As an artist participating in Art Festivals there is a lot of clerical work to keep up with. From applications for the art festivals, website updates, social media and other marketing materials you can find yourself spending more time on the administrative side of your business than you would like. If you want to streamline your business and get back to what you love to do, creating the art, it is time to think about delegating some of the clerical responsibilities. In the past hiring an assistant involved dealing with all of the headaches of employment, benefits, labor laws having a space for your assistant and paying the employee whether you had the work or not. Another option became available with the advances in communication and the internet, the virtual assistant.
A virtual assistant works out of their own home office and uses modern technology to communicate with you and share information. You can hire them to do just the tasks that you really need help with and control your budget. Virtual Assistants are available to help you with a wide range of tasks from accounting, social media, research, marketing and more. To get started utilizing a virtual assistant sit down and write out the tasks that are taking up a lot of your time that you can easily outsource. For example, you have had on your to do list to research printing companies to print out postcards for your Summer Tour, you want the best price to print 1,000 cards, then you have a bunch of receipts you want to have scanned into your computer and added to Quickbooks, and you need to follow up and make sure you paid your entry fee to the Summer Shows and you want to upload your new photos to your Facebook fan page. Now that you have an outline of your projects you need to look for your virtual assistant. You can research online or check out the International Virtual Assistants Association or Elance. There are a number of virtual assistants who work with artists exclusively you can also look into Merrick Management & Media Services, Moretimeinaday.com, A Virtual Edge. Once you find a few options make sure you check their references, and interview them on the phone. You want to make sure they have compatible computer programs and skills to match what you need to have done. Make sure they are a good fit and if you prefer to communicate via telephone, email or Skype that they are on the same page. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $50 per hour depending upon the project and work required, you can also bid the job on a project basis too. You can try it out with one project and if you find it is a great arrangement for you establish your VA on a monthly retainer for a set number of hours. Many artists are finding this to be an ideal arrangement, they get the extra help they need to stay focused and creative. Have any of you used a virtual assistant? Tell us your experiences, we love to hear your stories!