Do you want to make your online business more efficient? Hire a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is, as the name implies, a person that helps you to achieve tasks online. In this way, you can save time on routines and focus on more and/or new projects. The tasks that can be done by your assistant can be as diverse as:

–       Writing articles, web content

–       Translation services

–       Link building for your websites

–       Managing your website(s)

–       Online research

–       Data Entry

–       Standard business processes (i.e. sending emails)

The Advantages of a Virtual Assistant

There are some specific advantages of hiring a virtual assistant – why would you hire them otherwise? The main reasons to hire a virtual assistant are:

> They can be contacted in a location independent matter. That means you can communicate with them online from anywhere you want (and they with you) by using email, Skype and/or social media.

> They are cheap. By using geo-arbitrage you can hire a virtual assistant from low-income countries. In this way, you have a relative cheap assistant while they make an above average income from your pay. Some VA’s charge as low as $100 a month (full-time employment).

> They can be experienced and good. Some have worked in a specific field (i.e. writing) for many years. Now, this is obviously not true for all of them and you will have a strict hiring policy but when you find a good virtual assistant they are worth gold.

> You can focus on your core competencies. When you outsource standard task you will have more free time to pursue new projects where you can utilize your core competencies more efficiently and to a greater extent.

As such, there are some real good reasons why you should consider hiring a virtual assistant. Of course, there are also some drawbacks. For one, you will have to instruct your virtual assistant(s) when they start out. This takes time. Second, you will have to go recruit them and find the good ones. This will also take time. But eventually, these drawbacks are minor compared to the advantages. Your only limitation is actually the amount of work that you can outsource (in other words, the size of your online business).

Where to Find Virtual Assistants

You can find virtual assistants in many sizes, and as such in many places. You can even start to ask around your family and or friends if they know someone who wants to earn an extra buck. But in general there a many good website dedicated to providing you a virtual assistant. Some examples:

Odesk – You can find virtual assistants here of all kinds

Elance – Mainly for designers, writers, programmers

OneHourTranslation – Best place to find translators and interpreters

Online jobs – For virtual assistants from the Philippines

You will also be able to find virtual assistants through online agencies if you do a google search.

How to Find a Good Virtual Assistant

They key thing in finding a virtual assistant it that she or he clicks with you as a person. Your way of working at your business has to be understood by the VA. So it makes sense to find persons who are compatible with you on this level. A good way to find this out is just to talk with them over email or on Skype for a little bit. In this way, you can also test their language (i.e. English) abilities and their communication skills (if needed).

The second thing you have to look at is past experience and education from the VA, with the former much more important than the latter. Obviously, if the VA has worked in similar business as yours before that is an advantage. In case you are serious in hiring a certain VA (or need to choose between a couple of good candidates) you can also ask for references and contact the company they worked for before. In this way, it is not dissimilar to a standard hiring process. It is even better if you know others with an online business who can recommend you, virtual assistants, they work or have worked with.

Now, prices among VA’s differ wildly. Some charge as low as $100 a month, while real experienced ones charge a normal 4 figure monthly salary. More expensive is not always better though. First, it depends on your requirements for the job. In case it is a simple data entry job or link building, this is not hard to learn so you do need an experienced VA. Also experienced does not equate to more capable, but obviously your chances to find a really good VA a bigger in the high end than in the low end.

Essentially, the more time you are willing to spend to search for the perfect VA, the bigger the chance is that you will find him or her. And when you have a good one for the long term it really can grow your business. So it can be very beneficial to invest something upfront in a VA as it will provide you many benefits in the long run.

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