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The Virtual Assistant myths (and what I’ve done)

I have had several virtual assistants (''VAs") work for my businesses over the years. I now have at least 2 full-time and 2 part-time VAs (all but one are in the Philippines). "Virtual" means (of course) they're not physically here. They've never stepped foot inside the U.S. And I've never traveled to meet them.

A VA is not an 'employee'. They're essentially independent contractors. That means you are not required to pay any payroll taxes, additional insurance premiums or benefits - regardless of what country they're in - even in the U.S.

Here's a picture of my VA Raymond with his family. Raymond and his wife have been working with me for at least 6 years:

Raymond (background), his daughter and wife Ryshel enjoying some RARE time off

Raymond (background), his daughter and wife Ryshel enjoying some RARE time off

There are myths about about VAs, (at least with regards to the Philippine-based ones), so let's tackle them:

  1. They have no education. Many are college-educated
  2. They have no experience or skills. I'd be hard-pressed to find a larger pool of educated, loyal and skilled workers here in the U.S.
  3. They can't speak or write/type in English. Many are moderately to fully fluent in English
  4. They can't be trusted. I've given them limited access to my Amazon and Paypal accounts without any problems, ever. Filipinos value trust and loyalty very highly
  5. They are 'slave labor' used by greedy businesses. Although they're far cheaper than American labor, 'salaries' of $250 to $350 per month are totally sufficient for a full-time basic-skilled, college-educated VA. On the opposite end, a high-end FT programmer can earn $1000+ per month and live like a king. (By comparison, hiring a U.S.-based programmer can cost at least 10x as much)

My real challenge years ago re: VAs was finding ones that were already vetted and with Amazon experience. I had to train them myself. But lucky for you, there are services today like FreeeUp, one of only 2 providers I trust.  Services like FreeeUp have already trained and at-the-ready VAs for your businesses - not just your Amazon or eBay business, either. FreeeUp has done the headache-stuff: finding, vetting, hiring and training a VA for you. That's invaluable because doing that yourself that can take weeks to months. I know because I've done it.

Keep in mind the FreeeUp VA is not 'yours to keep', however when you're assigned one, they stay with you. In other words, you're not dealing with a different VA each time your task needs to be completed . FreeeUp is essentially a (trusted) VA marketplace with 300+ talented VAs at the ready.

And all you do is pay per hour for each VA (versus hiring them outright.)

Don't do what I did: I am my own 'employer' so I pay my VAs regardless of the amount of work they have. So there are times when they are idle for hours to weeks but I choose to pay them regularly nonetheless (I'm loyal to them). With FreeeUp, you're only paying for the hours the VAs work for you. FreeeUp is their 'employer', not you! Also - FreeeUp has highly-trained VAs from all over the world (including the U.S.), not just the Phillipines.

By using a VA service like FreeeUp, you don't have to worry about:

  • Philippine Holidays. They don't work on certain holidays, and IF they were your own full time VA, they expect you to pay them double their monthly salary in December (it's their 'bonus' for the year and it's part of their local law and culture).
  • Paying them for idle time. You're only paying for the work they're doing
  • Training them. In most cases, FreeeUp VAs already know how to do at least 7o% of 'what you need them to do')
  • Remembering to show them new processes (see above)
  • Hiring or firing. FreeeUp does that
  • Finding replacement workers. FreeUp does that. In many cases the replacements are probably at the ready
  • Vetting good VAs from bad ones (FreeeUp takes care of that)

In this new blog post, Connor of FreeeUp explains how a VA can help your Amazon or eBay business: jordanmalik.com/blog/virtual-assistant-amazon-ebay/

Feel free to post a comment below and let me know what questions you have or, what your own experience with VAs has been like.

- Jordan

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Ed. Note: I recently wrote about my own experience with Virtual Assistants (VAs). If you're looking for an easy way to get trusted, talented VAs to manage any aspect of your Amazon, eBay, or other businesses, try FreeeUp (one of only 2 services that I trust). Below is a guest post from Connor Gillivan. He and Nathan Hirsch own FreeeUp. - Jordan

 

FreeeUp review

Connor Gillivan from FreeeUp Commerce, a (legit) source of trained Virtual Assistants

Selling products on Amazon or eBay comes with a lot of advantages. It’s easy to get started, there’s minimal overhead, and you can make your business as small or as large as you desire.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages is the sheer tedium. Managing an online selling business includes a plethora tasks that requires a huge amount of time. Even though those tasks are often simple, many require a human touch and can’t be automated. Soon enough, you may find yourself spending all your time fixing broken listings, rather than growing your sales. Online workers can help you solve this problem.

You can divvy up the tasks that are too consuming or that are not within your own core skill set. This will leave you with more time to manage your business and significantly increase the speed of your growth. If you decide to hire overseas, you also have the potential to save a lot of money.

While building my first eCommerce business into a 60 person team generating millions of dollars of business on Amazon, I discovered that hiring online workers was the norm for most re-sellers. Why rent out office space when your entire business is conducted via web? I saw for myself how quickly things got done with a responsible, well-organized online team. While some may be hesitant to hire workers they can’t manage in person, the data shows that online workers are much more effective than their in-store counterparts, at least when it comes to retail. Marketwatch estimates they generate around four times the amount of sales revenue.

However, if you’ve been sticking it out on your own so far, you may not know where to begin. Here’s five areas of your business where online workers can make a difference.

1. Writing product descriptions - The perfect product description can make or break your sales. Forget dashing off a sentence for each item. Studies have proved that longer, more persuasive copy leads to better returns. With a good copywriter, you don’t need to even send them a physical copy of the product. Just email them the raw info, and then watch them transform it into something beautiful.

2. Fulfilling orders and managing inventory levels -  Managing and processing orders can be a tedious task, and it’s a great one to consider hiring out right from the start. Depending on the size of your business, you could also use the same person to maintain your inventory levels. This is an essential task, since eCommerce is a seasonal business. You want to have plenty of product in stock during holiday periods, but you don’t want it lying there forever, accruing costly warehouse fees. Having someone helping you plan in advance for inventory ebb and flow can offer a lot of peace of mind.

3. Customer service - I still remember chatting with a client a year or two ago. He was multi-tasking as he explained an article to me, trolling through another round of customer emails. “Honestly,” he said, “I spend about half my time responding to customers.” I was astounded. He was the VP of Marketing and he was spending half his time on customer service. But the truth is, it’s an easy black hole to get sucked into. It’s one of those jobs that has to be done, no matter what. So if you don’t hire it out, you’ll end up doing it yourself.

4. Reviewing listings - If you’ve ever experienced an extremely sudden dip in sales, chances are you had a problem with one of your listings. High value listings should be regularly monitored to make sure the images, reviews, and description are all A+, and that the price is always competitive. The right online worker can help you do just that. Some issues your reviewer comes across can be fixed immediately, such as price, while others may require assistance from Amazon or eBay...

5. Communicating with Amazon or eBay - I’ve worked with employees whose entire job was just to communicate with Amazon or eBay on behalf of their company. In my own experience, I’ve spent many hours emailing Amazon to revive a dead listing, change a incorrectly-calculated fee, or remove inappropriate feedback. Amazon and eBay are both great sites to work with, but they’re not perfect, and sometimes (read: frequently) you’re going to need them to correct their own mistakes. There’s a fine art to this type of communication, and it only gets better with practice. Done right, it can save millions for your company.

There are probably more areas where online workers can build your business that we haven’t mentioned here, so be sure to stretch your own creative muscles. What tasks are you doing that you could quickly train someone else in? What tasks are you not doing that you could bring in bigger sales? Consider these questions carefully, and then get started hiring.

 

- Connor Gillivan

 

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The Wholesale Formula Review

Ed note: You asked me for help with sourcing profitable, replenishable products for your Amazon business. Below is my review of the The Wholesale Formula for Amazon Sellers

The Wholesale Formula is close for now, but you can get a heads-up from me when it reopens.


Review of The Wholesale Formula (Scroll down for text)

Note: the video review is from July 2016. Since then, The Wholesale Formula and my bonuses have improved even more)

You're here because you're wondering "should I get The Wholesale Formula to grow my Amazon business" or take it to the next level.

The short answer (my opinion) is [click to continue…]

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Busted! 8 Amazon myths (Jason Fladlien)

Review Operation Physical Products Jason Fladlien

Ed note: You've asked me for help with sourcing profitable, replenishable products for your Amazon business. ('Private label' means sourcing mass produced goods and labeling them with your own 'brand'.) I'm bringing it to you with my post below.

You can enroll in Jason's Operation Physical Products when it re-opens

...

I’ve met a lot of successful Amazon sellers over the years. I’ve also met a lot of people who can teach their approach to other people.

Jason Fladlien is one of the top Amazon selling experts (with proof in smarts AND his own performance launching more 7+ figure eCommerce businesses.) His success stories are mired in truth and legitimacy, and his reputation is bulletproof.

Why? [click to continue…]

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My 9 Strategies to Optimize Year-End Spending

sell on amazon ebay 2017

Hi Readers:

As you're enjoying the income from your Q4 Amazon and eBay sales, you should be looking ahead to some simple year end/early 2017 spending and budgeting. Extra money is always easy to spend, but please do it wisely and with some forethought. To help you, [click to continue…]

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My new favorite and free…

jim cockrum podcast

Jim Cockrum has launched a free podcast for you (and its SO worth listening to.) Let me explain...

[click to continue…]

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Crush Q4/Christmas Sales with My 10 Tips

Amazon seller help - Christmas

Even if you are not enrolled in one of my recommended Q4 sourcing groups, I put together some tips to help you make maximum sales/profits with your Amazon business this Xmas:

1. If this is your first Q4 experience, you may have noticed that your sales haven't yet started to soar. That isn't unusual; while most of the corporate world divides the year into quarters starting in October, Amazon sellers consider November to January the "true" Q4. In other words, don't be alarmed if your sales figures are still modest because the real rush has not yet begun. [click to continue…]

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Amazon FBA Restrictions Christmas

This post applies to you only if you've never sold anything via Amazon FBA. If you're affected by Amazon's announcement (next paragraph), remember there are tips for you further down the post.

As of last week (Oct. 1oth), sellers who had not sent any items into FBA are currently not allowed to sell any products into Amazon FBA until December 19, 2016. That also means [click to continue…]

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eBay Seller Tips – Christmas & Q4

eBay selling tips Christmas

It is that time of year again ... the weather turns cooler, children go back to school and people begin to prepare for the holidays. It is also time for all you as an online seller to take a look at your inventory and get ready to capitalize on the annual shopping spree.

Just like any business, you have to not only have products that are demanded by consumers, but you have to be able to [click to continue…]

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Exclusive:

(Ed. Note: This post applies to you only if you sell your own private label product on Amazon and/or if you are souring a wholesale product to sell on Amazon and you're tasked with getting more reviews for the product. This won't apply to you if you sell used books/online arbitrage/retail arbitrage goods. "Private label" means sourcing mass produced goods and labeling them with your own 'brand'. "Wholesale" means sourcing mass produced goods that are already branded by the manufacturer.)

As you know already, Amazon has banned incentivized reviews. In short, it's now against Amazon policy for you to offer a discounted or free product to an Amazon customer in exchange for them leaving a review unless you use Amazon's own invitation-only (=hard for sellers to get into) Vine program.

This has everyone freaking out but [click to continue…]

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  • Amazon’s paid review ban – expert advice (exclusive)

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