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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Virtual Assistant Staffing

Virtual Assistant Staffing is a unique virtual assistant company based out of Seattle. However, don’t expect to see an office of VAs down the street from Amazon – it’s a highly decentralized operation; a loose network of home-based freelancers from all corners of the world.

The company was founded in 2010 by Michael Hellickson, and specializes in a stringent recruiting process to make sure each client is assigned the perfect virtual assistant. And if you’re not happy with the choice, they even have a 100% money-back guarantee.

virtual assistant staffing reviewBut I’ll admit I was kind of turned off by their website so I submitted a quick query to see what would happen. In less than 12 hours I had a response from the founder to set up a call to learn more about the business.

Virtual Assistant Staffing is for people looking for ongoing business support, but aren’t sure where to turn. These guys take the time to get a deep understanding of your needs and expectations in a virtual assistant, including an in-depth job description and phone interview.

Then, they put the word out about your job to their massive global talent network. Michael explained the recruiters will go through over 100 resumes in certain cases, pre-screen them all and do multiple interviews and tests to narrow down the applicant pool.

The ultimate goal is to find the right person for the job, because long-term relationships are beneficial for all parties involved. And while long-term is definitely the aim, there is no long-term contract or minimum time commitment.

The total cost for this expert recruiting service? Zero. They’ve done everything they can to make the virtual hiring process as risk-free as possible.

Once they’ve found your VA, Virtual Assistant Staffing handles all the payroll and HR requirements and you just pay them biweekly as you would any other contract business service. The company uses the popular Time Doctor tracking software so you can keep tabs on your remote staff.

The company will fill positions ranging from 2.5 hours a week all the way up to full-time, and offers the first week free as an incentive to try out the service.

On an ongoing basis, you can expect to pay around $7 an hour for a low-end VA, all the way up to $40 for someone with advanced technical skills. And while it is entirely dependent on the skills you’re looking for, the average probably centers on the $10-11 per hour range. Generally the more hours you need, the lower the rate you can get.

Virtual Assistant Staffing has filled nearly every kind of position imaginable, from general VAs and telemarketers, to web developers and designers. In terms of business model, the closest competitor is Virtual Coworker, but where VAS is global, they operate only out of the Philippines.

The company has earned the endorsement of financial speaker and author Robert Allen, as well as a host of other clients. Have you worked with Virtual Assistant Staffing? If so, please share a quick review of your experience below and help others with their decision.

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Remote Staff Recruit

UPDATE: At last test in Summer 2013, Remote Staff Recruit was no longer accepting new recruiting gigs.

Remote Staff Recruit is a virtual assistant recruiting firm in the Philippines. Founders John Paul Grant and Matt Canty are a pair of Aussies who’ve lived in the Philippines for a several years and are very familiar with the local culture and working with VAs.

Based on your detailed job description, their team of expert recruiters will source you three qualified candidates for you to interview.

remote staff recruit reviewLike Virtual Staff Finder, another well-known VA recruiting company, Remote Staff Recruit charges a one-time fee for their services. However, their fee of $297 is approximately $100 less than Virtual Staff Finder’s fee, AND you don’t have to pay upfront. Instead, they’ll source the candidates for you for free, and then you only have to pay when you want to see the candidates’ contact information to arrange the interviews.

Another point of differentiation between the two companies is that Virtual Staff Finder focuses on finding VAs in only 4 main areas of expertise (general admin, writing, SEO, and web development), where Remote Staff Recruit can find VAs across a broad range of skills.

The team recommends Filipino virtual assistants over those from other countries because they’ve found them to be extremely trustworthy, loyal, hard-working, and well-educated. On top of that, the rates are extremely affordable, with full-time help starting around $300 a month (that actually seems a little low to me, but maybe I’m a softie).

Remote Staff Recruit Intro Video:

Remote Staff Recruit goes the extra mile in their proven recruiting process. All applicants are pre-tested and pre-interviewed so you only see the best of the best. The company also does background and reference checks to make sure the VAs are who they say they are.

Remote Staff Recruit also takes care of the salary negotiations ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about that. And if you don’t like any of the 3 candidates, they’ll find you another 3.

After you interview your candidates and select the winner, you can train them in your business processes and you pay them directly as an independent contractor of your business. This keeps the ongoing costs much lower than you would find through a traditional virtual assistant company, although there’s always a certain amount of trust involved with any home-based remote working relationship.

If you do prefer working through a company, John and Matt have you covered there as well with their Remote Workmate operation.

Have you tried Remote Staff Recruit? If so, please share your experience below and help others with their decision.

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Outsourcing Blueprints

Outsourcing Blueprints isn’t a virtual assistant company or even really an outsourcing company at all.  Outsourcing Blueprints operates on a membership model where you have to sign up to get full access to all their step-by-step written guides and video tutorials.

The Ottawa-based firm is an one-stop tutorial shop for all your online entrepreneurial needs.

About Outsourcing Blueprints

outsourcing blueprints reviewFounders Sylvie and Michel Fortin created the site as a resource for freelancers and business owners. As entrepreneurs themselves, they understood the needs of this market and were able to develop their training tools from their own experience.

A popular application (and the reason I’m including Outsourcing Blueprints on this site) is for small business owners to use the tutorials as training tools for their own virtual assistants.

It makes complete sense. You hired a VA to help you save time, but then you’ve got to spend all this extra time training them in the job that you need done. Outsourcing Blueprints says there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; they’ve created step-by-step guides to the most common tasks so you can just share those with your team and move on.

The topics range from article marketing and copywriting, all the way down to list building, keyword research, and webinars.  There are helpful guides on setting up a membership website and even on how to sell your business when you’re ready to cash out. Plus, new guides are being added all the time.

Plans and Pricing

Outsourcing Blueprints membership starts at just $27 per month (a limited time discounted rate), and comes with a 30-day risk free guarantee. If you’re not 100% satisfied you can cancel within 30 days for a full refund.

Your Turn

What do you think? Could Outsourcing Blueprints help streamline your business processes and your relationship with your VA?  If you’ve tried Outsourcing Blueprints, please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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Staff.com

Update June 2016: Staff.com no longer lets you hire remote staff. Instead, they’ve pivoted to provide time analytics software for the workday.

Staff.com is a remote staffing marketplace based in Las Vegas. Founded in early 2012, they’ve already attracted thousands of qualified employees. The basic premise of Staff.com is that companies should hire the best talent, whether or not that talent is local.

Companies use the Staff.com platform to find qualified workers all around the world, often at significant cost savings.

Services

staff.com reviewThere is a wide range of employees, and you’ll find all the typical outsourced work like web design and development, bookkeeping, virtual assistants, research jobs, online marketing, etc.

In a break from other freelance sites (oDesk, Elance, etc), Staff.com focuses solely on full-time, long-term work. It costs employers a dollar to interview a job candidate, and many employees offer a 10-hour test drive (usually at a discounted rate), so you can see how they work before hiring them on full-time.

To avoid clients better suited to contract work, Staff.com looks for employers ready to commit to at least a month of work at a minimum monthly salary in the ballpark of $500. It seems really low, but that’s a realistic wage in the Philippines where many Staff.com workers are based.

Staff.com Review

As an employer, you can post a job of your own and collect applications. Or you can search by job function, expertise, or keywords and browse through the candidates that way. Once accepted into the platform as an employer, you’re assigned a personal recruitment officer and a customer relationship specialist. These dedicated helpers screen potential candidates for you free of charge and present the ones with the best fit for you to interview.

Plans and Pricing

Salaries are public and paid monthly in advance. (Rates depend on the skill level of the employee you’re hiring.)

If your worker doesn’t clock a full 160 hours, you can either get a refund or roll the time over to the next month.

Staff.com uses Time Doctor software to monitor the work of your virtual employee. It gives you an analytical overview of the work that was done so you don’t spend your time poring over screenshots or micro-managing. That way you can see what they’re working on even if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Staff.com Alternatives

If you’ve ever tried hiring someone through oDesk or one of the other freelance sites, you’re familiar with the “noise” factor. The platforms are extremely crowded and it can be difficult to weed out the wannabes from the rock stars. Staff.com aims to do most of this filtering for you. They don’t accept everyone who applies into their marketplace, and that pickiness translates into more serious and higher caliber candidates on the whole.

They’ve been keeping up a high-quality blog that’s worth following if you’re interested in the world of outsourcing.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Staff.com? If so, please share your experience below.

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Lifenzyme

UPDATE: Lifenzyme is no longer in business.

Lifenzyme is a virtual assistant company based in Bangalore, India.  They got their start in 2008, and have been helping clients with remote tasks ever since.

The Lifenzyme.com website is a mess. I work with dozens of virtual assistant companies but this one is probably the hardest to navigate. Now I’m not saying that this site has the greatest design in the world, but I’m not the one selling web design and development services either.

lifenzyme reviewAll over you’ll find strange syntax and random capitalizations in the text. I hate to be the grammar police but this is your sales brochure to the world. I found the process-flow charts, service plans, and unfamiliar acronyms really confusing. The promo buttons on their site don’t make much sense. Four months of free service for existing customers? Why are you showing that to me?

Other red flags:

  • Live Help was offline, even though they claim to run a shift during US business hours.
  • At the time of this writing in 2012, the copyright date at the bottom of the homepage was 2009.
  • At the time of this writing, their twitter account has tweeted only once in 12 months.  Prior to that, nearly every tweet was 100% self-promotional.
  • They charge people $35 to join their affiliate program.  Hello? Affiliates promote your business for free, and only get paid you make a sale.  Why create extra barriers to entry?

I would hesitate to sign-up for Lifenzyme based just on those issues. It makes it seem like they don’t understand the needs of their potential clients.

However, their pricing is competitive among Indian virtual assistant companies. Rates begin at $15 an hour and fall to $7 an hour for a full-time plan. You can sign-up for a “full-time” 150-hour a month plan for just $1000. I say “full-time” because normally full time is considered 160 hours a month.  To add to the confusion, Lifenzyme also has a 120-hour “full-time” plan.

The granddaddy of all the Lifenzyme plans is their dual-dedicated-assistant plan, which comes with two virtual employees each working 7 hours a day. At a price is $2350 per month, it’s unclear why someone would opt for that instead of 2 150-hour plans for $2000.

Some of the larger plans allow for rollover time if you have a slow month, and any plan can be cancelled free of charge with 30-day notice.

Lifenzyme offers a 5-day free trial if you want to take their virtual assistant services for a test drive. Otherwise, you might consider My Tasker or 24/7 Virtual Assistant for well-rated outsourced help in India.

If you have worked with Lifenzyme, please share your experience (positive or negative) in the reviews below. Thank you!

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