How to find and work with virtual assistants

This guide is based on Mixergy’s course with Owen McGab Enaohwo.

Owen McGab Enaohwo wanted to reduce his daily workload, so he hired virtual assistants (VAs) to do tasks he didn’t have time to do and increased his productivity. It was all done by effective outsourcing, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Owen is the founder of HireYourVirtualAssistant.com, which helps entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants so they can focus on income-producing activities instead.

Here are the actionable highlights from the course.

1. Find virtual assistants yourself to cut down on fees

Owen says it costs $600 a month to work with a VA through HireYourVirtualAssistant.com, but only $300 to $500 to work with a VA you found on your own.

Take Action:
Find VAs by contacting job seekers or by posting ads on boards like JobStreet.com, Best Jobs Philippines, and Craigslist Philippines, or on freelancing sites like oDesk and Elance.


2. Or use VA providers and placement sites to save time

Owen says finding the right virtual assistant takes time and a lot of trials to get it right, which can be avoided by using a VA provider instead.

Take Action:
Use virtual assistant providers like HireYourVirtualAssistant.com or placement sites like Zirtual or Virtual Staff Finder, and specify what skills you’re looking for in a VA.


3. Evaluate prospective VAs to see if they’ll be a good fit

For an iPhone project, Owen asked VAs to take programming tests and checked their feedback on oDesk.

Take Action:
Look at each prospective VA’s portfolio, check their feedback, ask for references, and ask them to take online tests on sites like oDesk that evaluate specific skills.


4. Create systems for tasks so your VA will know what to do

Owen wanted his VAs to look for active real estate agents to offer them free service trials, so he sent them a how-to video with specific instructions.

Take Action:
Tell VAs what you want them to do, why you want them to do it, and how they’re supposed to do it by providing detailed instructions and video guides, if possible.


5. Follow up with your VAs so they don’t miss deadlines

Owen uses Highrise to assign tasks and automatically send VAs reminders about overdue jobs.

Take Action:
Use tools like FollowUp or Highrise to manage tasks and send reminders.


6. Use task metrics so you can monitor your project’s progress

To evaluate his free trial campaign, Owen had his VAs record how many calls they made, how many free trials they initiated, and how many trials turned into paying clients.

Take Action:
Create progress logs for VAs to fill out, or use project management software like Basecamp to send your VAs to-do lists, track completed tasks, and set project milestones.


Want to make sure you get results?

Written by Hazel Chua, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • http://www.HireYourVirtualAssistant.com Owen McGab Enaohwo

    Wow, I love checking out courses from other Mixergy guest but I must say it feels great to see mine listed one here as well. (<<<— enough about me) I look forward to answering any questions that the Mixergy community might have about hiring a Virtual Assistant. So please feel free to leave a comment with your question if you have one. Cheers!)

  • Jeff Gaudette

    Looking forward to watching the course, Owen. I haven’t watched it yet, so not sure if you brought this up.

    One problem I have with sites like Odesk is that the feedback is usually unhelpful and not accurate because the contractors try so hard to get perfect ratings. For example, I had one developer who was terrible. He had great feedback (5 stars across the board) but his work was sloppy – to the point I had to re-do everything myself. I reluctantly paid, ended the contract, and left appropriate feedback. I got an email within minutes from the contractor offering a complete refund ($150) if I would change my feedback to positive.

    While I want to contribute to the overall health of the eco-system (and I realize I am only making it harder for other contractors), refunding $150 is hard to pass up. This has happened to me on multiple occasions, which makes me question the validity of any feedback system like this.

    Curious to know if you had any similar experiences.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for doing the session!

  • Guest

    Seriously? Why not just work with a professional VA through one of the VA Directories out there. You won’t have to train them because they already know what’s needed to be done.

  • http://www.kathiesphotos.com/ kathiesphotos

    Seriously? Why not just work with a professional VA through one of the VA Directories out there. You won’t have to train them because they already know what’s needed to be done. There’s a massive difference between Virtual Assistants who are self-employed, working with clients as business partners rather than engaging a VA who is actually a virtual worker employee with an agency.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Has that worked for you?

  • http://twitter.com/idealhelper Ideal-Helper.com

    When you start giving your VA some tasks, don’t start with several different tasks at once. Give him a very simple task first, and let him repeat it a few times.
    It could be something like sharing a link through social media, following specific instructions.
    See how well that works out.

    If it doesn’t work out, you haven’t invested too much time, energy and money into in depth training before you can try out a better candidate.

    If it does work, out: gradually increase the difficulty of the tasks. That way, you’ll know the maximum you can ask from your VA!

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