Can a Virtual Assistant Help My Writing Business?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Time for some real talk. I’m almost 45 years old and have been working as a freelance writer and editor for a long time. Because the flow of my various projects, gigs and responsibilities has always fallen into that “feast or famine” category, it has taken me almost all those 20 years to come to a realization—I really suck at organization and project management. I’m not complaining, but I’m at a point in my career where I have plenty of writing and editing work, but my organizational skills are abysmal, and people are starting to get irritated that e-mails to me are going unread and I’m tired of apologizing for being overwhelmed. 

This is not a good trait for a freelance magazine editor, I realize. Part of the issue I’ve been having with my current job is that I am the sole editor. In other magazines I’ve worked for, I’ve at least been able to job share or have an assistant editor to bounce ideas off or be able to split a certain number of tasks so that I don’t carry such a heavy load. In addition to my freelance magazine gig, I also have a blog, a podcast, ideas for new articles and a novel I’d like to finish outlining. It’s a lot, and I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been the most productive or efficient writer I can be. But I enjoy having different projects to work on. 

I’ve been working recently as a copywriter for a new client, where I’m essentially part of a writing team. We have a leader who does nothing but set expectations, deadlines and calendars and we have at least two short, 25-minutes a week to keep us on track and the content flowing. Because, as most of us creatives know, we could sit around all day chatting about “ideas” and never really getting down to the content creation part if someone wasn’t driving us. 

I was having a conversation with my husband last night, and he flat out told me, “Organizing and planning is not your strong suit. You are a visionary—someone who wants to create but can’t get projects off the ground because you don’t have anyone holding you to any deadlines.” 

This is true. I’ll admit it. I brought up the idea of finding a virtual assistant—someone who can create calendars and timelines for me and make sure I stick to them, so that I’m not saying, “Eh, I’ll get that new podcast script written when I get around to it.” I know I’ll get overwhelmed with external deadlines and NEVER get around to it. I may finally be at the point where I can try a virtual assistant for a small number of hours each week for a trial period, maybe 90 days. If the trial period ends and I finally have a podcast schedule laid out, in motion, affiliate marketing set up, pitches crafted and sent out and consistent blogs written that I can post, this may be the solution I’ve been looking for all along. In every “entrepreneurial” podcast I’ve ever listened to, I’ve been told to outsource the things you aren’t good at so that you can excel and make money at the things you ARE good at. 

Has anyone here ever worked as a virtual assistant or had experience working with one? I’d love to know if it helped your writing or editing business become more productive and streamlined.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and magazine editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at her website,, which is in desperate need of new content that she can’t seem to upload off her hard drive.


Margo Dill said...

I do not, but with the writing podcasts I listen to, I often hear authors talking about having VAs. It sounds like it could be helpful!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I haven't worked with a virtual assistant, but I outsource a LOT of tasks. I would love to get a VA for email since it's my number one problem and one that often leads to overwhelm. Since you work so much on your own, I think it would be super motivating to have someone on your team! If you decide to do it, let us know how it goes. :)

Joanne said...

I've not worked with a VA but I have written an article about them when it was an up-and-coming career. I also know someone who provides similar outsourcing services. I outsourced a survey data collection project to her once after a writing retreat. She's very organized and did a very efficient job.

I'd be happy to email a pdf of the article (it's older and therefore not online) if you'd like to get background on the profession. Or if you'd like information about the person I hired, I'd be happy to share.

Renee Roberson said...

Hi Margo--Yes, it's scary to think of paying someone to help me to get organized, but I figure if I put myself on a budget and start slowly, maybe, just maybe it will pay off with productivity, affiliate marketing and sponsorship asks I can never get around to?

Angela--I've read that there are VAs who do nothing but manage e-mail for people. I"m going to make a list of all the things a VA could possibly help me with and see if I can whittle it down to manageable list that would be affordable.

Joanne-I'd be happy to read the PDF of that article! Also feel free to send me information on the crackerjack organizer you've worked with. That's right up my alley! You can send to me at Renee (AT)

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