Miranda’s going to kill me for saying this, but I have no interest in hiring a VA. Yet.
Why not? And why am I saying this on the blog of an amazing VA?
The reason I don’t want another human helping me out right now is because I wouldn’t have enough valuable work for them. The stuff I really want to offload? It’s all more boring than watching golf for 6 hours. (Sorry, golf lovers.)
And I don’t want to make another solopreneur suffer through it.
You see, the majority of the stuff I need help with is low-level admin. My VA would just be copying and pasting, and other things that they’re way too talented to do. When I do hire a VA, I want to work with someone who is excited to be challenged and engaged, and this work? It’s just not that.
But still…there are blog posts to be imported, tweets to schedule, emails to process, and a few dozen other things on my to-do list. How do I fit that all in, in addition to my day job, freelance work, other blogs, and the occasional personal moment?
Most people think I don’t sleep. I literally get asked “when do you sleep?” by different business besties at least once every few weeks. People see what I’m putting out there and can’t imagine how one person can possibly do it all.
And one person can’t. But one person plus a few hundred really smart robots?
Now that’s a different story.
Which is why I love Zapier.
Robots, what? Zapier, huh?
Those robots I was talking about a second ago are? Those are automated tools I’ve built using different workflow automation apps, like Zapier. These apps let anyone create their own connections, apps, actions, and more — like connecting two apps that don’t have a built-in integration.
Whereas a simpler website like IFTTT lets you automate a single task at a time, Zapier lets you get fancier and automate entire business processes. One of these easy Zapier zaps takes five minutes to set up and can easily save you several hours over the first month you’re using it.
Things like syncing your email newsletter list to a CRM, backing up your ConvertKit subscribers, or filling up your Buffer queue can be done 100% automatically.
You know those whole afternoons you’ll spend doing admin, updating spreadsheets, and other easier tasks? You’ll be able to cut it down to mere minutes.
Zapier basically lets you build integrations that would normally require an experienced developer, weeks of work, and thousands of dollars. But with a few easy Zapier zaps, they take about five minutes and $20/month, with no coding necessary.
Since Zapier can be a bit technical and confusing at first, you can download The Solopreneur’s 2-Minute Guide to Zapier to save this info for later. With this awesome cheat sheet, you’ll be whipping up your own easy Zapier zaps in no time!
So what can Zapier do that can be found on any solopreneur’s to-do list? Here are a few things to automate with it:
Easy Zapier Zaps for Solopreneurs
1. Get Slack notifications for important emails
If you use Slack for any communities or clients, you can easily use apps and integrations like Slack to turn it into a hub of productivity. Instead of keeping a thousand tabs open all day for certain notifications — new emails, Twitter notifications, etc. — you can pipe them into Slack.
For example, keeping your inbox open all day is just begging for distraction. Instead, close out of it and create Slack notifications for when you receive new emails from certain addresses. That way you’ll still know right away if a client or another important contact emails you.
2. Back up your email list
Backing things up is something that most of us solopreneurs procrastinate, despite knowing the dangers and that we should be more diligent about it. It’s just so easy to put off, though.
Automation is perfect for things we tend to forget or procrastinate because it takes care of the task for you. This easy zap will back up your email list to a Google spreadsheet so that you’re prepared in case you ever need it.
3. Make MailChimp content upgrades easier
Content upgrades aren’t always simple when you’re using MailChimp, but it’s far from impossible. For example, a lot of bloggers create separate lists for each one and then manually compile them into a main list. Talk about inefficient!
A simple automation can automatically move everyone into one list for you (aaaand even unsubscribe them from the content upgrade list so you’re not paying for duplicate emails in your email lists).
4. Turn emails into to-dos
Do you dream of #inboxzero as much as I do? The main reason most of us can’t get there is because we use our inbox both as an inbox and a to-do list. What that means is that we keep emails in our inboxes after we’ve read them, because there’s still some kind of action or reminder that needs to be taken. Sound familiar?
Instead, you can use an easy Zapier zap to add emails (and acting on or replying to them) to your to-do list tool or project manager and get them out of your inbox.
5. Post automated messages in Slack
If you use Slack to communicate with freelance clients, course students, a mastermind, or use it for any other person besides yourself, you’ve probably wished for automated messages. And you can have them.
Simply have Zapier post pre-written reminder messages at certain dates and times. Use it for reminding clients about payments, posting prompts in Slack communities, and reminding your mastermind groups of upcoming calls.
Build Your Own VA
Now, look, there will be a time when you’ll need help with things that only real, smart humans can do. But maybe that time is not now for your solo business. And even if it is, automating the lowest-level tasks lightens their load, like having a VA for your VA. And how nice does that sound?