"I really need a secretary."
It's a line I've said myself, and I've heard from other people quite often - especially work at home mums like myself.
The biggest hurdle? The money - hiring someone to come and work for or with me would require quite a large monetary outlay, and probably require a minimum amount of hours.
So I got myself a virtual secretary - and here is what I found out.
Should You Hire a Virtual Personal Assistant?
These days, it's difficult to get things done and busy people don't always have the time. So is a virtual assistant the cheap and easy answer?
"I really need a secretary."
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is a person you will probably never meet, usually from another country. They can do a wide range of tasks and communicate with you via email, text or phone. They are happy to do all the boring and insignificant jobs that you don't have the time or patience for.
What a Virtual Assistant Can Do
There is almost no limit to what you can use a virtual assistant for, although it can vary depending on where you're hiring through and what skills you request. Some of the more common requests include:
- Hotel searches and booking.
- Waiting on hold for you before transferring the call through when an operator answers.
- Research on any topic.
- Proofreading and editing.
- Sourcing items you wish to buy, online or real world.
- Writing - for articles, reviews, comments, forum posts or anything else.
- Website building, troubleshooting and coding.
Types of Virtual Assistants
Depending on how you hire them there are two main types of virtual assistants available:
- Freelance - This means they're not affiliated with any company. You can hire and use them as you see fit and you'll always be dealing with the same person.
- Company VA - You may have to agree to a set number of hours and sign a contract. Unless you request a single assistant, you may have a different person handling your request, depending on who's available and the time of day. Companies are often more expensive, although you're more likely to get professionally trained and certified people than if you choose a freelancer.
How is a Virtual Assistant useful to a Work at Home Mum or Blogger?
If you're always busy with your business, chances are you need someone to do the little jobs - without a big cost outlay. There are many ways a virtual assistant can come in handy:
Market research, topic sourcing, finding new products to stock, checking how many other companies sell the same product, checking keywords, finding available domain names.
My Experience with using a Virtual Assistant
I hired five virtual assistants on oDesk - I tested them all and found one I liked. Now she gets regular jobs to do, ranging from keyword research through to finding links on various subjects. Most of them are completed within a short time or by the deadline if I have one. It's great having someone willing and able to do all my odd jobs for me!
How much does a Virtual Assistant cost?
This really varies, depending on what you want them to do and where you hire them. Freelance VAs are generally cheaper than those who work for a company.
However prices can range from as low as $3 per hour up to $30 an hour or more (for a dedicated company VA.)