2nd Office

2nd Office is a Philippines-based virtual assistant company. They have a team of virtual assistants, all based and managed in-house and they specialize in providing support to businesses of all sizes looking to outsource tasks.

The company was founded in August 2012, their headquarters is located in Antipolo, Philippines.

About 2nd Office

Their virtual assistants all work out of their offices in Antipolo. Unlike some companies that rely solely on assistants based from their homes, this enables 2nd Office to assign managers to oversee their assistants and provide an additional point of contact.

Carlo Silva is the CEO and founder of 2ndoffice.co. Carlo had an eCommerce business and started outsourcing tasks using companies in India, but was unhappy with the quality of the services he was using and decided to start his own virtual assistant company.

In his words, 2nd Office’s directive is to “help other businesses grow and to stand as a second office and a partner in reaching their clients’ potentials.”

Services

The virtual assistants at 2nd Office provide support across all aspects of running a business. Some of the key skills they list as areas of specialization include:

  • E-commerce
  • Web development
  • Data entry
  • Customer support
  • Creative writing
  • Social media
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing

There seems to be a focus on Amazon and eBay sellers, though interestingly you do not get a dedicated assistant to communicate with back and forth. Instead, you talk through your tasks and workload with one of their managers and the work is then assigned internally. It’s like they want a buffer layer between clients and the actual assistants.

Plans and Pricing

Frustratingly, 2nd Office does not have any pricing plans or subscription rate packages publicly available. You need to contact them directly to receive a quote for the work you want to outsource to one of their assistants.

To me, that’s a big hint that the company really isn’t aimed at individual operators or sole proprietors. I get the impression they’re looking for clients who need several full-time staff members and have the budget to pay for it.

2nd Office Alternatives

When hiring virtual assistants from the Philippines you have a number of options. If you prefer to screen and hire work-from-home virtual assistants yourself from a pool of applicants, consider the popular job board, OnlineJobs.ph.

If you want to work with assistants managed in-house like the 2nd Office model, VA Staffer might be worth a look.

Your Turn

Have you worked with 2nd Office? If so, please leave a short review below to help others with their decision.

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SuperTasker

SuperTasker was created by the founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour and provides a platform for customers to hire curated experts to complete high-quality digital tasks in just one click.

There is an emphasis on keeping the process of outsourcing tasks quick and simple with Supertasker. Submitted tasks are picked up by a freelancer on a “first come first serve” basis and turned around very quickly.

About SuperTasker

SuperTasker and parent company PeoplePerHour were founded by current CEO Xenios Thrasyvoulou. While PeoplePerHour dates back to 2008, SuperTasker was launched in August, 2014.

The main difference between these two platforms is that SuperTasker is a much faster way to get your tasks completed. There is no bidding from freelancers and developing relationships, instead your task gets assigned to a freelancer that has been screened by the Supertasker team and picked up on a “first come first serve” basis.

Prices for different tasks are fixed, this makes pricing up your workload a lot easier and helps to standardize the process.

You can request up to 5 revisions for each task, and if you’re still not happy you can resubmit the task to be picked up by a different freelancer so you have a decent level of protection.

Although as a customer you have no say in the selection process when your task is assigned, there is a reputation system in place based on feedback from customers. SuperTasker manage their freelancers and review their ratings to ensure the highest quality work is being carried out on their side.

Services

SuperTasker cover almost any form of digital task you can think of. There isn’t a client/virtual assistant relationship, so you can’t work on large projects back and forth with communication, but you can break down your project into smaller tasks and submit them.

Some of the most popular tasks they handle include:

  • Photo retouching
  • File conversion
  • WordPress Fixes
  • WordPress migration
  • Logo creation
  • Infographics
  • SEO
  • Presentation formatting

If you have any digital task, from HTML to help with Facebook posts, you’ll find a freelancer picking you task on the Supertasker platform.

Plans and Pricing

Each type of task has a set price and turnaround time. Some of the more popular tasks are:

  • File Conversion – $5 per file, in 1 hour
  • 3 logo variations – $45 in 2 hours
  • 3 banners in standard format – $45 in 24 hours
  • Infographics – $150 in 24 hours
  • WordPress migration – $49
  • Magento Fixes – $49

Having the set price model instead of buying hours has the advantage of giving you a clear picture of how much your tasks are going to cost.

Some people may prefer the consistency of working with the same virtual assistant and developing a working relationship, but for one-off tasks Supertasker are reasonably priced and their turnaround times are impressive.

SuperTasker Alternatives

Another service that allows you to outsource tasks on a job-by-job basis with an emphasis on speed is Speedlancer, which promises a 4-hour turnaround time for marketing related tasks.

Fiverr runs a similar model where you can order tasks à la carte, but turnaround times vary by seller.

Your Turn

Have you submitted tasks to SuperTasker? If so, please leave a brief review below to help others with their decision.

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Task Molly

Task Molly is a US-based virtual assistant and administrative support company that focuses on helping small businesses manage their day-to-day tasks.

Their US-based assistants are well-versed in US business practices and the company focuses mainly on US clients. Their head offices are based in Southern California.

About Task Molly

TaskMolly is a “small business that is in the business of serving other small businesses”. For any small business owner looking to outsource some tasks this statement will feel reassuring. Instead of issuing a blanket statement saying their assistants can help businesses of all sizes with any tasks, TaskMolly are vocal about focusing on working with small businesses.

Their assistants serve as the back office to small businesses, giving you access to a team capable of handling any, or all of your day-to-day tasks. They understand that small business owners are often trying to handle all the tasks involved with maintaining a business, while trying to find time to expand and grow the business.

They offer monthly plans that include 12, 24, or 36 hours. You can submit tasks via email or a phone app and start reducing your workload after a brief consultation to discuss your business needs.

Services

Their virtual assistants can handle any of the day-to-day tasks involved in running your business. They group their services into the following categories:

  • Administrative – Handling emails, scheduling calendars, coordinating events and meetings, data entry, etc.
  • Marketing – Social media management, email marketing, preparing PowerPoint presentations, etc.
  • Design – Web design, infographics, flyers, designing business cards and company stationery, etc.
  • Consulting – Writing business plans, project management, proposals, etc.

Obviously, their skills are not limited to the services above. With proper instruction and clear communication TaskMolly’s assistants will be able to handle any tasks you would otherwise handle yourself or you’d delegate to a member of staff.

Plans and Pricing

Task Molly have three different pricing tiers based on the number of hours you’re paying for, these are priced as follows:

  1. Base – 12 hours – $379 ($31.50/hr)
  2. Plus – 24 hours – $679 ($28.30/hr)
  3. Pro – 36 hours – $979 ($27.20/hr)

Each plan includes a dedicated account manager and detailed monthly reports. There is a decent saving on the hourly rate with the Pro plan so it’s worth considering if you think you will need around 36 hours a month.

There are other bespoke services available for website design tasks, infographics, business plans, and more. You can also contact TaskMolly directly for custom quotes.

Task Molly Alternatives

Looking at US-based alternatives, Time Etc and Worldwide101 operate on similar business models and pricing as TaskMolly and are worth checking out.

Your Turn

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

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Upwork vs. OnlineJobs.ph

If you’re looking to hire a freelance virtual assistant, you might be wondering the best place to find a rockstar VA.

Two of the largest platforms for online workers are Upwork and OnlineJobs.ph. Both of these sites have a deep talent pool and your diamond-in-the-rough virtual assistant is probably out there somewhere — it’s just a matter of finding them, or them finding you.

Note: This article focuses on the employer’s perspective. If you’re a freelancer looking for work, the information below will give you some insight into the hiring process, fees, and protections on each of the platforms, but doesn’t speak to how difficult securing work is or the types of clients you might encounter on either Upwork or OnlineJobs.

For disclosure, links to OnlineJobs are affiliate links.

Intro to Upwork and OnlineJobs.ph

While the two platforms share some similarities, there are a few key differences you should know about.

Upwork is the love child of Elance and oDesk, two Silicon Valley startups that helped pioneer the virtual freelance marketplace model.

When these one-time competitors combined forces in 2015, they rebranded as “Upwork” and created the world’s largest freelance marketplace, with more than 12 million registered freelancers.

OnlineJobs is the largest job board in the Philippines, with more than 250,000 members. What started as a side project for founder John Jonas in 2008 has turned into a massively successful platform that connects Filipino workers with employers all around the world.

What kind of roles can you hire for?

On both sites, you might be surprised at the breadth of skills and workers available for hire. If the role you’ve envisioned for your virtual assistant can be done remotely, you can find someone to do it on Upwork.

The site has several broad-strokes categories of remote work, including design and creative work, programming and development work, administrative support, marketing and sales work, and more. And of course beneath each of those are dozens of highly specialized areas of expertise.

For example, here are some of the skills listed under Sales and Marketing:

Once you click on any one of those skills, you’ll be presented with a pretty-looking grid of freelancers in that category. For example, when I click on SEO Specialists, this is what I see next:

These little profile previews will show you how many hours the freelancer has completed on Upwork, their hourly rate, where they’re located in the world, and an indicator of how well they’ve performed for past clients.

Once you create a free Upwork account, you can contact these professionals directly, or post your own job to see what kind of bids you get back.

OnlineJobs has a similar array of skills listed, but I think their upfront filtering is a little better.

As with Upwork, you can narrow your search by skill, but you can also select whether you’re looking for someone part-time or full-time, their expected salary range, and their ID Proof score (more on that below).

You can use Google to find out the current exchange rate and filter by budget accordingly. When starting out, I’ll usually leave the salary pretty open to see what comes back. For reference, at the time of this writing, 20,000 pesos is around $400.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is being able to filter by more than one skill at a time, like to find someone who’s great at English AND SEO, or someone who knows both Android AND iOS development.

For example here’s what comes back when I search for people with 5-stars in both English writing and SEO:

Out of those 250,000 resumes, only 225 meet that criteria. See, you can narrow this down in a hurry!

Note: OnlineJobs has an important “throttle” in place here as well, and that’s that workers are limited to giving themselves 5 stars in only 3 different categories, and 4 stars in 6 different categories. So don’t blanket your filter looking for that 5-star across-the-board unicorn, because your search will turn up empty-handed.

For that reason, you can prioritize your most important skill requirement with the one you assign 5 stars. Because you know those 5 star skills are a really hot commodity!

Rating themselves 5 stars also requires an additional explanation. I mentioned to one candidate that his skills looked pretty weak, and he explained he didn’t want to be bothered with writing the justification for the 5-star rating.

Just a heads up to any aspiring freelancers or virtual assistants—if you’re too lazy to spend 2 minutes explaining why you’re “the best in the world,” why would anyone take the risk of hiring you full time?

The Date filter refers to the length of time since the candidate was last active on OnlineJobs. It stands to reason someone who hasn’t been on the site in 3 months has probably already been hired and isn’t actively looking for work, so you can use that to narrow down your pool a little further.

If you’re constantly on the hunt for new hires, you can use this filter to find a fresh batch of profiles each time.

In the case of OnlineJobs, you’ll need to register for a paid membership (starting at $49/month) before you can contact any workers or post a job of your own.

How Upwork works

Click here to visit Upwork to learn more.

How OnlineJobs works

Click here to visit OnlineJobs to learn more.

Employer protections in place

Both platforms have a number of “safeguards” in place to protect both workers and employers. I’ll go through them below and show you why they’re important.

Ratings System

The hallmark of many peer-to-peer platforms is a two-sided rating system, in which buyers rate sellers and sellers rate buyers — popularized by ebay in the mid-90s.

Upwork and OnlineJobs have similar systems in place so as an employer, you can see the feedback each worker has received from past clients.

This is much more robust on Upwork than it is on OnlineJobs, in part due to the nature of the platform. Because workers tend to be hired for shorter-term projects, there is a lot more client turnover, which amounts to more opportunity to collect positive (or negative) feedback.

One thing to be aware of, beyond the cumulative 5-star score, is the number of jobs completed with no feedback given. Many employers (myself included sometimes) subscribe to your mom’s old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

(A $66 job still “in progress” from 2012 probably isn’t a good sign either.)

Upwork also shows you the “job success rate” of each freelancer, which measures the percentage of gigs they’ve done resulting in “a great client experience.” Naturally, the higher the percentage, the better.

Although I had a successful project with the developer shown, a 59% job success rate is pretty poor and I’d be hesitant to hire someone with that kind of track record.

On each freelancer’s profile page, you’ll also find a summary of their work history on the platform, which is meant to give you an indication of the “safety in numbers” of how many other people have hired them and how experienced they are.

In contrast, here’s an example of an excellent profile page. Her “in progress” jobs are hourly and have hundreds or thousands of hours completed, and she has a 99% job success rate:

Take all these metrics with a grain of salt. They’re there to help you with your hiring decision, but I’ve found great workers with almost no feedback or work history, and had horribly painful projects with contractors with glowing reviews. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and every job is different.

On Upwork, freelancers also have the opportunity to review you, the employer. These metrics aren’t visible to you in aggregate, but you can view your client feedback on each contract and when you post new jobs, potential candidates can see some of your employer metrics.

For example, before people bid on your job or project, they’ll be able to see what previous hires said about you as well as how much money you’ve spent on the platform and the percentage of job postings you’ve made that have resulted in a hire.

These are safety metrics for the freelancers; if you only hire for 1 out of every 4 job postings, it might not be worth their time to submit their application because it looks like you’re not that serious. On the flip-side, if you’ve spent thousands of dollars on Upwork and each posting results in a hire, you’re a very attractive employer to apply with.

On OnlineJobs, there is a feedback system but it isn’t nearly as prominent as Upwork’s. The vast majority of workers have no feedback ratings, and you shouldn’t let that deter you from hiring them.

Since the platform is more geared toward long-term relationships, there is less opportunity for great workers to collect positive feedback — because they’re still working and not looking for new gigs. In that way, the system may be unfairly skewed to negative reviews, since happy employers have little incentive to leave a review and only unhappy ones will feel the need to vent.

Still, if you find an assistant with one or more negative reviews, that’s probably a red flag and something to at least question during your screening or pre-interview phase.

The OnlineJobs rating system is one-directional, meaning workers can’t rate you as the employer.

Pro Tip: If you’re hiring for a long-term position on either platform, ask for references and actually call them.

Freelancer Tests and Self-Ratings

The bread-and-butter of OnlineJobs is in their filtering system, but what’s driving those filters? At the end of the day, the star-ratings given are self-selected. (Though the throttle mentioned above prevents someone from 5-starring themselves for every skill on the list.)

Beyond these self-ratings, OnlineJobs has added a layer of testing to give some objective measure of intelligence, English skills, and even personality traits.

For example, here’s a candidate with an excellent virtual assistant profile:

She measures an impressive 138 on the IQ test, and at the mastery level on English, as “administered by a credentialed language academy in North America.”

The DISC scoring system is designed to help you gauge the compatibility fit with your company and the role you’re hiring for. As you might imagine, a “good” score will depend on the role you had in mind.

If you’re trying to hire a persuasive copywriter, I’d look for a high Influence score. For a web developer, a high Compliance score may indicate a detail-oriented nature and adherence to W3C standards.

Upwork also gives workers a chance to beef up their profile by taking certain skills tests. For instance, here are the test scores of Marjorie above:

If you click on the Details link, it will show what specific subcategories were included on the test and how they performed on each of those.

As someone who was “an A-student” and a good test-taker in school, these tests and their results appeal to me as an employer, even though I know from real life I didn’t always make the best employee.

On both platforms, I might use these tests as a “tiebreaker” between two equally talented candidates, but would hesitate to completely rule someone out on the basis of their test result or their lack of taking the test in the first place.

Like some of the other metrics mentioned, it’s almost more of an indicator of how much effort they’re putting toward their online job search. The platforms are giving them this as an extra opportunity to showcase their skills so it’s only natural the “hungriest” candidates will use that to their advantage.

ID Proof on OnlineJobs

You might be wondering about the ID Proof metric on OnlineJobs. Every member of the site is assigned an ID Proof score, which is basically a measure of confidence the candidate is who they say they are.

It doesn’t measure skill or talent in any way, but I DO use it as a filter because I think it shows a candidate is serious enough to jump through a few hoops to make their profile look more attractive.

To me, it’s an indicator the candidate is making an honest representation of themselves online and is taking the virtual assistant career path seriously.

Work Monitoring

Both platforms provide a “Big Brother” work monitoring solution in the form of a screen capture software tool.

Upwork calls this Work Diary, which takes screenshots of your virtual assistant’s screen at roughly 10 minute intervals while they’re on the clock.

The OnlineJobs version of this is called TimeProof, which is free to use even if you don’t maintain a paid OnlineJobs.ph account. 

Both systems allow to look “over the shoulder” of your virtual assistant and get an idea of how they’re using their time — or if they’re goofing off.

In practice, you probably have better things to do than pore over these screenshots every day or every week, but they’re nice to have if you notice a dip in productivity or if things are just taking longer than you think they should.

Escrow Payments

Upwork offers escrow payments as a way to protect both you and the virtual assistant in the deal. For fixed-price projects, you’ll deposit the funds into an escrow account controlled by Upwork, and release payment to your freelancer when certain milestones are completed.

This shows the freelancer you’re serious about putting up the money and paying them, while still giving you some protection if they flake and don’t deliver the goods.

Dispute Resolution

One advantage of Upwork is their dispute resolution service. With OnlineJobs, if your virtual assistant disappears or doesn’t perform, you’re pretty much on your own. (Which is another reason it doesn’t make sense to pre-pay.)

If you and your freelancer can’t come to terms on a particular project or you think they may be fudging their hours, you can file a dispute through the Upwork platform.

A mediator will review both sides of the story and potentially help you get some of your money back or stop payment altogether. One thing to note though is the mediator isn’t necessarily going to be a judge of the quality of the work, especially for hourly jobs. Instead, they’ll look at the Work Diary logs and make a decision accordingly.

What happens after you hire?

When you hire a virtual assistant through Upwork, you pay them through the Upwork platform, and Upwork takes a cut for facilitating the connection. See below for more information on pricing.

With OnlineJobs, you hire the assistant directly, and OnlineJobs is no longer in the picture. You’ll pay your worker directly via PayPal or via Payments.ph (a money transfer tool owned by OnlineJobs) according to the terms you mutually agree to.

For project-based work on Upwork, it’s standard to pre-pay a portion of the total project into an escrow account. With OnlineJobs, I’d caution against pre-paying for any work as that’s a common way to scam you out of your money.

Think about your day job; you don’t collect your paycheck until you’ve already put in the time. The same rule is generally true for virtual work.

To reduce risk for the assistant, you can set up weekly or bi-weekly payment cycles.

My interview with OnlineJobs founder, John Jonas

Advantages of Upwork

  • No membership fee; free to get started.
  • Global talent pool, not just the Philippines.
  • Escrow protection and dispute resolution.
  • Best for one-time projects.

Advantages of OnlineJobs

  • The company doesn’t take a percentage of your worker’s salary.
  • Super affordable labor pool.
  • Optional recruiting service.
  • Best for ongoing virtual employees.

Pricing comparison

Both sites represent huge talent pools, and earn money by playing matchmaker, though they go about this in different ways.

Upwork makes the bulk of its money by charging a fee on every project completed on its site. This fee ranges from 5-20%, depending on how much work (in dollars) a particular freelancer has done for you. This fee is baked into the price you pay, but comes out of your virtual assistant’s pocket.

Theoretically, they pass that cost on to you, the employee.

For instance, if you sign on for a $1000 engagement, the first $500 will have a 20% Upwork platform fee, netting the freelancer $400, and the next $500 will carry a 10% platform fee, leaving them with $450. In total, they’d earn $850 and Upwork would earn $150.

This graduated pricing structure makes sense, as it rewards Upwork early on in the relationship for making the connection, and rewards the freelancer with lower rates for continuing to run work through the platform (vs. “going rogue” and taking the relationship offline).

On top of your $1000 payment, Upwork will charge you 2.75% as a payment processing fee.

In contrast, OnlineJobs.ph operates on a membership model, charging you, the employer, and not the virtual assistants. You have 3 pricing tiers to choose from:

The only point of the free plan is to see if anyone responds to your listing. That’s pretty much it, since you can’t even see those applications or contact potential workers.

Where the magic happens, at least for me, is at the $49/month Pro level, where you can post jobs instantly, view the applications, and contact candidates directly.

If you really have a ton of positions to fill, the $199/month Premium membership might be worth a look. It allows you up to 10 job posts per month and adds on some cool features like OnlineJobs’ background data check and worker coaching service.

The background data check is a smart “big data” way to protect yourself from fraud. It looks at the worker’s data on the site and other publicly available information online to try and detect if they’re a scammer or not.

The worker coaching service is something of a new-hire mentoring program, where your new virtual assistant is paired with an OnlineJobs-vetted mentor to help them understand the rules of engagement for a successful remote work relationship.

If you don’t want to do the posting, screening, and vetting yourself, OnlineJobs also offers a done-for-you recruiting service for $500. They’ll screen candidates per your requirements, run potential hires through a skills test to verify they can do what they say they can, and conduct background checks.

Then, they’ll present you with the top choices to interview and you select your favorite as your next virtual assistant. Considering the time it can take to do all that work yourself, it’s not a bad option if you’re super busy. And if you’re thinking about hiring a VA, my guess is you are!

The recruiting service comes with a one month guarantee. If something doesn’t work out with your new hire, the company will help find you a suitable replacement at no charge.

In terms of what rates you can expect to pay your worker, OnlineJobs gives this graphic as a benchmark (in U.S. Dollars):

Full-time virtual assistant support for as little as $350 per month is pretty tough to beat!

Naturally, the more specialized the skills, the more you can expect to pay. For instance, top-end developers, designers, and SEO experts will earn over $1000 a month for full-time work.

My experience w/ Upwork

My most successful Upwork project hire was actually for the late-2012 redesign of this site. If you go to the Wayback Machine and check out the old version you’ll get an appreciation for how big an improvement it was.

The developer was awesome – super responsive on Skype, hammered out the changes really fast for what I thought was a very good price.

I re-hired him later for another small project, which was also very well done, but when I needed something else done a few months after that, I couldn’t find him. He’d disappeared. Poof.

I’ve also used Upwork for some low-cost web research, which was OK, nothing like mind-blowingly amazing or anything.

For ongoing work, some of my best hires have come from Upwork (actually back when it was Elance). Even though it’s primarily a project-based platform, I found a couple long-term hires that worked out really well for almost full-time employment, including one virtual assistant I ended up working with for more than 2 years.

On the flip-side, I’ve also been burned for north of $10,000 on this platform on web development projects that never got fully completed. It was an incredibly painful, stressful, and expensive experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

In the first case, the dispute resolution safeguards didn’t apply because I foolishly agreed to work with the developer “off-platform.” In the second case, we agreed to end the contract after a few of the milestones were met but technical incompetence prevented the development company from finishing the job. It sucked.

My experience w/ OnlineJobs

I used OnlineJobs to source a couple senior level web developers and also a VA. Since technical skills like web development are in such high demand, it was a bigger challenge than I’d anticipated.

My interpretation of “senior level” and the candidates’ often was not on the same page!

One of the developers we hired was someone I had initially singled out and contacted proactively during my search filters because of his impressive profile.

Like Upwork, you’ll get a lot of unqualified applicants with every posting.

You want someone with at least 4 years of experience? Well, I only have 1 but I guess I’ll apply anyway.

On the one hand, I admire your optimism and proactiveness, but on the other hand, it adds up to a waste of time in filtering out the irrelevant responses.

For the VA posting, I didn’t do any proactive outreach, but listed some requirements in my job descriptions — among them, being detail-oriented. In the posting I asked applicants to make sure to start their cover letter with “Hey Nick, you’d be dumb not to hire me because…”

And as you might guess, about half of these “detail-oriented” applicants missed it entirely. I guess it makes it easy to thin down the crowd!

I’m not sure if this is the smart way to do it, but I reasoned I could also get a general idea of a person’s experience based on their requested salary. I understand there will always be exceptions to the rule, but if someone is quoting a salary that’s half the going the rate, to me that’s a sign of desperation or a scam.

Another thing I learned – If someone replies to your job listing but does not include a link to their profile, it’s probably because they have a bad review or incriminating comment. Sometimes you can find their profile by searching on your own using the Specific Jobseeker Search.

Using the platform can definitely feel like a needle-in-the-haystack search at times, but I’ve found several excellent “needles” and will continue to come back to source new hires as the needs arise.

Overall, I really like the OnlineJobs resource and have definitely gotten more than my money’s worth out of it over the years.

Note: To check out what other OnlineJobs users have to say, check out the reviews here.

Which should you choose?

For project work, probably Upwork.

For ongoing work, probably OnlineJobs.

Your Turn

What do you think? When hiring virtual assistants, do you prefer to work through Upwork or OnlineJobs? Or another platform entirely?

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6 Glaring Signs It’s Time to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Deena Anreise, the Marketing Manager for Prialto, contributed this post.

Take it away, Deena!

**********

Everyone needs help from time to time, especially small business owners. But how do you know when it’s time to hire help from a virtual assistant?

Nick’s Notes: My answer: “When the pain of inaction becomes too great.” 

1.“I Got This.”

Have you fallen into the trap of similarly ambitious entrepreneurs and small business owners who believe that they, and they alone, hold the keys to getting everything done well and on time? Most likely, your thought process swings back-and-forth between “If I work hard enough and fast enough, I can get it all done,” and “No one can get it done better or faster than I can.”

Nick’s Notes: Guilty. Chris Ducker calls this “Superhero Syndrome.”

Typically, you find yourself at a stalemate with yourself and your business’s forward progress. And somewhere in the back of your mind is a voice telling you that ending the stalemate is not only crucial to the growth and success of your business, but essential for your health and the health of your business.

2. More Admin Than Agile

How often do you deal with emails, phone calls, expense reports, invoicing, travel arrangements, scheduling, data entry, client prospecting, and other routine administrative tasks yourself?

If the answer is “more than I’d like to” or “more than I handle high-value business growth tasks” then it’s time to outsource your repeatable, ongoing admin needs to a virtual assistant.

Doing so is inherently growth-oriented, since when entrepreneurs spend the majority of their time doing repetitive tasks, they fail to grow their business. All the best minds in business and statistics report that 80% of your time should be spent on high-value business growth tasks.

Nick’s Notes: That would be an interesting metric to track during my next time audit. I’m probably not anywhere close to that 80% mark, but getting better all the time.

3. Ain’t No Rest For The…Executive

Do you regularly put in 10 to 16 hour days in an effort to keep up with all the work on your plate, yet still fall behind? Do you consistently work weekends and nights? Are you stressed out about your lack of work-life balance?

Nick’s Notes: Hmm, editing this post on a Saturday afternoon…

At this point, it’s not even necessary to explain why answering “yes” to any of the above questions is a sure sign that you are in desperate need of cost-effective administrative help. It should be obvious that you need to spend more time on your core business instead of dealing with admin tasks and putting out fires all week long.

4. Big Ideas Never See The Light Of Day

What ever happened to that exciting new project or that big idea you were so jazzed about several months ago? Wait…has it already been a year since you swore you’d put that plan into motion?

Your valuable, limited time goes up in smoke when you’re buried in busy work. Ambitious small business owners are a goldmine of great ideas. Don’t put off projects that could dramatically impact your business because you’re overwhelmed by administrative tasks.

Nick’s Notes: This is the biggest one for me. It’s the realization that no one else is going to move these new projects and ideas forward except for me. And sometimes that means freeing up some hours to get ’em rolling.

5. No New Revenue

It’s a terrible feeling to know that you are missing out on sales opportunities because your client and prospect database isn’t up-to-date. You likely kick yourself on a daily basis thinking about all the lead nurturing you could be doing if only your email lists were current and segmented properly according to where contacts fall in your sales pipeline.

Data entry into your CRM is a painstaking task, so many of us “accidentally” keep forgetting to sit down and hack away at it. But the next time you miss a deadline to follow-up with a lead, remember this article…and get busy finding a virtual assistant that can help you pull your business forward by consistently getting you in front of the right prospects at the right time.

6. Small Budget With Huge Ambitions

Hiring a virtual assistant beats hiring an in-house administrative assistant when you’re on a small budget, because it’s cost-effective.

There’s no (or low) overhead associated with hiring a virtual assistant due to the fact that there’s no need to provide them with employer wage deductions, vacation pay, health insurance, office space, furnishings, or equipment. Those savings alone are incredibly appealing. What’s more, you won’t need to deal with daunting HR paperwork or training and management.

Nick’s Notes: You’re probably still going to spent some time on training. 

Most small businesses can’t afford to pay the necessary costs associated with hiring an in-house administrative assistant. If you live in a metropolitan area like the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll quickly find that virtual assistants cost significantly less than a regular employee. Plus, it can be very difficult to find an in-house assistant who can afford to work just a few hours a day for you.

Summary

OK, be honest. Are you guilty of any of the “tell-tale signs” above?

Instead of asking yourself “why hire a virtual assistant,” maybe the better question to answer is “why not hire a virtual assistant?”

Check out this cool decision-tree infographic at the Prialto blog for more on how to choose the right virtual assistant for your needs.

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Contentmart

Contentmart is a content-writing marketplace where you can connect with thousands of writers across the globe and order content for your blog or website. The company has been in operation since 2015, and their head office is based in India.

About Contentmart

The company was founded by Anton Rublevskyy in 2015, they have a team of more than 50 staff and offices in both Kiev, Ukraine, and Gurugram, India.

Their writers are freelance and work remotely from anywhere in the world. They have thousands of writers in their database to choose from when ordering content, and you can browse their profiles to find a writer that you think will match up well with what you’re looking for.

Services

Their writers will take on any type of content writing. When using content writing services it’s often not a case of the type of content you want, it’s the quality of the content that you need to consider when choosing a writer and a price. We all want the best possible value, but realistically the more you pay the higher quality the work you will receive back.

It usually takes a few orders to find someone that you connect well with and like their style of writing when using a new content platform. However, if you find a writer you’re happy with you can request them when you order more content and develop a working relationship.

When working with a writer Contentmart also assigns a dedicated account manager to oversee your order and help with any questions you may have. They also manage the writers on their side to ensure they are meeting deadlines and supporting them.

All their articles are checked for plagiarism to protect you from duplicate/copied content, and their writers have access to Grammarly to help them correct grammatical errors.

Plans and Pricing

Contentmart start with prices as low as $0.006 a word. As with most writing services however this is to hire less experienced writers and you have to expect to make some edits yourself when you receive the content.

If you want articles that require less editing you are better off using one of their more expensive plans. Here are the four pricing plans they have:

  • Standard – $0.006/word ($3 for 500 words)
  • Experienced – $0.01/word ($5 for 500 words)
  • Verified – $0.03/word ($15 for 500 words)
  • Hand Picked – $0.07/word ($35 for 500 words)

The difference between their least and most expensive options is huge. A 1,000-word article from their Standard plan will cost you just $6, while it will cost you $70 from their Hand Picked plan.

Contentmart Alternatives

HireWriters is a similar service I’ve used in the past for one-off articles, and if you have ongoing content needs, you might consider Copywriter Today.

Your Turn

Have you ordered content from Contentmart? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Copywriter Today

Copywriter Today is a content creation service based in Cleveland, Ohio. The company was founded in 2014 and aims to provide small businesses and bloggers with top-quality written content on an ongoing basis.

VAA Tested_smallerIn fact, the team has grown to more than a dozen writers, all native English speakers and all based in the US. Their “claim to fame” is their “unlimited” writing service, which the founder, Gabe Arnold, explained is modeled after the WP Curve business (unlimited WordPress tweaks for $69 a month).

Services

copywriter today reviewCopywriterToday.net offers unlimited article writing services, editing and proofreading, and research work on a monthly subscription basis.

Along those lines, the actual deliverables are often blog posts ranging from 400 to 1500 words, lead magnets, sales letters, emails, copy for brochures, or content for press releases.

I’ve found that Google seems to value recency quite a bit in their algorithm, meaning that with all else equal, the more recently published article will be ranked higher. Where Copywriter Today comes in is by supplying you with a steady stream of content to keep your site up-to-date.

I know the publish date is something I definitely pay attention to when I arrive on a new site, and when nothing has been updated in a couple years, it throws up a red flag — like, “Is this company even still in business?”

Copywriter Today Review


VAA Exclusive: Use the partner code VAA50 to receive over $500 in free bonuses, including:

  • Over $150 in free order rushes that can be used starting the third week of your subscription (they’ll send you the rush codes after sign up).
  • Access to the Copywriter Today Content Map course, a $97 value.
  • A scheduled personal content strategy call with the founder Gabe Arnold (just ask your account manager to schedule it), a $249 value.
  • 117 blog post ideas, a $10 value.
  • Discounted access to our entrepreneurship mastermind group, an $84 value.

How it Works

With a Copywriter Today membership, you can submit up to four writing requests at a time. The short content order form explains the details of your order and gives your assigned writer all the information they need to complete the work.

The 3-step process is pretty straightforward:

  1. You submit a content request.
  2. They write the content.
  3. They return the writing to you.

Turnaround times are around 48 hours for 400 word pieces, 72 hours for 800 word pieces, and 96 hours for 1500 word pieces. They’ll even tackle writing jobs up to 3000 words, but generally speaking if you need more than 1500 words written, it is best to break the project up into smaller chunks, or request a custom quote for the work.

Orders are tackled in the order they’re received, and between the promised turnaround times and the 4-order-at-a-time limit, you’ll be able to get 11 writing projects done per month if you max out the service. In that sense, it’s not entirely “unlimited,” but still a strong value proposition for anyone in need of that volume of content.

There are no limitations on the use of the work, in terms of the number of websites or destinations you can publish it on, and you own the rights to the content at the end of the day.

Copywriter Today Interview

Plans and Pricing

Copywriter Today starts at $179 a month, and you can use the partner code VAA50 to unlock over $500 in free bonuses.

For agencies and other business owners who really want to step up their content marketing game, Copywriter Today has added a couple more service tiers just for you.

These “Editorial” and “Autopilot” levels include editorial reviews of the content, proactive article suggestions, strategy calls, and even posting your content directly into your WordPress admin.

Pricing becomes more attractive the longer term you commit to, with pre-paying for a full year of the service affording you the best possible deal.

Copywriter Today Alternatives

I haven’t yet seen any other “unlimited” outsourced content writing services, though the alternative would be to write the content yourself or find writers on an article-by-article basis.

Another all-American writing service that comes to mind is Scripted, though they’re noticeably pricier per-article.

One service I’ve used recently is HireWriters, and for the most part I’ve been happy with the results.

Have you tried Copywriter Today? If so, please leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Virtual Angel Hub

Virtual Angel Hub is a virtual assistant company based in the Philippines. Since 2015, they’ve specialized in recruiting virtual assistants and providing continual support and training to strengthen the relationship between you and your assistant.

The company is headed up by founder and CEO Barbara Turley. Barbara is based in Australia, while all their virtual assistants, known as “angels”, work remotely from their homes in the Philippines.

About Virtual Angel Hub

Virtual Angel Hub give emphasis to training both their clients and virtual assistants. This is something not often by virtual assistant providers, and is described as a “game changer” on Virtual Angel Hub’s website.

Before you are introduced to their virtual assistants their team work with you to better understand your business to make sure you’re ready for an assistant. They have a series of training videos to help you get ready for your assistant, outline some tasks you need to carry out, and even give you some tips on how to scale your business.

Virtual Angel Hub then connect you with a number of virtual assistants that will be a good match for you based on your requirements. You choose which assistant you want to hire, the assistant is overseen by a supervisor and undergoes continual training to ensure they are supporting you at the highest level possible.

Although marketed toward Australian entrepreneurs and small business owners, you can sign up with Virtual Angel Hub from anywhere in the world. The Philippines and Australia are in similar time zones, so I can see that scheduling working hours would be easy from Australia, but arrangements can be discussed for your time zone if you contact Virtual Angel Hub.

Services

Virtual Angel Hub’s virtual assistants offer a wide range of professional services. The unique angle to their business model is the ongoing training they provide their assistants. So, whatever your requirements or tasks are, you can communicate with your assistant and their supervisor to arrange training in your processes and business.

Virtual Angel Hub Founder Interview

Plans and Pricing

Virtual Angel Hub have two pricing plans, Part-Time/Full-Time and Advanced.

Their prices are in Australian dollars, but I will include the approximate American dollar equivalent at the exchange rate as I’m writing this. The cost of each plan is as follows:

  • Part-Time/Full-Time – $10 AUD/hour ($7 USD), plus a $297 AUD ($225 USD) setup fee.
  • Advanced – $14 AUD/hour ($10.50 USD), plus a $297 AUD ($225 USD) setup fee.

When you choose a Part-Time/Full-Time plan you can have your VA work either 20 or 40 hours a week. You will have access to a dedicated staff team leader, time tracking software, online project management tools, their online training videos, access to their “Expert Resource Hub”, and of course the virtual assistant you chose to work with.

The Advanced plan includes all the services in the Part-Time/Full-Time, with the addition of a Infusionsoft/Ontraport/Active Campaign/Podio trained assistant, along with access to systems integration specialists.

If you prefer an office-based assistant, Virtual Angel Hub can help you there as well. For an extra $3 AUD per hour, your VA will work from one of the company’s secure and managed office locations in the Philippines.

Virtual Angel Hub Alternatives

There is no shortage of virtual assistant companies with their VAs operating out of the Philippines. IF you’re comfortable or enjoy doing the recruiting work yourself, check out OnlineJobs.ph.

Task Bullet is another service with good ratings and a unique “bucket” pricing model without any long-term commitments.

Your Turn

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

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VA4REI

VA4REI (Virtual Assistants for Real Estate Investors), is a company specializing in providing virtual assistant services to real estate investors.

The company has been operating since 2010. They have a team of assistants trained and experienced in the US real estate market and can handle everything from your website to your real estate listings.

About VA4REI

The company was founded in 2010 by Alex Garcia. Alex has experience in the US real estate market, and in 2011 collaborated with Duncan Weirman of The Weirman Group in Greenville, South Carolina. Then in 2013 partnered with Tim Cook of TMC Property Solutions in Weatherford, Texas.

This means VA4REI is spearheaded up three real estate experts with a considerable amount of experience in the real estate field.

Although they have experience in the US market, VA4REI’s employees are based in the Philippines. This enables them to offer competitive hourly rates. When you sign up you will be assigned a dedicated virtual assistant, as well as being introduced to their supervisor who will be overseeing their work.

Services

VA4REI group their services into the following categories:

  • Inbound and outbound calls
  • CMA research
  • Broker’s price opinion
  • Website management
  • Web creation
  • Squeeze pages
  • Client services
  • Data entry
  • Database or CRM management
  • Email management and marketing
  • Online marketing
  • Business directory submission
  • Property listing management
  • Blog posting, press release, and news articles
  • Lead generation
  • Social media management
  • Keyword research
  • Search engine registration
  • Search engine optimization

As you can see, their VA’s cover everything from building and maintaining your website, to handling calls, and managing your property listings.

There is a simple 3-step process when you sign up:

  1. Complete a form on their site with all your details and one of their service representatives will contact you within 24-hours.
  2. Their representative will run through a plan of action based on your requirements. When you are happy you can agree and make payment.
  3. Once payment has been received you can start working with your VA, communicating by email, Skype, or a channel of your choice.

VA4REI Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

When you sign up with VA4REI you pay a non-refundable setup fee of $349. Then you have a choice of three different packages:

  • 4 hrs/day – $540/month ($6.75/hr) – Use referral code VAA101 for 5% off your first month.
  • 6 hrs/day – $810/month ($6.75/hr) – Use referral code VAA102 for 7% off your first month.
  • 8 hrs/day – $1,080/month ($6.75/hr) – Use referral code VAA103 for 10% off your first month.

So they’re not really all about the volume discounts, but that’s fine; the rates are quite competitive, even for a Philippines-based service, and especially starting at the 20 hours per week package.

VA4REI Alternatives

There aren’t many virtual companies specializing only in the real estate market, although a lot of companies do offer real estate support as part of their VA services.

VA Staffer and Task Bullet are two virtual assistant companies based in the Philippines offering similar pricing and real estate services within the skillsets of their VAs. (My Outdesk is another service that specializes in real estate but doesn’t have the greatest reviews.)

Closer to home, you might consider UAssist.me out of El Salvador. They serve a lot of clients in the real estate field as well and have generated plenty of positive feedback.

When I asked what separates VA4REI from the other companies in this space they said there are two things. One is their rates being lower than most competitors, and the other is that their virtual assistants are trained and experienced in the US market real estate market.

If you are looking for real estate support fill out their contact form and arrange a consultation to see if VA4REI can handle the tasks you’re looking to outsource.

Your Turn

Have you worked with VA4REI? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their decision.

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500 Guys Outsourced This

It was only a matter of time I suppose…

I had an interesting call yesterday with the founder of one of the more “niche” outsourcing companies I’d ever heard of.

What do they do?

Dating!

Specifically, PersonalDatingAssistants.com is “dating done for you.”

They’ll optimize and manage your online dating profiles, proactively message women that meet your criteria, and respond to messages on your behalf.

Founder Matthew Valentines recognized a huge pain point in his own life and among his male peers.

“The average man doing online dating spends over 2 hours a day searching through profiles, thinking up introduction messages, and checking obsessively for inbound activity. Our members get back 14 hours a week — time better spent going on actual dates instead of messaging back and forth for hours on end.”

He told me, “When I launched the company some years back, everyone said we were crazy. But I’ll tell you what’s crazy: trying to manage multiple dating profiles yourself, across a handful of platforms, while juggling dozens of conversations, and trying to have a life too.”

Matthew seems to have struck a nerve with his (strictly confidential and strictly male) customer base, and has earned lots of press exposure for his unique outsourcing company.

As a happily married man, this is one virtual assistant company I hopefully won’t have the need to test personally anytime soon, but I wanted to share as another example of what’s out there in the world of delegation and outsourcing.

Your Turn

No matter what’s eating up your time these days, there’s probably a specialized service ready to take it off your hands.

It all starts with tracking your hours to discover where your time is really going each week.

What do you think?

What areas of opportunity for smart outsourcing are you looking for in 2017?

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Uassist.ME

Uassist.ME is a virtual assistant company with offices in Miami and El Salvador. The company was founded in 2009 with the idea of providing remote administrative services to clients in the US and around the world.

Because of their location and timezone – El Salvador is only a 2 hour flight from the US and operates on Central Standard Time – Uassist.ME considers themselves “nearshoring” more than “offshoring.”

uassist.me reviewThe company has earned a number of accolades in its relatively short history. In 2012, co-founders Alfredo Atanacio and Rodolfo Schildknecht were named to Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 List, which honors “America’s Coolest Young Entrepreneurs.”

uassistme reviewAbout

Since I first came across the company in 2011, they’ve been growing like crazy, practically doubling in size each year. They recently built a shiny new office space to house their team and it even includes a co-working space to host other entrepreneurs in a professional environment.

For customers seeking a US-based assistant, they have a US-based operation with home-based workers under the brand Uassist.us.

Interview with Uassist.ME Co-Founder Alfredo Atanacio


Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: mention referral code NL10 to get 10% off your first month
.

Services

I spoke with Joselin at Uassist.ME, who helped walk me through the company’s services. I found her to be professional, friendly, and energetic, with excellent English skills (and naturally Spanish skills as well).

She explained that her Uassist.ME co-workers are all fluent English speakers with neutral American accents because of their proximity to the US and familiarity with the culture. In fact, El Salvador uses the US Dollar as their official currency.

The company specializes in remote administrative services, but is expanding into SEO and social media marketing services, as well as telemarketing and cold calling. Uassist.ME has attracted clients in the US and Canada, and even India, the proud leader of virtual assistant outsourcing.

Uassist.ME has developed an expertise in real estate services and claims a number of brokers and agents as clients. Beyond that, their flexible and custom solutions allow customers to ramp up teams of multiple VAs quickly if needed.

Plans and Pricing

Their standard plan is $749 for a part-time shared assistant. This means you have a dedicated contact who is there during your business hours, 40 hours a week, but they also report to one or more other clients as well. They’re available to work on your tasks up to 4 hours a day. (Works out to about $9.36 an hour.)

The advantage is you have a dedicated resource “on call”, without the full time salary.

uassistme pricing

If you have enough work to keep your virtual assistant busy full-time, Uassist.ME offers full-time dedicated service for $1499 a month.

A smaller, 20-hour per month plan is available for $269 ($13.45 per hour). In this case, your shared assistant would be available all day during US East Coast business hours but would only be able to spend an hour or two on your tasks. It’s a great entry-level outsourcing plan because you still get a dedicated point of contact who’s “on call” during the day, without having to front the full or half-time salary.

Uassist.ME service is billed month-to-month, with no long-term contracts.

Ready to give them a shot? Mention referral code NL10 to get 10% off your first month.

Uassist.ME Review:


Note: As you can see, that video is several years old so I’m due for a new trial!

If you have worked with Uassist.ME, please share your experience using the comment form and star-ratings below.

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UnicornGO

UnicornGO is a subscription based design service offering unlimited and unrestricted graphic design requests for a flat monthly fee.

They are one of the newer graphic design service companies to enter the space, and their head offices are based in Sydney, NSW Australia. Their designers work remotely all over the globe.

About UnicornGO

The first thing that jumps out about UnicornGO which separates them from a lot of the established graphic design companies is their business model. When you sign up with UnicornGO you pay a flat fee for unlimited monthly designs and unlimited revisions.

Their objective is to make their service “Like having a dedicated design team without the price tag.”\ As a client, you are assigned a team of designers to work with and as you see some of the designs from the team you can choose to work with individuals that best understand your vision if you wish.

The company is headed up by co-founder Francis Lee. With over 13 years experience in the sales and marketing industry, hiring and working with designers on a regular basis, Francis saw a gap in the market for a subscription model design company and started UnicornGO.

UnicornGO’s target customers are mainly startups and small businesses looking for regular, professional, and dynamic designs, but can’t afford or do not see the need for their own in-house graphic designer.

VAA Exclusive: Use UnicornGO coupon code VIRTADIR17 for $10 off your first month of service!

Services

UnicornGO’s graphic designers are able to handle any form of graphic design task. This includes:

  • Infographics
  • Website design
  • Logos
  • Mobile UI
  • Book covers
  • Banners
  • Blog post headers
  • Flyers, and more.

There is a simple 3-step process in place from ordering your designs to receiving the completed work:

  1. You send them your design request with all the details of task. Your designer will give you an estimate on the time it will take.
  2. Your design is delivered within the time specified in the format you requested, and you have some time to review the work.
  3. You can submit as many revisions as feel necessary to get the design exactly how you want it.

Plans and Pricing

UnicornGO has a straightforward menu of pricing options, ranging from $199 to $999 a month. 

I’ll do my best to outline the main differences between the plans here.

The $199 per month Bootstrap plan included 4 design requests per month and you can only submit requests for a single brand. UnicornGO promises unlimited revisions at this level, as they do on the others as well, but the turnaround time here is significantly slower: 3-5 business days from request to initial design.

The $399 Unlimited plan affords you “unlimited” design requests for unlimited brands. The only real throttle or limitation on this is that you can only submit one design request at a time, and they promise to turn it around in 1-2 business days.

At the top of the line, the $999 Big Unicorn plan removes that submission throttle, letting you submit up to 3 design requests at a time and promises express 24 hour turnaround.

VAA Exclusive: Use UnicornGO coupon code VIRTADIR17 for $10 off your first month of service!

There are no contracts, you can cancel at any time, and there is a 14-day money back guarantee to ensure you’re satisfied with the service when you first sign up.

UnicornGO Alternatives

I’ve seen a few other subscription-based design services pop up recently, including Undullify and Design Pickle. Their prices and services are very similar so I recommend checking them out and seeing which company catches your attention.

If you don’t think you will get value from UnicornGO’s unlimited monthly subscription model, you can order one-off designs from Fiverr, or submit a contest to crowdsourcing platforms like 99designs or DesignCrowd.

Your Turn

Have you received design work from UnicornGO? If so, please leave a brief review below of your experience to help others with their decision.

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TaskBullet USA

TaskBullet are a virtual assistant company that has been operating in the Philippines since 2012. They started operations with a new branch of their brand called TaskBullet USA in 2016.

As you might guess, the primary different between the two branches is TaskBullet USA’s virtual assistants are all based in the US.

This means you’re paying a little more per hour, but it opens up the possibility for native English speaking assistants working the same hours as you and with a better cultural understanding of US business practices.

About TaskBullet USA

The company is run by CEO Danny Nappi, and COO Wesley Nappi. Together they have more than 20 years experience managing and running businesses. The company offices are located in Utah, with their virtual assistants working remotely across the US.

Their virtual assistants have a wide range of skills, and “because time is a finite resource” they are on hand to take tasks off your hands for you. Obviously their rates are higher than they can offer from their Philippines office, but they are comparable to other US-based virtual assistant companies.

Services

Taskbullet USA market their services towards small business owners as their target customers. As with most virtual assistant companies however, if you have tasks to outsource, no matter how large your business you can always utilize a virtual assistant.

An aspect of their business that separates them from a lot of other VA companies is that TaskBullet USA offer a dedicated virtual assistant, or a team of virtual assistants. Each client is assigned a project manager as well, this helps keep a clear line of communication between you and the project manager, who then talks with the virtual assistant.

They can handle a wide variety of tasks, such as:

  • Social media marketing
  • Outbound and inbound calls
  • Internet research
  • Data entry
  • Transcription
  • Personal assistant services, and more.

You should always contact virtual assistant companies and explain what your exact needs are and see how they respond as your first point of contact.

Plans and Pricing

They currently have three different pricing plans as follows:

  1. Starter Bucket – 10 hours @ $35/hr ($350)
  2. Light Bucket – 30 hours @ $30/hr ($900)
  3. Expert Bucket – 60 hours @ $25/hr ($1500)

As you can see there are considerable savings if you purchase larger plans. You have 90 days to use the hours you purchase, and there are no contracts or monthly fees. Each plan comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.

What you buy is what you get, and you can use the hours as and when you need.

TaskBullet USA Alternatives

Time Etc and Worldwide101 are two highly rated US-based virtual assistant companies to compare alongside TaskBullet USA. Time Etc are a little less expensive, and Worldwide101 being a little more expensive.

TaskBullet USA say they specialize in communication. Good communication is key to a successful working relationship with a VA so this is something to test when you’re interacting with them.

Your Turn

Have you worked with TaskBullet USA? Maybe you have used both TaskBullet and now their USA branch and can comment on how the service compares?

If so, please leave a brief review below to help others with their decision.

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PicMonkey

PicMonkey is an online tool that allows users to edit photos, carry out some graphic design, create collages, and more. It’s not a virtual assistant service per se, but more like an easy-to-use online software that lets you do your own graphic design work.

Image editing and graphic design can be expensive costs to a small business, so PicMonkey enable users to create their own images with limited experience and technical knowledge required.

The company has been business since 2012, and their headquarters are in Seattle, WA.

About PicMonkey

The company was founded in April 2012 by two former Picnik engineers, Brian Terry, and Justin Huff. Picnik was a photo editing site and the company joined forces with Google in 2012. After learning that Google were planning to close Picnik in 2013, both Brian and Justin decided to leave and create PicMonkey.

With a goal of starting the company to be a “more efficient and feature-rich replacement” for Picnik, PicMonkey fast became one of the most popular online photo editing sites. The owners also had additional backing from some other former “Picnikers”, Jonathan Sposato (CEO), Lisa Conquergood, and Charlie Whiton.

PicMonkey’s headquarters is in Seattle, WA, and they have a regional office in New Zealand. 

Services

They offer a range of photo editing options. You can easily make just about any change you want to an image, and with limited knowledge and experience with graphic design or photo editing software.

I know because I’ve been using PicMonkey for quite some time to create social media graphics for another one of my sites!

Some of their features include:

Image Editing – You can crop, color, rotate, sharpen, and resize images with just a few clicks.

Touch Up – There are a range of options to make changes to high-quality photos. From eye-brightening and teeth whitening, to removing wrinkles, you can make sure you’re looking your best for your professional photos.

Graphic Design – You can create graphics from scratch. PicMonkey has some templates to help you get started too.

Collage – You can make a collage of several images, resizing and moving them around to create the arrangement you want.

What I use the service most often is to quickly add text to an image with a wide variety of different fonts.

The control panel is user-friendly, it’s easy to navigate around the site, and there are a lot of instructions and hints to help out beginners. If you’re not experienced with any form of graphic design or photo editing software you should find using this service intuitive and easy to pick up.

Plans and Pricing

For the most part, PicMonkey is free to use. They do however offer two premium plans, a monthly and an annual plan priced as follows:

  • Royale Monthly – $7.99/month
  • Royale Annual – $3.99/month (save 50%)

When you purchase a plan you have access to a much wider range of tools to use while editing images. 

The Royale plan unlocks some premium fonts, and all the ads are also removed when you’re logged in.

There is a 7-day free trial on both Royale plans.

PicMonkey Alternatives

There are some alternatives to PicMonkey worth checking out. Canva is probably the closest competitor, offering user-friendly graphic design tools and image editing options, though I found the interface harder to understand than PicMonkey’s.  

Other options to consider include Piktochart to create your own infographics, and Pixlr offers similar services to PicMonkey.

If you’ve given PicMonkey a shot and still want to hire someone else to do your graphic design work, check out these options here.

Your Turn

Have you used PicMonkey to edit any of your images? If so, please take a moment to leave a quick review to help others with their decision.

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BELAY (formerly eaHELP)

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

VAA Tested eaHELPAbout BELAY

In 2017, BELAY brought several different business support companies under one roof and under one brand. The most well-known of those is eaHELP, which you’ll see referenced in many of the reviews below.

The company gets its name from mountain climbing; a belay is a means of supporting a climber so he or she can continue safely without falling. Similarly, they aim to support your proverbial climb as well.

Services

Administrative

BELAY executive assistants are highly skilled administrative professionals trained in a variety of support tasks. Their goal is to match you with a virtual assistant who will work cohesively with you and your existing team even though they’ll be working remotely. BELAY strongly believes that every leader thrives with the support of an intentionally matched VA.

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

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

Bookkeeping

BELAY has extensive experience in bookkeeping for non-profits and churches. These services were previously offered under the MAG Bookkeeping brand.

Website Support and Maintenance

BELAY provide clients with all the critical support needed to keep your WordPress running smoothly, such as:

  • Hosting Support
  • Backups
  • Domain Management
  • Software Updates
  • Improving Site Speed
  • Hacking Prevention
  • And more

The webmasters at BELAY can also create landing pages and do graphic design tasks. They offer unlimited site edits per month, along with expert advice and ongoing analysis of your site. You can work with their webmasters to make all the changes needed to get your site up to a high standard, or build a new site from scratch.

Typically, the clients that engage this service are business owners who have decided it’s time to outsource the maintenance of their site so they can focus their time elsewhere.

Others have outgrown their original website and are struggling to keep up with the maintenance and need to expand.

The website maintenance packages were previously sold under the Render brand. Here’s my chat with the manager for this branch of BELAY:

Copy Writing

If you need help with your written content, BELAY can help there as well. Quality content is at the forefront of Internet marketing, and BELAY’s staff can help you spread the word of your business through site content and marketing.

When I spoke with Ivy Sprague, who heads up this division of BELAY (formerly known as Ellipsis), she explained the service in this way, “We want to be the voice in your head…only better. We’ll write about anything, from accounting to Internet security.”

Here’s my full conversation with Ivy:


The company partners with professional writers 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 BELAY means you can free up time to focus on other areas of your business.

Their virtual writers produce blog posts, social media content, lead generation copy, email campaigns, eBooks, and more.

The writers are trained 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.

BELAY Review


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

The company offers monthly service plans and the sign-up process begins with a free consultation and personalized price quote.

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

Plans and Pricing

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

As of January 2017, their hourly rates range from $35 – $45.

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

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

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

BELAY Founder Interview


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

the virtual assistant solution

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

Press and Awards

In 2015, eaHELP was named the 131st fastest growing company in America by Inc. Magazine, earning a spot in the prestigious Inc. 500 list.

eahelp inc 500

BELAY Alternatives

A few other virtual assistant companies operate on a similar model with home-based American assistants, including top-rated firms like Time Etc and Worldwide101. Worldwide101 has similar (though more transparent/flexible) pricing options, and Time Etc is the most affordable of the three.

For the website maintenance and support service, you might consider Zen WP.

For the content creation service, Copywriter Today may be worth a look.

Employee Burden Infographic

Your Turn

Have you worked with BELAY (or eaHELP, Render, Ellipsis, or MAG Bookkeeping)? If so, please consider sharing a short review below to help others with their decision.

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My Biggest Outsourcing “Wins” of the Year

Happy New Year!

This is a weird time of year for me.

On the one hand, I know New Year’s Resolutions are dumb. I mean, if something is worth changing, it’s worth changing now — not waiting for some arbitrary flip of the calendar, right?

But it’s hard not to get caught up in all the “fresh start” talk, and at the very least reflect on what went well for the last 12 months and where you might have opportunities for improvement.

In that spirit, I want to share few things that went well for me last year outsourcing-wise, and a few areas I’m still struggling with.

First up, the wins.

My dedicated assistant Karla from OkayRelax has been doing a great job with the research, data entry, and even website updating tasks I send her way.

One example was when the Virtual Assistant Assistant site switched over from http to https last year, I had to go through and update all of the images to https. It wasn’t the most difficult task in the world, but it was time-consuming, and she nailed it.

Another company that helped during that transition was Zen WP, which offers 24/7 WordPress maintenance and support. They also helped clean up a lot of the pesky little bugs that had been floating around the site.

My freelance writer has been a huge help this year, producing content for this site, summarizing my podcast episodes, and now even writing the accompanying blog posts for those episodes.

And while I still go through and do my own final round of edits, I think the PodcastFasttrack podcast editing service I’ve been working with has still been a net time saver.

For my book project last fall, I used the crowdsourced design service DesignCrowd.com. To be fair, some of the designs were pretty awful, but I really liked the end result.

And finally, I’ve been loving the results and automation behind the robo-investing service called Betterment.

It’s not direct business outsourcing in the traditional sense, but with each dollar I invest, I’m essentially “hiring” thousands of workers — and getting to share in the fruits of their labor.

So what flopped? And what’s next?

There were a couple things that didn’t go so well. For example, I wanted to hire a freelance marketing specialist to help me drive more traffic to my sites, but haven’t heard from him in months. Back to the drawing board on that one.

On the horizon, I have some more website technical stuff I could use help with, and perhaps some graphic design, video creation, and even advertising sales as well.

But mostly I’m the bottleneck. There are a ton of projects I’d love to tackle but am stuck in “maintenance mode” and have a hard time finding time for “growth mode.”

For the new year, I haven’t set any resolutions or 12-month goals. Instead, I’m trying to focus on shorter-term “sprint” goals and mini-habits.

For example, a shorter term goal I have is to add a subnavigation menu to one of my sites to make it easier to access relevant archive content.

An example of a mini-habit would be doing at least one proactive thing in my business before checking email or social media.

Another mini-habit I like is doing 1 push-up. It’s super easy to check the box, and once you’re down on the floor, you’ll probably do a few more.

Your Turn

What about you? What worked well last year?

What’s on the top of your list to delegate this year?

Cheers to working ON your business rather than IN it in 2017!

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Logojoy

Logojoy is an AI-powered online logo design tool. Instead of having a designer make a logo to your specifications, Logojoy uses artificial intelligence and complex algorithms to generate several logo designs based on your specifications.

The company’s website went live in November, 2016, and Their team are located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

About Logojoy

logojoy-reviewThe company was founded and is headed up by Dawson Whitfield. With experience in graphic design and freelance work, Dawson realized that most entrepreneurs just wanted simple, high-quality logos, at the lowest possible price.

This gave Dawson the idea to replace himself with artificial intelligence capable of designing high-quality logos. Dawson spent several months on the algorithm behind the logo generating software and starting the company.

The site launched in November, 2016, on Product Hunt. Although they have only been in business for less than a month at the time of writing this Dawson says the response from customers, “has been overwhelmingly positive and we hope to establish ourselves as the go-to online application for logo design.”

Using AI instead of graphic designers allows Logojoy to offer much lower price points and generate several logos in minutes. The company’s target customers are entrepreneurs, small business owners, and early-stage startups. Basically, anyone who doesn’t have the budget to work one-on-one with a graphic designer to design their logos and branding material.

Services

Logojoy has a well-designed interface to take you through a few quick steps from start to finish. These are:

Step 1: Choose Inspiration – You choose a few general logo types you like the look and style of. These form the base of the logos the AI will generate.

Step 2: Choose Color Scheme – Next you choose a block of colors to be used in your logo design.

Step 3: Company Name and Slogan – Add your company name and a slogan if you have one. This will be used as text on your design.

Step 4: Pick up to 3 Symbols – Based on keywords of your choice you can choose up to 3 different icons to be used on your logo from a library of over 500,000 unique designs.

Based on your choices in the 4 steps above you will be presented with a few logos. By selecting which logos you like the algorithm will continue to return more logos that meet your specifications until your focus down on the one logo you like best.

There are no graphic designers or assistants to talk to while going through the process. There is however customer support that will get back to you within 24 hours if you have any questions.

I went through the process myself to test it out, and after a little difficulty in creating my account (“Your name is too long or too short”; “Your password is too long or too short” — not helpful!), the app generated a few different options for me:

logojoy-sample-logos

And a few more:

logojoy-sample-logos-2

I think the ones with the headset and the pen (graphics I chose in the process) actually look pretty good. Some of the others don’t make much sense at all.

Plans and Pricing

It’s free to build unlimited logos, which is great because it means you can practice and browse plenty of logo ideas without committing. You only pay when you want to download the logo you have chosen, there are three different pricing plans.

logojoy-pricing

Basic – $20, you can download a low-resolution logo on a white background.

Premium – $65, you can download a high-resolution logo, ready for use in print, on a transparent background, and with black and white versions.

Enterprise – $165, you get all the same features as the Premium package and a one hour design session with one of their designers.

Logojoy Alternatives

When it comes to graphic design for your business, you’ve got lots of options. Logo Garden operates under a similar model where you kind of do a do-it-yourself design and pay just to download the high resolution files.

You might try playing with the Word Swag app. I found it pretty helpful to generate different font and presentation ideas, though not really great if you want to add graphics like my headset above.

Alternatively you have services like Fiverr, where there are hundreds of logo designers promising logos starting at just $5, Deluxe, where you’ll pay a little more to work with a dedicated designer and usually get several concepts, and 99designs, where you can “crowdsource” your logo design to several different designers and pick your favorite.

Your Turn

Have you created and downloaded any logos from Logojoy? If so, please take a moment to leave a quick review to help others with their decision.

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Blog Hands

Blog Hands is a content creation service company based in Pittsburgh, PA. The company was in BETA all through 2015 and officially launched in March of 2016.

They have a small team of project managers, editors, and writers based in-house, as well as utilizing freelance writers all over the world. Blog Hands cite this mix of internal and virtual staff as the reason they can cover all kinds of content orders and work with clients all over the world.

About Blog Hands

blog-hands-reviewThe company is headed by founder Chris Hornak. As an entrepreneur, Chris started the company after spotting a pain point saying, “Blogging is an essential strategy to virtually any digital marketing campaign, yet developing content on a consistent basis is a real chore.”

With this in mind, Blog Hands isn’t a single article ordering service like iWriter or Hirewriters. Blog Hands offer monthly packages to keep a constant flow of fresh content coming. Their ideal clients are business owners and businesses of any size, if you need content, Blog Hands can provide it.

Producing content is one of the most time-consuming tasks for any digital business. There is typically a correlation between the amount of quality content produced and the growth of a business online. Using a content creation service is much more cost-effective than hiring a team of writers and editors in-house.

Services

Blog Hands have a team of pre-qualified writers with a wealth of experience across a variety of industries. You can request any form of content, from creative writing, technical writing, to interesting and informative blog posts. By providing them with clear communication you will receive well-written articles on a monthly basis.

As a client you are provided with a dedicated assistant to handle the communications between yourself and their team. There is a 4-step plan in place from signing up with Blog Hands to receiving your content:

  1. Step 1 – Choose your plan (amount and length of blog posts).
  2. Step 2 – Answer some questions about your blog to help the writer understand your content.
  3. Step 3 – Your writer starts working on your articles.
  4. Step 4 – Check your articles and provide any feedback.

Plans and Pricing

Blog Hands charge a flat rate of $0.10 per word, which, according to their website, is 66% lower than the industry average.

What does that mean in practice? An 800 word article for example will cost you $80. Their pricing and plans are split across the length and number of articles ordered.

blog-hands-pricing

First, you choose from the following article lengths:

  • Short – 400 words and $40 each
  • Classic – 800 words and $80 each
  • Long – 1,200 words and $120 each
  • Epic – 2,000 words and $200 each

Then you choose how many articles you want for the month. The minimum order amount is 4 — basically one a week — and the order amounts increase in increments of 2.

For example, four 800 word blog posts a month will cost you $320.00.

Blog Hands Alternatives

An alternative highly rated company offering a monthly article writing subscription service is Copywriter Today. The service allows for “unlimited” article requests each month, and is only throttled by the set turnaround times per article. If you can stack up your requests and take full advantage of Copywriter Today’s US-based writing staff, I’m confident your per-word rate will be much lower than $0.10.

If you’re not sure you want to commit to a monthly content creation plan, check out an on-demand content service like HireWriters (cheaper) or Scripted (not so cheap).

Your Turn

Have you ordered content from Blog Hands? If so, please take a moment to leave a quick review to help others with their decision.

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Cloud Assistant Pro

Cloud Assistant Pro is an India-based virtual assistant company and they have been operating since June 2015. Their virtual assistants are based in Bangalore, and they have virtual offices in the US and the UK.

The company primarily helps startups and small businesses by handling a wide range of administrative tasks, as well as providing general virtual assistant services to busy professionals.

About Cloud Assistant Pro

cloud-assistant-pro-reviewThe company was founded by Grace Aman and all aspects of the business are overseen by Grace. Cloud Assistant Pro currently have a team of 14 staff working from their Bangalore offices. Being based in India they are able to offer competitive rates.

When you sign up with Cloud Assistant Pro you have the option to pay-as-you-go with the amount of hours you need, or commit to a set amount of hours to be used within a specific time period.

Some plans will match you up with a specific dedicated virtual assistant, while other tasks will be distributed and handled by staff with the best-matched skills to carry out the tasks.

Services

Cloud Assistant Pro group their services into 8 categories:

  • General Virtual Assistant
  • Web Designer
  • Web Developer
  • Audio and Video Specialist
  • Graphic Artist
  • Content Writer
  • SEO/SEM
  • Project Management

If your potential tasks don’t fall neatly into one of those buckets, you might reach out with what you have in mind and see if it’s something Cloud Assistant Pro can accommodate.

As always, with virtual assistant providers you get the most from their services by communicating your needs in as much detail as possible and seeing how well their staff match up with your requirements.

Plans and Pricing

Cloud Assistant Pro offer a pay-as-you-go option or subscription pricing plans. Their pay-as-you-go plans are as follows:

  • 1 hour – $15 ($15 per/hr)
  • 40 hours – $400 ($10 per/hr)
  • 80 hours – $800 ($10 per/hr)

cloud-assistant-pro-payg-pricing

You can submit your requests via the website, email, Skype, or Microsoft Kaizala. There is a 24 hour turnaround, and you have 45 days to use your hours.

The subscription plans they offer are:

  • 40 hours – $400 ($10 per/hr)
  • 80 hours – $800 ($10 per/hr)
  • 120 hours – $1,200 ($10 per/hr)

cloud-assistant-pro-pricing

You can submit your requests via the website, email, Skype, or Microsoft Kaizala. With these plans, you are assigned a dedicated account manager and unused hours rollover month to month.

(I think the rollover hours are why you’re not seeing the typical price break at the larger monthly plans. Normally the more hours you commit to, the better rate you’ll get, but not in this case.)

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Get 10% off your first month of service through the link below:

cloud-assistant-pro-discount

Cloud Assistant Pro Alternatives

If you’re looking for India-based virtual assistant companies then My Tasker and VA Talks are two that might be worth a look. Both are slightly less expensive at top end of the hourly spectrum (100+ hours per month).

Their prices and services are very similar so I would check them out and see which company impresses you the most.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Cloud Assistant Pro? If so, please take a moment to leave a quick review to help others with their decision.

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Staffry

Staffry is a Pakistan-based virtual assistant company and have been in operation since March 2016. They provide dedicated virtual assistants to their clients and aim to allow business owners to “work on their business, rather than in it.”

About Staffry

staffry-reviewAlthough the company is relatively new on the scene, the owners have considerable experience with freelancing and hiring virtual assistants. The company is based in Pakistan, with all of their staff working from their offices in Karachi.

Their target customers are, “entrepreneurs and startups who are juggling between running and growing their business on limited resources.” Not limited to small businesses, their virtual assistants can be utilized by large businesses to reduce employment costs.

When you purchase some hours with Staffry and submit your tasks you will be assigned a dedicated 1-on-1 virtual assistant. This enables you to build up a relationship with your VA, reducing the need to repeat yourself or explain tasks over.

Services

Staffry describe their services broadly as back office or administration support. They separate their services into five categories:

  1. Administrative Assistance
  2. Real Estate Assistance
  3. Website Assistance
  4. Social Media Assistance
  5. Travel Assistance

It’s important to remember that when you’re working with a virtual assistant it’s hard to categorize all of their skills. You get a more accurate gauge on their skills by communicating with them and working through some tasks.

Plans and Pricing

Staffry offer a pay-as-you-go rate or retainer plans. Their pay-as-you-go rate is a flat $15 an hour. The retainer plans are as follows:

  • 5 hours per month – $60 ($12 per/hr)
  • 10 hours per month – $115 ($11.5 per/hr)
  • 20 hours per month – $220 ($11 per/hr)
  • 40 hours per month – $420 ($10.5 per/hr)

As you can see, the hourly the rate reduces the larger the plan you purchase so there are some savings to take advantage of. Your unused hours are carried forward at the end of the month too, and those “rollover hours” aren’t something you normally see at a VA company. 

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Use referral code VAA for 10% off your first month on any retainer plan.

Staffry Alternatives

Staffry have a very similar pricing structure to My Tasker and Ask Sunday, two virtual assistant  companies based in India that are able to offer competitive rates. I suggest checking out these two companies for comparable quotes and skillsets.

Also in Karachi, Efficise has a number of dedicated assistant business plans at similar rates, plus the option of a task-based plan as well.

When asked what sets them apart from their competitors, Staffry said they offer dedicated assistants, no hidden charges, precision billing, and all unused hours are rolled forward at the end of the month, and don’t feel like other companies are offering all of these options.

Your Turn

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

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Automation Agency

Automation Agency is a virtual assistant company that specializes in design, website, and marketing tasks. This means you can get tasks done quickly by choosing a virtual assistant specializing in your desired skillset from their large pool of assistants.

They call this a ‘‘concierge’’ service as it works in much the same way as having a concierge to arrange your tasks. The company is based in Sydney, Australia, with their freelancers being based all over the globe.

About Automation Agency

automation-agency-reviewThe company was founded by Carl Taylor, a seasoned entrepreneur and digital marketer from Sydney, Australia. Carl started the company in 2014, originally as a high-ticket digital marketing and sales funnel business. After 6 months, he added more affordable subscription models to make the services more affordable to smaller businesses.

When asked who their target customers are they said, “coaches, speakers, authors, and other small business owners.” If you know what you want to achieve, but don’t have the technical skills or time to do it yourself, you’ll find virtual assistants and freelancers through their platform that do have the time and skills.

The majority of their freelancers are based in the Philippines and Eastern Europe. This allows AutomationAgency.com to keep their costs low while still providing a highly-skilled and varied team.

Automation Agency Founder Interview

Services

Automation Agency calls their virtual assistants “heroes.” You’ll find:

  • Design heroes
  • Web heroes
  • Automation heroes

Each category of hero specializes in their dedicated area, so if you want WordPress, HTML or CSS support, you list your task in their Web Portal and you’ll be matched up with a web hero.

The company provides support across all the areas you would need while running an online business and maintaining your WordPress site. This includes graphic design, WordPress support, research, marketing, help setting up automation sequences, and more.

Automation Agency heroes are skilled in Ontraport, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, Zapier, ClickFunnels, LeadPages and have experience setting up membership site and webinar integrations.

They also backup any WordPress sites they manage daily, scan for malware, and check plugins are up-to-date. You also have a hack fix guarantee, so if you site is hacked while under their watch they will fix it for free.

How it Works

The way it works is you send in a task via email or through the Automation Agency web portal to the team. It’s dispatched to the correct type of Hero to work on your task.

You are then in direct contact with the Hero working on your task and any additional questions they may have or things you want to add you can simply send it in easily by reply email or reply via the portal.

Once the task is complete, you’ll be notified that it’s complete and able to rate your experience as Awesome, Just OK, Poor and provide feedback that goes direct to the Hero as well as the management team.

Plans and Pricing

Automation Agency has two pricing plans:

  • Concierge Solo – $249/month
  • Concierge Plus – $349/month

The Solo plan grants you unlimited tech and design tasks, you can submit one WordPress site to be worked on and have one task active at a time. This plan also comes with monthly scans, updates, site backups, and their hack fix guarantee.

automation-agency-pricing

Their Plus plan comes with all the features found in the Solo plan, along with the ability to have three WordPress sites worked on and two tasks being worked at any time.

Automation Agency Alternatives

I asked Carl what sets Automation Agency apart from the competition, and he pointed out that they’re essentially WP Curve and Design Pickle combined under one roof, for less than the cost of Design Pickle alone. On top of the unlimited WordPress support and graphic design tasks, you also have access to the marketing automation heroes.

Carl added they also routinely set up SSL certificates and build landing pages for clients–tasks that WP Curve won’t touch.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Automation Agency? If so, please take a moment to leave a quick review to help others with their decision, thanks.

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WP Soar

WP Soar is your outsourced IT department for WordPress sites. The company was founded in 2016 and has quickly grown to dozens of paying customers because of the easy value-driven service to their clients: unlimited 30-minute WordPress fixes and proactive maintenance for $79/month.

Their team is US-based, speak perfect English and are all proficient in WordPress. The Denver team started with Artem Nikulkov and Yury Vilk after realizing the need for their existing web clients.

wp-soar-review

Fun fact: They even have a WordPress course to teach you how to build a site from scratch, step by step with free video lessons.

The target customer is a small business owner, blogger or authority site owner who:

  • Has issues with their website, but doesn’t have the time, experience or patience to fix them.
  • Doesn’t want to work with dozens of different contractors.
  • Has a limited budget, but still needs high-quality, on demand support

What WP Soar is not good for:

  • Building a new site from scratch.
  • Large scale web development/design projects.

Services

The company handles bug fixes, design tweaks, and WordPress backup and security for your website.

With WP Soar, you are essentially buying access to a dedicated on-demand help desk for your website. Once you submit your ticket, their support team responds and fixes the issue. They also notify you of any proactive maintenance that is done on the site.

Not only will they suggest fixes on the site, they’ll go ahead and do it if it doesn’t impede the functionality and display. They will offer proactive marketing advice and even some additional advice for themes, plugins and WordPress how-tos. This is how they help their customers, not just by doing, but by showing.

Plans & Pricing

WP Soar has 3 pricing tiers:

wp-soar-pricing

The WP Soar “Standard” plan is $79/month (billed annually, or $99/month billed monthly) for “unlimited” 30-minute WordPress website tasks for one domain.

It’s “unlimited” in quotes because it’s subject to the reasonable use policy, but most tasks get done. Tasks are guaranteed done in 8 hours or less.

The “Professional” plan includes support for e-commerce and membership sites and can include up to 2 sites for a rate of $299 a month, billed annually.

The “VIP” plan includes everything from all plans, including private phone support, up to 5 sites and a consulting service for $499 a month, billed annually.

Each plan’s response time differs by 2 hours with the VIP plan able to get something resolved within 4 hours.

Each plan comes with a free sign up bonus of a full website audit and review from our in house developers.

All plans come with a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee and there are no long term contracts or commitments. (Except for paying for the full year upfront to lock in the discounted rate.)

As you can imagine, if WP Soar can save you just a couple of development hours a month or make some minor improvements, the service pays for itself. This is with the knowledge that most agencies will easily charge over $200/hr for service.

WP Soar Alternatives

The best known competitor is probably Dan Norris’ WP Curve, and I’ve been testing out a similar service called Zen WP.

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

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XPlace

XPlace is a large freelance marketplace. The company is based in Los Angeles, US, and they have development offices in the Ukraine and Israel. Their freelancers are based all over the world.

Their focus is to provide a marketplace for freelancers to connect with businesses, making it easy for business owners to find freelancers with the exact skillset they need, for a cost-effective price.

About XPlace

xplace-reviewThe company is headed up by co-founder Allon Mason and they have been in business since 2004. This makes them one of the longest running freelance marketplaces, with 12 years experience. 

XPlace has a huge database of freelancers and literally hundreds of categories for you to choose from, enabling you to niche down to a specific skill to help you with your business. Their platform is very easy to use, their categories are grouped clearly, and it doesn’t take long select the skills you want and see the profiles of the freelancers meeting your requirements.

For example, when I searched “WordPress”, I found around 2700 available freelancers. I found around 1100 entries for “Administrative Assistant”, though very few of those appear to have made any sales on the platform.

Services

XPlace has a long list of skills their database of freelancers cover, over 500 in fact! Far too many to list here, it’s safe to assume that you’re going to find a freelancer with the skillset you need to help you with the tasks are you looking to outsource.

It’s important to remember that XPlace offers a platform for freelancers and business owners to connect. You’re not hiring a dedicated virtual assistant they have vetted and trained. To find the best freelancer always read their profiles thoroughly, look at the feedback and ratings left by previous clients they have worked with, and compare against some other freelancers before making a decision.

Plans and Pricing

They operate on a “SAAS model,” or recurring monthly membership fee, rather than taking a cut of each project. Since they’re charging the freelancers and not taking project fees, the overall prices should theoretically be lower than other marketplaces and weed out some of the less serious job candidates. (After all, they had to pay to play.)

XPlace has 3 pricing plans for freelancers:

  • 1 Month Subscription – $26
  • 3 Month Subscription – $70
  • 12 Month Subscription – $217

For employers, it’s free to post jobs.

Xplace Alternatives

Alternatives to XPlace are other large platforms like Upwork.com, Fiverr.com, and Freelancer.com, all of which allow you to connect with thousands of freelancers from all over the world.

When asked what sets them apart from their competitors, XPlace said, “What sets XPlace apart is no commissions on projects. If a freelancer is awarded a $10k project, he gets the full $10k (vs. up to 20% on Upwork or Fiverr). Also, XPlace’s model is SAAS-based and therefore doesn’t charge commission to its users. Other differentiators include the project management and deal flow tools that XPlace makes available to its freelancers and buyers of freelance services.”

Your Turn

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

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Outsourcely

Outsourcely is a virtual assistant company based in Foresthill, CA. They make it easy to connect with virtual assistants through their platform and have a large number of remote workers based all over the world.

The company began with a strong presence in the Philippines but now have more than 250,000 remote workers in their database to choose from when hiring a virtual assistant.

About Outsourcely

outsourcely review

The company was started in 2014. The founder and current CEO Oleg Posternetsky was frustrated by the way other virtual assistant platforms worked and wanted to make a platform that offered reliable virtual assistants that could be hired directly.

He started Outsourcely and has created the platform he wanted. Outsourcely now has more than 250,000 fully-vetted remote workers from more than 130 countries in their database. Their primary focus is their “Search and Hire” platform, which allows business owners to search their database of virtual assistants and make contact with a VA best suited to their requirements.

They also have a “Team Workplace”, which is a resource that helps their clients manage their remote teams. An interesting angle that separates Outsourcely from other virtual assistant companies is that their platform is 100% free for the remote workers. As a client, you sign up with Outsourcely for a monthly fee, when you find an assistant you want to work with you negotiate their pay directly with them.

Target customers for Outsourcely are anyone with an online presence looking to free up some time and start outsourcing tasks. With such a large database of virtual assistants it’s very likely you will find someone who matches up with your requirements.

Services

Unlike other virtual assistant companies that have a certain number of assistants covering a set of skills, Outsourcely is a platform that helps you find and connect with the virtual assistant you want. This way you have a much larger pool of candidates to choose from, so finding the ideal assistant isn’t limited to the team on the payroll as you find with most companies.

With a monthly fee per the number of virtual assistants you make contact with this means finding a long-term assistant is going to be more cost-effective.

Outsourcely says that 80% of the remote workers hired from their platform are hired on a long-term basis. Each assistant does have their own hourly rate in their profile, and it’s down to you to negotiate and pay them directly once they are working with you.

Plans and Pricing

Outsourcely have three different packages. These are priced at $9/mo for the Individual package, $59/mo for the Small Business package, or $99/mo for the Professional package.

 

outsourcely-pricing

Their Individual package allows you to make five private chat and email connections with virtual assistants each month, along with posting three jobs and managing ten active users on their Team Workplace platform.

Their Small Business package grants you 300 chat connections, 100 email connections, and 10 job postings along with upgraded Team Workplace privileges. While their Professional package includes unlimited chat connections and job postings, and 300 email connections.

You can also save 50% by pre-paying for an annual plan.

Outsourcely Alternatives

The primary alternative to Outsourcely is Onlinejobs.ph. They operate on a similar monthly membership model and really just want to play matchmaker, not concerning themselves with making a markup margin on a worker’s salary month after month.

I found the Outsourcely interface a little cleaner to work with than OnlineJobs, and the pricing is slightly lower ($49/mo for job-posting/contact privileges over there). On top of that, you can source workers from anywhere in the world, and not just the Philippines

Your Turn

Have you worked with Outsourcely? If so please leave a review with any feedback or comments below to help others with their decision.

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PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour.com is a website that helps connect individuals who need work done with those willing to do it. There are quite a range of jobs available, from accounting support to legal services to web design to copywriting to data entry (basically anything that can be done remotely).

If you need something done well and in the least amount of time, you can get it done through PeoplePerHour.

About PeoplePerHour

people per hour reviewThe London-based company was founded in 2007, and has attracted more than 300,000 users. PeoplePerHour employs a Fiverr-like set-up in that freelancers post their gigs in an “I can do ____ in __ hours for $__” format. The difference of course is that the price isn’t automatically set at $5.

In fact, you’ll find much more skilled workers and higher hourly rates.

Services

In one example I checked out, someone was offering legal contract research at a rate or $100 an hour. Most of the virtual assistant listings I found were between $10 and $20 an hour.

And if none of the posted gigs fit the bill, you also have the freedom to post exactly the type of work you need completed. Freelancers, called “Hourlies” on PeoplePerHour, can then send custom bids based on your requirements. The workers are all around the globe, and the company can even try and match you with someone locally if your task necessitates a physical presence.

The company includes a ratings platform so you can see past feedback for each freelancer and make the best choice.

As an added bonus, there’s a professional, binding proposal to insure that all parties are protected and for quality assurance. PeoplePerHour utilizes a proprietary communication system called WorkStream to help users manage their projects. As far as I can tell, it’s like a centralized email notification system for all things PPH-related.

How PeoplePerHour Works

Plans and Pricing

There are no registration fees for either freelancers or employers, and posting a job is free as well. Like most other freelance sites, the company makes money by taking a percentage of every sale.

One thing I thought was weird is how they have comments enabled on some of their FAQ pages, and many freelancers came on to complain about the revenue sharing percentages. I’m all about the transparency but certain things don’t need to be open to public debate for prospective clients to see.

Your Turn

Have you tried PeoplePerHour? If so, please share your experience below.

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