Business is good. So good, in fact that you can’t keep up with the orders and the inquiries and the special requests. This was only supposed to be a part-time job to generate some extra money while doing what you love but now it’s turned into a source of stress.
I’ve seen people walk away from a successful business because they couldn’t handle the increased responsibilities. This is particularly true for artists who would rather spend their time creating works than marketing, shipping and customer service. It’s even worse if you have a full-time job that you can’t or don’t want to quit.
How do you find not just the time but the brain-space to go on? You hire some virtual help.
Part-time Help for Part-Time Businesses
When most people talk about hiring a VA, they’re working full-time on their business and desperately need that extra help to grow. But hiring help for your part-time business can be a big stress reliever. I know, hiring someone to run your business while you’re working for someone else seems topsy-turvy but it’s actually a super way to grow your handmade business without losing your “real” job or your mind. Not only will it cut down on your actual workload, but a VA can take over the parts of the business you don’t love so you can go back to doing what you do best – creating amazing items with your own two hands.
Take out a piece of paper right now and write down all the parts of your business that you don’t love. Then go through and cross out any items that have to be done in person. (Shipping and photography for example.)
What you’re left with are things that a virtual assistant can take care of for you. These usually include online marketing and outreach, responding to customer service questions, creating product pages, and posting blogs. I hear some of you saying, “but I don’t do half of those things, now.” That’s the joy of a good VA, they can do things for you you didn’t even know you needed, like posting your products on Instagram or typing all of your receipts into a spreadsheet for tax day.
A good VA will not only take some of the responsibilities off your shoulders, she’ll create new opportunities and increase sales. If your goal is to eventually leave your day job and live off of your handmade biz, a great VA will help you get there.
Paying the Virtual Piper
The main reason people don’t hire a VA is because they can’t afford it. I won’t tell you that a VA will always earn for you the money you’ve spent. That could happen but you don’t want to count on that. Instead, think of it this way: how much do you spend to get a massage? On Starbucks? On movie tickets? How much money are spending every month on things that simply make you feel better?
If a VA lowers your blood pressure, gives you time to exercise and relieves your tension so you can sleep, is that worth $100 a month? $300 a month? It’s money well spent.
If that last paragraph still made you a little queasy, try this; outsource one small job that you’ve been putting off for a flat fee and see how it feels. I hate paying out cash for things I could do myself but I’ve learned my lesson. Last week, I conducted an audio interview that needed to be transcribed. I hate transcribing but I kept telling myself I’d get it done. A week went by; no transcription which meant no post on my blog. The cost to have someone else transcribe it? $19. I spend that on lunch out so why the stress? I uploaded the file to a transcription company, paid the money and later this week they’ll send me back a perfect transcript. Stress relieved for under $20.
Think about the task that’s causing you the most pain --new header graphics; setting up an Instagram account; creating a holiday flyer for a craft show. Now go look for single project help. You can find people on Fiverr or ask on social or a Facebook group. There are plenty of gig workers out there who would be happy to show you what they can do for a small fee.
Once that job is done, think about how it felt. Chances are you’ll feel a little nervous about handing over a project to a stranger but how did you feel once it was done?
Hiring a virtual assistant isn’t as easy as hundreds of bloggers make it out to be. There are money issues and control issues and personality issues to deal with. But if you want to grow, or even maintain your business without losing your love for the work; it’s definetly worth giving it a try.