Cheap Virtual Assistance
It’s one of the biggest topics of concern to both virtual assistants and those who use our services. How much does a virtual assistant cost? Do we provide value? Can you get good and cheap virtual assistance?
There are many schools of thought. Some people want help at the lowest possible cost, no matter what. For example, I was pointed to this post at Matt’s Life Musings about his quest for a $3/hr virtual assistant to help him with his blogging tasks. Matt seems to believe that the typical range for a VA is $2-20 per hour. As I mentioned in a comment at this blog, the typical range STARTS at $25/hr or more. That is, if you are looking for a professional and efficient virtual assistant. Not surprisingly, Matt is already on his third “cheap” virtual assistant and may soon be looking for number 4.
I found Matt’s post through this well written post over at Lawyer On! The Contract Attorney’s Blog. Kimberly is a freelance contract attorney who shares an experience she has had trying to find inexpensive help for a couple of different needs. Kimberly recounts how she posted about her need for clerical work on a message board and had a range of responses from people who wanted a lot of money for virtual assistance ($45/hr – on the higher end for general administrative VA work, but still reasonable) to a law student that was willing to work for an unspecified “reasonable” rate.
These two posts highlighted a concern I have about the virtual assistant profession. It’s one shared by many of my contemporaries (see here and here for a couple of interesting discussions). Virtual assistance as a profession still isn’t fully understood. Too many people call what they do virtual assistance even though they are basically cheap, task-based help.
A virtual assistant is a business owner. Period. I don’t care what you call yourself, you are not really a VA as defined by any of the industry leaders, unless you recognize that you own your own business. A virtual assistant almost certainly has his/her own website, business name, online presence on social networking forums of some kind, etc. A professional virtual assistant might answer your Craiglist ad or elance posting, but it’s a poor way to find a good VA, as you’ll also be inundated with responses from dozens (or hundreds!) of people who figure that because they own a computer and can kind of type that they can provide virtual assistance to you.
A professional virtual assistant is not “cheap”. A virtual assistant will partner with you for the long term, they will learn about your business, help you grow your business and look out for your interests. A virtual assistant will offer you value. You will not need to repeat your instructions four times, your deadlines will be met and the work will be done correctly. If you get anything else, don’t simply walk away – RUN!
So to answer the question – can you get good and cheap virtual assistant help? I’m going with a big NO! If you “can’t afford” to spend more than $5 or $10 per hour, please recognize that you probably aren’t actually looking for a long-term virtual assistant solution. You are not going to save as much time as if you contracted a virtual assistant. You may find a solution that is good enough, and I wish you much luck. If you only want to pay a few dollars per hour you probably aren’t the right client for me, any more than I am the right virtual assistant for you.
Laurie Mapp, Owner Halo Secretarial Services Contact us for more information on virtual legal assistance!