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Right Hand: How a Freelancer Can Choose an Assistant

Sooner or later, every freelancer has a period when he begins to dream of his own clone. Excessive order flow is a good thing, but only if not around the clock. After all, over time, working in the “mode of Julius Caesar” becomes unbearable. I want to literally bifurcate so as not to let customers down. Such thoughts came to my mind, and I decided to find an assistant.

So you can not be afraid of force majeure and unplanned trips, – I thought, – because there will always be someone to insure. Just to note that I was not looking for a “team member” with skills in a related specialty, but for an assistant in his field of activity. What difficulties did I have to face when choosing an assistant, and what fears to cope with?

Who if not me

The first fear I had to overcome was the belief that no one would do my job as well as I did, and that wasn’t due to narcissism and overconfidence, but to a high degree of accountability to clients. I expected that customers would definitely not like it, they would understand that something had changed and stop ordering texts.

In fact, among freelancers there are many responsible performers who perform their work at a good level. Plus, you will not trust the assistant with the most responsible project. The assistant is not a full-fledged replacement for you, it only helps with some tasks. And then, in any collaboration, there’s always a period of introduction, something like a probationary period. How well the future assistant will understand what exactly is wanted from him depends on you as well.

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What kind of director are you

The second fear is doubting one’s own organizational skills. After all, if my personal time management is “lame”, how can I control someone else’s work? Do I know how to work with people (with my introversion)? At first, there was no certainty that everything was going as it should. I wanted to constantly monitor the assistant, 10 times to double-check the correspondence. All the time there were thoughts – did I formulate everything correctly, and I DEFINITELY said that the text was needed for Tuesday?

The fears disappeared after I realized that it is not necessary to control everything, and the assistant herself copes well with everything. Of course, there were all sorts of situations, but I stopped perceiving them as an apocalypse.

Objectively and without perfectionism

The advantages of working with an assistant are obvious: he can be entrusted with routine work, which takes a lot of time and effort, and concentrate on more complex and large-scale projects. But to find a person who will not let you down in the future, it is worth conducting a careful selection. I gave a suitable candidate a small task taking into account the deadline – so that there was time to correct the result.

What qualities should you pay attention to:

  • Whether it responds quickly to messages. After all, in case of force majeure, you need the assistant to quickly confirm that he has accepted the task.
  • Whether it asks clarifying questions. If there are too many of them, perhaps the performer has low qualifications (or you do not set the task clearly enough). The complete absence of questions should alert you. But even so, you can get a good job. But this, of course, is a real jackpot and understanding with a half-word.
  • How quickly the performer copes with the task. Delivery before the deadline does not always indicate high motivation – the work can be done in a hurry and with mistakes. Optimally, if the future assistant fits exactly on time.
  • In what form the work is handed over. For example, for a copywriter, a certain formatting of the text is important, it is good if the performer spent his time on it.
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And the main indicator is the level of qualification. I didn’t use the “1 to 10” scale to show how similar this text is to what I would have written. Otherwise – hello, perfectionism – the choice of assistant would last forever. Compliance with all the points of the TK was sufficient.

At the first attempts to entrust the work to the assistant, I had to redo about 50% of the result. At the same time, one wonders why the order is considered fully fulfilled. There were also wordings like “If you want to accept, or not, I will not make edits.” It is really surprising that in our time there are such performers. The text of the assistant I eventually chose met my expectations by about 90%. We worked out the rest together with subsequent cooperation.

A future competitor?

From the last section of the article logically follows another important quality of the assistant – how much he is ready to learn and, let’s say, adapt to you. Some experts believe that training an assistant is “growing a competitor.” I did not have such plans, since I began to look for a suitable performer quite spontaneously, so I expected an average level of skill. Although sometimes she advised to read something or recommended ways to quickly search for information that is not in open sources.

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We had to agree on several technical points. For example, the assistant was poorly oriented in Google Docs, and at first it took her a couple of hours to design one text. In one draft there were requirements for the indicator of water content of the text, it was necessary to explain how to harmoniously lower it.

What this experience taught me

The main thing is the ability to put yourself in the place of the customer, which was previously difficult. Now I know what it really is like when deadlines are missed, emotionally reacted to edits or disappear without a response and completed task. I’ve learned that sharing knowledge is a pleasure. Abandoning, of course, the mentoring tone, narcissism and the format of criticism.

Having an assistant is a responsibility. The freed up time should be concentrated on strategic planning, so that the flow of orders does not subside, and both you and the assistant have a job. Otherwise, a good specialist will “quit” and go in the direction of more regular orders. And if you stay, and you work together, then both will earn more. It’s a double motivation. In order for the cooperation to last a long and happy time, you need to perceive the assistant not as a “person on the pick-up”, but practically as a partner and treat him accordingly.

Shubham

Written by Shubham

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