Anyone have any advice on Virtual Assistants?

June 22, 2008

A bit of a bleg: I’ve been looking at hiring a virtual assistant. It’s Sunday as I write this and there are over 200 unread emails in my inbox, and that’s with over 50 rules putting most emails into other folders, of which there is thousands of unread emails.What I’m looking at is someone to process my inbox, follow up on Friend requests mostly (74 FriendFeed follows in the last 2 days for example), delete the junk and tag the stuff that is urgent/ needs immediate attention. I figure maybe 2 hours a day, and the cost works: I’d be looking at around $3-5/ hr according to a couple of the outsourcing sites I’ve looked at as I won’t require a highly skilled top level VA, really just someone who can follow a set of instructions, process that list daily, and give me an extra hour or sometimes more every day.

What’s holding me back: what’s the best way to get a VA to process their work? I use a GTD program that isn’t web compatible so that’s out, I download my email so Gmail won’t completely work, although it could be tweaked to do so I guess. I’m just wondering how other people do the management side of a VA, perhaps there might be some dedicated software or web package to make it easier/ facilitate the process?

Any thoughts you’d care to share are welcome.

15 responses to Anyone have any advice on Virtual Assistants?

  1. I could see this being a good job for a teenager who doesn't want too work at the usual Fast Food outlet. Heaven knows I'd rather read your email then get a job flipping burgers; although there are commitment issues with that (i.e school work)

  2. Google Tim Ferris, somewhere on his blog he has a whole post of do/don'ts

  3. Hey there,

    I happen to teach entrepreneurs how to outsource and delegate tasks to VAs. So I'll take a stab at trying to help you get on track here.

    I don't know what a GTD program is but it sounds like in order to really be able to start outsourcing you need to get your technology congruent with a virtual environment. I have all my email accounts & web site emails routing directly to my assistants. I never touch it.

    I created “scripts” for how I want them to handle every kind of request so they can be self-sufficient. If you really want to do this in the highest payoff way, then I suggest finding someone you can totally trust to own the email (forward it to them) and then create a private email address where they float up to you anything you must handle directly.

    I will say that I think $3 – 5/hr is possibly unrealistic. I always say that cheaper typically means more hand holding and less expertise. It's worth it to me to pay someone more per hour to be able to have more trust and self-sufficiency.

    Hope that helps…

    Melanie Benson Strick
    Million Dollar Lifestyle Business Coach
    & Virtual Team Building Secrets

    PS This free report might be of interest: 101 Ways to Triple Your Income by Outsourcing Your High Payoff Activities. Get your copy at

  4. As Melanie mentions, your $3-5 is most likely unrealistic – at least via any of the professional VA networks it is. If you go to guru, elance or one of those outsourcing sites, you'll probably get someone from a low income country who can help you.

    Or, as bdude mentions, why not find a local teenager to assist you? I have a Year 10 student who works for me part-time (although for considerably more than what you quote above – I pay her the minimum wage here in Australia for help in the office). Teenagers are very computer and internet savvy and would be pleased to help you, I'm sure.

    However, if you get to the stage where you do want a professional to assist, I have a team of VAs in 16 countries and I'm sure we'd find someone suitable for your needs. And how is the management handled? Usually via email and Skype or similar processes, even the phone. Depends on what your needs are and how often you need to connect with the VA.

  5. As bdube&Kathie,looking for a local students may be a good idea,and also good for communicate.

  6. search “Your Man in India”
    learned of it in Tim Ferris' book

  7. megan Roberts June 24, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    “Your Man in India” doesn't have VA's (Tim Ferris made a mistake)… Get Friday is what Tim meant to refer to.

  8. Sounds like an interesting project. If you get Zimbra mail (owned by Yahoo now)which is free for the basic version, someone can write you a zimlet (Zimbra plugin system) to do the VA work. In fact, maybe if I have some time, I may be able to write this one for you since I work at Zimbra 🙂 That'll be free of course, I am not in sales and not trying to sell anything here.

  9. Also there is Amazon's mechanical turk. Almost virtual 🙂

  10. Ha! You sound like me 2 years ago. Dude, come on! First, get a new gmail account and click on settings go to accounts and where it says get mail from other accounts enter in your other email accounts and have that gmail account collect everything! So now you have it all in one place…it needs to be processed. Go to and post a project for $5 per hour on a virtual assistant. Just say that you need your inbox processed. see what comes back! You aren't required to hire anyone so don't worry if you don't like what comes back. My guess is there's someone out there willing to do this job for $5 an hour. I pay my guy $10 per hour but he does other stuff for me.

    If your still intimidated go to and buy one phone call just to see if it works! Get into it, I now work 2 days a week…

  11. You may find this article helpful. Try You would probably be best suited with a VA from countries like India and other Asian countries.

  12. You may have found some and then again, maybe not. If not email support at virtualmissfriday dot com, I can help.

  13. You may have found some and then again, maybe not. If not email support at virtualmissfriday dot com, I can help.

  14. You may have found some and then again, maybe not. If not email support at virtualmissfriday dot com, I can help.

  15. Philippine Virtual Assistant January 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Finding the right qualities for your virtual assistant might be hard depending on your business needs but kept in mind that the attitude plus the skills are the perfect requirements. If I can be of assistance, I would highly recommend you – they have great customer service 😉