Online Work Tips & Best Practices

By Nick Loper

Content is the currency of a writer’s business, so authors need to maximize their efforts toward that goal if they want to be successful. Their time is best spent perfecting their craft, putting the pen to paper (or more likely the cursor to the screen), and writing the next chapter in their book.

One way to really take that effort to the next level is to utilize a virtual assistant, who can help with all the non-writing tasks that go into each writing project.

Here are six ways authors (or writers of any type) can leverage a virtual assistant (VA).

1. Research
Research can be a time-consuming drain on the writing process. Sometimes you may need just one critical fact to support an argument or make a historical reference, but it can take forever to track it down. Instead of worrying about it, why not send a virtual assistant on a fact-finding mission and move onto the next section in the meantime? Similarly, if you’re writing for an online platform, a VA can help find unique stock images to illustrate your point.

2. Finding Sources
One of the best ways for authors to solidify their work is to interview and quote first-hand sources. However, it’s not always easy to find the right person for the project. A VA can put the word out via services like Help a Reporter or SourceBottle, and can screen the responses to find the perfect source.

3. Setting Up Interviews
After identifying potential sources for the project, your virtual assistant can coordinate meeting times and set up a call for you to interview the source. With access to your calendar, it’s one less step you have to worry about. Or, given a set of questions and some direction, the VA could actually conduct the interview themselves, take notes, and report back their findings.

4. Proofreading and Editing
Once your draft is complete and you’ve looked it over, you’ll need to have someone proofread it. As with any important piece of writing, the more eyes you can get on a piece, the better. Even if your virtual assistant is not an English Lit major, they will probably catch some mistakes you never would have noticed. It’s embarrassing and unprofessional to publish work with typos and other errors, and having a VA look over your writing can help save you that embarrassment.

5. Formatting
Each publishing outlet has its own formatting requirements, and it can be tough to keep up with all of them. On top of that, many authors struggle with formatting because it’s not their area of expertise. Rather than formatting your work yourself, task your virtual assistant with the job and you can move onto the next project.

6. Filtering Distractions
Writing may not be physically challenging, but it is certainly a mental workout. And just like any sport, writing can take a while to get into the groove of things. The worst thing that can happen when you’re “in the zone” is getting distracted by an email, a phone call, or a Twitter notification. A virtual assistant can buffer you from these modern distractions, much like administrative assistants of the past played gatekeeper outside executives’ offices. You can set up clear rules and boundaries and enjoy solid blocks of uninterrupted writing time.

While these strategies are particularly helpful for authors, they can be applied to all kinds of content creators. For any readers who fall into that category, how do you utilize a virtual assistant to make your days more productive?

Nick Loper virtual assistantNick Loper is an author, entrepreneur, and a lifelong student in the game of business. As Chief Side-Hustler at Side Hustle Nation, he’s dedicated to helping an army of part-time entrepreneurs turn their business dreams into reality. His latest book project, Treadmill Desk Revolution, extols the benefits of using a treadmill desk at work for general health and weight loss.