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SPQ 053: Virtual Assistants: How is Outsourcing Used in a Self-Publishing Business?

Written by Steve Scott on February 23, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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Businesswoman drawing job allocation concept on whiteboard

The Question

K asks: Based on your own experience in getting set up, how do you use virtual assistants in your self-publishing business?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Using virtual assistants and freelancers is a major part of Steve’s business. He does almost all of his own content creation, but he uses teams to take care of a lot of the moving parts. Unless you systematize everything you do, you’ll make mistakes if you try to handle all of these tasks yourself.

If you are successful with your book-based business, you’ll move from author to authorpreneur. Instead of doing everything yourself, you’ll be an entrepreneur who has a lot of help with your business.

It’s a matter of scaling your business. You need to figure out how to grow your business without having to do everything yourself. Steve thinks of scaling in two ways:

Steve recorded this episode the day he left for Africa. His team will edit the episodes, format them correctly, and publish the show notes while he is away. All he had to do before he left was record the episodes and put them in Dropbox.

So how does Steve use virtual assistants and freelancers? There’s a five-step process.

Here are some ways Steve’s virtual assistant helps him with his business:

How do you find people to work on specific tasks?

How do you find a virtual assistant?

It’s difficult to manage employees, so standardized operating procedures (SOPs) help you keep everything organized. Steve addresses four types of tasks in his SOPs.

Figure out the tasks you need to do yourself; then try to remove yourself from all the other tasks. Steve uses Dropbox to manage the whole process.

There are some tools you can use to streamline the process of working with virtual assistants and freelancers:

You can’t do everything yourself. Focus on important tasks such as writing and marketing your books. Virtual assistants and freelancers help free up time for you to work on the most important activities in your business.

Resources and Links

Odesk: Find freelancers to edit or format your books, design book covers, or do foreign translations of your content

Elance: Elance has thousands of freelancers available for editing, design, programming, translation, and administrative tasks

Virtual Staff Finder: Virtual Staff Finder helps you find the right person to work as your virtual assistant

Jing: Create videos to share with your virtual assistant

Dropbox: Share files with multiple people by syncing your Dropbox folders

Trello: Use this tool to manage projects

Slack: Chat with your virtual assistant using the Slack messaging system

Edgar: Take control of your social media efforts with this automation tool

  • Great suggestion Steve,
    I do transcriptions so just a quick question. Do you think along with an intelligent transcript (show notes and resource links as above) if you also had a complete transcript, would you get better SEO love (especially for long tail keywords) ?

    Also, I charge $0.85/min for my transcription, does an intelligent transcript (as above) cost more?

    Thanks in advance and have a blast in Mt. Kilamanjaro

    Hi Gloria,
    Great work on the show notes on the audio books
    Love them 🙂

  • Thanks Russell. That might work as well…. for now, I just know that not too many people read the show notes. But down the road might do both. At this point, I’m trying to keep things as simple as possible. 🙂

  • Semina

    Interesting article! Although I do believe that there are tools that have all the above in one! It’s much easier to have a full collaboration platform to facilitate all the above than have a lot of tiny little apps to do this! For example comidor ( is a powerful Collaboration platform which combines Project Management, CRM and Business Intelligence functionalities.