Your experience with employing a virtual assistant?

16 replies
I am reaching the stage where I need a worker 50% or 100% to assist me with SEO, writing and promoting my sites. I plan to hire a Virtual Assistant, probably in the Philippines.

My main concern is that, instead of relieving me, this will actually give me more work, because I will have to instruct the assistant day after day, and I will have to constantly review his work before he publishes it, fearing that it may do more harm than good.

How do you deal with daily project management and your virtual assistant? What software or methodology do you use?

I had a peek at a few project management programs, but none really convinced me, either because they looked too complicated to use, or because their price was prohibitive.

I would feel more confident dealing with my virtual assistant by email using my email client, and finding a way to classify each .eml file into its own folder. But that too looks like a lot of work.

So how do you organize your work with your virtual assistant?
#assistant #employing #experience #virtual
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  • Profile picture of the author Katie Rich
    I haven't employed one, but I WAS one for a while.

    Communication was via email messages and Skype. If the instructions are clear why would you need to be concerned?
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Elisson
    Managing an assistant over email is fine, but be aware that there is a learning curve both for you and the assistant.

    You have to learn to be very specific and precise with your instructions and to set concrete deadlines as well as instruct the assistant on what to do if a task doesn't go according to plan.

    Over time, the assistant will learn the work, your business, and your management style better and it will be easier to communicate with them. But until then it's your job to spell out exactly what you want to be done otherwise it won't be done the way you want it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    I have had a VA for quite a long time now and communication is the key...

    I use to create videos on the tasks I needed her to do it offered her training and showed her exactly what i wanted...

    It may take 10 VA's to find the right one for you but keep looking and they will come

    Good luck
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    • Profile picture of the author JosephTate
      Banned
      I have not had much luck looking for VAs so far..will keep trying though..
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  • Profile picture of the author depotgang
    I just love it....BUT I HATE IT... I have 3 full time for 4 year....but I had 20 before I found those 3.... And you may not know their names

    LOL

    Trial and error. Quick to hire...faster to fire.
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  • Profile picture of the author VASEO
    As you know, I am a service provider here.
    With my experience, it's wonderful to use skype, email and Gtalk.. to discussion
    for the work,
    Before you ask VA working, so that to have the best work you should writer a instruction or create a video to VA can learn the work.
    Add my skype if you need help from me
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  • Profile picture of the author barbling
    I've had one now for over a year to help with research/FB groups - very wise investment on my part.
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  • Profile picture of the author karolk
    I've some experience hiring VAs in the recent years (hired two of them).

    One through Hire the best Filipino employees and virtual assistants the Philippines has to offer! and the other through Virtual Staff Finder - The Best Virtual Assistant Services Company in the World!

    The latter is surely easier, but a lot more expensive. Overall, I'd go for VSF if I were hiring someone else.

    For managing projects and tasks I use https://redbooth.com/. It's free and it does the job well.

    The difficult part is that you are the one creating all the tasks and managing the whole thing from the bird's eye view. In the end, you need to have the structure of your business figured out prior to hiring someone. A VA will make things more effective only if they are already working quite well right now.

    You can get some more advice here: Should you hire a virtual assistant? A freelancer's cheat sheet | Graphic Design Blender | Freelance Design Blog
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    You know what, I won't try to lead you in with fake promises and false advertising. So let me just be honest. If you're looking for some online business advice for normal people (with no hype and constant product pushing) then hop over to newinternetorder.com

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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    I plan to hire a Virtual Assistant, probably in the Philippines.

    My main concern is that, instead of relieving me, this will actually give me more work, because I will have to instruct the assistant day after day, and I will have to constantly review his work before he publishes it, fearing that it may do more harm than good.
    Indeed.

    If your business is anything like mine, that's exactly what will happen in the short term. In the longer term, of course, one hopes and intends that the effect will be the opposite of that, and that one will end up with a consistently reliable outsourcee who's well trained and productive and saves one a lot of time. And that can be the outcome, provided that you start off with a promising, skilled, reliable person and can retain them. Both of which require some understanding and experience.

    Over the last two years or so, I've gone through this process for my own business (and I should really have started to do so at an earlier stage). It's been at times a long, steep and difficult learning-curve, but after putting in all that extra effort and learning quite a bit as I went along, I've now ended up with three full-time VA's, one in the Philippines and two in India, and am wondering why I didn't start that process two years earlier.

    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    How do you deal with daily project management and your virtual assistant?
    By email and sometimes Skype, and by gradually getting to know and trust one another.

    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    What software or methodology do you use?
    No software. My underlying methodology's been based partly on finding the right, skilled, serious, honest, reliable people to start with, and on being able to decide which parts of my business each will eventually be able to help me with.

    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    I had a peek at a few project management programs, but none really convinced me, either because they looked too complicated to use, or because their price was prohibitive.
    It never occurred to me that that might be a productive way of dealing with the situation. I wouldn't dream of it.

    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    I would feel more confident dealing with my virtual assistant by email using my email client
    So do I.

    I didn't think I'd end up with three VA's (nor did I imagine I'd ever have enough for three to do!). I expected that I'd take on/start off with a large number of potential VA's and eventually be left with one or possibly two.

    I could almost write a book about my experiences of doing this. But the reality is that it wouldn't be very useful to anyone else, because their businesses aren't going to be like mine anyway.

    It helped me to set out (for each "vacancy") a really clearly written "job description" at the outset.

    I also agree entirely with Danny's comment above that "communication is the key".

    And it really, really helps to put in a lot of effort at the beginning to start off with reliable people who are seriously looking for a full-time job and have independently verifiable references proving that they have successful experience of doing exactly what you need them to do. I'd strongly advise anyone not to waste their time trying to deal with anyone without independently verifiable references. This should be kind of "your basic starting position", I think.

    It helped me a lot to have a formal and deliberately slightly complicated "application procedure" in place. This enabled me to see which potential applications had no apparent difficulty following the instructions. That's one of the most important and valuable things you can know about them, needless to say. My parents suggested this, the first time I advertised for someone (that was after I already had one: I got my first VA through a personal introduction), and it was really very useful indeed!

    Good luck! (It's worth it, in the end!).
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  • Profile picture of the author cindypark
    Originally Posted by monstrapecuniam View Post

    I am reaching the stage where I need a worker 50% or 100% to assist me with SEO, writing and promoting my sites. I plan to hire a Virtual Assistant, probably in the Philippines.

    My main concern is that, instead of relieving me, this will actually give me more work, because I will have to instruct the assistant day after day, and I will have to constantly review his work before he publishes it, fearing that it may do more harm than good.

    How do you deal with daily project management and your virtual assistant? What software or methodology do you use?

    I had a peek at a few project management programs, but none really convinced me, either because they looked too complicated to use, or because their price was prohibitive.

    I would feel more confident dealing with my virtual assistant by email using my email client, and finding a way to classify each .eml file into its own folder. But that too looks like a lot of work.

    So how do you organize your work with your virtual assistant?
    im not an employer but for me with clear instruction and constant communication i think it would be more easy for your VA to understand your task and do it as perfect as you want.
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  • Profile picture of the author Katie Rich
    Find someone who understands you. Not every VA has to be based in the Philippines or in India, there are VA's in Western countries too.

    If you communicate clearly then there should be no problem and if you are paying by the hour then there is time recording software that will show you exactly how long the VA has worked on your project which saves you feeling you having to check up on them all the time.
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  • Profile picture of the author john0pablo
    It's depend on how you are hiring. I am working with VA's almost 4 years. Plenty of them working for me. I run my own internet marketing/SEO company. you can use elance to hire VA's. Check the rating and reviews first.
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  • Profile picture of the author jessiem
    I read an article about Hiring a VA in the Philippines and I was thinking that this could help you find out whether Filipinos are good to hire or not.

    Personally, I've not tried this, but to me, Filipinos are more fluent in English compared to other countries like India and China.

    Hiring VAs from the Philippines make a perfect sense since Filipinos are hard workers and have an impeccable work ethic compared to other international VAs. You can find quality but less expensive workforce from the Philippines.
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  • Profile picture of the author MachoMadness
    I have hired many and as long as you interview them beforehand its usually a cakewalk.

    Just one piece of advice Make Sure they have good English skills before letting them work on your project.

    You may think they understand what you want them to do, but you really need to be thorough.

    I wont hire anyone from odesk etc. unless they have passed my 'opposites test'. Whats an opposites test you say? Well you get them on Skype, you tell them a word in English and they have a few seconds to tell you the opposite...

    This has saved me more time and money than you could imagine. They can cheat English exams and use Google translate all day but the opposites test really stamps that out.
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  • Profile picture of the author LiamTrevor
    It is very hard to find the good person for such job, at least you have to speak with each candidate via Skype or another visual messenger. But how do you plan to control their work?
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  • Profile picture of the author ctrlaltdelete
    I know this is an old thread but I couldn't help but put my two cents in. Finding a reliable virtual assistant is pretty hard these days, so if it were me, I'd get someone from a website that somehow watches out for its members (both employers and employees). They usually have a system for making sure the jobseeking folks are trustworthy types with trust ratings and such. If I recall correctly I think they do background checks on everyone to make sure they're all honest.
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