The last month has carried some BIG changes for me: I quit my full-time job in Human Resources so I could make my “side-hustle” my “only-hustle” and I’ve started babysitting my sweet 4-month-old nephew twice a week. When launching my website and then announcing I was taking my business full-time, I was so grateful for the outpouring of support and encouragement from my family and friends. However, the more I talked with people about my new gig, the more I realized that not many people know what a virtual assistant actually is!! And I totally get it–I had NEVER heard of a VA before I started being trained as one by my very first client (you can read a little bit about that story and how I started out here!).
I had my little spiel ready for those who asked what I do, which consisted of something like: “I assist wedding and portrait photographers with the backend of their workflows, etc.” Almost every time I tried to quickly describe what I do, I was met with “oh, so you’re a photographer!!” And, in a sense, I am. I am a hobbyist and I’ve started second-shooting at weddings, and I LOVE it!! But what most people don’t know is that the bulk of my business is strictly behind a computer instead of a camera–editing photos for photographers and assisting them with their workflows. So, this “quick” (translation: “most likely super long”) post will be a small breakdown/explanation of: What does a virtual assistant for photographers actually DO!?!
(First things first: Know that there is a VERY large ecosystem of virtual assistants out there who are skilled in very specific things such as web design and financials and coding…there’s a virtual assistant for everything!! This is written by a VA who was trained in the wedding photography industry, specifically, and now assists other photographers and creative business owners. A virtual assistant’s tasks TRULY vary depending on their niche!).
The lovely Katelyn James has often discussed her mindset on business tasks, and has said that there are two main types of tasks in every business–“maintaining” tasks and “growing” tasks. The “growing” tasks are often the passion projects and the tasks that continue to propel a business forward. The “maintaining” tasks are simply what it sounds like, the tasks that always need to happen each week in order to keep a business up and running, but aren’t necessarily something that advances a business forward. While I have helped my clients with these “growing” tasks (such as course creation and newsletter launches) the majority of my work comes from those “maintaining tasks.”
Before I began working with photographers, I never really considered EVERYTHING that goes into maintaining a photography business and what goes into actually delivering the image–which is exactly what I now assist them with: those “maintaining tasks” in between taking the photo and the final delivery of the images. For example: In order to prepare for a wedding, there are hours of work the photographer needs to put in before and after the actual day of shooting. Before the wedding, they need to prepare their schedule for the day of, make sure their online gallery is set up and ready to house the photos, the print releases and instructions need to be prepared, social media needs scheduled, the blog post needs to be prepped (filled in with bride + groom info, SEO needs entered, and vendor list and links need to be added). After the wedding, the images need to be paired for the blog and organized, a Facebook album with the images need to be created, the wedding photos need to be submitted for publication…the process goes ON and ON!!!
These are not all tasks that need to be done by the photographer themselves (they can be done by a VA, like me!!) but they are repetitive, maintaining tasks which have to be done to create a smooth workflow and keep things running! The time spent completing these tasks can add up if a photographer has several weddings and sessions, and takes away from the time they could be spending with their family, shooting more sessions, or doing those larger, growing tasks in their business that they’ve never had the time to do before!!
This was truly just scraping the surface of some of the tasks that I do for my clients, but I hope that it gives a better picture of what a virtual assistant for photographers actually does! I can’t wait to share more soon about work as a virtual assistant and photo editor, and to help those of you who are considering outsourcing!