On this blog, I share beautiful photos and helpful photography tips – but I’m also big on sharing my personal experience as a business owner. And today, I want to tell you about one of my most valuable secret weapons – my Virtual Assistant (VA), Raquel.
I originally reached out to Raquel, owner of Peachtree Versatile Assistants, back in February 2016 as a solution for coverage while John and I were away in Japan for an extended vacation. It was important to me to have someone monitor my inbox, answer client emails and just be the eyes and my ears of my business so I could actually disconnect and enjoy my trip.
Little did I know, Raquel was going to be so much more than that. It’s been almost 3 years since I started working with her and the impact she, along with her talented team of VAs, have been key to the business growth I’ve experienced.
I’m excited to have Raquel share more on the blog today about how using a VA can help take your creative business to the next level.
If you’re a small business owner, especially one in the creative services field, you might not consider administrative support as something you need. More likely – you probably don’t think it’s something you can afford.
When I founded Peachtree VA back in 2014, I started it with creatives and independent professionals in mind. Prior to the VA industry taking off, there were limited options for support if you didn’t have a brick and mortar building with a desk for an assistant to sit at. Luckily (for you and for me) that’s not the case any longer.
Our team assists clients such as photographers, yoga instructors, designers, musicians – and even lawyers with their administrative and operations management needs – and we do it all virtually. So, basically pants are optional – for us both.
Just kidding, I do wear pants on the daily and require my team to wear pants, too. Not that it matters considering our we communicate with our clients mostly via email, Slack, Asana and Zoom. But it feels like the professional thing to do.
Being virtual allows us to work with clients all over the country. We have clients on both coasts, and scattered in the middle – but no matter where they are located, one fact is constant:
If you don’t have proper support on the back end of your business and dedicated help building a solid foundation – your business won’t scale. Not in a meaningful (or profitable) way, at least.
Below you’ll find 3 ways a VA can help you scale your creative business.
[#1] Creating, Improving, Implementing and Maintaining Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Most of our clients come to us with processes of some sort, but many times those processes are not documented anywhere. The owner of the business typically has all that valuable knowledge in their head. Getting all of that intel out of one brain and onto some documents is the first step toward strategic growth.
At Peachtree VA, we are experts at this. When you start working with us, we take a deep dive into all the processes that make your business go around. Invoicing, scheduling, email management, blogging, executing events and launches — all of these things need SOPs.
Standard operating procedures spare you from recreating the wheel every time you need to complete a task – which in turn, saves you time and money. Having SOPs also allows you to pass off tasks that you don’t want to do or are not a good use of your time. Let your VA handle the busy work or be the front facing admin for your business so that you can go do CEO things like networking, selling and in the case of photographers – taking the photos!
[#2] No one likes a stale blog or social media feed. Keep it current and fresh by using your VA to post often!
For creatives especially, your blog and your Instagram feed are major marketing tools. You need to use these outlets to showcase your work and connect with your audience. A beautifully designed website is a valuable asset, but I can assure you that people are going to be visiting your blog and your social media channels. And it can be a big bummer to a potential client to see that you haven’t posted in weeks, or gasp, months!
Your VA can help solve this problem in many ways. Not a strong writer? Your VA can ghost write entire blogs for you. Do you have the content, you just don’t have time to get it loaded, spell-checked, tagged for SEO and published? No problem – your VA can create an SOP and then execute the steps for you on a weekly or daily basis.
Social media channels and blogging often take the back seat to other important tasks – but keeping them current is a huge part of running and growing your creative business. Let a VA handle those details while you’re out doing the things only you can do.
[#3] A Great VA Provides A One-Stop Shop for Business Owners
A common scenario we encounter when interviewing new potential clients at Peachtree VA is that they have been outsourcing tasks, but not to actual professionals. Or they have been using professionals, but they have ten separate vendors working independent of one another — and they’re spending all their “extra” time managing said vendors.
I appreciate that these business owners, somewhere along the way, identified things they aren’t good at and chose to outsource them. However, outsourcing to someone who isn’t a true professional or outsourcing to multiple vendors often creates more chaos than calm.
Don’t be tempted to go the cheap or free option all the time. Sure, your boyfriend’s, cousin’s, daughter is savvy on social media – but that doesn’t mean you should entrust your professional feed to her because she’ll do it for free or on the cheap. Invest in professionals who know what they are doing, have proven results and solid references. This might mean investing a bit more on the front end, but in the long run it’ll save you time, money and lost referrals or revenue.
Contracting multiple vendors is an idea that’s on the right track, but if you have someone doing your social, a different firm writing blog copy and a completely different firm helping with admin tasks – things can get dicey. These vendors might be great independently, but adding three weekly calls with three different firms can be taxing and a huge waste of your time. If that’s not defeating the purpose of outsourcing, I’m not sure what is!
One of the many things I’m proud of is that I’ve grown Peachtree VA to be a multi-disciplined team of talent – and we have become a one-stop-shop for business owners. Along with VAs, we have an in-house graphic designer and a web/tech specialist. We very rarely have to reach outside of our own team to complete a task for a client, and this saves everyone time, saves the client money and ensures the best possible outcome for the project.
Outsourcing and consolidating to the right VA can accelerate your growth in ways you never thought possible.
So there you have it, my top 3 ways a VA can help you scale your creative business. I could keep going with advice, but I’ve got client work to do!
Raquel Wilson is the Founder and CEO of Peachtree Versatile Assistants, based in Atlanta but working with clients all over the country. Peachtree VA provides Dedicated Operations Management, On-Demand Virtual Assistant Services and Visual Design Services. To learn more, visit www.peachtreeva.com.