Up until last year, I owned my own wedding photography business for nearly seven years. I spent day after day marketing, following up, emailing, doing bookkeeping, and of course meeting with clients and photographing weddings. I did this while going to school full time and holding down a full time job. My relationship with my husband (boyfriend at the time) suffered, I didn’t have any time to spend with our awesome dogs, take care of the house, or cook dinner. I thought I had to be super woman and take care of everything, but that only left me completely burnt out and with a messy house.
The Art of Delegation
I’ve since discovered that the secret to being able to handle a busy life is delegation. Messy house? Hire a housekeeper. Complicated accounting? Get a great bookkeeper. However, I’ve noticed that creative professionals hate to ask for help or delegate anything to do with their business. I was there myself – I had spent so many days and months and years building up my brand and my business that the very idea of handing off any part of it to someone else absolutely appalled me. In the end though, it could have saved my sanity if someone had just told me that I didn’t have to do everything, and it was okay to ask for help.
The Pros of a Virtual Assistant
Most wedding planners don’t have the time, space, or budget to hire a full or even part time assistant, train them, pay them, (and all of the taxes and benefits that come with an in-house employee,) and this prevents a lot of planners from getting the help they need. A virtual assistant, however, can help as much or as little as you want them to. They are already trained, and will tell you what they know how to do so you don’t have to worry about taking the time to train somebody. And because they are working for more than one client, you are only charged when your projects are being working on, and not for bathroom or telephone breaks. Virtual assistants are also incredibly productive, because they spend their time doing the same type of projects for a variety of businesses.
Most importantly, because virtual assistants are not employees, but independent contractors, you don’t have to pay worker’s compensation, unemployment tax, health benefits, etc. If you only need them for five hours each week, that’s also not a problem, whereas if you were to look for in-person help, that might not be enough hours to get someone in the door.
What to Delegate?
Unless you are really ready to get things off your plate, it might be best to start small getting help in your business, and built trust with your chosen helper. Have your virtual assistant work on curating content and scheduling your social media posts, or post blogs for you and moderate the comments. Try having them do research and find guest blogging or networking opportunities.
When you are more comfortable with the process, you can have your virtual assistant move on to answering client inquiries, scheduling consultations, and following up via email after your meetings. They could help you design a marketing campaign, connect with other vendors in your area, update your website, chase down the photographer after the wedding for photos, or send out vendor thank you notes.
More Help = More Free Time
What could you do with an extra five hours a week? What about an extra ten? You could spend more time with your family, catch up on your housework, attend a few network events, or sit on your porch and read a good book.
It is so hard to ask for assistance with something as personal as your wedding business, but the help is out there if you are willing to take the next step and look for it.
What are some simple things you could delegate to a virtual assistant? Please share in the comments!
This is a guest post from Alyssa Johnson.