208: The Pros and Cons of Working with Overseas Virtual Assistants with Helen Ryan


Helen M. Ryan runs a marketing and communications studio. She has outsourced projects and tasks to virtual assistants and support personnel for 14 years. Helen specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses become visible to clients and customers. She is the author of three books and hosts the walking podcast Walking & Talking with Helen.

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Episode Summary

Overseas Virtual Assistant

On this episode of Checking off Your List with Rachel Luther, with the help of Helen Ryan, Entrepreneur, Creative Pro Helen Ryan, Rachel broaches a subject that hasn’t been talked about much on the podcast: working with overseas virtual assistants. The episode begins with Rachel introducing her guest, Helen, who began outsourcing in 2008, making her one of the OGs of the business. Today, Helen runs a digital marketing agency, has a walking podcast as well as a blog for health and fitness. She tells Rachel that she currently uses virtual assistants for research and social media. The subject of overseas VAs comes up when Helen explains that she uses an audio editor based in Serbia, and that when working with people for whom English is not the first language, she uses Loom videos to clarify what she wants and writes out instructions. As Helen tells it, outsourcing overseas works especially well for because she’s a “middle of the night person.” She admits that like a lot of Americans she tends to talk fast and use a lot of colloquialisms, so the language barrier can be an issue. Therefore, to avoid confusion she communicates her expectations in three ways—visual, audio, and in writing, and this works well for her because she enjoys communicating and teaching, which are essential given the language barrier. Helen also stresses the importance of spot checking to ensure the work is being done properly, a process Rachel labels “trust but verify.” Helen goes on to list some more benefits of outsourcing overseas. One is being able to assign a project in the afternoon and having it finished in the morning when she wakes up.  Rachel, though, wonders about the difficulties, especially if the VA has any questions, but Helen says she keeps her phone by her bedside in case and she’s willing to wake up at 3 a.m. if need be.  

Another advantage for Helen of outsourcing overseas, in general, is that it allows her to be creative. She tells Rachel, “The whole point of outsourcing is that I don’t want to sit and do research. I don’t want to make sheets. I don’t want to post the actual posting to the social media scheduler. I don’t want to do all that. I want to create new things.” For Helen, and Rachel, too, it boils down to doing the things you’re passionate about and being able to offer the client your expertise and what they chose your business for, without you being bogged down by the things you don’t excel at that someone else can do better, the “legwork,” as Rachel calls it. Helen then identifies some areas where you shouldn’t outsource overseas, such as writing, project management (especially if you plan on having the VA become a more integral part of the business), and appoint-making. Rachel and Helen then discuss some of the financial benefits of outsourcing. One takeaway is that VAs are not looking to milk the clock; rather, they are more inclined to use free time to build their skills, which can help your business and make them more marketable. The conversation ends with a discussion of some of the ways that outsourcing can help grow your business and help you “take a break, recharge, and re-energize. 

Episode Resources

Connect with Helen Ryan
Podcast Chanel https://walkingandtalking.show/

Further Reading

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The importance of a testimonial

Episode Credits and Disclaimers

This episode is sponsored by Check Off Your List. Learn more about how our back-office support services can help you meet your business goals at CheckOffYourList.com

Music: The Smell Of Success by Shane Ivers – https://www.silvermansound.com