Witmart

Witmart might be the biggest crowdsourcing platform I’d never heard of. The company is apparently huge in China, and counts their large Chinese userbase in their advertised 6-million service providers. The US-operation is based out of the Houston, TX suburb of Sugar Land.  Witmart offers a marketplace for both oDesk-like contract work and 99designs-like design contests.

witmart reviewFor contract-based work, Witmark works similarly to other freelance sites. You post the job requirements you have, and receive bids from freelancers. You can then choose the provider that best meets your needs based on their rate and work experience. You only pay when the job is completed to your satisfaction.  This type of work is best suited for tasks like website development projects, writing, and other tasks without an immediate deliverable.

For instant gratification projects, like logo design, web design, and other creative tasks, Witmart has a contest option.  In this case, you would describe the work you need done, specify how much you want to pay, and receive contest entries from providers around the world.  You choose the best and reward them the money. If you don’t get any submissions that meet your needs, you can get a full refund.

Logo design contests start at just $99, which is less than you might find on crowdSPRING or 99designs.

Witmart’s marketplace includes a feedback and rating system for providers so you have an extra level of confidence when choosing a freelancer.  Looking at the experience of past employers can be helpful, especially if you’re signing on for a long-term project.

One thing that stands out is Witmart’s twitter page is a disaster.  At the time of this writing, their custom background is filled with typos.

They spell “providers” with a U instead of a V. They write “Fine Freelance Jobs” instead of “Find Freelance Jobs.” Even their vanity phone number is incorrectly listed as 1-877-Wit-Mmart (if you dial both “m’s” you won’t reach the company). These little things may not be enough to prevent me from trying out their service, but they do make them look unprofessional and reduce the confidence of potential new employers. They’ve since corrected several of these mistakes, which is a positive sign.

For design work it might be worthwhile to test out their contest model because of the lower price points, but for contract work I’d probably stick to oDesk.

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

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Talent Gurus

Talent Gurus is an outsourcing company in Hyderabad, India.  The firm is a subsidiary of Sai People Solutions, Inc., a business with more than 20 years of experience in offshore staffing. Where Sai was focused on Fortune 500 companies and other large clients, Talent Gurus launched in 2005 to address the emerging demand for personal and small business outsourcing.

talent gurus reviewAside from virtual assistant and administrative work, Talent Gurus specializes in customer service, search engine optimization, accounting, web design and development, and even telemarketing.

Their professional VAs are well-trained and work from the company’s modern and managed facility in India. By running multiple shifts, Talent Gurus can offer 24-hour a day support for your business.

Many customers use Talent Gurus as an extension of their marketing department. You virtual assistant can help set up and manage social media accounts, do keyword research and pay-per-click marketing, and create unique content for users and search engines to pick up.

You’ll have to contact Talent Gurus for a personalized quote as specific prices aren’t given. For virtual assistants, the company says rates range from $4-10/hour, but vary depending on your requirements.

The company is not forthcoming with the different hourly plans available, if any, but they do mention you will be assigned a dedicated virtual assistant. Their homepage offers a 2-day free trial so you can test out their services risk-free.

If you’re considering a virtual assistant in India, you might also consider 24/7 Virtual Assistant or My Tasker, both of which have collected strong reviews from customers.

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

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E-Virtual Services

E-Virtual Services is a virtual assistant and outsourcing company based in New Dehli, with a US sales office in Minneapolis. Founded in 2006, they were an early mover in the world of personal and small business outsourcing.

With a staff of over 250 professional workers, E-Virtual Services is a full-service shop for pretty much anything that can be accomplished with a computer.

Services

evirtual services reviewSome of the more popular services include bookkeeping, appointment setting, online research and data analysis, 24/7 call center support, transcription, and email and live chat customer service. Aside from these and other virtual assistant-type tasks, the company also specializes in software development, IT support, SEO, and even web design and development.

Did you find their website a little busy and confusing? I had a hard time telling up from down after a while. Virtual assistant services are quoted at $5 an hour on the About Us page, $6 an hour on the Home page, and “Administrative and Personal Assistant” start at just $7 an hour on the Virtual Employee page.

Basically nothing is set in stone and E-Virtual will provide a personalized quote based on the job requirements you present them.


Sponsored Link:


E-Virtual Services Intro Video


Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive
: Mention E-Virtual Services discount code EVS4422 for 5% off your first month of service!

It’s hard for me to be critical of E-Virtual’s web design chops when this site clearly isn’t the most beautiful thing on the web, but take a look at their portfolio to see if their work matches your taste.  It seems like several of the sites they’ve built are owned by the same company that runs E-Virtual, based solely on the identical “contact us” phone number.

As with other outsourcing companies in India, you might run into some communication challenges and language barrier issues. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble getting your point across, but if you’re looking for perfect grammar for articles or other web copy or customer interaction, it’s something to be aware of. I’m basing this off the numerous phrases on the E-Virtual Services website that just sound a bit off to a native English speaker. “To View more Price Submit the Inquiry”, for example.

But hey, if their customers are happy what difference does it make? With E-Virtual Services, you can get a dedicated assistant at a competitive price. They can usually be up and running in a few days without any start-up fees or long-term commitment. Plus if you have any trouble, the company is BBB Accredited.

Have you worked with E-Virtual Services? Please share your experience below and help others with their search.

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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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Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is the world’s largest freelance marketplace, with over 7 million users. Since 2004, the Australia-based company has grown into an impressive global outsourcing hub, with members from more than 200 countries around the world.

In terms of dollar volume, more business flows through the virtual economies of Elance and oDesk, but Freelancer is no small fry by any means.

About Freelancer.com

freelancer-com reviewFreelancer.com (formerly GetAFreelancer.com) works similar to other outsourcing sites. Employers can post their job descriptions, get bids from various contractors, and hire whoever they like best.  Alternatively, you can browse the profiles of the freelancers to find someone with the skills you’re looking for. (I found Virtual Assistants under the “Data Entry and Admin” Category.)

One interesting point of differentiation for Freelancer.com is they limit the number of jobs a contractor can bid on with a free membership. To gain more bids, the contractor has to buy into a premium membership. I think the overall impact of this strategy would be to raise the overall quality of the bids you receive for each job. Knowing they have a cap, I imagine contractors would only go after the jobs they feel really well-qualified for.

Of course with that many users, you can outsource just about anything on Freelancer.com.  There’s bound to be several qualified experts for any task, and probably with a good range of price-points too.

Like the other freelancing sites, Freelancer.com has a pretty robust feedback system so you can get a feel for how active each contractor is in the community and what other employers thought of their work.

Freelancer.com Intro Video

Freelancer.com Alternatives

FreeeUp Upwork Fiverr OnlineJobs
Established 2015 1999 2010 2008
Location Worldwide, w/ concentration in USA and Philippines Worldwide Worldwide Philippines
Customer Rating
Size of Talent Pool Thousands 12 million 830,000 250,000
Hourly Rate $5-75+ $3-100+ $3-100+ $3-20+
Platform Fee 15% 5-20% 20% + processing fee $69 a month
Worker Tracking
(optional)
Pre-Screened Freelancers
(w/ Fiverr Pro)
Best For Quick hires, e-commerce One-off projects Smaller jobs Affordable full-time help
Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More

Your Turn

Have you hired anyone from Freelancer.com? Please share your experience below!

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Agents of Value

Agents of Value is an outsourcing company in the Philippines. Established in 2005, the company is focused on providing technical help, online marketing expertise, and virtual assistance to entrepreneurial clients worldwide.

Agents of Value calls their business an “offshore staff leasing” operation. From what I can tell, it’s not much different from other virtual assistant companies despite the fancier-sounding name. You pick what specialty you’re looking for (web development, link building, graphic design, article writing, or jack-of-all-trades VA), and they assign someone in their office to your account who meets your needs.

agents of value reviewTheir rates start at $675 per month for a full-time helper, which makes them very affordable even compared with other firms in the Philippines. Rates can go as high as $1500 a month for more technical skilled work.  Agents of Value has three separate facilities and also runs a couple shifts, so you can have a VA work during your business hours if needed as well.

One alternative to consider: Virtual Staff Finder.


Sponsored Link:


To ease fears that the Agents aren’t working, the company developed their own proprietary tracking software called AgentGuardian. The software tracks screenshots and keystrokes so you can monitor your virtual employee even if you’re half a world away.

There were a couple downsides I found. Agents of Value charges a $275 setup fee, and also a monthly charge for software licenses used on your agent’s computer. For example if you want your VA to run Microsoft Office instead of Open Office or Google Docs, it will cost $42 a month.  This is the only time I’ve seen these costs broken out from any VA company.

Did you watch the video on their homepage? I think it does a nice job of showing some personality, even if the “ninja” theme is a bit overdone these days. And I know I’m being immature about this but every time it says “Agents”, it sounds a lot like “Asians”: “Clients know what their agents are doing while working.” Funny, because their agents are also Asian? OK maybe not that funny. Sorry.

One thing that was frustrating was the lack of response I got from using the contact forms on the Agents of Value website. I submitted a couple requests with some simple questions and never heard anything back. It’s weird because they’re active on Twitter on responded quickly on live chat.

Have you worked with Agents of Value? If so, please feel free share your experience – positive or negative – below.

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Should You Outsource Social Media?

There’s no doubt that to “do” social media right, it takes a lot of time and energy.  Because of this, social media management is one service nearly every virtual assistant company offers.

The question is, is social media something you should be outsourcing?

The Case Against

Think of the primary rules of social media engagement — be yourself, listen, be authentic, and most importantly, care.  Will any outsourced social media manager care as much as you?

For personal brands, I think hiring someone to run 100% of your social media presence is risky.  After all, your brand is about YOU, and the various social media platforms give people an honest chance to connect with the real you.  If they find out someone else is calling the shots it could hurt your brand and your reputation, and ultimately your bottom line.

Yes, it can be time-consuming to reply to twitter comments, but it’s not that time-consuming.  Will a virtual assistant be able to portray your brand the way you want it?

The Case For

You can’t do everything yourself.  Well you can, but only up to a certain point.  Once you reach that ceiling you’re going to have to get some help if you want to keep growing.

Companies are still taking care of their customers and maintaining a valuable social media presence, even though the founder isn’t personally posting everyday.

It’s naive to think a virtual assistant couldn’t do as good (or better) a job managing your online profiles.  Especially if they have more experience with the various networks and tools.

I’m confident you can find a VA that will be a great steward for your brand online.  They might charge more than $5 an hour, but that’s the price you pay to stay active and engaged in social media, while protecting and promoting your brand.

And by outsourcing social media, it will force you into a more managerial role of working on your business instead of in it.

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Virtual Assistantville

Virtual Assistantville is a unique directory of professional virtual assistants. The Dearborn, Michigan company matches employers with qualified VAs in a variety of fields. The site is an offshoot of the popular Virtual Assistant Forums, a trusted resource and gathering place for VAs everywhere.

If you’re looking for a VA, you can browse through the directory and view the profile of each one. You can also sort by specialty if you have a specific task or project in mind. In addition, Virtual Assistantville allows you to submit a request for proposal, and several virtual assistants will bid on your job.

virtualassistantville reviewThe virtual assistants listed with the company are, and can be, from any part of the world, but I found most are US-based. They use the Virtual Assistantville platform to advertise their services and find new clients.

The most common VA tasks on the site include editing work, article writing, data processing, managing social websites, taking care of emails and more. The responsibilities and work description may increase and change as trust and confidence grows between you and your remote assistant.

Virtual Assistantville gives you the flexibility to hire your VA on a one-time basis or on as an ongoing engagement. That said, the site is merely a meeting place for connecting you with potential workers; they don’t handle any of the transaction details.

Because the majority of VAs are in the US, I found the rates to be significantly higher than what you might find with other virtual assistant companies or on freelance sites like oDesk. Another disadvantage is that Virtual Assistantville doesn’t provide any feedback loop or ratings system, so it can be more difficult to fully research a potential hire.

Have you found a VA through VirtualAssistantville.com? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the review section below.

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Virtual Assistant Gifts

This Year, Give the Gift of Time

Are you struggling to find the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list? What do you get for people who already have everything they want?

Well there’s one thing everyone wants more of: time.

It’s our most precious asset, yet it’s so often squandered.  Up until a few years ago, the idea of giving someone time would have seemed pretty silly, if not downright impossible. But today, several virtual assistant companies allow you to do just that.

A gift membership to a virtual assistant service is a really unique way to show how much you care. The recipient will be able to use their VA to do all their virtual chores, like scheduling meetings, researching things online, and arranging travel. It’s like having your own personal assistant!

1. For just $69 a month, TimeSvr.com offers a gift membership with unlimited basic tasks. I’ve had a positive experience with TimeSvr and found their aides to be intelligent and hard-working. And for this price, it really makes a fun gift.

2. Red Butler is a really cool personal concierge service that also has a gift membership. Their “Basic” plan is just $110 for 3-months of use. Plus, at the time of this writing, Red Butler was offering a 25% promo for all gift membership purchases that use the promo code “happy” at checkout! The membership includes 15 tasks per month and access to nearly 1500 Red Butler “privileges” nationwide – great stuff like hotel, spa and restaurant discounts.

3. Ask Sunday is another VA service that offers a gift membership. Their gifts start at $119 for 10 hours of virtual assistant time. Ask Sunday has received some poor reviews lately, so they wouldn’t be my first choice, but you’re welcome to check them out.  Also their starting price seems pretty high for what you get.

So there you have it: turns out the gift of time is remarkably affordable.  The only downside is your recipient might get hooked and want to renew the service after their gift expires!

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5 Things Your Virtual Assistant can do for you During the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and we could all use an extra set of hands. Thankfully, if you have a virtual assistant, you do! Here are five things your VA can help take care for you during the holiday season.

1. Brainstorm Gift Ideas and Find the Best Prices

For me, gift-giving is the most stressful part of the holidays. I like to give presents but I hate shopping and I never know what to get for people.

Thankfully there are dozens of online resources for finding the perfect gift. Give your VA a list of people you’re shopping for and a little about each person and let them find a thoughtful present for everyone on your list.

After picking out each item, have them comparison shop the results to find the best deals.

2. Arrange Travel Plans

If you’re traveling over the holidays, why not let your virtual assistant handle the flight and hotel reservations? And if you’re staying with relatives, maybe they can book you a relaxing getaway for when you get home!

3. Research Year-End Tax-Saving Tips

Each year there are certain tax strategies to take advantage of. Even if your VA isn’t a financial professional, they can research various tax sites for the best year-end tax breaks to be aware of.

This small investment could end up saving you big come April 15th.

4. Order and Mail Holiday Cards

Christmas cards are a fun tradition, but can be time-consuming to create and and send on your own. Instead, send your VA some pictures and have them create a few designs using the built-in software at Shutterfly or TinyPrints.

Once you pick out the winner, your VA can order them for you. If your VA is in the same country as you, they can even address, stamp, and mail the cards too!

5. Take Care of Business While You’re Away

It’s always a good idea to take some time off over the holidays to spend time with family and friends, reflect on the year, and mentally recharge for upcoming challenges.

But for many of us, it’s hard to leave work behind. Your virtual assistant can be a good crutch to really let that Out of Office Reply fly – arrange for them to cover for you while you’re gone.

If your virtual assistant has been helping you for most of the year or has added significant value to your life, consider paying them a year-end bonus or giving them extra time off for the holidays. After all, they have a family too. These small gestures can pay big dividends when it comes to long-term success and loyalty.

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