Can you afford hiring virtual assistants? Of course you can. Every business owner can. In this post, I'm going to show how to hire virtual assistants who fit your budget.
There're various benefits of hiring virtual assistants. They help you automate your business activites. Also, you can save time you spend on repetitive administrative tasks by hiring virtual assistants.
You're not the only business owner who's looking to automate or save time with respect to routine activities. Most entrepreneurs dream of turning their business passive.
With virtual assistants, your business can run smoothly even if you're on a family vacation! Don't you want that? Of course you do. Every entrepreneur does.
What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?
Virtual assistants help businesses in executing day-to-day administrative, financial or marketing tasks.
Generally, virtual assistants are hired for routine & repetitive business activities. That's what distinguishes them from freelancers. While a freelancer may be hired for tasks that require careful planning & thought, a virtual assistant, on the other hand, is hired for tasks that are repetitive in nature & don't require much of thought.
Though things are changing fast. I've seen some virtual assistants accepting complex projects or tasks as well. From that sense, the line between virtual assistants & freelancers are fast getting blurred.
Another difference between virtual assistants & freelancers is the type of engagement. Virtual assistant, due to the nature of their work, are hired on long-term basis. On the flip side, freelancers are hired on project-to-project basis. Again, this distinction is typical & may not be always visible.
Example 1: You're an eCommerce dropshipper who does daily core activities like order processing, responding to support queries, monitoring ads, etc. You can outsource each of these activities to virtual assistants. The benefit? Passive income. Yes, when outsourced effectively, your dropshipping store will run on auto-pilot. All you need to do is have appropriate checks & controls on your virtual assistants.
Example 2: You're a small management consultant who follows up every day with her clients for outstanding dues. One day, you realized that you're spending around 2 hours every day (around 44 hours a month) for the aforesaid activity. So, you decide to hire a virtual assistant who would simply call the clients who've their invoices due. Every day. The result? You save time that can be utilized to build your consultancy business like meeting new clients, marketing, advertising, lead generation, etc.
Example 3: You're an independent civil contractor who prepares cash flow statement everyday. You decide to outsource it to a virtual assistant. The advantage? More time to build your business. You could also outsource activities like preparation of daily wages sheet, following up with clients, responding to letters & emails, etc.
Virtual Assistant Services
Virtual assistant include the following services:
- Data entry in spreadsheet
- Bookkeeping services
- Customer support
- Inbox management
- Order processing
- Overdue follow up
- Creating & updating CRM records
- Scheduling blog posts, videos & social media posts
- Calendar management
Virtual Assistant Marketplaces/Companies
Hiring a virtual assistant isn't a rocket science. Simply visit a virtual assistant marketplace, contact the virtual assistants & hire them with a click of a button. That's it.
Following are a few popular virtual assistant marketplaces:
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT COST & RATES
Virtual assistants can charge anything between $ 5 to $ 50 per hour depending on various factors like type of work, experience, location, complexity & billing frequency.
I'm going to discuss each of these factor now. However, please note that virtual assistants may work on pricing models other than hourly-based ones. I'll also go through these pricing models later in this post.
What Determines Virtual Assistant Cost?
Type of Assistance
Different work requires different rate. While a virtual assistant may charge $ 10 per hour for data entry & $ 20 per hour for translation. This difference is due to the difference in nature or type of assistance. While data entry may a pure "manual" work, translation requires some technical skill.
Example: If you hire a virtual assistant for calendar management, you may be charged $ 10 an hour. On the other hand, if you hire the same virtual assistant for video editing, you may be charged a higher price say $ 20 an hour.
The type of assistance may also vary with the time devoted & the risk taken. For example, a part-time assignment vs a full-time assignment.
An experienced virtual assistant may charge more than an inexperienced virtual assistant. So, whom should you hire? This is where most business owners make a mistake of going with a cheaper price.
Look, an experienced virtual assistant may take 1 hour to complete a task that an inexperienced took 3 hours to do.
Example: Imagine you received quotes from 2 virtual assistants (one experienced & the other being inexperienced), the experienced one quoted $ 15 per hour & the inexperienced one quoted $ 10 per hour. Assume, you awarded contract to two of them (yes, both). And, the final bill comes to:
Experienced virtual assistant = $ 15 * 10 hours = $ 150
Inexperienced virtual assistant = $ 10 * 20 hours = $ 200
Also, take into account, that an inexperienced virtual assistant is more prone to making mistakes than an experienced one.
The cost of living varies greatly from country to country. While a cup of coffee in the US is $ 3, the same cup of coffee is available at $ 1 in China or India. This difference is mostly due to the difference in cost of running a business & personal expenses. In fact, this is precisely the reason why most US companies have been outsourcing their manufacturing & support operations to countries like China or India. The idea is simple - Outsource, save cost & make more money.
So, the same concept applies to virtual assistants. If you hire someone from the US or similar high cost of living (developed) countries, then get prepared to pay a good price. On the other hand, if you hire someone from countries (developing) with low cost of living then you may get a cheap price.
How should you go about? I've seen virtual assistants from developing countries do some amazing work (as good as the ones from the developed countries).
But yes, for certain kind of work, like transcription, I would like to go with native english speaking virtual assistants who're mostly based out in developed countries like the US.
Again, it's all about the kind of work you want. If justified, go with a virtual assistant who does good work at reasonable rate.
Complexity of the Project
There're certain kinds of projects that require a lot of planning, thought & application of mind. These're known as "complex" projects, in freelance world.
Example: Preparing daily cash flow statement involves organizing & adding each cash transaction under appropriate heading. Then, you need to organize those headings in a proper format so as to make a cash flow statement. Now, this project is somewhat complex. On the other hand, a data entry job is quite straightforward & doesn't require a long trail of activities, hence we can categorize this job as "simple".
Needless to say, complex projects do cost more as compared to simple projects.
If you hire a virtual assistant on a long-term basis, then you may be charged less. On the other hand, if you hire a virtual assistant for an one-off project, then you may be charged more.
Example: If you hire a virtual assistant for a recurring assignment like daily social media post scheduling then you may be charged $ 20 hour. On the other hand, if you hire the same assistant for an one-off assignment like social media post scheduling for a month, you may be charged $ 30 an hour.
Are deadlines associated with your project? If yes, then that may impact the pricing. Most virtual assistants will charge more for work that needs to be urgently delivered. Generally, within a specified time period like date.
However, if you work with a virtual assistant on long-term or recurring basis, she may accomodate your urgent requirements with normal rates. It's all about the goodwill, trust & rapport.
Type of client
Sorry, this is all about you. Yes, the client. Sometimes, virtual assistants charge more if they feel the client will be difficult to work with. Instead of outright rejection, they offer higher rates.
So, who is a difficult client? It's a client who is very demanding & likes to micro-manage every project.
With a difficult client, the virtual assistant will need to review or revise her work more often. Not to forget, the stress that comes with handling such clients.
Virtual assistants work with the following pricing model:
This is the most common pricing model for virtual assistants. Here, you'll be charged on the basis of the number of hours worked by the virtual assistant.
Example: If a virtual assistant quotes $ 20/hr & she works for say 10 hours for your project, you will be billed $ 200.
Here, instead of hourly pricing, the virtual assistant charges weekly pricing like say $ 200 a week. Its same like hiring an employee on retainer basis.
Example: If a virtual assistant quotes $ 200 a week, your cost would be fixed at $ 200 a week, irrespective of the number of hours worked by the assistant.
Here, you hire a virtual assistant on a monthly retainer fee. That means the assistant will be paid a fixed amount of money every month irrespective of the hours worked or tasks completed.
Yes, its no different from hiring an employee. But, remember, a virtual assistant can work with more than one client at a time.
Do virtual assistants prefer assignments on a monthly retainer fee? Yes, they do. Why? Because such an arrangement makes their revenue predictable. They feel peace at mind. Some sense of financial security is always good, isn't it?
Example: Let's say a virtual assistant charges a client $ 50 a month for calender management. What if she has 10 similar clients? That's $ 500 fixed revenue every month. Predictable, secured & scalable. Who wouldn't want that?
Also, from client point-of-view, its always desirable to keep cost predictable & within control. A monthly retainer fee helps to do that.
One-off pricing model is used when a client's requirement is just limited to a single non-recurring project.
Example: You want a virtual assistant to assist you with a new upcoming project's bookkeeping. After the project is launched, you would hand over the bookkeeping to your regular CPA. This is one-off project.
On Fiverr, the virtual assistants have listed their work as one-off projects. If you wish to re-hire them, you need to again buy that one-off project. The process is easy, though.
Mode of Payment
Virtual assistants can be paid via the following mode of payments:
- The marketplaces' in-built payment processor (Like Fiverr or Upwork have their own secured checkout system)
- PayPal or Payoneer (for international payments when you're working with the virtual assistant directly - without a marketplace)
- Bank transfer
Time of Payment
If you're working with a virtual assistant via a marketplace like Fiverr, then you got to pay the assistant fees in advance. However, rest assured that the fees won't get immediately transferred to the assistant. These marketplace have an escrow payment system in place. That means the money won't directly flow from a client to an assistant. Instead, it'll get deposited to an escrow account & will only be released to the assistant when you (client) are satisfied with the work.
This escrow payment system secures the interest of both the virtual assistants as well as the clients. As a virtual assistant, you're assured that the client has already paid & the amount is secured in an escrow account. As a client, you're assured that the work will be of standard quality & will be delivered within the time limit. If not, you can always reject the work & request revision.
And, if you're working with a virtual assistant directly (not recommended though) without an intermediary (marketplace), then you're free to negotiate the payment terms like modes & time of payment.
Generally, I've found virtual assistants comfortable with PayPal & an advance payment. PayPal has a "Buyer Protection" policy using which you can always dispute a payment in case the virtual assistant fails to deliver.
As your trust grows, you can negotiate with the virtual assistant to allow you a credit or offer a 50% advance payment term. Remember, its all about trust & goodwill.
How To Negotiate Rates With A Virtual Assistant?
First, you need to understand that it's normal to negotiate rates with a virtual assistant. Provided, you give reasons for the same.
Don't expect virtual assistants to lower their rates for one-off or short-term projects. Why? Because there isn't an incentive for doing so. Yes, until & unless you convince them that you would bring more such projects in near-future.
For long-term or monthly retainer projects, its easy to convince virtual assistants to lower their rates. As already discussed, who doesn't like to have a client who would pay again, again & again for months & years to come. That's an incentive any assistant would love to have.
Remember, to negotiate, its all about selling your vision. If you're a startup, tell the virtual assistant if the startup grows, you'll be awarding bigger & better projects.
How To Track Time Worked By A Virtual Assistant?
Are you worried that you may be over-charged by a virtual assistant (in hourly pricing model)? If, yes, then your concern is genuine.
It's important to have a check or control on your virtual assistant. Be it the number of hours worked, the quality of work or even the communication (yes, I've faced virtual assistants who simply won't respond).
The best way to track time worked by a virtual assistant is by using a software like Time Doctor. Its specifically meant to track time worked by freelancers. So, should work for virtual assistants as well.
How To Hire A Virtual Assistant on Fiverr?
To hire a virtual assistant using an intermediary (marketplace) like Fiverr, you should check the virtual assistant's:
- Profile status (whether verified or not)
- Description (how she describes her work or what she's good at - it should match with your job requirements)
- Portfolio (the historical work done till date - whether they match with your requirements)
- The number of completed projects or clients handled or the number of hours worked (work experience)
- Geographical location (in case who want to hire someone from your own time zone)
- Cost per hour (should be as per your budget)
If you're hiring someone without using an intermediary (marketplace), you should conduct an interview.
Here's a list of interview questions you can ask your potential virtual assistant:
- Why should we award the project to you?
- Have you worked with a similar project in the past? If yes, please name them & what was your specific role?
- How many clients are you working with right now? Will you be able to devote enough time for our project?
- How do you go about with [a fundamental task in your project]? Can you please explain the process?
- How long does it take you to reply to a client email?
- Are you flexible with working on a monthly retainer fee?
- Do you have a team?
- Do you use PayPal or Payoneer?
- Can we reach out to you on phone?
Note: The aforesaid questions are just for reference, of course, you need to edit them depending on your project's requirements.
Following are the steps you need to take to hire a virtual assistant on Fiverr:
Step 1: Go to Fiverr.com & create an account
Step 3: Click on "View Profile" to open the virtual assistant's profile
Step 4: Click on "Contact me" or "Get a quote"
You can contact the virtual assistant in case you've some questions to ask (interview) or you can directly proceed to request a quote.
Step 5: Award the contract & fund your account
If comfortable with the quote, you can proceed to award contract to the virtual assistant. Thereafter, you should fund your account. Remember, the virtual assistant will be paid only when you're satisfied with the work. In case of an issue, you can always contact Fiverr's support team.
Caution: Initially, you should always hire (or award contract) a virtual assistant through Fiverr. Avoid working directly due to obvious risks involved. Once you trust the assistant, you can directly work by routing the payment through PayPal.
Top 5 Virtual Assistants On Fiverr
Rated 5 (out of 5) by more than 13K+ clients, she's the most popular virtual assistant on Fiverr.
Based in Philippines, she specializes in data entry, microsoft office, wordpress, html & php.
Rated 4.9 (out of 5) by more than 6K+ clients, he's a popular virtual assistant on Fiverr.
Based in Pakistan, he specializes in graphic design & microsoft office.
Rated 5 (out of 5) by more than 1K+ clients, he's one of the most promising virtual assistants on Fiverr.
Based in Bangladesh, he specializes in internet research, wordpress & email marketing.
Rated 4.9 (out of 5) by more than 1K+, he's one of the fastest growing virtual assitants on Fiverr.
Based in Philippines, he specializes in wordpress, social media marketing & real estate.
Rated 4.9 (out of 5) by more than 500 customers, he's one of top 10 virtual assistants on Fiverr.
Based in India, he specializes in web & android development.
Hiring a virtual assistant is an important step towards automating your business. As a result, you'll get more time to focus on important stuff like marketing, product development, sales, etc.
So, what're you waiting for? Start shortlisting & interviewing virtual assistants. You'll be amazed how things pick up from there.
If done correctly, outsourcing to virtual assistants can help your business to scale up fast.
Hire. Outsource. Grow.