Freelancers, including professional photographers in all fields are increasingly hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to help them with the admin side of their business. By reducing the time you spend on back office tasks you increase the opportunities to create and sell your images or plan your next big expedition.
As a creative person you’re probably not fussed with paperwork, a lot of people aren’t, but not having a grip on this side of your business can loose you money.
But there’s only so many hours in the day and you’d much rather spend them taking photos.
Prospective clients do not know you are camped out in the middle of the countryside tracking down an illusive otter, or holed up in the studio making that foody shot appetising enough for a menu. The emails will be coming in regardless. And if you don’t respond quick enough they are likely to have moved on to the next ‘photographer’ entry on their Google search list. Or perhaps you just get too many enquiries about your preferred camera/lens combination and even sending out standard replies is taking too long.
A VA can monitor your emails, filter them, send ‘keep warm’ responses on your behalf or forward on those that need a quicker response. You could start with an inbox detox to unsubscribe to all those junk emails and create folders for the others.
Client management is a huge area a VA can help you with. Linking with your contacts on social media, sending out proposals, briefs and invoices are all tasks easily taken off your hands.
Your assistant could research, book travel, type up itineraries, call sheets and shoot plans along with manage your bookings if you provide talks or workshops. They can format, update, schedule and monitor your social media and blog posts.
Hiring a VA who has some experience in photography might also mean you can outsource image cataloguing or uploading to websites or stock agencies.
But you aren’t sure if someone else will do things the way you like.
Being able to trust someone else to do this work isn’t always easy but a good VA will take the time to understand you, your business and how you work best. Communication is key to this relationship and regular catch ups should be scheduled where projects and tasks are discussed and detailed. Working with a VA is just like having your own Personal Assistant, they just aren’t in the room with you.
If you aren’t 100% sure it’s for you why not find a small project to outsource as a trial run? Most VAs offer an hourly rate for small irregular tasks, then if you find you love the benefits of being free from the burden of business administration you can always move on to retainers where you book out a certain number of hours in your VAs diary per week or month. If you have a particular project in mind such as setting up a website you could go for a project package. If you are hesitating because of cost it is important to bear in mind that any time your VA is working for you and you’re being a photographer not a PA will save you money.
So don’t get bogged down with mundane tasks. Create images. Meet clients. Sell your work. Build your business. Get a virtual assistant.
*Why not also read my LinkedIn article – 5 Tasks You Could Outsource to A Virtual Assistant Today