Virtual Assistants: The New Office Secretaries

Stop spending half of your workday sending emails.

February 11, 2016

Are you constantly focusing on small, menial tasks at work but don’t want to hire a full-time secretary?

Good news for you: virtual assistants are at your fingertips and we’ve got all the details on how to go about hiring one.

A Reddit user recently asked,

“If you use a Virtual Assistant, what do they do for you, how did you find them, why did you select them, are you happy with the services they provide and how much do you pay them?”

Here’s one person’s take on their experience as a real-life virtual assistant.

They answer all the questions you may (or may not) have about hiring and working with a VA.

What do they do?

They can do anything but file stuff for you in person. Here’s a list of stuff I did for an entrepreneur:

  • Called UPS a few times a month
  • Bought flowers and had them delivered to his mother
  • Made traveling arrangements for his mother
  • Online shopping
  • Researched other competitors
  • Handled customer service for his business over email and sometimes phone
  • Made reservations
  • Handled his inbox: screened emails and replied on his behalf
  • Handled client on-boarding
  • Reminded him to stay on track

How much does a virtual assistant cost?

You have a few options.

Option one

You can go to Elance (or whatever’s hot right now) and find a virtual assistant for maybe $4 – $7 an hour.


  • Cheap
  • Sometimes they may sound like they’re from the US
  • You’ll have a dedicated assistant


  • International laws are not on your side if things go haywire
  • No formal training. You may have to go over their work and break things down further due to language barriers.
  • Accent may get in your way
  • Timezone difference
  • No refunds if you’re not happy with the work

Option 2

You can also go through a company like Zirtual ($20/hr – $33/hr), here’s their review, or EAHelp (highly recommend EAHelp, it’s an honor to be their competitor – they charge around $35/hr+).


  • Vetted, interviewed and background checked for you
  • You know how much you’re paying
  • You most likely can get a refund if you’re not happy
  • You have a legal protection
  • VAs are from the US
  • Usually have formal training to complete your tasks and, in some cases, even a Bachelor’s degree
  • Can pick up things faster
  • You’ll have a dedicated assistant


  • More expensive

Option 3

There’s also Fancy Hands (here’s their review), which is like the mTurk of virtual assistants. I wouldn’t recommend them for high-level tasks, such as the ones I listed above. However, they’re good at one off things.


  • Cheaper than going through a company
  • Great for little things such as reservations or buying plane tickets
  • Located in the US
  • You can get a refund if you’re not happy
  • Legal protection


  • No formal training.
  • Pay is bad
  • You won’t have a dedicated assistant
  • Low morale (think Walmart). Don’t expect the world.

The takeaway

Virtual assistants can help relieve time in your workday without having to hire someone full-time in the office.

For more information on what’s available, this site rates Virtual Assistant companies.

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