Virtual assistant company vs. freelance VA? This is a question I get all the time!
When hiring a virtual assistant, you basically have two choices:
- You can find a freelance virtual assistant
- You can use one of several reputable virtual assistant companies.
So which option is best? Like so many things in life, the answer is, “it depends.”
Here are some of the pros and cons of each.
Advantages of Virtual Assistant Companies
Virtual assistant companies have an office full of professional assistants ready to help you with whatever tasks you need done. In recent years, some of these VA companies have shifted to an entirely virtual model themselves, with VAs working from there home offices as is the case with Time Etc, which offers assistants in the US and UK.
Virtual Assist USA actually closed down their Pittsburgh office because they found everyone preferred working from home!
One advantage is for certain VA companies you’ll have access to their whole “bench” of skills if you need some specialized attention for a one-off task or project, even if you’re normally just working with one dedicated assistant.
Others, like Fancy Hands, operate on a pool basis, where tasks are assigned on the basis of availability and you may never work with the same assistant twice.
These companies typically charge a flat monthly fee that will vary upon the number of hours of work you’ll need done. Several virtual assistant companies offer a free trial period, which will help you get an idea both for how well their virtual assistant will perform, and how much you will use the service.
In most cases, you’ll pay more when you use a third-party VA company than you would with a freelancer. The reason for this is that the company incurs overhead costs like payroll processing, office infrastructure, and administrative support that freelancers do not.
If and when your dedicated assistant moves on or isn’t a great fit, the company will help match you with a replacement. In contrast, if your freelance VA leaves for another opportunity, it’s on you to begin the applicant search all over again.
Still, when a full-time (overseas) virtual assistant is in the $1000-1500 a month ballpark, there is certainly something to be said for the additional support and security a VA firm offers.
My first full-time VA hire was through a VA company, which made for an easy line-item expense on my books. I was contracting with their service for a set price per month.
Advantages of Hiring a Freelance VA
With a freelance virtual assistant, you have the advantage of being able to specify your unique requirements in advance (although several VA companies allow you to do this as well).
This means you can hire the perfect worker for your needs, not just the first available virtual assistant. I’ve found that freelancers are great for one-time projects or quick tasks that require a specific area of expertise, but there are many full- and part-time freelance virtual assistants out there as well with a wide range of skills.
Although nearly every VA company will talk up their rigorous vetting process, when you hire yourself through Upwork or OnlineJobs.ph, you have far more control in the process from start to finish. You’ll post your job description, weed through applicants, interview the most promising ones, and ultimately extend an offer.
(It’s also a lot more work upfront!)
After that, you’ll work with your new hire directly and pay them directly — with no middleman taking a cut. That translates into lower prices, OR theoretically higher quality. What I mean by that is if your budget allows for $30 an hour, you can get $30 an hour talent by hiring directly instead of going through an agency or VA company that’s taking a chunk of that.
Because of that, my more recent full-time VA hires were freelancers. By that time I was comfortable working one-on-one with my assistant and I think we were able to establish a pretty good relationship.
The downside of hiring a freelance virtual assistant is that if things aren’t working out, you may not have much recourse. In contrast, many VA companies have satisfaction guarantees or can reassign your work to a new virtual assistant better able to accomplish your tasks.