Win a Free Copy of Chris Ducker’s New Book, Virtual Freedom!

Entrepreneur and small business outsourcing expert Chris Ducker (founder of VirtualStaffFinder.com) has penned a new field guide on working with virtual assistants.

virtual freedom

The book is Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business.

I just finished it last week and I can say it’s packed with useful information and “why didn’t I think of that?” tips — even for experienced outsourcers.

He walks readers through the hiring and interview process and shares some excellent training and management strategies.

Win a Free Copy!

Here’s your chance to win a free copy of the book. Entry is easy.

Just share your “virtual freedom” moment in a comment on this post.

What do I mean by that?

The moment you experienced a weight being lifted off your shoulders by hiring a virtual assistant — how you felt, what it meant for you, your business, and your family, or what it allowed you to do.

For example, I would say I’ve had several “virtual freedom” moments but one stands out above the rest. Last fall, my wife and I were able to take a 5 and a half week trip to Japan and Southeast Asia, leaving the business in the capable hands of my virtual team.

Did everything go perfectly? No. But a few years ago, I never could have imagined taking that much time away from the office.

Virtual Freedom selfie

Do you have a similar story? Did hiring a VA let you focus on more important projects or spend more time with your family? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll choose the best one to send a free copy of Virtual Freedom.

What’s your “virtual freedom” moment?

And if you haven’t begun working with virtual staff yet, you can still enter. Just comment with a desired or imagined “virtual freedom” moment. What do you hope to attain with a virtual assistant?

Comment below for your chance to win!

Contest ends April 8th.

Posted in News

Virtually Here

Virtually Here (VH) is an American virtual assistant company that bills itself as a one-stop-virtual-shop for administrative, social media, graphic design, web design, content creation, and business consulting needs.

Through originating as a classic virtual assistant company, VH expanded with its clients’ growing needs. This movement is reflected in the breadth of support services now available.

virtually here reviewAbout Virtually Here

The company is a female owned business with all US-based staff.

VirtuallyHere.net was founded by Jacqueline Davis in 2012, who continues to run the business and serves as the main point of contact for clients. She organizes all projects, giving clients seamlessly coordinated support whether they are looking for solely classic administrative assistance or a mix of different services.

How it Works

Jacqueline and her team handle ‘time-sucking’ tasks to allow clients to focus on the business activities they do best and that directly correlate to their bottom line.

VH prides itself on offering clients a familial, small business experience combined with the highest level of professionalism, product, and customer service. There are no automated phone lines, wait times, or getting lost in the shuffle of hundreds of customers.

Virtually Here begins each client relationship with the goal of a long-term partnership, and develops a unique plan of support services to help that client make the most of their VA resources and reach their highest potential.

VH contractors have similarly close relationships with each other and the organization. Across all service areas VH contractors work together for the good of customer projects. The VH website displays the bios of the company’s lead contractors so clients can form an immediate familiarity as well.

Plans and Pricing

Clients can engage VH on retainer or project-based agreements.

Retainer agreements are the most common and generally range from 10 hour to 40 hours per month, beginning in price at $300 per month.

Clients will usually have at least two different retainer based service plans, one for each area of service they need (e.g. Administrative and a Business Development plan), and discounts are offered based on the size of the retainer agreement and the number of packages chosen.

For project-based work, the company will provide a custom quote based on the job you had in mind.

VH’s ultimate goal is to provide the best service possible. The company prides itself on remaining as flexible as its clients’ needs are diverse.

Virtually Here Alternatives

VirtuallyHere’s rates and services are competitive among their US-based VA company peers. If you’re looking to shop around, a similar set-up and business model can be found at Longer Days or Virtual Assist USA.

Have you worked with Virtually Here? If so, please leave a quick review below to help others with their decision.

Posted in US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

It’s VA Time

It’s VA Time (ItsVAtime.com) is a virtual assistant company in Bangalore India. They’re relatively new to the scene (late 2013 / early 2014) with their own platform, but have been serving clients on a variety of freelance networks for several years.

It's VA Time reviewThe company primarily targets busy individuals and small business owners worldwide, with a full menu of services including administrative support, data entry, research, SEO, design tasks, and more.

How it Works

It’s VA Time runs a similar model to 24/7 Virtual Assistant and VMG BPO (other VA companies in India), where you have a dedicated point of contact but access to the whole team of assistants for specialized expertise.

They make an effort to fully understand your needs and anticipated usage to find a package and assistant that will be a good match. In terms of communication, ItsVAtime offers support 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

It’s VA Time Review

Plans and Pricing

At the moment, their pricing packages are very cheap, even for overseas VA standards (I told them they need to raise their prices).

For instance, a 5-hour a week plan is available for only $190 per month ($9.50 per hour). A 10-hour per week plan is just $340 per month ($8.50 per hour).

Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for 10% off your first month of service!

Full-time support, 160-hours per month, is just $720 ($4.50 per hour!?). I’m not sure how long these rates will last and if you’ll be grandfathered in if you sign up now, but they are definitely among the most affordable I’ve seen.

It's VA Time pricing

A no-obligation pay-as-you-go plan is offered as well, for just a $10 membership and then $14 per hour as needed.

Note: SEO, web design, and weekend support are extra.

All plans are eligible for a free 7-day, 5-hour free trial (with no credit card required), which I was happy to take advantage of.

At this time, unused hours don’t rollover month-to-month, and payment is only accepted via PayPal or wire transfer.

It’s VA Time Alternatives

Their small team of freelancers is headed up by Steve Young, who explained the competitive advantages of It’s VA Time include:

  • Their years of experience working with a wide variety of clients
  • Their affordable rates
  • And their commitment to quality.

Of course they’re not the only game in town, and competition for clients is stiff among other VA companies in India. Among the best-rated are 24/7 Virtual Assistant, My Tasker, and VMG BPO.

Have you worked with ItsVAtime? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in India Virtual Assistants, Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

48HoursLogo

48HoursLogo.com is a crowdsourced marketplace for custom logo, web, and print graphic design services. The company began in 2010, is headquartered in Shanghai, and has hosted more than 15000 design contests so far.

48hours logo reviewThe target clientele is small business owners and startups in need of affordable graphic design work. Designers have contributed more than a million concepts for review, with more added each day.

How it Works

With 48HoursLogo, an invisible global army of freelance design talent works to fulfill customer requests.

If you need a logo created for example, you can put your request up on the site and start a design contest. Within 48 hours — hence the name — you’ll have a variety of design concepts to choose from from designers all around the world.

You pick the winner and they get the prize money.

Plans and Pricing

Pricing for 48HoursLogo.com is a little misleading because they prominently display the promo text “starting at $29″ on their homepage and marketing material. However, the minimum contest prize is $99, and they tack on a 15% fee for facilitating the contest, bringing the true minimum cost up to $114.

The “starting at $29″ is just their minimum “down payment.” Even though you’ll eventually be paying at least the $114, you can technically get started for just $29 — and only pay the balance if and when you’re happy with the results.

The higher your award, naturally the higher number of entrants you can expect to receive. A $99 prize will typically attract around 10 participants, according to the company.

If you pre-pay for the contest, instead of waiting until the end, you can also attract more entries because the designers will know you’re more serious.

Customers can also contract with pre-vetted designers through the site for an hourly rate.

48HoursLogo Alternatives

The best known competitor is 99designs, which runs a very similar crowdsourced, contest-driven business model. The differentiating factor with 48HoursLogo is the speed and the pricing.

Customers and designers like the quick turnaround time because they’re not waiting around for days and days to find out which design won.

With 99designs, your minimum investment for a design contest is $299, and those contests reportedly receive an average of 30 submissions. For turnaround time, their contests stay open for about a week.

Other alternatives to consider include Fiverr, Crowdspring, and LogoGarden.

Have you hosted a design contest on 48HoursLogo? What did you think? Please consider leaving a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Design Services

Virtual Assist USA

Virtual Assist USA is one of the largest VA operations in the US. Based in Pittsburgh PA, the company has been in business since 2007.

Today, founder Danielle Cuomo oversees a team of 40 VAs who primarily work out of the main Virtual Assist USA office. (A handful of remote team members are based on the west coast to better serve clients in that time zone.)

virtual assist usa reviewServices

The company began by helping coaches, speakers, and authors run the administrative and marketing sides of their business, but Virtual Assist USA has expanded to serve all sorts of small business owners and young growing companies.

Many customers are employees in bigger companies and use the service to support their team.

The services range from scheduling, research, and data entry, all the way up to creating presentations and technical website customizations. Their team can also handle event planning, social media marketing, copywriting, bookkeeping, and more.

How it Works

Virtual Assist USA uses a team-based approach that’s heavy on the collaboration. By having the majority of their team in the physical office, Danielle explained it fosters a lot of communication and makes for a healthy breeding ground for ideas.

As a client, you’re assigned a dedicated point of contact, your Client Experience Manager, but still have access to their whole team of resources to accomplish the job at hand.

This set-up allows the company to offer the wide array of services they do, but still maintain a close relationship with their customers.

And since they’re after a long-term relationship with their clients, Virtual Assist USA strives to become partners in their clients’ businesses and integrate themselves into their processes. For example, instead of idly waiting for tasks to come in, they’ll hold proactive strategic planning meetings to discuss the clients’ goals and the direction of the engagement.

It’s a little higher touch than you’ll find with some other companies, but a similar set-up to some of the overseas VA companies I tested, including 24/7 Virtual Assistant and VMG BPO.

Plans and Pricing

Virtual Assist USA has three different pricing options.

The first is a custom-quoted monthly engagement based on your business needs. For instance, you might contract with them to manage your social media, maintain your website, and keep your blog updated.

Option #2 is a prepaid package of 10 virtual assistant hours for $300. The hours can be applied to any of their services and rollover month to month if you don’t use them all up.

And the final pricing option is the Pay-As-You-Go plan, which is a flat $35 an hour with no monthly minimums.

Virtual Assist USA Alternatives

The company stacks up well against their US-based competition, both in terms of pricing and services offered. The company with the most similar model is Longer Days in Michigan.

With dedicated VA options like eaHELP (similarly priced, maybe a litte higher) and Zirtual (slightly lower priced), your VA is working from their home office and you don’t have access to the rest of the team behind the scenes.

Have you worked with Virtual Assist USA? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review in the comments below to help others with their decision.

Posted in US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

WP Curve

WP Curve wants to be your outsourced IT department for WordPress sites. The company was founded in 2013 and has quickly grown to hundreds of paying customers because of the dead-simple service: unlimited 30-minute WordPress fixes for $69 a month.

wp curve review

Their team is a truly international operation, with the co-founders Dan Norris and Alex McClafferty split between Australia and California, and the development team in the Philippines and Central America. All are dedicated  full-time to WP Curve.

Is WP Curve Right For You?

The target customer is a small business owner who:

  • Has problems with their website but doesn’t have the time or know-how to fix them themselves.
  • Doesn’t want to contract out to a new developer for each little tweak they want to make.
  • Has a limited budget for IT maintenance but still needs a high-quality site presented to the world.

What WP Curve is NOT good for:

  • Building a new website from scratch.
  • Larger scale web development projects.
  • People looking for a full-time web developer.

Plans and Pricing

The WP Curve Standard plan is $69 per month for “unlimited” 30-minute WordPress website fixes for one domain. I say “unlimited” in quotes because everything is subject to a reasonable use policy. (Don’t be the guy who tries to abuse the system.)

The Standard plan includes detailed notes on your requests, 24-hour live chat and email support, and same-day turnaround in most cases.

The Professional plan is priced at $99 month, and includes everything in the Standard plan plus some extra bonuses like monthly security scans and updates, and a personalized site check and review by one of WP Curve’s developers.

Both plans come with a 30-day 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee, and there are no long-term contracts or commitments.

On-Demand Website Help

With WPCurve, you’re essentially buying access to an on-demand help-desk for your website. Name something you’d like fixes and they’re on it.

Now, to make sure their members get the most out of their subscription, they’ve even started making proactive suggestions for website improvements each week. It’s an interesting strategy for customer retention and they’re really trying to create a legion of raving fans to evangelize the service via word of mouth.

As you can imagine, if WP Curve can save you even just a couple hours a month, or make some tweak to improve your conversion rate, the service easily pays for itself.

WP Curve Alternatives

Because of the short nature of these types of micro web development jobs, it can be cost prohibitive to post them on some freelance platform. You’ll either spend more time posting and screening candidates than the job’s worth, and might not attract the best talent for a 20-minute job. In the freelancer’s mind, is it even worthwhile to bid on it?

The nearest competition is Elto.com (the company formerly known as Tweaky), which does on-demand one-off website fixes for a small fee.

The other alternative to consider would be Fiverr, and I’ve actually had some success in getting small WordPress fixes done there. But the downsides of course are there’s no long-term relationship, no proactive support, and limited feedback or recourse if something goes wrong.

Have you worked with WP Curve? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Task-Based Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

My $5 IT Department: My New Go-To Resource for Website Fixes

This week I discovered a couple embarrassing bugs on two of my websites.

In the first case, the sidebar was mysteriously not showing up on certain pages.

Ugh, how long has it been like that!?

In the second case, the pagination was messed up. When you would click on “Older posts”, the URL would advance to “page-2″ but the content would be the exact same as page 1!

Ugh, how long has it been like that!?

Now in the past, I’ve recommended a service called Tweaky.com for small website fixes like this. But they’ve been getting hammered in the reviews lately and apparently are re-branding into an entirely new company — Elto.com.

So I thought I’d try a different angle:

Fiverr.

(One of my favorite places to start for any outsourcing project.)

I searched for “wordpress fix” and sorted by “high rating.”

I found a couple sellers with excellent feedback to test out:

  1. wordpress_seo
  2. tremonty89

I was impressed!

Literally within minutes, my sidebar problem was fixed, and a few hours later, my pagination error was gone too.

Total cost: $10. (vs. what would have been a $78 minimum over at the-website-formerly-known-as Tweaky).

My new recommendation?

Check Fiverr first.

Have you had any success (or other experiences) w/ Fiverr? If so, please be sure to stop by the Fiverr page at VirtualAssistantAssistant.com and drop in a quick review!

Posted in Uncategorized

Noon Dalton

Noon Dalton is a virtual assistant and business process outsourcing company in India, with call center support in the Philippines and a front-end sales offices in Florida and New York.

The company gets its very-non-SEO name from its two co-founders, Jehan Noon and Edward Dalton. With extensive experience in consulting and outsourcing, they founded the company in 2009, and it has grown to nearly 200 employees occupying a 30,000 square foot facility.

noon dalton reviewNoon Dalton Services

Noon Dalton focuses on outsourced business and admin support for small and medium businesses. In particular, their college-educated virtual assistants specialize in real estate, financial services, recruiting, and social media.

If you have processes in place and need help executing, or have things you need to get done but don’t have time, these guys want your business. The company aims for low-turnover, long-term relationships, which keeps both the agents and clients happy.

Each client is assigned a dedicated VA, and their work is managed by an on-site quality assurance team. You interface directly with your VA, but have management and process-support accessible should the need arise.

Noon Dalton is excited about their new facility in the Philippines, built specifically for phone-support virtual assistants.

Plans and Pricing

Although the company is a little coy about pricing, I was able to get the inside scoop from Jehan. (These are ballpark figures, and subject to change.)

You can choose from either a full-time plan or a half-time plan, and can select your preferred working time zone as well. The full-time plan includes support 6 days per week, Monday through Saturday, totaling around 200 hours per month

An entry level VA (perfect for routine admin tasks or data entry) is $1035 per month, or just over $5 an hour.

A more senior-level VA with more client-facing experience or advanced skills is around $1555 per month, or around $7.50 an hour.

These rates are similar to what you’ll find at other virtual assistant companies in India at the entry level, which is what most firms advertise. Even at the higher end, which might be at a premium relative to the competition, it’s still kind of crazy to imagine being able to hire a college grad full-time, 6 days a week for $7.50 an hour.

What value could that deliver for your business?

Noon Dalton offers a 3-day free trial on personal plans, plus there are no long term contracts; everything is month-to-month.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA to extend the free trial offer to 5 days!

Businesses are encouraged to start small, especially if it’s your first time outsourcing, to get your feet wet with delegation and management — and then ramp up the engagement as growth necessitates.

For an inbound or outbound calling VA in the Philippines, the rate is around $1750 per month for full-time help.

For part-time (half-time) help, please contact the company directly for a quote.

Notes

Noon Dalton won the 2013 New York Enterprise Report award for Best International Operations, and was recognized on the 2013 SmartCEO Future 50 list.

Have you worked with NoonDalton? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, India Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

Longer Days

LongerDays.com is a virtual assistant company that is entirely US-based; they operate out of Muskegon, Michigan.  Longer Days was founded in 2007, with the idea they could build a more valuable service than the overseas outsourcing companies who were all trying to compete on price.  Now, Longer Days is the largest virtual assistant company in the US and serves busy professionals and entrepreneurs around the country.

longer days review

How it Works

LongerDays virtual assistants work as a team, so you get the benefit of a dedicated assistant as well as an entire office’s worth of experience and specialization. LongerDays VAs are capable of much more than just administrative tasks.

Additional value-added services include assistance with graphic design, web tasks, content writing, and reception. Much like an in-house employee, they can be trained to accomplish just about anything you need done.

The Longer Days business model is based on the “you get what you pay for” mantra. They believe they can provide a superior service with American workers who are college-educated native English speakers.

As a Better Business Bureau accredited business, they are held accountable for delivering on their promises.

Longer Days Review

A Longer Days virtual assistant is not for everyone. They aim to provide a premium service for clients with premium standards. They’re best suited for business owners who are looking for a wide variety of skills from a single source.

If you are looking for a personal assistant as a luxury service, this company is probably not for you.

Plans and Pricing

LongerDays virtual assistant plans start at $90 per week — a 10 hour monthly plan is $350 ($35/hr).

As you might expect, as you bite off more hours, the rates get better. A 20-hour a month plan is $600 ($30/hr), and a 30-hour plan is $840 ($28/hour).

Longer Days also has an on-demand service that’s just $40 a month for membership, and $40 per hour when you tap into their resources on an as-needed basis.

Of course these rates are significantly higher than what you’ll find in India or elsewhere overseas. The rates are on par with what you’ll find at other VA companies in the US, and Longer Days is rare in the fact that their virtual assistants work from a centralized office and not from their homes.

Free Trial Offer

If you’ve tried another virtual assistant company but weren’t happy with the results, maybe you can give Longer Days a shot. They offer a 7-day free trial to sample their services, and you can cancel any time without obligation. You might find it’s a worthwhile investment to free up some of your time and lose the headache of working with someone halfway around the world.

For those with experience working with LongerDays.com, please share it below.

Posted in US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

AssistU

AssistU (AssistU.com) is a virtual assistant training and certification service, that also allows prospective would-be employers to tap into their database of pre-qualified VAs. The company was founded way back in 1997 by Anastacia Brice, back when the term “virtual assistant” barely existed.

AssistU focuses on the provider side of the business, rather than the client side. You’ll notice most of the offerings are aimed toward current and prospective virtual assistants.

There are 2 primary levels of service: a self study program and an intensive 16-week Virtual Mentoring Program. Both of these culminate in a 3-day pass/fail final exam, with the VAs who pass earning the title of Certified Professional Virtual Assistant.

From the client side, the benefit of hiring through AssistU means getting paired up with someone you know takes their business seriously enough to invest in the training and certification. Their preparation in their own business readiness makes them all the more qualified to handle your business tasks.

The primary customers for AssistU are coaches, consultants, realtors, info-marketers, and other professionals and solopreneurs.

How it Works

AssistU offers two options for customers looking to hire a virtual assistant. The first option is the free DIY method, in which you fill out a detailed questionnaire of the kind of service you’re looking for, your delegation experience, and more.

You can filter by time zone, certifications, desired hours per month (it would be very rare to request more than 30 hours a month), and even computer platform. Virtual assistants who meet your criteria respond directly to you and you hire and pay them directly. AssistU has no involvement and doesn’t do any payment processing on an ongoing basis.

The second option is Registry Gold. In this option, you work one-on-one with Anastacia and she plays virtual matchmaker for you. The cost for this service is a one-time $750 fee.

If you’re looking for a long term VA, as most AssistU clients are, the recruiting cost is somewhat negligible.

Plans and Pricing

Although AssistU has VAs from all over the world — and there are more than 300 in their database at the moment — the majority hail from the US and Canada. Naturally, that means the rates are higher than you’ll find overseas, through a freelance platform, or even than through many of the US-based VA companies.

On the low end, you might expect to pay $35/hr, with $50 an hour being closer to average. For senior virtual assistants or those with super-specialized skill-sets, you might be looking at north of $100/hr.

All AssistU VAs are bound by a code of ethics agreement and can have their certification revoked if they’re found to be in violation.

 

AssistU Alternatives?

The virtual assistant candidates you find elsewhere will probably not have the extensive training and certification as those found through AssistU, but that may not matter to you in your business.

If you’re looking to hire a VA in North America but are looking for a little more management oversight, I would consider eaHELP or Longer Days. For a slightly lower price point to start, you might check out Zirtual or even post your job to Elance. I’m always surprised by affordability of the bids I get back on that platform from candidates in the US and Canada.

Have you hired a VA from AssistU? Please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Freelance Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants

Task Firm

Task Firm is a London-based virtual assistant company that provides an on-demand assistance service to micro-businesses and entrepreneurs. The company was founded by Natasha Guerra in 2013, after she got fed up with the frustrations of the marketplaces that currently dominate the outsourcing industry.

task firm reviewHer small team of UK-based virtual assistants aim to change that with dedicated email and phone support, in your time zone and in your language.

How it Works

TaskFirm currently operate across four sectors: Sales, Finance, Marketing, and Admin. Common tasks include blogging, booking business trips, social media management, expense reports, preparing presentations, generating sales leads, following up on invoices, data entry, and a whole array of administrative tasks.

At the moment, their customers are mostly in the tech start-up space. With no employment contracts, no overhead costs, and no payroll hassle, the Task Firm set-up is ideal for companies looking to add some efficient and lean support.

The company only accounts for hours, not for tasks — which means you don’t have to worry about chunking bigger projects into 15-minute segments.

Also, they’ll make every effort to assign you a dedicated virtual assistant, but for urgent tasks another VA with availability may jump in and help out. Task Firm offers a personal service by not only hand-picking each assistant, but also by managing each task.

Plans and Pricing

Task Firm runs on subscription model where customers can choose the package that best suits their needs. Plans start at 5 hours for £89 (£17.80/hour), which includes next-day turnaround time.

The most popular plan is the 10 hour package for £159 (£15.90/hour), which includes phone support and evening hours as needed.

Naturally as you buy up more time, the effective hourly rate decreases. For instance, 20 hours of Task Firm VA time is £279 per month (£13.95/hour), and a 40-hour VIP package is offered at £479 per month (£11.96/hour).

All plans include a 100% money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with Task Firm’s work.

Task Firm Alternatives?

The UK VA market is still emerging with plenty of room for growth. The big freelance marketplaces are a popular choice for finding qualified remote help, but come with the drawbacks of having to place your own wanted ad and screening the masses of candidates to find the right one. Sometimes, for very small tasks, the process can take longer than it would if you just did the job yourself! finding genuine talent on these platforms is becoming increasingly difficult. 

In terms of virtual assistant companies in the UK or Europe, Task Firm’s rates are quite attractive compared with some of their UK competition such as DailyPA.

In the US, the most similar company to Task Firm is Zirtual, which offers similar monthly assistance packages.

Have you worked with Task Firm? If so, please be sure to share a quick review of your experience with their service below to help others with their VA decision.

Posted in UK/Europe Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

Zirtual

Zirtual is a virtual assistant service that offers virtual assistant and personal concierge services to people around the world. Zirtual was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

VAA Tested_smallerZirtual offers US-based, college-educated virtual assistants that are available to handle a wide-variety of tasks and that are designed to help people get and stay organized.

zirtual reviewZirtual assistants are available to perform tasks, including but not limited to sending out birthday cards, ordering flowers, making travel arrangements reservations, scheduling meetings, conducting research , making calls, coordinating plans, returning calls, sending out and responding to e-mails. The list goes on.

Plans and Pricing

For $199/month, you can delegate unlimited tasks to your dedicated Zirtual virtual assistant, up to 8 hours a month.

The most popular option is the Entrepreneur plan priced at $399.00 per month. The Entrepreneur plan includes same-day support from your dedicated assistant and the ability to outsource tasks up to a cumulative 16 hours a month. (Slightly less than $25 per hour.)

If you have more work to outsource, Executive and VIP-level plans give you more hours of support and reduced effective hourly rates.

A lower-priced, non-dedicated option is also available. The plan, called Zirtual Now, is $8.75 per task (or billed in 15-minute increments at $35 an hour. This kind of service really isn’t Zirtual’s focus though, and you can get the same task package at Fancy Hands for less than half this rate.

Zirtual Review:

(Here’s the PowerPoint slide deck my ZA made — pretty slick, right?)

These rates make Zirtual slightly more affordable than other US-based competitors like Red Butler, which offers similar unlimited dedicated service at $495 a month.

Zirtual Founder Interview

Why Zirtual?

Not to suggest these other companies will hire just anyone off the street, but Zirtual guarantees that all of their virtual assistants are thoroughly screened, college-educated and competent to your perform tasks. When it comes to building trust with someone you’ve never met, the hiring process becomes that much more important.

Founder Maren Kate Donovan explains: “We have a seven step hiring process that includes thorough background checks, personality tests and social background checks—to ensure people haven’t lied and to get a very deep understanding of what makes them tick as people.” She goes on to note that Zirtual only hires 3% of the people who apply, and that they receive 4 weeks of traning before they handle their first client.

Your Zirtual virtual assistant service also comes with an “Epic Guarantee” — that you’ll be satisfied with their work and that your personal information will be kept safe. If you have problems with the service you can have a new virtual assistant appointed and also have the option a refund in certain circumstances.

To get started with Zirtual, there are no start-up, or initiation fees aside from your monthly subscription. In addition, there are no long or short-term contracts, individuals can choose to use Zirtual on a one-time basis or sign up for a monthly plan you can cancel at any time with no penalty.

Out of Beta

Since their founding, Zirtual was an invitation-only service — you had to know someone on the inside, or come through this website, to get in. But in January 2014, in response to strong demand, Zirtual lifted the by-invitation-only rule and opened the gates to the general public.

To fuel their growth in this rapidly expanding industry, Zirtual announced that they raised an additional $2 million in venture capital in January 2013.

Have you worked with a Zirtual concierge? If so, please share your experience below!

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Task-Based Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

Outbounders

Outbounders.com is a virtual marketplace for telemarketing professionals. The company was founded in 2010 as an offshoot of Global Sky Inc., a call center operation in the Philippines. Behind the scenes are CEO James Rick Stinson and CTO Rob Rawson (same guy as from Staff.com and the time-tracking software TimeDoctor).

outbounders reviewBecause of the booming call center industry in the Philippines, many of the professional phone workers you’ll find on the site are from there, but the marketplace of callers on Outbounders is pretty global. When I checked the other day, I found workers in China, India, Central America, and the US. 

How it Works

Workers on Outbounders have the advantage of working from home, instead of commuting to an office. Call monitoring software (and of course your business results) will help determine their productivity.

If you’re looking to hire some outbound customer service or telephone sales staff, the hiring process on Outbounders.com is pretty simple.

  1. Like any other freelance marketplace, the first step is to create a profile.
  2. You can browse the listings of available professionals, filter based on rate or other criteria, listen to their recordings, and even see if they are online at the moment for an interview.
  3. You can also post your own detailed job description and collect applications, much like you would if you were hiring a freelancer on oDesk.

Outbounders callers have been hired by thousands of small business clients and have made over 2.5 million calls on their behalf!

Costs

If you already have some phone dialing software or internal software you use to track calls, your Outbounders hire can plug right into your system. Alternatively, Outbounders.com has their own dialer you can use for a small additional fee ($1 per hour).

Outbounders.com keeps the lights on by taking a 10% fee on top of the caller’s hourly rate. It’s free to post a standard job listing, and performance-based jobs carry a $25 fee.

Your agent will use unlimited free VOIP calling to the US and Canada, and discounted rates to other destinations around the world.

The rates seem to start around $5 an hour, and go up from there depending on experience, geography, and level of English skills. It seems to be an affordable way to get your outbound calling campaign started. At that rate, your rep doesn’t have to make many sales to deliver a huge ROI.

This home-based model means less overhead and significant cost savings over a traditional call center set-up.

Then, when you’re ready to scale up and add more seats, or move to an in-office call center environment, you can engage Outbounder’s parent company, GlobalSky.com.

The company provides training in their dialer software, but as with any other hire, any job-specific training is on you to provide.

Why Outbounders?

Targeting entrepreneurs, Outbounders aims to woo customers away from other job sites like Elance, oDesk, and Guru.com. The gameplan for doing so is to focus on just one area of specialization — to become THE marketplace for outbound phone support.

If you find yourself in the position that getting on the phone and dialing for dollars helps drive new business, but then you get caught in the cycle of actually delivering the work for those clients and not feeding the funnel, maybe a dedicated outbound sales rep could help.

The advantage may be the speed of hiring and the quality of applicants. Have you hired any callers from Outbounders? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Freelance Virtual Assistants

eaHELP

eaHELP is a virtual executive assistant company that employs exclusively US-based assistants.  The company got its start in 2010 helping churches and pastors outsource their administrative work, and has since expanded to serve businesses (small & large) nationwide.

VAA Tested eaHELPeaHELP executive assistants are administrative professionals trained in a variety of support tasks.  Their goal is to integrate tightly with you and your existing team for a cohesive process-flow, even though they’ll be working remotely.

Some of the more common jobs eaHELP VAs do include scheduling and travel planning, research, preparing presentations, social media admin, project management, and other ongoing business support functions.  The idea is to let someone else handle what they’re good at, so you can focus your time on what you’re good at — or what you need to do to grow your business.

The eaHELP model is known as a “staff leasing” arrangement.  Where other virtual assistant companies may assign your tasks to whoever is available at the moment, eaHELP gives you a dedicated/assigned assistant so you can build a one-on-one relationship and gain the efficiencies that come with it.

eaHELP Review

With dedicated support and All-American executive assistants, eaHELP is a positioned as a premium service in the competitive world of cloud staffing.  But instead of racing to the bottom on pricing, they want to help your organization race to the top, with hand-picked VAs matched against your needs (both professional & personal requirements).

The company offers monthly service plans in 5-hour per week increments.  The most popular plan to start out with for small businesses, entrepreneurs, or people who just want to take a test drive is the baseline 5-hour a week plan.  The sign-up process begins with a free consultation and personalized price quote.

A flat monthly fee gives you access to you VA week in and week out, without having to worry about overhead, timesheets, and billing headaches. Modest discounts are available for scaling up the engagement, and you can change plans at any time given reasonable notice.

As you might expect, eaHELP is considerably more expensive than many of the overseas virtual assistant options.  In some parts of the world, you may even be able to find a full-time virtual employee for a lower monthly fee.  But eaHELP believes you get what you pay for, and clearly isn’t targeting the same customer who’s looking for the $5/hour VA.

As of January 2014, their hourly rates range from $35 to $44. The good thing is that these rates are “all-inclusive”, in that you don’t have any additional employer burden costs to pay on top of it, like you would with a traditional W-2 employee. If you are a non-profit or a church, lower rates may be available.

Bryan Miles, the founder of eaHELP, is focused on delivering superior service to his customers.  The strategy seems to be paying off, with business growing rapidly and a host of marquee clients. In fact, the company has earned glowing endorsements from author Michael Hyatt and other Fortune 500 companies.

I had the chance to sit down with Bryan and ask him a few questions on what sets eaHELP apart from the competition, who their target customers are, what areas of work they specialize, and who should NOT use their service.

eaHELP Founder Interview

the virtual assistant solutionAs mentioned in the video, use this link to grab a free copy of The Virtual Assistant Solution (which normally sells on Amazon for $2.99).

With so many changes in our economy and hiring strategies, Bryan argues it may be time to rethink your approach to staffing. In fact, he gives 9 reasons to consider going virtual for your next hire in his free ebook (email opt-in required, but worth the read).

Have you worked with eaHELP? If so, please consider sharing a short review below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

Microlancer

Microlancer.com is a service from the Envato network of sites (known for ThemeForest, VideoHive, AudioJungle, and more — they’re heavy into the “microsourcing” economy), and was launched in a private Beta in April 2013.

microlancer reviewThe goal of Microlancer is to provide excellent graphics and creative designing in an array of fields including 3D animations, logo design, business card design, twitter design, PSD to WordPress, Email Newsletter design, and web development.

Microlancer.com is a hub of creative freelancers, who have pledged to work with them and in return they get a platform with space and necessary controls to give their best shot in a safe environment. Hence, Microlancer.com works to facilitate both the service providers with distinctive skills sets, and the buyers who need digital designing work.

The advantages of Microlancer.com are that you are spared the nuisance of posting job bids for however small or big jobs like you would have to do for similar work on Elance or oDesk. The downside of this is it takes your proactive searching to find the best fit for your job, instead of posting it and having the bidders come to you.

But here you can window shop the various services upfront along with their price tags. All you need to do is select a service provider and send in your instructions. Another advantage is that your satisfaction is guaranteed. The service provider has to complete your work in the set turnaround time.

There is a feedback system but it’s not the most robust — you can rate a freelancer simply thumbs or thumbs down. My theory is this will tend to create some “grade inflation” over time as people are wary to use the thumbs down for fear of retaliation.

The service providers are at their own liberty to put up their price tags, but within the range set by Microlancer. Like Fiverr, pricing begins at $5, but is free to increase from there depending on the service (in increments of $5). Many of the offerings are $20-500.

In theory, the $100 ebook cover you order here is likely going to be higher quality than the $5 one from Fiverr. Or at least you hope so!

Buyers don’t have to pay any extra to Microlancer, it is the service providers who pay for the platform fee, which is about 30% of the published price. (The platform fee is slightly higher when compared to 10% on the major freelance networks and 20% on Fiverr, which could lead to higher overall prices.)

You can view the profile of the service providers to get a better understanding of the individual or the team, before you pick them.

In general, this is a place for small one-time outsourced design jobs you can pick from an a la carte-style menu depending on what you need done. When I looked, I didn’t find any “virtual assistant”-specific gigs, but I imagine that could change in the future if there proves to be a demand for it.

Service providers like it because they get to set their own rate; they’re not “racing to the bottom” on price like some complain about on other freelancing sites where they have to bid and compete against others. Although even here it’s not like they’re operating in a vacuum; would-be employers can still check out their price and portfolio relative to all the other competition.

Payment is made up-front, but the funds are released to the service provider only when the buyers are satisfied with the job. In case of disputes, the experts at Microlancer will review the work and give an impartial judgment.

I have yet to test out the service myself so I can’t speak the exact nuts and bolts just yet. Have you tried Microlancer? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Design Services, Freelance Virtual Assistants, Project-Based Virtual Assistants

Genie Desk

Genie Desk is Kolkata, India based virtual assistant company. The company was founded in 2012 and began sourcing clients through a variety of the freelance work platforms.

Genie DeskThe management team brings years of experience in management consulting and business process outsourcing to Genie Desk.

Their VAs were largely recruited from other Fortune 500 BPO centers in India, meaning they have previous experience in working with international clients. Genie Desk aims their service at busy individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.

What do they do?

Genie Desk virtual assistants can handle a variety of personal and business outsourcing tasks. You’ll find they perform everything from remote administrative duties all the way up to more technically skilled work like web development.

Common tasks include bookkeeping roles, document creation and editing, transcription, online research, and even serving as your virtual receptionist.

The VAs (the “genies”) work from a modern office that’s open 24/7, and use a team-based approach as needed to deliver the best client results. Depending on the nature of your task, you can use your assigned dedicated genie or allow any of the available VAs to handle it.

For ongoing processes you outsource, an on-site Six Sigma certified manager helps document them and oversee their execution.

Genie Desk doesn’t charge by tasks; only by the actual time used. That means you don’t have to worry about chunking up big projects into 15-minute increments.

Plans and Pricing

Genie Desk has 3 main plans:

  1. Pay As You Go — Billed at a rate of $15.95 per hour, with a 10 hour minimum you can use over the course of 3 months. Once your time is depleted, just add more. No contracts or commitments.
  2. Plan 10 — 10 hours of support per month for $129.50. ($12.95 / hour)
  3. Plan 20 — 20 hours of support per month for $219. ($10.95 / hour)

The company offers a 3-hour free trial so you can test out their service, and will also quote custom plans if you have something in mind that doesn’t quite fit into one of the plans above.

An online dashboard allows you to track your usage throughout the month and plan accordingly so you maximize your return on investment.

These rates are competitive with the industry, if not slightly higher than what you’ll find at My Tasker or 24/7 Virtual Assistant.

What sets them apart?

When I spoke with John, their General Manager, he seemed quite aware of the high-flying promises made by Genie Desk’s competitors. What sets them apart, he explains, is:

  • Reliability, transparency, and accountability.
  • Not having VAs saying, “Yes I understand” and then wasting hours of your time when they really meant, “No, I need clarification.”
  • Industry-leading quality assurance standards.

Have you worked with Genie Desk? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision-making process.

Posted in India Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

RemSource

RemSource is an American virtual administrative assistant company based in Baltimore, MD. The company was founded in 2009 by Azi Rosenblum, who saw a need for a more professional, integrated admin service to help growing small businesses.

remsource reviewRemSource offers live administrative support during regular 9-5 office hours, including answering phones and emails, scheduling appointments, and customer service. Their agents can also handle ongoing business process outsourcing and bookkeeping tasks.

The service is aimed at small business owners, solo practitioners, and other solopreneurs.

Monthly packages start around $500-600 per month. Mention you found them on VirtualAssistantAssistant.com for a reduced trial month (with no commitments!) and test out the service first-hand to see if it’s a good fit for your business.

At the end of the trial month, RemSource will work to put together a service package based on your usage and unique business needs. I pressed them for an hourly rate or average engagement cost, but it varied widely depending on how much support each client was using.

After that, RemSource service follows a quarterly agreement, billed monthly.

Their team of administrative assistants works from their office in Baltimore (not overseas), and each client is assigned 2 dedicated admins (one primary, one secondary admin). The admins become a part of that business’s team, so the customers get used to speaking with the same people and can develop a long-term relationship.

RemSource is one of very few US-based virtual assistant companies where the VAs work from an office and not from their homes. The only other I’m aware of is Longer Days in Michigan.

While the company can handle a number of administrative and business process tasks, they specialize in executive scheduling and small business bookkeeping.

I asked Gali, their Director of Business Development, what sets RemSource apart from the competition? Her answer:

“We are one of the very few that offer LIVE 9-5 coverage for our clients. We do not bill by the hour, and we don’t work based on projects, we become essential components of the client’s DAILY operation in order to free up time and help the client focus on growing and building profits.”

She also told me a story about how a construction company client of theirs actually won a bid, at least in part because they had a “secretary” answering the phone when the customer called. Little did they know it was really the RemSource VA!

Indeed, she picked up the phone on the first ring when I called.

Another example Gali shared was a busy graphic designer who felt bogged down by scheduling, invoicing, and following-up on proposals. Now RemSource handles all of that and she can focus on the work that only she can do: the talented design work that rings the cash register.

RemSource has been recognized in the Baltimore Business Journal and SmartCEO Magazine for their innovative approach to administrative staffing.

Have you worked with RemSource? If so, please take a minute to leave a quick review below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

TextMaster

TextMaster is a professional copywriting, proofreading, and translation service. The company was founded in 2011 by serial entrepreneurs Thibaud Elziere (Fotolia) and Quentin Nickmans.

TextMaster ReviewThe idea for Textmaster stemmed from seeing a real need in the market for better content production, editing, and translations. TextMaster maintains offices in Belgium, New York, and Paris, but uses a global network of writing and editing professionals.

Writing, editing, and translations are services that are often slow and expensive. Speaking for myself, I know I’m a pretty slow writer. Because of this, Text Master created a global virtual workforce that is accessible 24/7 around the world and brings together professionals that offer writing, editing and translation services and adds a strong quality control component to it.

You’ll find more than 70,000 pre-tested writers on their easy-to-use platform, and can get  content written, proofread or translated in 10 different languages (English (US, UK), Spanish, Chinese, German, French, Portuguese (Europe, Brazil), Dutch, Russian, Polish), with more to be added soon.

How does it work?

Unlike freelance websites, such as oDesk or Elance, TextMaster takes away the pain of finding and managing the writers.

You don’t have to do any decision-making in terms of who to hire. Just submit your job and it gets done.

The writings and translations are priced based on the length of the piece and the quality desired. The price starts with 2.6 cents per word for copywriting, and you can pay as you go or buy a pre-paid bundle that gives you some free bonus credit.

All writers on the platform are professional and pre-tested.  You can request unlimited revisions for no extra fee.

Who is this for?

TextMaster is for anyone who needs content to be written, proofread or translated.

Current customers include bloggers, writers, developers, and advertising and communication agencies. In addition, businesses that need website content, product descriptions, or blogs and articles in any of the languages above are a perfect fit for the service.

How much does it cost?

The rates for Regular level service, which is good for general website content and product descriptions, start at 2.6 cents per word, meaning you can get a 500 word article for $13.

A Premium level service is 6.4 cents per word and is intended for writings that require more research, blog posts, longer articles, marketing materials, or scripts. A 500 word Premium writing would be $32.

In addition, TextMaster allows you to add custom option for more specific needs:

  • Quality Control for an additional 2.6 cents per word, where the work of the writer is controlled by TextMaster in-house quality people.
  • Expert for additional 13 cents per word to get a high-level expert in the selected category. TextMaster has experts in over 30 categories to choose from.
  • Complex Documents for additional 7.8 cents per word to handle complex file extensions eg psd, ai, indd, qxp, vsd, epub, po.
  • Author Localization to have an author from a specific region for additional 2.6 cents per words.
  • Priority Order for faster turnaround time is an additional 5.2 cents per word. (Standard delivery varies based on the length of the writing and the content from less than 24 hours to a few days.)

For payments, you can choose pay-as-you-go option or go with one of the pre-paid bundles that gives some attractive free bonus credit. The Starter bundle starts with $49 and the largest goes up to $3,500. The pre-paid bundle can be used on any of the services offered.

It’s free to sign-up and create an account.

Who is doing the work?

You submit the job and based on the requirements it gets done by a writer who meets the criteria.

You can choose to work with different authors, for instance if you have large volumes of content that need to be written fast you can choose to have many authors work on various jobs at the same time.

After you spend some time on the platform and you start developing relationships with writers, you can add the best ones as your favorites, and choose to work with them only on future tasks or writings that require consistency in tone and style. It’s up to you. All authors are pre-tested and rated by in-house quality team on a regular basis.

What sets TextMaster apart from the competition?

I asked Kristi Polsdam, TextMaster’s US Country Manager, what differentiates the company from their competitors like HireWriters, TextBroker, Scripted, TheContentAuthority, and even Fiverr or Elance. This is what she said:

  • Unlike most other platforms out there, TextMaster allows unlimited revisions and back-and-forth communication for no extra fee.
  • Better Quality Control: In-house quality control team proofreads first 10 jobs of every author and after that rates authors on an on-going basis; users can request QC on any job at any time.
  • Multilingual: We produce content in 10 different languages.
  • Largest scope of services:  In addition to writing, we also do editing and translations, so you can order editing on already written content, and translations to make the content available to a wider audience.

Have you tried Text Master for content creation? If so, please leave a short about your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Project-Based Virtual Assistants, Writing Services

Red Butler

Red Butler is a personal assistant and concierge service that helps business professionals, entrepreneurs and lifestyle enthusiasts get more done in less time.  The Beverly Hills, CA-based company began in 2003 and since then has opened up their unique per-task membership model worldwide. red butler reviewUnlike many other virtual assistant companies, Red Butler is entirely US-based and uses an all-American staff, so there are no foreign call centers to deal with.

Professionals trust Red Butler to handle their personal, business and lifestyle. Red Butler offers several membership plans starting at just $99 a month.  Each level of membership connects you to their team of in-the-know professional assistants, that can book, find, research, call, organize, access and do just about anything at anytime. Corporate and Employee based services are also available.

One thing that sets the company apart from the competition is the Red Butler membership card, which grants members more than 2000 special privileges and discounts at restaurants, bars, hotels, and lounges nationwide and around the world.

For example, card members get special room rates at The Standard Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles & New York City, corporate rates with Enterprise & National Rent-a-Car, priority seating and a complimentary round of champagne at STK in Las Vegas & Los Angeles, and an $85 food & beverage credit at many Starwood Hotels — just to name a few.

Red Butler Review

If you want to sign up for Red Butler, use promo code VIRTUAL to get 20% off your first month.

The Basic Red Butler membership ($99) includes the membership card and  10 virtual assistant requests per month.  The Pro Red Butler membership ($245) includes 25 requests per month, along with priority status.

The VIP Red Butler membership ($495) includes 50 requests per month and a dedicated representative.

The requests are use ‘em or lose ‘em, meaning unused credits don’t roll over month-to-month. A request can be take up to 20 minutes of your concierge’s time.

These new pricing levels introduced in late 2013 position Red Butler as a more premium (read higher priced) service compared with Fancy Hands and Zirtual, two other leading US-based virtual assistant companies.

Want to see how they stacked up against the competition in my 4-company VA trial? Click here to read the full results.

The Red Butler App

The Red Butler iPhone app is a powerful mobile tool to have in your arsenal.  Within the app, you can access over 1500 exclusive Red Butler member privileges, create new virtual assistant requests, read city guides, and more.  This is something no other virtual assistant company is offering at the moment and really sets Red Butler apart.

Summary

Red Butler is well-known in the virtual assistant industry for their innovative approach and great service.  With both personal and business services available, along with their extensive list of privileges and competitive pricing, Red Butler offers a very attractive solution.

If you have worked with Red Butler, please share your experience below!

Posted in Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Task-Based Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

Hire Your Virtual Assistant

Hire Your Virtual Assistant – H.Y.V.A. for short – is a virtual assistant company founded in 2009 by Owen McGab Enaohwo. Enaohwo is a Washington DC-based entrepreneur who went into the business of helping others save time. If you watch any of his video interviews, you can immediately tell how passionate he is about your success. With a large 200+ person facility in the Philippines, Hire Your Virtual Assistant is ready to tackle the needs of busy professionals and business-owners everywhere.
HYVA review

HYVA offers a variety of virtual assistant plans, ranging from 40 hours a month to 160 hours a month, at rates of $358 to $1120. On an hourly basis, you’ll find these rates are fairly competitive for Filipino VAs. The most popular H.Y.V.A. plan is the part-time, 20-hour a week plan for $672 a month, which works out to about $8.40 an hour.

The availability of these part-time plans is one thing that sets HYVA apart from other Philippines virtual assistant companies.  Others are focused solely on full-time employment, which might be overkill for first-time outsourcers.

HYVA also specifically targets those in the accounting profession for their client base. If you’re an accountant, you may have found the right fit.

HYVA Intro Video

You also have the benefit of no long-term obligation; there are no contracts to sign and you can quit your virtual assistant service at any time.  Hire Your Virtual Assistant offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee and strives to cultivate valuable and lasting relationships with their clients.  Recently the company added a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test out their service risk-free.

I had the chance to sit down with Owen to get the inside scoop on the origins of HYVA, how their process works, and the exact kinds of tasks they really excel in — as well as who should NOT hire them. The video portion of the call didn’t actually record, so you’ll just have to pretend our mouths are moving.

Like we discussed, HYVA provides a dedicated project manager and virtual assistant that you can train to meet your specific business needs. That way your tasks and potentially sensitive information aren’t being shuffled around from person to person. You can build a relationship with your VA just as you would an in-house employee. Plus, most virtual assistants are working during US business hours so you can communicate normally without a shift in your schedule.

Hire Your Virtual Assistant uses the popular Basecamp web-based software for a secure online interface that allows clients and VAs to communicate effectively and monitor results.

Have you had any experience working with Hire Your Virtual Assistant? Please share it here and help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Philippines Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

OnlineJobs.ph

OnlineJobs.ph is a Filipino job board that caters exclusively to remote online work opportunities.  It was created in 2009 by Utah-based entrepreneur John Jonas as a way to connect the affordable Filipino workforce with business owners in North America and around the world.

VAA Tested_smallerIf that name sounds familiar, it’s for good reason.  Jonas is also the guy behind Replace Myself, a leading outsourcing education membership service.  In a relatively short amount of time, OnlineJobs.ph has attracted a large user-base of both virtual assistants and employers.

The beauty of OnlineJobs is in their powerful filtering system.  It’s basically a resume database, and you can filter by the date the listing was created, skills required, the level of skill (very important), and desired salary.

According to the experts, the most important filters are to choose only resumes updated within the last month, and strong English writing skills.  The logic behind these selections is that the ones with older resumes will either already have jobs or they aren’t great candidates.

For the English skills, writing is a great indicator of overall understanding, comprehension, and communication skills.  If your virtual assistant has that baseline knowledge, you can train them in whatever you need done.

OnlineJobs.ph Review

The salaries shown are monthly figures, and are usually negotiable.  They’re shown in pesos, so you’ll have to do a quick conversion to get an idea of how much a particular VA will cost.  For example, 15,000 pesos is roughly $360 at today’s exchange rate, and that is NOT an exceedingly low salary request.

OnlineJobs.ph recently added a new metric called ID Proof. It’s not a measure of skill or reliability, but a 1-100 rating of to what degree the candidate is who they say they are. Apparently it’s a common practice to create multiple profiles under fake personas to hedge your bets and theoretically give yourself a better chance of getting an application noticed.

In general, I’ve found the higher the ID Proof number, the more professional the candidate. It’s a measure of how seriously they’re staking their reputation online. I wouldn’t immediately rule someone out who has a low score here, but choosing between two equally qualified candidates, I’d go with the one with the higher ID Proof for sure.

Plans and Pricing

The way OnlineJobs makes money is on a subscription-based pricing model, where it is $49 a month to be able to contact the workers.  You can do all the filtering and searching you want, but you can’t communicate with the workers until you pay.  Considering the potential long-term cost savings over a virtual assistant company in the Philippines or elsewhere, it’s still a strong value proposition.

Discounts are available for extended membership terms, but unless you need to build a large team or are using it as a recruiter, it shouldn’t take  you that long to find a suitable selection.

For instance, I posted a virtual assistant job recently and was inundated with responses overnight. From more than 70 candidates, I picked my top 10 to send some trial tasks. Five or six completed those and I picked my top 2 for a Skype video interview. All done in less than a week.

As an alternative, you can get OnlineJobs.ph access for “free” if you buy into the Replace Myself training program, starting at $97 per month.

Virtual Assistant Tracking

OnlineJobs has introduced a piece of software called TimeProof to track the working hours of your remote team members. It’s completely free to use (currently in beta), and aims to provide a level of protection and verification for both workers and employers.

As the employer, you’ll get time sheets and screenshots of what your VA was working on during their shift.

OnlineJobs.ph Alternatives

A popular alternative a while ago was a site called BestJobs.ph — but for some unknown reason, they’re are no longer accepting job posts from international employers. In fact, my account was banned with no explanation or warning after posting just one (completely legit) VA job there.

Today you’re left with the alternatives of the Craigslist crapshoot, finding a freelancer, or potentially contracting with Virtual Staff Finder to do the legwork for you.

Have you had any experience with finding a VA on OnlineJobs.ph? If so, please share it here and help others with their decision.

Posted in Freelance Virtual Assistants, Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Philippines Virtual Assistants, Virtual Employees

Trade Virtual Services

Trade Virtual Services is a small but growing virtual assistant and outsourced marketing company in India. They were founded in 2011 by a couple alumni from another VA company.

trade virtual services reviewThe company began sourcing clients on Elance but now collects customer information for personalized quotes right on their website.

Trade Virtual Services is staffed with a team of young, ambitious, and helpful professionals to help you achieve your business goals at affordable rates. They work out of a managed office in New Delhi with the infrastructure already in place.

For services, they offer dedicated virtual assistant packages, SEO service, web design and development, data entry, social media marketing, and more. When I spoke with the co-founder, Vijay, he explained the VA service and SEO packages were the most popular.

You can start with one VA for as little as 5 hours a week, or ramp up an entire team of remote workers. Your VA will work in the time-zone you require and you can communicate via chat, email or phone.

The virtual assistant service is sold at $5 an hour, which is quite low for Indian VA companies, especially at the lower-hour increments. Normally you wouldn’t see that rate until you’re committing to a full-time virtual employee.

Vijay laid out the 3 separate VA plans that have been most popular with existing clients:

  • 20 hours for $100/month
  • 40 hours for $200/month + 8 hours free
  • 80 hours for $400/month + ask about a special bonus

There is no initiation fee or ongoing monthly commitment. You keep your VA as long as you’re happy with the service.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for 10% off your first month!

The SEO package runs $200 per month and includes both on-site and off-site optimization to earn the highest rankings possible for your business. With any outsourced SEO service though, it’s important to understand what tactics they’ll use, especially for link-building, so you don’t end up getting penalized by Google.

The Trade Virtual Services website itself is riddled with typos so I wouldn’t be in any rush to outsource any copywriting or proofreading tasks, but for general administrative tasks or online research, I’m sure they’d be fine. Beyond that, you’ll be able to train your dedicated VA in whatever business-specific processes you need done.

Have you worked with Trade Virtual Services? If so, please leave a quick review below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, India Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

oDesk

oDesk, like Elance, is a community that brings together contract workers and employers. The company has been in business since 2003, and now serves hundreds of thousands of clients all around the world. They boast more than 3 million freelancers ready to bid on your job.

odesk reviewWhile oDesk was primarily known as a place to find programmers, it is also a great place to find a virtual assistant, and administrative support is one of their fastest growing categories. I found over 5000 matches for a recent oDesk search for “virtual assistant”.

oDesk has no sign-up fees to access their network of freelance virtual assistant service providers. In fact, you can create an account, post your requirements, and have workers bidding for the job within a few minutes. The company makes money by taking a fee from the contract price of the work. That means if you agree to pay an oDesk virtual assistant $500 for 100 hours worth of work (not an uncommon price!), they are really collecting slightly less than that.

oDesk Review

The oDesk system offers the benefits you’d expect from this type of marketplace, including feedback mechanisms and dispute resolution.

One thing that sets oDesk apart is their monitoring software. Some say it’s a little Big Brother-ish, but others swear by it because it makes sure the work that is paid for is the work that gets done. The software, which workers turn on when they begin a job, tracks keystroke volume, takes screenshots at certain time intervals, and even has an optional webcam feature. If you’re wary about hiring a remote virtual assistant, it can definitely help overcome some of the fear of not being able to manage their working hours effectively.

When searching for virtual assistants on oDesk, pay close attention to their account history. How long have they been working? What does their feedback say about their work?

Another thing to look for is to match the virtual assistant’s specific skill set to the tasks you need done. Everyone has certain specialties, so seek out those who have good ratings in the areas you need the most help with. Alternatively, you can post your own job requirements and have workers bid on them.

Have you worked with oDesk? Please share your experience below.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Freelance Virtual Assistants, Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Project-Based Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Employees

Virtual Clouding

Virtual Clouding is virtual assistant outsourcing company in India. The business was founded in 2009 as a labor force “cloud” service to go alongside the rise of the hosting and data storage cloud.

virtual cloudingVirtual Clouding offers a variety of virtual services, including administrative support, research tasks, customer service, web development, and more. You get a dedicated virtual assistant, but they may subcontract out your tasks to someone else better qualified to complete the job.

They claim to have a staff of 100 people working around the clock to meet the needs of clients in different time zones.

How does it work, you ask? Well, they skipped the YouTube video route and instead made a silent flash explainer video, which you can check out here.

The rates for Virtual Clouding vary on how many hours you’d like to use their service each month. The entry-level plan is just $15 a month and includes one hour of outsourced tasks, with additional time available at $15 an hour.

For $120 a month, you can get 10 hours of time, and for $360 you can get 40. Obviously the dollars per hour cost goes down with the more time you buy.

My favorite has to be the massive “Unlimited” plan, which grants you 720 hours for $3600 a month. That’s the equivalent of 4 and a half full-time employees!

No word on how Virtual Clouding is tracking the hours spent, or whether higher-skilled tasks like programming burn hours at a faster rate. From what I can tell, the time is use-it-or-lose it; unused hours won’t roll over to the next month.

They’ll also quote project-based work if you don’t want to sign on for a recurring billing, although there are no long-term commitments.

Now, Virtual Clouding and I got off on the wrong foot. They decided to post a spammy comment on this site a couple years ago, and when I played dumb and asked for more details, they never replied.

A year after that, I contacted them through their website, but again, never got a response. Indeed, their site and social media accounts have not been updated since late 2011. So they might no longer be open for business.

For a more responsive alternative virtual assistant company, check out My Tasker or 24/7 Virtual Assistant. The rates are similar and they have generated positive feedback here on VAA.

Have you worked with Virtual Clouding? If so, please leave a quick review below to help others with their decision.

Posted in India Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

Remote Staff

Remote Staff, or remotestaff.com.au, is an Australia-based staff leasing company that specializes in virtual employee recruitment. The company was founded in 2007, and has placed nearly 4000 workers in remote jobs since then.

remote staffRemote Staff will find you a home-based worker in India or the Philippines, and then you can work directly with them. Despite the workers not punching the clock at a traditional office, the company maintains a pretty substantial brick-and-mortar presence, with more than 60 full-time employees in their Philippines home office.

How it works is you submit your job details and detailed requirements, and Remote Staff hunts through their talent pool of thousands of jobseekers to present you with qualified applicants for you to interview. Then, you can hire them and train them as needed, and Remote Staff will handle all the payments and paperwork.

Because this recruitment service is free, unlike Virtual Staff Finder, for example, you can expect to be paying slightly more on a monthly basis than you would without a middleman because the company has to make some margin somewhere. Still, the rates are likely to be attractive compared to those of an office-based virtual assistant company.

If you don’t want to take advantage of Remote Staff’s in-house recruiters, you can do the candidate search on your own on their site. You can filter by skills, availability, and hourly rate. One cool feature they’ve added is an audio snippet of each candidate, so you can hear them in their own words and get an idea of their English language skills too.

With Remote Staff, you’re looking at one-month minimum commitment, but the aim is for long-term mutually beneficial relationships. In fact, if you’re not happy with your worker, they have a 6-month staff replacement guarantee.

One downside is you have to pre-pay for the month’s work, which is the opposite of traditional hiring. But in this case, you still have some protection in place if your virtual employee flakes on you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying for holidays or sick time; only accountable for the hours actually worked.

In exchange for their handling fees (a minimum of $1 an hour), Remote Staff moderates any disputes that come up, and logs all working hours in their system to ensure the workers are putting in the time they say they are.

The closest competitors that comes to mind are Staff.com and Virtual Coworker. If this model is appealing to you, you might want to check out those guys too.

Have you worked with Remote Staff (remotestaff.net)? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Philippines Virtual Assistants, Virtual Employees
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