Virtual help for real-world job stress

Virtual assistants are way more useful than virtual reality

You, overworked and underpaid, dream incessantly of a clone to handle your annoying online tasks and past-due assignments. Silly mortal: Don’t you know this dream is already possible in (virtual) reality? Virtual assistants are real people who assist in your online endeavors for a fraction of what it would cost to hire an actual personal assistant. Having one doesn’t free you from picking up your own dry-cleaning and scrubbing down your own purse-size chihuahua. But it does mean you can get many pesky assignments completed for you for a low monthly fee. 

What can virtual assistants do for you?
A whole lot, according to Nancy Seeger, Marketing Director of the International Virtual Assistants Association. Virtual assistants, or VAs, specialize in legal support, social media administration, WordPress support, web design and general administration.

Brooklynite Karama Brown, creator of Savvy Brown and a freelance video editor, uses VAs to make her life easier, especially when it comes to running her blog in conjunction with her busy work schedule. Since her website is dedicated to natural living, she often delegates tasks to her VAs that include researching uses for the specific ingredients that she blogs about. In addition, she also utilizes the service — in her case, 24/7 Virtual Assistant — for personal errands, such as booking air travel and car rental.

Okay, but how much does this cost?
Seeger says that the average virtual assistant costs around $25-$100 per hour. However, that high price is typically for the use of a virtual assistant in a professional atmosphere. Make sure that you ask for a personal rate rather than a business rate. Also, depending on the company that you choose, check to see if the monthly rate will cost less over time than an hourly rate. 24/7 Virtual Assistant charges $150 a month for 10 hours of VA services and $75 a month for 5 hours.

Getting the most from your virtual host
One of the best things about using a virtual assistant service, Brown says, is that your tasks are assigned to more than one assistant, making the possibility of getting two to three times as much work done using a 5 or 10 hour plan a reality. She was also able to get tasks done 24 hours a day by texting, emailing, Skype-ing and IMing her VA.

If you task your VA with personal assignments such as bill paying or personal legal research, be prepared to forfeit passwords and pin numbers so that your VA can access your information independently. To make sure that your information remains confidential, use a reputable company that utilizes non-disclosure agreements.

Where can you get a virtual assistant?
Other than 24/7 Virtual Assistant, here are a few others:

My Business Assistant
is a traditional VA service that  has flex budget plans available, starting at $100 a month.

Elance allows you to place bids on services performed virtually for you by contractors (You can also set-up a profile for yourself and have others bid on your services as a VA if you’re in need of cash).

Need to have your bland blog tricked out? Contract out a developer! oDesk specializes in technical services and lets virtual assistants – who are independent contractors – name their own price. You, as the employer, only pay for the hours that you utilize their services. No package deals here!

There are tons of VA services out there, so find your best fit by using Google search, or by visiting the IVAA website.