You probably already have a virtual assistant
Nowadays, a significant percentage of us already have a VA (virtual assistant) hard at work, curating music, scheduling our day, and giving us traffic updates on our commute. According to NPR and Edison Research, smart speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home are in the homes of approximately 120 million people in the US alone. Smart speakers have rapidly become an integral part of our daily life.
Making use of voice commands, these smart home devices are 21st century digital assistants capable of managing everything from our time and tasks, to our e-commerce business.
Artificial intelligence for the win
Now, you can capitalize on advances in our digital universe yourself on a more personal level.
Software engineers and UX designers have been making quantum advances in technology that simply change the way we work. At the same time, extraordinary gains have also been made in the level of customer service possible through e-commerce business’s digital assistants.
In today’s workplace, much of what we do is a mixture of resources. We have the advantage of using the web and its high-powered technological interface to support human workers at a level never before seen. That is why you are now able to take great advantage of an increasingly tech-savvy hiring pool that stretches around the globe.
Hiring an Amazon specific VA is becoming commonplace
A virtual assistant (VA) is a digitally based worker who can provide a range of support services remotely. VAs have often been considered a superlative solution for helping entrepreneurs stay on top of their mounting workloads. Hiring them has increasingly become an excellent method for freeing up time and keeping operational costs down.
At the same time, the number of people selling on Amazon is growing by the minute and Fulfillment by Amazon has become the way that America sells products online. Because of that, a bustling industry has sprung up supplying Amazon specific virtual assistants that can do everything from pouring through data to help you find your next successful private label product opportunity to providing a tailored customer service experience.
Still, VAs are perhaps most helpful when you assign them crucial yet repetitive tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis. Tasks that you simply do not have time for. By giving these tasks to a VA, you can clear your schedule for other matters that require your direct attention. However, giving tasks to VAs is only effective if you know how a VA’s talents are best applied. There are a number of key areas where VAs can help. Here are the top three:
1. Product and keyword research
The initial phase of pouring through data to source product ideas and researching e-commerce business driving keywords is an ideal task for an Amazon virtual assistant. Consistency is the key in content creation and having a digital assistant to generate a constant flow of curated information, stay on top of your business needs and track progress is crucial. This will allow you to take a closer look at the few special opportunities that rise to the top.
2. Creating Amazon first page quality content
Keeping up with the constant need to refresh content can feel like a full time job. Writing listings, creating powerful Amazon first page quality images and posting to social media are all-important candidates for the attention of a skilled professional. Additionally, our increasing dependence on artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots has increased the need to write clear, concise content.
3. Managing social media accounts
Engaging with customers and promoting your brand through social media is something that can also turn into a full-time job. Now with the advent of Chatbots, that is now even more true. Take advantage of a social media expert and supercharge your online presence.
Specific tasks you might also assign to your virtual assistant include setting up and managing your ad campaigns, handling search engine optimization and link building, inventory management, and customer service.
Why go with a remote based virtual assistant instead of hiring local?
Keep your costs down. You won’t need to concern yourself with office space rental, equipment costs, and because most VAs work as independent contractors, you won’t be burdened with paperwork concerning taxes and benefits. Lastly, the cost of hiring a virtual assistant is remarkably low.
Take a step back from tedious everyday tasks. Give yourself the time and perspective to see your Amazon business from a vastly more clear point of reference allowing you time to not just keep up, but move your business forward.
The entire world has become your hiring pool. Why not take advantage of the incredible wealth of talent distributed around the globe? The ability of VAs to use their foreign language skills can sometimes turn a seemingly impossible chore into a big customer service win.
Finding your virtual assistant
There are several avenues for hiring a VA. Some sources recommend putting out mass job listings. Others suggest going through lists of candidates on dedicated virtual assistant sites or services such as Angie’s List. You can view a repository of potential sources for virtual talent here.
Regardless of where you search, here are some key points to keep in mind before reaching your decision:
- Have a precise idea of the type of work you need done
- Know what you are looking for in a candidate
- Conduct extensive interviews to ensure you find someone who’s a good fit
- Check references
- Negotiate terms beforehand
- Get a contract signed
- Choose from a reputable site like Upwork and Zirtual if you’re hiring internationally
You’ll also want to ensure that you can communicate with your VA in English and that you’re cognizant of cultural differences that may affect communication. Ensure that the time difference between your location and the VA’s location doesn’t pose a barrier to the way you structure your work.
You might find your next VA in the Philippines
The advent of new technology combined with a young, educated, English speaking workforce has made Southeast Asia and the Philippines a nexus for customer service focused virtual assistants.
One of the challenges in the life of an entrepreneur’s e-commerce business is the feeling that you fall behind every time you go to bed at night. With the differences in time zone, your virtual assistant will essentially be working while you sleep.
Managing your virtual assistant
To work with a remote employee, you’ll have to establish an effective means of communication. Email can work, but for more immediate responses, platforms such as Skype and Slack will allow you to keep an almost-always open channel.
To manage your VA’s productivity, you’ll want to implement monitoring software that will enable you to track your employee’s progress. Platforms such as Timeproof and Time Doctor record when remote hires are working and relay this information to you to verify that they aren’t wasting your time.
You’ll have to give some measure of control over your information to your VA to work effectively, but you’ll still want to protect yourself.
Hiring through a respected VA company will offer some measure of safety. You can also configure some of your accounts (e.g., your bank account) so your virtual assistant has limited access, reducing the opportunity for abuse.
When paying your VA, as mentioned before, you’ll want to work out the details beforehand (when discussing salary) and have everything in writing when your new hire signs a contract to work for you. If you go through a VA company to hire, the company might insist on a direct draw from your bank account. When hiring via other means, you’re likely to have other options open to you, such as PayPal and the like.
Empower your VAs with Helium 10
Giving your VA access to tools like the Helium 10 suite increases their productivity. It includes tools that aid in product research so your VA can stay on top of critical issues worth your time. It can also help with finding the best keywords to use in your product listings (along with eliminating keywords that could be hurting your listings). Your VA can even monitor inventory and complete repetitive tasks, saving time and letting you focus on growing your business.
The Helium 10 Software Suite will allow you to gain an unfair advantage over your competitors as it was designed and battle-tested by Amazon's top sellers. So if you want more sales, more time, lower PPC costs, and if you want to discover hidden keywords your competitors don’t use then start using Helium 10 -- the same tools top Amazon sellers use on a daily basis.
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