Welcome, everyone, to Day 5 of "Organizing the Writing Life."
If you're joining us again, welcome back! If you're new to the series, I want to introduce you to guest blogger Sharon Sarmiento, an Online Business Manager whose work "involves managing the daily operations of online businesses and streamlining processes to maximize personal and business productivity." She also writes an inspiring blog, eSoup, and her passion for helping people thrive in their lives through better organization has landed her in the Boston Globe and more than twenty other newspapers.
In addition to running her own e-business, Sharon is a painter and writer who is familiar with the organizational struggles that creatives face. For today and next Tuesday, Sharon will generously share her knowledge and insight to benefit us all. Today's topic, based on blog-reader questions, is:
Delegate tasks to save time
Reader question: What tasks can a writer delegate to save time?
Great question! This is kind of subjective, though, because each writer’s day is different. What I recommend is to keep a pad of paper with you for a week or so. As you’re going about your day and doing tasks, write down anything that you’re doing that doesn't absolutely need your personal attention to get done. This could be managing your email, making phone calls, proof reading, paying your bills, keeping on top of your schedule, buying gifts for upcoming birthdays -- it doesn't have to be stuff associated with writing.
The idea is for a Virtual Assistant (VA) to take as much off your plate as possible so that you can focus on the things that only you can do (such as the writing).
In general though, here are a few writing-related activities that a Virtual Assistant could help with:
1. Online research: This could be research to be included in the book you’re writing (example: if you’re writing a historical or non-fiction book) or it could be marketing research. I've worked with one author who, before pitching a book idea to his editor, asked me to research the top-selling books in his niche, how popular they were, and what topics they were about. He also wanted me to tell him if I noticed any potential areas within his niche that weren't yet being covered by other books. With the info I brought back to him, when he was pitching his new idea for a book, he was able to honestly tell his editor/publisher that there were no other books on the market on his proposed book topic yet. After doing the research, I also helped him brainstorm some hooks and different angles to make his book more marketable.
2. Organizing online and offline marketing for the book: This could be organizing a virtual or “real life” ;-) book launch and all the marketing facets that go along with it (blog, online article writing and submission, public appearances at bookstores, e-mail newsletter). A Virtual Assistant would also be the main contact person to send free books to reviewers, journalists, and radio and TV hosts. A VA could also be the networker who works with venues where the author might want to appear. (See my article on how to do an online book launch.)
3. Managing your blog. Lots of writers are now using blogs to develop the content of their books, and Virtual Assistants can manage the blogging admin (posting, managing comments and emails related to the blog). If you're a writer who does online article submission, your VA can also set up your account at the article submission site and execute the online article writing campaign. (I've got a post called "HowTo Execute A Kick-ass Online Article Writing Campaign" if you're interested.)
4. Managing your schedule and being your “gatekeeper”. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had someone standing between us and the folks who want stuff from us? This is sort of like having a bodyguard :-) except a VA is guarding your *time* instead of your body. When a VA is your gatekeeper, no one gets to you without first going through the VA (except for friends and family, of course!), and anytime you're asked to do something that you don't want to do, the VA politely declines on your behalf. I've also noticed that when you have a VA who is your gatekeeper/representative, it makes a very professional impression on everyone who contacts you. It's like people think, "La-de-da, you've got your own assistant now. Aren't we moving up in the world :-)?" Watch out though -- your friends and colleagues will be green with envy! After all, who wouldn't love having an assistant?
Any questions or comments for Sharon? We want to hear from you — drop a comment, and let's keep the conversation going.
Our next, and last, week's topic (May 8th): Working with a Virtual Assistant, and Series Wrap-up
See you then!
Bonus links: All of the "OWL" series posts so far —