Virtual Assistants, or “VAs” for short, are helping people get more things done each and every day. If you've read the 4-Hour Work Week, then you know that Mr. Timothy Ferriss is a huge fan of using VAs for all of the clutter and “the things that I don't want to waste my time doing in my life” type of stuff. Like many internet marketers and other lifestyle design artists, I'm sure he has several full-time VAs working for him at this very moment.
I, on the other hand, don't have any full-time VAs. I only hire providers and pay them on a per-project basis. I'll tell you why in a second, but there's one thing I need to address first.
The topic of hiring VAs is a touchy subject for many, especially when it comes to outsourcing overseas. There are obviously two sides to the argument: on one side, hiring for cheap virtual labor overseas takes potential jobs away from those in the U.S. (or your respective homeland), who may be in need of work. Additionally, the labor can be very inexpensive, almost to the point of being ridiculous and unfair to the eyes of many.
On the other hand, some businesses could not survive with hiring people in the U.S. to do similar tasks that cost much less to accomplish overseas. And at the same time, the low wages that are being offered are actually competitive and comparable to wages in that particular country.
There's much more to the argument than that, but before I go on, let me just say that this post is not a debate between whether or not hiring virtual assistants, overseas or not, is a good or a bad thing. To tell you the truth, I've hired designers and developers here in the U.S., and I've hired people overseas as well. I'm just hoping not to start a debate in the comment section of this particular post, but if you must, by all means.
Anyways, back to why I hire VAs only on a per-project basis.
There are two mains reasons I do this:
- I don't want to manage a full-time VA.
- I want to hire the best VA for the specific job I want accomplished.
Managing a Full-Time VA
I know a lot of internet marketers and entrepreneurs who have full time VAs working for them, and they love it. I also know a lot of internet marketers and entrepreneurs who have full time VAs and are struggling to keep them busy.
Managing a full-time VA is tough. If you can get to the point where you've setup systems and procedures and your VAs automatically know what to do, then that's awesome. That will help your business become more passive. Getting there, however, does take a lot of work.
I've witnessed many VAs be let go just because the person who hired him or her couldn't keep up, or simply didn't have the time to keep them busy. You don't want to replace the tasks that your have your VA doing with time spent managing your VAs.
For me, I'd rather focus on exactly what I need to focus on, and nothing else. If I have a project that needs to get done (website design, SEO, iphone apps, etc.), then I'll hire a VA just for that specific project. Once the job is finished (website design is done, I've reached a certain ranking in Google, the iPhone apps are finished), then my time with that particular VA is finished as well, and those are terms that are understood by all parties from the beginning.
Yes, I know I could benefit from hiring a full-time VA do “continuous” jobs for me, like article writing, SEO, and things of that nature, but again I'd have to spend time continuously managing their tasks to make sure they are done correctly and on time, as well as spend time managing the finances of the relationship as well. Maybe I could hire someone to manage the VAs, but then who would manage that person?
With a Full-Time VA, you'll often find yourself teaching the VA what you want him or her to do. It can be time consuming, and the fact is that in this case, you'll rarely find that the VA will go above and beyond what you taught.
When hiring on a per-project basis, I know (based on the qualifications, feedback, recommendations and portfolio of the person I hired) that my VA is nearly perfect for the job, and someone who already knows what to do. I'll obviously have to give that person a scope of work, but I've never found myself having to teach someone I hired how to do the thing I hired them to do. That just wouldn't make sense!
Furthermore, for almost every project I've outsourced, the specialty VA I hired has gone above and beyond the scope of work. For example, my website designers for The Smart Passive Income Blog (the incredible team at BlazerSix) did much more than I had originally asked for, especially when it came to the backend of the blog and making my life as the admin for this site much easier for me to handle.
Hiring a VA for a project doesn't mean you cannot hire them again. If you love what they did for you, there's no reason why you shouldn't go back for them, or at least ask if they are available. In many cases, these one-time hires will become your “on-call” business helpers, because they live from project to project and would love to establish a long-lasting business relationship with you.
Before I finish up, I just wanted to remind you that there is no right or wrong way here. Again, this is just how I decided to work with VAs. How you plan to work with VAs is totally up to you.
How do you work with VAs? Have you had good experiences with who you've hired?
Thanks for your support. Cheers!
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