Zirtual and Time Etc are two very popular choices of virtual assistant companies. Both services offer well-educated, US-based virtual assistants, at affordable monthly packages.
With competitive pricing, compelling customer testimonials, and years of process improvement, it can be tough to choose between them.
We’ll take a look at the different virtual assistant services they offer, how the on-boarding process works for new clients, and how the pricing packages vary depending on much help you need on a weekly or monthly basis.
Note: This article focuses on the employer’s perspective. If you’re a freelance virtual assistant looking for work, the information below will give you some insight into the hiring process, income potential, and skills required, but doesn’t speak to what it’s actually like to work for either Zirtual or Time Etc.
For disclosure, links below may be affiliate links.
Zirtual: A Quick Overview
Zirtual.com is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio and was a leader in creating a national “brand” of virtual assistants. The company got its start in 2010, raised a couple million dollars in venture capital in 2013, and everything seemed to be going and growing quite nicely with an all-remote team of US-based VAs.
I even got to go out to their San Francisco office and meet the founding team at one point.
Then they abruptly shut down all operations in 2015, laying off all 400+ “zirtual assistants” via email.
It was a shock across the virtual assistant world — and for hundreds of Zirtual clients who suddenly couldn’t reach their VAs.
But that’s not where the story ends. In the aftermath of the surprise shutdown, which was caused by cash flow problems, Zirtual and its assets were acquired by Startups.co.
The new ownership made some adjustments to the pricing plans and policies, and re-categorized assistants as contractors instead of employees to save on payroll taxes and other employer burdens. (Zirtual had been a pioneering remote assistant company in treating all its assistants as salaried employees.)
Today, they claim clients from 60 different countries.
An Intro to Time Etc
Time Etc was founded in 2007 in the United Kingdom, and made the leap “across the pond” a few years later.
The company operates a similar model, bringing hundreds of work-from-home virtual assistants together under one cohesive brand. It saves on costly office overhead but gives clients peace of mind and safety in numbers.
Time Etc has grown to over 4500 clients and even count Penni Pike, a longtime executive assistant to Sir Richard Branson himself, as a special advisor.
US VA Company Comparison Chart
|Minimum Package||$430 for 10 hours||$270 for 10 hours||10 hours a week||$398 for 12 hours|
|Minimum VA Experience||7 years||5 years||5 years||1 year|
|Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
*Specialist services are available for an additional charge.
Zirtual vs. Time Etc: Who Are The Workers?
Who makes up this army of remote assistants? And more importantly, what kind of qualifications do they have to help you in your business?
Because these jobs offer the chance to earn money from home with somewhat flexible hours, they’re actually in pretty high demand, even if the pay rate ($11-16 an hour) isn’t extraordinary.
Zirtual specializes in college-educated, all US-based hires. They put prospective assistants through a multi-step hiring process that begins with an online application, is followed by a skills test, and progresses to a video interview.
The skills tests and interview initiate some light role playing of the typical tasks a “Zirtual Assistant” might encounter on a daily basis.
In the end, Zirtual claims to hire only 2% of initial applicants, and then puts those hires through a 2-week training program overseen by seasoned VAs before setting them loose with clients.
Similarly, Time Etc assistants are college educated professionals in the US or UK (your choice when you sign up), and have 2-5 years of prior work experience with companies like AOL, Facebook, IBM, and Apple.
Their hiring process also includes one or more skills tests, an evaluation of past work, and a live video interview.
Both companies are trying to find reliable people with good heads on their shoulders, who can deliver consistent great results for clients. It’s not easy to do, but with 7-10 years of hiring experience, I imagine both Zirtual and Time Etc have this process down pretty well at this point.
If there’s a major difference between the assistant base of two companies, I get the sense that Zirtual assistants skew slightly younger than those of Time Etc.
Comparing Zirtual and Time Etc Services
Zirtual assistants work either United States Pacific or Eastern time hours, and handle a wide variety of administrative tasks. Some examples might include sending birthday cards, making travel reservations, ordering flowers, or scheduling meetings and returning calls.
Zirtual is meant for simple and general tasks, and openly shies away from specialized services and skills such as search engine optimization, lead generation, social media management, or inbound phone calls.
When I worked with Zirtual, I had my assistant create a PowerPoint presentation and do some online research.
Time Etc, on the other hand, features a much broader range of potential tasks you can delegate. In addition to administrative tasks like research, data entry, and managing your schedule, your dedicated Time Etc assistant can help with writing blog posts, bookkeeping, sales and lead generation, customer service, online marketing, and much more.
Each company has the goal of maintaining a long-term client-assistant match, and does their best to pair you with the assistant best qualified to take care of your needs.
If the assistant you’re matched with isn’t working out, the company will find you a replacement right away.
With Time Etc, you can add new dedicated assistants to your account to tap into their nationwide talent pool as needed.
Zirtual Plans and Pricing
Zirtual has 4 different pricing plans:
- Entrepreneur Plan – $398 for 12 hours a month ($33 an hour)
- The Startup Plan – $698 for 24 hours a month ($29 an hour)
- Small Business Plan – $998 for 36 hours a month ($28 an hour)
- The Team Plan – $1398 for 50 hours a month ($28 an hour)
Most new Zirtual users I talk to start on the Entrepreneur Plan, which is listed at $398 per month. If you use all your allotted hours, the service comes out to a little over $33 per hour.
The effective hourly rates improve slightly as you jump to the bigger plans. All included hours are “use ’em or lose ’em” and don’t roll over month-to-month.
One cool thing about Zirtual is the built-in “sharing” of the service. On their higher tier plans, 2-5 users can submit tasks to pull from the same bucket of monthly hours, and if you need to add more team members you can do so for $99 a month.
Time Etc Plans and Pricing
Time Etc is a better value across the board. They have 4 main plans as follows:
- $270 for 10 hours a month ($27 an hour)
- $520 for 20 hours a month ($26 an hour)
- $1000 for 40 hours a month ($25 an hour)
- $1440 for 60 hours a month ($24 an hour)
The plans don’t align directly with Zirtual’s in terms of the hours included, but are universally less expensive at both the entry level and higher dollar plans.
Time Etc will also quote a custom package if you need more than 60 hours of assistance each month.
A couple other important value-adds to note are Time Etc’s free trial (for a task up to one hour), and the rollover of unused hours.
That means you can test out the service risk-free and don’t have to stress about throwing tasks to your assistant at the end of the month just for the sake of using up the time you bought. If you’ve got some bigger projects on the horizon, you can just bank those hours for next month.
My Interview with Time Etc’s Founder
Zirtual and Time Etc Alternatives
Now if there’s one thing that stood out to you in this article, it should be this: these companies are paying their assistants $11-16 an hour, but charging you $22-33 an hour.
Of course they provide a lot of infrastructure, hiring, screening, and matching for that markup, but if you’re on a tight budget, you could theoretically save quite a bit of money by tapping into the same work-from-home talent pool and hiring a freelancer directly through a site like Upwork or even Craigslist or Indeed.
The drawback is you have to do all the work yourself, and have little to no recourse if your direct-hire assistant doesn’t work out. It’s back to the drawing board.
On the flip-side, if you budget allows for Zirtual or Time Etc rates, you could again theoretically hire a more talented VA by offering a similar rate directly.
Another virtual assistant company to consider is the “near-shoring” option of Uassist.ME. UAssist is a well-regarded VA company based in El Salvador, with pricing packages less than half of the US-based companies.
Which One Should You Pick
Although Zirtual has some cool features, Time Etc is the clear winner here.
The combination of superior pricing, a broader range of tasks, a free trial, and rollover hours all make it pretty hard to build a case against them.
And that’s on top of the depth of positive customer reviews.
Ready to dive in? You can click here to get started and begin offloading your tasks right away.
Anything I missed? If you’ve used either of these services, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.