“I’ll have my assistant send that right over.”
Wouldn’t you love to be able to say that? It’s not so remote a possibility as you might think.
Does the idea of hiring a personal assistant causes an involuntarily “yeah, right” response that involves snorting derisively through your nose and rolling your eyes? Are you thinking, “Me? Hire an assistant? I’m barely making any money as it is!” Or maybe the first thought that comes to mind is, “Only Real Writers have assistants, and I’m not there yet.” Whatever your reason for pooh-poohing the idea of getting yourself some administrative help, I assure you it doesn’t hold water.
Before I go any further, I’m going to come clean and admit that I do not (yet) have an “official” assistant. I’m still in the process of working through the details of what to delegate and how to transition responsibility from my vice-like grip to the hands of a capable and oh-so-patient partner in crime. I have, however, worked with an assistant on a few specific projects and am here to tell you that the benefits were much greater than simply completing a long overdue task.
The misconceptions about who can and can’t have an assistant arise from deeply ingrained and seriously skewed assumptions that have no basis in logic or reality. The average person assumes that only high-powered professionals who earn in excess of six figures have personal assistants. We also assume, wrongly, that hiring an assistant is a costly affair that we cannot justify based on our meager (or non-existent) income. Deep down, many of us feel uncomfortable with the idea of being someone’s boss. We also often have trouble getting a clear sense of how an assistant might help us. And, we totally miss the boat in terms of understanding the value of handing off administrative tasks so that we can focus on doing what we do best – writing.
Before I get up on my soapbox in earnest, did you know:
- That in addition to “Real World” assistants, you can hire a “Virtual” assistant who handles your administrative needs via the phone, email, and web?
- That assistants can help you with everything from research to editing to formatting to sending and tracking submissions to posting your blogs to handling technical issues to invoicing and bookkeeping to just about any other task you either dread or aren’t equipped to handle?
- That the hourly cost for a reputable assistant can be as low as $10/hour?
- That many assistants offer flexible support packages so that you only have to pay for the time you need (vs. having someone “on staff” at all times)?
- That great assistants will not only take administrative tasks off your plate, but will help you to streamline your processes and give you tips on how to be more efficient and productive?
Now, here’s the soapbox bit:
If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you first have to take yourself seriously. You have to stop thinking about your writing as a hobby or aimless moonlighting. You have to think about it as a business. You have to learn to call yourself “writer” without wincing, grimacing, or otherwise undermining the statement with some derogatory body language. You have to take pride in your skill and know that it has a value (probably a much greater one than you’re currently willing to place on it). You have to stop using the word “just” as a universal modifier for everything you say about your work (It’s “just” a piece I did for … or I’m “just” doing a little work on … stop that). You have to put an alligator-filled moat around the time you designate as your “office hours.” You have to present yourself in a professional manner in person, over the phone, in email, and on the web.
You don’t have to hire an assistant, but it helps.
It will help boost your credibility and your confidence. It will clear your plate of all those niggling little To Do items that suck the life out of you and the hours out of your day. It will remove all kinds of procrastination traps from your path (you know – like when you should be writing an article, but re-organizing your submissions list seems far more appealing). It will make you more accountable. It will make you feel more professional. It will make you look more professional. It will make you work harder. (If you invest in an assistant, you’re going to feel compelled to “earn” that privilege.)
Hiring an assistant is not for everyone, but it’s something everyone should at least consider. Look at your To Do list. How many of those tasks could you delegate? How much time would you free up by handing them off? How much more writing/networking/pitching could you accomplish with that extra time? What might the outcome be if you were able to get yourself out of the administrative handcuffs and focus on the work that will actually move you towards your writing goals?
Come on, say it with me, “I’ll have my assistant send that over.” Feels good, doesn’t it?
Have you ever worked with an assistant? Have you ever considered it? Would you consider it now?
P.S. The lovely virtual assistant that I work with is Crystal Berg of Crystal B Virtual. She offers many flexible packages, is available for ad hoc assignments, and is always happy to chat with prospective clients about their needs and her solutions. If you’re curious, give her a call. You might be surprised at what’s possible for you!
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who, among other things, works as a marketing strategist and copywriter. She helps creative entrepreneurs (artists, writers, idea people, and creative consultants) discover their “natural” marketing groove so they can build their business with passion, story, and connection. She also blogs. A lot. She is a mom, a singer, and a dreamer who believes in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Look her up on facebook or follow her on twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.
Image Credit: Michael Pujals