The State of Personal Outsourcing White Paper

VirtualAssistantAssistant.com has compiled some information on personal outsourcing in 2012 and created a free white paper.

The paper covers:

  • Hot trends and topics in the virtual assistant industry.
  • Six months of proprietary never-before-released survey data on what customers are looking for in a virtual assistant.
  • Venture capitalist activity in the marketplace.
  • Geographic analytics data on potential virtual assistant clients.

View your free copy of the report HERE. (no opt-in required)

The State of Personal Outsourcing

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Outsourcing Things Done

Outsourcing Things Done is a virtual assistant company in the Philippines. Founded in 2009, the company has positioned themselves as a premium entry in the market.

Outsourcing Things Done VAs are available in a few different areas of expertise including general administrative skills, customer service, and real estate. In fact, the parent company of Outsourcing Things Done specializes in creating websites for real estate agents so it makes sense they would have virtual assistants familiar with business.

outsourcing things done reviewAnother VA company that focuses on real estate is a niche is My OutDesk.

One thing that sets OTD apart from the competition is that their VAs work from a professional office environment rather than from their homes. The downside, as you might expect, is this increases the cost substantially. (But it looks like a very nice office based on the video below!)

Services

Outsourcing Things Done offers three levels of VA service, imaginatively called Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. There’s not much information I could find on what exactly these three levels mean, but they get more expensive the higher you go so I’ll assume it pertains to the VA’s experience and expertise.

Outsourcing Things Done Intro Video

Plans and Pricing

The rates start at $1200 a month and go up from there, which is definitely on the high side for virtual assistant companies in the Philippines. Every plan is a for a full-time virtual employee; there doesn’t appear to be any on-demand or part-time options available.

This is also known as a “staff leasing” business model. Based on your job description, the company will actively recruit a team member that fits your needs. They rely heavily on videos, both from you and the candidates, to ensure a good professional fit.

Beyond the monthly fee, OTD charges a $995 set up fee. There are a few companies charging these kinds of fees but not many.

If your VA requires special software — even Microsoft Office — there’s an additional charge for that. Do you need them to print and scan documents? There’s an extra charge for that. Do you need them to work during US business hours? There’s an extra charge for that.

I understand every business has certain costs and needs to make a profit but reading through their pricing menu just seems like a nickle-and-dime upcharge frenzy.

To help you monitor productivity, Outsourcing Things Done has installed special seat and screen cams. This will help you verify your virtual assistant is present and working when they say they are.

Outsourcing Things Done Alternatives

Take a look at VA Staffer or Prialto as potential considerations in addition to OTD.

Your Turn

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

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Hire in the Philippines

UPDATE April 18th, 2013: HireinthePhilippines.com is shut down indefinitely.

Hire in the Philippines is a young outsourcing company founded by entrepreneur Bobby Hicks.

The startup story is a somewhat common one. Hicks, a graphic design and video production professional, grew frustrated with the existing virtual assistant options. In his experience, VAs were flaky, irresponsible, and unproductive.

hire in the philippines reviewBut rather than give up on outsourcing altogether, Hicks thought there’s got to be a better way. So he packed up and moved from California to the Philippines in 2012 to start his own virtual assistant company, HireInThePhilippines.com.

Hire in the Philippines VAs speak English well and are experienced in common business process outsourcing tasks such as article writing, website management, SEO, customer service, and even programming and app development.

The main differentiator between Hire in the Philippines and some of the other VA companies is that their VAs are required to come in and work from the company office. Many other companies employ home-based workers, a practice Hicks believes kills productivity.

Hire in the Philippines Intro Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udGrNCjuMf8

When I spoke with via Skype, he explained how he was in the office every day personally overseeing the virtual assistants — something he wished someone had been doing for him when he was outsourcing. It was also interesting to hear about all the business challenges a foreigner must go through to set up shop in the Philippines.

My takeaway was if Hicks was willing to move halfway around the world to make sure his vision became reality, he’s already shown the “whatever it takes” attitude necessary to build a successful operation.

With HireInThePhilippines.com, you can hire full-time 40 hours a week or half-time 20 hours a week, but you’ll need to have a  discussion with the company first to determine your specific needs. This is so they can recruit the best talent and best fit for your job. Their specialty is in placing long-term virtual employees.

Because of this, the company doesn’t quote prices on their website as the rates can vary depending on skills and experience. Generally speaking (just to give a ballpark idea), a general VA might be in the $700-900 per month range, and more technically skilled VAs might be in the $1000-1200 per month range.

The rates will likely be higher than with a freelancer or with a VA found through a recruiting service like Virtual Staff Finder or Remote Staff Recruit, but the theory is it’s worth it to pay a bit of a premium for the extra productivity that comes from having on-site management and office infrastructure.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA9000 for 10% off your first month!

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

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Time Dog

UPDATE 12/11/2012: Time Dog has merged with iBlog Media Group, and has stopped taking new virtual assistant clients and requests.

Time Dog is a task-based virtual assistant company based in Tampa, Florida. time dog reviewThe business began in 2011 and has grown to a small team of virtual assistants, all working from the company’s Florida headquarters.

Founder Matt Cherry created Time Dog to help busy people (primarily busy women and moms) better manage their hectic schedules. He’s enlisted a team of service-oriented “superheroes” to make lives easier for clients around the country.

time dog reviewTime Dog offers remote personal assistance for quick tasks, and specifically targets busy individuals. The service is appropriate for personal use but is currently not open to business-related tasks.

Like other US-based VA companies such as Fancy Hands and Red Butler, Time Dog specializes in one-off online research type jobs and concierge tasks. Unlike those however, they offer an “unlimited” plan with no specific time limits on tasks.

One thing that really surprised me was the pricing. Time Dog is really inexpensive relative to their competition. At this time, the service is just $35 a month for unlimited requests, serviced by office-based US VAs. The service comes with a very generous 30-day free trial.

And they offer a free account that comes with a 15 day free trial with no credit card required.

I say “at this time,” because I’m not sure how long they can survive at that low rate! There’s nothing comparable in the US, and even overseas you have to go to almost double that price before you find a similar “unlimited” virtual assistant plan (TimeSvr, Pakistan).

Time Dog Intro Video

I took advantage of their free trial and submitted a handful of tasks. In general, the response times were quick and the results were good. Here are a few of the tasks I sent in:

  • Find a replacement motor for my treadmill.
  • Send me some butternut squash recipes.
  • Are dogs allowed on this hiking trail?

Obviously none of these were super-urgent, but Time Dog operates on standard East Coast business hours so if you need support at odd hours that could be a consideration.

You can submit tasks via text, email through the online interface, live chat, phone, or through their free iPhone app. The only drawback I experienced was not being able to send a request directly from my email, as I can with Fancy Hands.

If you’re looking for a creative gift idea, Time Dog offers personalizable gift memberships.

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

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Team Double-Click

Team Double-Click is a remote staffing agency, specializing in American “cloud-based” virtual assistants. The Colorado-based company was founded by Jim and Gayle Buske way back in 2000. (I believe “cloud-based” is the new preferred way to say the VAs work from their homes, rather than from a centralized office.)

team doubleclick reviewYour virtual administrative assistant is an off-site resource for your business. He or she can help with a broad range of computer-related tasks such as proofreading, bookkeeping, article writing, and data entry. Team Double-Click VAs also can make travel arrangements, assist with real estate transactions, prepare newsletters, and help with your customer service.

Team Double-Click offers two levels of service: Hourly Hire and Direct Placement.

With Hourly Hire, you contract with Team Double-Click on an on-demand hourly basis. They help monitor and manage your virtual assistant for you. In theory it makes sense to leverage their expertise in this way, but my guess is you’ll end up paying a higher rate and possibly have an extra layer of complexity in your relationship with your VA.

With Direct Placement, the company matches you up with one of their virtual assistants for free. Maybe the VAs are the ones paying for this matchmaking service?

Either way, this arrangement works similar to Virtual Staff Finder and some of the other recruiting services, except for US virtual assistants. From a network of nearly 100,000 VAs, they pre-screen the candidates and present a short list for you to interview. Then you select the winner and begin working with them and paying them directly as an independent contractor.

If you want to learn more about Team Double-Click, be sure to mention referral code VAA247 to take advantage of any special offers that might be available.

The only mention of pricing I could find gives only a range of $15 to $75 an hour. Quite a spread!

I’m generally not a fan of having to download, print, sign, fax/scan any pdf document, but that appears to be the only way to sign up for the service. They also want to collect your credit card information from the very onset.

In the Hourly Hire agreement pdf, a rate table is included. An entry level VA is quoted at $29.81 an hour, which definitely puts them on the higher end of the spectrum globally, but on par with other US-based virtual assistant companies.

As an alternative, you might try your hand at finding a freelance VA to meet your needs.

Have you worked with Team Double-Click? If so, please share your experience below and help others make with their research.

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Virtual Assistant Freedom

Virtual Assistant Freedom is a virtual assistant company with presence in the Philippines and in India. According to the copyright date, the company was founded in 2010. However, the domain was registered in 2011. Virtual Assistant Freedom maintains a US sales office in Florida.

virtual assistant freedom reviewI really got a kick out of the Virtual Assistant Freedom website. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Notice how most of their images feature, well, “well-endowed” women? Can sex sell in outsourcing? Well I guess you can’t fault them for trying.

Some other funny parts of their website included this random color bar on the side, which appears to have zero functionality as far as I can tell. At the bottom of some pages you will find no fewer than six Facebook share icons, most of which don’t link to Facebook.

Virtual Assistant Freedom offers the standard virtual assistant services, ranging from data entry and transcription, up to copywriting and SEO.  Technical jobs like programming are not offered. The prices range from $5.75 per hour to $9.75 per hour depending on what level of skill you require.

You can buy blocks of time in 10 hour weekly increments, but there are price breaks for hiring a full-time employee. The rates are kind of middle of the road for an overseas VA.

When I contacted the company for additional information using the contact form on their site, I did not get a response.

But I would steer clear of this company, and here’s why. They appear to be using fake testimonials.

Take Andrea, for example. You can find her review of “Virtual Assistant Services” here – she never once mentions “Virtual Assistant Freedom.” While Andrea is a paid actor, what’s even worse is you can find her offering up the exact same testimonial (YouTube video has since been deleted) for YourDailyTask, another virtual assistant company!

I’ve done a little homework and as far as I can tell, these two companies are not owned by the same people. Take a look at the other testimonials too, and decide for yourself if they sound real or fake.

Did you know you can get people to record fake video testimonials for you on Fiverr with any script you provide?

Domain registration info:

Fiverr fake testimonial feedback by website owner:

With so many less-deceptive options out there, there’s no reason to take a gamble on these guys for your virtual employee needs. Take a look at all the alternatives in India or the Philippines and make an informed decision. Or contact me if you have any questions.

Have you worked with Virtual Assistant Freedom? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below.

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GlobeTask

UPDATE: GlobeTask is out of business.

GlobeTask is an Israeli outsourcing company, staffed primarily by American expatriates. The company was founded in 2007 by Joshua Last.

GlobeTask offers a range of services, including virtual assistant staffing, web design, social media management, and website maintenance. Their specialty seems to be outsourced customer service, which they can provide via phone, email, and live chat. GlobeTask agents can even take care of your copywriting and make outbound sales calls for you if needed.

globetask reviewThe way it works is you buy blocks of time each month, and can allocate out that time based on what you need done. The lower-skill jobs start at $8-10/hour, and the higher-skill jobs go from $18-20/hour. GlobeTask has 3 monthly packages, ranging from $99 to $499.

These rates place them somewhere in between the virtual assistant companies in India and the Philippines, and the freelancers and companies in the US and Europe.

Tasks and projects are billed in 10 minute increments, and when you run out of time for the month, you can simply add more at the same hourly rates. It’s not like going over your cell phone minutes and getting ridiculous overage charges.

Note: When I contacted GlobeTask for more information via email, I got no response. I’m not sure if they’re still in business.

Like most other virtual assistant companies, there is no long-term commitment or contract with GlobeTask. When you sign-up, you’re assigned a dedicated point of contact. If they can complete your assignments, they’ll do the work themselves. If not, they delegate it to someone with the necessary skills and manage the process.

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

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Virtual Assistant Gold

Virtual Assistant Gold is a virtual staffing company in the Philippines. The company was founded in 2010 and maintains its US-headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Like many virtual assistant companies in the Philippines, Virtual Assistant Gold promises educated and loyal workers, with strong English skills. And I’m fairly confident they can deliver on that promise … if they’re still in business.

virtual assistant gold reviewThe reason I say that is the site’s blog hasn’t been updated in over a year (at the time of this writing). Note to self: there’s the major risk of starting a blog – if you suddenly stop it looks like the crickets have moved in!

I also reached out to the founder, Ben, to get some more information on the company, and he was unresponsive by email.

But even if Virtual Assistant Gold is still in business and accepting new clients, there are some major red flags you should be aware of.

The first is the $675 set-up fee. Currently very few companies are charging any kind of initial set-up fee, and no other company that I’m aware of is charging that amount. I’ve seen some higher recruiting fees, but those are usually paired with a lower ongoing monthly salary.

Not so in the case of Virtual Assistant Gold. You have to pay the steep set-up fee AND the marked-up monthly salary of $950 per month for a full-time virtual employee.

An alternative would be to go through another Filipino staffing agency, such as Virtual Staff Finder or Remote Staff Recruit, pay a one-time recruiting fee of $300-400, and then pay a salary roughly half what Virtual Assistant Gold charges.

Now if that wasn’t reason enough to avoid these guys, here’s the clincher. When you sign up you have to sign a 12-month contract. If you want to terminate before the 12 months are up, you can do so with 45-day written notice, and a $950 early termination fee! I haven’t seen a contract that aggressively one-sided out of all the VA companies I’ve researched and written about.

In fact, most other companies have 30-day cancellation policies, no long-term contracts at all, and definitely no $950 fees.

So if it were me, I would stay away from Virtual Assistant Gold. With so many other Philippines virtual assistants to choose from, why sign on for such unfavorable terms?

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

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Virtual Assistant Talent

Virtual Assistant Talent is well-known virtual assistant company in the Philippines. The firm was founded in 2010 by John Davern, Jr., a human resources professional and real estate investor.

The company specializes in helping busy entrepreneurs maximize their time with affordable overseas virtual assistants.  Virtual Assistant Talent VAs can take care of a wide variety of tasks, including accounting, customer service, marketing, graphic design, and more.

virtual assistant talent reviewTwo basic services are offered: Virtual Assistant Staffing Service Subscription (say that 3 times fast!) and Virtual Assistant Recruitment Service.

With the Service Subscription set-up, Virtual Assistant Talent advertises your position based on your detailed job description, and narrows down the applicant pool to the top 2 or 3 candidates. From there, you interview them just like you would an in-house employee, and choose which one you want to work with.

The rates for this service are very competitive — even for the VA companies in the Philippines — starting at just $4.20 an hour.  They have a range of different packages available based on how many hours you need, and you can get a full-time VA for just $672 a month. The prices go up depending on experience and technical skill required to complete your job.

These virtual employees will be based out of their home-office, but managed by a local HR supervisor. Virtual Assistant Talent handles all the payroll processing and other requirements. They charge a one-time $99 set-up fee to get you started with your Subscription VA.

The other offering is the Recruitment Service.  The benefit of the recruitment service is that the ongoing rates are lower, ranging from $2-4 an hour, which could add up to some long-term cost savings.

Under this set-up, they do the legwork of finding top-tier candidates for your position, and you can interview them to decide on the winner. After that, your relationship with Virtual Assistant Talent is over aside from the 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Your VA will work directly for you as a remote contractor and you’ll pay them directly.

The downside? The Recruitment Service costs $995 upfront. Ouch! This is a rate much higher than what Virtual Staff Finder and Remote Staff Recruit charge for the same service.

Have you worked with Virtual Assistant Talent? If so, please share your experience below and help others with their decision.

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RushMore VA

UPDATE: RushMore VA is no longer in operation.

RushMore VA is a virtual assistant company in Kolkata, India. They’ve been providing affordable overseas assistance since 2010.

Their modern facility allows them to perform a number of services, ranging from all your standard administrative tasks, to more high level B2B sales and telemarketing. Unlike some other VA companies, they appear to not offer some of the more technical jobs like programming and web development.

rushmore va reviewRushMore is a time-based service (as opposed to a task-based service), which has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you don’t have to worry as much about breaking up your tasks into 15- or 30-minute chunks, and you don’t have to worry about running up against your monthly task limit as long as you still have time left on the clock.

On the downside though, most plans only bill in 15 min. increments, which can result in less-than-optimal usage. To make up for it, RushMore allows up to 30% of your time to be rolled over to the next month if you had a particularly light workload during the period.

With RushMore, you get the best of both worlds in that they assign you a dedicated virtual assistant, but still make their services available 24 hours a day, completing tasks with a backup VA.

The Good

RushMore VA has a variety of service levels at competitive pricing. Rates start at $240 a month for a 1-hour a day VA, and go all the way up to $1040 for a full time virtual employee. What is unclear is whether the 1-hour a day plan would allow for 5 hours one day a week and nothing the rest of the time, or if the work would need to be spread out more evenly.

If you know you’re going to stick around for a while, and can afford the upfront cost, you can save money by pre-paying for a quarterly, half-yearly, or annual engagement.

There is a 5 hour free trial available on all plans.

The Bad

Not being familiar with the company, I submitted an inquiry requesting some more information. It took 16 days before I got a response! And the response wasn’t very useful. I wrote back within a half an hour, and I haven’t heard back since. Not a great start for a business that claims to be open 24/7/365.

There are some other hesitations I might have as well. They list social media marketing as one of their services, yet have no Facebook page of their own, and at the time of this writing, only 1 lifetime tweet to their name. The social links in their footer don’t even work.

Alternatives

If you’re shopping around different virtual assistant companies in India, it might be worthwhile to check out 24/7 Virtual Assistant or My Tasker.

Have you worked with RushMore VA? If so, please share a quick review your experience below and help others with their decision.

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