Open Thread: Do You Use a Virtual Assistant?


ScreenshotWe’ve written about the benefits of outsourcing your chores, and we’ve covered the expanding field of virtual assistants. But though I’ve employed office staff in the past, I’m reaching the point where a VA might make sense. The problem is that I’m having trouble identifying chunks of work that it would make sense for me to outsource.

I hope that some of you WWD readers have stories of your own in this area to inspire me. So – if you use a VA of your own, how is it working out? How did you find your assistant? What sorts of things do you hand over to be done? And if you’re a virtual assistant, we’d welcome your perspective as well: where do you find you can help your clients the most?

Image credit: stock.xchng user anshustock


Gourab Nanda

Virtual assistants are surely helpful for small businesses. Considering that 99% of USA-based businesses are small – there’s a huge need for virtual assistants for back-office tasks. Businesses all over the world are taking advantage of right shore outsourcing of virtual assistants to save money and time.

Donna Lindsey

As I’ve read the answers here, I had two thoughts.

One … outsource vs VA … to me the difference here is the personal relationship. I am a VA, but some of my clients use me more like an outsource service … developing no relationship. These clients are content with the set job just being done. Others that I consider to utliize me as their VA are ones that I get to know better and thus I can often anticipate and meet additional needs. You need to consider which you want … and make sure your choice knows which you want and is willing to offer that.
TWO – I noticed a comment about learning curve in a specific business being difficult to overcome. In some industries or for some tasks, that is a BIG issue. Search for VA’s who provide services specifically to companies in your industry OR the specific tasks you need. You might be pleasantly surprised to find a VA who specializes in your “jargon” and who won’t have a learning curve at all. For example, I run a business that provides a variety of office services specifically for Mary Kay Sales Directors. They need a VA with a deep understanding of their organization, terminology and needs. So if you need a VA in a specific field search for it rather than give up!

Another big PRO to a VA is that they often have developed systems to automate and speed up tasks that are time consuming. If I didn’t work for many clients and do the same thing for many of them, I would bother to create those kinds of automation and tools. This saves me time and allows me to charge a client less than if I were in the office doing it manually.

Philippine Virtual Assistant

It’s a no brainer why you wouldn’t need a virtual assistant. When you have a lot of things to do a virtual assistant is needed. It is better to list down the skills you need for a virtual assistant, interview them and get to know them so you know how to approach.

Taryn Merrick

It’s a great idea to start off slow when working with a Virtual Assistant. If you think you need 20 hours of support a month, start with an affordable 5, and work your way up. As time goes on, and with the *right* Virtual Assistant, so should your confidence in him/her and your comprehension that the fees you are paying is money well spent in exchange for high level administrative support.

Also, consider if you need a specialist. Many VAs have specialties. For instance, I work with Mac users and Eco entrepreneurs who need basic admin. assistance and social media support.

Using a VA who specializes will enable a quicker comprehension of your needs by the VA and he/she will be able to give you faster results.

Judy Schramm

I have 3-4 virtual assistants plus about 15 other people to whom I outsource work.

You’re right – it can be a challenge. There’s definitely a learning curve and you do need to change the way you think about your business.

When you’re looking for work to outsource, look in 3 places:
– Things you hate to do
– Things that have the potential to generate revenue that aren’t getting done now
– Things that are time-consuming but simple to explain

Then screen that initial list to see which tasks meet the following criteria (because this is what you need for an ideal starting project):

– Can someone do this work without knowing a lot about your business?
– Can you easily define the steps they need to take?
– Can you get them what they need to do the work easily?

Hope this helps…


Hi! I am a VA as well who works for an IT Outsourcing Company. Most IT BPOs offer free consultation and free trial for a certain period of time without the hassles of bonds. Just to make sure that you are contented with the job they are offering and that you really need VA to do specific jobs.You have to be careful though in choosing the company so as to protect your rights and safety as well.

Viki Garrison

Mike, I don’t know if you found a VA yet as this thread is 6 months old, but here is a short list of projects a VA can do in about an hour. Go to to see a list of 50 one-hour projects.

* Data entry of 50 contacts into Excel
* Create a PowerPoint presentation
* Balance monthly statement
* Update & manage online calendar
* Create PDF’s for company documents

I hope this gives you some ideas on what jobs to outsource.

Viki Garrison, owner
Need help? Ask Viki!



This is a great discussion. I am a Virtual Assistant and have been for almost 7 years now. Most all business can use the services of a VA. I have found that the East Coast seems to be a little bit slower that the West Coast in accepting Virtual Assistants and what we can accomplish from our home offices.

A lot of Virtual Assistants come to the table and offer Admin services and that’s fine, but when you find a VA who offers a specialty like web design, newsletter creation and distribution and even graphic design, they have taken extra steps to develop their skills. I know a lot of Virtual Assistants will work with new clients on a trial basis, I personally offer a (4 hour) trial contract for those who want to try my services and not be tied into a long term contract.

I know that IVAA has an RFP system and so does I have gotten a lot of my clients from Just visit the site and you can check out their RFP system and see it it’s for you.

As a VA, all I can say is “Try us, you’ll like us.”

Kathy Zengolewicz


i virtuous graduated from lawschool and was looking for a job. i came across a locality on account of google search. it charges approximately $ 30 for job access. can anyone let me positive how this locate is? they feel to tease unconfined solicitation of authorized Jobs.



Nice discussion. I’m a virtual assistant from the Philippines and although my rate is only $5/hr. I can say in all honesty that I deliver excellent work.

Being multi-skilled, I usually do things like designing and updating blogs in WordPress, graphics design, link building, article writing, research, Squidoo and Hubpages creation and anything that my clients would feel they can trust me with.

The relationship of a VA with his or her clients grows overtime and in the process, more and more work gets delegated because they get to know each other. I enjoy the trust that my clients give me and I make it a point to value that trust by being reliable and consistent with the quality of work I deliver.

However, each VA has their own qualms about some task where they don’t feel comfortable enough to tackle. For my case, I don’t like making calls and my clients respect that because I can contribute a lot in other areas of their business.

I try to learn more about my client’s business along the way because I believe that a VA should be proactive. The client must feel that you are a valuable part of the team and that he or she can trust that you will use your own judgment in making decisions and finding ways to promote their interests.


using the service of a Virtual Assistants is very helpful especially if you have a very busy schedule, VA’s can eliminate you from time consuming work,you can give them task while taking a vacation without worries…

John Silverman

Establishing synergy with a Virtual Assistant is a key step to increasing productivity. When contracting, make sure to conduct one or two phone interviews to learn more about the provider. Additionally, you need to realize that you are not obligated to hire anyone right then and there. Tell your new Virtual Assistant that you wish to operate on a month of Trial. In this trial period you can pay a lower rate and offer a limited amount of hours per week. After the period ends, you and your Virtual Assistant can decide on a comfortable long term rate that meets your budget as well as an average weekly hour limit. We offer more information on our website at The site is currently under construction, but you should find some useful tidbits within. Good luck to you and God bless!

Jeff Yablon

Here’s the thing:

This, like most business decisions, is about time and money. But there’s a rub:

Most of the time, deciding to outsource something (ESPECIALLY something “important”) feels like giving up control.

Tough love: Get over it.

VAs are a great way to take care of the stuff that’s getting in the way of your success, and without either the commitment or liabilities that employees bring.

Finding the right one can be a trick-and-a-half, but you got to where you are by trusting your instincts, and my guess is that continuing to do so will serve you well.

BTW: self-serving as this comment is, I have to agree with those who said you should steer clear of the $5/hr folks for most things. There’s a place for shopping price (my company jobs certain work out to Pakistan and India, for example), but usually doing that brings on a level of project management that you probably don’t wish for . . . meaning you just replaced one task on your plate with another. Leave use of the cheap guys to the professionals; we know how to do it.

Jeff Yablon
President & CEO
Virtual VIP

Cassie Hower

I agree with Virtual Lorri, VAs aren’t employees but if it helps you (the person contracting a VA) then have a think about what kind of work you’d given to on site office staff in the past. Is there any good reason why you can’t outsource this work? Virtual assistant’s can manage their client’s business remotely with the help of many online programs from answering the telephone, to managing email accounts and diaries to bookkeeping and typing, to updating websites and blogs. Why not have a chat with a virtual assistant about what they can offer you. Let them know what on site staff had done for you in the past and they’ll let you know if they are able to do it remotely. Good luck in your search for the perfect VA to help complement your business. Treat them as a business partner and you’ll reap the rewards.

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