How to Hire a Virtual Assistant (and Why You Should)

Have you ever thought about hiring a Virtual Assistant? Virtual Assistants can help take day-to-day tasks off your plate to give you more time to focus on what you’re good at and what you enjoy. There are millions of small tasks you do every day that can easily be handled by a professional assistant.

Where to get started with hiring a virtual assistant

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Think about what is filling up your time every day. What are those tasks that you don’t enjoy? What’s falling through the cracks? Is your email response time falling behind? Are you following up timely on new leads? Are you keeping up with filing, paying bills, necessary data entry, etc?

What are the most important tasks that need to get done?

My husband and I own a small coffee shop in the mountains of Colorado. While my husband does 99% of the work running the shop, I get to do the fun part overseeing the social media. I noticed that we tend to sell more coffee online when we’re consistently posting on social media. Every time a post goes out, our website experiences a bump of traffic over the next few hours. In seeing this, I realized that one of our essential daily tasks needed to be posting to social media, and this is a task that can easily be handled by a virtual assistant with proper guidance.

After that realization, a few months ago I started researching virtual assistant services, and I came across this list from Hubstaff. The two services on the list that stood out to me were TaskBullet and Virtual Coworker. I scheduled consultations with both of them and there were two key differences between their service offerings.

  • Virtual Coworker offered a really great range of services starting as low as $6 per hour. However, they required a minimum of 20 hours per week with a single dedicated VA. If, for example, you were looking for help with website design and data entry, these would likely be two different people with different skill sets which would require the minimum 20 hours per week each. But, if the tasks you’re looking for are similar in nature and can be handled by a single person (i.e. general assistant services, social media, data entry, etc.), then you can combine as much as possible into the role and start by hiring someone for 20 hours per week.
  • TaskBullet, on the other hand, offers a “bucket system.” You can purchase a bucket of 20 hours that can be used over a period of 3 months. This allows you to start out with a smaller budget and work your way up. The other major difference with TaskBullet is that you don’t get a single dedicated person. You can be assigned different people to work with you on different tasks, all within that 20-hour bucket, depending on the nature of the tasks.

I ended up hiring both Virtual Coworker and TaskBullet for different things, and I’ll tell you about my experiences with both of them.

My experience hiring a VA through Virtual Coworker:

I signed up with Virtual Coworker, committing to the 20 hour per week minimum. I drafted a job description to include all of the tasks I could think that I needed help with. Within a day or so the team at Virtual Coworker sent me three candidates to consider.

I reviewed their information and a couple of them even submitted introductory videos. I immediately connected with one of the candidates and scheduled an interview with her. Within a few days, she became my new virtual assistant.

To be honest, although I liked the candidate, I didn’t have super high expectations for what she would be able to do. One of the tasks I wanted her to take over was the social media scheduling. I am very particular about social media presence and wasn’t sure how someone would do with creating images and drafting the text in the right tone. However, I was completely blown away within a few days by what my VA was able to do. I ended up finding more and more tasks that she could take on and within about a month she became our full time marketing assistant.

My experience hiring a VA through TaskBullet:

I signed up with TaskBullet with the intention of finding some help posting to social media posting for the coffee shop I mentioned above. I was assigned a social media manager for that daily task, and it takes that person 15 minutes or less (usually much less) daily to post to Instagram. I provided very specific guidelines and will build onto this role over time.

I also found that during the first three month period I thought of other small tasks I could use help with. I submitted those tasks in Basecamp (which is the project management tool TaskBullet uses) and was assigned another person to handle them.

TaskBullet gave me a nice option for low budget assistance that allowed me to spread out the hours over a three month period and build on tasks as needed.

How to communicate and track the tasks of a VA:

I mentioned above that TaskBullet uses Basecamp for project management. Virtual Coworker left the project management tools and communication methods up to me, so I tried some different things. What I found to work best was I created a “Project” in Todoist (which is my favorite task management system). Within that Project, I created a Section for each day of the week (Monday through Friday) and a section before Monday called “New Task 👉 Assign to a day”.

Under each day I created tasks that need to be done every weekday or weekly on that particular day. Then the new task section is like an inbox for the VA. I can add new tasks there manually or forward them via email. Then the VA can review incoming tasks and assign them to a day of the week. I have it set up to receive notifications when tasks are marked complete, and if she has any questions, she can insert them into the comments section of the task for me to see.

This system has worked very well for us. I can assign things that need to be done and set a priority level if I need her to know that a certain task is higher priority than others. She can schedule them out for the day that works for her. And I can check on the overall Board in Todoist if I have any questions about the status of any tasks.

How much does a VA cost?

TaskBullet’s bucket system allows you to purchase a bucket as small as 20 hours for $220 ($11/hour). If you know you will use up your bucket faster, you can purchase 60 hours for $540 ($9/hour) or 240 hours for $1,560 ($6.50/hour).

Virtual Coworker’s rates start as low as $6 per hour but range up to $18 per hour for more expert-level services (i.e. mobile app developer). The more experience and skill a VA has, the higher their rate will be (and the less you will need to train them or review their work for quality).

You can also check out virtual assistants (or companies) in the United States. You can find VAs in the U.S. on Upwork for $30-50/hour.

What tasks can a Virtual Assistant help with?

Here’s a starting list of tasks you might consider delegating to a virtual assistant:

  • General assistance
    • format and proof documents
    • create and file documents or forms
    • order office supplies
  • Email management
    • monitoring your inbox
    • organizing your folders, labels, filters
    • convert emails into tasks in a task management system
    • unsubscribe you from spam
  • Marketing assistance
    • add email addresses to email marketing program
    • set up email marketing campaigns
    • coordinate online event logistics
    • schedule blog posts
    • schedule and/or post to social media
    • monitor social media
    • manage Google alerts
    • research affiliates
    • monitor website analytics
    • create marketing graphics
    • data mining
  • Financial assistance
    • invoicing
    • paying bills
    • payroll
    • expense reports
    • receipt organization
  • Personal
    • research and order gifts
    • travel coordination
    • book appointments

If you’re considering hiring a Virtual Assistant, go for it! These were just a couple of the services I’ve tried, but there are lots more out there if you’re looking for something else. It might be hard to let go of things at first. It might be challenging to fully train someone to do the tasks you want them to do in the way you want them done. You might have to test out some different people to find the right fit. But in the end, it will save you time and help you focus more time on the things you really love to do.

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketing director with a background in the publishing industry and a passion for all things related to books. She blogs about book marketing because she loves helping authors navigate the world of social media to discover new ways to promote and sell their books. If you're looking for something good to read, you can find Kelly's top picks here: www.kellyschuknecht.com/book-faves.

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