Virtual Assistant thoughts

15 Replies

I was interested in hiring a virtual assistant and was curious as to what I can expect as far as price and work done. What are your guys thoughts on virtual assistants?

I'm currently reading the "Four-Hour Workweek" and this topic is heavily emphasized, so I am curious as well to hear others experiences. 

Account Closed

I think it's a brilliant idea. I think it's something that is going to be much more common in the increasingly globalized workforce. Entrepreneurs are shooting themselves in the foot not taking advantage of this.

My only recommendation is to get it for exactly what you need. At the moment I don't have enough recurring operations work to make this a necessity (my company has our operations covered). If I was doing more full-time REI, I would definitely have one.

Account Closed, I am also considering this.

So far I have found VAs in the US and outside the US (Phillipines, etc).

I think it comes down to how much of a knowledge ramp-up time to help with the tasks you need and whether you want them communicating with sellers, agents, etc, which they are more than capable of doing, but there may be a timezone for some.

Someone recently recommended the following book. It is about how to transition into using VAs. It is next on  my reading list. 

Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business

As a VA, I can give you a little insight on this. Virtual Assistants can really assist you with any work you need done, as long as you can give proper training and guidance in the beginning. It is important to develop a working relationship as you will be trusting your VA to handle many aspects of your business.

That being said, you can hire a foreign VA for a few dollars an hour but there are cons to that as they aren't in the same time zone, English may be a problem, and it may be hard to communicate. VA's can be found on larger sites like elance or Odesk, which are kind of like a marketplace, or you can find one local to you through basic web searches or Virtual Assistant forums where you can submit an RFP. Rates can vary depending on experience and level of service. Some will charge hourly, some will charge package rates. You will get what you pay for essentially.

For REI's, Virtual Assistants are best to help with listing management and coordination, email marketing and direct mail campaigns, market research, transaction coordination, social media, and buyer/seller/agent correspondences- things that are essential but also take up a lot of your time.

 @Account Closed  

@Amanda DiBiase pretty much hit it on the head. I have two VA's working for me right now. For me it was all about (1) what I'm not good at and (2) What do I spend a ton of time on that I need delegated to free up my schedule?

For #1--I'm not a cold caller. So I found someone to do that for me.

For #2--I'm a proponent in Social Media Advertising but the day to day managing of Facebook (researching articles to post, etc...) wasn't something I wanted to be spending a lot of time on. I still run my own ads and all the automation behind it but I let someone else curate my page.

And while I would like to say that it's been easy to find someone to work with, it hasn't. VA's much like any other employees will vary in skills and it's completely unrealistic to think that one VA can do everything for you. So be specific in what you're looking for someone to do and as Amanda said train them to do it the way you want it done.

And once you develop a relationship with someone you can trust with small tasks, train them on larger tasks and pay them commensurate with those new tasks. 

Finally, the book mentioned above by @Ned Carey is by Chris Ducker. He's one of the leading proponents of Virtual Assistants on the web. I'm a part of his mastermind group and I can tell you for a fact that if you're thinking about hiring a VA, his book is absolutely worth the read.

Hope that helps! And feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

I use a VA... Save me so much. Very clear and short directions. I've been utilizing them for over 10 months now..

@Nick Britton is your VA on-shore of off-shore?

Do you mind if I ask what the hourly rate range is?

You can get a good VA for about $350/mo full time. Onlinejobs.ph is a good place to recruit, I've hired a few. My experience is varied, finally just decided it was more trouble than it was worth and hired someone local.

Your results will depend greatly on what you need done.  They tend to be real eager to work, and are good at doing tasks that you describe well and tell them exactly what they need to do.  My management style is more "here's the result I want, let me know if you need help getting there" so it didn't fit me real well.  I personally just don't have the time to train them or task them every day.  If you had something repetitive to do they'd be great, and there are some people over there with real skills that will work for peanuts, but there is a culture barrier and time difference.  

Had a full time web guy for another business for $350/mo that was awesome, but the ones I've hired since weren't nearly as good.  Salary will vary by country. I like the Philippines because they learn English and work their asses off for next to nothing and are grateful as hell to have the job.   $3500/yr is a teacher salary.  $400/mo is management pay to them.  

My VA is off shore... Their hourly rate is very competitive and I'm sure he's living like a king in his country..,

My guys are 12 hours difference... Which is easy to manage..

Another vote for 

Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business

It's not specific to Real Estate investing, so there are positions in there that you may not need, and other positions you *DO* need. 

I'd also recommend reading 6 Months to 6 Figures *before* the Virtual Freedom book / hiring a VA. This one will help you get insight on where you want to go, and what you want a VA for.

I've used Fiverr.com to get one time help with jobs from people (SEO research, logo design, blog post writing).

I've used OnlineJobs.ph for hiring more long term help .. people posting Craigslist ads or answering calls for me.

Both are nice because with Fiverr.com you don't have to train someone to do something for you -- just tell them what you're looking for. For anyone hired off of OnlineJobs.ph (at least for the more repetative tasks) expect to have to train them step by step on how to do things. They don't read minds. :)

As always, make sure the work is getting done before you pay them (there are bad apples everywhere, but for the most part my experiences have been positive). 

I've also had the best luck hiring *more* than the number of people I need for a long term job at a time. I tell them up front it's on a trial basis for a couple of months. The ones that don't pan out I let go, and keep the winners. That way your training time is cut down -- you can copy paste the same instructions to each person instead of training one.. hoping they can do it, finding out they can't, and starting the process over. It usually only takes a week or two to weed out the winner. At $4 / hr, I can afford having more than one person in a role for a week or two. :P

I agree with Amanda, time zone may be a problem but if you outsource to countries where call centers are treated much like any other profession (Philippines), you will find no issue with your workers being across the globe. You may say I am promoting my countrymen (and I guess I am) but just letting you know that we are an English speaking country and while there are still some who find it difficult to comprehend, majority of us can easily understand spoken or written English or both. I am a virtual assistant and with the few articles I visit every now and then to get tips and continuously improve myself, I know how appreciative the people are of our service. So in case, you are interested to hire an online help, you can try outsourcing to Filipino VAs.

Fun topic, lol.

A few things on what you want in a VA:
- Good english
- Dedicated time for your work
- A self starter (in 4-hour work week Tim made a point about making his VA a manager)

Outside of that, give them clear directions, maybe hold their hand a bit at first by making sure you look at their work. Ask them to send you a daily report, etc...

I've been outsourcing for a decade for VA/designing/developing/management/accounting/etc...

For price, it varies, I prefer the Phillippines since I had the most success there. My main VA I've been working with for years now, I let her choose her pay (which at the moment is $200) but, she does a lot for me even recruit other VA's and manage them.

PM me if you need more help, more than willing to give more info.

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