Should You Hire A Virtual Assistant?

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As I wrote about yesterday, and tweeted about a couple times, I have hired a virtual assistant (VA) to help me with some different work that I needed to get done but don’t have the time to do (or just don’t want to do).

Hiring A Virtual Assistant

I got a bunch of tweets back at me asking how I went about it, what I am going to have the person doing, where/how I found them, etc. So, I wanted to share some of those details with you all through a couple posts.

First, you really need to be sure that you are in need of a VA to help you or make your business grow. Obviously you’ll want to start making a list of the different tasks that you need someone to take off of your plate. The reasoning for passing along these tasks could be anything from not having the time to wanting to live the 4 hour work week dream. Either way, make a list of tasks that you want to outsource to someone else and start thinking about how an assistant could help you grow your business. If it turns out that this list of items is just a small “to do” list and you could knock out the tasks in a couple hours if you put your mind to it, then there is no need to hire someone. Just lock yourself in your office/room and get to work. As you finish a task, scratch it off the list with a marker so that you can see your progress.

If you do decide that your list of tasks is daunting, time consuming, AND will help your business, then maybe you should consider a VA to help you out. Here are a couple of the tasks that I will be having completed for me:

  • Audio transcription – I have a few podcasts and other audio recordings that I’d like to have transcribed into a Word document. This would probably take me hours upon hours to complete. My VA already completed one of the audio files this morning.
  • Data Collection/Entry – I am going to start sending out a newsletter to my buyers on eBay. The next task that I’ll be having done is collecting the name, address, email, etc of my buyers into a database so that I can send them a newsletter every couple weeks about new products or specials that I have going on.
  • Search Engine Optimization – I hate sitting down and writing keywords or tweaking little things within a site to make it rank better. This will be another task.
  • Research – this will probably be the thing that would take the most time and be the most useful to me. I’m going to be looking for research to be done on student entrepreneurs, college entrepreneurship programs, and much more related to the topics at Dorm Room Biz. This will also help you all out with getting more great articles to read!

Now that you have some ideas for what you will want your assistant to take care of for you, you need to think about what you are willing to pay for those tasks to be completed. From doing some simple research through a Google search, I was able to see that an hourly rate would range from about $6-$30 for a VA. Now, I like to watch where my money goes and I knew there was no way in hell I was going to pay someone more than $20/hour to take care of a few tasks for me – I’d rather have them go unfinished than pay that much. So that limited my scope to the $6-$19/hour range. This still gives you a lot of options.

If you do not have too much criteria for who completes the work, then you can easily look to a country proficient in outsourcing such as India and find someone to work for the lower end of the scale, around $6/hour. Yet, I had criteria that needed to be met if I was going to hire someone.

So, here are some of the basic criteria I had:

  • Must speak excellent English (preferrably U.S. based). I don’t care if this makes me sound harsh or bad, but I did not want to be bringing someone on who could not understand me and I could not understand them. It just would not work out. I’m willing to pay extra for being able to easily and quickly understand my needs. If I had to repeat myself or continually provide instructions for a task, I might as well do it myself.
  • Be readily available via all means: phone, email, Twitter, IM, Skype, any communication means I had, I wanted them to have (or at least a majority of them). Why Twitter you may ask? Well, I want to be able to follow what they are doing and tweeting about – if they are tweeting about the news of TV or what they are reading, I know they are not doing my work and that I should not be expected to pay for tha time.
  • Young/Student – I wanted to be able to work with someone who is a young entreperneur like myself. Like minded people easily understand other like minded people. Working with a young professional or student who is a VA will be a great asset to me; especially when it comes to the readers of Dorm Room Biz.

These were just a couple of the many things I looked for.

So you have figured out what you want your virtual assistant to do, what you think you are willing to pay per hour, and what criteria you have for you VA. The next post in the series I will talk about how to find a virtual assistant that fits your needs and criteria, and getting started with them.

Have something to say? I love participation on the site, so come leave a comment about your experiences!

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5 Responses to Should You Hire A Virtual Assistant?

  1. April November 18, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    I saw your other post about hiring a VA and my first thought was “Good for you!” because not only am I a VA but I’m also the mother of a teenager who is a budding entrepreneur. I’ve noticed that younger people are very open to the idea of working virtually, including hiring others who are also “virtual”. My son has even helped me with some of my own work and jokes about hiring me as his VA someday.

    You’ve given some great tips about the process of hiring a VA and those are definitely some of the things a business owner or freelancer needs to consider when hiring one.

    There’s a popular website about virtual assistants at that has a ton of information for both VAs and clients of VAs. If you got to you can download a free ebook about how to hire a virtual assistant, read their blog for VA clients about making the most of your partnership with a VA, submit a RFP (Request for Proposal) etc.

    Just like any other hiring process, you have to put a lot of thought into it.

    Good luck! Hope it works out for you!


  2. MLRebecca November 19, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    You’ve hired a Virtual Assistant? That’s awesome! That leads me to believe things are going quite well for you. Maybe Virtual Assistants will become the next wave of Internet careers. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Davinci Virtual November 24, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    Great post, but I would add that there are lots of people out there who say they are VA’s. Make sure the company you use is reputable and will do what it takes to make the customer (you) happy.

  4. kelly harris December 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Great post Chris, thanks for sharing your process. I have been fortunate to have created a social network for virtual assistants looking to network with other virtual assistants to expand their skills sets, share ideas and overall connect.

    It has become a resource for business owners, like yourself, who may be looking for a virtual assistant, or simply want to learn more about what a virtual assistant can do for them. Have a look when you can.

    Kel 🙂

  5. College Town Menus (CTM) May 19, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    I love outsourcing. If I could outsource cooking, cleaning, and laundry – I’d be set! Glad you are utilizing your resources and time wisely to focus on the core things that matter rather than the lower detail (but still important) aspects.

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