Frequently Asked Questions

Free up valuable time when you delegate your administrative and marketing tasks to a Don't Panic virtual assistant! We get a lot of questions, and understandably so. Working with a virtual assistant is a new frontier for most people... kind of like launching a rocket into outer space. We've done our best to answer some of our most frequently asked questions from clients and potential clients here. Check them out and, of course, we are always open to other questions. Just shoot them our way by sending us an email.

GENERAL

How can we work together?

Don't Panic offers a highly personalized (and, dare we say, highly awesome) administrative and marketing execution service.

First, we work with you on your Panic Proof Blueprint. We learn everything about you and your business. What are your favorite parts? What do you wish you could spend more time doing? We make your goals and dreams our goals and dreams.

From there, we work diligently to match you with the best possible virtual assistant who will meet your business's needs and with whom you can communicate effectively. We offer lots of different services, from administrative support to content creation to podcast production and more.

What do you do?

We create customized support packages for our clients that fill the gap when they don't have enough time or resources to get things done. If you aren’t looking to hire a full-time employee but still need help with a variety of business-related tasks, we're the virtual assistants for you! We also provide flexible and fulfilling careers for work-at-home parents, actors, chefs, gardeners, and anyone else who wants to make a difference while living their best life.

How does this work?

If you’ve been on the hunt for a single freelancer with a pretty varied skill set (like audio editing for your podcast, calendar management for your meeting schedule, and blog writing to boot) you may be coming up blank. At Don't Panic Management, we have developed a proven process that matches you with a virtual assistant (or assistants) who specialize in the skills you need for a fraction of the cost of hiring for each individual skill yourself.

First, we walk you through the Panic Proof Blueprint. We learn everything about you and your business. What are your favorite parts? What do you wish you could spend more time doing? We make your goals and dreams our goals and dreams.

From there, we personally match you with a VA from our team that has the right skills and personality to work alongside you and your business. Assuming we all feel like we've made a great match, it's off to the races! You'll work primarily with the team members we've assigned to your business, but you'll always have access to the rest of our squad during emergencies.

What can I ask you to do for me?

Anything listed on our services page. But it doesn’t stop there, so feel free to ask about something specific you need help with. There are other things we may be able to take care of that aren’t listed simply because they’re a bit more obscure. The only jobs we shy away from are strategy-based thinking and things that require someone to be available on a full-time basis. Scroll down to the bottom of the services page for a more in-depth answer as to what we don’t do.

What if I am so busy that I don’t have time to dedicate to train you?

We’ve been around long enough to know we can’t be successful if you don’t have time to set us up with the training, deadlines, and preferences you expect. If you need 5,000 words of content written but can’t give us any guidelines or descriptions of the topics at hand, then we’re probably not going to do a great job meeting your expectations. In short, if you don’t have at least one to two hours to dedicate to training in the first week of working with us, it’s not the right time to start a new contract. But if you can set aside a few hours to help us hit the ground running, we'll do our best to knock it out of the park.

What if I need a full-time assistant?

Then you're in the wrong place, sorry! We love sharing our assistants’ awesome skills and expertise with you and helping them to become an integrated member of both our teams, but Don't Panic Management isn't in the business of helping you hire full-time employees.

What is your minimum contract?

When you sign a contract, we ask that you stick with us for at least three months. This is the normal amount of time we expect to develop strong processes and start to maintain a “well-oiled machine” with a virtual assistant. After that, our contract is month-to-month and you can cancel at any time with 30 days' written notice. We have a minimum retainer of five hours (or the deliverable equivalent) per week. This gives your assistant at least an hour per day to work and is the minimum amount of time we find we need to be successful and make an impact on your to-do list.

How much time do new clients usually start with?

We love to start small and grow with you as we develop trust and a good working relationship. We have a minimum retainer of five hours (or the deliverable equivalent) per week. Many clients start with the minimum amount and find themselves doubling or even tripling that time as the weeks and years go by!

What if I want to add services to my contract?

We love that! The first step is to hop on a quick phone call to flesh out the type of work you’d like to add on. We’ll work to either get your current assistant on board or to add a new assistant to your team if your current one doesn’t have the skills required to meet your new needs.

If multiple assistants are assigned to your contract, they will work in conjunction with one another behind the scenes. Our full-time team will manage all processes between the two and provide you with a single point of contact so that you don’t need to worry about adding more stress to your plate!

I know you like to provide custom packages, but can you give me a general idea of your rate structure and fee schedule?

We work on a monthly retainer that's based on an estimated number of hours per week and we invoice for the month on the first (or first Monday) of every month. Each invoice is due upon receipt, with a 10% late fee after 30 days of non-payment. Another point to be aware of, we calculate our monthly rates based on a 52-week calendar instead of four weeks per month, which means that you’ll never run out of time or have a lapse in service in a month that has five full weeks. As for our rates, those vary according to service type, but our general rate sheet can be found on our services page.

I’m horrible at keeping track of things. That’s why I need a virtual assistant! How will I know how much of my retainer I’ve used so that I can maximize my services?

We will send you a weekly check-in email every Friday afternoon that includes a summary of the tasks your assistant took care of that week, any questions or reminders they might have for you, and the total amount of work (whether that’s hours spent or deliverables completed) they’ve done during that week. You'll always know where you stand as time goes by. If you use a project management tool or another way to track tasks, that's no problemo! We'll send the update in the fashion you prefer. It's our job to make your life easy!

What if I want to change or cancel my services?

After the first three months, our contract is month-to-month. You can change or cancel services at any time with a 30-day written notice. We understand businesses change, priorities change, and sometimes you get so big that you actually need full-time in-house support. But we hope you don't leave us... we love you!

My work is often confidential and proprietary, can you sign an NDA?

We have a confidentiality clause built into our contract, but we’re happy to sign your NDA if needed. Your privacy is of the utmost importance to us and we take it very seriously.

SUCCESSFUL VA RELATIONSHIPS

How is my virtual assistant chosen?

First, we have a conversation with you to find out more about the kind of help you need, your communication style, and some logistical details (like your time zone and what times of day you usually hold meetings).

Then we run those details through our database of virtual assistants to find the best possible match for your needs. We generally find two to three really good matches that have the skills, availability, and a compatible work style.

We reach out to the best match to offer them the gig, giving them a few details about our conversation with you and the scope of work involved. If the first option declines, we’ll move down the list. Once we've found the perfect fit, we’ll schedule a kickoff call to introduce you to one another and get the work started.

Can I interview different candidates?

Our system is set up in such a way that we gather the information from both parties and provide the connection based on our proven process. We’re pretty good at what we do, so we generally don’t set up “interviews” for you to meet with different candidates and select the one you like best.

That said, if you meet your assistant on the kickoff call and don’t feel comfortable for any reason, we can definitely try to resolve the issue or move to another assistant. Also, we'll regularly check in with you to see how you two are getting along and to make sure the work is up to snuff. If you’re not happy with your assistant at any point, we can always make a change.

Can I meet with my assistant before I sign the contract?

Your contract is with Don’t Panic Management, not your assistant. So while we’ll work to provide the best fit for you and your assistant, we do need a signed commitment from you first in order to move forward with the matchmaking process.

How should I communicate with my assistant?

Right away, we’ll connect you with your assistant via email and schedule a kickoff call to get the conversation going. This time can be spent however you’d like to use it. Some people work on getting acquainted and setting up logins, tool access, etc., while others get straight to the point by assigning tasks and expectations.

After that, we’ll let you two determine how best to communicate. We only ask that you respect the assistant’s time by giving them a 24-hour window during business days to reply.

Wait! A 24-hour time window? What if I have an emergency and need my assistant’s help right away?

If you have a true emergency and need to get ahold of your assistant right away, feel free to email or call our Chief Client Officer Jenn, and she will either get in touch with the assistant or take care of your emergency herself.

What if I don’t have anything for my assistant to do this week?

Our retainers are monthly, so if you don’t have anything for your assistant to do in a given week, you can always utilize those hours or deliverables during another week that same month. As long as the hours are utilized before the end of the calendar month, we’re happy to be flexible. Just (please?) don’t abuse that by saving your 40-hour retainer for the last week of the month and then overload us. It makes it difficult to juggle the needs of other clients, and also, it's just pretty lame.

What if I don’t get along with my assistant?

We work thoughtfully and diligently to get a good sense of your communication style and preferences in the discovery process to personally match you with an assistant who would be a good fit. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes either your needs change, or we just get it wrong. We’re only human! In that case, we’ll happily match you with a new assistant and will work behind the scenes to get that person up to speed with the work that’s already been done.

What if my assistant goes on vacation or has a family emergency?

That’s the beauty of working with an agency! If your assistant has a family emergency, someone else on the Don't Panic full-time team always has access to their accounts and can jump in at a moment’s notice. When it’s time for your assistant to take a vacation (which we encourage!), we’ll plan ahead and provide coverage for their absence. In most cases, they’ll work ahead on the items that they’re able to and then leave the last-minute tasks with another team member who they’ve looped into the work.

Will I be working with more than one assistant?

As you’ve probably found, it’s extremely difficult to find one person that has all of the skills that you need in a “marketing person.” People who are amazing at managing projects don’t tend to also be great graphic designers.

We like to provide help in the best way we know how, and sometimes that means we need to put more than one brain on the case. If we need to do that, we’ll talk with you about it first and let you decide if that’s something you’re into. If so, we’ll happily manage all the back-and-forth between our team members behind the scenes so that we’re not adding any additional stress to your plate.

Do I need to have meetings with my assistant?

Especially at first, we recommend setting up a recurring weekly meeting to check in with one another. This gives your virtual assistant a chance to rely on dedicated time where they can ask you questions or raise concerns. It also acts as an accountability factor. If you know that you have a meeting with your assistant every Thursday at 1:00 PM, then you will be more likely to collect a list of tasks to assign or have feedback ready to give them.

Likewise, your assistant will come to the meeting prepared with anything you’ve asked them to complete up to that point. These meetings may cut back to twice or even once monthly depending on the type of work and the need for frequent communication as the relationship progresses.

What type of client do you work best with?

We work well with people who are self-aware, who know what they can do best, and are happy to delegate the rest. Also, we find that the best client relationships we have are very open and communicative. We find this works best when you set clear deadlines and are available for questions. Beyond that, the industry doesn't matter! We accept all types here!

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

What administrative tasks do you typically handle?

We work with clients in many industries, and their needs often vary. That said, we generally take care of the following: scheduling meetings, organizing your inbox (decluttering, sorting, marking urgent, etc.), replying to general email inquiries with canned responses, organizing your task list and keeping you on track to meet deadlines, booking your travel (flight, car, hotel, travel to/from the airport, itinerary while you’re traveling, etc.), onboarding new clients or fulfilling new product purchases (as long as they’re digital products), invoicing and categorizing expenses, purchasing gifts, and other unique tasks. If don’t see your need listed, just ask!

Do you handle personal tasks, too?

As long as the tasks are on the up-and-up and aren’t things that are #NSFW, we’re happy to handle both personal and work-related tasks. We’ve done everything from managing and delivering passive income assets to scheduling children for summer camp.

Can you book me for speaking gigs?

We’re not a PR Agency. We’re happy to schedule your speaking gigs, manage any communications between you and the gig, book your travel, etc. We can even do some research and build a list of speaking opportunities you can apply to. But in terms of actively doing outreach and booking (especially commission-based work), that’s just not in our wheelhouse. You get us in the door and we’ll handle the details!

What kind of bookkeeping tasks do you take care of?

We’re certainly not a replacement for a bookkeeper. We don’t do taxes, we don’t pay your bills, and we don’t forecast your budget. However, we do have experience with Freshbooks, Quickbooks, Expensify, and other similar software and can take care of sending out your invoices, sending payment reminders or late notices, categorizing your expenses, organizing your receipts, etc.

What project management tools do you use/recommend?

Internally, we use a tool called ClickUp because it has the task management system with recurring tasks, templates, and even the option for kanban boards. However, we also adapt to whatever our clients use. We have experienced most of the major project/task management tools that exist. And if we haven’t used it yet, we’ll probably be able to pick it up very easily.

CONTENT CREATION

I’m interested to hear more about your content creation process.

We create content in lots of ways. If we’re talking about ghostwriting articles for your website or a website that you contribute to (Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, etc.) we can go about it in a few different ways.

The first, and probably most common, way is that you provide us a topic, a small description or a couple of resources to give us direction, a due date, and a word count you’d like us to hit, and we’ll deliver what we promised on or before that date.

If you’d like a bit more of your own voice infused into your articles, you can hand us a rough draft (stream of consciousness or a speech-to-text transcript work great!) and we’ll finesse that into an article ready to publish.

A third option for ghostwriting content is to schedule an interview with you where we probe deeper into some of the ideas that you have and you’d like to write about, but can’t seem to flesh them out on your own.

Every brain is unique and we get that! That’s why we work within your style so we can deliver the best product for you.

What is the average blog article length that you write?

We typically write anywhere from 250- to 3,000-word articles. The average client usually asks for 750-1,000 word articles.

CONTENT MANAGEMENT

Do you work from an editorial calendar?

We love working from an editorial calendar. If you’ve already got one in place, that’s great! If not, we can either set up a Google Spreadsheet using our template or we can help you implement a tool like CoSchedule.

Do you have experience with email marketing?

We do a lot of email marketing work in Mailchimp, but we’ve also used Emma, Infusionsoft, ConvertKit, Ontraport, and more. Typically our involvement in email marketing is taking a template you’ve created, adding the details (maybe you’re promoting an event, a webinar, or a weekly blog post) specific to that campaign, and then sending it to you for approval. We can either take care of the scheduling/sending after you’ve approved, or you can jump in and schedule it while approving.

I send out a weekly newsletter with my blog post and a few other third party articles from that week, but it’s so time consuming. Is that something you can do?

Absolutely! As long as you give us a template and some general guidelines for the articles you like to share, we can curate anywhere from 3-30 articles weekly.

Another way we do this is to send you a list of 30 or so articles, and you can choose the 10 that you like. Then we’ll load them into the email template with a sentence or two summarizing the article and send the final product to you for review before scheduling.

Do you provide SEO/SEM services?

We don’t currently have anyone on our team with this specific expertise, so while we can optimize your blog posts through keywords and meta descriptions when we load them, we don’t develop larger SEO/SEM strategies for our clients.

Can you help manage my webinars?

Sure! Here are some of the pieces that we usually handle with webinar production: scheduling guests, scheduling dry runs and webinar dates with organizers/panelists/speakers, setting up webinar logistics in GoToWebinar (or similar) platform, creating promotional images based on templates, setting up the landing page for promotion, setting up an email campaign for promotion, attending the dry run and webinar as backup/technical support, recording the webinar, guest follow-up communication, setting up a follow-up email campaign with recording and resources mentioned.

What content management platforms do you have experience in?

We primarily work in WordPress but we’ve also used Squarespace, Rainmaker, Wix, Drupal, and Medium. Some clients even exclusively use LinkedIn for blogging!

Can you help me manage my Facebook group?

We definitely have experience in community management, whether you’ve built your own community platform on your website or you run a Facebook or LinkedIn group. We can pitch in to help you manage messages, approvals, etc. within your community as much or as little as you’d like.

SOCIAL MEDIA

I’m interested in a full-service social media package, what can you provide?

We can take a strategy you’ve created (or have paid someone else to create) or an idea you’d like to test, curate articles and schedule a weekly posting calendar. We can also write messages to promote events or original articles. We don’t provide strategic direction.

Do you provide strategy?

We work really well when we have an existing strategy to guide us. You tell us, “We want X posts to go up this month, and here’s what we want to promote,” and we’ll make it happen for you. We can suggest a few strategic agencies for you to work with and then we can help implement, but we don’t provide strategic direction.

Do you run/manage paid ads?

We don’t have anyone on our team who is an expert in paid ads, so we don’t currently offer that as a service.

PODCAST/VIDEO PRODUCTION

What does your full-service podcast production package look like?

The whole kit and caboodle starts with scheduling your guests (but not finding them for you) within a block of time that you’ve set aside to record.

Then we assist with recording your raw audio through an audio recording tool like Zencastr; save your raw files; take those files through the post-production process; submit your episode for transcription (optional); create show notes and any images you’d like to include; and load them into your website, syndication platform (usually Libsyn), and distribution platform (iTunes/Stitcher/Soundcloud, etc.).

From there, we typically hold for your review, unless you instruct us otherwise, and then schedule for publishing.

Some clients like us to own the process from start to finish, and others only want us to take care of pieces of the work and submit it to them to finalize.

We’re happy to take on whatever fits in with your process.

I want to start a podcast, what equipment do you suggest I buy?

We recommend a Blue Yeti microphone (or the smaller Blue Snowball for travel) and a pop filter. Headphones are up to you! Jess doesn’t like noise-canceling headphones when she records in case there’s something going on around her that she needs to pause the recording for.

We really recommend checking out our good friend Amy Landino’s list of video, audio, and editing tools if you’re looking for something more comprehensive.

Do you have a recommendation for recording and transcription software?

We recommend recording through Zencastr, and we can help set you up with a new account and show you the ropes (though it’s pretty intuitive, which is why we love it!). In terms of transcription, we’ve been blown away by the quality and customer service of Rev.com.

I’m starting a new podcast. Can you help with setup? And how many episodes should I have recorded before we start?

We can absolutely help with podcast setup. First, we’d recommend having three to five episodes in the can before submitting your podcast to iTunes/Stitcher/SoundCloud etc. This is the minimum requirement for being considered to be featured in the New & Notable category, which is something you definitely want!

If you can get us the raw files for those three to five episodes, we’ll do the heavy lifting for you.

Once the episodes are ready for publish, we need seven days before your launch date to submit to iTunes. Then we’re off to the races.

Should I provide a podcast transcript?

The short answer is: that depends.

It depends on the length of your show notes, if you need some additional content for SEO, and if your audience is interested in reading the transcript in addition to listening.

Ultimately, the goal is to get them to listen. So if you find that by posting the entire transcript, your download stats decrease, then you may want to rethink that strategy!

It’s all about testing to see what works with your audience. The great thing is, we can help with that and change the process as needed.

Where should I post my video podcast?

We recommend using YouTube, Libsyn (to push to iTunes) and sharing on Facebook. We also highly recommend including caption files with your video uploads. If your audience has a strong presence on Instagram, it may also be wise to post a snippet of the latest episode and link to your feed in your profile.