Spaceage for you…How to find a Virtual Assistant

Friday with Friends.

I met Coline Walther online and her business intrigued me. Like so many newbie writers (being an author is really like having your own company), I can’t afford a fulltime assistant, but having someone help me now and then could sure make life easier. But where and how to find someone?

Coline to the rescue. She’s going to introduce you not only her services, but also how to find someone suitable to assist you.

Please meet Coline WaltherAbout Coline-cropped

As a Virtual Assistant, I often use Elance.com to find clients. When I was first starting out on Elance, I had to do a lot of research, and there was a lot of trial and error, learning how to build an effective profile, and write proposals that get results. So now I want to share what I have learned with others who are interested in Elance, or who are just getting started there.

There are many types of freelancers finding work through Elance, but for this post, I’m going to focus on tips for authors, bloggers, and editors. I’m also going to look a bit at LinkedIn, and how you can make connections there, as well.

Elance is a good place for authors to find work. It is also a good place for buyers who are looking for article writers, bloggers, and editors and proofreaders for their books. So if you are a freelance writer or blogger, you may want to check out some of the paid gigs on Elance. It is also a good idea to start building connections with journalists and people in the PR industry, by utilizing LinkedIn

Elance for Freelancers

Building your profile: You want to emphasize what you can do for the client. Make sure your profile is as complete as possible; include as much detail as you can, include your job history, and add samples of your work to your e-portfolio.

Skills: There is a section on your profile where you can list your skills; Elance also offers online tests for several different skills, so buyers can see your test results, if you choose to display them, and how your rank in relation to other freelancers. This is a very nice feature, and Elance does not charge for you to take these tests.

Finding jobs and clients: this starts with only taking on jobs that you know you can handle.

Managing your job:
hopefully when you land the project, you have chosen a job that you know you can handle. Make sure you stay in contact with your client, find out their preferences of how often they want to receive updates.

For the best view of the screen shot, please click here: https://www.elance.com/s/cawalther/

Screen Shot II for ColiineThis is a screen shot of my Elance portfolio, and the link, so you can see a completed profile. Notice the company profile on the right side that shows my freelancer rating. This is one of the reasons to choose jobs you can handle; I know it is tempting to take anything and everything when you are starting out; I’ve been there. But seriously, you don’t want to risk a bad rating or a bad review by taking on a project where you are in over your head.

Elance for Buyers

This is helpful information if you are looking to hire some on Elance. There are a few important things to remember, so that you can gain a good reputation on Elance as a buyer, so that you can attract freelancers who are at a higher level:
1. Respond to questions from freelancers
2. Thank everyone who submitted a proposal; whether you chose the proposal or not. This will help you stand out as an in demand buyer.

You can search for freelancers, limit their search by region, city, or even zip code. You can also specify the skills you are looking for, and look for freelancers with a certain number of reviews, or a specific hourly rate.

The way to get good proposals from freelancers is to put as much detail as you can into your RFP. It may be a good idea to include your website address so that freelancers can learn more about your company before they submit the proposal. Be as clear as possible about what skills you are looking for, and what criteria you will use to choose a freelancer.

Making quality connections on LinkedIn

I hear many people say not to use boiler plate messages when you send connect requests. I have tried it both ways; I did everything the “experts” told me to do. I studied the profiles of people I wanted to connect with, and wrote a personalized message, putting a lot of effort into it, and mentioning something personal from their profile, and blah, blah, blah blah, blah. Half the time, these requests were ignored. I finally said, “forget this” and I started sending boilerplate “Hi, I’d like to add you to my network!” messages. I get about a 90% success rate. Or better—I haven’t actually done the math. Do what you will with that information. Sometimes an expert really is an expert and sometimes they can’t do themselves, so they tell other people how to do, instead.

For all the advantages that Elance offers; the really good buyers are few and far between, on Elance, compared to the buyers who just want the lowest price. Unfortunately, if you are a freelancer on Elance, you are facing competition from both U.S. freelancers, and overseas freelancers who are able to work for a low rate, which makes it hard to compete. I’ve been there, too. The cost of living here is just too high to reasonably compete. This is where it helps to have a complete LinkedIn profile as well, and actively network with potential clients there. This also frees you from the restriction of having to accept payment solely through Elance.

Building your profile

Build your profile in much the same way as you built your Elance profile. Include as much information as you can, fill out each section as completely as you can. If you have an e-portfolio, you can include the link in your summary, you can also include a link to your blog; I did all of these things with my profile, and included an About Me video. My About Me video is not anything fancy; it’s just me sitting at my desk talking to my webcam; I felt it was important to have a video up there, to stand out from the crowd.

Here’s the link to my LinkedIn profile, so you can see how I set it up:http://www.linkedin.com/in/colinewalther

This information is to get you started, and how to build a solid foundation by building a complete profile on Elance and LinkedIn. To be a successful freelancer; keep making those connections, with potential clients, journalist, people in PR, and connect with and learn from fellow freelancers. Keep learning and keep adding to your skills in order to stay competitive.

About Coline Walther Coline is a blogger and Virtual Assistant specializing in Marketing, Social Media, and Team Building.
More info about Coline is available here: This information is to get you started, and how to build a solid foundation by building a complete profile on Elance and LinkedIn. To be a successful freelancer; keep making those connections, with potential clients, journalist, people in PR, and connect with and learn from fellow freelancers. Keep learning and keep adding to your skills in order to stay competitive.

About Coline Walther: Coline is a blogger and Virtual Assistant specializing in Marketing, Social Media, and Team Building.
More information about Coline is available here: http://thevirtualvirtuoso.wordpress.com

I hope you enjoyed meeting Coline. Let us know if you’ve ever hired a Virtual Assistant before. If so, how did it go? If not, if you’re in the market, Coline is available to help.

Happy Reading!
Linda Joyce
www.linda-joyce.com

About Linda Joyce

Award-winning writer and author Linda Joyce has deep southern roots intertwined with her Japanese heritage. She was born in Mississippi, though she considers New Orleans home. She has lived coast to coast in the United States and spent four years in Japan. She married her college sweetheart and now lives in Atlanta with her husband and three dogs: General Beauregard, Gentleman Jack, and Masterpiece Renoir. (Beau, Jack, and Reni.) She’s still trying to convince “the boys” that they are her pets, and not the other way around. Beau in particular is not buying it. She loves boiled peanuts, sushi, and grits. She and her husband share a passion for college football. Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, Atlanta Writer’s Club, and several other writing groups.
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2 Responses to Spaceage for you…How to find a Virtual Assistant

  1. It’s true that “being an author is like having your own company.” Well said. I do some writing and blogging myself, so I wanted to take on writers as clients.

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