one winner will get all of our courses PLUS a 30-minute coaching call with Gina, three months of access to our VA Leads Community where we connect virtual assistants with clients looking for their help. The winner will also get our client contract template.

Total value = $1,977!

What courses are included in the giveaway?
  • 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success
  • 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success
  • Project Management for Virtual Assistants
  • Email Management for Virtual Assistants
  • Real Estate for Virtual Assistants
  • Virtual Assistant Agency
Can you tell me more about these courses? 

Sure! Here’s how these courses will help you get started. 

30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success ($397 value)

This is our flagship course, and the one you should start with if you haven’t run an online business before.

We teach you everything you need to know to set up an online business, establish a professional online presence and find clients willing to pay for your VA services. Access to this course also includes 90 days of free access to our VA Leads community and 

 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success ($197 value)

Knowing how to write for the internet is such a useful skill. In this course, the original 30 Days or Less course, written by Gina herself, we teach you how to decide on what types of writing to focus on, find paying work, send cold pitches, build out your writer’s website— including learning where to display your portfolio, perfecting your five “must-have” pages, growing your blog and collecting your first few testimonials.

We also cover how to start promoting your new business— including setting up and using social media, branding out your new business and protecting yourself online.

Email Management for Virtual Assistants ($197 value)

Rachel Severns, the co-creator of this course and an experienced VA, will teach you how to optimize email to help clients break the cycle of non-productive email habits. You’ll get access to templates, printables and resources to help you begin your email management journey.

You’ll learn the nuts and bolts of email management— including initial assessment, purging, labels, filters, Gmail settings and Trello basics. We also cover how to look for opportunities, effective pricing options and how to overcome challenges.

Project Management for Virtual Assistants ($197 value)

Hailey Thomas, an experienced project manager who transitioned to working online as a VA,  wrote this course to help other VAs break into this very profitable niche.

You’ll learn from Hailey how to package and sell project management as a service, how to position your skills accordingly, and how to walk a client from project idea to completion. After implementing the information from this course, you will feel confident to go after PM clients and meet their business needs.  

5,000 Student Giveaway

Real Estate for Virtual Assistants ($197 value)

What’s special about this course is that it’s written in partnership with a real estate virtual assistant AND her realtor client. In 24+ lessons, you’ll get insight from both a licensed realtor and his current REVA about how you can target this profitable niche.

The course covers things such as essential real estate terminology, new listing coordination, client communication, and effective social media strategies for realtors.  

Virtual Assistant Agency ($297 value)

This is an advanced course for VAs who feel that they’ve reached capacity in how much work they can take on as an individual VA, but want to keep serving more clients and earn more money. They may even want to offer additional services without having to become an  expert. Mallory has been through this journey of growing a VA gig into a full agency (with 5 VAs under her wing), and she’s sharing the steps she took to make this happen. This course will help you skip the headache and go straight for the results. 

Extras: 

Client Contract Template ($49 value)

This fully customizable contract template will help you look professional and hit the ground running with your new virtual assistant business from Day 1!

Master the Art of Pitching ($48 value)

Not sure how to pitch your services? This startup bundle includes 9 plug-and-play pitching templates, plus an accompanying “over the shoulder” tutorial video by Gina!

30-minute Coaching Call with Gina Horkey ($250 value)

A one-to-one conversation with an experienced online entrepreneur to ask the really important questions for your business. You’ll get personalized advice and a healthy dose of motivation to get started on your VA journey. 

Do these prizes sound good to you? You can enter the giveaway until July 31st at 11:45 CDT.

5,000 Student Giveaway

The post 5,000 Student Giveaway appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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Can a virtual assistant step into the world of real estate with no experience and build a profitable and long-term business?

Can the VA step in and save the day by giving a real estate agent back their life and sanity? Absolutely!

In this post, we’ll hear from Diane Sweeney who took her interest in real estate and turned it into a very successful virtual assistant business despite coming from a completely different professional background and having zero experience.

[Diane and her client, Dan Frank, have also just co-created a real estate assistant training course for VAs where they’ve shared the systems and processes they put together to build Dan’s business and give him back control of his time.]

Take it away, Diane!

A little over three years ago, I found myself doing some serious soul searching. After a career as a registered nurse followed by a decision to become a stay-at-home mom to an incredible baby boy, I knew that I wanted to fulfill my desire to do work I was passionate about.

I’ve always had a passion for helping people, but I knew that a career in nursing wasn’t where I wanted to be anymore. This kind of work also wouldn’t provide me with the flexibility I wanted to continue to be the best mom I could be to my little man.

Enter real estate!

Real estate had always sparked my interest and it kept popping into my head when I was considering viable careers. So I decided to take the leap and pursue it further by studying for my real estate license.  

Side note: Having a real estate license or a “passion” for real estate aren’t required to become a successful real estate virtual assistant.

During that time, I also began doing research on Craigslist and local job boards for real estate positions – lo and behold I found a position for a real estate assistant, something I didn’t even know existed. I’d never come across any “real estate assistant training” or had even heard of that being a possibility.

That’s how I met Dan Frank three years ago, and we’re still working together.

Why Dan (and All Real Estate Agents) Needed a Virtual Assistant
Dan Frank is kind of a big deal in the Twin Cities

When I met Dan, he had already been working in the field of real estate field for four years. Prior to that, he had followed his childhood love of flying and had been an airline pilot.

Similar to my own story, after becoming a parent Dan decided to pursue a career in real estate so that he could enjoy the flexibility and availability for his family.

Dan’s career as a real estate agent took off fast! So before he knew it, he found that he “literally couldn’t digest the amount of business I had churning” (his words!).

Dan quickly discovered that he wasn’t experiencing the flexibility he’d been looking for with real estate because, ironically, his business was doing so well. As a result, he was missing precious time with his family and that thing we like to call “work-life balance”.

At the time Dan and I started working together, he was scrambling in his growing business to close deals, generate leads and explore new marketing opportunities.

There are a lot of moving parts with real estate and it’s definitely a lot for one person to handle!

What I learned as my working relationship with Dan evolved is that because real estate agents are essentially independent contractors and work for themselves, there aren’t industry standards or standard operating procedures (SOPs) when it comes to running their businesses. As a result, agents don’t usually have systems and processes in place to keep business organized and growing.

Following up with leads and past clients is crucial to the growth of any business, but as a result of this lack of systems, Dan couldn’t keep up with this aspect of the business.  

The name of the game for lead generation in real estate these days is social media. Most agents are either too busy to establish and maintain a presence, lack the knowledge to do so, or aren’t even aware of how important it is for the growth of their business.

A real estate agent also needs to prioritize how their time is spent – maximizing tasks such as showing properties and generating leads, not managing paperwork and their inboxes.

As a real estate agent sells more properties, demands on their time and availability increase. The pace of trying to manage client contact combined with all the other moving parts that make up a successful real estate business would be exhausting for anyone.

In Dan’s case (which is pretty much every agents’ case), he had been taking care of things himself day in and day out for four years when we met. The idea of teaching someone to do what he’d been doing was overwhelming for him at first. And he had definitely been experiencing these “pain points” – lack of systems, dealing with social media presence, struggling with follow up, being able to prioritize the right tasks and dealing with burnout from such an intense pace.

As we found our work flow together, Dan and I were able to put systems in place to streamline processes and offload tasks to me so that he could be freed up to sell more houses and build his business. And, most importantly, get him his life back.

Interested in helping realtors grow their businesses?

Our Real Estate Virtual Assistant course teaches you what real estate agents are looking for and how to best serve the needs of their businesses.

An in-depth course created by a licensed real estate agent and his virtual assistant.

The Four Main Ways I Helped Dan Build His Real Estate Business

I found that in the course of a day in real estate, a lot of different things would just “pop up” such as dealing with clients, managing transactions (an intricate process with a lot of moving parts) and monitoring email.

One of my main goals of getting into this whole adventure had been to have a flexible lifestyle. So one of the ways I managed to stay on top of things – while still having the schedule I wanted – was being clear with Dan about when I was available. To do this, I shared a calendar with Dan so he’d know when he could delegate things to me. This last little tidbit really did wonders for our working relationship and streamlined things for both of us.

After Diana stepped in, Dan was able to focus more on serving his clients.

I wanted to become as efficient as possible in my work with Dan, so I created a structure for my day that ensured that my tasks were taken care of and that I was available for what might come up.

1. Email Management

I start my day by managing Dan’s email, responding to anything urgent from clients and answering any questions from him. There’s also a lot of other email that goes along with real estate transactions that requires sorting, responding or forwarding, depending on the situation.

If I start my day dealing with the “urgent stuff” then I’m freed up to take care of other things throughout the day, including more incoming emails.

2. Social Media Management

I follow up my email management time with managing Dan’s social media accounts.

As I mentioned earlier, most agents either don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to deal with social media. They need to be connecting with clients, showing houses and selling them, not hanging out on Facebook scheduling posts or creating ads.

3. Transaction Management

This is the biggest, most time-consuming task that real estate agents need help with and where a system or workflow is often missing. Some agents even contract out to agencies to handle this part of real estate since there’s a lot of paperwork and pieces to coordinate.

Dan and I created a workflow for this crucial piece of his business and this has completely streamlined a process that can be very overwhelming to many agents. There’s paperwork to be signed, appointments to schedule, people to coordinate, and a lot of other pieces to pull together. Fortunately, it can become completely manageable if you implement the right systems.

4. Listing Preparation

As a real estate assistant, I found that I could also help my client with listing preparation – preparing a house listing so it can sell.

There are a lot of boxes to check (17 on our checklist!) so this can be another time-consuming part of real estate that pulls agents away from client contact and showing homes. We also created a workflow for this process, and it’s one of the tasks I make time for during my work day after managing email and social media.

Where We Are Today

During the three years of our working relationship, Dan has been able to scale his business and get back to enjoying what he’s good at. His biggest “win” though, has been having a life again!

As for me, I’ve loved every minute of building this business with Dan. Becoming a real estate virtual assistant was definitely the best decision ever!

I’ve been able to:

  • Work from wherever I want to;
  • Work whenever I want to;
  • Decide if I want to work part time or full time;
  • Learn a ton working in an industry I enjoy;
  • See the possibilities for my own future. I’ve even sold eight houses!
Where Can I Get Real Estate Assistant Training?

You don’t need to be passionate about real estate to be an awesome and successful real estate virtual assistant. You don’t need any experience or real estate “education” or background either.

What you do need is a willingness to learn and the right mindset. Decide if this is your “thing”, set your mind to it and don’t stop until you get it!

What will definitely help you build a successful, sustainable real estate virtual assistant business faster is some skill-specific training. By the time a real estate agent needs a VA, he or she is likely way too busy to teach someone what they do “from the ground up”.

Starting off on the right foot and stepping in with some specific tools and training under your belt will not only help you find clients easily, but it will also enable you to step in with more confidence and begin knocking their socks off right away.

Getting some real estate assistant training will also help take the guesswork out of setting up your business, like how much you should charge and how to deal with taxes for example. Someone else has already figured that out, so take advantage and get your business up and running in no time.

And if you’re an agent and you’ve reached that threshold where you’re finding your work-life balance is out of whack? First of all, congratulations! Second of all, it’s time to prioritize your time and get back to what you’re good at and enjoy – selling homes and creating happy clients.

Finding the right virtual assistant who can sail in and put some systems in place will not only take your business from overwhelming chaos to streamlined nirvana, but will also make your life fun and enjoyable again. That’s a win for everyone!

My last piece(s) of advice: Go for it! Don’t feel like you have to know everything about everything to get started, you really don’t. You can absolutely step into a new real estate virtual assistant business with some skills and knowledge under your belt, no experience, a strong willingness to learn, the right attitude — and you can totally succeed.

This can be a great “learn as you go” experience once you get that first client. You just never know where your decision to take the plunge and go for it will lead you!

Ready to Start Your Real Estate Virtual Assistant Business (or Find a VA?)

How about you? Do you see the potential?

It’s a pretty incredible time to become a real estate VA. With eight-five percent of realtors not having an assistant and handling all their administrative tasks themselves, according to the National Association of Realtors. And the ones who do have one? They’re doing most of the business out there!

Why not you? Why not now?

The post Real Estate Virtual Assistant Case Study appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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Can a virtual assistant step into the world of real estate with no experience and build a profitable and long-term business?

Can the VA step in and save the day by giving a real estate agent back their life and sanity? Absolutely!

In this post, we’ll hear from Diane Sweeney who took her interest in real estate and turned it into a very successful virtual assistant business despite coming from a completely different professional background and having zero experience.

[Diane and her client, Dan Frank, have also just co-created a real estate assistant training course for VAs where they’ve shared the systems and processes they put together to build Dan’s business and give him back control of his time.]

Take it away, Diane!

A little over three years ago, I found myself doing some serious soul searching. After a career as a registered nurse followed by a decision to become a stay-at-home mom to an incredible baby boy, I knew that I wanted to fulfill my desire to do work I was passionate about.

I’ve always had a passion for helping people, but I knew that a career in nursing wasn’t where I wanted to be anymore. This kind of work also wouldn’t provide me with the flexibility I wanted to continue to be the best mom I could be to my little man.

Enter real estate!

Real estate had always sparked my interest and it kept popping into my head when I was considering viable careers. So I decided to take the leap and pursue it further by studying for my real estate license.  

Side note: Having a real estate license or a “passion” for real estate aren’t required to become a successful real estate virtual assistant.

During that time, I also began doing research on Craigslist and local job boards for real estate positions – lo and behold I found a position for a real estate assistant, something I didn’t even know existed. I’d never come across any “real estate assistant training” or had even heard of that being a possibility.

That’s how I met Dan Frank three years ago, and we’re still working together.

Why Dan (and All Real Estate Agents) Needed a Virtual Assistant

When I met Dan, he had already been working in the field of real estate field for four years. Prior to that, he had followed his childhood love of flying and had been an airline pilot.

Similar to my own story, after becoming a parent Dan decided to pursue a career in real estate so that he could enjoy the flexibility and availability for his family.

Dan’s career as a real estate agent took off fast! So before he knew it, he found that he “literally couldn’t digest the amount of business I had churning” (his words!).

Dan quickly discovered that he wasn’t experiencing the flexibility he’d been looking for with real estate because, ironically, his business was doing so well. As a result, he was missing precious time with his family and that thing we like to call “work-life balance”.

At the time Dan and I started working together, he was scrambling in his growing business to close deals, generate leads and explore new marketing opportunities.

There are a lot of moving parts with real estate and it’s definitely a lot for one person to handle!

What I learned as my working relationship with Dan evolved is that because real estate agents are essentially independent contractors and work for themselves, there aren’t industry standards or standard operating procedures (SOPs) when it comes to running their businesses. As a result, agents don’t usually have systems and processes in place to keep business organized and growing.

Following up with leads and past clients is crucial to the growth of any business, but as a result of this lack of systems, Dan couldn’t keep up with this aspect of the business.  

The name of the game for lead generation in real estate these days is social media. Most agents are either too busy to establish and maintain a presence, lack the knowledge to do so, or aren’t even aware of how important it is for the growth of their business.

A real estate agent also needs to prioritize how their time is spent – maximizing tasks such as showing properties and generating leads, not managing paperwork and their inboxes.

As a real estate agent sells more properties, demands on their time and availability increase. The pace of trying to manage client contact combined with all the other moving parts that make up a successful real estate business would be exhausting for anyone.

In Dan’s case (which is pretty much every agents’ case), he had been taking care of things himself day in and day out for four years when we met. The idea of teaching someone to do what he’d been doing was overwhelming for him at first. And he had definitely been experiencing these “pain points” – lack of systems, dealing with social media presence, struggling with follow up, being able to prioritize the right tasks and dealing with burnout from such an intense pace.

As we found our work flow together, Dan and I were able to put systems in place to streamline processes and offload tasks to me so that he could be freed up to sell more houses and build his business. And, most importantly, get him his life back.

Interested in helping realtors grow their businesses?

Our Real Estate Virtual Assistant course teaches you what real estate agents are looking for and how to best serve the needs of their businesses.

An in-depth course created by a licensed real estate agent and his virtual assistant.

The Four Main Ways I Helped Dan Build His Real Estate Business

I found that in the course of a day in real estate, a lot of different things would just “pop up” such as dealing with clients, managing transactions (an intricate process with a lot of moving parts) and monitoring email.

One of my main goals of getting into this whole adventure had been to have a flexible lifestyle. So one of the ways I managed to stay on top of things – while still having the schedule I wanted – was being clear with Dan about when I was available. To do this, I shared a calendar with Dan so he’d know when he could delegate things to me. This last little tidbit really did wonders for our working relationship and streamlined things for both of us.

I wanted to become as efficient as possible in my work with Dan, so I created a structure for my day that ensured that my tasks were taken care of and that I was available for what might come up.

1. Email Management

I start my day by managing Dan’s email, responding to anything urgent from clients and answering any questions from him. There’s also a lot of other email that goes along with real estate transactions that requires sorting, responding or forwarding, depending on the situation.

If I start my day dealing with the “urgent stuff” then I’m freed up to take care of other things throughout the day, including more incoming emails.

2. Social Media Management

I follow up my email management time with managing Dan’s social media accounts.

As I mentioned earlier, most agents either don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to deal with social media. They need to be connecting with clients, showing houses and selling them, not hanging out on Facebook scheduling posts or creating ads.

3. Transaction Management

This is the biggest, most time-consuming task that real estate agents need help with and where a system or workflow is often missing. Some agents even contract out to agencies to handle this part of real estate since there’s a lot of paperwork and pieces to coordinate.

Dan and I created a workflow for this crucial piece of his business and this has completely streamlined a process that can be very overwhelming to many agents. There’s paperwork to be signed, appointments to schedule, people to coordinate, and a lot of other pieces to pull together. Fortunately, it can become completely manageable if you implement the right systems.

4. Listing Preparation

As a real estate assistant, I found that I could also help my client with listing preparation – preparing a house listing so it can sell.

There are a lot of boxes to check (17 on our checklist!) so this can be another time-consuming part of real estate that pulls agents away from client contact and showing homes. We also created a workflow for this process, and it’s one of the tasks I make time for during my work day after managing email and social media.

Where We Are Today

During the three years of our working relationship, Dan has been able to scale his business and get back to enjoying what he’s good at. His biggest “win” though, has been having a life again!

As for me, I’ve loved every minute of building this business with Dan. Becoming a real estate virtual assistant was definitely the best decision ever!

I’ve been able to:

  • Work from wherever I want to;
  • Work whenever I want to;
  • Decide if I want to work part time or full time;
  • Learn a ton working in an industry I enjoy;
  • See the possibilities for my own future. I’ve even sold eight houses!
Where Can I Get Real Estate Assistant Training?

You don’t need to be passionate about real estate to be an awesome and successful real estate virtual assistant. You don’t need any experience or real estate “education” or background either.

What you do need is a willingness to learn and the right mindset. Decide if this is your “thing”, set your mind to it and don’t stop until you get it!

What will definitely help you build a successful, sustainable real estate virtual assistant business faster is some skill-specific training. By the time a real estate agent needs a VA, he or she is likely way too busy to teach someone what they do “from the ground up”.

Starting off on the right foot and stepping in with some specific tools and training under your belt will not only help you find clients easily, but it will also enable you to step in with more confidence and begin knocking their socks off right away.

Getting some real estate assistant training will also help take the guesswork out of setting up your business, like how much you should charge and how to deal with taxes for example. Someone else has already figured that out, so take advantage and get your business up and running in no time.

And if you’re an agent and you’ve reached that threshold where you’re finding your work-life balance is out of whack? First of all, congratulations! Second of all, it’s time to prioritize your time and get back to what you’re good at and enjoy – selling homes and creating happy clients.

Finding the right virtual assistant who can sail in and put some systems in place will not only take your business from overwhelming chaos to streamlined nirvana, but will also make your life fun and enjoyable again. That’s a win for everyone!

My last piece(s) of advice: Go for it! Don’t feel like you have to know everything about everything to get started, you really don’t. You can absolutely step into a new real estate virtual assistant business with some skills and knowledge under your belt, no experience, a strong willingness to learn, the right attitude — and you can totally succeed.

This can be a great “learn as you go” experience once you get that first client. You just never know where your decision to take the plunge and go for it will lead you!

Ready to Start Your Real Estate Virtual Assistant Business (or Find a VA?)

How about you? Do you see the potential?

It’s a pretty incredible time to become a real estate VA. With eight-five percent of realtors not having an assistant and handling all their administrative tasks themselves, according to the National Association of Realtors. And the ones who do have one? They’re doing most of the business out there!

Why not you? Why not now?

The post Real Estate Virtual Assistant Case Study appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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If you’ve ever thought about going into project management, you’ve probably heard that you need to get a certification.

And if you’re planning to become a project manager without experience, it can be hard to choose between all the training options available on the market. The acronyms alone can be dizzying: PRINCE2, SCRUM, CAPM, PMP, Six Sigma, PMBOK, and so on. Add that to the ongoing debate not just about whether to get a certification, but which one is the best, and the whole process becomes quite overwhelming.

If that’s you, now might be a good time to take a step back and reframe the question:

Can I get started as a project manager (PM) without experience and without a certification?

The answer is maybe.

If you’ve set your sights on working in a large corporate structure with budgets that run in the millions, then the best course of action is to get a certification. This will help you provide proof of hours of experience (a requirement for certifications) and help you understand advanced project management principles.

On the flip side, if you’re thinking of taking on small-business clients, or forward-thinking startups, getting a certification might be a waste a time and money. Often, these types of clients don’t really care what you know in theory, as long as you’re able to move their projects forward in practice.

A seasoned project manager will be the first to admit that a certification does not a good PM make. (Think about it, just because two people get a college degree, that doesn’t mean they are equally qualified.)

So what should you do?

In this post, we’ll outline four steps that you can take if you want to go the project management route. These steps are ideal if you’re thinking of becoming a freelance project manager, but they can also be helpful if you want to work in a small team as a PM.

Let’s dive in.

STEP 1: Take an honest look at your skill set

The truth is, no official-looking piece of paper with a stamp on it will help you do your job, and do it well. It will always come down to what you can accomplish. At the end of the day, the skills you have are more important than any certification you could obtain.

But if you’re going to pursue a project management certification, you need to have a strong understanding of your skill set. Taking the time to put these things on paper will help you gain the clarity you need to get started. And with clarity comes confidence.

Here’s what you should do first if you want to become a project manager without experience.

Sit down and make a list of the skills you have.

Simply put, what are you good at?

Are you a good communicator? Write that down!

Are you responsible for managing finances at your day job? Write that down!

Are you quick to act with a clear head in a crisis situation? Write that down!

And don’t stop at the obvious either. We’re often blind to the many projects we’ve been involved in because we often don’t tend to think of them as projects. Maybe you’ve taken it upon yourself to organize training events at your job. Those are event management skills right there. Or maybe you’re coordinating a team of volunteers in your community. Sure enough, we can consider this as having people management skills.

The key to doing this exercise right – and it’s in your best interest to do it as accurately as possible – is to not trick yourself into seeing yourself as you’d LIKE to be.

Here’s what I mean by that. This ideal version of your skills might include having very good communication skills. But in reality, you might shudder at the thought of explaining details via email or speaking in front of a team. Or you’d like to see yourself as having above average leadership skills. But in fact, you find it very unpleasant to have to motivate team members or communicate a shared vision to your co-workers.

So while you’re taking an inventory of your skills, it’s very important to also write down examples of instances when you demonstrated these skills. By diving deeper into this question, you’ll be able to separate the fictional idealized version of your abilities from the skills that you actually DO have.

Action step: In writing, take stock of the professional skills you have.

Next step: Dig deeper and write down the instances when you demonstrated these skills.

STEP 2: Make a plan to improve the skills that you want to develop

Now that you have a general idea of your skills on paper, take an honest look at what you need to improve.

To start with, have a closer look at job descriptions for your desired field of work or for the type of projects that you’d like to start managing. Don’t just stop at one job description; collect a few representative samples, but don’t overdo it. Five to seven job descriptions should do the trick.

Again, it’s a good idea to do this in writing. And maybe even do the writing by hand, because it has been proven that it will help you filter the information better.

On a piece of paper, draw three columns with the following headers:

Skills I have –  Skills required – Skills I need to improve

In the first column, write down the skills you’ve discovered in the previous exercise (see Step 1).

For the second column, you need to pull the information from the job descriptions you’ve collected. What are the skills mentioned for your ideal job? How about for your top three jobs? Write them down in the second column.

At this point, stop and asses where these two columns overlap. Let’s say one of your skills is being accurate at handling financial processes, and your ideal jobs require someone with this skill. Great, you’ve got that covered, so you can cross it off your list.

On the other hand, let’s say that the kind of projects you’re after require someone who is a good negotiator. You feel that’s not your strong suit, so you should add that under the Skills I need to improve column. Keep going until you’ve identified a few other skills you need to improve.

It’s important to mention that you should use this exercise as a starting point, not as an end point. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you don’t know, and you might start believing that you should wait until you’ve acquired ALL of these skills before you could even dream of looking for project management clients.

In reality, that’s not going to be a very productive approach. That’s why you should just pick two or three skills to work on, and make a plan on how to improve them.

Should you read a few books?

Maybe attend a workshop?

Can you take a short online course? (We’re offering a great course written by a project management pro.)

Even though it might feel empowering to take charge of your education, keep in mind that the best kind of learning is the one that comes from experience. You can’t fully prepare for all the aspects of a job until you get the job.

So while bridging the knowledge gap is important, it’s also crucial to start looking for project management clients before you feel you’re ready.

Action step: On a piece of paper, draw three columns with the following headers:

Skills I have –  Skills required – Skills I need to improve.

Fill in your answers.

Next step: Choose one or two skills that you want to improve, and make a plan to do so.

STEP 3: Decide on how you’ll position yourself as a PM

After you’ve identified your skills and a proper way to fill your knowledge gaps, it’s time to start thinking about the kind of work you want to do, and the type of clients you want to work with.

The simple questions here are:

1. What sets you apart from other project managers?

and

2. How do you want to be spending your work hours?

You can come at these questions from a few different angles.

Do you want to specialize in a certain technology or project management tool? For example, maybe you’re really good at wrangling a project using Asana, Redmine, Workbook, or any other popular tech tool at the moment.

Here are seven digital project management solutions from Entrepreneur.

Maybe you want to work only on a certain type of project (for example, recruitment drives)?

Or you may not care as much about the projects, as long as you’re in your desired industry, be it healthcare, educational technology or real estate.

Then consider whether there’s any easy way to make this happen based on the skills you already have. If you’re already using a project management tool in your day job, can you apply the same knowledge in working for clients? Or if you already have HR experience, would you be able to transition to working as a PM in recruitment?

After you’ve asked yourself these questions, make sure you’re also setting goals in the direction you’ve decided to take. Although it might not come easy, try to set specific goals. So instead of saying “I want to work in tech”, you can frame it this way, “I want to work remotely for a tech company managing the way their product and engineering teams receive customer feedback.”

Once again, we’re aiming for clarity.

Here’s our recommendation for this step: do not get stuck in this phase because you think you should cover all your bases. At this point, know that your positioning will evolve as your roles will change. The best way to discover what you like doing is to give something a  try and learn on the job.

Action step: In writing, answer the two questions we’ve mentioned at the top of Step 3.

Next step: Set a specific goal about the kind of work you want to do.

STEP 4: Start building your project management network

It’s much easier to become a project manager without experience if you’re actually connected to the project management world. Start talking to other PMs and colleagues about the goals you’ve set in Step 3.

You aim here is to be top-of-mind in case your network comes across opportunities that might be a good fit for you.

And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from colleagues whose opinion you value. Ask them what they think your strong skills are and how you could improve your gaps in knowledge.

The creator of our Project Management for Virtual Assistants course, Hailey Thomas, says that one of the methods she uses to find leads is to connect with industry peers – whether that’s the head of marketing, the operations manager, or the corporate equivalent of the job she’s interested in. When doing so, Hailey focuses on making them come across as the experts instead of showing off her own skills – although she doesn’t shy away from sharing her own industry tips.

These connections are usually the first ones to realize that their company needs to bring a virtual project manager on board, so it’s a really good idea to cultivate relationships with them.

It’s important to recognize that even project managers don’t work in isolation. They collaborate with teams – in some cases, they even create teams. So it’s never too early to start growing your network.

Action step: draw up a list of five people that you could reach out to and talk about your goals.

Next step: Once you have the list ready, write a short and sweet email to them and set up a coffee date or even a Skype catch-up session.

Ready to Level Up Your Project Management Skills?

BUSINESS OWNER: Stressed out over their project backlog.
YOU: Mad organizational skills.

Problem + solution = match made in heaven!

Conclusion

You may have noticed that the recurring piece of advice throughout this article can be summed up in two words: take action.

At Horkey HandBook, we believe that the most important thing is to start. So whether you decide to go for an official certification, or we’ve convinced you that it is possible to become a project manager without experience, it’s crucial that you take action.

You’re allowed to start small, as long as you start something.

Hailey Thomas, the creator of the Project Management for Virtual Assistants course says that “Becoming a project manager without a certification isn’t just possible – it’s totally doable!”

Comment below to let us know how you’ve implemented these four steps and what results you got.


The post Why You Might Not Need Experience to Become a Project Manager appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice. You should seek independent legal advice from a certified professional that will be able to advise you on how to best create a virtual assistant contract based on your personal situation.

The two most common reactions we encounter when we bring up the topic of asking your clients to sign your virtual assistant contract are:

The contract-phobic freelancer (Don’t even mention the word ‘contract’ to me. That’s just for big corporations.)

and

The litigious-happy freelancer (I can’t wait for my client to do something wrong, and I’ll sue them in a heartbeat.)

Neither of these approaches is very productive – for your business, your reputation, or your own well-being.

Why do I even need a virtual assistant contract?

The best reason why you need to use a VA contract is simple: setting clear expectations and confirming that both parties understand and agree with these expectations.

Yes, both parties.

You should consider the purpose of a contract to be to protect both you AND your client from complications in your working relationship. In fact, if a client refuses to sign your virtual assistant contract, you can use this “mutual benefit principle” to sell them on the advantages of using a contract.

What elements should I include in my virtual assistant contract?

Just as we mentioned in the beginning, whether you employ a professional or take a DIY approach, the final version of your contract should be tailored to your personal situation, the way you choose to run your business, and your expectations.

That being said, here are the essential elements included in our VA contract template:

1. A description of services

This section of the contract specifically outlines the tasks you will perform for your client – whether we’re talking about specific deliverables (such as designing and delivering a Powerpoint presentation), service-oriented tasks (such as checking their inbox twice a day and replying to emails on their behalf), or hourly assistance (such as spending two hours every day scheduling social media posts).

Be as specific as possible and include clear expectations about deadlines, schedules, availability, or any other milestones you have agreed with your client.

Why is this section important?

Most newbie VAs believe that the biggest problem that might arise will be not getting paid for their services.

Now we’ve been part of the VA community for half a decade, and we’ve trained thousands of virtual assistants, so we can tell you this: the most common problem you will encounter won’t be payment, but scope creep.

Scope creep means that your client is adding more tasks to your plate without adjusting the terms of the contract and without increasing your pay.

In other words, you end up working more for the same pay. Because this happens in slow increments, and often over a longer period of time, it becomes an issue that virtual assistants are slow to notice and even slower to address.

More often than not, the clients aren’t deliberately trying to take advantage of the VA.

The clients are just getting used to delegating and starting to trust the VA more and more, so they often don’t think twice about pushing an extra task on to the VA’s plate. But all these extra tasks eventually add up, and a virtual assistant should be compensated for them.

Having a “description of services” section to point to makes the conversation with your client easier and straightforward. The presence of a contract helps take the emotion out of the equation, and without strong emotions clouding your judgement, you’ll be able to make sure your workload remains manageable.

2. Payment terms

Obviously, we’re all hoping to get fairly compensated for our skills, knowledge and time.

This part of the contract should outline these expectations as clearly and comprehensively as possible.

Your virtual assistant contract should clearly state the amount you’ll be paid, the frequency of invoicing (weekly, monthly), the method of payment (bank transfer, Paypal, Freshbooks, etc.) and when the payment is due (for example, due upon receipt or net-15).

You can also use this part of the contract to outline the consequences of your client not paying on time. Will they incur a late fee?

If you’re working on a per-project basis, what happens if the project is cancelled by the client halfway? Is there a project kill fee?

Why is this section important?

This section of the contract will protect you if your client runs into unexpected scenarios that make payment difficult.

It’s not always the case that a client is out to get you. Often, payment issues arise when the client is facing cash flow problems on their end, or when their internal processes aren’t as well organized, and details such as invoices from contractors fall through the cracks.

While gentle reminders and opening an honest line of conversation should be the first recourse when you’re not getting paid on time, it’s a good idea to have a binding document backing up your request if money transfers get delayed for too long.

3. Termination

When we start a working relationship with a new client, we rarely think about how to end said relationship.

But business relationships inevitably end and it’s important that neither party feels trapped in an arrangement that no longer benefits them. That’s why the termination section of your contract should mention how to terminate your collaboration. Does an email suffice, or should you send a termination letter?

This section should also mention the notice period (can you terminate immediately or should you stay on for an additional 14 days?) and terms covering the payment due to the contractor (for example, making sure you are paid for the work you’ve already done since the previous invoice payment, or the work you’ll do until the termination is effective).

Why is this section important?

Having to break up with a client can often lead to awkward conversations. And the day you’re parting ways with a client is definitely not the best time to be negotiating terms such as notice periods or payments due.

That’s why having these terms defined beforehand will protect you and your client from having to make any rash decisions under emotional and time pressure.

Other elements of a VA contract

These are the three main elements that are covered in our virtual assistant contract template.

However, this list is not exhaustive. Other elements that we’ve included to better protect your interests, as well as those of your client, include: how to handle retainers, non-disclosure and non-solicitation clauses, confidentiality clauses, copyright and work ownership clauses.

In a nutshell

We have a “better safe than sorry” approach to contracts.

Do you NEED it? Certainly, it’s a good idea to have a contract in place.

Can you start work without it? Absolutely, don’t let the lack of a contract for virtual assistants prevent you from setting up your business or prospecting for clients.

Ultimately, if your working relationship with a prospect is a parade’s worth of red flags, no contract will protect you one hundred percent. So if your client has a history of unpaid invoices to suppliers, aggressive behavior or unreasonable expectation, we advise you to move on.

However, if you’ve done your due diligence on a prospect, and you’ve decided to start working with them, all you need to do is download our virtual assistant contract template, customize it to fit your needs, get it signed by both parties, and start bringing value to your new client’s business.

The post Essential Elements of a Virtual Assistant Contract appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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In our experience of training thousands of virtual assistants, the journey that someone takes to become a VA looks something like this: You find out that you can legitimately work online and make money from the comfort of your own home. That sounds appealing, and you read about the basic setup of a VA business.  But then you start wondering what virtual assistant services you can offer. This is where a lot of people get stuck and give up.

But that’s not you, right? Not today. Not on our watch. We’re here to offer you a shortcut through this frustrating and time-consuming process.

We’ve put together a detailed list of 50 high-demand VA services you can turn into a profitable niche and what you should know about them, in a nutshell. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this list, you’ll have a good idea of which services you can offer as a virtual assistant.

That’s why we’ve designed two shortcuts for you because we want to make sure that nobody who wants to become a virtual assistant gets stuck in the research phase.

50+ Virtual Assistant Services You Can Offer Your Clients Social Media Management

You may think that hanging out on social media is awesome and personal. And who would want to outsource that?

But social media stops being fun for your clients when it takes too much time away from their business and from working on revenue sources with a higher ROI. Although there are MANY benefits to having an active social media presence, there is a lot to know if you want to do it right, and you need to learn something new almost every day if you want to stay up-to-date.

Enter: a virtual assistant specializing in social media management to save the day.

What you do for your clients all depends on where their social media marketing stands when you take over. If their presence is close to zero, you could offer packages to get their profiles up-and-running. If they have some social media profiles already set up, but they’re not very active, here are some tasks that you could pitch them:

  • Branded account set up – if they want all their social profiles to look the same and send the same message to potential customers;
  • Scheduling updates;
  • Original content creation (e.g. images, updates, polls, etc.);
  • Setting up scheduling tools (Buffer and Hootsuite are the most popular ones);
  • Interacting with followers (retweeting, liking, replying to comments, etc);

Bonus tip!

Start by managing a few social media profiles, and only add to those as you get familiar with the work. For example, you could start with Facebook and Instagram. Once you have those two profiles up-and-running, you can add Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social platform that applies to your client’s business.

Blog Management

You may think that there’s nothing much to do when you’re blogging. You just type your thoughts away, and then you hit publish, right?

That may be the case when you’re blogging as a hobby.

But when blogging becomes a business, there are quite a few moving parts to keep track of behind the scenes. A good blog manager starts by putting together an editorial calendar. That way, your client doesn’t have to scramble for a post idea at the last minute.

A virtual assistant doing blog management would also be in charge of:

  • Uploading and formatting posts;
  • Adding inbound and outbound links to posts;
  • Sourcing photos (Creative Commons Zero, if your client would rather not pay for images);
  • Creating graphics and adding them to the posts;
  • Optimizing the SEO of the post – there’s no point in writing excellent content if nobody finds it;
  • Adding optins and lead magnets to the blog posts (a crucial step if your client wants to grow their email list).

If your client’s blog also accepts guest submissions, then you’ll have to coordinate with guest writers  – from pitching topics to following up on deadlines and setting up cross-promotion once the post is published.

Bonus tip!

You can impress a potential client by taking the lead on researching blog topics. Figure out who their competition is, and then see what they’re writing about? Is there anything that they’re not covering that your client could?

Customer Service

This task is a particularly crucial one to outsource to a VA, especially if dealing with customers is eating up a good chunk of the time a solopreneur could use to create products or services or even strategize for their business.

Gina covers this topic in-depth on our blog. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of reasons why outsourcing customer service makes a lot of sense, both from a professional as well as a personal point of view.

Here are a few things that a virtual assistant can take care of when it comes to customer service:

  • Onboarding new clients (this could also include creating personalized welcome packets);
  • Responding to recurring customer inquiries (including creating canned email responses or an FAQ page with the answers to the most common questions);
  • Regularly checking in with long-term clients (you need to make sure they’re still satisfied with what they’re getting);
  • Dealing with customer complaints and refund requests. (They do happen!)

Bonus tip!

The first few times you perform these tasks, you can hop on a video call with your client and let them walk you through it. It will be easier to clarify their systems in real time rather than going back and forth about the rules via email.

Email Management

According to a survey quoted in The Washington Post, we spend about 20.5 hours a week checking email. And that’s just the average for a regular office worker. Imagine how much more email a webpreneur has to deal with.

That is becoming a huge time waste, which is exactly what makes it a good opportunity for an organized and detail-oriented virtual assistant.

We’ve had already Rachel on the blog talking about how to do inbox management as a virtual assistant.

But here are, in a nutshell, the kind of tasks you can expect if you pick this niche:

  • Checking your client’s email inbox.
  • Setting up a system for labeling, replying or archiving incoming emails
  • Setting up automatic filters
  • Keeping a list of frequently asked questions; it might come in handy when your client needs new content ideas.

Is email management the same as customer service for a VA?

It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. Some clients will feel comfortable with letting you take over their entire inbox (which also includes their personal emails), while others might prefer to outsource just the client interaction side of things.

Some will even keep the two separate by creating a new email address, especially for customer service. It’s really up to the two of you to work out the terms of your agreement.

Bonus tip!

Always make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to what you’re expected to do in your client’s email. Are you just checking once a day, or three times a day? Are you supposed to stay logged in and reply to emails as they roll in? Set clear terms from the get-go.

Lead Generation

If your client’s business is sales-intensive (in any way, shape or form), they will need someone to take over the very time-consuming task of generating potential leads.

Great lead generation is more than just a numbers game. If your client is in real estate, for example, it would be a waste of their time to generate useless leads that have no plans of needing their services anytime soon. As a lead generation virtual assistant, you have to be strategic about who you contact, and how you do it.

Here are a few ways tasks you can offer as part of your virtual assistant services:

  • Setting up a system to source leads (for example, you could set up Google alerts for certain keywords);
  • Setting up a system to collect lead information
  • Figuring out an ideal customer persona;
  • Following leads on social media and interact with them;
  • Reaching out to leads via email or social media. (If your client trusts you to do this on their behalf, you can certainly command higher rates.)

Bonus tip!

Always make sure you agree on a deliverable. How many leads are you supposed to deliver by the end of the week, for example? How much information about the lead is enough before you move on to the next one? This is the kind of task that can really balloon to take up as much time as you’re allowing it to. Don’t worry, the more you do it, the more efficient you’ll get. The trick is to always make sure that you’re still making enough per hour to make it worth your while.

Event Management

Admit it, when you read event management, you thought about coordinating a fancy wedding, didn’t you? There’s nothing wrong in finding a client that needs that service. (And more power to you.)

But in the online world, events usually come in the shape of online conferences, classes and webinars. An event virtual assistant is usually in charge of:

  • Researching leads for guest speakers (if any)
  • Communicating and coordinating with guest speakers
  • Setting up promotion for the event (including creating promotional materials)
  • Setting up the tech platform for the event. The most popular webinar platforms are GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, Join.me and Google Meet
  • Being available during the event in case any glitches come up
  • Moderating the chat during the event (for example, by sifting through comments for questions that the speakers can address)
  • Managing post-event feedback (by sending audience surveys, or following up with guest speakers and making it easy for them to share the event on their end)

Bonus tip!

Based on a survey conducted by Ready Talk, between 20 percent and 40 percent of webinar attendees turned into qualified leads. According to the same survey, three weeks of promotion prior to the webinar is the sweet spot. Three is also the magic number in terms of email campaigns sent per webinar. That’s some pretty impressive sales pitch material for a webinar virtual assistant, right?

Running Ad Campaigns

Have you ever noticed those ads that show up when you’re busy scrolling through Facebook?

How about the ads on the right side of your Facebook timeline?

Those ads have to be written, designed and scheduled by someone, right? That someone is usually an experienced content marketer or VA. Could it be done by the same person who is doing social media management? Of course! But setting up ad campaigns is a more specialized skill, and therefore should command higher rates.

According to Facebook, the total number of businesses advertising on the platform had reached four million in early 2017. That’s some serious competition. So if your client wants to have their ads seen, they really have to do it right.

Here are a few skills you can learn if you want to offer Facebook ads management as part of your virtual assistant services:

  • Audience segmentation;
  • Optimizing ads by changing demographic settings;
  • Researching competitors’ fans and followers;
  • Audience cloning;
  • Designing and writing copy for ads;
  • Tracking actions that users take on the ads;
  • Determining the cost per action or cost per lead;
  • Evaluating the ROI of Facebook campaigns.

Bonus tip!

Once you’ve learned the ropes of Facebook ads, you can easily transition to offering ad campaigns for other social media platforms. Instagram is quite easy to advertise on, since it’s owned by Facebook, and you can set up both campaigns at the same time

Setting Up Sales Funnels

Sales funnels are the best way to turn readers into subscribers, convert subscribers into paying customers and turn one-time buyers into recurring customers and fans. Funnels are complex to set up, but once done correctly, they’ll bring in a lot of business for your client.

LeadPages and ConvertKit are two of the most popular platforms used for setting up sales funnels.

Here are a few tasks you can take off your client’s list when they’re working on setting up their funnels.

  • Creating lead magnets;
  • Branding lead magnets;
  • Setting up landing pages;
  • Setting up automation rules;
  • Integrating the content marketing platform with other platforms (e.g. course-hosting websites or giveaway platforms).

Bonus tip!

These skills may have a steeper learning curve, but you can also charge higher rates once you’ve mastered a few platforms. As always, we recommend that you niche down and really master one of these platforms.

Project Management

The good thing about marketing your services as a project management virtual assistant is that it might be easier to convince clients who otherwise cannot commit to hiring a VA on a more permanent basis.

But when a solopreneur is in the middle of a big, scary project, they might admit they need a little bit of help (and stress relief).

Here are a few projects you might be able to help with:

  • Product launches (generally for digital products, such as courses and ebooks);
  • Researching industry best-practices;
  • Recruiting team members and contractors;
  • Supervising and coordinating other team members;
  • Setting up systems and timelines;
  • Doing a business audit.

Bonus tip!

Starting with a project-based collaboration is a great way to get your foot in the door for larger projects or a permanent position. Do a good job, and you’ll become the go-to professional for your client.

Bookkeeping

Ahh, admin! This is probably the task that solopreneurs procrastinate the most on. That’s because it’s not an easy chore, especially for someone oriented more toward the strategic and creative side of business, and less toward staring at numbers on a screen.

Since it consists of recording bills, invoices, payments, and keeping track of the general financial well-being of a business, it’s something that absolutely NEEDS to be done.

Here are a few things you can take over as a bookkeeping virtual assistant:

  • Generating invoices and following up in case of non-payment;
  • Making sure bills are paid on time;
  • Issuing refunds;
  • Preparing balance sheets;
  • Paying employees and contractors;
  • Reconciling bank and credit card statements;
  • Help prepare your quarterly or annual taxes.
  • Maintaining financial data in the software preferred by the client. (Tip: Gina prefers Freshbooks.)

Bonus tip!

Outsourcing this requires a great deal of trust on behalf of both parties. A good way of building trust is by offering to bring recommendations from former clients or past jobs. You can also offer to do a background check if your client is worried about entrusting you with their financial information.

Email Management

According to a 2016 study by Adobe, office workers between ages 25 and 34 spend over six hours every day checking and replying to emails. Over a third of respondents check their email even before getting out of bed.

And that’s just the average for a person working in an office. Imagine how much more email a webpreneur has to deal with. This huge time waste can be a great opportunity for an organized and detail-oriented virtual assistant to step in.

Here are, in a nutshell, the kind of tasks you can expect if you pick this niche:

  • Setting up a system for labeling, replying or filing incoming emails;
  • Setting up automatic filters;
  • Forwarding messages to other team members;
  • Drafting replies to frequently asked questions.

Always make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to what you’re expected to do in your client’s email. Are you just checking once a day, or three times a day? Are you supposed to stay logged in and reply to emails as they roll in? Set clear terms from the get-go.

For an in-depth look at how to manage email as a virtual assistant, have a look at this post:

Managing Email as a Virtual Assistant

Providing Customer Service via Email

Why should any business owner bother with offering customer service via email, when the usual medium is the phone? Since online entrepreneurs often sell products to customers all over the world, email is the most common channel used for interacting with said customers. And 48 percent of consumers care about a personalized transaction – interacting with an actual human rather than an automated support system.

As a customer service virtual assistant, it is your job to:

  • Reply to common customer service questions;
  • Troubleshoot customer problems;
  • Handle customer complaints;
  • Issue refunds;
  • Proactively reach out to customers to check for satisfaction with your client’s product;
  • Report back to your client about the common complaints with the product;
  • Spot patterns in customer dissatisfaction and report them back to the product team.

Is offering email customer service the same as offering email management services?

It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. Some clients will feel comfortable with letting you take over their entire inbox (which also includes their personal emails), while others might prefer to outsource just the client interaction side of things. Some will even keep the two separate by creating a new email address especially for customer service.

Live Chat Customer Support

This service is similar to providing email customer support, but before you add it to your offering, make sure you’re comfortable with having to be at your desk for a set number of hours every day. While email support is asynchronous, live chat happens in real time.

Why should any business owner bother with manning a live chat? Because customers are asking for it. About 65 percent of online shoppers in the United States have engaged in a live chat, and 79 percent of the people who prefer this method of communication with a business says it’s because they get their questions answered immediately.

As a live chat virtual assistant, you should make sure that you keep up to date with product features. In addition to multi-tasking skills (you might have to talk to multiple clients at the same time), you should also have good conflict resolution skills and excellent written communication skills.

Managing Customer Experiences

You might think this is the same as providing customer support. Even though there is some overlap, customer experience, or “CX” for short, is more about nurturing the clients that you already have. According to the Harvard Business Review, customer experience is “the sum-totality of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer.”

And for small businesses who specialize in catering to a select number of clients, offering customer experiences that stand out is paramount to client retention and satisfaction.

On our blog, assistant Mallory Underwood has written about how she put together a hospitality program on behalf of her client, a marketing agency, for their own clients. In this way, the agency rewards their long-term clients, team members or contractors on occasions such as onboarding, birthdays, and project completion.

Customer experience can take many forms, so brainstorming a few examples and adding them to your pitch will make you stand out from a sea of VA candidates.

General Project Management

The good thing about marketing your services as a project management virtual assistant is that it might be easier to convince clients who otherwise cannot commit to hiring a VA on a more permanent basis. But when a solopreneur is in the middle of a complex project, they might admit they need a little bit of help (and stress relief). The average salary for a digital project manager is roughly $70,000, so your ability to set up and manage systems and procedures can definitely pay off.

Here are a few projects you might be able to help with:

  • Product launches (generally for digital products, such as courses and ebooks);
  • Researching industry best-practices;
  • Recruiting team members and contractors;
  • Closing the feedback loop between customers and the product team;
  • Supervising and coordinating other team members;
  • Setting up systems and timelines;
  • Doing a business audit.

Starting with a project-based collaboration is a great way to get your foot in the door for larger projects or a permanent position. Do a good job, and you’ll become the go-to PM for your client.

Managing Product Launches

From email sequences to setting up webinars, publishing landing pages, informing affiliate and doing a guest post tour, a product launch has many moving parts. But a successful product launch can net six-figures within a few days.

Product launch VA services can include:

  • Liaising with other freelancing and contractors to coordinate deliverables;
  • Setting up opt-in pages and sales pages;
  • Connecting sales funnels;
  • Setting up payment and delivery systems;
  • Coordinating press releases;
  • Monitoring Facebook ads;
  • Communicating with affiliates.
  • Testing the sales process and troubleshooting any glitches.

Product launch virtual assistants generally work project-based and can command higher rates due to the sprint nature of launches.
Webinar assistant

Based on a survey conducted by Ready Talk, between 20 percent and 40 percent of webinar attendees turned into qualified leads.

According to the same survey, three weeks of promotion prior to the webinar is the sweet spot. Three is also the magic number in terms of email campaigns sent per webinar. That’s some pretty impressive sales pitch material for a webinar virtual assistant, right?

A webinar virtual assistant is usually in charge of:

  • Researching leads for guest speakers (if any);
  • Communicating and coordinating with guest speakers;
  • Setting up promotion for the event (including creating..
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Name: Sierra Schmidt

Short bio: Stay-at-home mom (to three kiddos) turned Pinterest virtual assistant

Location: California (USA)

Website: SierraVirtualSolutions.com

Date hired by first client: October 1st, 2018

Return on course investment: October 3rd, 2018

Average hours worked per week: 12

Average monthly income: $1400

Services offered: Pinterest management, email management, social media management, proofreading

Hi, Sierra! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My husband and I have been married for 14 years and live in beautiful Northern California wine country. I have been a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born eight years ago. Just before her third birthday, I gave birth to twin boys and our life has been fun but crazy ever since!

I love photography, travel, and crafting with my children. I have a small travel blog on the side which has been great fun and allows me to educate and grow in new ways that also benefit my clients.

How about your business?

My babies started kindergarten in August this year.

In June, I took the Virtual Assistant Course created by Horkey HandBook and worked on my website and case studies with friends over the summer to prepare. I launched my VA business in September 2018 and began pitching clients. I offer Pinterest and social media management services, as well as email management services. My target market includes those in the travel industry and creative services industry.

Why did you decide to start a virtual assistant business?

With all my children in school, I was ready to work again and support my husband in helping to provide for our family. But I didn’t want to lose the flexibility that I had for several years to be really involved in my kids’ school activities and caring for our home.

It was important to me to be my own boss and only work in a way that was best for my family. I researched for weeks and when I landed on Gina’s course, I felt confident that it was the right path for me.

Why did you choose Pinterest management as your main niche?

I have always loved Pinterest. I didn’t really realize that I could make an income from it though. After enrolling in the VA course, I came across Gina and Kristen’s Become a Pinterest VA Today! course and I was intrigued.

I became so passionate about what that platform could do for small businesses, that both clients that I landed through VA Leads ending up adding Pinterest services to my tasks even though they hadn’t planned on it, because I was excited and knowledgeable about it.

Was there anything holding you back from starting your business?

I had been out of the workforce for so long!

I was afraid to write a resume that had a nine-year gap.

I feared that no one would hire me.

I use technology in my daily life, but when I started researching all of the programs and software regularly used by businesses now, I realized that I didn’t know anything about any of them. It was a bit overwhelming and I really feared not being able to find clients.

What was the most challenging part as you got started?

I was like a sponge learning as much as I could as fast as I could and it was exhausting.

I was up late working on my new business and up early taking care of my children. I wondered if my expectations for making this work were unrealistic.

How did you overcome that?

My husband was incredibly supportive from Day 1 which helped build my confidence. I told myself that I just needed to work enough to earn back what I had invested in the courses and in my website, and I allowed myself to reevaluate after that.

I took everything one step at a time and grew more and more confident as I learned each new process and accomplished each step.

Once I landed one client, I felt sure that I could indeed do this!

How did you find your VA clients?

I started pitching clients in September and landed two that month.

By the end of October, I had booked three more clients and my schedule is now full with five clients in total.

Two of my clients came from VA Leads, the matchmaking VA service offered to students of Gina’s 30 Days or Less courses. The other three clients came from The Pinterest Post Community which is offered with the Pinterest VA course.

If I were looking for more clients, I would join Facebook groups and get to know the people on them. Because my niche is travel, I am in several travel blogging groups and people are asking for Pinterest advice almost daily. I happily answer their questions.

Almost weekly, someone asks for Pinterest VA referrals. I think that by laying the foundation of sharing Pinterest wisdom freely, I am a good candidate for consideration in these cases. I haven’t tried yet, only because my roster is currently full, but I plan to pitch in Facebook groups in the future.

How did you decide on the travel niche?

I had never had an interest in blogging, but I have always had an interest in traveling.

When I began my VA business. I came to realize how helpful it would be for me to have a blog of my own so that I could practice on my own site! I started a travel blog and it is so much fun!

I treated myself as a client in order to practice Pinterest, SEO, web design, email management, social media management, etc. I want to help people with businesses that I am passionate about, so I reached out only to leads that were in creative or travel industries. This has worked perfectly.

Potential clients like the fact that I have direct experience in their field; I am constantly educating myself on growing my own blog which in turn helps me to be a better VA to my clients.

Can you tell us about your favorite client or project?

I honestly love all my clients. I only pitch businesses that I’m passionate about and believe that I can truly help their businesses grow.

My favorite client is my first because she had faith in me. I was probably not the most qualified candidate,  but she hired me because she appreciated how thorough and honest my responses were. I told her what I could do and was honest about what I would continue to learn. She could see my integrity and drive and she trusted me. That meant a lot and gave me the confidence to fill the rest of my roster really quickly!

How are you working on growing your business currently?

My hours are currently full (hooray!), but I know that I am not working as efficiently as I could be because I am still learning the ins and outs of balancing so many new clients all at once.

I am currently working on managing my time and setting up standard operating procedures so that I can work faster and “give myself a raise” by saving time. Once I do this, I plan to open up my schedule to add a couple more clients.

What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?

Everything! I look forward to further educating myself so that I can be the best virtual assistant that I can possibly be. I want each of my clients to feel well-cared for and glad that they are making an investment in me. I look forward to managing my own schedule, adding more clients at a steady pace, and maintaining a healthy career and life balance.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Sierra!

Sierra lives in beautiful Northern California with her handsome husband and three adorable, crazy kiddos. In addition to supporting small business owners as a virtual assistant, she is passionate about her family, her faith, and traveling the world with her camera. She also loves the beach, reading a good book, and strawberries & dark chocolate. You can find Sierra at Sierra Virtual Solutions

The post Student Success Story: Sierra Schmidt appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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Marketing, research, sales, paperwork, networking – it’s a never-ending balancing act for a realtor to try and fit all of these must-dos in a single work week. And there’s only so much you can do before items slip away from today’s to-do list and get pushed on the back burner.

But what gives first?

You can’t ignore the marketing part — that’s what drives leads to your business. You can’t ignore closing sales — that’s what makes you money. And you certainly can’t turn your back to networking — that’s how you build relationships with other realtors who might send their clients your way.

This is when outsourcing the non-essential tasks in your business to a real estate virtual assistant (VA) will save you a lot of time, and will put you way ahead of the competition.

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

As much as we’d like to believe in the “company of one” myth, this is simply not feasible for a real estate professional, especially if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The main reason why you should hire a VA is simply to free up more time to focus on the core activities that drive revenue: connecting with leads and serving your clients.

And it’s not just time that you’re freeing up. Think about how much of your mental bandwidth is currently taken up by all the small items on your to-do list. Once you shift those items to your VAs to-do list, you’ll be able to gain the clarity and focus that you need in order to work on high-end goals and strategy.

Is Hiring a Real Estate VA Good for My ROI?

Does it make sense from an ROI perspective to start working with a real estate virtual assistant?

Let’s see!

How much time do you spend working in your business, rather than on your business?

How much time do you waste on promoting listings, keeping your inbox in check, filling in paperwork, scheduling meetings and generally handling the nitty-gritty required to run a successful real estate business?

Can that time be used in a more productive way — that is, in face-to-face meetings with leads, serving your current clients, or attending networking events?

Let’s also consider having to keep up with all the tech side of the business. Does it really make sense for you to learn every piece of software – from scheduling tools to social media channels and photo editing tools? Or does it make more sense for you to outsource these tasks to someone who’s already a pro at handling all of these tools, especially the ones that have a steep learning curve?

The answer to these questions will determine if you need to hire a VA now or if you should wait.

How Much Will Hiring a Real Estate VA Cost Me?

We’ll be honest with you: it costs however much you budget for it. If you want to go the cheap route, it’s quite easy to find a virtual assistant that operates from a country with a low cost of living. For $6/hour, they’ll take care of your basic admin needs. That doesn’t sound like a bad investment, right?

But there’s a caveat to this solution. And as a sales professional, you’re more aware of it than anyone else. Here goes: You get what you pay for!

Yes, paying so little for VA services might seem like the best bet in the short-term. But hiring somebody who doesn’t understand how the market operates in your country, or the right way to communicate with leads, can be a recipe for disaster.

That’s why we recommend that you work with a VA who is familiar with the way business is conducted in your country. If you’re in the United States, a specialized real estate virtual assistant can charge between $25-50/hour.

If you think the time that you free up is worth more than that, then go ahead and hire that VA.

Legal Considerations

Here are a few things you should know before contracting with a virtual assistant. VAs are professionals who run their own business as independent contractors. That means that the fee that they charge you already covers them paying for their own taxes and benefits.

At the same time, most VAs work with more than one client, so make sure you agree upon the required availability of your VA and turnaround for the work you’re sending their way.

As always, we recommend that you start with a trial period to see if you and your VA are a good fit and to allow both parties to work out the kinks in the collaboration. A one-month trial period is long enough for the VA to get up to speed with the business side of things and short enough to be able to say goodbye if the relationship doesn’t feel mutually beneficial.

Where Can I Find a Real Estate Va?

The answer to this question depends on which route you’ve decided to take. If you’re opting for the cheap solution, you can find a VA on large marketplaces such as Upwork and People per Hour. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to work with that person outside the chosen platform. Also, consider that these VAs are probably serving a large number of clients in order to be able to keep their rates so low. So don’t expect a bespoke service.

Another option is to do a Google search for “real estate virtual assistant,” then spend some time sifting through to narrow down the results to a few potential candidates that you’ll then have to get in touch with. It’s definitely a time-consuming solution, but one that you can deploy if you have some downtime in the off-season.

One efficient way of finding a VA is having a qualified virtual assistant contact you. Our Virtual Assistant Finder service sends qualified VAs right to your inbox.

What Can I Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?

The answer to this question is up to you. Obviously, you shouldn’t delegate tasks that are crucial for your business, such as meeting with clients or signing contracts. But there are some high-ROI things that are better left to a VA. Here are a few examples:

Creating or updating online listings

According to the Real Estate in a Digital Age report released by National Association of Realtors, 94 percent of millennials and 84 percent of baby boomers looked online when they were shopping for a home. Long gone are the days when just papering your neighborhood with fliers or placing an ad in the local newspaper were the main sale drivers. Now it’s all about getting your listings online and getting them there fast. But between uploading a new listing to MLS, adding it to your website, and promoting it on social media, this can be a really time-consuming process. Outsourcing listing management to a VA will free up your time for the face-to-face client interactions that this business is based on.

Furthermore, a 2016 study commissioned by Redfin found that almost 20 percent of homebuyers are making offers on homes without ever seeing them in person. Buyers of high-end homes were twice as likely to have made offers on homes sight unseen. This type of buyers are relying on well-crafted home listings and impeccable photography to make a purchasing decision. Here’s where an experienced real estate virtual assistant can help you create and update your online listings in a timely fashion.

Social media management

Social media can be an exceptionally powerful marketing tool and an excellent way to connect with leads. Posting on social media can also help you build authority and gain the trust of potential clients, even when they don’t yet know whether they need your services or not. At the same time, the ROI is not directly measurable, and being constantly present on social media can turn into a time drain.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 74 percent of female realtors are active on social media compared to only 66 percent of male realtors (with Facebook and LinkedIn being the most popular platforms). When your clients are hanging out on social media, promoting on their channels of choice seems like a no-brainer.

A real estate VA can help you promote your current listings on social media. But in order to position yourself as an authority in the field – and in your geographical location – your social media channels shouldn’t just focus on self-promotion. A professional VA will help you curate content about your local market and national real estate trends. Your social media channels can also include tips on how to most efficiently buy and sell a property, as well as lifestyle tips for your target demographics.

Whether they’re helping you put your marketing strategy on auto-pilot or helping you manage the day-to-day posting and follower interaction, outsourcing social media to a VA will put you back in control of your schedule.

Lead generation

If you think that posting your listings on social media and website is where the magic happens, well, you might want to reconsider it. Yes, you may have a lot of followers on Facebook and get a lot of likes on Instagram, but these people might not be on the market for the services of a realtor … just yet.

If you want to connect with warm leads, you need to create an email marketing strategy. Once people land on your website and your social channels, they next thing you should do is invite them to join your mailing list, or subscribe to your newsletter.

What’s the difference between the two?

A newsletter is less personal, and the same version goes out to every subscriber. It can inform your subscribers about the current listings you have on the market, or about local buying and selling trends.

On the other hand, a personalized email campaign is your chance to connect directly with your leads and convert them into clients. According to Hubspot, there are ten types of emails that you can send to your subscribers, depending on where they are in their customer journey – are they just prospecting the market, in the middle of the buying/selling process or have they just completed a transaction?

A real estate VA can help you take care of both of these pieces of the marketing puzzle – email marketing and newsletter delivery.

Calendar management

Forgetting to show up to a client appointment is THE ultimate nightmare scenario that plagues a realtor’s dreams. Imagine putting your whole energy into getting listings and organizing showings, only to end up missing the appointment or showing up at the wrong time or the wrong place.

Here’s where a real-estate VA can step in to make sure your calendar is clearly organized in the most efficient way possible – after all, driving all the way across town every two hours is not exactly the best use of your time.

And meeting with clients are not the only appointments you have to coordinate. Booking the right photographers and videographers, meeting with other agents, underwriters, notaries, and sales departments – it’s a fine balancing act that never stops. On top of that, you have to deal with cancellations and rescheduling, as well as no-shows.

A virtual assistant is well-versed in setting up systems to manage your appointments, either using a simple calendar – such as Google, or a more sophisticated solution such as Calendly or Cronofy.

Creating graphics and promotional material

Visual appeal and nice imagery play a crucial part in selling properties. There’s no excuse for not having well-designed graphics to go with your listings and your social media promotions. This is where you cannot skimp on quality.

Hiring a graphic designer might be too expensive, but a specialized virtual assistant with an eye for creating aesthetically pleasing graphics is the way to go. What do we mean when we say graphics? Here are just a few examples of graphics that you can publish online: infographics (here’s an example), Instagram images (like the one below), Facebook covers (such as this one).

Developing the skill to create professional-looking visual elements takes a lot of time and practice. After all, you don’t want your promotional materials to look like a mattress liquidation flyer from the ‘90s. And you’re in the business of selling property, not in the business of graphic design.

When you outsource visual content creation to a VA, you can agree either on packages (for example, 20 graphics a month) or on hourly rates (for example, your VA will be available 5 hours every week to handle your graphic design requests).

Conclusion

These are just a few of the roles that a VA can play in your business. It’s really up to you to customize your virtual assistant’s role in a way that makes the most sense in order to achieve your business goals.

Still not sure if you need a virtual assistant?

Here’s what you can do: at the end of every workday this week, write down a list of tasks that you could have outsourced to a VA instead of doing them yourself. By the end of the week, you’ll have a clearer picture of how much time and effort a VA will save you.

Bonus step: post your list in the comments below.

The post Grow Your Real Estate Business with a Virtual Assistant appeared first on Horkey HandBook.

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