My Experience with a Virtual Assistant

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  • Published on : Dec 21 2009

It’s been nearly 13 years since I first started making money online, and this whole time it’s always been just myself. Sure, there have been a few times where I worked with a programmer on the site, and I still outsource for web design, but outside of those two… I’ve always done everything . More than anything else, I know I will get the job done right, and it’s hard to trust and bring someone else in to share what you’ve worked so hard on for so many years.

This year was the first time I experimented with bringing in a virtual assistant. I always heard virtual assistants mentioned in conversation, but never had a reliable source or know where to start. One of my good friends Rosemary, runs a virtual assistant company and we were talking about how it works and what services were offered. Rosemary’s company, VirtualHires, specializes in offering full time, college educated virtual assistants and operates out of the Philippines. We setup all the paper work and a walk through of who I would have as my VA, and what we should both expect from working with each other. I ended up choosing a virtual assistant that specialized in writing, mainly to build up content for a few sites I was working on. The service was great, and the VA was excellent and always provided quality work and was available when needed. I would email my VA at night with a list of topics to write about, then would receive the completed work in the morning. I went on to keep my assistant for around 6 months. If I was (and I probably will) to go the virtual assistant route again, I would make sure to have a better plan in place on how to better utilize my assistant and time.

WHAT DOES A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT COST?
The minute you start thinking about getting a virtual assistant, start writing down everything you would have them do. Once you start minimizing your workload, you will be more relaxed and actually have time and be focused to work on the most important tasks. As mentioned, my VA was strictly for writing purposes. The cost of a virtual assistant through VirtualHires, is around $1,000 a month. This might seem high since your friends may be outsourcing to other countries for less, but each virtual assistant through VH is dedicated only to your jobs and tasks. I had my VA writing for me and she was pushing out 3-4 full articles a day. The $1,000 a month price tag works out to roughly $45 a day (estimated 23 working days a month), and can be broken down to paying around $14 per article, assuming 3 new articles a day. If you have an already profitable and established business, you could easily pick up 2-3 virtual assistants for only a few thousand a month, and easily thin out your “busy work” work load.

HOW QUALIFIED VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS?
I went with VirtualHires for my virtual assistant for three reasons. First, I knew Rosemary personally. Second, they came recommended by a friend. Third, all of their virtual assistants are trained and must pass many qualifications before being used by the company. With all of these qualifications in place, this is why you are paying the higher $1,000 a month price tag versus finding someone on eLance and paying them by hour or project. You are also guaranteed the security of contacting the company, VirtualHires, directly should there be any problems.

MY TAKEAWAY ON VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
Though I decided to cut my virtual assistant after only six months, it was a great learning process and provided me with a lot of new content for some of my other sites. Bringing in a virtual assistant for content writing was awesome, but it was almost actually bringing in more work for me, then saving me. When I decide to start my next VA process, I would like to grab a content writer along with a web admin VA, this would eliminate the need for me to import the articles and manage these content sites. I can easily see a virtual assistant coming in handy for any affiliates working with list building and creating/upload ad campaigns. This is the type of manual work that can eat up your hours and is well worth the month of outsourcing.

This post was not sponsored or compensated in any way by Virtual Hires, but was used as a real life experience of using a virtual assistant. Feel free to any comments, experiences or advice on virtual assistants.

Zac Johnson
My name is Zac Johnson and I have been an online entrepreneur for the past 18 years and blogger since 2007. This is my personal blog and I welcome you to the site. In full disclosure, it is safe to assume that I am benefiting financially or otherwise from everything you click on, read, or look at while on my website.
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  • http://internetjobscams.blogspot.com/2009/09/work-at-home-opportunity-by-blog.html chandan

    Working as VA is one good work at home opportunities. Thank you for sharing your experience working as VA.

    • http://www.virtualassistant.com Erin Smith

      A virtual assistant can help you grow your business by handling your administrative support tasks. You can outsource various tasks like accounting, advertising, clerical, administrative, answering phone calls, internet research, data entry and technical support tasks to a virtual assistant. And the best part is that you can relax and enjoy your vacation or holidays while all your works are done by your virtual assistant. Isn’t it sounds great?

  • Deborah

    Zac, you mentioned that the virtual assistant created an increase in business. Did you see a return in your investment?

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  • Dare

    Golf Course supplies.

    John Jonas is good in giving the tools.

    He sucks at providing advice how to manage those people, how to set up systems for automatically filtering employees etc etc…

    About the girl Zac posted above that provides those services, the way she does it is going to sites like the ones jonas recommends, looking for people, individuals for $300 a month and then outsourcing them for $1000. All she does is filtering and finding A-Players (1 in 70 people is usually the ratio of good vs. people that suck in my experience.)

    I wanted to start a biz like this btw so I know what I'm talking about. However I didn't since I wanted to be the actual owner of the content, links and hire ppl to do the job for ME and not for anyone else…much better profit in the long run.

    As for you Zac, I recommend you work with individuals instead of companies if you plan to do this, much cheaper in the long run. If you don't want to manage the hiring, get a HR person to do it. He needs to know few effective strategies to bring new flow of quality workers.

    But for a PPC guy I really don't know why would you need one :) For managing ad compaigns and all that, I guess trust is the key…since you don't wanna give your pass to everyone.

  • http://www.fiveminutebuilder.com Five Minute Builder

    outsourcing more and more is going to be my biggest goal for my internet business in 2010.

    I really believe in the concept of leverage especially if you are leveraging other peoples time and talent.

    The more you can outsource and stay profitable the more time you personally have to enjoy the niceties of owning an internet business in the first place.

  • http://www.branchespsp.com Jennifer Cochran

    Hi Zach, I LOVE following your blog. Serendipitous you posted about using a Virtual Assistant just two weeks after I launched my very own business – a Professional Service Provider (PSP). It's like a VA firm on steroids. We also have strict skills tests for our Providers and we're on American soil. No accents or language barriers. I'd be grateful for a visit to my site: http://www.branchespsp.com. Happy holidays!

  • http://www.tkvhospitalityservices.com Corporate Security s

    I am a virtual assistant in US, I want to work from home for companies. How can I find it?

  • http://www.collegebookrenter.com Rent Textbooks

    I have wanted to get a virtual assistant and this is true it sometimes takes longer to manage someone then it does to do it yourself.

  • angie

    great article… i just got mine VA service, http://www.secretstaff.com. Theyre the cheapest i've seen so far.

  • http://www.terrydean.org Jose Anajero

    I read with much interest your post Zac and also the comments. Am glad you were satisfied with the performance of your efficient assistant. Thanks too for giving the distinction between "writers", "link builders", and "virtual assistants". I think that would be helpful for those who are just starting to explore outsourcing.

    You said "When I decide to start my next VA process, I would like to grab a content writer along with a web admin VA, this would eliminate the need for me to import the articles and manage these content sites." I think that's a good idea. Hope you can update us on how it goes…

    Jose

  • Kang

    My VA has been helping me out for about a year now.

    She's been helping me out with the web/graphics design part of the business.

    I've been looking to hire a competent and reliable content writer for a long time now, and I realized that I actually hit the jackpot with my first one.

    I've tried a couple of guys, but their performance was far from satisfactory.

    So if you run a very profitable business, it might be a good idea to just hire from "third party" companies even though they're more expensive, because you probably don't want to spend all the time trial-and-error-ing for "the one".

  • Donna I Affiliate Ad

    I've been hiring outsourcing teams and individuals since 2005, spend over 6k with 30+ people and learn a lot of key stuff that could help anybody prior hiring others:

    1. always test your potential team member

    2. delegate both tasks you can't manage to do yourself, and others that you could do, and have the time, but find it's better to be delegated for serious other reasons

    3. keep the best in your team and replace the non performers on a 6-month or yearly basis

    Hope it helps

  • astaga.com lifestyle

    Zac, my online business just started, no profit yet, I think I will run it by my self first, if profit then I will try yours. Thanks Kang, for your advice, sometime I worry to deal with VA, but your advice is make sense.

  • http://www.philippinesvirtualassistant.org/ Philippine Virtual A

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with your V.A. . One of the good quality of a V.A is that they can provide a good customer service and we all know that good customer service is important aspect of every business.

  • http://www.myfreeps3.net PS3

    So was your VA from America? I've seen dome for hire from $300 but they are Vietnamese and can't write in good English!

  • Philippine Virtual A

    First things first, virtual assistant is very tough yet fun job. The only key to become successful on this is simply put you heart into your job. Love your commitments and accomplished tasks in a timely manner. Thanks for sharing this post! :)

  • http://www.stashspace.com/ VHS to DVD

    We've explored the possibility of bringing some contract writers on for articles, but have had difficulty finding someone who was able to write intelligently about our niche in an affordable fashion. Would welcome more information from your experience, specifically around whether there was an initial "startup" phase to get some insight/knowledge into your space, who came up with the article ideas, and (like others have asked), did you experience any ROI (measurable or otherwise) in this venture?

  • http://www.venetianmirrorsboutique.com/ Venetian Mirrors

    It's quite a hard task to find a VA that would provide what you exactly needed. It will save you time, effort and money if you will give some a qualifying trials or test prior to hiring. There's a greater chance of getting what you have paid for when you do this.

  • http://www.oneworldconnections.com contact center Phili

    I think that working with virtual assistants can be very advantageous to a company, which is why more and more companies in the BPO and KPO industry hire virtual employees. I think it all depends on how well you select and hire them. Doing a background check, asking for a portfolio or sample works and for references or recommendations are some of the things you can do to make sure that the person you will hire can do the job well.

  • http://www.virtualoutsourcingphilippines.com Virtual Outsourcing

    virtual assistants in general doesn't require you having them outsourced from some other country as well… having been able to be a virtual administrative assistant myself, being able to delegate repetitive workload to my team lessens the burden and enables me to multi-manage and multiply myself specially now since we cater most SEO (search engine optimization) work that requires repetitive and continuous production output

  • http://www.247virtualassistant.com john

    VA's are more effective than the traditional PA's in efficiency as well as cost effectiveness. Virtual assistant utilize latest technologies to deliver their services and to communicate with clients and they can handle wide variety of support services through a single point of contact. Virtual assistant can make one's life easier and better!

    John http://www.247virtualassistant.com

  • http://offshoreally.com virtual assistant

    @zac, I think hiring dedicated VA’s is the best option, its like building your own team. Hiring shared VA’s that can handle variety of tasks looks good initial at start but you compromise seriously on quality and have to always cross check the work.

  • http://kizie.com/ Tina

    HI Zac, good post and good thinking. But still, I am a virtual asistant and must say that prices that you listed above in your post are wuite high. I would be more than happy to do that kind of work for 1.000 $ per month. But let me honest. These are not prices that are currently on the market. Its not that I dont priciate my wokr and do not value my service, but this is real life. Prices are quite below what you wrote. Or I am very competitive :-)

    My recent post Crystal treatment techniques

  • http://www.247virtualassistant.com erin smith

    I think nowadays virtual assistants utilize latest technologies to deliver their services and to communicate with clients. And this article is very informative. Keep the good work!
    erinsmith@247virtualassistant.com
    http://www.247virtualassistant.com

  • http://todaysadmin.com Jennifer Rai

    Great article, Zac. The point you make about perhaps paying more than you would for an overseas assistant, yet having a dedicated assistant focusing on you and your success is a great one.
    My recent post Are We Losing Our Ability to Communicate

  • http://todaysadmin.com Zarina Hussain

    Great article. Being a Virtual Assistant myself, it is true that the work load is thinned out for the business owners, and they can focus on more important tasks. The VA acts more like a personal assistant and are dedicated to producing desired results.
    My recent post Response cached until Sat 4 @ 6:35 GMT (Refreshes in 45 Minutes)

  • erin smith

    Many of the companies are hiring virtual assistants who work from home. The reason is that they can be accessed any time and they work for you round the clock. Thanks for the post. Keep blogging.