DesignCrowd

DesignCrowd is a marketplace for crowdsourced graphic design contests. The Sydney, Australia-based company has been around since 2008 and has facilitated thousands of design creations during that time.

In fact, they boast over half a million designers on their platform ready to tackle your project. Some of their top designers have earned more than $100,000, and you can even invite them to submit their concepts for your contest.

Services

designcrowd reviewDesignCrowd plays to the idea that for creative work like graphic design, it’s better to get a broad range of ideas and concepts, instead of working exclusively with one designer. Their platform facilitates these types of “crowdsourced” contests, with you as the client gathering a ton of options and picking your favorite.

The company offers their marketplace for a wide variety of design services, including logos, web sites, advertising graphics, flyers, print ads, t-shirts, business cards, and more.

A typical DesignCrowd contest gets a little more than 100 entries. I imagine you’ll find something suitable for your brand out of 100 choices!

How it Works


Your first step in getting started with DesignCrowd is to create a design brief. It’s a fancy way of asking you to describe your project and any vision you have for it, so designers have some sort of starting point.

At this stage, you can also decide which price tier you’d like to offer to the winning designer. Naturally the higher your offer, the more designs you’re likely to attract.

Almost immediately, designers will start submitting their ideas and concepts. You can solicit feedback from friends, customers, or colleagues, and even request revisions from the designers before you decide on the winner.

Once you have your selection, you get all the necessary files, legal protections and rights to that design, and funds get released to the winning designer.

Plans and Pricing

Like other crowdsourcing sites, DesignCrowd has some pricing flexibility depending on your budget.

Logo design packages start at $99 and go all the way up to nearly $1000. The drawback to the $99 price-point is that you’ll only get 1 designer, which kind of defeats the “crowdsourcing” purpose.

But at the $240 price point, you can expect multiple submissions from several designers, giving you a nice variety to choose from and still spend less than at competing sites.

designcrowd pricing

At the top-end, I can see some overwhelm setting in from trying to choose from 200+ designs, so would probably opt for something in the middle. DesignCrowd indicates their $440 package promising 75+ designs is their most popular offering, though if my budget is tight I’d go for the 50+ tier and save the $200.

There are add-ons to make your contest private or feature it to get more submissions.

If at the end of the contest you don’t like any of the designs, DesignCrowd will refund your project under their 100% money back guarantee.

DesignCrowd Alternatives

There are several companies that offer similar graphic design outsourcing. The best-known of the crowdsourcing options is 99designs. One interesting point of differentiation is DesignCrowd’s “Participation Payment” program, which rewards designers for submitting their work to your contest even if they don’t win.

If you have a need for ongoing design work, Undullify might be worth checking out.

Your Turn

Have you worked with DesignCrowd? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their hiring decision.

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Copify

Copify is a content marketplace where you can buy content for your site, press releases, ebook content, or any other needs from US and UK-based copywriters.

The company has been in business since 2010 and is based in the UK. They have the largest network of UK-based copywriters, and can handle orders within 48 hours.

About Copify

copify reviewThe company is run by CEO Martin Harrison and co-founder Rob McVey, who are both directors of Copify. Martin looks after the marketing side of the business, along with recruitment and customer service, while Rob looks after the technical side of the business.

All of their copywriters work remotely across the United States and the UK. Your writing project will be assigned a “native” writer based on your preferred geography.

Copify’s services are aimed at digital marketing agencies and professionals in need of quality written content. Content is the driving force behind online promotion. It’s also one of the most time-consuming tasks behind running a blog/website.

Outsourcing written content to professionals who can turnaround your order quickly and optimize the content for SEO can save business owners a lot of time and money.

Copify Intro Video

Copify Services

Whatever your written content needs, Copify promises to deliver. Some of the more popular forms of content include:

  • Article writing
  • Blog posts
  • Press releases
  • Product reviews
  • Ecommerce content
  • SEO copywriting

One of the biggest struggles of online business is finding an audience of customers, and content marketing has emerged as the most popular way to do just that. But if you don’t have the time to craft compelling content yourself, hiring an outsourced service can get you in the game.

With Copify, you can order content on a one-off basis or in bulk and request changes to your order before accepting the work.

WordPress users can use a special plugin to import their content directly into their site with links and formatting intact, instead of having to copy and paste.

Plans and Pricing

Their pricing model is based on cost per word.

“Standard” copy costs £0.03 a word, and “Professional” copy costs £0.05 per word. At these rates, you will pay £15 and £25  respectively for a 500 word piece of content.

In the US, you’re looking at $30 for a 500 word blog post at the Professional level. (I actually couldn’t find the option for “Standard.”)

These prices are considerably higher than you would expect to pay from a “content mill” (see below), but theoretically reflective of the quality and experience of their copywriters, all of whom are native English speakers and go through some strict testing to be approved and join the team of freelancers working for Copify.

When you place an order, you select what type of content you need, describe your requirements such as the keywords to include or the tone to write in, and hit submit. A typical turnaround time is just 48 hours.

Copify Alternatives

While Copify’s rates are higher than what you might find at “content mill” sites like HireWriters and Textbroker (or Fiverr), they’re significantly lower than companies like Ellipsis, which charges up to $200 for a 500-word article.  

Another service offering native English writing service is Copywriter Today, and they have an interesting subscription based model that could end up saving you money depending on your content demands. 

Your Turn

Have you ordered content from Copify? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Codementor

Codementor is a software support company offering one-to-one support and mentorship to students, business owners, and aspiring developers looking to learn how to code — or just to get a quick answer to your coding question.

The company has been in operation since 2014. They are based in San Francisco and Taiwan, and they employ mentors all over the globe.

About Codementor

codementor reviewThe company is funded by Techstars, 500 Startups and other investors, and is headed up by CEO Weiting Liu. They provide a marketplace for coding experts to mentor anyone looking to learn more about coding.

Their mentors cover more than 800 topics and offer training and mentorship to beginners and advanced coders. Their mentors are based all over the world and connect with customers via screen sharing, video and text chat.

Their services are aimed at anyone interested in learning to code. Where the service applies to business owners is in getting real-time virtual support to resolve annoying website problems. It might not make sense to hire an in-house developer or post a job to Upwork for a small bug fix, but it still is a pressing issue.

Codementor Intro Video

Services

To connect with one of the mentors on the Codementor.io platform you need a PC or Mac. You can either make contact via on-screen chat, or if you have the ability to connect via video or audio call you can use these methods.

Codementor told me they typically respond to all requests within 10-30 minutes depending on the time of day and complexity of the request. Once one of their mentors has responded to your question you can open dialogue with them and discuss your requirements.

They’re not necessarily going to do the work for you — although I imagine the expert developers DO source some jobs from the platform — but more point you in the right direction on how you can solve the problem yourself. There are a number of times for this site where I could have used a service like this to fix one feature or make some small tweak to the design!

After a preview period you click “start paid session.” Your credit card will be billed at the end of the session. Using Zoom.us you can record your sessions to review again at a later date.

Plans and Pricing

Codementor provides an open marketplace for developers to set their own rates. Rates typically start at around $10-15 per 15 minutes and go up from there. Doesn’t that sound more affordable than $60 an hour?

codementor pricing

There is a minimum charge for the first 15 minutes for each session, with the following time charged at the mentor’s rate per minute.

There is a money back guarantee in place. If you are not satisfied with your mentor within the first hour you can request a refund.

Codementor is also building out a gig marketplace similar to Fiverr or PeoplePerHour. These are fixed-price projects with a specific deliverable.

For example, when I looked under their mobile app development category, I found gigs ranging from $25 to $2000 and more:

codementor gig pricing

Codementor Alternatives

Clarity.fm provides a similar one-on-one support marketplace allowing to you to connect with experts, but their focus isn’t as niche as Codementor.io.

For technical help like this, your options are pretty much to hire a developer on Upwork (or Fiverr for small jobs), or sign up for a recurring maintenance service like WP Curve.

Your Turn

Have you worked with a mentor on the Codementor platform? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Acelerar

Acelerar is a virtual assistant service company based in Noida, India. The company has been in operation since 2010 and provides virtual assistants round the clock to support clients around the world in their respective time zones.

About Acelerar

acelerar reviewAcelerar operates out of a hi-tech suburb of New Delhi, Noida, India. The company currently employs 52 members of staff, and when I spoke with them recently they pointed out that they are planning to double this number by the end of 2016.

The company only employs college graduates and they put their virtual assistants through a number of background checks and other tests. Their candidates go through a two-week training course where they cover using MS office, social media tools, and complete dummy projects to develop an understanding of their roles.

Each virtual assistant signs a Nondisclosure Agreement so you don’t need to worry about your confidentiality being breached. When you sign up for a package you are assigned a Customer Success Manager. This member of staff acts as your point of contact to ensure you’re happy with how things are going.

AcelerarTech has implemented a time-tracking tool to keep you in touch with your virtual assistant. This allows you to keep up-to-date with how your tasks are progressing. You can view screenshots of your work being completed and contact your virtual assistant with any feedback you have.

Acelerar Intro Video

Services

When I spoke with Acelerar they summarized their services into the following areas:

  • Administration assistance
  • Data entry
  • Customer service
  • List building and lead generation
  • Online research
  • Recruitment
  • Back office support
  • Real estate services
  • Ad-hoc tasks

Plans and Pricing

Acelerar has four different hourly packages. Their packages start at $160 per month and you can secure a less expensive rate the more hours you purchase. The complete pricing table is as follows:

  • 20 hours per month – $160 ($8/hr)
  • 40 hours per month – $280 ($7/hr)
  • 80 hours per month – $480 ($6/hr)
  • 160 hours per month – $800 ($5/hr)

If you’ve been comparing different VA companies, you know these rates are quite competitive.

They also offer a free trial to test their services. You do need to put down a small deposit, but it’s fully refundable if you are not happy with their service for any reason.

Getting started with Acelerar couldn’t be any easier. You can either give them a call, submit a form on their website for a free quote, or use a live chat box on their site for a quick answer to any questions you have.

Acelerar Alternatives

Among other virtual assistant companies in India, MyTasker or Ask Sunday might be worth a look. Their range of services offered are similar though their pricing packages are both slightly more expensive.

Your Turn

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

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VirtuNeeds

VirtuNeeds is a US-based virtual assistant company that provides virtual assistants to customers all over the globe.

The company has been in operation since 2014, however, they were operating on referrals only until they came out of private beta in early 2016.

About VirtuNeeds

virtuneeds reviewThe company is run by Bridgett Smith, a former Senior Account Executive for Clear Channel Radio. Bridgett has an extensive background working with entrepreneurs, small business owners, medium sized business owners, and multi-media ad agencies. Bridgett decided to start VirtuNeeds to help other business owners find virtual assistants.

The company headquarters is located in Las Vegas, US. Their virtual assistants work remotely all over the US from locations like Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Their target customers are any businesses or entrepreneurs in need of a helping hand. They have a wide scope of clients, and their virtual assistants are capable of handling just about any day-to-day business tasks.

Services

VirtuNeeds virtual assistants are willing to take on all tasks, no matter how big or small. If you need support in any of the following areas, their team is ready to help:

  • General administration
  • Making travel arrangements
  • Writing, formatting and typing
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Customer support
  • Ad-hoc tasks
  • And more

The company provides their own task portal where you can submit tasks and communicate directly with your assistant.

Bridgett explained that VirtuNeeds also has entertainment experience for those who require event planning, artist booking, etc., and that they can help put together promotional and marketing campaigns for those clients.

Plans and Pricing

VirtuNeeds has three different monthly packages on offer. Rates range from around $17-$20 an hour depending on the package. They also offer some flexibility for custom projects if you contact them for a quote.

virtuneeds pricing

Their packages are priced per hours purchased, and are broken down as follows:

  • Twenty hours – $399 for 20 hours = $19.95 per hour
  • Thirty hours – $549 for 30 hours = $18.30 per hour
  • Forty hours – $699 for 40 hours = $17.48 per hour

None of these plans require an ongoing contract and all include time tracking for your VA and a daily action report to summarize what they got done. Compared with other American virtual assistant companies, the rates are quite competitive.

VirtuNeeds also offers a handful of other custom packages that may be a fit depending on your needs.

  • Retainer Package: This package is for clients that will need an assistant sporadically throughout the month. You will pay a retainer fee and use your hours for any task whenever you wish.
  • Fixed Bid Package: This package is for those that are looking for assistance with a project assignment that has a definite finish date.
  • Hourly Package: You can purchase a block of hours with this package.

For each of these you will need to contact them with your requirements for a quote.

VirtuNeeds Alternatives

Worldwide 101 and Time Etc are two of their main competitors with home-based American virtual assistants. Both have been in business a little longer, but VirtuNeeds’ rates are slightly lower.

Your Turn

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

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Equivity

Equivity is a US-based virtual assistant company. Based in San Francisco and with virtual assistants across the country, the company has been in business since 2014.

About Equivity

equivity reviewThe company is run by co-founders Eric Wall, and Heidi Hodges. Eric leads the strategic direction of the company and has a number of years experience as a patent litigator. Heidi oversees the operational strategy of the company and has an extensive background in content and digital marketing.

Their target customers are individuals, businessmen, and large companies. So a wide scope of clients from the solopreneur, all the way up to established corporations.

Services

The company provides virtual assistants ready to carry out a range of services from administrative tasks, marketing, bookkeeping and research support, as well as any ad-hoc tasks you may have.

Their team can handle tasks like managing appointments, carrying out property research, or making travel bookings. Just about anything you can think of, as long as you’re able to communicate your requirements clearly, their team is on hand to do the work.

EquivityVA.com virtual assistants are available to handle just about any tasks, no matter how large or small. If you are looking for support in any of the following areas, their team can help:

  • Administrative assistance
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Customer service
  • Consulting
  • Ad-hoc tasks
  • And more

Plans and Pricing

Equivity has five different packages on offer. Rates range from around $30-$25 an hour depending on the package.

equivity va pricing

As is normal practice, the more hours you purchase the lower the hourly rate. Their packages are as follows:

  • Assist – $149 for 5 hours = $29.8 per hour
  • Elevate – $274 for 10 hours = $27.4 per hour
  • Achieve – $399 for 15 hours = $26.6 per hour
  • Professional – $749 for 30 hours = $24.96 per hour
  • Executive – $1249 for 50 hours = $24.98 per hour

When you sign up you are assigned your own personal, college-educated virtual assistant. There are no long-term contracts, and flexibility when you can use the hours.

Equivity Alternatives

There are several worthy competitors to Equivity in the American virtual assistant realm. Time Etc has earned positive feedback lately and is priced similarly. Worldwide101 and eaHELP are also well-reviewed but come with a higher price tag.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Equivity? If so, please share your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Zen WP

Zen WP is a company offering WordPress support. The company is based in the US, with developers working remotely across the US and in India.

The company has been in business for around 2 years now and work with clients all over the world in need of any form of support for their WordPress websites.

About Zen WP

Zen WP reviewThe company’s management team are located in Southern California. They have developers and account managers working remotely across the US, and some specialist team members working out of Bangladesh and India.

Their target customers are businesses and entrepreneurs with WordPress sites, but not the time, resources, or expertise to manage the site efficiently. Currently, around 80% of their customers are in the California, Las Vegas and Arizona areas local to their business. This is because a lot of their customers make contact after seeing local advertisements or being referred by existing customers.

Offering online support, ZenWP.co is able to offer support to customers all over the globe. So regardless of your location if you need WordPress support you should make contact to discuss your requirements.

Services

Zen WP offer support for just about any task related to WordPress you will come across. This includes minor CSS work, changes to the design of the site, bug fixes, and support for maintaining and updating your site.

Since downtime on your website can be costly to your business, Zen WP recognizes this and aims to fulfill all requests within 24 hours to minimize disruption. Some of their packages include site maintenance, so a lot of bugs and potential security risks can be identified and resolved before they become a problem.

Plans and Pricing

Zen WP offer three different monthly packages, and all of these plans are valid for only one website.

Basic – $79 per month – This package includes detailed reports for jobs completed, 24/7 uptime monitoring, 24/7 email support, and a secure backup of your site monthly.

Standard – $129 per month – This package includes all the services in the Basic package, along with automatic updates for your WordPress site, automatic plugin updates, and a security plan.

Pro – $269 per month – This package includes all the services in the Standard package, along with a security guarantee, unlimited consulting, and 5 hours of development work per month.

zen wp pricing

Zen WP also offer single job service costing $69 per job. They guarantee the job will be completed in 24 hours, and if for any reason they can’t fulfill your request you get your money back.

All of the Zen WP’s monthly packages or one-off payments have no contracts or setup fees attached. You can cancel at any time.

Zen WP Alternatives

A lot of virtual assistant companies offer WordPress support, most notable is WP Curve which has a nearly identical business model. When asked what sets Zen WP apart from other virtual assistant providers they said, “our willingness to accommodate customers in ways that our competitors don’t.”

Another service to check out if you need WordPress help — but feel like the ongoing maintenance might be overkill — is Codeable.io.

Zen WP specializes in WordPress support, any company that specializes in a specific niche often offer a more detailed level of support so it’s worth making contact to discuss you needs and see how they stack up against other virtual assistant providers.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Zen WP? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Baltic Assist

Baltic Assist is a virtual assistant company based in Lithuania. They are a relatively new company, starting operations in the beginning of 2015.

They currently supply services to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, but are open to serving clients throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

About Baltic Assist

baltic assist reviewAll of the company’s virtual assistants are based in Vilnius, Lithuania, and they are currently the only virtual assistant company in their area. The company is run by Andzej Rynkevic, a former employee at Barclays Bank and their MSc of Innovation and Technology Management.

Baltic Assist provides virtual assistance for entrepreneurs, professionals, and SME’s. If you are in a position where it makes financial sense to start outsourcing tasks, or you are in need of support so you can spend more time on other areas of your business, one of their virtual assistants are waiting to help.

They also specialize in providing financial services using the Cloud Accounting Systems. At just over a year old they are a relative newcomer to the virtual assistant space, the company is steadily growing and expanding their reach to more countries across Europe.

Services

Baltic Assist’s services are grouped into two different categories:

Virtual Assistance – Their VA’s can handle a wide range of day-to-day business tasks, such as administration, customer service, personal assistance, and more.

Full-Service Accounting – They have a team dedicated to handling business accounts. You can outsource your payroll, VAT returns, bookkeeping, payments, and more.

The first point of contact is to email Baltic Assist with an outline of the tasks you want to outsource. Their team will decide what kind of virtual assistance you need and discuss your workload to workout the best price.

When you have been assigned a virtual assistant you can chat with them on the phone or over skype to formally meet. From here on you communicate directly with your virtual assistant sending them all the information they need to complete the tasks and set deadlines.

Plans and Pricing

Baltic Assist has a handful of plans available. The first is for on-demand accounting help, which is billed out at €25 per hour.

On the virtual assistant side, you have a couple options. You can choose the pay-as-you-go model for €15 per hour, or you can sign up for a dedicated VA plan and enjoy some cost savings as well as some continuity in personnel.

baltic assist pricing

The 10 hour per week / 40 hour per month Premium plan costs €480, or €12 per hour. 

The full-time 160 hour per month Professional plan costs just €1600, or €10 per hour. Compared to rates for other European virtual assistants, these are quite affordable.

Baltic Assist Alternatives

For EU accounting expertise, Baltic Assist is an affordable and reputable provider. On the VA side of the equation, the rates are significantly lower than their more-established competitors such as Worldwide101 or Time Etc.

Both of those companies are very highly rated for communication and quality of work.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Baltic Assist? If so, please take a moment to leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Supahands

Supahands is an outsourcing platform that works with entrepreneurs and business owners looking to outsource tasks of all sizes.

You can outsource individual tasks on an ad-hoc basis, or work with a dedicated assistant for all your tasks.

About Supahands

supahands reviewThe company has been in operation for two years. In this time they have worked with clients all over the globe and now have workers based in Australia, Singapore, the US, and their headquarters is based in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia.

The company is headed up by John Simpson. Their target customers are entrepreneurs, as well as small and large businesses.

When I spoke with Supahands they said, “What makes Supahands stand out as a leading outsourcing center are the skill sets that they can acquire to put in place for their clients.”

Services

You can submit any ad-hoc tasks to the Supahands team. As mentioned above, if the task is not within their skill set they will recommend a company that can help. The company group their services into four areas:

  • Database Maintenance
  • Sales Support
  • Customer Support
  • General Tasks

They specialize in Data Entry, Lead Generation, Database Cleaning, Inbound and Outbound Customer Care, Data Deduplication, Online Research, Appointment Booking and Scheduling, Data Mining.

There are some areas that Supahands assistants do not specialize in however. If you are looking to outsource specialized tasks, such as SEO, site design, video editing, press releases, or writing, their staff cannot help. The company will however recommend another outsourcing company they have worked with before and are confident will be able to help.

Supahands Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

The currency/credits Supahands virtual assistants use is called “Hands.” You purchase Hands and then use them for services.

Their packages are:

Starter Hands – This package buys you 6 Hands for $21.

Growth Hands – This package buys you 12 Hands for $36.

Pro Hands – This package buys you 30 Hands for $75.

supahands pricing

One hand buys you 20 minutes of virtual assistant time or a specific task. For example, asking Supahands to find you a contractor or a dog groomer will cost you one hand. For this cost a member of staff will do all the work for you, vetting contractors, making the calls and arranging the appointment.

If you utilize all 12 hands in the Growth package at 20 minutes a pop, you’d be looking at an equivalent hourly rate of $9 an hour.

Supahands also has a Premium package; 45 tasks for $225 a month, and perhaps most importantly, your requests are routed to your dedicated assistant each time. 

If you run out of Hands on any plan, you can “top off” your account at any time.

You currently receive two free Hands when signing up, so now is the perfect time to give Supahands a try and see how well they fit with your requirements.

Supahands Alternatives

OkayRelax and Fancy Hands are the two companies that come to mind with the most similar package offerings. With OkayRelax, you can get a dedicated assistant at a lower price point than Supahands, and with Fancy Hands, their whole team is US-based.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Supahands? If so, I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a review below to help others with their virtual assistant decision.

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Xilium

Xilium is a Philippines based virtual assistant company with offices in the US, and offices and virtual assistant staff in the Philippines. They provide a wide range of services and have been in operation since 2011.

If you’re curious what the name means, as I was, apparently it’s loosely derived from the Latin word “auxilium” meaning “assistance” or “aid.” So there’s your trivia for the day.

About Xilium

xilium reviewThe company is headed up by Vanessa Estrella. I asked Xilium what their areas of specialization are and they said, “[we] specialize in virtual assistant services,” which wasn’t helpful at all. Then they clarified their target customers are “medical professionals, Amazon sellers, and business owners.”

If your businesses focuses on either of these areas and you are struggling to keep up with your workload it’s worth making contact with Xilium to see how they can help.

Xilium hire staff in the Philippines to take advantage of the geoarbitrage that comes with the lower cost of living in the Philippines (see plans and pricing below). You can hire part or full-time staff at a much lower cost than in the US. Staff in the Philippines typically have very good English skills too, so you’re less likely to encounter communication problems as you would with some other counties.

All of their staff are vetted, have college-graduate level qualifications and years of experience in the virtual assistant industry. Their staff work flexible hours, so your timezone or prefered hours of operation are not going to be a problem.

Services

The company provides college-graduate, professional virtual assistants ready to handle the day-to-day tasks you want to outsource to free up more of your time. Their services are categorized into three areas as mentioned above, with the breakdown of services as follows:

Medical Assistant Virtual Assistants

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Call answering and handling
  • Calendar management
  • Word processing
  • Electronic medical record management
  • Medical transcriptions
  • Internet research

Business Virtual Assistants

  • Handling business accounts and bookkeeping
  • Personal assistant support
  • CUstomer support
  • Graphic design
  • Technical support
  • Website support and content

Online Marketing Virtual Assistants

  • Email support
  • Branding and product marketing
  • Online reputation management
  • Cloud services
  • Product forum and support setup

Xilium Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Xilium plans range from $335 per month to $1195 per month.

Their Bronze package is at the low end of that spectrum at $335 and includes a dedicated assistant for an 8-hour shift, one day a week. At 32 hours a month, it comes out to a little over $10 an hour.

The Bronze+ package gives you 10 hours a week, spread across a 5-day workweek at 2 hours a day. The current price is $395 per month (slightly less than $10 an hour).

The Silver package is $100 more but has some really confusing terms, hours, and scheduling so I’d probably avoid it.

Much simpler are the Gold and Platinum packages, at $695 and $1195 respectively. These are for 20 hour per week and 40 hour per week virtual employees. The Gold package averages out to around $8.70 an hour, while the Platinum clocks in at around $7.50.

Xilium Alternatives

There are no shortage of virtual assistant companies operating out of the Philippines. I’d take a look at Task Bullet or VA Staffer for a similar dedicated assistant set-up. TaskBullet has the advantage of not locking you in to a long-term subscription.

If you’re comfortable with a home-based VA, you might consider OnlineJobs, the largest virtual work job board in the country.

Your Turn

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

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Ellipsis

Ellipsis is a relative newcomer to the virtual assistant space with the company starting operations in January 2016. They are offer virtual writing services, enabling you to hire a personal writer to produce content for your blog or website, write compelling press-releases, or create written content for any other needs.

About Ellipsis

ellipsis reviewEllipsis is part of the Miles AG family of companies. (The most notable sister company in the VA space is the well-rated eaHELP.)

The company is headed up by CEO Bryan Miles and COO Shannon Miles, with Ivy Sprague as manager of operations. They are based in Atlanta, US, and employ only native English speakers also based in the US.

Their services are aimed at businesses that already have a marketing plan and strategy in place and need help with their written content. Quality content is at the forefront of Internet marketing, and Ellipsis’ staff can help you spread the word of your business through site content and marketing.

When asked what their areas of specialization were, Ivy explained, “We want to be the voice in your head…only better. We’ll write about anything, from accounting to Internet security.”

The kind of answer you would expect from a company that produces creative content, but paints a clear picture of their services.

Services

The company partners with leaders and communicators to create content that will make a difference to your business. Their writers will help spread the voice of your business to a much wider audience. Writing content is a time-consuming process, hiring a writer from Ellipsis Ink means you can free up some times to focus on other areas of your business.

If you find it hard to express your visions, strategies, or convey your business services in words, Ellipsis can help. Their writers produce blog posts, social media content, lead generation copy, email campaigns, eBooks, and more.

The company are keen to keep the content they provide in your own “voice.” They will call you to discuss your current content strategies, previous writers you may have used, what style of writing you want for your business, and aim to provide you with more than just a quote.

Ellipsis Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

The company prices on a flat-fee per project basis. They encourage month-to-month arrangements to ensure the relationship is working and both parties are happy.

They don’t give ballpark pricing estimates on their site, instead encouraging visitors to speak with a member of their team to get a personalized quote for your content requirements. You’ve probably come to learn, as I have, that that means it ain’t gonna be cheap.

In the video above, Ivy explained that a 500 word blog post could be in the $200 range.

Ellipsis.ink Alternatives

Most virtual assistant companies offer content writing services, but for native English writers I’ve had my best luck with Copywriter Today

If you don’t quite have the ongoing demand for fresh content yet, you might consider HireWriters or even Upwork for one-off writing projects.

Your Turn

Have you worked with any writers at Ellipsis? If so, please share your experience below to help others make an informed decision.

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BDhire

BDHire is a virtual assistant company based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The company was founded in 2008, and has since been providing virtual assistant services to clients and business owners worldwide.

About BDHire

bdhire reviewThe company is headed up by Abul Kashem. Being in operation since 2008 makes BDHire one of the longer established companies in the fast-paced virtual assistant space.

Their target customers are social media and web design companies, travel, hotels and real estate businesses, as well as individual entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Looking at their in-house experts available for hire, they have a lot of services aimed at the smaller online entrepreneur. This was confirmed when I asked what their areas of specialization were, BDHire said, “full-time webmasters, link builders, SEO specialists, internet marketing experts, SBI webmasters and WordPress developers.”

Services

A lot of the company’s services are directed helping online business owners with their websites through the use of their virtual assistants. Their core services can be summarized as follows:

Link Building – They have a team of dedicated link builders, submitting articles and website URLs to directories and social bookmarking sites.

Keyword Research – They can find and provide a list of keywords in your chosen niche. As well as preparing a content creation blueprint.

On-Page SEO – They can analyze your existing content and ensure you are optimized for relevant keywords and your content is SEO friendly.

Niche Site Creation – BDHire have a team of experienced niche site builders. They can start a site for you either by choosing a niche or following your guidelines.

WordPress Services – Complete WordPress support, so you can invest your time in other areas of your business and leave the technical support to their experts.

SBI Services – Their experts will build a site from scratch or work on a site you already have. They can also move your site over to WordPress with a “smooth and successful transition.”

Plans and Pricing

Their rates vary per project and expert being hired.

Their minimum hourly rate is $17 per hour to give you a good idea of how much you will be paying and how they compare to other virtual assistant companies. BDHire representatives are happy to discuss each project’s individual needs and give you a more accurate quote.

In addition to rates that are 2-3x higher than their geographic neighbors, they also charge a one-time $250 set up fee, which is actually pretty uncommon in the industry.

BDHire Alternatives

What sets BDHire apart from general VA companies is their expertise in SEO, WordPress and niche sites. If you’re looking for support in these areas I would discuss you needs with them and get a quote.

If your needs are more varied or don’t require that type of specialization, you can probably save money by checking out competitors like My Tasker or VA Talks.

Your Turn

Have you worked with BDhire? If so, please leave a review below and share your experiences as it helps others with their decision.

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Athandz Research

Athandz Research is a Sri Lankan based company specializing in carrying out customized research and business intelligence.

The company has been in operation since 2003. They gather data as per client instructions, filter and summarize the information and return it in an easy-to-use format. This gives clients the information they need to improve on their own KPI’s and the performance of their business.

About Athandz Research

athandz research reviewThe company is based in Sri Lanka. They work with clientele all over the world, with the majority of their clients being based across Europe.

Their services are aimed at companies or individuals who want to outsource any form of research. Searching the internet for information and formatting the results is a time-consuming process. Athandz Research has a team of people who specialize in these areas, and can do this at an affordable rate.

When asked what their areas of specialization were, Athandz said “medical related web research.” Their services are not limited to the medical field however, having worked with clients in the banking, software, telecom, pharmaceutical, insurance and consulting niches to name a few.

If you currently spend a lot of time carrying out research tasks or have a large task coming up, the starting point is to provide details to Athandz along with your budget to receive a quote. As with any virtual assistant services you need to weigh up the opportunity cost of tying up your time against other tasks within your business you could be focusing on.

Services

Athandz carry out a wide range of research and intelligence services. They can gather information on your competitors to help you better understand how others in your industry are performing. Helping you make comparisons with your business, and look for areas where you can improve.

They also carry out all kinds of online research, such as finding news articles, events, products, vendors, and any information as specified by yourself. You can ask for lists of information to help you with research you’re carrying out or help you put together a list of contacts to email.

Athandz Research specialize in the medical niche. If you are in this space you can use their services to data mine and summarize medical information for research and educational purposes. As well as carrying out medical transcriptions, formatting large volumes of information, and performing ad-hoc research.

Athandz Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Their rates vary per project based on the individual requirements of the task.

Their hourly rate is usually $10 to give you an idea of how much a task will cost. To get an accurate quote I suggest you contact Athandz with as much detail about the tasks you want carried out and they will call or email you to discuss the project and provide you with a quote.

Athandz Research Alternatives

With most virtual assistant companies you will be able to hire a virtual assistant and have them carry out research tasks for you. What separates Athandz Research apart from virtual assistant providers is that they specialize in research and business intelligence. If you are after research only and not the general VA assistance I would check them out.

For general virtual assistant services companies like My Tasker and OkayRelax offer very competitive rates.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Athandz Research? If so please leave a review below to share your experiences and help other with their decision, thanks.

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Longer Days

LongerDays.com is a team-based virtual assistant company; they operate out of a single office located in 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 one of the largest office-based virtual assistant companies in the US and serves busy professionals and entrepreneurs around the country.

longer days review 2015How 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.

Longer Days makes significant investments in helping their clients document their business processes. The documentation phase is free to the customer, and because of this Longer Days is picky about who they work with. You have to apply to become a client. 

Upon acceptance, clients are assigned a business processing specialist who writes detailed task processes, delegates the work to the in-house team, and oversees productivity and quality control.

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

Services

Longer Days specializes in recurring tasks in three main areas:

  1. Reception
  2. Ongoing Admin
  3. Blogging tasks

Unlike most VA companies, they do not assist with 1-time tasks. Their goal is to help customers achieve the lifestyle described in the E-Myth/4-Hour Workweek and they provide free business consulting to help clients process and systemize their businesses.

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.

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).

longer days pricing

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 $900 ($30/hour).

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.

Longer Days Interview

Want to hear about the company direct from the source? Check out the short video interview below:


Afterwards Chad took me on a virtual tour of the office and I got to “meet” the rest of the team!

Longer Days Alternatives

For office-based American virtual assistants, you might consider Virtual Assist USA or RemSource. If you’re not picky about workplace, Time Etc has earned plenty of positive feedback lately.

Your Turn

For those with experience working with LongerDays.com, please feel free to share a quick review of the service below.

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Brickwork India

Brickwork India is probably the most famous of all virtual assistant companies. Brickwork India was featured prominently and favorably in two bestselling books: Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, and Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week.

Started as a 5 member start-up in 2005, Brickwork India today is 350 strong and caters to over 20,000 clients across 116 countries. They are India’s first ISO 27001: 2013 certified Virtual Assistance company.

About Brickwork

brickwork india reviewThe company is based in Bangalore, India, which has become a true technology hotbed – India’s Silicon Valley. From their modern facilities in Bangalore, Brickwork India has attracted customers ranging in size from busy sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies.

Services

Brickwork India virtual assistants are diligent and focused professionals who can accomplish a wide variety of tasks, including everything from basic administrative work, to human resources, database management, and even social media marketing campaigns.

Because of India’s deep talent pool of educated workers, you can get well-qualified help that knows how to get the job done with little additional training.

The service menu consists of 3 main areas of service:

Admin Services: Here a team of executive assistants specialized in business support, accounting & taxation takes care of all your day-to-day routine back-office work, sales & marketing support, web based support, HR support, office management support, report generation, social media support, secretarial help, accounting and bookkeeping services, etc.

Knowledge Services: The team consists of highly qualified & experienced business analysts who are qualified MBA’s, CPA’s and Engineers, specializing in providing insights and solutions to clients through business research, investment research, procurement and sourcing services.  

Technical Services:  This team is populated with professionally qualified software engineers and graphic designers with expertise in a wide range of technologies offering technology assistance ranging from simple technical support to creative web and graphic designs, web applications, desktop and database applications, Ecommerce solutions, CRM & ERP solutions and Mobile apps.

Brickwork India Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

Beyond the category of services needed, you also have the flexibility to choose from several engagement options:

  • subscription-based
  • retainer model
  • project-based
  • a la carte hourly

Subscription rates start around $15/hour, with dedicated assistant plans at the 40, 80, and 160 hour per month levels.

Rates improve with the more hours you buy. The time you buy does not rollover if you don’t end up keeping your virtual assistant busy, so it might be best to start at a lower amount.

For project-based tasks, Brickwork India will provide a bid specific to your tasks so you can compare with other options.

Brickwork India Alternatives

Make no mistake; their rates are higher than other virtual assistant companies in India. In fact, their hourly rates are higher than you might expect to pay for a local US high school or college-aged intern.

The difference is you get the well-known “brand name” of Brickwork, along with their infrastructure and security, and you don’t have to worry about additional payroll tax and employment filing requirements.

For a couple lower-priced alternatives in India, check out MyTasker or VMG BPO.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Brickwork? I encourage anyone who has used their services to rate and review their experience below.

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How Do You Know When It’s Time to Hire?

The other day, a reader asked me how do you know when it’s time to hire a VA?

My answer:

When the pain of inaction becomes too great.

Not when you launch a new project, not the first moment you feel resistance, and not because some expert says you need to.

Like I touched on last month, my latest “hire” was for a podcast editing service. After spending hours editing each episode for 2.5 years — and now with a newborn in the house — the pain of inaction became too great.

And the same has been true for just about every hire I’ve made.

when to hire

When you start to dread the task (warning signs include relentless procrastination), or think of all the things you SHOULD be doing instead, that’s a good indicator the pain is getting to the point of needing relief.

Where I’ve seen people run into trouble is in “pre-medicating”; or hiring too early. Their revenue didn’t yet justify the expense and the business model didn’t yet justify the investment.

They were excited and energized (and perhaps had budget to burn) and wanted to follow someone else’s prescription for success.

But they hadn’t felt the pain.

The pain makes you a better manager because you can tell your prospective hire exactly “where it hurts” and get the help you need.

If you don’t feel it, it’s really hard to describe the role you envision for your virtual assistant.

Your Turn

I’m curious, do you hire more to resolve “bleeding neck” problems or more for “nice to have” solutions?

(I’m definitely more on the bleeding neck side; and end up wasting time and money on the “nice to have” roles.)

In your experience, what was the tipping point that led to hiring your first VA?

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TayStone BPO

TayStone BPO is a business-class virtual assistant company, providing virtual assistants for entrepreneurs and small businesses all over the globe.

The company has been in operation since 2012. They are a family-owned business operating primarily out of Liverpool, England, while their virtual assistants are based throughout the UK, the Philippines, and in the US.

About TayStone

taystone reviewThe company is managed by CEO Keith Taylor, with Sarah Taylor providing training and educational direction. Their headquarters are in Liverpool, England, with satellite offices in Northern Ireland, New York and the Philippines.

The company is completely remote, however they do arrange meetings in any of these locations for staff training and events when required.

TayStone specializes in working with all sizes and types of organizations from startups to established companies, entrepreneurs to small and large businesses. Although most of their virtual assistants are based in the Philippines, they also have staff in the UK and the US. This is to offer a “local feel” to their customers where required.

Keith explained they are extremely selective in their hiring process, eventually bringing on less than 1% of all applicants.

TayStone Intro Video

Services

The company provides two different services:

Dedicated Offshore Virtual Assistance – With this service, you are assigned a virtual assistant based in the Philippines. You will communicate with the VA directly and build up a relationship over time.

On Demand US or UK Virtual Assistance – With this service, you submit tasks to UK or US based virtual assistant teams to complete.

Both services come with a wide range of benefits as detailed in the plans and pricing below.

The two different services give you the option of either using virtual assistance from staff based in your home country and working normal business hours similar to yours, or staff in the Philippines, which is naturally much less expensive.

TayStone points out that they put a lot of emphasis on ensuring there are backup plans in place should the worst case happen. They are aware that Internet connectivity or power issues can be a problem when working with VAs overseas and have set emergency backup plans in place to ensure work flow is not interrupted for long.

Their larger plans also include a backup VA in case your assistant falls ill.

TayStone Founder Interview


Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for $50 off your first month!

Plans and Pricing

TayStone offers four dedicated offshore virtual assistant plans.

These start with a Lite plan, which includes 20 hours per month at a rate of $8.75 per/hr.

The Part-Time plan includes 80 hours per month at $8.50 per/hr, the Busy plan with 120 hours per month at $8.25 per/hr, and a Full-Time plan with 160 hours per month at $8.00 per/hr.

taystone bpo pricing

These plans are sold as a monthly subscription service with a dedicated virtual assistant.

All plans come with a local US phone number, unlimited in/out calls, secure PC and high speed internet with backup and local US management. The larger plans have additional services bolted on, such as a backup employee in place, SMS alerts, call transfers, and more.

Their on demand US virtual assistant plans start at 10 hours per month at $27/hr, ranging up to 80 hours per month at $22/hr.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for $50 off your first month!

taystone bpo on demand pricing

With these on-demand plans, your hours are converted into buckets of tasks, each with a 20-minute allocation. For example, with the 10 Hour Bundle, you’ll get 30 20-minute tasks for your $270 subscription. If you have tasks you anticipate taking longer than 20 minutes, just let your VA know it’s OK to use more task credits.

(This seems like an unnecessarily complex conversion process, and would perhaps be simpler to just think of buying the promised number of VA hours.)

In contrast to the offshore plans above, these plans come with a dedicated account manager but tasks may be assigned across TayStone’s entire team of VAs, rather than a dedicated VA you work with each time.

Because there are a lot of services offered in their plans, I recommend contacting TayStone and detailing your exact requirements to be matched with the best plan. (This BPO division is part of a larger call-answering and admin assistance company, so they are well-equipped to handle a variety of business needs.)

TayStone BPO Alternatives

While the on-demand service is somewhat unique for US-based assistants, Time Etc is a well-rated alternative that offers a similar array of monthly packages in both the US and the UK.

For the dedicated offshore staff, your best bets are OnlineJobs.ph for direct hires or Task Bullet if you prefer working through a third-party company. With OnlineJobs you won’t have the infrastructure or backups, but you will have much lower ongoing costs. Task Bullet is a smaller operation than TayStone but has a unique pricing system where you just buy a bucket of hours that don’t renew monthly or expire until you use them up. 

Your Turn

Have you worked with TayStone, either with their US or UK team, or their virtual assistants in the Philippines? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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NS Virtual Services

NS Virtual Services provides virtual business services to entrepreneurs and businesses ranging from general admin and customer service, to social media and web development. I like the tagline of “Getting You Ahead Without The Overhead!”

The company was founded in 2008 by Natalie Szabo, who serves as the business and project manager. Natalie steers the ship from Quebec, Canada, and oversees current team members in Canada and the USA.

ns virtual services reviewShe explains that their ideal clients are entrepreneurs and business executives, who are willing to work on long-term ongoing projects. “Due to the varied skill-sets of each team member,” she adds, “We are able to serve various niches.”

How it Works


NS Virtual Services doesn’t limit themselves to any particular specialization.

“We partner with our clients to ensure that we match the perfect assistant to their project, not just who’s next available,” Natalie explains. “If we don’t have what the client is looking for, then we will find that special person, screening and vetting them in advance.”

Services

Since each team member comes with different skill-sets, NS Virtual Services can cover the following services:

  • General admin
  • customer service
  • data entry
  • translation
  • transcription
  • bookkeeping
  • social media management
  • website management
  • online business management
  • affiliate management

There are several multi-VA teams out there, but Natalie explains what sets them apart is their personalized service from start to finish. With a hands-on approach, she ensures that her clients and team are completely satisfied, making any adjustments necessary.

Clients can choose to work with their assigned VA directly, or have their VA manage several team members depending on the various tasks required.

 

Plans and Pricing

The company has different packages available, and the engagement is often customized for each client. Here are some ballpark numbers for reference, in USD:

  • General VA, hourly blocks, $37-45/hr
  • Online Business Manager, hourly blocks, starting at $52-60/hr
  • Social Media Management packages, $475-$1375
  • Bookkeeping packages, $375-$1350
  • Affiliate Management programs, $645-1195

I think it will come down to your comfort level and budget. For instance, you can certainly get data entry and transcription done for less, but there’s always the question of what’s going to be lost in translation and how much time you’ll have to spend cleaning up the results after the fact.

NS Virtual Services Alternatives

For similar US- and Canada-based support, there are lots of choices. Both Virtual Assist USA and Longer Days come to mind for their similar team-based approach. Natalie herself is an “alumni” of top-rated Worldwide101.

Your Turn

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

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Neyox

Neyox is a virtual assistant company based in New Delhi, India. The company was founded in 2010, and have since matched up thousands of customers across the globe with virtual assistants to help with their businesses.

About Neyox

neyox reviewThe company is headed-up and run by Neeraj Parnami. They have a team of virtual assistants all based in New Delhi. They operate with a project manager supervising projects, so you have a point of contact above the virtual assistant if necessary.

Neyox list their target customers as, IT and ITES companies, law firms, doctors, accounting firms, web design and social media companies, real estate companies, and travel companies. If you don’t fall into any of those categories, don’t let that put you off contacting them.

There is often a good deal of negotiating space with virtual assistant companies, and only after explaining your business and your own requirements can you gauge how well-matched the relationship is going to be.

Neyox has a number of guiding principles. One that stood out to me was, “At Neyox, customer satisfaction is essential to our success. We always first understand the customer’s requirement and deliver it flawlessly to achieve complete customer.”

It’s always reassuring to hear companies saying all the right things.

Neyox Intro Video

Services

In-line with most virtual assistant companies, Neyox covers a wide range of tasks that their virtual assistants are capable of taking on. They list IT and software consulting as their area of specialization, but have a long list of skills on their website, including:

  • administration
  • writing
  • marketing
  • online research
  • graphic design
  • social media
  • mobile app development
  • and much more.

Their virtual assistants are available from 20 hours a month upwards. There are no additional fees, just a flat rate per pricing plan. Each task you submit is overseen by a line manager, and you will have updates reported back to you.

To get the most out of the relationship with a virtual assistant company you need to be as detailed as possible with your requirements. Communication is key to the mutual success of you as the customer, and the company.

Plans and Pricing

Neyox has four different price plans.

neyox pricing

They start with a Trial Pack, which costs $240 for 20 hours of virtual assistant time in the month. This works out at $12 per hr, with no extra fees added on.

Their Economy Plan works out at $10 per/hr with an upfront cost of $400 for 40 hours.

Their Standard Plan is $9 per/hr with a cost of $720 for 80 hours, and finally they offer an Executive Plan at a total cost of $1280 per/mth. This give you 160 hours of virtual assistant time at $8 per/hr.

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

It should be noted that their Trial Pack allows you to get started for just $240 and does not come with any contract commitment. However, the Economy and Standard Plans come with a two month contact, and their Executive Plan requires a three month commitment.

Neyox Alternatives

Looking at other virtual assistant providers in India, MyTasker offers similar pricing plans and skill sets, along with TaskAffair and 24/7 Virtual Assistant.

My suggestion would be to reach out to two or three companies on your short list and see how you like your interactions with them. Will they let you interview your prospective assistant(s) in advance? Do they have someone on their team who can handle your specific needs? 

Your Turn

Have you worked with Neyox.com? If so, please leave a review below for the benefit of others making a decision.

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Outsourced.ph

Outsourced.ph is an Australian based virtual assistant company with employees in both Australia and the Philippines. The company was founded by Mike Larcher, who has over 15 years’ experience in the digital space and also runs an award winning digital agency in Australia.

The company was founded in May 2012 to serve a core client base of small to medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs. They specialize in providing high quality technical virtual assistants to assist businesses with outsourcing tasks.

About Outsourced.ph

outsourced.ph reviewThe Outsourced head office is in Sydney, Australia. They specialise in providing offshore virtual assistants based in the Philippines to businesses all over the globe. The company has a quality assurance directive, stating:

“We are dedicated to delivering quality assurance and are committed to providing staff of the highest standards, all backed by our award winning management in Australia with over 16 years technical staffing experience.”

The company recruit their virtual assistants in the Philippines to supply skilled staff at the lowest possible cost to the client. Allowing busy business owners to outsource time consuming tasks at an affordable rate, freeing up their time to work on growing their business or other areas.

Outsourced.ph: How it Works

Services

The company provides virtual assistants who are trained across a wide range of job roles, but as you might infer from their logo, they specialize in technical roles like web developers, QA testers, and IT support.

You can choose a virtual assistant based on their skill set to meet your requirements. They also have accountants, telemarketers, customer service reps, graphic designers, and many more roles.

This narrows down the selection for you. It’s then down to you to communicate your exact requirements and see how their virtual assistants match-up. 

Plans and Pricing

Outsourced price their service with an hourly rate per position of the virtual assistant.

The least expensive option for example is a Customer Service Assistant which will cost you $8 per/hr. While a Mid Developer is $14 per/hr, or a Senior Developer is $22 per/hr.

Outsourced state on their website that their pricing is only a guide, there is some room for negotiation based on your own unique requirements and the skillset of their assistants. If you want to secure the best possible price, have all of your requirements clearly laid out and be prepared to discuss this with a customer service rep.

Understand that as a recruiting agency, Outsourced.ph is making a markup on these salaries (just as any 3rd party VA company would).

Outsourced.ph Intro Video

Outsourced.ph Alternatives

There are lots of companies to choose from when sourcing virtual assistants from the Philippines. One other recruiting service that might be worth checking out is Zen Virtual Assistants Finder

If you prefer the do-it-yourself route, you may be able to find similarly skilled staff through a jobs board like OnlineJobs.ph and save quite a bit on your hourly rate by hiring directly.

Your Turn

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

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AnswerAmerica

AnswerAmerica is a virtual receptionist company with 50 locations across the US. The company has been around since 1984 and is headed up by Gary Pudles. I’d say that definitely makes them a pioneer in this space, despite their outdated looking website (at press time).

With their virtual receptionists being based in the US, this service is definitely suited to business owners in the US. Although they do operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so you can use their services anywhere in the world.

Virtual receptionists give smaller businesses the opportunity to have a receptionist on call at a much more affordable rate than employing someone full-time. This not only provides a better service to customers, it gives the impression the business is a lot larger than it may actually be.

About AnswerAmerica

answeramerica reviewAs you can imagine, being in business since 1984 makes AnswerAmerica one of the longest running virtual receptionist companies in the market. This gives customers some added reassurance that not only do Answer America have a wealth of experience, they aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

The company offers cost-effective telephone answering services, and their receptionists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The receptionists answer calls on a cost per call basis. They can also carry out some other receptionist tasks such as booking appointments, making notes, and forwarding on calls and emails.

Services

The company covers a range of services all revolving around taking calls on your behalf. This includes setting appointments, processing orders and taking messages. You can provide scripts for the virtual receptionists to use when taking calls, they also support scripts in different languages.

The company states that they put their virtual receptionists through in-depth training and are constantly monitoring the response time to answering calls. Putting the needs and expectations of their customers first and providing a high standard of work. They offer several different specialist answering services, and tailor their service to different industries.

You can request the receptionist’s forward specific calls on to you, send you an email about a call, or an SMS if that’s more convenient.

The service is designed to be flexible and customer-friendly, so whatever your requirements are you should communicate them to the customer care team at Answer America to see how they can accommodate you.

A feature that stands out as being particularly helpful is their online transcripts. You can log into your account and read transcripts of calls the receptionists have taken. Allowing you to catch up in your own time and be aware of what’s been said.

Signing Up for AnswerAmerica

Plans and Pricing

There is a flat rate of $1 per call. This rate falls to $0.75 a call on larger packages that are available on request.

answeramerica pricing

There are no monthly, or other additional charges unless you add on some bespoke options. All you need to do is load up a minimum of $20 credit to your account, then keep an eye on your account and top up when necessary.

AnswerAmerica Alternatives

Ruby Receptionists is probably the most well-known company in the virtual receptionist space. Conversational and Gabbyville also offer similar services, although their pricing models are based on paying for minutes rather than calls. So it’s difficult to compare them on a price-by-price basis.

Your Turn

Have you had AnswerAmerica acting as your virtual receptionist? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Outsource2Africa

Outsource2Africa is an outsourcing company in Kenya, Africa. They have been in business since January 2013 and provide virtual assistants based in Africa.

They specialize in services such as transcription, online research, data mining, data entry, OCR cleanup and various other day-to-day tasks a business would look to outsource.

About Outsource2Africa

outsource2africa reviewThe company was founded by Catherine Muriuki, who serves as CEO. While three years isn’t a long time for a company to be operating, it’s long enough to establish them as a serious and trustworthy player in the African market.

Africa as a continent is growing rapidly when it comes to innovation and technology. It’s still cost effective to outsource tasks, while you can expect highly skilled virtual assistants if the company do their part and find them for you.

When asked what their areas of specialization were, Outsource 2 Africa listed online research, data mining, data entry, transcription, OCR cleanup, and more. This gives the impression they handle more of the administration type tasks rather than specific skill sets such as graphic design, or WordPress support.

For any tasks outside of what they mentioned, I’d recommend contacting them and explaining your exact requirements to see where their skills match up.

Services

The company supplies virtual assistants trained in a wide range of areas to meet the requirements of their clients. Some of the services they advertise are as follows:

  • Transcription (this seems to be their primary focus)
  • Data entry
  • Online research
  • SEO and writing services
  • Index scanning

As with most virtual assistant companies communication is a major factor. By providing as much information as possible about your requirements, you can evaluate how well the company is able to match you with a virtual assistant.

Plans and Pricing

Outsource2africa does not offer any set pricing plans and only provides quotes upon request.

This is unusual for a virtual assistant company, but gives you the opportunity to open dialogue with them and request a custom quote for the work you want to outsource.

For transcription, I reached out and asked about their rates and they provided the following information:

  • If you need 24 hours turnaround time – $1/min or $60/ audio hour 
  • 2-3 business days turnaround time (48- 72 hours) – $0.92/min or $55/AH
  • 4-5 business days (96-120 hours) – $0.83/min or $50/AH
  • No rush: over 5 business days – $0.75/min or $45/AH

They do offer a short free trial where you can have the first 4 minutes of an audio file transcribed. This is a good way to test their services and see how promptly they turn your work around, even if it’s a bit tedious to reduce a podcast (for example) to only the first few minutes to upload into their trial system.

Outsource2Africa Alternatives

The virtual assistant market in Africa is still growing. Pixels-VA is the only other company I’m aware of at the moment, though you’ll be able to find transcription and admin support services worldwide.

One of the best-known transcription services is Rev.com ($1 per audio minute), and as far as other virtual assistant companies go, you might consider TaskBullet or Uassist.ME.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Outsource2Africa? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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TimelyPA

TimelyPA is a UK based virtual assistant company that provides virtual assistant support to tech startups. Starting up a new business can feel overwhelming and daunting, handing a lot of the work over to a team specializing in startups can make a big difference to the speed and growth of the new company.

The company has been in operation since 2013. All of their staff are based in the UK, and they aim to provide the highest quality native English speaking staff at a competitive price.

About TimelyPA

timelypa reviewThe company is run by Patrick Collins who is the founder. The team has their own page on the TimelyPA website outlining their roles, which is a nice touch. There is Edi, co-founder and social media manager. Aura, data research specialist. Chris, social media and graphic design, and Josh, SEO and blog writing.

When I spoke with TimelyPA they explained that they “Work only with tech startups, and so have great experience in the startup environment in what processes, skills and software are the best to apply to the startup that we are working with.” They are not a general virtual assistant company, but specializing in startups allows them to channel their skillset into what they do best – helping startups grow.

Starting up a new business can be incredibly time consuming. Outsourcing a lot of the tasks in the early days of a business can free up your time to work on being creative and concentrating on the areas of the business you enjoy more.

TimelyPA Intro Video

Services

There are three core areas to TimelyPA’s services.

Leads for Startups

You can outsource all of your data research, CRM set up, data cleaning and email and call validation.

Social Media Management

Incredibly important for startups looking to promote their new brand and spread the word. TimelyPA will set up profiles on all major social media platforms, increase the amount of followers to your social media accounts, as well as manage the day-to-day running of your social media.

Customer Support

The team at TimelyPA will deal with all incoming inquiries (well, enquiries, being a UK company) and help secure new customers. As well as manage the live chat function on your website and carry out any customer orientated tasks as directed by you.

Plans and Pricing

There are three different pricing plans depending on how many hours of virtual assistant time you are buying. Their entry plan is an hourly rate of $25 per/hr. The minimum amount of time you have to purchase at this price is 5 hours, and the maximum per month is 80 hours.

Their other plans are $500 for 20 hours, or $2000 for 80 hours. These work out at $25 per hour and come with the same minimum and maximum thresholds.

TimelyPA Alternatives

TimelyPA have crafted themselves a niche with their focus being only on tech startups. There are other virtual assistant providers in the UK that offer similar services within their virtual assistant skillsets however. Time ETC is one of the larger companies in this space, they are worth checking out along with Virtalent.

Have you worked with TimelyPA? Have they helped you with your own startup? If so please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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Remplo

Remplo enables small business owners and entrepreneurs to outsource tasks to their team of virtual assistants. The company has a large team of hand-picked virtual assistants (primarily based in Sri Lanka) with a range of skills to meet their clients’ needs.

About Remplo

remplo reviewRemplo have been providing virtual assistant services since 2006.

Being in the virtual assistant space for that long and still going strong is testament to a good reputation and a lot of satisfied clients. The company is headed up by Roshana Mallawaarachchi, and their target customers are small businesses and entrepreneurs.

They claim to have worked with over 1,000 clients, and saved them time by having their skilled virtual assistants handle their tasks at a cost effective and competitive rate. 

Roshana pointed out that they have, “minimized issues associated in working with staff in autonomous and distant locations by keeping the contractors accountable and productive no matter where they are working from in the world.” That’s a mouthful, right?

He added that their hiring process utilizes a 10-step process designed by Richard Branson’s former executive assistant.

Remplo’s assistants are located in Sri Lanka, with sales offices in Australia and the UK.

Services

The company provides clients with VAs ready to tackle any day-to-day tasks a business owner would look to outsource. They do however group their virtual assistants’ skill sets into six categories as follows:

  • Admin and Organizing
  • Writing
  • Marketing and Social Media
  • Research
  • Sales
  • Medical Transcription

If your needs fall under any of the categories above, or you just have routine tasks you want to outsource, provide Remplo with as much detail as possible. The more detail you provide upfront, the better the communication and understanding is going forward.

One potential customer service hiccup: their “live chat” widget said they were online (“We are here!”), but after several minutes of no response to my message, it said no agents were available.

Plans and Pricing

Remplo has three easy to understand pricing plans.

Their Startup Plan costs $120. For this you get 20 hours of VA time @$6/hr to be used within one year.

Their Small Business Plan costs $400 for 80 hours of time, giving you a reduced hourly rate of $5/hr.

Their Dedicated Plan is $640 for 160 hours of time or $4/hr.

remplo pricing

$640 for a full-time dedicated assistant is among the lowest rate I’ve seen. (Most other overseas virtual assistant companies charge in the $1000 per month range.) One reason for this is the lower overhead; Remplo assistants work from their home offices instead of from a dedicated call center-type cubicle farm.

As is common, the more hours you pay for upfront the better hourly rate you secure. All of their plans comes with a free consultation and setup to familiarize yourself with the company, and you can choose to have a dedicated virtual assistant.

There are no long-term contracts and each plan comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Remplo Alternatives

Among Remplo’s top competitors are companies like My Tasker and TaskBullet, but you’ll pay a slightly higher hourly rate at either of those.

Remplo has been in business for a long time and they do have a lot of experience in the virtual assistant space which goes a long way. I always recommend doing some due diligence and making contact with companies to see how they fit with your needs.

Your Turn

If you have worked with Remplo, please leave a review below and share your experience. This helps others with their decision, thanks.

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x.ai

x.ai is a personal assistant service that schedules meetings for you. It not an assistant in the sense of a receptionist, or a virtual assistant however. It’s an automated service that schedules meetings, replies to emails, and reminds you when your meetings are.

About x.ai

x.ai reviewThe company has been operating since May of 2014. They are based in New York and their product is an artificial intelligence powered personal assistant that schedules meetings for you.

The personal assistant is called Amy Ingram. It’s an artificial intelligence app designed to read and understand language and actually engage in conversation via email. Amy will learn what your personal scheduling preferences are, and arrange meetings on your behalf at a time that’s convenient for you.

You can set some rules, such as no meetings on Monday mornings, or let Amy know what your favorite locations are. All of this information will be stored and used to arrange the meetings, and save you the time of going back and forth with clients or colleagues to arrange the meetings yourself.

x.ai Amy Ingram Artificial Intelligence Video Introduction

Services

To let Amy know that you want to arrange a meeting you simply copy “her” into your email conversation by CC’ing: [email protected]. It’s that simple, and from there on the artificial intelligence will take over the conversation and book in a meeting.

A lot of thought and testing has gone into what makes an email effective. Here is what a typical email generated by Amy looks like:

Happy to get something on Stefanie’s calendar. Does Wednesday, Dec 16 at 11:30 AM work? Alternatively, Stefanie is available Wednesday, Dec 16 at 4:00 PM or Thursday, Dec 17 at 10:00 AM.

I’ll include the dial-in on the invite.

Amy
Amy Ingram | Personal Assistant
x.ai – artificial intelligence that schedules meetings

As you can see from the above email, Amy uses times and data you have made available to communicate on your behalf. Once your correspondent agrees to a time, Amy will add that meeting to your calendar.

The first question most people ask is going to revolve around, “what if the AI makes a mistake and I miss an important meeting?”

The team at x.ai have an interesting answer to this question that I had to share: “People have more to fear from a human assistant, who can gossip and make mistakes such as sending an email meant to be confidential to ‘reply all.’ As to confidentiality, it’s a huge priority to keep all their data securely locked down.”

The service is currently in beta, the company are accepting more users at the time of writing this. You can apply to join the beta on their website.

Plans and Pricing

There is no information on pricing and plans as the service is currently in private beta. I’ve applied to test it out but am still waiting to get in!

x.ai Alternatives

Alternatives to x.ai include Calendly, which manages your calendar based on pre-set preferences. As well as EasilyDo, which performs some similar tasks in the way of a smartphone app. But doesn’t cover the automatic meeting booking in the same way that x.ai does.

I currently use a tool called ScheduleOnce that for $5 a month gives me a custom “schedule a meeting” link with my calendar availability.

Your Turn

Have you used x.ai? Very curious to hear your experience and would love if you could drop in a review below.

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