Have you Hired a VA Without Knowing It? (and 7 things to do next)?

Have you Hired a VA Without Knowing It? (and 7 things to do next)?


When it comes to hiring a virtual assistant (VA), people might present the following arguments against it:

  • It’s expensive and you can’t afford it.

  • It’s difficult to hand over the control of your work to someone else.

  • You don’t have enough work to justify hiring a VA.

This post, however, was not written to tell you about the benefits of VAs, why you should have them, or why letting go of your work is easier than you might think.

Rather, this post is about how you might already have a VA, but you haven’t realized it yet. Once you understand what I’m talking about, these three arguments lose their power and meaning.

Nevermind if you have never intentionally hired a VA, there is still one particular service that you have likely subscribed to and is essential to your online business: your e-mail list provider, especially the autoresponder part of it!

Here are seven things you can let your autoresponder take care of on your behalf. This list is in no way complete, so take some time to brainstorm other tasks that you could automate with it.

You might hire a real VA at some point, but be sure to take advantage of these automated steps first.

1. Set expectations right from the get-go

Let’s start with the e-mail #1, the message that the user gets immediately after joining your e-mail list. This e-mail is also known as the “thank you e-mail” and in it you give the subscriber access to the goods you promised on your opt-in page (for instance, an e-book, video course, etc).

The most important thing to understand is that this particular e-mail is generally the most opened and read in your sequence and that’s why you should take advantage of it.

For instance, my thank you e-mail (#1) is definitely the most opened one in the sequence:

 Knowing this, it’s a perfect place to set the expectations with your subscribers. When you do this, you define the rules you play by, decreasing potential confusion on how your blog operates.

In this e-mail you could define:

  • How quickly you respond to e-mails
  • Your commenting policy (or a link to one on your page)
  • Whether you accept guest posts or not
  • Whether you review products or not

Since this e-mail is the most read message, it’s a perfect place for setting rules and therefore ensuring you are spending less time explaining the same things over and over again.

2. Generate new content ideas

Another great way to take advantage of your e-mail list automation is to allow your readers to come up with new ideas for the content. These ideas could then be used for blog posts, guest posts, videos, or even products and services.

When an idea comes from a reader, it’s a great way of learning what your readers actually want. This could also potentially lead to other content ideas if you brainstorm the idea a bit further.

Since this kind of automation provides new ideas to write about, you will have less brainstorming to do yourself.

3. Understand your audience’s pain points

This next automated e-mail idea is closely related to point #2 and could very well be asked in the thank you e-mail you send to your subscribers.

The main idea behind automating this question is to create the products, blog posts, videos, or other types of content that your audience cares about.

4. Spread the word about your work

There are numerous ways to create awareness about your blog and your work. One way is by to send your subscribers an automated e-mail saying that you are available for interviews (video/audio/text).

With this simple action, you can demonstrate your expertise to audiences you haven’t communicated with before. This, in turn, can bring more subscribers to your e-mail list and more clients to your products and services.

5. Obtain new social media followers

You can use your autoresponder to build your social media following as well. For instance, you could schedule a message on your sequence that asks people to follow you on Facebook or on Twitter.

An alternate way of doing this (in which e-mail is still a starting point) is through your thank you page.

In my case, when a person has joined my e-mail list, in addition to receiving the thank you message, he or she is also redirected to a thank you page where he or she can download the goodies I have promised.

On that same page I’m also asking the person to like my Facebook page:

6. Get people to unsubscribe from other e-mail lists

People get a lot of e-mail nowadays, so making your e-mails stand out in the sea of other messages requires a bit of work.

Why not ask people to unsubscribe from other lists they have subscribed to? That way you get more visibility and people have less e-mail to take care of (it saves their time and energy).

7. Ask their opinion

Sometime ago I was writing an e-book and I wasn’t sure if my audience wanted me to include a certain section. The next logical step was to ask them.

I received answers quickly after sending the e-mail and I didn’t have to ponder this question by myself.

In this particular example, I sent my audience a broadcast e-mail, but you could very well automate this question through your autoresponder.

For instance, you could ask:

  • Is there anything I can help you with?
  • I’d like to know you better – would you like to have a Skype call with
  • Do you want me to write a guest post for your blog?

These are just a few examples off the top of my head, but depending of your niche, you could come up with many additional questions to ask of your audience.


‘E-mail autoresponder is a wonderful tool, but not many people are not using it to it’s full potential.

There are many ways to use autoresponder to your advantage. That’s why I wanted to share this with all my readers – so that we can all benefit from them.

  • Over to you: What tasks can you automate with your autoresponder?

Want something extra?


  •  The exact e-mail messages I used in points  2, 3, 4, and 6.

You get access to this content through PSD+ (Productive Superdad+), a special free resource page for my subscribers only. This resource contains e-books, PDFs, checklists, and other goodies that you can’t find on my blog.

Simply enter your e-mail address in any of the opt-in boxes on this page to get access to PSD+ and other resources as well.

Image credit: chrisinplymouth

  • Hey Timo,

    This is a great article! The main theme that I got out of it was to connect and be more transparent with your audience. I love the idea of asking my readers what they want to see and what I can help them with. That’s one of the best benefits of having a mailing list!

    Thanks for sharing this information!

    Kalen Bruce

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Kalen!

      Thank you :)

      The positive side of it that this can happen automatically – set once and it runs on autopilot :)


  • Timo,

    Very informative for me right now as I am working to get my act together for the book launch and the other products I am rolling out. When I saw “For instance, you could ask:
    ◾Is there anything I can help you with?
    ◾I’d like to know you better – would you like to have a Skype call with
    ◾Do you want me to write a guest post for your blog?”

    In the article, I thought “I responded to a couple of those!”

    I need to get your aweber link if you still have it for affiliation.

    Have fun with the family my friend!


    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Jerry!

      Thank you :)

      Sure, let me know when you need the AWeber link and I’ll send it to you.


  • Having a VA allows you to do more important tasks. Makes everything convenient.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi David!

      Yes, that’s true.

      Your responsibility is to give him/her specific instructions enough, so that this person can do your work as effectively as possible.


  • Ha I am getting better and better in that stuff. I already use some of those ideas! On my thank you page I invite new subscribers to explore my content and display my attitude toward spam, trying to get their trust: http://www.expandbeyondyourself.com/aweber/thankyou.htm

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Michal!

      Thanks for sharing this.

      In my first e-mail to the subscriber (a Welcome message), I’m telling the person how I operate.


  • Hi Timo,

    I have like that point of Generating new content ideas. I think it is a wise one and once you receive it then make a point of drafting it to something that every reader would like to hear. the best thing about it is taht you will get the idea from the audience on what they want to hear too.
    Good post. Laura.

    • Timo Kiander

      Hi Laura!

      Thank you!

      Yes, an automatic idea generation machine :)