A couple of months ago, a distant friend of mine hired herself a virtual assistant (VA) from overseas and though that was not such a bad idea, she had absolutely no idea as to what she would have this VA do. This can become problematic and can cost you an arm and a leg (figuratively speaking) if you put VAs in charge of your SEO with the expectation that they will know what to do!
Now… don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good VAs around and by no means would I discourage anyone from getting one, I am merely just suggesting that you should be prepared to train them – not to mention monitor them on an ongoing basis.
I personally have spent thousands of dollars over the last 5 years on VAs that brought in terrible results or were just a real hassle to deal with. As an example… I have had VAs that were working for 2 or 3 other customers at the exact SAME time as they were working for me (they would never confess to this though), and as a direct result – they were getting maybe 10% of the work done that I expected them to get done.
All in all, it is pretty cool to be the boss – but after a dozen excuses from the same VA, one starts to question who the boss really is!
For a while I completely stopped using all virtual assistant services and would just post my tasks on oDesk or DigitalPoint. Within minutes of posting my projects, I would get responses from a dozen willing and able outsourcers who would get the job done very quickly (or they would not get paid). So basically… I would pay on a results basis instead of a per hour basis. This is great for one time tasks and for when you really do not need a fulltime virtual assistant.
Am I making sense so far?
On that note though, I barely ever use oDesk these days – simply because I have more than enough work to keep 1 to 2 virtual assistants busy for 40+ hours a week.
I hear you asking now…
“Ok great, I really want my own overseas-worker now. Where can I find myself a reliable virtual assistant?”
I have personally tried agents of value and a few other outsourcing firms, and a good thing about those is that your agent actually has to come in to work every day. The best part really is though that your agent has a supervisor and if you ever have any issues, you can always talk to the supervisor and in worst case scenario, you can have your agent replaced!
The downside is that you will usually pay more if you go through these agencies.
I myself have developed a pretty solid relationship with a guy I used to outsource to down in the Philippines who has gone on to create his own outsourcing firm. He is a very polite young man and his approach is a little different: He interviews candidates in person, but has them use their own computer and internet connection to work for you from their home.
Right now I have all my VAs through him and could see myself getting a couple more through him in the next month or so.
He takes his business very serious and he will do anything in his power to “wow” you, and I should maybe also mention that his prices are significantly better than other firms.
I asked him if it would be ok if I recommended him and he said “by all means” so feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org (it redirects to his email).
Another place you can go to is: http://www.onlinejobs.ph
Just be careful with this last site. I have found that the same person sometimes has a handfull of ads… so when you respond to all of them, they will only respond to one. When they get hired they are forced to close their listing… but with 5 open listings, you are not necessarily always the only one employing them. Just be careful!
As far as how much you should pay for a VA, consider $2 – $3 USD per hour a reasonable rate. Some of my VAs work part time for me and they tell me that their daytime job (fulltime job) pays about $1 USD per hour… so lets give them a reason to want to work for us.
Always remember: VAs are workers, not slaves. Going an extra mile to wow them will generally pay off tenfold in the results they will be bringing you!
If money is not an issue, don’t be afraid to test the waters – but if you’d rather lower all risks, I would highly recommend doing thorough research on outsourcing first. “Guide to Outsourcing” has some more very valuable out-source tips and pointers.