“No one likes admin, not even virtual assistants, but finding the right tech helps to mitigate having to do it”
We recently sat down with Hayley Hudson, virtual assistant maven and OnceHub super user, to explore the exciting world of VAs, her thriving community and how a little bit of automation can make all the difference.
Interview with Hayley Hudson
- Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and professional history.
Before embarking on my virtual assistant journey and starting The VA Lounge, a collaborative community for VAs around the world, I worked in various roles and capacities across industries, usually in a customer facing role or related to sales and marketing.
In 2019, I decided to strike out and do my own thing, as a personal assistant to a virtual assistant no less, and I haven’t looked back since!
I pride myself on being a logical thinker and solutionist, and I love using these skills to help businesses take charge of their administrative hurdles and go from strength to strength.
- How did you first venture into the world of virtual assistance?
Every business owner will tell you about the wake-up call they experienced that made them take the leap into a new professional direction. Mine just so happened to be a 6.8 earthquake. While on vacation with my husband and daughters in Zakynthos, we were woken up in the middle of the night by the earth shaking and I really don’t think I’ve ever experienced such fear in my life. I had dealt with loss and trauma before the earthquake, but something about having my most loved ones there and having your mind go to terrible places in the blink of an eye was just the most painful and terrifying thing.
In a way, that earthquake was a blessing as it really triggered something in me that made me take a long, hard look at my life and who I was putting first and most importantly, who I was seeking approval from.
My job at the time was just not the healthiest space for me, and although I worked with an incredible team there was little trajectory available in terms of career progress. It took an earthquake, a mental health dip and a lot of support from my husband to get me on the right track to where I am now.
I can honestly say that it was his belief in me that I could make it work that did the trick, and I did it!
- What is being a virtual assistant all about?
This is really hard to pin down and define as a virtual assistant is really whatever you need assistance with at the end of the day. I can find myself setting up clients’ automations, optimizing their calendars and commitments, to whipping designs together on Canva among others, all during the course of a single day. There used to be a very clear set of expectations that came with the position of PA or EA, but the pandemic opened the floodgates of remote work and digital assistance and the possibilities that can arise from these arrangements.
Sometimes you still encounter some outdated attitudes toward virtual assistants, personal assistants and executive assistants. These attitudes usually stem from the perception that assistants are not directly contributing to sales and money coming into the business. This is of course an absolute falsehood, as many of the systems and mechanisms we implement greatly improve and optimize sales and marketing processes.
- How would you describe some of the daily challenges a virtual assistant encounters?
One thing that was always a persistent challenge before making use of OnceHub, were daily sessions of email ping pong. So much of your day can quickly get absorbed by processes like this, where you’re just mailing back and forth endlessly trying to find suitable times that work for all parties. Before, I would receive multiple emails a day that started with, ‘Hi, can you message this person or set up a meeting with so-and-so.’ Now, we have an app for that!
- How does OnceHub assist with some of those challenges?
I am of the opinion that all meetings should be scheduled through OnceHub, as the functionalities for configuring those meetings go a long way in helping you make them actually happen in the first place. When you use OnceHub, you don’t have to go through email after email or try to figure out what goes where, as the system does it for you.
If you need to reschedule a meeting for instance, something that can usually take a bit of time and turn into a whole process, there’s a beautiful rescheduling button that does all of that for you. It really is seamless in helping you arrange schedules.
Usually if I’m scheduling with another assistant, I’ll just go ahead and send them a link to a booking page. When scheduling times with clients and prospects, I’ll suggest times that can work. Some other things I really love about it is that OnceHub consolidates much of the slog that can come with scheduling, like calendar sync when you’re trying to schedule time for 5 people with wildly different workday commitments.
- What are some key features of the OnceHub scheduling infrastructure that empower your daily commitments?
The OnceHub chatbots have been a tremendous help. I use them so that clients can qualify their leads, provide additional information or get their site visitors to where they need to be. They basically help you to sell without manual input, which is a massive time saver.
- Do you have any hacks, tips or tricks for virtual assistants looking to make use of OnceHub?
Personalization is key, and always worth your time. Upgrade your OnceHub account immediately, you won’t regret it! Try not to think of it as an expense, but an investment.
- Do you have any improvements or additional features you would like to see in OnceHub?
I don’t have much feedback, really. Perhaps a slightly less steep learning curve for initial configuration and a tutorial or setup wizard of some sort could help get the ball rolling.
- What would your advice be for anyone who’s looking to make a career change and is thinking of virtual assistance?
Well, the rebel in me says just do it, but I understand that one needs to be realistic about how a leap like this can affect you and your loved ones and what skills you can bring to the table. I would suggest that you learn about what it means to be a business owner and figure out how an entrepreneur thinks. Take a look at your skills and aptitude and lean in or course correct as necessary to give yourself a competitive advantage.
Additionally, come check out The VA Lounge to ask some questions and get a sense of the VA ecosystem. We have the super exciting ‘Confessions of a VA’ series starting next month, so you’re just in time!
- Lastly, what are some of your scheduling pet peeves that annoy you without fail?
People not using the reschedule or cancellation button. It’s right there…
To sign up for OnceHub for free, click here.