Speedlancer

Speedlancer is the first freelancing platform to harness the power of the crowd for speed. The Melbourne, Australia based company opens its doors in 2014, but uses a unique crowdsourcing methodology to quickly deliver tasks for clients.

Speedlancer targets business owners who would like to take a load off and increase productivity. This is especially useful for business owners because multiple tasks can be done in parallel, so what would normally take days or weeks elsewhere can all be done in just 4 hours.

speedlancer reviewFounder Adam Stone explains the service also works well for startups who need to launch their minimum viable product (MVP) immediately, to get up and running and test their concepts really quickly.

Services

In a promised turnaround time of just 4 hours, you can have a design, writing, or data entry/research task done by their high-quality, curated ‘Speedlancers.’ This distributed team is located in different time zones around the world to provide ample coverage for requests that come in at all hours of the day and night.

All the writers are promised to be native English speakers.

How it Works

The first step is to describe the micro-job you need done, whether it’s a small design project, an article or other writing job, or some research-related task. Speedlancer plans to expand into other service areas soon as well.

You create a title, job description, and your desired budget. Then the task goes out into the queue of Speedlancer tasks a qualified worker jumps on it right away.

speedlancer submit task

At the time of this writing, the average time to acceptance of a job is just 10 minutes.

Upon delivery, you are entitled to a round of free revisions, and if the work still is not done to your satisfaction, Speedlancer will re-enter it into the task-list to be re-done, or issue a refund. That way, the quality is guaranteed.

Plans and Pricing

On this platform, customers choose their prices using the sliding scale shown above, and then it is up to the Speedlancers to decide whether or not the task is a good exchange for their time and effort.

Adam recommended choosing a baseline price around the $29 mark, explaining that $29 will typically get you a 500 word blog post, a logo, banner design, poster, or business card design (just to name a few), and most smallish data-entry type work such as data mining.

If no one accepts your job within 8 hours, you’ll have an option to revise your description or increase your price. That way, the marketplace determines what a fair value for each job is.

The company takes a revenue share and passes the rest onto the individual worker who completed your job.

Speedlancer Alternatives

What sets Speedlancer apart is the turnaround time from start to finish. You don’t have to worry about submitting a job proposal to Elance or oDesk, then weeding through the dozens of applications.

For a small task, it’s more trouble than it’s worth!

The other primary alternative would be a specialist marketplace like Fiverr, but the challenge there is in sorting through all the noise to find the right seller for you. Even though I love Fiverr, I admit it can be time-consuming to find the perfect gig for what I need — and when I do, I’m frustrated because that seller is probably in high-demand and has 1-2 week lag in his promised delivery time.

Speedlancer aims to solve those pains by providing high quality service AND a fast turnaround time. Sure, you’ll pay more than $5, but it can be worth it if you’re in a hurry.

As soon as I have a chance to test out Speedlancer, I’ll report back and share my results here. Ahh, I should have had them write this article!

Have you worked with Speedlancer? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Freelance Virtual Assistants, Task-Based Virtual Assistants, Writing Services

5 Star VAs

5 Star VAs is a virtual assistant recruiting service with a twist. The Philippines-based company offers both “unmanaged” and “co-managed” matchmaking services.

The company was founded in 2013 and has attracted a growing client base since then. When the co-founder, Neil Cass, reached out to me, my initial reaction was that the company sounded a little like Virtual Staff Finder, the VA recruiting service run by Chris Ducker.

5 star vas reviewServices

Like VSF, 5 Star VAs will source talented virtual assistant candidates tailored specifically to your individual needs. But unlike VSF, which now only recruits General Virtual Assistants, 5 Star VAs will help you find a dedicated team member to meet a wide variety of skillsets.

For instance, you can use their service to find general VAs, SEO specialists, content writers, bloggers, social media marketing specialists, web designers, web developers, and more.

They can provide VAs on a full-time (160 hrs per month) or part-time basis (80 hrs per month), and target startups, small businesses, solopreneurs and other entrepreneurs who need help getting it all done.

With the Unmanaged Service, you interview the candidates provided by 5 Star VAs and make your hiring decision. Then, you work directly with your new virtual assistant and train and pay them directly. There is no markup on their salary and they report to you with no intermediary.

With the Co-Managed Service, they help negotiate the salary on your behalf, handle the VA’s payroll, and pay their PhilHealth premiums (the national health insurance program).

In this case, the company also serves in an ongoing HR capacity, as a point of contact so if there are any issues at any time the client can speak to us directly.

Neil explains, “I feel that this is important as some clients may feel overwhelmed at times and not know how to approach the VA, usually it would just be a case of getting to know each other and work style, adapting to the clients way of doing things, but if this is not addressed it could lead to misunderstandings and the client deciding that working with VAs is not for them.”

It should be noted that even in the co-managed relationship, you are still in charge of managing and overseeing your VA’s work.

5 Star VAs Intro Video

How it Works

As with Virtual Staff Finder, the VAs they seek to place will be thoroughly vetted and skill checked, have a solid college educational background and converse well in English. With each recruitment, they aim to match your desired skill set and requirements before the interview process.

All 5 Star VAs work from their home offices, and have gone through a working environment checklist to make sure it is quiet, free from distractions, and has good DSL connection speeds.

“We will only endorse VAs with a proven track record of experience and a genuine willingness to work for overseas clients in a professional manner,” Neil explains.  “We are here to build a reputation for providing talented, reliable, professional VAs.”

Plans and Pricing

The fee for the Unmanaged matchmaking service is a one-time payment of $385. For this price 5 Star VAs promises to provide three top-notch candidates for you to interview via Skype and then ultimately decide which one you would like to hire.

The fee for the Co-Managed service is the same $385, however, you will earn a $200 credit towards the VA’s third month’s salary.

Un-managed General VA hourly rates typically start from around $4 an hour and go up from there depending on experience and skillset. Naturally, virtual assistants with more advanced skills command higher rates.

The Co-Managed service starts at $800 per month for a full-time VA, and payments are easy through PayPal or Credit card.

VAA Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for 10% off your VA’s first month’s salary on the Co-Managed service.

Why 5 Star VAs?

They have a small management team on the ground in the Philippines on a year round basis, which isn’t always the case with many other VA companies.

Neil is passionate about helping fellow entrepreneurs and has a background of running small businesses in both the UK & Australia and he understands the way clients from western countries like things done and can relate to their business requirements and needs. This coupled with the local support and knowledge of his wife Imy leads to a smooth process from start to finish.

5 Star VAs Alternatives

Aside from Virtual Staff Finder (mentioned above), the other service to consider would be OnlineJobs.ph. With OnlineJobs, it’s a do-it-yourself service in that you post the job yourself, screen all the candidates, conduct interviews, and hire your favorite.

Have you worked with 5 Star VAs? If so, please leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their hiring decision.

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

Hubstaff

Hubstaff provides time tracking software for remote teams, and has also ventured into staffing solutions as well. The company was founded in 2012 and their virtual team is “based” out of Indianapolis, Indiana.

On the time tracking side of the business, Hubstaff’s software gives you screen capture capabilities, tracks activity, and automatically creates timesheets and reports. In that sense, it’s similar to the built-in trackers provided by Elance and oDesk, but frees you to hire people outside of those platforms and still keep tabs on them.

(OnlineJobs.ph also added a free screen capture tool called TimeProof.)

hubstaff reviewNow I’m not big on the over-the-shoulder nature of these tracking programs, and have only ever looked at the Elance screen reports a handful of times. The best way to make sure your virtual assistants are working? Have some deliverable. If it’s not getting done, then you have a problem — otherwise, why bother with the micromanaging?

So this post will focus on Hubstaff as a hiring platform, rather than review the time tracking tool. If interested, it comes with a 14-day free trial so you can check it out and see how you like it.

Hubstaff Intro Video

Note: The video says the software is “100% free.” There is a free plan but the features and functionality are quite limited.

Services

With Hubstaff, you can tap into their platform of on-demand talent to help your small business. They have pre-screened virtual assistants, web developers, graphic designers, marketing pros, content writers, and more.

The advantage is it’s a time-saver over searching for freelance contractors on your own; Hubstaff has already done some of that legwork for you. One thing I thought was a little weird was that they are only staffing through third-party companies, which means there is probably not one, but two layers of profit markup on your worker’s salary.

The argument is that going through companies will leave you better protected and with a more reputable experience, but you run the risk of over-paying for the same level of talent. Still, it’s a done-for-you solution, and that does have some value.

How it Works

The first step in hiring through Hubstaff is to describe your project, role, or task you need done. One of their project managers will contact you for more information and to explain the next steps.

After they have a solid understanding of your needs, they’ll assign you an “awesome” contractor, and you’re off to the races.

All the work is tracked and managed through the Hubstaff software and of course you can interact and provide training directly to your contractor. For the duration of the project, the payments are processed weekly and automatically withdrawn from your account.

Plans and Pricing

Hubstaff has very straightforward pricing, which I appreciated. The rates for a virtual assistant are $5 an hour for an entry level assistant, and $8 an hour for a senior-level VA. Naturally, at those rates, this is for an overseas assistant.

For the higher skilled roles, such as graphics or software programming, the rate is $30 an hour for “non-senior” worker, and $45 an hour for a contractor with more experience.

Hubstaff Alternatives

The biggest alternatives to Hubstaff both in terms of virtual staffing and the tracking tool are the freelance platforms of Elance and oDesk, mentioned above, as well as the Philippines-specific jobs board, OnlineJobs.ph.

Have you found a virtual assistant or other remote team member through Hubstaff? If so, please leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their hiring decision.

Posted in Project-Based Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Resources, Virtual Employees

Codeable

Codeable (codeable.io) is an on-demand service for WordPress tasks. The Denmark-based company was founded in 2013 and employs more than 100 WordPress experts in the US and Europe to solve WordPress problems for customers.

Think of them as a hyper-specialized virtual assistant service; you only use them when you need their specific skillset, but don’t have any recurring costs to front. These guys only deal with WordPress-related issues — they’re not going to be running your social media campaigns or making dinner reservations for you.

codeable reviewAlthough its early in the game for Codeable, the initial feedback has been positive. Of their first 1100 paid tasks, nearly 99% of them were rated 5 stars out of 5.

Services

So what can Codeable’s virtual army of WordPress experts get done for you?

Pretty much anything related to your WordPress site; fixing bugs, making design customizations, developing a custom plugin, modifying your theme, migrating your site to a new host, or even providing one-on-one training.

Each of the developers they let onto their platform goes through a thorough screening process including an interview and review of their portfolio and work history.

The focus is on smaller tasks with quick turnaround times. The Codeable platform operates 24/7 and several users report getting initial estimates back within minutes of posting their jobs.

How it Works

With Codeable, you create your own task brief — the more detailed and well thought-out the better. The more specific you can be in terms of what you want done, the better results you get and the better understanding the coders will have of your project.

You’ll begin collecting bids almost immediately, but the bids are averaged out — removing price from the equation. You can pick the developer you feel is the best fit based on their feedback, recent work history, or their areas of specialization.

In either case, Codeable explains you can pick confidently because they only allow top-notch technical talent to join their ranks.

Plans and Pricing

The average Codeable job is $169 and takes 48 hours start to finish.

The way their pricing works is the different WordPress pros submit bids, but unlike Elance, Codeable takes the average of those bids to create your estimated price. (They also tack on a 15% service commission on top of that price.)

The theory is this prevents their marketplace from turning into a “race to the bottom” on price, but still allows you access to top WordPress talent at reasonable rates. It also saves you the trouble of sorting through a dozen different quotes and trying to discern the difference!

There is no ongoing monthly membership subscription to pay for like you’d find with WP Curve. You might end up paying more on a per-job basis, but depending on the volume of work you need done, Codeable could end up being a money saver.

Each job has a money back guarantee.

I haven’t had a chance to test the service personally yet, but will be sure to report back here and update this post once I do.

Codeable Alternatives

When I first saw Codeable, a couple competitors came to mind. The first is Elto (formerly Tweaky), which offers website “tweaks” and other services starting from just $39. (Read about how I’ve been using Fiverr instead.)

The second service I thought of was WP Curve, which offers “unlimited” WordPress support for just $69 per month. They’ve seen some crazy growth over the past year and are doing very well.

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

Posted in Project-Based Virtual Assistants, UK/Europe Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants

Ruby Receptionists

Ruby Receptionists, sometimes referred to as Call Ruby, is a Portland, Oregon based virtual answering service for small businesses. The company was founded in 2003 by Jill Nelson, who remains on as CEO.

All the virtual receptionists work out of the company’s Portland call center, and offer support during the hours of 5am-6pm Pacific Time. The advantage for business owners is to not have to worry about staffing a phone line in-house, or getting disrupted by calls during your work day.

ruby receptionists reviewThe Ruby Receptionist service can also give small companies the “illusion” of being much bigger, when customers are greeted by a cheerful, professional receptionist on the phone.

Services

While I wouldn’t qualify Ruby as a virtual assistant service because there really is only one task they perform in your business, and you have limited training options in your procedures. Still, you can customize the “scripts” and provide other guidelines to Ruby that they’ll follow on your behalf.

The company can even make certain outbound calls on your behalf, to confirm appointments or to relay information, but wouldn’t be considered a lead generation or telemarketing service.

How it Works

You can forward any number to your live Ruby Receptionists, or even get assigned a toll-free number.

They’ll answer with your custom greeting, take messages, forward calls to the appropriate department, and answer FAQs on your behalf.

You’ll get email alerts when you have a new call logged, and can track your usage and real-time call reports in the Call Ruby online dashboard.

Ruby Receptionists Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Call Ruby has 3 pricing tiers, which are based on the number of inbound minutes you expect your new receptionist to receive.

The first is $249 a month and includes 100 receptionist minutes. At $2.49 a minute, it’s not a cheap hourly rate virtual assistant, but the true cost is having someone “on call” during your business hours for a very low monthly charge.

Unless you’ve been answering the phones yourself for some time, you might not have any idea of the call volume you’ll receive. In that case, it probably makes sense to start at the lower tier and scale up as needed.

“Plan B” is the next level up and includes 200 receptionist minutes for $409 per month.

Finally, the third tier allows for up to 500 receptionist minutes for $819 per month. That’s over 8 hours of inbound talk-time, but if you go over your allotted minutes in any of the plans, additional minutes are simply charged a pro-rated rate on your service level.

All plans come with a 14-day free trial and a one-time $95 set-up due when your trial period is up and you want to continue with the service. There are no long-term contracts, but after the first 30 days, Ruby requires a 30-day cancellation notice to terminate the service.

Ruby Receptionists Alternatives

Ruby is the most prominent company in this space, though Answer America might also be considered.

On the more “virtual assistant” side of things, I’ve seen some people turning to Uassist.me for on-call receptionists — but no guarantee the call gets picked up every time like with Ruby. (Uassist’s US-branch, Uassist.US is testing a similar call-answering service.)

For outgoing calls, Outbounders.com might be worth a look.

Have you worked with Ruby Receptionists? If so, please leave a brief review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in US Virtual Assistants

Bolton Remote

Founded 2013, Bolton Remote is an offshore staffing solution based in the Philippines. They’re not so much a virtual assistant company as they are a simplified way to build a remote support team for your business.

bolton remote reviewThe team is led by Patrick Linton, an entrepreneur with experience in helping Fortune 500 companies expand and improve their global operations. When I spoke with Patrick, his team had already grown to more than 80 full-time members, working out of their modern office in Manila.

Bolton Remote Services

Bolton Remote is positioned as an alternative to hiring staff at any level locally or work from home freelancers.

They’re aimed at both high growth startups as well as more established businesses. If you’re suffering from talent shortages in expensive hiring markets if you’ve been burned by freelancers or other VA companies in the past, Bolton may be worth a look.

The value proposition here is the ability to find a wide range of talent all under one roof, and quickly on-board your new remote staff onto your team. Among the specific skillsets available are marketing, sales, SEO, social media, writing, customer support, graphic and web design, software development, and more.

In each case, you get a full-time virtual employee and Bolton’s model allows you to scale up as growth necessitates. Many customers end up adding 5 team-members or more, though single hires are OK too.

VAA Exclusive: Get 5% off your remote team for the first 6 months with this link!

How it Works

One thing that’s cool about Bolton is instead of inundating you with resumes that all start to look the same after a while, they actually show you their candidates, with high quality pre-recorded “video resumes.”

After you review the videos, you can set up interviews with those who look like the best fit for your team and make your hiring decision.

Team members work in your time zone and you are free to collaborate with whatever project management and communication tools you like.

Bolton Remote customers are also assigned a dedicated point-of-contact on their 24-hour Customer Happiness Team, and first-time remote staffing clients will appreciate the built-in teambuilding coaching and support.

Plans and Pricing

Rates begin at $9 an hour, or $1440 per month. Experienced staff members and those with higher-level expertise command rates in the $2000-2500 per month range.

As far as the “virtual assistants” in the Philippines go, those rates are quite high relative to many of the other companies. But a couple things to keep in mind are the overhead of the office and support staff, and the location in Manila, where the cost of doing business is higher than in some of the outer provinces.

VAA Exclusive: Get 5% off your remote team for the first 6 months with this link!

Bolton Remote Alternatives

With their focus on long-term relationships, an in-office work environment, and investment in infrastructure, the most similar company may be VirtualEmployee.com in India.

In the Philippines, TaskUs and Zylun run similar operations aimed at startups.

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

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

HourlyNerd

HourlyNerd aims to revolutionize consulting by matching qualified professional and top MBA students to your business. The Boston-based company was founded in 2013, and describes itself as “the future of consulting.”

hourlynerdFounded by 3 Harvard MBA students, the goal was to fill a void in the marketplace dominated by “old school” and high cost consulting firms.

In the way Elance matches you with qualified freelancers, Hourly Nerd offers a similar service for consultants.  In just a short time in business, they’ve already landed big name clients like Microsoft and American Apparel.

The “nerds” are rated on their communication, timeliness, work quality, and more. That helps keep the system transparent, similar to other virtual jobs platforms.

This is not a “virtual assistant” service in the traditional sense of the term, but instead gives small business owners a chance to get qualified expert help on an on-demand basis.

In most cases, your consultant will not be local to your business and you will communicate with them remotely.

How it Works

You post your project and students from the top 20 business schools in the country and select international institutions bid on the work. HourlyNerd takes  a percentage of the project fee. There are more than 500 MBAs on the platform, and the number is steadily growing.

The service is aimed at small business owners who may not have the budget to hire a “full-fledged” consulting firm or an entire team of analysts.

HourlyNerd gives them access to bright young minds at affordable rates. On top of that, the students/consultants have the opportunity to gain real-world business experience and earn some money at the same time.

HourlyNerd Intro Video

Pricing

The competitive bidding system keeps rates affordable, with even the top-pedigree consultants topping out around $100 an hour. Depending on the type of project you need done, you may find rates as low as $10 an hour — and everything in between.

Compared with the hourly rates of McKinsey or other “brand name” consulting firms (think $300/hr and up), you can see the attractive value proposition made by HourlyNerd.

With all Hourly Nerd projects, your funds are held in escrow until the project is completed to your satisfaction.

HourlyNerd Alternatives

Aside from Elance (mentioned earlier), a couple companies offer similar services. MBA & Company helps match MBA consultants with smaller companies for one-off projects, while SkillBridge also links independent contractors to companies in need (though an MBA is not required).

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

Posted in Freelance Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants

Worldwide101

Worldwide101 is an international virtual assistant company with clients and assistants in North America, Europe & Australia.

Founded in 2009, Worldwide101 focuses on providing business-grade virtual assistance to growing small businesses.

All clients have a dedicated team member assigned to them (typically for admin support, customer service, marketing, or project management), as well as access to a broader team when additional services are needed such as web development, design, bookkeeping etc.

Background

Founder of Worldwide101, Sandra Lewis, explains “Our approach is very personalized, carefully matching team members with clients based on skills and personality. The team member assigned learns the client’s business and becomes an integral part of their operations.”

“We have listened carefully to clients over the years and assembled a team with the variety of skills that clients need as they grow their business.  The experience for clients is that we become an extension of their business.  Why should a client have to find an assistant, and then find a web developer, and then find a book keeper – the time it takes to find competent, reliable people when you are already full-on is prohibitive.  Instead, with Worldwide101 clients have immediate access to a team of tried and tested professionals with all the skills they need, when they need them.”

One of the things that many business owners wonder is how they can find people to work for them that are as committed to the success of their business as they are.  People that are reliable and diligent, people that care, people with skills that are willing to go the extra mile.

Worldwide101 has a simple premise. They only recruit people that are passionate about doing a good job, and passionate about working from home– people that share the belief in going the extra mile in order to retain that privilege.

Sandra explains: “We recruit people that have an innate sense of service, and we find that the motivation of continuing to work virtually from home, translates into team members that shine. At Worldwide101 ‘your success is our success’ is not a cliché.  It’s true and we live by it. Worldwide101 has the capacity to grow with your business, and respond to fluctuations in your staffing needs.”

Overview with the Founder

Services

Worldwide101’s vision is to be the “go-to-company” for reliable, quality virtual support of all kinds. Many of their clients originally sign on for admin support, marketing or customer service. In addition, the company specializes in providing businesses with multilingual support with native speakers (French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, etc.).

Beyond that, they offer support in a complete range of services. It’s a relief for many clients to know they have a trusted and responsive company they can call on for web development, design, project management, bookkeeping etc.

Clients

The clientele of Worldwide 101 is generally more business-focused, although support is offered to individuals that need an ongoing assistant or need support for a ‘more involved’ project.  For example, the company often works with people who are relocating to another country and need support with research and making complex arrangements in another language.

Customers are always assigned a dedicated team member to work with on an ongoing basis, as well as training a backup in case of illness, etc. This ensures continuity and provides a level of care and reliability for customers.

The average customer signs on for around 15-20 hours a week, but a wide range of customizable options are available.

Cost

In terms of pricing, Worldwide101 has package rates for admin services, and hourly rates for more specialized services such as development and design. Discounts may be available for long-term engagements.

And again, per Sandra, the 3 areas that set Worldwide101 apart from the competition:

  1. Our people – reliability and quality is EVERYTHING.  We recruit people that have an outstanding professional background and a great attitude – people that have made the transition from a corporate career to working from home, and who bring a wealth of training and experience with them.  Clients get the best of both worlds – a team member with extensive experience, available to them when they need it.
  2. A personal service. We really get to know our clients and assign an assistant that will be a perfect match. We stay attuned to clients needs so that we can grow with them, and are flexible enough to adjust as needed. Need a service that we don’t currently offer? No problem, we’ll add it for you.
  3. Many providers offer either a team-based service, or a dedicated service.  We offer a hybrid model where clients can have a dedicated assistant and take advantage of an extended team for additional services.

Have you worked with Worldwide101? If so, please take a moment to share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, UK/Europe Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

Get Friday

Get Friday is an outsourcing company that is based in Bangalore, India. They are best-known as the virtual assistant division of Your Man in India, the famous personal concierge company. Get Friday caters to the needs of individuals who have hectic schedules, by offering virtual assistants who can deliver high quality work on administrative tasks.

If you’re curious, the name “Get Friday” is inspired by Daniel Dafoe’s classic Robinson Crusoe. In the novel, the title character has an assistant he calls Friday, who becomes his right-hand man and is critical to his survival. Get Friday has been around since 2005, and now employs 200 energetic and professional virtual assistants who help clients around the world conquer the challenges of business and everyday life.

As one of the longest running VA companies, they’ve served more than 11,000 clients in over 40 countries.

Some examples of the kind of tasks Get Friday does best would be setting appointments, making travel arrangements, and moderating websites. Beyond that, their virtual assistants have even helped find a customer’s lost dog and plan a wedding! Where else are you going to find a wedding planner for this cheap?

Get Friday Intro Video:

Get Friday offers an array of virtual assistant service plans that start from Pay-As-You-Go at a rate of $15 an hour, all the way up to Full Time (160 hours a month) at a rate of $1120 a month or just $7 an hour. All the plans over 40 hours a month include “rollover” time, so unused hours can be applied to next month’s service. There are no long-term contracts; you can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade your plan at any time with 30 days notice. Get Friday also will quote prices for one-time projects if you send them a description of what needs to be done.

Hiring a virtual assistant is a big decision, and Get Friday offers a 7 day free trial period to ease some of that anxiety. If you’re not happy with the service, just cancel without any obligation.

One thing I noticed when opening my Get Friday account is the sign-up process is kind of a pain. They make you do a phone verification, which is automated but something normally reserved for banks. Then you have to print, sign, and fax (or email) back a copy of the contract. I haven’t seen those kinds of sign-up requirements from any other VA company.

Your Get Friday virtual assistant is available 5 days a week, during the hours you choose. This is valuable because of the time zone difference between the US and India. Weekend and overtime hours are charged out at 1.5 times your normal hourly rate.

Get Friday Ace

In the summer of 2014, Get Friday introduced Get Friday Ace, a VA service specifically aimed at the small business market.

I think it’s a smart move since they already have the staff and infrastructure in place, and businesses are used to spending money on support services. Get Friday Ace lists web design and development, bookkeeping, marketing and SEO, and other business process tasks among their new menu of services.

If you’ve had any experience with Get Friday – positive or negative – please share it below.

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

How to Use Google Docs to Share Processes With Your Virtual Assistant

This is a guest post by Korbett Miller, a virtual manager extraordinaire.

If you need help turning your business systems into a well-oiled machine, check out his book De-Mythify: Finding Freedom in Your Small Business.

I know I have had some great experiences with hiring a virtual assistant.  I know I have also had some horrible ones as well.  When I started to create Forms and Checklists with systems I have had a great results from the people who work with me.

This reminds me of a great story from a friend of mine named Thomas. His first job was cleaning police cars in the small town where he grew up.

His instructions were minimal:

“Clean the cars and whatever you do, not get the car wet.”   

What that really meant was do not get the radio equipment wet on the inside of the cars. But when Officer Bob came back and saw that Thomas had only lightly dusted the inside and outside of the cars, he was unceremoniously relieved of his car-washing duties.

We make assumptions about our descriptions and instructions of work for our staff.

Nick’s Notes: I was definitely guilty of this with my first VA hires. I’d been doing certain tasks for years and couldn’t comprehend why my brand new hire just wasn’t getting it!

When we take the process of creating our systems very clearly for our virtual staff, it may take more time on the front end, but the time savings for you over the long haul will help immensely. Investing in your process documentation may not be the most exciting activity, but it’s one that will certainly pay off many times over.

One of the most useful ways of creating a system in your business is using Google Drive. Anyone can get a free Google Drive account with up to 15 GB of storage, which is more than enough to create  very clear standard operating procedures with pictures, videos, charts, and checklists.

The system is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection and can be easily shared and edited amongst team members.

So what are the qualities that make up a good system?

A Good System is Teachable

A system is useless unless it is taught to others. If you make it so easy that it can be taught to someone in elementary school, it has the best chance of succeeding in the long term.

It’s almost like creating a perfect recipe. You must be able to measure the results, change the process when needed, and always be on the lookout for better ideas.

I recommend to the readers of my book to use the free Camstudio program.  I think there are some more elaborate options, but for most people Camstudio will allow them to record tasks and train their VA or staff members.

Nick’s Notes: I use Jing for videos up to 5 minutes, and Screencastomatic for longer videos.

You need to learn how to use the screen capture program. CamStudio is a free program that is available for download. All you do is record your YouTube video by creating a movie of what is going on your screen and giving a voiceover narration of the steps you are taking.

Nick’s Notes: You can set your YouTube videos to “Private” or “Unlisted” to limit who has access.

A Good System is Predictable

Are you getting the results you envisioned for your efforts?

Be very careful not to confuse activity with results. When creating a system, you should have the outcome in mind. What are you expecting the process to accomplish? You should be able to see your workplace clean, cupcakes made to specifications, error-free payroll, or whatever it is you expect.

If you are not getting the results you seek, go back to the system.

Nick’s Notes: After a few weeks of errors and “unexpected results,” I had to revisit my process documentation and teaching. I actually had my virtual assistant explain to me their system as they understood it, and filled in the gaps from there.

In my profession, I have trained police officers. When interviewed after being shot or when trying to resolve some unbelievably intense situations, almost all of them responded, “I just fell back on my training.” Amazing.

You need to create training and accountability systems to ensure that all work done in your business has predictable results.

When you delegate work to your staff, they should feel responsible for the segment they are in charge of.

Nick’s Notes: Indeed, cultivating a culture of responsibility is really important, even in a virtual team. You’ve got to find some way to make your VA care about the end result of their work and how it fits in the big picture.

A Good System is Reliable

A system can be wonderful, but only when it functions properly. Just as the phone needs to be answered appropriately and a customer complaint handled in a particular manner, systems are created for uniformity and reliability.

How do you ensure this?

Training is a crucial step that ensures the reliability of a system. In fact, when a new system is created at work, even the existing staff will need training. The role of ongoing training in the business world is enormous.

Reliability is achieved from the capacity to perform a task.  This happens only when you make sure that everyone understands the system and you have proper accountability practices (checklists) in place.

From my 18 years of being a business owner, it seems that the more cumbersome a system is, the lower the chances it gets executed as intended.

1. If it’s difficult for your staff to know when a system should be triggered, there is a low probability that it will be consistently ran.

Google Docs allows you to assign the forms to be ran by placing them in a folder.

Another way for you to make sure that the system is run consistently is to have a staff member create a bookmark for the form.

You will first need to view the live form to get the link address. Note that the staff will not be able to modify the form, unless you give them that permission. I will show you how to do that in the next section.

The live form should look like this:

google docs form process checklist

Once I have created the live form, I would copy the web address.

I would have your virtual assistant create this system of folders and bookmarks to organize their tasks. (We are going to work from within the Chrome Browser for these examples, but any other browser will work as well.)

From the Chrome menu, I choose Bookmarks, then Bookmarks Manager.

chrome bookmark menu

I then create the TO DO folder under the Organize tab.

Adding a To Do folder

Once this folder is ready, your VA can drop the web address for your Google Doc Form.

For example, when your VA now opens the link in their browser, they will see the “Clean the Bathroom” instructions.

Several other strategies can be implemented using that folder.  You could create “Monday-Friday” sub-folders in “TO DO” if you have different tasks for each day of the week:

creating bookmark folders in chrome

2. If there is not a way for you to check at a glance the output from a system, it will be difficult to follow up with the systems.

  • You can monitor checklists remotely from your computer or tablet.
  • You will be able to see if the system was run.
  • You can check everything even when traveling.

If you want to check if the checklists were run, choose “View responses” from the toolbar:

view responses in google forms

When you open the form, you will see the responses in a spreadsheet. You can pan left and right with the mouse or cursor to see the responses. The first Column A is a timestamp as to when the form was submitted, so that you can see when the system was run.

google forms responses spreadsheet

I have one challenge with this though. Every time a form drops the responses in this table, it puts the new response at the bottom. I get around this by manually sorting all the data in the sheet by the timestamp column “Sort sheet Z-A.”

In teaching you how to create systems using various features, I may have inadvertently made the responses lengthier than they need to be. For most of the tasks that you ask someone to do, a simple yes or no response is perfect. It helps you get a load of information by just scanning the document. If I need the question ‘why’ answered for anything, I chat with that staff member. It’s a simple way to monitor. For each 20-step checklist, it should take your eye 5 seconds to see if there is a problem.

Your Turn

What systems or software do you use to communicate your systems and processes to your virtual assistant?

Posted in Uncategorized

Zerys

Zerys.com is a content marketing platform that caters to marketers, agencies, and writers. For entrepreneurs and marketers, they offer quality content at affordable rates.

The Ohio-based company was co-founded in 2007 by Steve Lazuka, who remains on as president. They target business and blogging customers and agencies who need to keep up with steady demands for high quality written content but don’t have the time to produce it themselves.

zerys reviewServices

Zerys has grown to full-featured content marketing resource. While the primary service remains content writing, the company has added a number of tools to help customers make the most of their blogging efforts.

For instance, they’ll help you brainstorm the best topics and titles for your articles, even giving keyword suggestions on what search terms might result in the most traffic or social sharing.

After your content is created, the new Zerys Service Marketplace helps you find professional editors to refine and polish your content to make sure it’s in your voice. Then, you can approve and publish your content to your website with 1 click.

Zerys Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Writing projects on Zerys begin at $0.01 per word, or $5 for a 500-word article. However, at those low rates, you’re not likely to attract top talent to your job.

As the rates increase, to $0.05 or $0.10 per word, your odds of receiving high quality work improve dramatically. Writers are scored on a 5-star rating system, with 5-star writers commanding the highest rates.

In submitting your work, you’ll also notice there is a parameter for how much baseline knowledge or research is required. Highly technical topics or in-depth research will necessitate higher prices.

But given the marketplace dynamic, there’s always a chance a 5-star writer takes on your lower-priced project if they need the work.

With Zerys’ SmartPost system, you can enter in your “starting price” along with the maximum price you’re willing to pay. Zerys will then post your job only to the highest rated writers, at your starting (lowest) bid offer. If no writers accept the offer, the system will gradually increase your bid — up to your pre-set max price — until someone takes your job. This means you’ll get the highest quality writers, at the lowest possible price.

Every Zerys article comes with a  100% satisfaction guarantee; you only pay if you’re 100% happy.

How it Works

1. Join the Zerys network and submit your article title or topic.

2. Use the SmartPost marketplace system to find a qualified writer, or select one your Favorite writers to do the job.

3. The writer will create your content and send it back for your review, often in less than 24 hours.

4. Review your content and either accept it, request revisions, or reject it outright and try someone new.

5. Export the content or publish it directly to your WordPress, Hubspot, or other integrated website.

Zerys Alternatives

There are other content writing marketplaces, including HireWriters, GhostBloggers, TextBroker, and more.

Have you worked with Zerys? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Writing Services

Time Etc

Time Etc is a UK-based virtual assistant company that has been around since 2007. They recently expanded operations into the US market, and boast that they’ve helped complete more than 1,000,000 tasks and projects so far!

Time Etc was founded by entrepreneur Barnaby Lashbrooke, with the intention of helping other small business owners and entrepreneurs streamline their processes and make their lives more efficient.

time etc reviewAbout Time Etc

The company employs college-educated professional virtual assistants. In fact, they only bring on new assistants who have at least 5 years commercial experience; companies their assistants have worked for include Facebook, Apple, IBM and AOL.

Most Time Etc VAs serve customers from their home offices in either the UK or the US.

If you sign up for Time Etc, you can expect to be assigned a dedicated assistant with whom you can begin to establish an ongoing relationship.

Time Etc Intro Video

When I wrote in to request more information, I was happy with the response time. I was able to set up a skype call with Victoria, who I found very helpful, polite, and enthusiastic.  I told her I liked how they put pictures of the VAs up on the website as a nice personal touch.

One interesting thing about Time Etc is they claim Penni Pike as a special advisor. She was Sir Richard Branson’s assistant for three decades, and is probably as close to a celebrity as they come in the world of personal assistants.  Now, you’re not likely to score Penni as your VA when you sign up, but she has helped train and mentor the rest of the crew.

Services

Time Etc virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks you throw at them, including administrative assistance, marketing support and writing, customer service, sales and lead generation, accounting and bookkeeping, recruiting, and more.

Plans and Pricing

They’re a little coy about pricing, but I was able to find out that rates range from $21-27 an hour. To the extent your VA is available, you can scale up or scale back your hours as needed at any given time. Like other virtual assistant companies, with Time Etc you don’t have any long-term obligation, contract, or overhead.

To help ease the fears of first-time outsourcers, Time Etc offers free $25 credit to test out their service risk-free (with no credit card required), and a 100% money back guarantee. You won’t find that with a freelancer and definitely not with an in-house hire!

Time Etc Alternatives

At these rates, Time Etc is obviously positioned as a more premium entry in the market. In the US, the nearest competitor would be eaHELP, which has a similar set-up if you’re interested in making a comparison, though at noticeably higher rates.

Have you worked with Time Etc? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, UK/Europe Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies, Virtual Employees

Microworkers

Microworkers is one of the top micro-jobs sites online. Since it’s creation in 2009, Microworkers has hosted more than 10 million micro jobs to more than 500,000 workers worldwide.

The company is based in Dallas, Texas, but manages a truly global marketplace of micro-employers and employees.

microworkers reviewNearly two-thirds of the workers live in Asia, and they log on to the site to perform the requested tasks each day.

If you own an online business, a blog, or simply need referrals or votes for your favorite contests or programs, Microworkers is definitely the place to come and have your small tasks assigned to the thousands of active workers who are ready to complete your job.

Services

So what kind of work can you get done on Microworkers.com?

I personally found the Microworkers site horribly lacking in explanation and detail. From what I can tell, it’s like an Amazon Mechanical Turk type of set-up, where you can upload bulk tasks to your “campaign,” and either have one Microworker or multiple workers complete it.

In that sense, there’s a crowdsourcing element. For instance, you might ask 5 microworkers to look at a picture and tell you what color the shoes are. If 4 people say they’re brown, odds are they’re brown and you can safely tag that picture or use it sometime you have a need for it.

I’ve heard stories of Zappos using Mechanical Turk to proofread user reviews and standardize the formatting and capitalization, and I imagine you could use Micrworkers in a similar way.

Some work examples they give:

  • Commenting on your blog or YouTube video.
  • Reviewing your new product.
  • Upvoting your content on social bookmarking sites.
  • Write an Article
  • Discuss, Review or Comment on your product or service in a forum or in other blogs
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Sell forum signatures to you
  • Blog about your product
  • Put your banner or link on their website
  • Upload or Download videos, applications, etc
  • Bookmark your website (Digg, Buzz, etc)
  • Join a Facebook group, Like your Facebook page
  • Add someone to Facebook, Myspace, etc. friends list
  • Vote for you, for a contest entry, an article, image or video
  • Sign up with your referral link
  • Subscribe to Newsletters, RSS feeds

Now that’s some interesting stuff, if not a little spammy.

For instance, if you’re competing in a marketplace where the ranking algorithm is at least partially driven by downloads and reviews (Amazon and iTunes come to mind), employing Microworkers to help you gain some initial traction could be a viable strategy.

Plans and Pricing

Micro jobs on the platform range about $0.10 up to a few dollars, depending on their complexity and how long they might take to complete.

Microworkers is free to join for both employers and workers, and they take a 7.5% fee on each completed task from the employer, and a $0.75 fee to approve your campaign in their marketplace.

Now I’m trying to rack my brain on what kind of $0.10 jobs like the ones listed above I could get done! I’ll be sure to report back once I’m able to out the service personally.

Microworkers Alternatives

Like I mentioned above, Mechanical Turk may be the closest alternative, though they have some rules and safeguards in place that specifically forbid asking workers to download any files, for example.

Unlike MTurk, Microworkers has pre-defined job categories with different minimum payments depending on the complexity and the time efforts. Jobs which do not fit in any of the categories can be submitted as other.

Have you done any outsourcing or crowdsourcing with Microworkers? What did you have done? Please be sure to share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Low Cost Virtual Assistants, Project-Based Virtual Assistants

Assistant Match

Assistant Match is a staffing agency that matches business owners with pre-screened US-based virtual assistants to help them manage details of their company in a flexible, cost-effective way.

The company was founded in 2007 by Katie Gutierrez Miller and has a management team spread out across the country. (Practicing what they preach in remote work!)

assistant match reviewKatie explains their service targets “small businesses and entrepreneurs who need help with administrative tasks, bookkeeping and marketing plan implementation.”

About Assistant Match

Assistant Match provides a recruiting service businesses and individuals in need of professional administrative assistants, executive assistants, project coordinators, marketing assistants, editors, sales assistants, social media assistants, and client relations assistants.

These remote team members will work from their home offices and report directly to you.

One big advantage is there is no ongoing commitment or minimum hours requirement. You can have you assistant work 10 hours one week and 2 hours the next, with no penalties.

Services

How it works is you submit your job requirements and let their team find the qualified talent to fill your position. They do all the legwork of screening applicants, doing initial interviews, and checking references before they present you with the best of the best matches for your role.

Assistant Match can help find American virtual assistants with a wide range of skill-sets, including organization, accounting, marketing, customer service, transcription, personal assistance, and more.

They’ve helped fill hundreds of virtual staff positions over the years, and provide skills-training and best-practices to both the VAs and the employers.

Plans and Pricing

The company charges a one-time match fee of $395 ($95 of which is required as a deposit to begin your search). Beyond that, the hourly rate really depends on the job you’re hiring for.

For example, basic administrative assistance starts around $28 an hour, while more skilled tasks like writing, editing, or online marketing might run $40 an hour or more.

Assistant Match also handles the time reporting and invoicing, billing you directly for the hours your assistant works. They promise to take care of any tax questions and even find you a new assistant if/when one is needed.

Assistant Match Alternatives

In terms of the US-based competition, there are definitely plenty of choices. Assistant Match aims to set themselves apart from traditional in-house recruiting or even freelance searches by offering a “done for you” model.

It’s a flexible work model that allows you to scale up or scale down the hours as needed. If you have a more consistent workload, you’ll probably find some cost savings through a service like Zirtual.

However, you may not be able to find those advanced skills.

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

Posted in US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

HireWriters

HireWriters.com is an on-demand content creation service. The company began in 2012 as sort of an article marketplace, linking those who needed content with writers from around the world.

hirewriters reviewI was lured in by the low prices ($5 for a 700 word article), but should have known better. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That price is for the lowest quality tier, meaning it will probably be illegible to most of your website visitors.

Still, the HireWriters rates are pretty affordable, all things considered. A 500 word article from a “Skilled” writer is just $8.25. Where things get more expensive is when you want to jump to the next tier, “Expert.” A 500 word article from an “Expert” writer is $19.

Skilled writers are defined as those who have completed at least 7 jobs and earned a feedback rating of at least 4.1 in the HireWriters system. Expert writers have completed 12 jobs with a 4.6 rating or higher.

HireWriters Intro Video:

I tested out a couple articles using the HireWriters system. I made the minimum required $10 deposit, and was pleasantly surprised to find it earned a 25% bonus! So if you really need a lot of content written, it would make sense to make a bigger initial deposit to maximize the bonus.

HireWriters Review

I had two 300+ word articles written by “Skilled” writers for $5.50 apiece. Both were tackled by the same author, and neither were amazing.

The writer struggled to follow the directions and examples I gave them, and failed to answer all the questions I said the articles should address.

I specifically asked for neutral, news-style, articles (who, what, where, when, why), but got back a lot of generic fluff content that didn’t really deliver. Maybe this is me being cynical, but if felt like they were really just looking for anything that would get them to the 300 word target so they could be done.

And for $5 I shouldn’t be so harsh.

In the end, I had some usable sentences but had to re-write most of the articles myself. I can’t even share the articles as examples because they’re almost unrecognizable from what I got back. But like I’ve said before, there’s still some value in getting a shell back and having some structure to start with, rather than staring at a blank screen.

Just recently I went back to HireWriters to test out the “Expert” level, and was pretty impressed. The cost was significantly higher — $19 for a 500-700 word article, but it took hardly any editing to get it ready for publishing. And for the two articles I ordered at that level, both came back over the 700-word count.

So that’s the thing. If you want an article you’re going to sign your name to, you’ll probably have to pay a bit more, or just do it yourself. If you don’t care, or are just churning out content for search engine digestion, HireWriters is a great choice.

I’ve also tested articles from Fiverr and Textbroker, with pretty similar results — though every now and then you get a homerun.

Another service HireWriters offers is a re-writing, or article spinning service. The theory behind this is you can use the same content in multiple locations without triggering any “duplicate content penalties” from Google, because each will by slightly different.

Have you tried Hire Writers? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Project-Based Virtual Assistants, Writing Services

Writer.ly

Writer.ly is a marketplace for writers to find the editors, book designers, and marketers they need to get their books in the hands of as many readers as possible. The Seattle-based company was founded in 2012, and is currently in beta.

writer.ly reviewI would describe the platform as similar to Elance, but just for writing-related professionals. Writers will post the jobs they need done, and qualified freelancers bid on them to win the work.

The writer / employer chooses the best fit based on price, portfolio, reviews, and experience.

Writer.ly Services

I originally thought Writer.ly was a content marketplace like HireWriters, but it’s actually aimed at the content-creators themselves.

After you painstakingly craft The Great American Novel (or a work of non-fiction, or whatever), you can turn to the freelancers at Writer.ly for proofreading, editing, formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace, cover design, and more.

There are even professionals to help get a website set up for your book launch, coordinate your social media and PR efforts, and execute a marketing campaign.

Plans and Pricing

The site is free to join and post your work, and pricing for individual projects is set by the freelancers bidding on the jobs.

Naturally, the rates will vary depending on the job and experience level of the freelancer. From what I could find, the site seems to have attracted a largely North American user base.

Similar to oDesk, Writer.ly takes a 10% cut for facilitating the transaction and providing the platform. When I post jobs on freelance sites, I tend to remove the outlier bids — both high and low and go with the candidate in the middle who impresses me the most.

About Writer.ly

Co-founders Kelsye Nelson and Abigail Carter explain that there is an entire ecosystem that needs to thrive in the publishing world for authors to get their work out there.

It would be almost impossible do write, edit, design, and market a new book all on your own; and that’s where Writer.ly comes in. It’s a virtual support group for authors.

Nelson explained, “Our ‘secret sauce’ is we give writers power and control. Almost 1500 writers have signed up for our beta, demanding for a one-stop resource to find the services they need and still retain control of their books. They want more choice than the bundled services offered by Lulu and Amazon’s CreateSpace. Many are frustrated by new alternative publishers that still control the revenue, the marketing and sometimes even the copyright.”

Writer.ly Alternatives

As an author, you will definitely cast a wider net in terms of finding talent if you go to a larger freelance platform. But along with that wider net may come more irrelevant or unqualified bids, which take time to sort through.

As they put it: It would be easier for Marlin to find Nemo in the aquarium than in the ocean.

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

Posted in Freelance Virtual Assistants, Project-Based Virtual Assistants

Virtual Assistant Israel

Virtual Assistant Israel provides virtual assistant services to small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs based in the US. The company was established in 2008 and employs American VAs based out of their home offices in Israel.

virtual assistant israel reviewAt the helm are co-directors Alyssa Magid and Hilary Faverman.

They explain their people are what sets them apart from the competition. All Virtual Assistant Israel VAs are native English speakers (most hail from the US) with college degrees and a minimum of 3-5 years of work experience. In screening the select few assistants they brought on board, management reviewed over 7,000 resumes to only pick the cream of the crop.

Services

Virtual Assistant Israel VAs specialize in remote administrative, marketing, social media, and writing / content-creation tasks.

They have a wealth of experience in these areas and can help run your office and set-up strategic marketing plans for your business. In terms of social media, they are responsible stewards of your online brand, and can execute a social presence on the most important channels.

Each VA works on US east coast time and is available through a US-based phone number up until 5pm EST.

For full disclosure, the company also lists several services they are NOT a good fit for, including playing virtual receptionist, accounting/bookkeeping, sales, and graphic design.

Plans and Pricing

With Virtual Assistant Israel, there is a one-time $199 set-up fee that gives you access to interview as many candidates from their pool of available VAs as you like.

That was surprising to see because presumably the company is also making a margin on the VA’s hourly rate as well. They are coy about exact pricing, forcing you to call in, and I imagine the rates vary assistant to assistant depending on skills, requirements, and hours.
Once you engage, your virtual assistant uses Freshbooks to track their working time to the second and invoices you only for the time they spend. In that manner, you don’t have to worry about unused hours in a month or counting tasks.

I’m guessing there must be some cost advantage to hiring American workers in Israel over hiring American workers in America, but I’m not positive on that.

Virtual Assistant Israel Alternatives

With VAI, you have the advantage of an experienced, professional dedicated assistant. Along those lines, there are a few other companies that might be worthy of your consideration, including Virtual Assist USA and other US-based VA companies.

Have you worked with Virtual Assistant Israel? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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

VA Staffer

VA Staffer is a virtual assistant company in the Philippines with a project management and consulting team in Portland, Oregon. Although the company had been serving limited select clients for several years, they opened their doors to the general public in November 2013.  

VAA Tested_smallerThis was immediately after Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the country, and local job opportunities were scarce, even for qualified candidates. At that time, founder Jeff “J” Hunter and his team decided that bringing on more clients would help empower college grads with amazing technology skills in the Philippines.

In return for a reliable, rewarding career opportunity, the new virtual assistants promised to provide superior services to their clients.

VA staffer reviewAbout VA Staffer

VA Staffer virtual assistants work from their home offices and report directly to their clients. Since the workers are centered around Manila, the company plans to build an office facility there in early 2015.

The team uses ActiveCollab software for communication and project management, and aims to build a long-term win-win relationship with clients. This set-up provides for work tracking (screenshot monitoring) and accountability.

With VA Staffer, you’re assigned a dedicated VA based on your job requirements, but have access to rest of the team for specialized skills as the need arises. This set-up is somewhat rare among VA companies in the Philippines, where most just aim for a dedicated relationship and ask you to hire out other skills and jobs separately.

VA Staffer Review

VA Staffer Services

VA Staffer provides 100% manual and personalized SEO, Marketing, Website Design, Social Media Management and a variety of other virtual assistant services for start-ups, entrepreneurs, authors, and real estate agents.

Your virtual staff can also help with data entry, lead generation, online research, link-building, book promotion, reputation management, ecommerce solutions, and more.

The real pride of the company comes from the founding principal that entrepreneurship is the best method to solve global poverty.

VA Staffer Intro Video

Exclusive Offer: Mention Referral Code VAA for a Free Outsourcing Consultation and a 2-hour Free VA Trial!

Plans and Pricing

VA Staffer offers a range of dedicated assistant plans along with an on-demand pay-per-task option at $10 per task. Unlike some other task-based services that limit tasks to 15 minutes, these tasks can take up to an hour and a half.

For the ongoing support options, their “Starter” plan is $35 a week for 5 hours of assistant time. ($7/hour)

Next, a 40-hour per month plan is $260, or $6.50 an hour.

And an 80-hour per month plan is $480. ($6 per hour.)

It’s a very flexible and scalable system that can adapt with your business and growth.

Why VA Staffer?

One thing that sets VA Staffer apart is their on-site recruiting and hiring process. When I spoke with Jeff, he explained that he personally flies to Manila 3-4x per year to screen the brightest talent in the Philippines and conduct face-to-face interviews.

Out of an applicant pool of 30 people, he might hire 1 or 2. The candidates must have a college education, and great communication skills.

Jeff explains, “The key to our success is the longevity of our staff. We offer great benefits to our employees and wages much higher than the average outsourcing company. That builds pride and creates a great connection between the staff and our clients.”

Interview with the VA Staffer Founder

VA Staffer Alternatives

Before you make your decision, you might want to check out the rest of the field of Filipino VA companies. Task Bullet and Carve operate similar models, though perhaps without the full project management tracking capabilities and access a team.

Have you worked with VA Staffer? If so, please leave a quick review of your experience below.

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

GhostBloggers

GhostBloggers is a content marketplace where you can buy quality written content on any topic for your website, blog, ebooks, or whatever else you need material for.

The company was founded in 2010 and is based out of San Francisco, though their growing nework of more than 4000 writers works virtually throughout the country. They specialize in ghostwriting from US-based, native English-speaking writers.

ghostbloggers reviewAbout GhostBloggers

Most customers of Ghostbloggers.net are start-ups with blogs and content marketers with deadlines, a high volume of content needs, and no in-house writers on staff.

The company aims to make the content workflow easier for businesses by connecting them with writers that can deliver the highest quality of content possible.

As quality written content has become more and more important for SEO, it’s also become an important entry-point for new customers to discover your brand and help spread your message virally on social media.

GhostBloggers Intro Video

GhostBloggers Services

There are two primary services:

  1. The content marketplace.
  2. Writing on-demand.

With the content marketplace, you can search for unique, pre-written articles on the topics or keywords you need, buy them outright, and plug them immediately into your website or blog.

Because Ghostbloggers marketplace writers are invited to write about the topics they are personally interested in and passionate about, rather than having to research a topic that’s boring or foreign to them, the quality is presumably higher and has better “voice” than you might find at other content sources.

All articles are proofread before they hit the marketplace.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for amongst the pre-written content, you can submit an article request and have a qualified writer create your content from scratch.

Buyers can also elect to receive notifications of relevant new articles that are added to the collection that might fit their needs based on order history, keywords, and subject matter.

Plans and Pricing

The price of each article is based on the total word count, and the standard rate is $3.50 per 100 words. At that rate, a typical 550 word blog post costs $19.25.

Writers are free to adjust their prices higher or lower based on how long it took them to create each article and its presumed quality.

These rates a higher than you’ll find at some other writing services, but they’re not unreasonable for pre-proofread content written by native English speakers.

GhostBloggers Alternatives

There is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to finding outsourced content writing. If you have enough work to justify it, you might consider hiring a freelance writing virtual assistant on an ongoing basis.

Otherwise, you might take a look at HireWriters, Textbroker, TheContentAuthority, Scripted, EpicWrite and others. Of those, I feel like only Scripted attempts to match the “premium” positioning of Ghostbloggers.

Have you purchased content from Ghostbloggers.net? What did you think? Please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Writing Services

FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a leading jobs board for telecommuting and work-from-home jobs. The company began in 2007 to provide a central hub of scam-free, personally reviewed remote job postings.

Although headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, FlexJobs practices what they preach and have team members spread out virtually throughout the country.

flexjobs reviewFor job-seekers, FlexJobs features a wide variety of employment opportunities from companies large and small, and for those seeking virtual workers, the platform is an opportunity to reach a broad and motivated applicant pool.

About FlexJobs

The company was founded by Sara Sutton Fell, who began looking for flexible work arrangements while she was pregnant with her first child. Almost immediately, she discovered how challenging it was to find virtual jobs that were legitimate and in-line with her career.

Knowing that good flextime and telecommuting positions did exist, Sara decided to create a clean, professional, well-designed job site dedicated to providing only the best, most legitimate telecommuting, part-time, flextime, and freelance jobs.

FlexJobs Intro Video

FlexJobs Services

Employers can post their virtual assistant positions to FlexJobs and browse the resumes, work samples, and skills tests results from qualified applicants.

Job postings are hand-screened by a team of researchers to make sure that each listing on the site is from a legitimate employer. Expect to have the FlexJobs crew write their own description of your company and give some scrutiny to your position before it goes live.

There are more than 50 career categories and you can find virtual workers in a broad range of fields, including customer service, marketing, IT, accounting, graphic design, and more. The focus appears to be more on ongoing employment, rather than on short-term freelance hires.

Plans and Pricing

FlexJobs is free to post job listings for qualified work-from-home positions, both full-time and part-time. Premium job posts promise extra exposure for $99.

After you make your hiring decision, the company takes no ongoing fee or margin; you negotiate and pay your new employee directly.

The company makes the bulk of their money by charging an access fee to the job-seekers: $14.95 for a month, $29.95 for 3 months, or $49.95 for a year.

The fee includes unlimited access to their hand-screened virtual jobs, email alerts when new jobs are posted, professional job-hunting tips, and more.

FlexJobs Alternatives

FlexJobs aims to differentiate themselves through their employer vetting and job curation process, which is good news for job-seekers. And since the talent is paying to view your job listings, you can generally expect a more motivated application, or at least a pool that is taking their job search seriously.

But you can post your virtual assistant position on any number of sites, including the big freelance marketplaces like Elance and oDesk. You might cast a wider net (for better or worse), and open yourself up to candidates from all around the world, if you’re open to that.

Like FlexJobs, both sites are free to post your openings, though they are more geared toward short-term freelance work and one-off projects.

Similarly, for full-time hires you might try WeWorkRemotely.com.

And especially if you’re a larger employer, you might consider the traditional job sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and even Craigslist. After all, there’s no rule that says you can’t post virtual jobs there.

Have you hired through FlexJobs? What did you think? Leave a comment below to help others with their decision.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, Virtual Employees

How Do You Know If Your Virtual Assistant is Really Working?

How do you know if your VA is really working the hours the say they are?

This is a question I get a lot.

If you’re in different time zones, you might not have much overlap during your days.

There are 4 ways to answer this question.

1. Are they delivering results? 

My guess is you’ll be able to tell how much work they’re putting in by how much work they’re putting out.

This would be a “results-oriented” management strategy, one that says I don’t really care what hours you work, as long as the deliverables get done.

But this method involves a lot of trust, especially at the onset of your working relationship.

2. Use the Elance/oDesk built-in tracking systems.

If you hire a VA through Elance or oDesk, you’ll be able to take advantage of their built-in tracking systems track the hours worked and take screenshots at random intervals so you can “look over the shoulder” of your VA to make sure they’re on task.

Even though I’ve been working with my current VA for more than 18 months through Elance, I can honestly say I’ve logged in and looked at the tracker twice.

Once when I didn’t find her on Skype during her normal hours, and once again to write this email.

The tracker is there as a safety net. If your VA is spending their hours on Facebook instead of on your projects, you’ll have visual proof of it.

And on the flipside, your VA has proof of their hours worked to make sure they get paid.

3. Use a third-party tracking system. 

If you’ve hired a VA outside of Elance or oDesk, you might consider a third-party tracking software to help keep watch over your VA.

This can be a touchy subject to broach — some VAs will see it as a sign of mistrust, but others will be happy to oblige because it protects them as well.

The best-known tracking software is TimeDoctor, by Rob Rawson (also co-founder of Staff.com). The service starts at $12 per month and has a 30-day free trial.

However, there’s a free alternative called TimeProof from the team at OnlineJobs.ph, that you can use whether or not you use their platform to hire a VA.

It works similarly to the Elance/oDesk systems in that it tracks hours on the job and takes random screenshots of your worker’s computer.

4. Use iDoneThis.com

iDoneThis.com is a cool software application that sends a nightly email asking what you got done today. You just type out a quick reply and the system logs your responses.

It’s $5 a month per user for teams, so you can set it up to have it sent to your VA each day to get an overview of what they accomplished.

So which method is best? Like a lot of things in this business, it depends on your comfort level and trust.

Perhaps the best way is to have some sort of tracking system to keep everyone honest, but not to spend much of your time checking it — because that micromanaging would be counterproductive to why you hired a VA in the first place.

Posted in News, Uncategorized

Carve

Carve is a virtual assistant company based in Davao City, Philippines. The company was founded in 2013 by Tom Secuya, who’s overseen the business’ growth from 3 people to a team of more than 50.

Tom had several years of experience in business process outsourcing and has emerged as a capable leader in the industry and in the local community.

Carve virtual assistant reviewYou can tell just by looking at the Carveph.com website that this is not your average virtual assistant company. No, Carve stands out with a bold, modern design, a fun-loving staff, and a mission to good in the world by doing well in business.

They wanted to help people by creating opportunities for them, and have been tremendously successful in doing that in just a short time. That company culture extends beyond borders as well, as client success translates into more growth opportunities and expanded partnerships.

Carve Virtual Assistant Services

Carve specializes in branding, training, automation, and business process management. In the international market, they’ve found a niche in serving coaches from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Carve VAs can setup webinars, create websites, build landing and sales pages, do audio and video editing, graphic design, and more. In addition, clients use them for help with transcription, list building, social media management, content creation, Internet marketing, and search engine optimization.

All virtual assistants work from the company’s central Davao office, and Carve invests heavily in recruiting, training, and coaching team members who buy into their culture and attitude.

Video Overview with the Founder

Plans and Pricing

A full-time Carve virtual assistant costs $797 per month, and if you don’t have that volume of work to outsource yet, you can engage their services in 5-hour blocks of time sold for $95 each.

You can opt for dedicated service, or a team-based approach to tap into different skill-sets as needed.

Carve pledges 20% of their earnings to local charitable causes in Davao. Tom explains, “We have seen the pressing need for support in this area and as a business we want to continue to exist to do just that.”

The company has instilled a unique culture in that they believe they are not merely a business, but a movement. Hence working with us would mean, taking part in that movement. We are happy that you can find success in your own business because of us and create success for others through us.

Why Carve?

I asked Tom what sets Carve apart from their virtual assistant competition, and got this awesome reply:

“What sets us apart is that we offer not only awesome ninja-like skills but also we put a glass of love and a bottle of passion for every project we have. We have that drive and determination to have an epic relationship with our clients.

Not only that but we also practice radical honesty. We tell you how much we are getting, how your virtual assistant is getting, how they are doing in terms of performance, behavior and attendance.”

Carve Alternatives

Naturally, Carve isn’t the only game in town when it comes to virtual assistants in the Philippines. Their competition comes in two main varieties: other VA companies, and independent work from home VAs found through services like OnlineJobs.ph or Virtual Staff Finder.

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

Posted in Philippines Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Companies

VirtualAssistants.com

VirtualAssistants.com is a jobs board and directory listing specializing in virtual assistant positions. The company was founded in 1999 by Belinda Stringer in response to the rising tide of dubious “work from home” scams online.

(I had a feeling they’d been around awhile given the choice domain name!) They pre-date The 4-Hour Workweek and The World is Flat by at least 7 years … helping people find virtual assistants before the term even went mainstream.

virtualassistants-com-reviewIn fact, the company was one of the first “virtual” job boards and has helped connect thousands of home-based staff with employers across the country. VirtualAssistants.com maintains an A+ rating with the BBB.

The service is headquartered in Ohio and the virtual assistants are nationwide — US-based only.

How it Works

With VirtualAssistants.com, companies and individuals seeking a US-based VA can post their job for free and receive proposals from the qualified members of the site.

One cool thing is you can select how “virtual” you want your candidate to be — meaning you can elect to only see applications from candidates within a certain radius of your business.

As a prospective employer, you can use the site for either ongoing or project-based work. Around 200 jobs are posted each week, and the company pre-screens them before they hit the board to make sure both the role and the employer are legitimate.

That screening process is one element that attracts a quality pool of virtual assistant talent to pull from.

I asked Belinda if there were any service areas they were particularly strong in, and she explained, “Our focus is administrative; customer service, website help, social media, transcription, etc. But we have extremely talented VAs with experience in telemarketing, research, editing/proofreading, writing, medical coding/transcription, tech support, accounting, and more.”

As with any jobs board, the range of experience and qualifications will vary, but you have the freedom in your job description to spell out the exact role you envision along with the desired skill-sets.

Once you collect the applications, you are free to screen candidates, schedule interviews, negotiate rates, and make your hiring decision. From that point on, you’re working directly with your VA in a virtual-employee relationship and paying them directly; there is no markup or management cost from VirtualAssistants.com.

Plans and Pricing

VirtualAssistants.com is free for employers. They collect a membership fee (regularly $15 a month) from the VAs so they can get access to the job listings.

From the employer perspective, that barrier to entry — however small — helps improve the overall quality of your applicants. You know that the virtual assistant applying on your job has at least made a small investment in his or her business and takes it seriously.

The typical hourly rate for a qualified US-based VA can range from $12-50/hour and up. In this case, it’s up to you to negotiate salary terms, hours, and conditions directly with your new VA.

As an employer, you may get fewer applicants than on alternative directories or the big freelance sites, but in general you should expect a higher caliber of candidate on VirtualAssistants.com.

The VAs like it because even though there’s competition and always will be, there’s not the sense of it being a race to the bottom on price like you might elsewhere.

Have you hired anyone through VirtualAssistants.com? If so, please take a minute to leave a short review of your experience below.

Posted in Dedicated Virtual Assistants, US Virtual Assistants, Virtual Assistant Resources

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
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