In short, Danny has outsourced a lot of the donkey work faced by freelance journalists (ie trying to sort out interview times, basic background desk research, sourcing pictures, etc) to a virtual assistant. As he says, this has traditionally occupied huge swathes of his time. After 3 weeks, he concludes:
"The cost? Less than the revenue from a feature article each month. The benefits? Time, which as both a writer and a parent, is the most precious commodity for me. If I wanted to fill the time I’m saving with more work, I could sell more articles and make more dough, but I don’t think I will. I’m hitting my financial targets, (with the cost of the service factored in), and for the first time in years, I’m relishing the ability to take some ‘me’ time and some more family time. I may not be working four hours a week, but I’m working way less than I did, and the work that remains on my desk is more valuable to me."
As Sally Whittle pointed out in a comment to Danny's post, he has effectively hired a virtual editorial assistant. Or as a highly paid management consultant would probably put it, he's analysed his business model, defined his core value proposition - and outsourced non-core activities.
It set me thinking that perhaps there is an opportunity here for PR agencies to drastically reduce their cost base - given that a whopping 69pc of an average agency's time (PR Week survey 2006) is spent on account management, administration and reporting, surely a lot of this kind of donkey work could be outsourced rather than occupying the time of AEs and AMs who would be better focussed on doing real value added activity - such as writing better press release or improving their media relations skills.
Perhaps agencies are already doing this - but it doesn't feel that way.