Monday, February 27, 2017

The Power of One Hour

with guest Heather K. Duff.

As authors, we wear a lot of hats. Writer, marketer, speaker, small business owner, and the list goes on without even mentioning family responsibilities and everything else human beings do. And that’s why most authors would love to hire a virtual assistant. If you aren’t familiar with what these professionals do, check out these two articles packed with helpful information:

Can a Virtual Assistant Help Your Writing Career?  By Laurie Tomlinson
Last Night I Dreamed…  By Tina Radcliffe

If the idea of an assistant to help with time-consuming, mundane, or technologically challenging tasks is so appealing, why don’t more authors embrace this solution?

In my work as a virtual assistant and website professional, these are the top three reasons I encounter.

1) I don’t have the budget for that right now.
2) I’m uncomfortable entrusting my livelihood to a “virtual” someone. (People get scammed!)
3) I’m so swamped I wouldn’t know where to begin!

All of these reasons are valid, and not everyone needs a virtual assistant. But I believe some of you reading this might find the relief you’re silently (or not so silently) crying out for by taking a step of faith in this direction. So with your wellness and overall productivity in mind, I’d like to take a walk with you through each of the above and see if we might find an easier entry to this professional relationship. 

Top Three Reasons Authors Don’t Hire Virtual Assistants

I don’t have the budget right now. 

I get that. You can’t invest what you don’t have, and it would be unwise to commit yourself to something beyond your means. If you’re certain that’s you, skip down to the next bullet (though sheer curiosity about the point I’m going to make here may just keep you reading). 

You can begin with an investment of under $20/month. A virtual assistant doesn’t have to be huge expense and YOU can set a budget you’re comfortable with. What can you get for $20? About an hour’s work, depending on your VA’s rates and the type of work they’re doing. An hour a month may not seem like a huge help, but in the remainder of this article I’ll prove the value of this hour to you. Keep reading.

I’m uncomfortable entrusting my livelihood to a “virtual” someone.

Laurie Tomlinson says, “The top trait you should seek in a virtual assistant is trust.” I agree, and you can read the remainder of what she says on that in her article on Seekerville. 

As authors, we’re not new to the trust game. We deal with publishers, editors, graphic designers, website designers, publicists and more. Before we enter into a relationship with these people we do our research. A virtual assistant relationship is no different, except that in this instance YOU always have the power. Your VA works for you and you set the standards, the deadlines, and the scope of work.

Looking at this “trust” dynamic from the flipside, every day our books are on a shelf—either in a brick and mortar store or a virtual one—we are asking readers to take a chance on us, to trust us. Our promise to them is that if they spend their precious dollars on our work, we’ll deliver a story (either fictional or true) that will add some value to their lives. We don’t know most of these readers and they don’t know us; in a sense, this is a “virtual” relationship. And yet we plunge in fearlessly to share our work with those beloved readers, praying they will look us over and find us a worthy investment.

So while it is a risk to trust someone you don’t know, it really isn’t uncharted territory for us. We only need to do our homework. Research, reviews, and references should lead us to a solid professional of good character. And to continue with the above analogy, readers don’t buy a whole series without reading Book One first. Only when they are fully satisfied do they invest in the next step with us. We can (and should) take this same approach with a VA. Start small. That’s wisdom.

I’m so swamped I wouldn’t know where to begin!

I’d like to approach this in two directions. First, if the problem truly is that you don’t know where to begin, I can’t address this any better than Tina did here. “Put first things first. Know what you're looking for by evaluating yourself!” I encourage you to read that entire post if you’re thinking of hiring a VA. While the most important thing you’re looking for in a VA is trust, the thing your VA needs most from you is CLARITY. Work through those questions in Tina’s post and you’ll be well on your way to clearly defining your needs. This information will lead you to the next step of finding a VA to fit those needs. 

Second, I have a feeling there’s something else going on under this sentiment. So many writers I know feel overwhelmed, and rightly so. As I stated at the top, we wear a lot of hats. But I’ve noticed something about this pressure we work under. Sure, deadlines can be stressful. And keeping ourselves in the chair actually doing the writing can be a downright war sometimes. But it isn’t the work we are doing that creates the greatest stress or feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s all those things we aren’t doing that bear down on our psyche with relentless angst. And this, my friends, is where a virtual assistant can bring relief like a healing balm. Even with just one hour a month



The Power Hour

A friend of mine was building a house many years ago and had a workday one Saturday. She invited friends and family to come help the project along. I had zero skills to offer, but I showed up and was assigned the easy task of driving screws into a wall. I had to climb a ladder and hold the drill over my head. Both of these variables were a challenge for me. After an hour of work and only a few screws in the wall, my friend came to check on me. I was sure there was something wrong with the drill, the screws, or the wall. But she climbed the ladder and drove three screws into the wall in thirty seconds. Zzzzzzip. Zzzzzzip. Zzzzzzip. I was humiliated and awestruck at the same time. I served drinks and snacks the rest of the day and felt very adequate handing out bags of chips. 

The point I’m making here is that it took someone else 30 seconds to do what took me an hour. 

All hours are not equal. 

Although the time ratio probably won’t be as remarkable as above (you’re probably more skilled at the tasks in question than I am with a drill), your virtual assistant can achieve more in that hour than you can. 

It is a Power Hour.

Why? Here are a few possibilities to consider.

Because it is a highly focused hour
Because they are motivated to produce well (and earn/keep your business)
Because they have experience and skills that you don’t possess
Because they actually enjoy doing the things you’ve been dreading and putting off 

Take the Step

Let’s face it. Dread sucks the energy out of our work. And the angst of all we aren’t getting done produces stress that drives us to the refrigerator, the laundry, changing the oil in the car, or maybe even a delicious afternoon nap. It’s crazy, but you’re probably nodding your head in agreement. We’ve all done it. So instead of continuing in the cycle, might it be time to take that step and see how hiring a virtual assistant could take you to the next level in your career as a writer? Or at the very least, power through those time-sucks and energy killers? 

What do you think?

 

Heather Duff is a freelance web/graphics designer and virtual assistant living in Louisiana. Author of The Wrong, she is busy writing the second book in her Kirby Mayhew Mystery Series. She is the director of discipleship at her church and also enjoys serving on the church media team. Heather has a great affection for coffee and good friends, especially when combined. Her BFF (best furry friend) is Murphy, a cairn terrier with a happy disposition and a penchant for snacks any time of the day.

Virtual Assistant Website: http://creativecoachingandmarketing.com/virtual-assistant-for-authors/
Author Website: http://heatherkduff.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherKDuff
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherKDuff


 Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win an e-copy of The Wrong. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.



A grieving pastor’s new beginning lies buried beneath the secrets and sins of Caney Cove’s most horrific crime.

Two years after his wife’s murder, Kirby Mayhew submits his resignation letter as pastor of Harvest Church. He’s ready to pack up his life and move away from Caney Cove and away from the shadow of grief he’s been living under. But a deathbed confession from the ailing Trudy Andrus reveals new information about his wife’s killer.

Did the man convicted of Julie’s murder act alone?

Was someone else to blame for her death?

As Kirby pursues the truth, an unseen enemy fights to keep it hidden. 

Kirby enlists the help of Carson Todd, a local attorney who worked on the prosecution’s case until she was sidelined for asking too many questions.

Only together can they unravel the truth. But at what cost?

116 comments :

  1. Hi Heather. The Virtual Assistant. I guess I'm always afraid it would take me longer to figure out what the assistant needs to do and tell her, than it would actually take to do it.
    But this is an interesting and encouraging post. I should try and take the time to figure out what it would all really mean.

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    1. Hi, Mary. Thanks for your comment. Yes! It does take time to clarify and communicate the particulars of the arrangement with your VA. It’s hard to hit the pause button when you have your own system down pat. Training (your VA needs to know what a “win” looks like for you) and transition can be a time investment, but hopefully one that works for your advantage.

      If you do consider using a VA, check out Tina’s post I linked to…she has great tips on sorting it out. Virtual assistants have different skill sets, so once you know what you need you can determine the who.

      And thanks for picking up a copy of my book! Your Kindle sounds like mine. So many books, not enough time to read!

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  2. I just got a copy of The Wrong. It sounds great. I love murder mysteries.
    And it says book #1! I love that, too. A continuing series with a lead character like that.
    It's probably on my kindle right now. If I can just find it!

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  3. Heather does my newsletters. And she does a fabulous job. In fact, the next one comes out on March 9. Stop by her web page and my web page for more info!!

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    1. Oh, wow! You're right, Tina. You have amazing newsletters!

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    2. Tina, you do a fantastic job before the “work” ever gets to me. You put the ZING in a amaZING!

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    3. And once we finally get past that MailChimp authentication we're clicking!

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  4. Oh, and WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, Heather. Thrilled to have you here.

    Apple Fritters for your day with the Villagers!

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    1. No "frittering" away for you Tina!! :-) I'll snag one in the morning!

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    2. Thank you, Tina. And hello SEEKERVILLE, it's an honor to be here with all of you!

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  5. I've admired you writers juggling all the same kind of things as I do as a non-writer...family responsibilities, outside jobs, running errands or kids to sporting events for school, extracurricular activities, finding time to spend with your spouse, etc! But then you add one extra thing on top of that....actually writing because that's what writers DO! I don't know how you do it, and maybe you don't either, but somehow it all gets done :-)

    I've heard of VA's but never really knew what they did because I've never had to have one. Thank you, Heather, for telling us what one does for authors! What a huge benefit for our wonderful writers :-)

    I'd love to be in the draw for your book "The Wrong", it might even be of interest to my husband! Thanks so much for that and today's post. Blessings!

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    1. Hi, Trixi. You’re so sweet—thank you for your comments. And you’ve hit the nail on the head. “Actually writing” is the priority! When we aren’t doing that, everything else gets out of kilter.
      So glad you stopped by today!

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  6. The coffee pot's at work. Have at it.

    Thanks for the info Heather.
    I'm retired, so it's not a matter of time. It's that promotion stresses the life out of me.
    I'm going to look over your site and look for what you do in that area.

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    1. Hi, Helen! I see you write from the Ozarks. I’m in Branson today and it’s a BEAUTIFUL morning here!

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    2. My daughter lives in Springfield and teaches in Branson for OTC College.

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  7. Welcome, Heather! I love how you said all hours are not equal. That's such a great point! Something I had never thought of. I also really smiled at your point about the VA actually enjoying the work. LOL So true!

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    1. Hi, Missy. Thanks for the warm welcome! I’m so intrigued by different personalities. (Yes, I take all those personality tests!) I’m especially fascinated about how different types of personalities work together. I think great teams are the ones that figure out how to slot people into the work that gives them joy. There is so much energy there!

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  8. Heather, that mystery sounds amazing.... and darker than a cozy mystery. How would you rank it?

    And thank you for being here today. The virtual assistant thing is a great question/option. My daughter is my VA and we had to sort out which things it was easier to have her do... and which things it's easier for me to just handle. But we worked it out and it's a huge help to have someone on hand to do things so I can spend my writing time writing.

    We don't have our system perfected yet, but it's so much easier to pay her for a few hours weekly (more during multiple releases) than for me to go crazy trying to do things all myself.

    Your analogy of the drill and screws made me smile. I'm practicing with power tools this spring to build a couple of chicken coops... I love power tools but haven't had time to practice like I wanted, so that's my spring farm goal... to build these coops (my rest time from writing) and emerge with some better cutting, measuring, nail gun skills than I had before!

    Same with writing... the more we do it, the better we get.

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    2. Hi, Ruth! Thank you for sharing your VA experience. I’ve talked to several authors who have family members working as their VA, and I can definitely see some benefits to that. First, communication is vital. And while family can have some intense communication at times (smile), a family member can usually pick up on what you don’t say as well as what you do. They already know many of your preferences and perhaps even how you like to work. Second, your family is already invested in your success because they love and care about you. And third, as writers we have to shut the door and close out the world (the real world, anyway). Much of the work is done in solitude, away from family. It just seems nice that you can now share this part of your work with your daughter. I’m sure there are some challenges too, but it sounds like you are well on your way to sorting it out.
      And my goodness, kudos to you for conquering the power tools! (I gave up.)
      You’re right. The Wrong is darker than a cozy, but it won’t keep you up at night checking under the bed. (Though, hopefully, it’ll keep you up and turning pages!)
      Thank you again for stopping by. BTW, my parents were from Upstate NY —Watertown and also Wellesley Island, Thousand Islands. I grew up on Long Island, but we always took our vacations Upstate when I was a kid. Loved it!

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  9. Very interesting post! It always amazes me how some people can do a certain job in just a 'moment of time' while it takes others "hours". I believe, like Ruthy said above, that "the more we do it the better we get".

    Your book sounds like a great read. Thank for the giveaway opportunity.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Hi, Cindy. Thanks for stopping by!
      I know we can’t always escape the things we don’t enjoy. Sometimes we have to dig in and persevere through the slog. We often learn a lot in those places. (But it’s nice when we can hand some of that off to a willing team member!)
      Blessings to you!

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  10. Welcome, Heather! Thank you for this interesting post. I've never thought about having a VA, but I think it would be fun to be one. "Dread sucks the energy out of our work." So true!

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    1. Hi, Jill. Yes, it is fun. I was strictly designing websites before this, but realized it wasn’t the technical work I loved (though I always seemed drawn in that direction). What makes my day is being able to help people.
      Thank you for stopping by!

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  11. Hi Heather, I love what you said about all hours not being equal. I hadn't even given much thought to a VA but it's definitely something to keep in the back of my mind!

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    1. Hi, Josee! A VA isn’t for everyone, but it’s nice to have the option if you need it. And there is great flexibility available between the different options, so the arrangement should be customized to work FOR YOU. Thank you for your comments!

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  12. Thanks for a very interesting concept. I look forward to reading The Wrong and I love the cover!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Good morning, Connie, and thank you! I designed the cover so it’s encouraging to hear your feedback. Blessings!

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  13. Great post, my multi-talented friend. :)

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    1. Thank you, Coach! You’re always pushing me toward greater things, even when you don’t realize you’re doing it. I’m thankful for you!

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  14. This post was definitely an eye-opener for me; gives me something to think about. And your book looks really interesting in a creepy sort of way.

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    1. Thank you, Boo. “Really interesting in a creepy sort of way” sounds good to me!

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  15. Great post! I'm not at the point of needing a virtual assistant, but my son helped design my website, and my daughter-in-love took my author picture for the site. I know I can't use them all of the time, but it was so nice to have their help getting started.

    I love the cover on your book! Please add me to the drawing. Thanks!

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    1. So great to have family involved, Jackie!
      I'm glad you love the cover!

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  16. Great post on things to consider regarding time and a VA. I am not at a point in my career where I can justify hiring a VA, but I love how much benefit they can be to their clients. I have a couple friends who work with a VA and this investment has increased their time to do what only they can do: write their stories. It makes sense, when you're able, to hire someone else to do the work that doesn't require ONLY you, so you can be freed up to do the work only YOU can do. :)

    Please enter me for the drawing. :) Your books sounds great, Heather!

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    1. Exactly, Jeanne! You're thinking like a sharp businesswoman. Blessings to you!

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  17. HEATHER, welcome to Seekerville. You have multiple skill sets as both writer and VA. I'm impressed. The Wrong sounds terrific! It's freeing to accept that we don't have to excel at everything when we can hire someone with the skill to handle the power tools or the newsletters or whatever is weighing on us.

    Janet

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    1. Thank you, Janet! We all need a team to reach the goal. And Seekerville is TOPS!

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    2. HEATHER, thank you! Team Seekerville has a nice ring to it!

      Janet

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  18. TINA, thanks for the apple fritters, my absolutely favorite donut!!

    Janet

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  19. Good morning ya'll! Just finished making biscuits and gravy for breakfast and stopping by for my daily dose of learning something new from Seekerville. :)

    Thanks for your post, Heather. I have been considering hiring a VA, but my question was how much they could actually accomplish in what my limited budget would be. You answered that perfectly.

    Having a VA who could put my newsletter together, or do some FB marketing for me would be a huge weight off my shoulders. And if they could do it in an hour or two? No brainer.

    Thanks!

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    1. What? Biscuits and gravy? Awesomeness!
      Thank you for sharing your comments today, Amber. I know it’s a lot to consider, but you should land on a solution that works best for YOU. Check out the other VA articles on Seekerville too. Good stuff!

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  20. Good morning ya'll! Just finished making biscuits and gravy for breakfast and stopping by for my daily dose of learning something new from Seekerville. :)

    Thanks for your post, Heather. I have been considering hiring a VA, but my question was how much they could actually accomplish in what my limited budget would be. You answered that perfectly.

    Having a VA who could put my newsletter together, or do some FB marketing for me would be a huge weight off my shoulders. And if they could do it in an hour or two? No brainer.

    Thanks!

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  21. So nice to have you as our guest today, Heather! I've been admiring Tina's newsletters--so snappy! I definitely need to reread those posts you referenced. You've already got me thinking about areas where delegation might serve me better than doing it all myself.

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    1. Hi, Myra! Thanks for your comments here. Tina does a great job, knowing what she wants to achieve with every newsletter. Makes my job a piece of cake!

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  22. Good morning Heather. I'm not so busy that I need a VA right now, but I can definitely see the benefits. Common sense.
    Love your cover! I don't remember any books I've read where the preacher is the one looking for a killer. Great hook!

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    1. Hi, Connie! Always good to hear positive feedback on my book cover. My sister took the photo and I did the layout. When I was looking through her work, I knew this was what I wanted for Kirby’s first book. Thanks so much for your encouragement!

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  23. HEATHER ... WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    A VA is at the top of my wish list ... along with a neck lift! ;)

    Seriously, I have hired VAs from time to time, and they truly are worth their weight in gold. I used both of my VAs from the past for promotion. I gave them a long list of freebie/sale e-book websites when I was running a freebie or sale and said -- have at it! HUGE help and timesaver!!

    But I am on the same page with Mary on this. She said: " I guess I'm always afraid it would take me longer to figure out what the assistant needs to do and tell her, than it would actually take to do it."

    Yeah, I feel the same way, but I realize now a lot of that is just fear talking. I'm actually pretty good at directions (I bullet point things in 1-2-3 mode), but the problem is I am anal to a fault, so it takes me forever to even type out an instruction email. I suppose I could chat on the phone, but I'd rather the VA have written instructions they can refer to. Plus, I hate talking on the phone. :)

    Excellent post and one I will definitely pull up when I start revving up on promotion again.

    Hugs!
    Julie

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    1. Hi, Julie! I’m glad to hear you’ve had good results with your virtual assistants in the past. And yes, Mary makes a great point. Giving up that time to figure out the particulars is definitely part of the “cost” of adding a VA to your arsenal. But doing that work up front, bringing clarity to the relationship, will definitely save time (and frustration) down the road. (Or, reveal that a VA isn’t the right solution for you at this time.)
      Thank you for your comments. And I LOVE bullet points!!! I do enjoy talking on the phone with clients…sometimes that’s more expedient. Sometimes not. But I’ve gotten into the habit of emailing a “recap” after the call to make sure we’re on the same page. As you said, it’s good to have written instructions to refer to.
      Thanks for the warm welcome!

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  24. Hi Heather;

    In line with the old adage; If you want something done, ask a busy person. You sound busy and productive. I need to start asking for help. Nice to meet you here in Seekerville.

    Rogenna

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    1. Thank you, Rogenna! Glad you stopped by today!

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  25. Welcome Heather! First of all, your new book sounds right up my alley - I like dark and edgey (but not creepy) - so I would love to be in the draw. I'm not able to afford a VA right now either, but I can definitely see the plus for newsletters and promotion because I'm definitely not tech-savvy and graphics and website design scare me. I know what I love artistically, but I don't have the skills to do it so would likely hire it out when I'm ready. And thinking about your "power hour", I can see where setting up small things as well as the working relationship is a great idea.

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    1. Hi, Laurie! Thank you for sharing your comments today. Good graphic design skills are developed over time, like everything else. I was scared out of my wits when I started —there are so many great designers out there, it was intimidating. But fortunately I was in a job that forced me to produce on constant deadlines. No time to be afraid. Had to do the work!
      Just like writing. The fear factor may be there, but we plunge forward and do the work we love.
      Many of my clients started with small projects (Power Hours). It’s a relationship, so you have to make sure the chemistry is there, as well as the stellar final product. Starting small allows you to “test” those waters to make sure you can work well together. Work (and work relationships) should be enjoyable!

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  26. Heather, I love Tina's newsletter!!!

    You're right about the "other" stuff being the stressers in a writer's life. At least for me. The "other" stuff piles up...taking time away from my WIP.

    Okay, here's my question. I want to do a newsletter, but I struggle with getting all the collected emails into a workable format. Wouldn't I have to do that much before I could hire a VA to help with the newsletter? And would you take my text and put it into the pretty format? I am so clueless..and so needy! :)

    Glad you're with us today! Love the sound of your book! The blurb, that is. :)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. TINA HAS A NEWSLETTER?

      Who knew? I think a little graphic of the newsletter needs to be shown on author posts to Seekerville! Lift that basket and let the newsletter light shine!

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    3. Hello, Debby. I’m so glad you love Tina’s newsletter. She’s so great to work with, makes my job easy!
      For your newsletter, a VA will either need those email addresses in a list OR they would need access to compile the addresses for you. That might mean access to your email or other files, so you would need to decide if you were comfortable with that. And yes, I would take your text and put it into the styled format. Some people provide graphics too, others rely on me for that. It really depends on what your needs are.
      Some of my clients aren’t comfortable with the technology side of things so I take them by the hand and walk them through the process…what the options are, what’s needed, etc. I’ve even “graduated” some clients to doing the techie things themselves. They needed help initially, then wanted me to teach them how to take over those functions themselves. There is so much flexibility in the VA world. We’re available to help where needed and no two clients are the same. That keeps it fun and interesting!
      So good to meet you, Debby!

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    4. Vince, go to my web page and sign up for my newsletter!

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  27. "The Fastest Typist in the State of New York Hires a Typist to do her Typing."

    Why? She was a student when she won the state typing contest but now she's a lawyer and her time is worth $300 an hour. Highest and best use. Even if you are better than your assistant, an assistant makes sense if your time is worth a lot more than what you pay the assistant.

    Likewise, if you have a lot of 'garbage' time, when you do nothing or can do two things at once, then even if your time is worth more than an assistant's, you may still profit by doing things yourself.

    My biggest problem with having an assistant is that it takes away my best excuse for not finishing my writing projects. In fact, I have found that the biggest cause of 'writer's block' is having a great working space with all the supplies at hand and lots of time to write. This is when you learn the true meaning of "The Tyranny of the Blank Page."

    I think the best ad for an assistant would be a laundry list of useful tasks that they can perform and approximate price range.

    A Question:

    I'm a marketing person and I noticed that your cover art appears to be very ominous even though it shows a church. The wording 'unseen enemy,' along with the look and feel of the cover, makes me think this story may be a paranormal and I'm not a fan of demons or devils. What kind of story is it? It got my attention and I'd like to read it.

    Vince


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    1. Hi, Vince! I love what you said: “Even if you are better than your assistant, an assistant makes sense if your time is worth a lot more than what you pay the assistant.” That’s a great point. And I see where you’re going with not having too much time to write. Pressure isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes it works a great benefit, as you’ve experienced. The key is knowing the difference between good pressure and bad. Sometimes stress sneaks up on us, showing up where we wouldn’t expect it.
      Thank you for your interest in my book and your comments from a marketing standpoint. It isn’t paranormal, but it does acknowledge the spiritual realm. No demons or devils. Kirby encounters a very physical opposition in his quest for truth, yet his greatest battle is overcoming the loss of his wife and how that loss has affected his calling.
      Thanks for sharing your comments!

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    2. Well Vince, let me share that I started working with Heather before Christmas. She's fast and good and that means great results for me at a low cost. Because I turn in all the parts of my newsletter to Heather and she simply has to glue it together and make suggestions for a better product, my Power Hour is very inexpensive.

      Depending on the month and what I needed done it has ranged from $18 to 36$ But remember I do a lot of pre work before I send to her because I'm anal retentive.

      She deals directly with Mail Chimp for me.

      And I am swamped. March means edits on a novella, writing a novella and writing 20 to finish a novel. So I am also trying to find more things that I am willing to let go of so I can free up more hours.

      It's not easy to let go. THAT IS THE OVER ARCING ISSUE FOR WRITERS. But because Heather is a writer she actually GETS THAT.

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  28. Well done, Heather!

    I'm going to bookmark your page just in case I take the plunge one day.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi, Phyllis! Thanks for stopping by today. Seekerville is such a great community. So many great posts to bookmark and everyone is so gracious!
      Blessings!

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  29. Heather, can you provide a list of suggested areas a VA can help. For quick reference today. Not pricing. I know that depends on the author and how much pre work they do and how much "research" they need you to do, such as formatting pictures, finding graphics etc.

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    1. Sure! This isn’t an exhaustive list but it covers some common tasks an author can outsource to a VA:

      Email newsletters
      Graphics (for social media, website, and other promotions. This includes finding and formatting photos.)
      Formatting and scheduling blog posts
      Content creation and scheduling for social media and website
      Marketing research
      Search out new speaking opportunities
      Gather resources and create presentations for speaking engagements
      Database management (email lists, contacts)
      Handling email inquiries
      Scheduling/Calendar management
      Mailings (Books and other promotional materials)
      Print newsletters (These can be pricey, but effective)
      Manage advertising campaigns

      You could start with any of these areas and expand into additional tasks you deem suitable. Some ideas for outsourcing may not come to you until you get established with (and grow to trust) your VA.

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    2. OOOOOH! NOW I HAVE MORE IDEAS! Thank you!

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    3. Some of these tasks I'd just as soon delegate. Others, though, I enjoy as a break from the mental fatigue of writing. It's fun and relaxing (usually!!!) for me to play in PhotoShop or some of the online graphics programs like Canva and PicMonkey.

      Guess it comes down to knowing what is a healthy diversion for us AND what we can reasonably spare the time to do ourselves and not neglect the writing.

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  30. Good article, even for someone who knows as little about this as me. =}

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    1. Thanks, Aunt Barbie! You're always such an encouragement!

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    2. Barb has written a WONDERFUL book on prayer. She keeps saying she's not a writer, but I'm not convinced!

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  31. Wow, Heather -- Tina's newsletter is wonderful. Applause for you! Thanks for the point about how the right person can help with even a focused hour. Lots to ponder here (and some links to re-read).

    That is a super blurb for The Wrong. Did you write it -- the blurb, I mean :-D

    Nancy C

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    1. Hi, Nancy! Tina does an amazing job before the newsletter ever gets into my hands. She tees is up for the easy score!
      Thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I wrote the blurb. I took a copywriting course and it was super beneficial, especially for marketing. I also have a great writing coach who gives me good, honest feedback and helps me to hit the mark by pressing through those tough assignments.
      Blurbs aren't easy, that's for sure. So I appreciate your encouragement!

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  32. Hi Heather! Great post. You gave me lots of food for thought. I realize now too if that day comes that it is best to work smarter not harder and know what you need.
    I pinned your post and Tina's. I may not be there yet, but I am happy to have a resource to learn from and share.

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi, Kelly. Thanks for stopping by. And you’ve got it…Work smarter, not harder!

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  33. Hi Heather, Welcome to Seekerville and what a terrific article. It is just what I needed to hear because I'm looking for a virtual assistant and you gave me some great insights on what I need to do to be ready for one. Thanks for your post today. Have fun with us.

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    1. Thanks for the welcome, Sandra. It’s been a great day connecting with everyone here at Seekerville!

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  34. Heather, I just checked out your web page prices. Are they editable by the author once they are set up?

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    1. The pages not the prices. Your pricing is so affordable.

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    2. Yes, absolutely. I build WordPress websites so authors can log in and update pages, posts, etc. I provide some initial training also, so you'll be comfortable with how the admin panel works. And I'm always an email/text/phone call away. I even handle hosting (as an option) so you don't have to deal with a third-party host...just me. : )

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    3. And in my spare time, I write books, lol!

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  35. Very interesting post, Heather. Good information to keep in mind. Your book looks really good. Please put me in the drawing.

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  36. I don't really have a need for a virtual assistant at the present moment. I don't have an author website yet, or a newsletter, or social media, or really anything that has to do with that (though I have been talking to my mom about trying to build up my platform some lately).

    Besides, there would be no way I could afford a virtual assistant right now. I'm so po I can't even afford the last two letters. I'm not even sure I can afford the first two letters. Who knew that being author could be the complete opposite of lucrative? When I'm older I'll probably have to get a job just to support my job.

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    1. Hi, Nicki. Thanks for stopping by. I think most writers can relate to the financial struggle at one point or another. Hang in there!

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    2. LOLOL, Nicki! You are too funny. Yeah. Why aren't we all rich??? Good thing we love what we do, right?

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  37. Hi Tina:

    I just came from your website. I could find no place to sign up for a newsletter. Do you have more than one website? How about a link under "The Seekers", where your name is now, "Sign up for Seeker Author Newsletters here". Link could go to a page that has a place to sign up for any of the Seeker newsletters.

    I tried to enter this under your post but Blogger would not let me.

    BTW: "Are there still comfort zones?"

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    1. www.tinaradcliffe.com

      Never miss a new release, a sale or a reader contest. Click here to sign up for my newsletter.

      Here is the link:

      TINA'S NEWSLETTER HERE

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    2. You were on my Gmail site. My web site is
      Tina's Web Site

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    3. However you bring up a good point. I need a newsletter sign up on my Google Plus site.

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    4. Hi Tina: Your Google Plus site is the one you go to when you click on your name in "The Seekers" list on the right top side of the Seeker homepage.

      Are you sure you really want subscribers? :)

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    5. Hi Tina:
      The link you gave to your other website does not work. No such page. Do you think this is Freudian?

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  38. Hi Heather:

    I just downloaded "The Wrong". No need to enter drawing. Thanks for giving such a good price break to the Kindle buyers. I'm ready for a mystery. It will be my next book. I like your idea of good pressure and bad pressure. I never thought of it that way. It's like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. :)

    Vince

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    1. Haha, I guess it is!
      Thank you, Vince. I hope you enjoy the book!

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  39. What a fascinating post! I have been intrigued by the idea of a VA, but never really understood the concept. The idea of having someone else to do the newsletters and help revamp my website is a tempting one.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing your comments, Dana!

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  40. Interesting post, Heather. As a reader, I'm amazed at ALL that goes on behind the scenes.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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  41. Heather, thank you for spending the day with us. This was an eye opening experience.

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    1. Thank you SO much...this was fun! What a great group. : )

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  42. Thank you again for a great article :) Been thinking about you all day!
    Heather, as a VA ... 1) can you set up a website for a client and teach the client how to update it? 2) Have you ever set up a website that had a separate membership for forums? For example, the main thing would be a public website but there's a separate member only section with forums and extra content (classes, downloads etc)? It might need to be two websites? You probably know more than I do! I know what I envision as the final product but have no idea how to take it from my ideas to something useful for clients.
    Thank you :)

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    1. Hi, Phyllis. I actually started as a web designer, then branched out into VA work. So yes, I design websites and teach my clients how to update them (if they want to handle that themselves).

      I haven’t set up a membership site but I’ve considered building one for my own business so I’ve done some research on it. At the time, it wasn’t cost effective for me…there are expenses with a membership site that a basic website doesn’t have. Depending on what you want to do, there are ways to get around the development and maintenance costs of a membership site by using existing third-party platforms and services, and linking those to your existing website. For example, you can make your classes available somewhere like Udemy. They have tools to help you create and market video courses. I haven’t done enough research on Udemy to recommend them, but I do have a friend who has benefitted from taking some courses there. I offer that as one example of how you can monetize without the huge investment up front.

      Personally, I was looking at using Rainmaker Platform (http://rainmakerplatform.com/) for a membership site because I’ve worked with their StudioPress themes for years. I’d love to put all those tools to work!

      Thanks for getting back in touch with me. Hope this helps. I know it’s a lot to consider, with so many options. I’d be happy to chat anytime.

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  43. This is a new subject matter for me. However, it sounds like the stuff that scares me from indie is that there are certain things I'd rather leave in the hands of others instead of doing it on my own.

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    1. Hi, Walt. A VA is just a helping hand, doing the "other" stuff writers need to do. Virtual assistants are used by traditionally published authors too. It's not a necessity (though some may feel they couldn't get along without one). Just one way to free up some time and head space for writing. Thanks for reading!

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  44. Hi Heather! Sorry to be stopping by so late, but I just got home. Truly interesting post, thank you!

    Tina, I signed up for your newsletter but I never have received one, and it's not in my spam folder. Should I try a different email address?

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    1. If you didn't respond to the confirmation email you may not have been added. I just manually added you.

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  45. I'm a writer and a VA too, and I totally agree with you. We can help so many writers who just don't have the time or energy to do tasks that take them away from writing. Now I need a VA, haha!

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    1. Haha! I know what you mean. Thanks, Sherri!

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  46. Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful response, Heather!

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  47. Heather, thanks for this encouraging post. I value my VA beyond descriptive words or monetary amount. Number one, I call her friend and we pray for one another. Two, are the skills she has, and naturally, the time she saves me.

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    1. That's wonderful, LoRee. It's great that you support and appreciate one another. She's your Valuable Assistant. 😉
      And prayer is a fruitful blessing for both of you!

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