How Can a Virtual Assistant Help Me (Todays Secret Weapon)

by John-Paul Cody

Updated

Virtual assistants are disrupting the online business world.

For many (including me), virtual assistants have helped get projects over the finish line at record speed, and handle just about anything you throw at them.

VAs are not for everyone though, so keep reading if you want to find out how virtual assistants can help you, and if it’s worth it?

What are virtual assistants?

A virtual assistant (or VA) is a remote worker hired online who assists in a wide range of tasks such as data cleaning, blog post formatting, and email inbox clean up.

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Virtual assistants are helpful when you find yourself running out of hours in the day, and ultimately need a second set of hands. When working in marketing, having extra help in a moments notice is a life saver.

VAs are usually hired overseas in regions of the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, etc. at rates starting at $3/hr and going up to $10/hr depending on qualifications.

Unlike the traditional hiring process that can take weeks, you can go from hiring a virtual assistant to working on a project in a matter of hours.

Agility along with inexpensive rates are the two biggest reasons people hire virtual assistants.

How can a virtual assistant help me?

Virtual assistants can assist with just about any remote task that’s done on a computer.

Most people are surprised to learn just how many tasks are outsource-able to VAs.

Whether starting a sticker business or selling books on eBay, there’s always a few tasks a virtual assistant can help with.

So, what can a virtual assistant help you with? Here are the top 50 tasks a virtual assistant can help you with, so you can focus on the more enjoyable and strategic tasks!

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5 things to do before hiring a virtual assistant

VAs are game changers in the business world, but without the right hiring process it can be a nightmare.

Here are the 5 critical steps everyone should follow before hiring a virtual assistant.

1. Ensure the Job is VA Friendly

Unfortunately virtual assistants cannot pick up your dry cleaning or vacuum your apartment, because they are well.. virtual.

But they can tackle just about any computer based task you can think of. 

Check out the list of 50 tasks above if you need a few ideas. The only real limitation is your ability to create follow-able instructions for the person to follow (we’ll get to that in a minute).

2. Set up Hiring Account

Virtual assistants are most commonly hired on job marketplaces like Upwork (what I use), Fiverr, and The Concierge VA.

Before you can hire though, you’ll need to quickly set up a marketplace account, which asks for the usual stuff like name and email.

how-to-create-an-account-on-upwork

Once you have completed this step (should only take a few minutes) you’re ready to start crafting the job posting, which is one of the biggest elements beginners get wrong.

3. Create a Detailed Job Description

How you create your job description will make or break your virtual assistant experience. It’s no different than if someone attempted to hire you for a job, but didn’t tell you the job responsibilities, how much you’d make, and how long you would work.

Most people would run the other direction, or worse, sign on and have zero intention of actually working.

Creating a thorough job description sets clear expectations for both you and the virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant job description should include:

  • Job responsibilities for the VA
  • The project goal
  • The project budget
  • The project timeline
  • Special word for applicants to include in their application to show they read the full job description (I use “Biz” in the example below)

Here’s an example of a job description template I’ve used for past projects.

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4. Make Sure You Are Ready to Hire

When I hired my first virtual assistant, there were still details I needed to iron out before they could get started.

I ended up keeping them on the sidelines for another week or so, by which time they had been swept up for another project by someone else.

The hiring process for virtual assistants takes hours not weeks. So, before you hire a VA, make sure your project is 100% ready to hand off.

5. Create Crystal Clear Instructions

The virtual assistant’s output will only be as good as the instructions you give them.

So many people get this step wrong, and blame the virtual assistant when the project doesn’t go according to plan. But the truth is, 90-95% of the time, the instructions weren’t clear enough.

Try asking a cook to make your favorite 5-cheese lasagne without giving them a recipe, and see how well it turns out.

The 4 keys to writing clear instructions include:

  1. Write out the instructions in a step-by-step order
  2. Over communicate
  3. Include screenshots/examples when possible
  4. Before hiring, show the project instructions and ask if they still want to pursue the project (ensures they know what they are getting into)

Here’s an example of instructions I used for a recent virtual assistant based project.

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Are virtual assistants worth it?

In my experience, virtual assistants are absolutely worth it, and have helped me get lots of projects over the finish line.

If you’re one of those people who finds themselves saying “If only there were more hours in the day”, then hiring a virtual assistant is probably worth considering.

If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself these 3 questions to determine if a VA will be worth it:

  1. Is this task or project VA-friendly (meaning, is it online and are there easy to follow instructions)
  2. Can I afford to hire a VA for the project (cost ranges from $3/hr-$10/hr)
  3. Would outsourcing this task free up a big chunk of time? (usually want to hire VAs for at least 3-4 hours of work, otherwise it’s probably not worth the time).

How much does a virtual assistant cost?

On average, international virtual assistant’s hourly rates range from $3/hour to $12/hour, depending on their location, English fluency, and expertise.

The most common rate people pay for an overseas VA is $4-$6/hour. However, for VAs based in the United States and Canada, this rate is closer to $12/hour and up.

Senior level virtual assistants with advanced skillsets and dependable track records, will start at $15/hour and can go as high as $55/hour.

Virtual assistant work is also one of the best ways for teens to make money, compared to the usual minimal wage gigs.

Wrapping Up

Virtual assistants are changing the game not only for online businesses but busy professionals as well.

Having worked with VAs on a number of projects at this point, I find them a valuable asset to any team and project.

About the Author

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John-Paul Cody has been an avid online seller for years, across platforms including eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and more. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill, and works in data analytics and marketing.