As part of my eBay dropshipping business there are a lot of manual, repetitive tasks that you need to do in order to run your store and maximise profit, so I decided to outsource this work and in this article we look at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a virtual assistant.
The main task is creating new eBay product listings, which involves a lot of labour intensive tasks.
For each listing I need to:
• Download, resize and then re-upload images
• Create an SEO optimised title
• Add a product description
• Find the source UPC/EAN code for the product
• Fill out all of the relevant product attributes
In total this takes a minimum of 10 minutes to create a listing and after doing about 500 of these bad boys, I realised that it was time for me to get some help in so I could focus my efforts elsewhere.
This is when I decided to outsource this work and look for a Virtual Assistant who could carry out the majority of these tasks for me, at a relatively low cost.
Finding a top quality virtual assistant is key, otherwise you’re going to spend more time fixing and correcting their issues than you would if you did it on your own in the first place.
In the past few months I’ve hired 3 different Virtual Assistants, 2 of which were terrible and the last one, who is fantastic.
To be honest after the experience of the first 2 VA’s I thought that this was pretty much the standard level, and you really do get what you pay for.
For each of these VA’s I gave fully detailed briefs, reviewed and fed back on their work, but they consistently made the same mistakes over and over again, which was infuriating.
For all of their listings I would have to go in and fix a lot of what they had created and the overall quality of the listings was terrible.
The main difference is that the second VA filled out every single detail that I asked for (and more) whereas the first 2 completed about half of the tasks, didn’t check the final listing, and were clearly just interested in the fee per listing.
As I mentioned above, if you don’t get a good virtual assistant then you will spend lots of timing correcting their work, trying to coach and improve them and generally communicating with them what you want can be a drain on both your mental resources and your time.
Whilst I don’t mind putting in additional effort up front to try and train someone to do things the way I want them done, if they do not progress and repeatedly do not listen to your advice then this is a huge waste of time.
Loss of control
This is more of a mindset change than anything else, but if you’re hiring a virtual assistant then you’ll need to learn to delegate responsibilities.
Whilst it might be hard to find someone who does things as good as you think you do them, you also need to put your faith in their ability to do this.
However, this loss of control can have disastrous effects.
For example, my VA who’s attention to details was lets say ‘not the greatest’ listed a product that was worth £1300 for £130. Of course this promptly sold and left me with the headache of contacting the customer, profusely apologizing and cancelling the order.
Of course, by far the biggest advantage of hiring a VA is that you should end up having more time that you can dedicate to the things in your business that are going to turn the dial. If there is anything that you do, which is manual and repetitive, then look at putting a system in place and automating this. This should ensure that you have a newly freed up source of time that you can dedicate to high impact activities and tasks.
Being an online entrepreneur can be a lonely business. There are many hours that you will be spending in front of the computer on your own, and no-one else from your friends and family will have the remotest idea of what you are doing.
If you find a good VA and develop a relationship with them, then over time you should find that you will be able to bounce ideas off of them, and get their feedback on areas that they are familiar with.
One other benefit from getting a VA, is that over time, you can train them and upskill them to take on other responsibilities within your company. Start them off on low level tasks that they become expert at, and then gradually introduce new activities for them to take over.
In the long term they can even take on the role of training other VA’s in the role they were originally hired for as they progress up the chain within your company!
If you’re thinking of hiring a VA then there’s a few things that you can do to make your life a little bit easier and give yourself the biggest chance of finding a great person to work with:
Create a Sample Test
Once you’ve got your potential shortlist of VAs then I would highly recommend that you give them a sample task to complete, so you can really see if they’re up to the job.
If you have a few candidates to choose from then this can really help you decide.
I used this test recently and it helped me to select an excellent VA for my eBay dropshipping store.
Create a Proper Brief
This can be either a written brief or even better, a video capture/screen share showing yourself performing the actions that you would like them to perform.
You really should try to communicate every detail and every step to them.
Remember that some things that may be natural to you, because you’ve done it for a while, will be completely new to them and they’ll be prone to error so give as much detail as you can to minimise the potential ambiguity.
Download a free copy of my eBay dropshipping brief here
Thinking that hiring a VA will just solve all of your problems and they’ll be able to do everything as well as you, instantly is a huge mistake to make.
For sure they will make lots of mistakes to start with so its key that you check everything they do until they’re up on their feet.
Always give constructive, detailed feedback and with a bit of luck they should learn from this and you can mould them into the employee you’re looking for.
Planning is Key
Once you have a VA on board, your role will be different and you need to focus on carefully planning out their work.
I would suggest that you give them an overall plan of what you want to achieve, but give them weekly targets of what they should be doing, so they don’t get overwhelmed.
This is also a great way for you to keep a closer eye on what they’re doing.
There are loads of sites out there, but probably the leading site is upwork.com where there is a huge selection of remote workers, who cover a massive range of skills.
The good thing is you can choose by region, price per hour, language ability and even check out different tests that they’ve completed.
You can either post a job yourself and wait for the replies to come in or just search for the person you are looking for and make them an offer.
All payment and contracts are managed via Upwork itself… It couldn’t be easier
Attention to detail
This has to be the most important for me, as it gets really frustrating if they just rush through the task and ignore the instructions you’ve given
Good level of communication English
Depending on the task this can be crucial. You might end up paying a bit more for better English but you’ll save yourself hours of pain and communication issues
Makes suggestions / improvements
This is a really ‘nice to have’ skill but if you can find a VA, who has a bit of drive and passion, then you’re onto a winner.
How do I Know this?
• Firstly I took David Vu's excellent eBay Dropshipping course
• Secondly I’ve been doing this for the past few months so have in my eBay store but working with offshore workers for years
...What are your experiences like?
Let us know anything good, bad or funny that’s happened with your Virtual Assistant and any tips you use to improve your working together.