Hiring Virtual Assistants for your Amazon, Shopify or Ecommerce Business – Part 1
Today’s article is going to cover what is a virtual assistant or (“VA”), why you should hire a VA, common tasks you can outsource to a VA and where you can hire VA’s from.
Whilst I can't guarantee that your virtual assistant will look like the lady above, I can guarantee if you hire the right candidate he or she can transform your business and free up your time!
In part two, available to my email readers only (Yes you have to subscribe to my email list!) – I will break down recommendations for interviewing VA’s, training tips and the tools you can use to communicate with your VAs.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (often abbreviated to VA) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.
VA's are digitally based workers who can be found anywhere in the world and with the steady rise of people working from home or remotely, they’re more available than ever.
They are workers that can perform just about any business task in the world. Especially those that you’d rather not do yourself! If you can teach it, you can pay someone to do it for you!
VA’s range from stay at home mums in western countries to large sections of an entire country's workforce! Think like Indian IT/ call centres or like in the Philippines where many banks and companies like Amazon have outsourced large components of their customer service.
You can hire all manner of experts ranging from:
➤ Arbitrage product locator
➤ Audio / Video Editor
➤ SEO / Web Marketer
➤ Product researcher – private label
➤ Social media management
➤ Admin assistant
➤ Content Writer
➤ Graphic / Web Designer
➤ Web Developer
It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate that no one person can handle all these different roles. They are not Superman after all! So you must remember to hire for the role!
Why hire a Virtual Assistant?
A VA is typically a more manageable expense than hiring a full-time staff member and usually just as qualified and trained for the job. VA’s can help both businesses built on bricks and businesses built on clicks.
As human beings AND entrepreneurs, your most precious resource isn’t money; it’s your time and energy.
When your whole business starts and stops with you, you cannot afford to be wasting your time or energy on things that don’t demand your attention. Especially as your business begins to grow!
What many seasoned entrepreneurs will know and younger entrepreneurs will sometimes struggle to understand, is that sometimes you just can’t do it all.
There just aren’t enough hours in a day, or days in week for you to get the work done! Cliched I know, but definitely true.
As your business continues to grow this tends to result in two outcomes:
You have to keep on sacrificing your personal time until any semblance of a work-life balance has gone out the window or you end up spending too much time working in your business instead of growing your business.
Either way, you end up feeling frustrated, exhausted and burnt out. The end result ultimately being your business growth suffers!
So your choices end up being to either bring someone onboard and help alleviate your workload or keep working yourself until the point of collapse.
Luckily now thanks to the internet you can hire degree qualified professionals from places like the Philippines and pay them as little as $3 an hour to do these tasks for you!
Saving your business money AND freeing up your precious time. Now you can stop completing administrative tasks and start focusing on income generating tasks.
Often hiring these professionals will lead to a better outcome (time wise and money wise) than you trying to self-teaching yourself skills like developing your next Shopify website or writing your next blog post.
How A Virtual Assistant can help your Amazon or Ecommerce business
But before you madly dash off to hire the first person you find online, you should take a step back and consider why you want a virtual assistant in the first place.
While virtual assistants can be very flexible and just as well-trained as any other employee, you also have to consider the challenges of working with someone remotely.
FIRST, figure out what specific tasks you actually need to have completed BEFORE you start hiring.
Ask yourself, do you need a technical or creative virtual assistant?
I cannot stress this enough: It’s important to dispel the myth of there being some kind of Super VA.
I have no doubt that many virtual assistants are extremely good at their jobs, but they’re still human AND just like you or I, they don’t know or can’t do everything.
That's unless you want everything done poorly!
So it is important to get clear BEFORE hiring, what tasks you need completed so you can hire for the right roles.
It’s the same in the world of online business: Don’t hire a content writer to design your website or photoshop your listing images! After all, you wouldn’t trust an accountant to clean your teeth!
Despite all of this, if you’re still unsure how you can utilise a VA in your Ecommerce business check out some of the skills you can get a VA to complete:
Product Sourcing – Arbitrage & Private Label
VA’s can be used to run arbitrage software scans for programs such as FBA Wizard and Oaxray to identify profitable arbitrage products for you to buy and sell online. Your VA can then sort through the scan data and put those recommended “buy items” in a google doc spreadsheet.
Then depending on your relationship and level of trust, you can have the VA purchase stock for you as well!
Alternatively, you can use VA’s to scan wholesale listings or conduct private label product research using tools like Jungle Scout or searching sites like Alibaba to find suppliers to purchase samples from.
VA’s can be used to complete the often time-consuming process of manually updating prices across different marketplaces. Helping you continue to win the Amazon buy box and make profits faster.
Writing Content for Amazon Product Listings
Hiring copywriters who have knowledge of direct response marketing and SEO will increase the chances of your listings selling!
If you’re unsure of what a copywriter is, check out my recent podcast interview with direct response marketing expert and Amazon copywriter Michael Witcoff here and learn some free handy hints on how to make your listings convert and sell more!
Writing a listing on or off Amazon involves conducting analysis such as keyword research, search volumes, BSR ranks, competitor reviews, trend analysis, researching negative review reasons and identifying the product’s features and benefits – Just to name a few!!
If you don’t understand or don't know how to do this well, you may be costing yourself sales and perhaps it may be time to call in some help?
Hiring professional bloggers to write unique, original content for your blog can be the perfect way of driving traffic to your Shopify website to boost visibility and awareness of your online store.
A content writer can help you produce an ebook to bundle and distribute as part of your customer's product purchase.
Little bonuses like this can give you that edge over your competition and make YOU the number one reason for customers to purchase from you.
Graphic Designers And Photographers
A graphic designer is someone who can design you company logos, infographics and other aesthetically pleasing designs.
This is crucial for portraying your brand and demonstrating credibility.
Creating designs yourself, if you’re not skilled, can often result in cheesy designs that tarnish and destroy brand value, instead of boosting sales and adding to your brand value.
Trust me when I say design can be the difference between your website or your product looking like it is dressed in a bespoke Giorgio Armani suit or a cheap rent-a-tux.
Poor images that don’t fit within Amazon’s guidelines will also decrease your sales and cause you to lose money.
Hiring a photographer or photoshop expert can help you create perfect images – preventing any disconnect occurring between your product and your presentation.
Web Designers And Web Developers
Having your own website can help you build a brand off Amazon and reduce your business’ potentially crippling dependence on the Amazon marketplace.
Fast loading, aesthetically pleasing websites that reflect your product branding can be the difference between winning or losing the sale.
Website design and development can quickly become very time consuming and complex.
This is definitely a task that is worth outsourcing especially if you’re not a seasoned designer or developer that does not know languages like CSS, HTML or PHP.
It can save you a tonne of time and dramatically reduce stress and frustration levels.
Search Engine / Amazon Optimization Specialist
If customers cannot find your products they will not be able to buy them. Period.
Keyword optimisation to ensure visibility of your website, product listings, social media posts and blogs away from Amazon can help you increase your sales both on Amazon and through external channels.
SEO experts can help you determine the most relevant keywords to drive traffic to your site, perfect the art of link building between other sites which is essential for the growth of your site.
Get it wrong and Google may penalise your site if link building is not done correctly. This can cause your store or website to appear on page 50 instead of page 1 of Google. Need I say more?
Social Media Account Manager
This type of VA can help you build your business’ online presence away from Amazon. Utilising mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. Helping you to drive traffic from alternate channels.
Often these mediums require you to tweet or post multiple times a day. Hiring a VA dedicated to completing these time-consuming tasks will save you time.
Facebook Advertising Experts
Hiring an advertising expert with a demonstrated track record of sales revenue growth can reduce your amount of advertising spend whilst growing your profitability.
Account Health Management & Customer Service Virtual Assistants
Amazon is a customer-centric organisation, that demand high levels of customer service. If you don't meet their criteria, they will simply ban your account. So this is important! As no account means no profits!
Creating Message Templates
Your VA can create message templates which he/she can simply copy and paste into Sellercentral for sending to customers.
Answering Product Questions
Amazon demand that you reply to customer messages within 24 hours or they penalise you. A VA can easily help alleviate some of this pressure!
Commenting On Positive Reviews & Feedback
Commenting on positive reviews by thanking the customer for their kind comments is another area your VA can help. At the same time, your VA could include a URL or link to another product in the reply. This can drive cross promotion traffic to your other product pages/listings and boost sales and brand exposure.
Commenting On Negative Reviews & Feedback
Negative reviews should never be taken for granted. If your VA has a good customer service background, it should be easy for him/her to compose a sincere, honest, and professional comment to address the negative feedback.
Incorrect negative customer feedback in some circumstances can be requested to be removed by Amazon. While this is another blog post in itself, it is important to note that this is one of the tasks that will eat up a lot of your time but could easily outsourced to a VA!
Creating Removal Orders
At times, you may need to remove unfulfillable inventory – another process that is often time-consuming and does not add value or grow your business and could easily be outsourced to VA’s
FINDING YOURSELF A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
The next step is to figure out where you’re going to find yourself a virtual assistant.
Now before we dive in, I want to make one thing clear. Often a lot of my readers have this notion in their head that freelancers and virtual assistants are inferior, not capable of getting a real ‘9 to 5 job’ or lacking in talent.
However, many workers on the sites below, have simply adopted this lifestyle to give them the added flexibility that comes with working from home. So please don’t think there is anything wrong with hiring people online.
On top of this, it is important to note that a lot of the virtual assistants and freelancers on the sites below are not just from India, the Philippines or other “low-cost labour markets” but are also from Europe, North America, Australia and other ‘developed countries'.
Now, the first choice you have to make is between hiring yourself or using a professional recruitment service who will find you a virtual assistant for a fee.
When it comes to recruitment services like Virtual Staff Finder, you can generally expect a certain level of quality when it comes to the talent pool.
Applicants are put through a rigorous review and vetting process to gauge their literacy, typing speed and other elements.
However, recruitment services can be pricey and might not be the right solution, unless you’re looking for someone to work with you for the long term. So choose carefully!
A list of other popular recruitment services are below:
Virtual Assistant Job Boards & Marketplaces
The alternative to hiring a recruitment service to find a virtual assistant for you is to just do it yourself. Simply place an ad, interview the applicant and hire. That’s all there is to it.
Some of the common sites out there include:
For me personally, I have hired all of my full-time virtual assistants from Onlinejobs.ph which is an easy to use job board where you will find LOADS AND LOADS of applicants.
What I particularly like about Freelancer is that you post an ad and then users simply reply to that ad by putting together a tender.
However, you also have a chance to talk applicants on the instant messenger system, review their profile for past feedback provided by other purchasers (this cannot be edited by Freelancers).
Perhaps, though, the best feature of Freelancer though, is that you don't have to release payment to the freelancer until you both agree that the job is completed.
This way you can get peace of mind that you are paying for quality output!
Now if you’ve enjoyed this article, subscribe to my email list below where I will send part two of this series which will break down my experiences and ways for you to interview, train and communicate with your VAs.
Four Day Email Course:
➤ Day 1 – The Amazon money making system;
➤ Day 2 – What to buy;
➤ Day 3 – Where to buy; and
➤ Day 4 – Scaling & Growing.
Fast Starter Training Videos:
➤ Video 1 – How to make money selling on Amazon;
➤ Video 2 – How to register your seller account;
➤ Video 3 – How to list inventory on Seller Central; and
➤ Video 4 – How to prepare Amazon inventory shipments.