26 Outsourced Meal Prep Services That Want to Save You Time in the Kitchen and the Grocery Store

cutting-boardWe outsource cooking all the time — every time you eat at a restaurant or order take out, right?

But what about making the chore of cooking easier when you do it at home. We know it’s generally cheaper, healthier, and probably better for our families to eat together at home, but there’s a lot of effort that goes into putting dinner on the table.

You have to come up with what to cook, find the time to get to the grocery store, and then of course make the meal, serve it, and clean up.

A new crop of companies have popped up to help make life a little easier on that front, ranging from meal planning services to complete done-for-you ready-to-eat meal delivery services. If the nightly question of “what’s for dinner?” is a pain-point in your life, the 26 services below want to help.

Consider them your virtual dinner assistants!

Ready-to-Eat Meal Delivery Services

Munchery

Munchery is a California-based food delivery service that enables people to order meals from local and professional chefs. They deliver to 13 states at the moment.

munchery

Ready-to-eat dinners start at under $10 for dishes such as Shredded Beef Tacos or Artichoke Chickpea Stew and run up to about $18 for Steak au Poivre.

Kids’ meals run $4 to $6.

Sides, salads, and desserts hover in the $4 to $8 range.

From meaty to vegetarian, hearty pastas and stews to fresh dinner salads and flatbreads, they have a wide range of meals for all kinds of tastes.

When my wife and I tried Munchery we were impressed with the serving sizes and tastiness of the dishes. Some were definitely big enough to squeeze a couple meals out of, though some we chose relied heavily on cheap carbs like rice to make up a large portion of the dish.

VAA Special: Get $20 off your first order!

Vegin’ Out

Vegin’ Out is a Los Angeles-based Vegan meal delivery service that delivers delicious, healthy, organic, well-balanced weekly vegan meals to your home or office at an affordable price.

vegin-out

They deliver throughout Los Angeles and ship via FedEx throughout any area outside of Los Angeles, Southern California, Northern California and Nationwide.

There is 9-10 vegan meals worth of food in a single order. It is $127.99 for a single vegan meal order, which consists of 8 Dishes (3 vegan entree 24 oz dishes, 4 vegan side 16 oz. dishes, 1 soup 32 oz.) and 5 vegan cookies, and $234.99 for a double which is exactly twice as much as a single.

VAA Special: Get $20 off your first order!

Sakara

Sakara is an organic food service that serves up creative salads. Meals are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood.

sakara

Delivery is available across the continental US. Food will be delivered in two or three deliveries per week.

3-day Taste It plans start at $80 and 5-day Taste It plans start at $125, plus delivery. Or subscribe for $69 a day and receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner five days a week.

VAA Special: Get $50 off your first order!

Paleo on the Go

Paleo on the Go is a Florida-based meal delivery service company that highlights organic, pasture-raised and food cooked in high quality oils.

paleo-on-the-go

The proteins found within are all grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild, and they offer nationwide delivery.

They have a Paleo meal subscription plan of $300 and $500. Also, they have a Strict 30 Meal Plan, 30 Day Challenge – 30 Meals and 30 Day Challenge – 60 Meals Provided.

Freshly is a New York-based food company that delivers ready to cook meals and snacks in the United States. Cooking facility and kitchen is located in Arizona.

They have four meal plans:

  1. Freshly Flex 6 which is $69/week and with 6 gourmet meals
  2. Freshly Flex 9 which is $99/week with 9 gourmet meals
  3. Freshly Flex 12 for $129/week with 12 gourmet meals. All delivered once every week.
  4. The biggest plan they have is the Freshly Fit which is $229/week with 21 meals in total/week with two weekly deliveries. They deliver to 21 states and are still expanding.

Pre-Made Paleo is a meal delivery service that from are Whole30-approved — meaning they are Paleo to a strict level. They deliver to all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. They are also 100% organic. Subscription plans ranges from $72 (5 meals weekly – subscription) to a Whole30 Every Day Plan of $975.

Pete’s Paleo is a San Diego-based meal company that delivers nationally. If you’re a San Diego local, you can pick up your order at selected locations. Meals are delivered weekly or bi-weekly. Purchase a set of five, 10, or 14 meals, or subscribe for weekly deliveries and save. For example, a 10-meal pack costs $162, or $152 if you subscribe.

Veestro is a  plant-based, whole food meal delivery service that ships nationally except for Alaska and Hawaii. All of Veestro’s meals are 100% plant-based and made with organic, non-GMO ingredients—and free of preservatives.

A la carte meals range between $5.99 and $11.99 for salads, soups, entrees, and desserts. They also offers a $99 starter pack (12 meals, one juice, and shipping included) and meal packs. The minimum order is $35, and shipping is free on orders of $199 and above.

Tablerunner is a California-based meal service that delivers fresh, chef-prepared meals. Ingredients come from local farms that follows standards of sustainable, pesticide-free and GMO-free farming. Delivery depends on availability of the location you’re in. You need to register your email address to check availability. Delivery is free for the first year of subscription. Meals are $15 for all membership plans.

Fuel is a California-based meal delivery service company that customized meals for clients and tracked their calorie intake. For you to be able to start with Fuel, you need to sign up and answer four questions that gives you your customized meal plan.

Meals start at $69.99 for 6 meals a week. They also have free shipping and a weekly delivery. No commitment subscription so you can cancel anytime you want.

Luke’s Local is a California-based meal delivery service that produces organic, ready-to-eat artisan foods. All meals are prepared by local chefs and the all the produce comes from local farms. Delivery available in San Francisco, East Bay, and South Bay for $3.99; pickup also available at other locations in San Francisco area.

Cost: Prepared foods range from $5 (breakfast burrito) to $75 (family meal bundle).

Meal Prep Kit Delivery Services

Plated

Plated is a meal delivery subscription service that delivers ready-to-cook ingredients and chef-designed recipes to your door. There is no subscription or membership fee to join.plated

Recipes begin at $12/plate and shipping is free on boxes over $50. They deliver to 93% of the US. Gift cards are readily purchased in their website.

VAA Special: Get free dinner for 2 with your first delivery!

HelloFresh

HelloFresh is an online food retailer that delivers meal kits and recipes to subscribers.They deliver a box of fresh, pre-measured ingredients and delicious recipes.

hellofresh

They have three recipe boxes:

  1. Classic
  2. Veggie
  3. Family

Prices range from $8.75 to $9.90/meal. They deliver nationwide except Hawaii and Alaska, and also have a presence in Canada and the UK.

VAA Special: Get $50 to spend at HelloFresh!

PeachDish

PeachDish is an Amazon-backed Georgia-based retailer that provides recipe-kit delivery services based on the user’s choice. The Southern-inspired menu is updated weekly and they offer two meat-based protein dishes, and two vegetarian dishes.

peachdish

The standard two-person shipment with 2 different meals is $50. At the moment, they deliver to 19 states for $15.00 per box.

VAA Special: Get $10 off your first order!

GreenChef

GreenChef is the first USDA-certified organic meal kit.

greenchef

You can choose from five different menu types:

  1. vegetarian
  2. omnivore
  3. carnivore
  4. gluten-free
  5. paleo

Their weekly menus are available online. They deliver nationwide except Alaska, Hawaii and Washington and to limited areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oregon. Meals ranging in price from $10.49 to $14.99 per person plus $9 shipping and handling per box.

VAA Special: Get 4 free meals!

Home Chef specializes in delivering delicious healthy recipes you can prepare in 30 minutes or less. Every week, they offer a dozen new meal delivery options, including gluten-free, low carb, vegetarian, soy-free and nut-free meals.

Meals cost $9.95 per serving and can be ordered in 2, 4, or 6 serving offerings. Shipping is free for orders over $45.

Sun Basket is a no-commitment meal delivery service that has Chef-developed and nutritionist-approved recipes. Weekly delivery of fresh pre-measured ingredients and 3 recipes that you can choose from Chef’s Choice, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, and Rise & Shine (2 dinners + 2 breakfast recipes).

Meals cost $11.49 per person, delivery costs $5.99 per week. Your first week’s delivery for subscriptions is free! They currently ship to 35 states.

Blue Apron is a New York-based weekly meal ingredients delivery service that offers a portion of the ingredients in a box with a recipe. In each box, we enclose detailed recipe cards featuring step-by-step instructions in order to make meal preparation easy and enjoyable. Their ingredients are USDA certified organic.

They also offer a two plan options: 2-person plan and family plan. The 2-person plan consists of 3 meals. Price per serving is $9.99 a meal, or $59.94 for the entire 6-serving delivery. As for the family plan, it can feed a family of 4. Price per serving is $8.74 a meal, or $69.92 for the entire 8-serving delivery. Shipping is always free. With your first order, you get three meals for free.

My wife and I did Blue Apron for a while, and the meals were mostly delicious — except for one chili recipe that was burn-your-face-off-spicy. The drawback was the prep time; it took both of us working in the kitchen in a team effort sometimes for 20-30 minutes to make some of the meals.

Gobble is a gourmet dinner service providing company that delivers freshly-prepared dinners from local chefs to professionals and families. The “hook” is that each meal takes 10 minutes or less to prep.

Each delivery comes with a total of three dinner kits, each with 2 or 4 meals. Gobble boxes are delivered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

They charge an all-inclusive price of $11.95 per meal if you order 6 or more meals and $13.95 per meal if you only order 4 meals. If you are ordering 6 meals, you’ll pay $71.70 total.

Each week there are meals that are dairy-free, nut-free, or gluten-free or can be prepared as dairy-free, nut-free, or gluten-free. They currently deliver within all of California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, and Utah.

I liked Gobble because of the quick prep time. Was it as “gourmet” as Blue Apron? Probably not, but definitely tasty, fast, and easy.

Purple Carrot is a Boston-based meal kit delivery service that ships healthy ingredients and delicious recipes to busy, health-conscious people, using only whole food plant-based ingredients.

They deliver to 34 states throughout the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and West Coast. Meals are shipped on Mondays in boxes. For three meals that feed up to two people is $68 and two meals that feed up to four people costs $74.

Marley Spoon is an online platform backed by Martha Stewart that provides cook at home food subscription and delivery service.

They have a flexible subscription plan and has two options for boxes: a 2-person box and a family box. The 2-person box is $61.50 per delivery and includes 3 meals for 2 people. The family box is $106.80 per week and includes 3 meals for 4 people.

You can skip a week or pause your subscription anytime. Their recipes offer a good mix of vegetarian, fish and meat options and ingredients are guaranteed to have the highest quality. Marley Spoon delivers to most of the contiguous US states and some countries internationally. Shipping is always free of charge.

Din is a California-based meal kit delivery service that lets you cook restaurant meals at home with more flavor and wider variety. They deliver meals Monday through Friday in the San Francisco Bay Area and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

In San Francisco, delivery is between $4.99–$8.99 depending on which delivery window you select. In the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, delivery is $6.99. They have a wide range of meals – from vegetarian to vegan, soy-free to dairy-free, nut-free to spicy and Paleo to gluten-free.

Gousto is an online marketplace that enables users to order and receive delivery of cooking ingredients and recipes in the UK. They have a no-commitment plan for their recipe kits.

Currently, they offer 6 types of weekly boxes: 2 recipes for 2 people – £27.49 per week, 2 recipes for 4 people – £41.99 per week, 3 recipes for 2 people – £34.99 per week, 3 recipes for 4 people – £51.99 per week, 4 recipes for 2 people – £41.99 per week and 4 recipes for 4 people – £59.99 per week.

Their fresh produce came from local farms in Lincolnshire and unsavoury extras are excluded. 

Meal Planning Services

5 Dollar Dinners is a meal service that makes dinner for your family for $5 or less. They have a $5 Meal Plan which is a weekly meal plan subscription service where the the company does all the planning for the customers.

Prep Dish is a Paleo and Gluten-free meal preparation service that provides you with a printable grocery list and easy-to follow recipes for you to make. A meal plan consists of 4 meals, 1 breakfast, 1 snack and 1 dessert.

There are three kinds of subscriptions:

  • monthly ($14/ month)
  • yearly ($99/year)
  • premium ($149/year)

Groceries are delivered nationwide and they are currently working with Instacart.

eMeals is a meal planning service that let’s you pick your plan, get the recipes and shop for ingredients. They provide over 50 different meal plan options based on your food style preference, family size and the current sales at several large grocery stores.

A subscription at eMeals is as low as $5 a month for a 12-month subscription. You also have the option of a 3-month subscription for $10 a month. They have a 14-day free trial of people who are not sure if it’s not worth the money.

Cook Smarts is a five meal plan newsletter to help home cooks cook more and stress less. They provide cooking tips and instructional videos for free. They also have an app that is available to Android and iOS users.

Your Turn

Have you ever considered outsourcing some of your home cooking, shopping, or meal prep time? Let me know in the comments below!

Read More

Less Doing Assistants

Less Doing Assistants is a virtual assistant company based in New York, US. The company was founded in 2015, and they focus on providing premium virtual assistants ready to work with you 24/7.

The company is run by Ari Meisel and Nick Sonnenberg; their assistants serve business of all sizes. Ari is an author, entrepreneur, and creator of the “Less Doing” personal productivity system.

About Less Doing Assistants

less-doing-assistants-reviewLess Doing Assistants are based in the US, but their virtual assistants are spread all over the world. This is a tactical decision to ensure that there are assistants available to cover all time zones and bring a wider variety of skills to their clients.

When you sign up with Less Doing Virtual Assistants (LDVA) you will be assigned a project manager, but you will never be guaranteed to work exclusively with the same virtual assistant.

While working with the same assistant has some benefits, it also limits the skillsets to that one assistant. By using a team of assistants to cover the work-flow, Less Doing Assistants say it’s much more beneficial to their clients and enables them to offer a wider range of skills and experience.

When you post a task, the best-suited assistant will pick up the task. Always try to provide as much detail as possible when posting tasks, as this helps their team find the best-suited assistant and in-turn helps you receive the best possible service.

Less Doing VA Intro Video

Services

When I asked what services Less Doing Assistants provide, they said, “Anything! As long as it doesn’t require breaking a law.”

I think this sums it up perfectly, so if you need an assistant to help booking flights, social media work and content for your site, or even someone to purchase your groceries, you can submit these tasks and they will be completed for you.

Plans and Pricing

There are two parts to the pricing. There is a $149 monthly retainer fee, which entitles you to access their platform and virtual assistants. Then you pay $40 for each hour of virtual assistant time you use.

less-doing-assistants-pricing

You receive 5 free hours (a $200 value) with your first month’s subscription. After using these 5 hours you can purchase additional hours in 10-hour increments.

These rates definitely put Less Doing Assistants at the higher end of the price scale for US-based virtual assistant companies. However, they do offer no limit to the range of services they are willing to handle, and you have access to a team of assistants 24 hours a day.

Less Doing Assistants Alternatives

For US-based virtual assistant companies, take a look at Time Etc or Worldwide101. Less Doing Assistants say that they differ from their competitors in the way that they provide assistants round the clock, and also use a team to individually pick tasks opposed to assigned a dedicated assistants. 

Pricing among the US-based companies are similar, it may come down to your own personal preference. Always source more than one quote before making up your mind, and read the reviews below to help you with an informed decision.

Your Turn

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

Read More

Hubstaff

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

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

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

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

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

Hubstaff Intro Video


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

VAA Exclusive: Use referral code VAA15 for 30% off your first 2 month’s of service!

Services

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

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

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

Interview with Hubstaff Co-Founder


VAA Exclusive: Use referral code VAA15 for 30% off your first 2 month’s of service!

How it Works

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

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

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

Plans and Pricing

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

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

Hubstaff Talent

Hubstaff Talent is a free resource for companies looking to find remote talent across the globe, with no fees, no markups, no middlemen. Companies can use the Hubstaff database to find and hire the highest quality freelancers from around the world.

You can find all sorts of freelance talent, but the pool is skewed toward developers, digital marketers, and creatives.

Hubstaff Alternatives

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

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

Read More

Worldwide101

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

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

worldwide101 reviewAll clients have a dedicated team member assigned to them (typically for admin support, customer service, marketing, or project management), as well as access to a broader team when additional services are needed such as web development, design, bookkeeping etc.

Background

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

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

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

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

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

Overview with the Founder

Services

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

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

Clients

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

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

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

Plans and Pricing

In terms of pricing, Worldwide101 has package rates for admin services, and hourly rates for more specialized services such as development and design.

Packages start at $43 per hour, while discounts may be available for long-term engagements.

worldwide101 pricing 2016

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

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

Worldwide101 Alternatives

For European (UK) assistants or US-based support, check out Time Etc, a well-rated alternative that operates on a similar model with slightly lower rates.

For UK customers, it might be worthwhile to check out AVirtual, which operates out of South Africa (similar time zone, English speakers), but at a much lower cost.

If you have a specific skillset in mind, you might consider posting the job on Upwork and seeing what comes back. I like to cast a wide net and compare candidates in interviews to see who might be the best fit.

Your Turn

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

Read More

Bottleneck Virtual Assistants

Bottleneck Virtual Assistants is a virtual assistant sourcing firm connecting clients to responsible VAs in the Philippines. While Bottleneck is a relatively new company, opening their virtual doors in 2016, the founder Jaime Jay has been working with VAs from the Philippines for almost 10 years.

After helping peers and clients find talented VAs on an informal or private basis, Jaime decided to open up his unique sourcing service to a broader audience.

About Bottleneck Virtual Assistants

bottleneck virtual assistants reviewBottleneck’s target customers are entrepreneurs that are experiencing growth in their existing company and are finding it more and more difficult to manage their tasks on a daily basis. “We place both general and specialized VAs,” Jaime explained.

The majority of customers are based in the US, the UK, and Canada, while assistants work from their home offices in the Philippines.

“We are noticing a large amount of call center workers leaving that line of work for virtual assistant work,” Jaime added. “While these people don’t have the same type of experience, they are eager to learn and they work hard.”

Services

Bottleneck.online will currently help you find a VA in one of two categories:

  1. General Virtual Assistants
  2. Specialized Virtual Assistants

Bet you can guess which one comes with a higher price tag 🙂

In the General Virtual Assistant realm, you’re looking at tasks like travel arrangements, email management, basic research, appointment setting and scheduling, data entry, and other administrative tasks.

Specialized Assistants include web developers, graphic designers, video and audio editors, SEO specialists, content writers, and bookkeepers.

How it Works

Once Bottleneck knows your job requirements they get to work on sourcing a short list of candidates for you. For each potential assistant, they arrange an initial Skype interview while a representative from the company manages the interviews.

bottleneck online hiring process

Once you make your hiring decision, there is no management layer between you and the VA; you communicate and train them directly.

The company focuses on and specializes in fulfillment for full-time roles. “Our virtual assistants, for the most part, are seeking full-time pay,” Jaime explained. (Aren’t we all!) “If a position is only part-time, Bottleneck will help them find another position.”

Plans and Pricing

The cost vary depending on experience and type of work. Bottleneck charges a $250 “sourcing and training” fee upfront, but then do all the recruiting, screening, and salary negotiations on your behalf.

After that, you’ll pay $7-8/hour for a General VA and $10-13/hour for a Specialized VA. 

 

Bottleneck Virtual Assistants Alternatives

When I asked Jaime what sets Bottleneck apart from the competition, he mentioned their vetting process is designed to minimize risks for both clients and VAs. “There are stories of VAs not getting paid and stories of clients not getting the work done that was promised and their assistant seemed to just disappear. While we can’t guarantee that will ever happen on either end, we do have a great system in place,” Jaime explained.

On the recruiting side, Zen Virtual Assistants Finder might be worth a look. You’ll pay a higher upfront sourcing fee ($500 vs. $250), but after that you won’t pay any markup on your VA’s hours. If you’re planning a long-term hire, that could end up being a cost savings.

The other resource to look into is OnlineJobs.ph, especially if you’re comfortable doing the job posting and candidate screening yourself. The service costs $49 a month but you should have no problem finding the right person for the job within a month or two. Similarly, once hired you’ll just pay your VA directly each pay period.

Your Turn

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

Read More

5 Ways To Increase Virtual Assistant Productivity (That Actually Work)

This post is contributed by Anupam Rajey, CEO of Acelerar Tech, a leading KPO firm that offers virtual assistants for social media, Internet research, email & chat support, and more. Anupam is a seasoned marketer and sales expert. You can learn more about Acelerar here on VirtualAssistantAssistant.com

***********

The inspiration for today’s post actually came from a Quora question someone asked me the other day.

The original question was: what are the most effective methods you have used in your business to increase VA productivity? 

quora question vaa

Needless to say, delegating tasks to virtual assistants can save you both time and money. As an entrepreneur, your prime objective should be growing your business.

So you should not mingle with petty tasks that you can easily delegate to others, such as social media management, Internet research, desktop publishing services, and more.

As rightly said by Natalie Sisson in her blog post, “A Virtual Assistant is the key to helping you save valuable hours each day. To run a successful business, quality time must be pumped into it. Trying to do everything by yourself will burn you out.”

The best thing about virtual assistants is that you can hire them for everything from making customer service calls to sending ‘thank you’ notes to your prospective clients.

This is the reason why more entrepreneurs are delegating tasks to VAs.

As the industry has grown, so have the demands of virtual assistants and the standard needed to render consistent high-quality services. The bottom line is each and every entrepreneur wants to maximize the productivity of the virtual assistants they hire.

Before I proceed further with this post, let’s have a look at the answers my fellow Quora members gave:

quora answers vaa

All the members expressed succinctly how to increase VA’s productivity. Thanks to them!

Here are my five simple tips that will increase the productivity of your virtual assistant.

1. Close collaboration is a key to success

Though virtual assistants already have experience, competencies, and required skill sets to perform assigned tasks diligently, they need close collaboration to give their best.

Sometimes, they might need a little training. For example:

You hired a virtual assistant to execute social media marketing strategies for lifestyle products. And your virtual assistant has 8 years experience in social media marketing, but he never did social media marketing for lifestyle products.

In this case, he will take some time to adapt the right approach and social media strategies for your products.

He will present you a comprehensive marketing plan. As you know the products more than he does, you are in the best position to tell what will be more productive in your market.

So a close collaboration is a must to maximize the success of virtual assistants.

As Brandon Turner pointed out in Entrepreneur, “Success with a virtual assistant doesn’t come naturally. Like any skill, it must be learned, developed and mastered.”

Nick’s Notes: Collaboration is key, especially at the beginning of a new VA relationship. Over time, as you give feedback, it’s kind of like the Pandora app. They learn what you like and dislike, and aim to improve the “playlist” every day. 

2. Measure performance to set high, achievable goals

It is imperative that you should measure the performance of your VA.

Most entrepreneurs let their VAs work independently, and they don’t measure VAs’ contributions to the growths of organizations.

If you want optimal performance, you should establish a metric to measure your VA’s performance.

However, when you are assessing the performance of your VA, you should consider all the aspects. Maybe, your VA needs some training or guidance to understand your niche in a better way.

Martin believes, “Managers should make sure that they review the work done by the virtual assistants to assess their quality and then providing feedback. This ensures that the loopholes in work quality can be fixed in a timely manner. Keeping a regular check on virtual assistants is important to know about things that they might be struggling with.”

Nick’s Notes: Your KPIs (key performance indicators) will vary based on your business and industry, but might be metrics like sales, website visitors, customer support issues resolved, or whatever matters most in your operation.

3. A motivated VA makes a real difference

Everyone makes mistakes. Your VA is a human so he or she might make a few mistakes. As an entrepreneur, you should accept it as a part of a job and motivate your VA to perform better.

If you have a VA from a different culture, you should deal with him with extra care.

Your VA is also your employee. The only difference is he works remotely.

When your VA does something really good, you should give him a bonus or incentive. This will keep him motivated and he will always try to give his best.

Dorie Clark and Sue Williams suggest in a blog, “Gratitude for a job well done is always appreciated, but more specific praise can actually shape your VA’s input. If you laud your assistant’s word choice on social media, they will probably place a higher value on such tasks. For instance, Dorie made it clear that she appreciated my suggestions about how to improve processes or solve problems, so I felt encouraged to do so.”

Nick’s Notes: There’s obviously a lot that goes into the science of motivation, and monetary rewards are just one part of it. My general rules include saying thank you for a job well done, sharing the finished product the VA helped create, and giving occasional bonuses.

4. Simple processes boost performance

You should make sure that you have a simple system in place to work with your VA.

As a VA works remotely, you will need some programs for a smooth collaboration, communication, and file sharing. And keep in mind, costly programs with lots of bells and whistles are not always better.

There are many free programs that can help you run an operation smoothly, such as Google Hangout, Skype, Dropbox, Asana, Slack, and more.

Remember, the best program is the one that your VA can adopt easily. Most of the VAs are quite familiar with these free programs.

If you are going to use a new software program, make sure you give your VA time to learn the new system.

Liat Behr says in her blog post, “Tools empower. Knowing which tools to use and how to use them can make the difference between getting stuck and a job well done”

Nick’s Notes: Simple well-defined processes set both parties up for success. When you eliminate the guesswork, everyone knows what’s expected and how to get the job done.

5. Involved virtual assistants exceed expectations

Virtual assistants are experienced professionals, and they view your business with a different view. Many times, they can have better ideas.

So, instead of restricting your VA to specific tasks, you should try to involve your VA in the overall process and bigger picture business.

If he understands your business objective well, it will be easier for him to achieve the goal.

To maximize your VA’s productivity, you need to provide him with a free virtual floor where he can share his ideas without any hesitation. This will encourage him to do better.

Kelly Cannon hit the target in her post, “Be sure that you give your VA ample opportunity to discuss any of her own questions or concerns with how the work is going. You’ll inspire more loyalty and better work if you take the time to get to know your VA. Ask questions about her life, and let her know how much you appreciate a job well done.”

Nick’s Notes: Some of the most helpful and useful innovations in my businesses have actually come from VAs. They were neck deep in a process all day long and found a smarter way to get it done. If I’d insisted they keep doing it “my” way, they would have lost hours of productivity and probably a little piece of their soul!

Conclusion

If you want to increase your VA’s productivity, collaborate closely with your VA, set a metric for performance measure, motivate him, have simple processes, and involve him in the overall process.

If you follow these measures, you will certainly maximize your VA’s productivity.

If you have anything to add on how you’ve increased the productivity of your own VA, be sure to leave a comment below.

Read More

VA Staffer

VA Staffer is a Digital Marketing and Virtual Assistant Company with the majority of it’s team in their Makati City (Metro Manila) office, Philippines. The marketing, project success and consulting is operated in the USA, and VA Staffer has also expanded recently into South America, India and the Caribbean for specific skillsets.

They have a very diverse team that offers a wide range of services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and CEOs. They’ve built a talent pool backed up with built-in Project Management Tools to deliver results.

VAA Tested_smallerThey opened their doors to the general public in November 2013 immediately after Typhoon Haiyan devastated much of the country, and local job opportunities were scarce, even for qualified candidates. At that time, founder Jeff “J” Hunter and his team decided that bringing on more clients would help empower college grads with amazing technology skills in the Philippines.

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

About VA Staffer

VA staffer reviewVA Staffer has virtual assistants who work from home offices as well as their office in Makati and report directly to their clients.

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

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

VA Staffer Review

VA Staffer Services

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

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

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

VA Staffer Intro Video

Exclusive Offer: Mention Referral Code VAA for a Free Outsourcing Consultation and a 4-hour Free VA Trial!

Plans and Pricing

VA Staffer offers a range of services with their new pricing system.

A one-time membership setup fee of $299 gives you access to the entire team and an invitation to their project management software. You’ll also be assigned a dedicated project coordinator. 

The minimum monthly retainer is just $160, and work is billed out against that retainer at competitive rates:

  • Data entry and lower skilled work = $7/hr
  • Administrative work like email templating or CRM help = $8/hr
  • Web development, graphic design, and voice Support = $10/hr

Native English Content / Blog Creation

VA Staffer copywriters are native American and UK English speakers. They’ll craft content for you at a rate of $45 per 300-500 word blog post–or you can write your own content and they’ll optimize it for you.

Social Media Management Plans

VA Staffer has customized social media content creation packages they offer with their native English-speaking team. (This is not at the typical $7-$10 dollars an hour because it’s created by American and UK social media experts on their team.)

They offer support for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, on an à la carte menu:

  • You pick any one of the platforms for: $250 / mo
  • You pick any two of the platforms for: $325 / mo
  • All three platforms: $399 / mo

For Twitter, the package includes 3-4 daily tweets and 3 image tweets per week. On Facebook, they’ll make two posts daily on your behalf, with 3 of them every week being custom images. For LinkedIn, they’ll post two daily updates.

Posting would be on any 5 days you choose; it doesn’t have to be Monday-Friday.

SEO Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis

VA Staffer’s SEO Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis is a one-time $399 investment. It takes 4-5 business days and the research package comes with a 1 hour strategy session afterwards to determine the best keywords for you and next steps.

The research will give you great keywords for blog topics, titles, and phrases which will help optimize your social media campaign. Basically, when you know what people are searching for, all you have to do is be the answer to what they want. You will use the keywords as topics and subtitles, and this will increase your ranking in Google.

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

va staffer office

Why VA Staffer?

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

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

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

Interview with the VA Staffer Founder

VA Staffer Alternatives

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

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

Read More

Fancy Hands

Fancy Hands is a New York-based virtual assistant company that was founded in 2010. In itself, it’s not a revolutionary business model, but what sets Fancy Hands apart from its low priced outsourcing competition is its use of US-based, native-English speaking assistants.  fancy hands reviewFor that, they’re gaining a lot of momentum and exposure.

Customers primarily use Fancy Hands as a time-saving tool for small one-time tasks, like restaurant reservations, online research, and quick event planning. You can submit tasks via the web interface, email, or phone, and rumor has it a mobile app is coming soon.

fancy hands reviewInitially Fancy Hands wasn’t touching any tasks that involved making purchases online, but they’ve added the capability now to make purchases on your behalf up to $100. For these transactions, your credit card details stay hidden from the VA. They use a company card, and then just bill the card you have on file for your membership for the amount of the purchase.

Another cool feature is that adding events to your Google Calendar is free.

Plans and Pricing

For $74.99 a month you can outsource up to 15 tasks, and 50 20-minute tasks is $199.99 a month.  A smaller 5-task plan is $29.99 a month, and you can save 15% on all plans by pre-paying for a year in advance.  The pre-pay option is a great deal but of course is a little risky for first-time outsourcers.

fancy hands pricing 2016

Beginning in February 2014, unused tasks now rollover month-to-month. Since the tasks rollover, one strategy would be to buy the Premier plan for a month or two to stockpile your requests, and then downgrade to Basic until you’re running low, effectively reducing your price per request.

Fancy Hands also added the ability to go beyond the regular 20-minute time limit by asking your approval to burn multiple tasks on one request. For instance, sometimes I’ve gotten a response back that says, we’d love to handle this for you, but it will take 3 tasks instead of one. OK, that’s fine — I hit the approval button and they got to work.

Fancy Hands Review


Virtual Assistant Assistant Referral Bonus
: If you want to try Fancy Hands, get 50% off your first month when you sign-up through this link.

Without a dedicated virtual assistant option, Fancy Hands is aimed at a personal-use audience rather than a business-use audience. Unless of course your business requires lots of online research done in 15 minute increments, for example. Longer, time-intensive tasks like writing articles or ongoing business process tasks aren’t allowed. That said, I’ve had them do the initial baseline research for writing projects.

The company recently introduced a TeamWork platform, that gives Fancy Hands access to your entire team.  For employers, it’s a nice perk to offer and allows your workers to be more productive on the job.  The service is integrated with the web interface, email, phone, and Basecamp project management software.

Once you create your account, you’ll see a dashboard that keeps track of your requests and some other stats on profile. Fancy Hands has spent over 22 hours on the phone for me!

fancy hands dashboard jun 16

I’m a pretty happy camper to have not had to make those 421 calls myself. I actually broke their system — the counter stopped at 1000 requests and hasn’t updated in over a year.

Another feature added is the ability to use Fancy Hands to set up your conference calls. It’s easy and included in your subscription (only charges one task), which probably amounts to less than some other conference-calling services may charge.

Longer Requests: The Best Feature Yet

In late summer 2014, Fancy Hands added the ability to submit requests longer than 15 minutes. This is huge!

Previously I had to break up those requests into 15 minute segments and re-submit each time one assistant finished. For one data entry project, it resulted in 20 different times I had to email them!

Now, you can submit your bigger job and they’ll come back with an approval request, for 5 gigs for instance. You click the “go ahead” button and they get to work. I also like this because it builds more consistency into these longer requests because the same assistant is working on it the whole time instead of the task changing hands to a dozen different people.

The Fancy Hands App

fancy hands appIn March 2013, Fancy Hands launched their mobile app. It has a very slick user interface with nearly all the functionality of their browser-based site.

You can check on view your usage statistics, track existing requests, and submit new ones via text or voice. Very cool. It also allows you to take pictures that might be helpful to your VA or choose an existing photo from your library.

fancy hands app screenshot

Incoming Calls?

The introduction of the Fancy Hands incoming calls API is big news for anyone struggling with their call volume or already using an outsourced solution like Ruby Receptionists. With a little bit of set-up, your preferred phone number can ring Fancy Hands and an assistant will answer the call, answer basic questions, and with access to your calendar, set appointments.

In the Cloud

Fancy Hands virtual assistants are “in the cloud” – a largely part-time, on-demand, and remote workforce that handles tasks as they come in. The unique set-up has attracted a lot of positive press during its first year in business, including articles in Fast Company, Slate, and Forbes. Users email their requests to a common account and a Fancy Hands assistant tackles it and follows up.

One advantage of this team-based approach is 24/7/365 coverage for your requests, whereas a “real” would probably need to take some time off or sleep every now and then.

However, to give off the appearance of a dedicated assistant, you can give this team of VAs a real name. The feature is called Personal Touch, and you can set up a dedicated email account to give correspondents the illusion that you have a dedicated personal assistant.

For instance, Fancy Hands founder Ted Roden uses the name Lucille Bluth — as in “I’ll have my assistant Lucille will set up the meeting.” And regardless of which Fancy Hands VA assumes the task, the meeting request will appear to come from Lucille.

Hmm… what clever name should I use for my assistant?

Fancy Hands Alternatives

I tested Fancy Hands against a few of their competitors, both in the US and overseas. The trial pitted them against Red Butler, Efficise, and My Tasker (no longer offers a task-based plan). Please click here to read the full review of my test.

I’m still maintaining my subscription and have actually set up a cool automation with IFTTT where I can send them tasks automatically based on certain criteria.

One other company worth checking out is the newcomer OkayRelax.

If you have any experience with Fancy Hands, please share it below!

Read More

How I Hired My Latest VA for Free

My latest VA “hire” didn’t cost me anything out of pocket.

This won’t work for every business and definitely has some downsides as well, but here’s how it worked.

One of my goals for the year was to make the most of the content I’d already created, to see if I could squeeze more traffic and revenue from these assets.

Among that content was my small portfolio of books on Amazon, which includes the Virtual Assistant Assistant book.

And while most of my titles already had a Kindle version and a paperback version, I’d never done an audiobook. According to several sources, audiobooks sell surprisingly well. I was curious to test it out for myself.

free audiobook narration

Project Options

That left me with at the top of the project decision tree, with some familiar choices:

  1. Record it myself.
  2. Hire a narrator.

But not having any track record of audiobook sales, I was hesitant to spend $700 or more on a professional audiobook production.

I briefly thought about doing it myself, since I already have a microphone and some audio editing experience, but thought it might be more fun (and more meta) to find a VA to record the VAA book.

That’s when I discovered ACX.com, the “audiobook creation exchange,” which is owned by Amazon. One of their production options is to offer a revenue share with your narrator, meaning you can have a professional audiobook created for zero upfront cost.

I figured since every audiobook I sell will be incremental revenue anyway, I really had no problem splitting it with the narrator.

Finding a Free VA

I had a dozen different narrators audition for the VAA project, and ended up going with Scott from Buffalo, New York. The book is going through its final approval process now, and should be live on Amazon in the next couple weeks.

Hopefully it turns out to be a profitable venture for both Scott and I.

(At one point during the recording, Scott sent me a note about his moment of epiphany: “Wait, I’m the virtual assistant right now!”)

For future book projects, I’ll have a better idea of the sales pace and whether or not it makes financial sense to pay upfront–or to do it myself.

And while this profit sharing set-up really isn’t anything new, it’s the first time I’ve used it in the context of getting virtual work done.

Work for Equity?

I think it’s an interesting workaround for companies and entrepreneurs who may be idea rich, but cash poor. In fact, I came across a new platform that aims to connect startups with “equity workers” called EquityDirectory.com.

(Actually I heard the founder speak at our local TEDx event.)

The benefit for workers is the opportunity to work on interesting projects and have the potential for much greater payouts down the road if they can afford to forego that upfront cash.

One example the EquityDirectory founder gave was the painter who did a mural at Facebook’s headquarters, and opted to get paid in stock instead of cash. In the near-term, he lost out on his $60,000 fee, but today that stock his worth north of $200 million.

These kind of arrangements admittedly shift the risk to the employee, which frankly won’t be a great fit for everyone. If it makes you uncomfortable and you’d prefer to just pay someone for their time, there’s no harm in going that route.

Your Turn

What do you think?

Think there’s opportunity for a profit-sharing hire in your business?

Would you work “speculatively” on a project like this?

Read More

What to Delegate? Here are 12 Tasks a VA Can Handle For You [Infographic]

If you’re struggling with what to outsource in your business, it can become a real bottleneck in productivity. As you know, virtual assistants can handle any job that doesn’t require their physical presence, and these days, that’s quite a range of activities.

I’ve outsourced graphic design work, content writing, web development, customer support, advertising management, audio editing, and much more over the years — but it wasn’t always that way and it wasn’t always easy.

Our friends over at My Tasker (their website | their listing and reviews on VAA) have put together this beautiful infographic to outline 12 different tasks you can delegate to a virtual assistant.

The tasks are:

  1. Online Research
  2. Data Entry
  3. Preparing Presentations
  4. Market Research
  5. Online Marketing
  6. Call Answering
  7. Social Media Marketing (is that really different than #5?)
  8. Email Management
  9. App Development
  10. SEO
  11. Web Development
  12. Content Writing
tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant
tasks to outsource to a virtual assistant

Your Turn

What do you think? Obviously needs vary based on your business, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point of what tasks and roles you can delegate.

My Tasker is a top-rated VA company in India.

Read More

Scripted

As business advances into the digital age, it’s becoming more and more important to create online content, whether it’s for promotion or as part of a product or service. In fact, if you’re reading this, it’s probably because my content marketing worked to bring you here … muahaha <– insert evil laugh!

Scripted is a custom content creation service that allows businesses to release blog posts, social media posts, website pages, press releases, and more — even if they don’t have time to write the content themselves.

About Scripted

Sscripted reviewcripted was started in 2008 as Scripped.com, which provided a space for screenwriters to work on screenplays together and attract the attention of producers. By 2011, it had grown to 80,000 writers, and the business changed to its current name and service of Scripted.com, offering non-entertainment content to businesses across the nation. In 2013, Scripted received $4.5 million from Redpoint Ventures, and expanded its team to 13 people in addition to their massive network of writers.

Scripted’s mission is “to better the quality of written content on the Internet by helping businesses create it at scale.” Its executive team consists of Sunil Rajaraman (who I met briefly at Affiliate Summit a few years ago), Ryan Buckley, and Jake Kring.

The company is based in San Francisco, CA, but its writers come from across the nation who all work in their own areas of specialization.

Services

Scripted offers customized content on demand; the process begins when a business or individual orders content through Scripted’s order form, and sets guidelines for the length and details of the project. Scripted writers then claim the work and complete the assignment; afterwards, the whoever ordered the content originally can review and revise it as needed before publishing.

The services offered by Scripted include:

  • blog posts (both standard and long)
  • white papers or reports
  • social media content (such as tweets and Facebook posts)
  • website pages and product descriptions
  • press releases
  • video scripts

Businesses that require a high volume of content can work out an arrangement with a content manager, who builds customer support and ensures timely publishing.

The service is aimed at businesses rather than individuals (as you’ll see by their higher price points). If you’re looking for cheap content by some overseas writer to hopefully get picked up by the search engines, Scripted is not going to be the right choice for you.

Scripted Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

A “standard” blog post starts at $58, with “specialist” or longer form posts commanding a rate of $85 or more. Here’s a glimpse at the rates for the various types of content Scripted creates:

scripted content pricing

The interesting thing is you can’t just go on Scripted.com and order an article. You need to become a member first (your first month is free, and you can use code “vaa” for 50% off your next month).

The Scripted membership gives you access to their pre-screened database of writers, of whom they only accept the top 1-2% of applicants. They have 3 different membership tiers, cutely named after famous authors.

The Dickinson plan is only $49, but you have to pay a 25% “transaction fee” on top of all writing you order.

scripted membership pricing

The Hemingway and Austen plans, $149 and $299 per month respectively, eliminate that transaction fee, let multiple members of your team login and order articles, and give you access to a blog analytics dashboard.

At first glance I thought the analytics dashboard was a little goofy to include as a feature, since it requires you to sync your Google Analytics account. But it actually has some interesting data overlays where you can more easily see which of your content initiatives are performing well and get some traffic metrics on new posts vs. “evergreen” content.

Scripted is ideal for businesses that require or desire online content, but do not have the time, resources, or expertise to maintain a regular publishing schedule or develop quality content. Scripted writers are all pre-screened by the company to ensure a high quality end product, and can specialize in any areas required by the business ordering the content, from art and design to law to tech hardware.

At these rates, Scripted is positioned as a premium entry in the market, especially compared with the “$5 article” type of outsourced writing services.

Scripted Alternatives

The most compelling alternative to Scripted I’ve come across so far is Copywriter Today. They run a similar membership model, but instead of ZERO actual content being included in your membership fee, Copywriter Today offers “unlimited” content writing. (It’s actually limited by 1 article request at a time and the turnaround time.)

They use a team of all US-based writers, though may not have as strict a vetting process as Scripted. But it struck me as a little weird that I could pay Scripted up to $300 a month and not get any writing done; everything you order is on top of that membership fee. They likened it to a gym membership–your membership gets you in the door, and then it’s on you to actually lift the weights and see results.

For similar high-end content creation, check out Ellipsis Ink. On the cheaper side, you have “content mills” like HireWriters and Textbroker, where your price per article will be much lower and the quality often reflects it.

Your Turn

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

Read More

eaHELP

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

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

Services

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

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

eaHELP Review


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

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

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

Plans and Pricing

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

As of July 2016, 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 eaHELP, is focused on delivering superior service to his customers. The strategy seems to be paying off, with business growing rapidly and a host of marquee clients. In fact, the company has earned glowing endorsements from author Michael Hyatt and other Fortune 500 companies.

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

eaHELP Founder Interview


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

eaHELP 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.

Employee Burden Infographic

eahelp infographic

Your Turn

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

Read More

Global Max Line

Founded in 2012 by SJ Josenna, GlobalMaxline.co.uk is a virtual assistant company in India with sales offices in the United States and London. The service targets small business owners and busy professionals, with both task-based assistance and dedicated hourly plans.

Global Max Line claims to go above and beyond with a truly professional and elite level of business assistance. The service not only helps with small tasks but is designed to help you develop and grow your business and achieve long-term growth goals.

Services

global max line reviewGlobalMaxline.co.uk (formerly GlobalMaxLine.org) assists small and medium level CEOs to reduce their work load and focus on the bigger picture priorities. The company targets UK-based businesses.

Busy doctors and other medical professionals, real estate professionals, educators, and every busy person who needs assistance could benefit from their menu of services, which include:

  • Administration: Assisting clients with data entry, research tasks, and more.
  • Transcription: Delivering accurate Word document or text files from any audio and video file
  • 3rd Party Services: Making calls on your behalf
  • Marketing Support: Including CRM (customer relationship management), internet marketing, advertising
  • Customer Service: Online website chat, email and phone support
  • Online Shopping: Place orders and schedule deliveries
  • Healthcare Services, Virtual Assitant, Mortgage Services, Real Estate, Church Services and Web & App Development

How GlobalMaxline.co.uk Works

To make sure your task is completed as you need, GlobalMaxline.co.uk has developed a three step process to effectively complete your assignments.

  1. Develop Functional Plan: A Global Max Line senior staff member will help you develop a functional plan that is sustainable and actionable. This is actually really valuable for first-time virtual assistant employers.
  2. Regular Updates: Your virtual project manager will develop a series of milestones and delivery dates to ensure your projects finish on schedule.
  3. Quality Check: All services and ideas are checked for quality and for accuracy within your industry before being sent out.

Naturally, for task-based work, your requests go into a general queue and the first available qualified assistant takes care of it for you, up to the advertised 15-minute time limit.

With the dedicated service, you can use as many hours as you have available to you in your plan each month, and there is no limit on how long certain tasks can take.

Plans and Pricing

Global Max Line splits their offering into three main plans: Max Basic, Max Premium, and Max Platinum.

All plans are sold on a monthly subscription model.

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

At the entry level, the Max Basic plan is just £150 a month and includes up to 10 hours of support (£15/hour).

The popular Max Premium option is £399 for up to 30 hours of assistance (£13.30 an hour).

global max line pricing 2016

And finally, the Max Platinum option is £599 a month and includes up to 50 hours of support and priority turnaroun of your tasks (£11.98/hour).

GlobalMaxline Alternatives

GlobalMaxline aims to provide cost-effective, flexible, and easy-to-use virtual assistant service, but they certainly aren’t the only game in town. For dedicated hourly VA service in India, you have tons of choices. The most popular on VAA to date have been My Tasker and 24/7 Virtual Assistant.

Another interesting entry worth checking out for UK clients is AVirtual.co.uk, based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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

Read More

Vortex 360

Vortex 360 is an international virtual assistant company with offices in London, Dublin, Boston, Accra, Nairobi, and Abu Dhabi. The company was founded by Sean Murphy in 2015 and aims to provide a professional resource service to busy professionals who are ready to start outsourcing some of their workload.

About Vortex 360

vortex 360 reviewThe company’s main offices are in the UK and Ireland. Vortex 360 also have offices in Kenya, Ghana, UAE, and the US, allowing them to work with clients all over the world and utilize assistants in offices that enable them to work to the client’s local timezone.

Vortex 360 employs assistants native to the UK, Ireland and the US. You will be assigned a dedicated assistant that is best suited to your individual needs when you purchase one of their packages.

Their business directive is to provide support to busy professionals and business owners. Allowing you to free up more of your time to focus on other areas of your business. Although the company has only been in business around a year they have a presence all over the world and offer a wide range of services.

Services

Some of the more common tasks Vortex 360’s virtual assistants handle include:

  • Administration support
  • Customer support
  • Personal assistant duties
  • Social media services
  • Data Entry
  • Online research
  • Article writing
  • And more

Plans and Pricing

Vortex 360 has two sets of plans. The first are their pre-paid packages, ideal if you’re working to a budget and want to purchase a bundle of hours to use as and when you need assistance. They also have some retainer packages, ideal if you have ongoing work and want some added security. The outline of their packages are as follows:

Pre-payment packages

  • Zero Hour Package – 3 hours – £78 per month ($34 per/hr)
  • Starter Package – 10 hours – £250 per month ($32 per/hr)
  • Lucent Package – 20 hours – £480 per month ($31 per/hr)

Is it a little ironic the “Zero Hour Package” comes with 3 hours?

vortex 360 package pricing

All these packages secure you a dedicated assistant from the UK, you can send unlimited tasks until your hours have been used, and can expect the tasks to be completed promptly.

Retainer packages

  • Lustrous Package – 40 hours – £880 per month ($29 per/hr)
  • Trophy Package – 60 hours – £1260 per month ($27 per/hr)
  • Virtuoso Package – 240 hours – £4800 per month ($26 per/hr)

vortex 360 retainer pricing

Again, with these packages you have a dedicated UK assistant and can send over unlimited tasks. Unused hours roll over for two weeks.

Vortex 360 offers a free trial. No credit card details or contracts to sign, just fill out the form on their website and have your first task completed for free to the value of £25. Free trials are the best way to sample a virtual assistant company before committing to a plan and are generally a good indication of what you can expect from an ongoing relationship going forward.

Vortex 360 Alternatives

If you’re looking for UK or European-based virtual assistant services, check out Time Etc and Worldwide101, two of the highest rated companies on this site. Another company worth checking out is Taystone BPO.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Vortex 360? If so, please take a moment to share a review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

Read More

Virtual Assistant Israel

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

At the helm are Director Alyssa Magid, Community Manager Aviva Blumstein and Administrative Manager Naomi Schneider.

About VA Israel

virtual assistant israel reviewAlyssa explained their people are what set them apart from the competition. All Virtual Assistant Israel VAs are native English speakers (most hail from the US) with college degrees and a minimum of 3-5 years of work experience, but due to not necessarily speaking Hebrew and other employment restrictions, have a hard time working for local Israeli employers. So they work online for people like you instead!

When I spoke with Alyssa, she added that they have a pretty demanding screening and testing process. What that means in terms of raw numbers is reviewing over 7,000 resumes to find the fewer than 50 top VAs that make up the Virtual Assistant Israel team today.

Virtual Assistant Israel Intro Video

Services

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

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

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

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

Plans and Pricing

With Virtual Assistant Israel, there is a one-time $199 set-up fee that gives you access to interview as many candidates from their pool of available VAs as you like. Alyssa explained the fee primarily serves to weed out tire-kickers who maybe aren’t as serious about adding a team member. She also offered $100 off for VAA visitors:

VAA Exclusive: Mention VirtualAssistantAssistant.com during sign-up or on your intro call and get $100 off your Virtual Assistant Israel set-up fee.

Normally how it works is prospective clients have an intro call with the management team to assess their needs and delegation opportunity in their business, and are provided with 3 VAs to interview. After the interviews, you pick your favorite and begin the relationship with your new dedicated assistant.

If you don’t find an assistant you love within 14 days, your set-up fee is 100% refundable.

The company has a couple different price tiers that are dependent upon the skills and level of experience you require from your VA. The first tier is $26-30/hour and the higher level tier is $34-39/hour. There’s a 10-hour per month minimum engagement, but other than that no contracts or long-term commitments.

Once you engage, your virtual assistant uses Freshbooks to track their working time to the second and invoices you only for the time they spend. In that manner, you don’t have to worry about unused hours in a month or counting tasks.

Virtual Assistant Israel Alternatives

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

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

Read More

Task Network

Task Network is a Canadian based virtual assistant company with their head office in Toronto, Canada, and their fulfillment office in Metro Manila, Philippines. The company was founded in 2014 by founder and president Eric Opinion.

About Task Network

task network reviewThe company’s head office is in Toronto, Canada. The company’s directive is to provide businesses with highly-skilled, cost-effective, offshore assistants to apply their expertise to administrative support, customer support, technical support, and more.

They employ their virtual assistants in the Philippines, allowing them to offer competitive rates. This allows business owners to focus on other areas of their business while handing over tasks to skilled assistants at TaskNetwork.ca to carry out.

When you sign up with Task Network you will receive a consultation to best understand your requirements. You will then be assigned a virtual assistant with the necessary skills to carry out the work. The company puts their candidates through a screening and interview process to ensure their skills match up with your requirements, and you have a point of contact within their management team should you have any problems.

TaskNetwork Intro Video

Services

Task Network’s virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks. In summary this includes:

  • administrative work
  • technical support
  • IT support
  • customer service
  • ordering support
  • data entry
  • general ad-hoc tasks

You’re best off contacting them and giving as much detail as possible about what tasks you want to hand over and how long you expect the tasks to take. This will give you a good idea about how well equipped they are to handle your tasks, and how quickly they can turn the work around.

Plans and Pricing

The company currently has one package. This is for a full-time virtual assistant working 8 hours a day, 176 hours a month. For a quotation on price you need to contact Task Network directly as prices vary depending on the required skillset of the assistant.

Task Network Alternatives

While there are no shortage of virtual assistant companies in the Philippines, there aren’t a lot of well-known virtual assistant companies based in Canada. If you prefer to work with local companies and you’re in Canada then check out Task Network.

If you’re comfortable doing a little more of the legwork in hiring, you might consider OnlineJobs.ph, the largest virtual job board in the country, and if you don’t quite have enough work to keep a full-time VA busy, take a look at TaskBullet, which offers smaller buckets of hours that can be used over a 3 month period.

Your Turn

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

Read More

TaskVirtual

Task Virtual is an India-based virtual assistant company. The company is relatively new to the virtual assistant space, although the company is headed up by two partners with a considerable amount of experience in the industry.

The company offers a wide range of services, carried out by fully-vetted, skilled assistants, and being based in India they are able to offer competitive rates.

About TaskVirtual

taskvirtual reviewWhen I asked Task Virtual about their company directive they said, “we are committed, on time, dedicated, and shoulder all the responsibilities of our clients.” With speed and accuracy being two of the more important reasons to start outsourcing, it’s reassuring to hear this directly from a company.

Their target customers are business owners and entrepreneurs in need of additional support without employing their own staff. TaskVirtual’s staff are available to start work at short notice without any long-term contracts.

When you sign up with TaskVirtual.com you purchase a number of tasks or an amount of hours. When you send over details of the tasks you want completed they find an assistant with the best-matched skillset to carry out the work. This means you have access to a large pool of assistants to take advantage of different skills, as opposed to being tied to the same assistant as offered by some companies. You do however have the option of a dedicated assistant should you prefer to work with the same person.

All their virtual assistants are managed in-house by line-managers and they will also accommodate your working hours and timezone. On paper, Task Virtual tick all the right boxes and they appear to have plenty of flexibility. To find out exactly how they match up with your own requirements you will need to contact them with as much information as you can provide to gauge their response.

Services

Task Virtual’s virtual assistants provide support for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Admin support
  • Social media management
  • Content writing
  • Research
  • Data entry
  • Email and calendar management
  • IT support
  • And more

The company list their own areas of specialization as real estate management, eCommerce management, and social media management.

They offer custom quotes for large jobs if you have an ongoing project you want help with. As always, when communicating with virtual assistant companies you are going to have a better relationship the more detail you can provide. Be as detailed as possible and give plenty of feedback to your assistant.

Plans and Pricing

Task Virtual offer packages for two different types of services; Personal Assistance Services, and Business Assistance Services.

There are three different plans within their Personal Assistance Services. The packages are priced in task bundles, with tasks being classified as 10-15 minute jobs each;

  • 20 tasks – $39 per month ($1.95 per task)
  • 50 tasks – $50 per month ($1.58 per task)
  • 100 tasks – $139 per month ($1.39 per task)

taskvirtual personal plans

Their Business Assistance Services are priced in hours. Their packages are as follows:

  • 5 hours per month – $60 ($12 per/hr)
  • 10 hours per month – $110 ($11 per/hr)
  • 20 hours per month – $200 ($10 per/hr)
  • 40 hours per month – $360 ($9 per/hr)
  • 60 hours per month – $480 ($8 per/hr)
  • 100 hours per month – $700 ($7 per/hr)

taskvirtual pricing

There are also some larger bundles of hours available, including a full-time assistance plan for $899 ($5.62 an hour) and your assistant will work 5 days a week during whatever business hours you choose. That’s quite a competitive rate for full-time support.

TaskVirtual also has a Pay As You Go plan priced at $13 an hour with no commitment, no minimums, and no limits on how many hours you use.

New customers can take advantage of their 3-hour free trial to sample their services before signing up for a plan.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA10 for 10% off your first month of service! (Not valid on Personal Assistance plans.)

TaskVirtual Alternatives

On the personal / task-based side of things, your primary competitors are OkayRelax, which has plans ranging from $2.50 to $4 per task, but allows tasks up to 30 minutes (vs. 15 at TaskVirtual). OkayRelax also provides a dedicated assistant on their higher tier plans, which may or may not be appealing to you.

The other company I did a trial with a few years ago that might be worth checking out is Efficise, which runs a similar task-based model out of Pakistan.

On the business assistance side, I’d take a look at MyTasker or TaskBullet, and reach out to start a conversation and see which might be the best fit for your specific needs.

Your Turn

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

Read More

13 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Assistant Company

Probably the most common question I get is “which VA company should I choose?”

And I wish I had the million dollar answer! The truth is there is no “best” outsourcing company and all are good at different things.

What I would do is narrow down your options using the Virtual Assistant Assistant directory, and then see if you can set up an intro call.

The purpose of that call is to see if the company is a good fit for the role you have envisioned.

Here are a few questions I’d consider asking on that call.

1. How are assistants assigned?

Are they going to take inventory of your prospective tasks and find someone who’s a good fit skill-wise? Or assign you to the first-available, who may have just been “fired” by their client?

2. What happens if it’s not a good fit?

Is there a probationary or trial period? If after a couple weeks it’s not working out, what happens? Will they assign a new VA? Refund the time and part ways?

3. Can I set my preferred working hours or time zone availability?

It’s not always necessary to have your VA working in your same time zone, but it can be nice to have that option, especially at the beginning for training and questions.

pexels-photo-58457

4. Can I interview my prospective assistant first?

Some would say not having to go through the screening and interview process is an advantage of working with a VA company over a freelancer, but I still think it’s a good idea to try and get on a Skype call with your prospective VA first.

Do they communicate well? Can you see them being a valuable part of your team?

5. What happens when my assistant quits / is sick / is on vacation?

Basically, what back-up plans are in place? Is the sick/vacation time paid or unpaid?

6. Do you have experience in my industry?

Of course most companies will say they can handle any and every task you throw their way, but I’d dig a little deeper to see if they’ve done the specific work you have in mind before.

And if not, it’s not the end of the world, especially if you have a system in place to train them. But that leads to point #7…

7. Do you have any references I can call?

Sure, the reviews on VirtualAssistantAssistant.com are a great starting point, but it can be helpful to talk one-on-one with current or previous clients.

8. Do you accept credit cards?

This is a nice selling point for me, mainly because I’m usually working on some travel hacking credit card sign-up bonus with a required amount of minimum spending. VA time can be an easy way to rack up a lot of miles.

9. How are hours / tasks assigned and tracked?

What’s my communication going to look like? Do I have a new interface to learn?

If you’re billing hourly, how do I know my VA is really working during those hours.

10. What security measures do you have in place?

Now as you know, it only takes one bad apple to cause a security breach whether in the office next door or in a remote working situation.

What I’m really listening for here is some response that shows they’ve thought it through and recognize this as a concern for clients.

11. Why do short-term clients end their relationship with you?

This is an optional question, but it’s kind of like asking a job candidate why they left their last job. Was it a case of misaligned expectations? Were they not happy with the performance? Did they find another service provider?

12. What’s the best way to make the most out of your service?

You might get some interesting responses to this one.

One company just said to “use us”, where another provider explained how the assistant they were thinking of assigning me to also had an extensive background in social media graphics, something that would definitely come in handy down the road. But they don’t always offer this information up!

13. What do your long-term clients have in common?

This shows you’re thinking long-term and want to know how to position yourself for a lasting relationship. It also might give you a hint to the type of businesses that find a good fit with this company.

Your Turn

What do you think?

What other questions would you ask?

If you’re on the VA side, what questions should prospective clients ask?

Read More

AVirtual

AVirtual is a virtual assistant company based in Cape Town, South Africa. The company has been in business since 2014 and targets customers in the UK.

The company was founded by Richard Walton, a UK based entrepreneur with years of experience in customer service based businesses. Richard started AVirtual.co.uk in South Africa to offer the same standard of virtual assistant as found in the UK, but at a more affordable price.

About AVirtual

avirtual logoMost of the company’s virtual assistants are based in their offices in Cape Town, with some being located in offices nearby. They have a mix of full and part-time VAs, and the advantage of their virtual assistants being located in their offices allows them to have IT and management infrastructure in place.

The company supplies dedicated virtual assistants to UK businesses and individuals. Most of their assistants have lived or worked in London and have a good understanding of UK business practice. South Africa is only a 1-2 hour time zone difference between the UK depending on the time of year.

Their target customers range from SME’s, start-ups, to FTSE 100 clients. If you have tasks you want to outsource, no matter how large or small, AVirtual have assistants ready to pick up that task.

If you sign up with AVirtual you will be assigned a dedicated VA, and you will always have a backup assistant available should your assistant not be able to meet their commitments. You will also be matched with an assistant with the best matched skillset to your requirements.

AVirtual Founder Interview

Services

AVirtual’s virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks you send their way, including:

  • Personal assistance
  • Calendar management
  • Telephone support
  • Sales support
  • Content production
  • Bookkeeping
  • Human resources
  • Graphic design
  • And more

How it works is you’re assigned a dedicated PA, but they work on a “buddy system” so you have a backup in case of illness or holiday. The PAs also work in teams of 4 called “pods,” where you can tap into a variety of skillsets if you need additional or specialized help on a particular project.

Plans and Pricing

AVirtual has four payment plans; Starter, Business, Professional, and Enterprise.

Starter Plan – £135 per/month ($17.5 per/hr) – This plan includes a dedicated virtual assistant, 10 hours of assistant time, branded email, and email and phone support.

Business Plan – £245 per/month ($16 per/hr) – This plan includes all the services in the Starter Plan with a total of 20 hours of time.

Professional Plan – £465 per/month ($15 per/hr) – This plan includes all the services in the Business Plan with a total of 40 hours.

Enterprise Plan – £845 per/month ($13.5 per/hr) – This plan includes all the services in the Professional Plan with a total of 80 hours.

VirtualAssistantAssistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for £25 off your first month!

These rates allow you to take advantage of the lower cost of living in South Africa while still having a PA who speaks English as a first language and operates very close to your time zone.

As you can see from the hourly rates the best value is in the Enterprise plan. There is also a 5 hour free trial available, this is a great way to sample their services before committing to a plan and will help with your decision.

AVirtual.co.uk Alternatives

If you are looking for British virtual assistants then I recommend checking out Time ETC and Worldwide 101 for two of the highest rated companies. Both of these companies use UK staff so their prices are a little higher (think double) to reflect this.

Your Turn

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

Read More

FixRunner

Fixrunner is a company offering WordPress support, maintenance plans, and e-learning materials to help you learn more about managing and protecting your WordPress site.

The company is based in Israel, the Philippines, and the US. Their head office is in their Israel location, and their agents work remotely across the globe.

About FixRunner

fixrunner reviewFixRunner.com was founded in 2013 by Sam Milo and Netanel Malka. They are strategically positioned in three locations; Israel, Philippines, and the US. Their agents work remotely all over the world from their homes and shared office spaces.

Their target customers are anyone from solopreneurs to large business owners. If you own or manage a WordPress website, FixRunner offers a range of affordable support options that can help you manage your site.

Fix Runner Intro Video

Services

There are endless possible problems a WordPress site owner can run into. Fix Runner offers complete support for your site, from minor CSS changes, bug fixes, on-going support, just about anything you can possibly need.

Website downtime is almost certainly going to be damaging for your business. Having a support team available 24/7 can prove invaluable. FixRunner offer several different packages, making it easy for you to have that peace of mind that your site is secure and running smoothly.

As well as offering support and bug fixes, FixRunner also offer training and advice through their WP College. You get access to a large number of videos, articles, and other training tools in their WP College when you sign up for one of their monthly plans.

Plans and Pricing

FixRunner.com has four packages; WP College, Basic, Premium, and Advanced.

fixrunner pricing

These packages are as follows:

WP College – Free – This package gives you access to DIY training, WordPress beginners’ videos, newsletter, update alerts, and premium fix guides.

Basic – $39 per month/$29 per month if billed annually – This package includes all the WP College materials, 1 hour of support, 24/7 security, site backups, WordPress theme and plugin updates, and daily Up Time monitoring.

Premium – $59 per month/$49 per month if billed annually – This package includes all the services included in the Basic package, along with an extra hour of support time, hosting services, phone/chat support, and speed optimization.

Advanced – $149 per month/$129 per month if billed annually – This package includes all the services included in the Premium package, along with 2 additional hours of support, on-page SEO, 2 hours of custom design work, 2 hours of custom programming work, online shop support, and mobile theme support.

Like WP Curve, they have a 3-month minimum on all their plans.

FixRunner.com also offers One-Time and single job fix support. You can request a free quote for any work via a form on their website.

FixRunner Alternatives

In addition to WP Curve mentioned above, you might consider Zen WP (I’m in the middle of a trial with them), which currently doesn’t have the 3-month minimum requirement. For one-off fixes and not a subscription model, check WP Fix It.

And if you have a need for more in-depth IT support for an upcoming project, check out TopTal.

When I asked FixRunner what sets them apart from their competitors they said, “Fixrunner has a WP College that helps and trains people who are new to WordPress. It provides video guides and tutorials for installation support.” Certainly something worth considering if you like to learn and empower yourself with skills to make site fixes yourself.

Your Turn

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

Read More

Ask Virtual Services

Ask Virtual Services is an international virtual assistant company with clients primarily in the US, UK, and Canada, as well as servicing clients in other countries across the globe.

Their virtual assistants work remotely from locations such as the Philippines to allow the company to offer competitive hourly rates.

About Ask Virtual Services

ask virtual services reviewAsk Virtual Services head office is in Palo Alto, CA. They employ virtual assistants in locations around the globe that allow them to offer competitive rates. They do however have US-based customer support staff should you have a problem, and you will be assigned a member of their customer service team to communicate with if you buy one of their plans.

Their target customers are primarily entrepreneurs and business owners. It often makes sense to hire a virtual assistant to take on some of your workload regardless how large your business is however. The rates you pay through companies like Ask Virtual Services are often lower than local rates, and there are no other employee or contractor costs.

The company have a number of virtual assistants and will match you with the best suited candidate. You can start outsourcing tasks the day after you sign up for one of their plans.


Sponsored Link:


Services

You can either pay per hour for individual tasks, or buy a set amount of hours to use over a three month period. There are no contracts or fees to pay up front, you just pay for the amount of hours you want and can top up at any time.

Ask Virtual Services provide an array of services covering web development, PPC and email marketing, social media management, SEO tasks, and more. As with all virtual assistant companies you get the most from the services by contacting them and discussing your requirements in detail.

Plans and Pricing

In terms of pricing, Ask Virtual Services offer some flexible plans and pricing depending on your requirements.

For individual tasks:

  • Data entry tasks cost $7.98 / hour
  • Virtual assistants cost $9.98 / hour
  • Web development costs $12.98 / hour

Their packages are priced as follows:

  • Starter Bucket – 20 hours @$10/hr
  • Light Bucket – 40 hours @$8.98/hr
  • Part-time Bucket – 80 hours @$7.98/hr
  • Full-time Bucket – 160 hours @$7.98/hr

ask virtual services pricing

All of their packages come with a free consultation and setup when you make your first purchase. They also have an on-demand plan with no monthly recurring fee, and any tasks you request done are billed out at $12.75 an hour.

Discounts are available for agreeing to a longer term contract of 6 or 12 months.

The hours can be used over a 3 month period, your virtual assistant will work your local business hours, and you have access to a US-based member of their support team.

Ask Virtual Services Alternatives

Although Ask Virtual Services are a US-based virtual assistant company, their prices reflect the fact that they use overseas virtual assistants. Their prices and even the names of their packages are very similar to those at TaskBullet if you want to compare their services. It’s always a good idea to get quotes from more than one company,

I’d recommend checking out OnlineJobs.ph (great resource for full-time Filipino VAs) and Uassist.ME (well-rated company in Central America) as well.

Your Turn

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

Read More

WP Fix It

WP Fix It is a WordPress support company based in Irvine, California. The company have been fixing WordPress issues since 2011 and have fixed over 30,000 issues for their customers.

About WP Fix It

wp fix it reviewThe company’s head office is located in Irvine, California, and is headed up by founder Jarett Gucci. They currently have 8 agents, all working remotely and staggering their shifts to cover various time zones.

WP Fix It offers WordPress site owners and developers instant support and are available to tackle any WordPress-related tasks you may have.

Their target customers are anyone who has a WordPress website or are involved in developing WordPress related plugins, add-ons, and other apps. The company offers online support, so anyone can seek immediate resolution to these issues and keep their site running smoothly.

Services

WP Fix It offer instant support, infection malware virus removal, infection insurance, site speed-up services, and offer a complete website management and support service. If you are looking to hand over the management of your site so you can rest easy knowing it’s in safe hands, WP Fix It are waiting for your call.

Website downtime can be costly to any business. Not just financially, but it can be damaging to your brand and reputation if customers are experiencing problems accessing your site. 

Plus, I know I’ve personally felt the frustration of trying to make WordPress bend to my will and having little to show for it after hours of effort. These guys aim to fix those frustrating moments, and for just $39 a pop. You gotta ask, how much is your sanity worth?

WP Fix It Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

There is a flat fee of $39 to fix any one-off issue. If the issue is not resolved for any reason, you get your money back.

wp fix it pricing

They also do site speed-up services for $97, and virus and malware removal for $87.

One potential downside is the lack of an “unlimited” plan if you have lots of things you’d like to tweak on your site. Of course on the flipside, you don’t have any recurring expenses once your issue is resolved.

WP Fix It Alternatives

Due to the popularity of the WordPress platform, a number of maintenance and support companies have popped up. WP Curve, which offers unlimited “small jobs” for $79 a month, is the most well-known company in this space.

WP Fix It is a little less expensive than these two for single task fixes, and with their money back guarantee there is a peace of mind that WP Fix It will either fix your issue or refund your money. 

With the option to use these companies for one-off fixes without being tied into contracts or monthly plans it’s a good opportunity to try more than one company. If you find yourself paying for fixes on a regular basis you should look into the monthly plans they companies offer to see which best suits your business needs.

Your Turn

Have you worked with WP Fix It? If so, please leave a review below to help others with their own decision.

Read More

Tasksbay

Tasksbay is an India-based virtual assistant company headed up by four partners. They have been in business since 2013 and their head office is located in Bangalore, India.

They offer a wide range of services such as scheduling meetings, handling customer service, data mining, web development, and more.

About Tasksbay

tasksbay reviewTheir target customers are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies looking for additional support without taking on employees of their own.

Tasksbay’s virtual assistants specialize in branding, web development, admin services, digital marketing, data mining. They also handle all the general virtual assistant appropriate tasks, I advise contacting them for more information.

When I asked Tasksbay to tell me more about themselves they said, “we are one of the growing virtual assistant companies. Get your work done from any part of the world with just an email or a phone call.”

Tasksbay Intro Video

Services

To get started with Tasksbay, contact them via their website and open a dialogue. Based on the information you give Tasksbay about the tasks you want to outsource, you will be matched with a virtual assistant that best fits the role from their database of staff.

The company specializes in four different service areas:

  • Data mining, including data entry.
  • Admin services, including calendar, travel, and email management.
  • Web and branding, including web development and graphic animation.
  • Digital marketing, including SEO, social media marketing, and PPC management.

Tasksbay always guarantees a backup assistant with all their plans, so you can rest assured there will not be any interruptions in service should your assistant not show up for work.

As with all virtual assistant providers, to get the most out of the relationship you need to provide as much detail as possible when handing over tasks. This also includes keeping the communication flowing as you work with your assistant.

Plans and Pricing

Tasksbay bases their pricing over the main areas of their services as follows:

  • Data mining – Rates start at $5/hr
  • Admin services – Rates start at $6/hr
  • Web development – Rates start at $12/hr

For a detailed quote for ongoing virtual support, they’ve asked VAA readers to contact them to discuss the options.

Tasksbay Alternatives

Looking at other highly rated India-based virtual assistant companies you should check out My Tasker. In their case, you can access a team of talent to get assistance in a variety of functional areas. 

When I asked Tasksbay what separates them apart from other companies in this crowded marketplace, their Business Manager Rajesh said, “Tasksbay is formed by the employees who have worked with our competitors for many years as their best performers. This makes our team strong.”

Your Turn

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

Read More

20four7va

20four7va is an international virtual assistant company based in Maryland, US. Their virtual assistants are based all over the world and work remotely.

The company was originally founded in 2013 by the husband of the current owner, Catherine Vanvonno. As well as offering general virtual assistant services, 20four7va specializes in providing support to ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay.

Note: Although many outsourcing companies have similar names, 20four7va is a distinct entity from 247VirtualAssistant and Virtual Helper 24/7

About 20Four7VA

20four7va reviewThe company hires home-based virtual assistants all over the world, which means they are able to work with clients all over the globe and work with them in their own timezone.

To register and hire a virtual assistant there is a simple four-step process to follow on their website:

  1. Contact 20four7va and provide as much detail as you can about your business and the tasks you want to outsource.
  2. Wait for 20four7va to find their most suitable VA based on your information.
  3. You will be invited for an introductory Skype or telephone call with the virtual assistant.
  4. If you’re happy with all the steps you can start working with your new virtual assistant the next day.

20Four7VA Intro Video

Services

20four7va have virtual assistants waiting to handle any business tasks. You can outsource content writing, website development, social media management, video creation, graphic design, SEO, and much more.

What separates 20four7VA from a lot of other virtual assistant companies is that they specialize in supporting businesses using eCommerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon. Running an eCommerce business is hard to do alone and hiring a VA to help with the day-to-day tasks can take a huge load off your shoulders at a cost-effective price, giving you the opportunity to scale up faster.

Plans and Pricing

20four7VA offers three different packages. These are listed as three different “tiers,” which offer different services and are priced as follows.

Tier One – Administrative Assistant

  • 10 hrs per week – $65/week ($6.50/hr)
  • 20 hrs per week – $104/week ($5.20/hr)
  • 40 hrs per week – $173/week ($4.33/hr)

This is the tier for you if you’re after basic administrative tasks like calendar management, travel coordination, transcription, and data entry.

Tier Two – eCommerce Support

  • 10 hrs per week – $77/week ($7.70/hr)
  • 20 hrs per week – $126/week ($6.30/hr)
  • 40 hrs per week – $210/week ($5.25/hr)

These VAs are helpful in the tasks that come hand-in-hand with running an ecommerce business, such as database management, social media, blogging, Internet research, email marketing, product research, and customer service.

Tier Three – Specialist Support

  • 10 hrs per week – $88/week ($8.80/hr)
  • 20 hrs per week – $144/week ($7.20/hr)
  • 40 hrs per week – $240/week ($6.00/hr)

The 20Four7VA “Specialists” are college educated and highly proficient in their field of study. They’ll help match you up with talented VAs specializing in graphic design, Internet marketing, website development, and business writing.

Their homepage proclaims “The Finest VAs From 6 Continents,” but I’m pretty sure you won’t find many North American or European assistants at those rates.

After a 2-week provisional period, the company charges a set-up fee of $99.

To find out which package is best for your business you are best off contacting 20four7va and discussing your exact requirements

20four7va Alternatives

For ecommerce support, you might also consider a company with a similar model called FreeeUp. On the general VA side of things, your best bet at a similar price point is going to be a service like TaskBullet or MyTasker.

I recommend getting a quote from two or three companies to compare their responsiveness and enthusiasm for your business, and to get a sense of how well you think they will handle your tasks. 

Your Turn

Have you worked with 20four7va? If so, please leave a review of your experience below to help others with their decision, thanks.

Read More

How I’m Using Virtual Assistants to Help Write My New Book

book writing delegationThis month I stumbled into a new book project — and already have a good chunk of it written.

Even though I’ve been through this process a handful of times, it’s still a daunting and intimidating task to be sitting on a blank Page 1 with a blinking cursor and think of everything that has to get done to make the book a success.

The good news is there are plenty of opportunities to delegate some of the tasks along the way.

Research and Writing

First up for me is the research phase. I’ve been leaning on my dedicated assistant from OkayRelax to help parse through mountains of information and pull out the most relevant examples.

($75 per month and available for other tasks as well.)

As that comes together and I complete my outline, it’s on me to write the first draft.

(I actually tried to outsource the writing portion of a book project a few years ago. The draft produced by the “native English speaker” I hired on Elance was a disaster. Lesson learned!)

One tactic I’ve seen other authors use to speed up the writing process is actually speaking their book with speech-to-text software like Dragon Dictation, or just recording it on their phone or laptop and handing the file off to a transcription service like Rev. After all, you can probably talk much faster than you can type.

(Typical rate: $1 per audio minute.)

Editing

Next, it’s usually a worthwhile investment to hire an editor to proofread and critique your rough draft. In the past I’ve used Elance (now Upwork) to find editors, but for this project I have a couple people in mind through personal networks.

(Typical rate: $100 per 10,000 words.)

Formatting

Formatting for paperback, Kindle, and other devices can be a big headache, but thankfully there are specialists on sites like Fiverr who do this all day long.

(Typical rate: $5-100 depending on length/complexity.)

Book Cover

And while I’ve used Fiverr for book covers in the past, I think this time around I’ll give DesignCrowd a shot. Their crowdsourced marketplace lets you tap into the creative energy of several designers competing for your business, instead of just one.

(Typical rate: $99-$269)

Audiobook Narration

To create an audiobook, you can actually get this done for free at ACX.com, the Audiobook Creation Exchange owned by Amazon.

Narrators produce your book for free in exchange for a share of future audiobook royalties. I’m actually testing out this service this month for the Virtual Assistant Assistant book.

(You can also pay someone upfront to produce it and keep all the royalties yourself.)

(Typical rate: free to $800 depending on length.)

Marketing

One area of this project I probably won’t outsource is the marketing. To be sure, there are tons of specialty PR services that try to get you and your book in front of a wide audience.

But as someone who’s often on the receiving end of those pitches, I can tell you they usually come off as impersonal and irrelevant.

I once had a PR company pitch me a book about the power of personal connections on behalf of the author. If he truly practiced what he preached, he wouldn’t have hired them to do the “connecting” for him!

Still, I probably will have my VA find some marketing channels to share the book on, because there is a lot that goes into orchestrating a successful launch.

I’ve seen other authors create professionally-produced book trailer videos, media kits, slide decks, back-end courses, and more. That stuff might not happen this time, but there are always options.

And whether you’re writing a book or not, the main facets of any project are the same.

I have to break down the big picture goal into all the steps that have to get done first. And many of those steps have delegation opportunities.

If I have any big wins or spectacular outsourcing mis-steps along the way, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Your Turn

What do you think?

Any glaring VA opportunities I’m missing as I get started with this project?

Read More