An Interview with Paula Sexton Hickey (Virtual Assistant)
My name is Christina Deptulski. I wanted to conduct this interview with Paula (who happens to help me with my blog, on occasion, as a virtual assistant (VA)) because I understand it is difficult to decide if and when to hire a VA. Also, I wanted you to get more information about what a virtual assistant does to see if you need one or if you are interested in being one.
Paula Sexton Hickey (Virtual Assistant)
C.D. – Please tell us a little about yourself.
P.S.H. – My name is Paula and I live in Tennessee with the love of my life, Rex. Together we’re raising our dog, Buffy, and cat, Smokey. I love reading, writing for my blog, and binge-watching Netflix.
C.D. – Why did you decide to become a virtual assistant?
P.S.H. – I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with my assistant manager job. The company I started with wasn’t the same company I was working for today, so I started looking for alternative jobs. I first considered proofreading and through that, I found out about virtual assistance. All the things I had been doing for my own website and blog I could do for other people and get paid for it. Plus, I would be able to set my own hours! It sounded like a dream come true!
C.D. – What services do you provide for your clients?
P.S.H. – My services include tech and Pinterest Assistance. I do everything from creating landing pages to building websites to creating eBooks under the tech assistance label. For my Pinterest service, I schedule out Pins and apply to group boards on the client’s behalf. I often create Pins for clients too. I’ve also recently started learning video editing, so I plan to offer this service more prominently in the future.
C.D. – When should people decide to get a virtual assistant?
P.S.H. – Probably a lot sooner than they do! If you’re already starting to feel overwhelmed and stressed with your business then you need to consider outsourcing a few tasks. The misconception is that only big name bloggers and businesses can afford VAs but that’s not true. There are VAs out there in all price ranges.
C.D. – What characteristics should your virtual assistant have?
P.S.H. – They need to be a team player. Being part of a team means knowing that your work isn’t just a reflection of you but of the team. You want someone who will be a good representative of your business. They should have a good sense of urgency in completing their tasks and be self-motivated. Also, look for someone who is willing to learn new things and catches on to new tasks quickly.
C.D. – Why do you think it is important to have contracts as a virtual assistant?
P.S.H. – A contract protects the VA and the client. It shows that you’re professional and gives you and the client peace of mind. It can also help cut down on scope creep which is where people want to add more work to the VA than what the contract called for. A contract not only sets clear expectations about the work to be completed, but it will set the expectations about any timelines and due dates for the work to be completed. You should also include info on how (invoice through PayPal, etc.) and when payment is due and if there are any fees for late payment.
C.D. – What can clients do to make the most of working together with their virtual assistants?
P.S.H. – Before you hire a VA, really plan out what tasks you would like for them to take over. I’ve had people hire me and then not know what to do with me! So have a plan of action for your VA. Also, think about what they will need to complete those tasks. Will they need access to certain programs and apps?
Consider creating SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) to get them started. Even if your new VA already knows the program, your SOPs will show her how you like things to be completed.
A brand guide is also a helpful tool to give your VA – this would include things like your mission statement, brand colors, and fonts, etc. This will help her get to know your business better.
C.D. – In your experience, what makes a successful virtual assistant?
P.S.H. – Success is so different for everyone. For me, it has been building good relationships with my clients. So much of my work comes from referrals, and that makes me feel so amazing when I know my clients are referring me to people they know. Success also means that I’m able to make money at this!
C.D. – What steps should someone take if they want to be a virtual assistant?
P.S.H. – I would recommend taking a course. While I know a lot of people have started their businesses without taking one, I think it’s worth it. It gave me the confidence and direction I needed to get started. I also recommend joining some Virtual Assistant Groups on Facebook. There is a wonderful community out there that can help you get started.
You’ll also need a good idea of the services you want to offer. Are there any courses you need to take to increase your skills? Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself!
I also recommend meeting with an accountant to learn about the tax laws and licenses you’ll need. These are different from state to state.
C.D. – Any last advice for clients? Virtual Assistants?
P.S.H. – For clients, remember that even if you hire an experienced VA there will be a learning curve. She will need to get to know your processes and preferences and this will take time. Be prepared to be available for questions those first days and weeks. In time, there won’t be as many questions as she becomes more familiar with your business.
For VAs, be consistent and communicate openly with your clients about your needs and questions. Set boundaries with your clients and stick to them. But if they have an emergency, be there for them! This will win your client’s trust and respect.
C.D. – Final thoughts…
P.S.H. – There really is such a demand for virtual assistants now. If you are self-motivated, creative, and like the idea of working from home (or anywhere) you should look into being a virtual assistant. There are so many different skills that can be offered under this one title. You probably already have many that you can offer.
C.D. – Thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise with us!
P.S.H. – Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview!
Paula’s Professional Biography & Link to Her Site
Paula Sexton Hickey has been blogging for almost 10 years and building websites for 20 years. Paula is a tech and Pinterest virtual assistant who works with busy Moms with online businesses.
You can find out more at her site Paula Sexton Hickey ~Virtual Assistant~.
Pinnable image from Canva
Paula Sexton Hickey’s photo was shared with me by Paula for this post.
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