Some might say that surviving the winter holidays is a full-time job!

You have to worry about buying presents, decorating, sending out cards, cooking dinner, and, of course, dealing with your family! The time between the beginning and the end of December can be some of the most stressful of the year. That’s why so many entrepreneurs, and especially freelancers, can get incredibly behind in their work around this time.

If a business is really on the ball, they will front-load all of their work in November and early-December to make sure that their employees won’t be locked in a time crunch come the holidays. One of the ways they do this is to off-load some of the work onto freelancers. That’s great for the bottom line of the freelancer, but wreaks absolute havoc on their holiday schedule. But I have a solution for them, a little trick that I’ve used in the past to help me get through the holiday crunch. I use a virtual assistant.

What is a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is exactly what it sounds like. They are an assistant who you can delegate tasks to get them off your plate. The only difference between a personal assistant and a virtual assistant is that a virtual assistant isn’t actually there. They are working remotely from their home office!

This has many surprising benefits, primarily among them being that you can get all of the little time-consuming things off your back so you can focus on the big work projects that you were hired to do.

Let’s say that in a typical week, you write a blog for your website, put up ten social media posts, and write a digital newsletter. During the holiday season, you will probably be swamped with work and be unable to fit in everything that you usually do. Something needs to get put on the backburner, and since you aren’t about to let down your paying customers, it’s your business that suffers.

And that isn’t even considering the holiday prep that most everyone needs to do. Even if you are buying gifts online, it can still take you a full afternoon to make sure that you have something for everyone important in your life. And what if you want to send holiday messages to all of your clients on top of that? You can see how the work can pile up.

So, how can you fix it? Easy. Just off-load it all to a virtual assistant!

The Benefits of Virtual Assistant
The nice thing about a virtual assistant is that you are only hiring them for single tasks. You don’t have to pay them a regular salary; you don’t have to give them benefits; you don’t even have to train them! This can be a huge relief to your bank account (which tends to get a little tighter around the holidays anyway!)

With a virtual assistant, you just give them a title of a blog you want to be written and they will deliver it to your inbox soon after, thoroughly researched. If you want some changes after you give it a read, no problem. Just send it back to get a new draft with your notes included.

Working with a virtual assistant can be a big ace up your sleeve when it comes to social media. Instead of spending hours writing posts and then making sure they go up at times of optimal engagement, you can hire a VA to do it for you. They will ensure that your posts all go up on time. They can even engage with your customers in the comments if necessary.

If you spend hours every week putting together a digital newsletter, this is something else you can give to a virtual assistant. All you have to do is provide them with the newsletter template that you use and some examples of past campaigns. A great VA will be able to duplicate the style of your writing and create a newsletter that is perfectly in line with your brand.

The big benefit of all of this is that you can simply forget about the annoying details of your own business for a few weeks as you focus in on your clients’ holiday needs. Trust me, it’s a huge relief!

How to Pick a Virtual Assistant
I’ve worked with a few virtual assistants over the last few years and, if I had to give you a piece of advice, it’s that you need to do your research before hiring one. Just because someone has a slick website and promises the moon doesn’t mean that they can deliver.

When researching VAs, you need to look for someone who specializes in the exact areas where you need help. You also want to make sure they offer lots of verifiable third-party testimonials from small businesses and entrepreneurs to make sure that they can bring the “goods.” And finally, don’t feel constrained by location. Part of the beauty of a virtual assistant is that they work from home. If you live in West Virginia, but find a virtual assistant that you love in Florida, the distance won’t matter. That’s the power of the internet!

One virtual assistant who I’ve had a fabulous relationship with has been Jennie Lyon at Jennie Lyon Virtual Assistant Services. She’s super professional, always on the ball, and delivers content and social media marketing that is second to none. I would suggest taking a look at her website to see if she might be a good fit for your situation. She certainly has my recommendation!

And if you need a little help figuring out how to get started with a VA, Jennie has a free download that can walk you through all of the steps. Here you go!

Have you ever worked with a virtual assistant? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!