sunday life: in which I hire a virtual assistant

Posted on March 28th, 2010

This week I hire a Virtual Assistant in India (and, no, the picture below has nothing to do with Virtual Assistants, or India, but is an image of what I’d like to have more time for once I’ve successfully delegated stuff I hate doing ). sartorialist-paris-lunch

I tell you, VAs are the PTs of the new millennium. Ten years ago we took to delegating our weight loss to personal trainers. Soon enough they became part of the fabric of life, popping up at clients’ dinner parties and dating their friends. Now it’s all about delegating our administrative clutter to a remote assistant. Or so I’m learning.

Every productivity guru and self-help blog I encounter advocates hiring one of these faceless helpers to coordinate travel itineraries, answer emails and organise the kids’ swimming lessons…all from a cubicle in Bangalore.

Admittedly I don’t know anyone in Australia who uses a VA. I think it’s because we feel quite puncy offloading our detritus to others. I mean, who admits to having a pool cleaner?

THAT SAID: (AND CONSIDER THIS AN UPDATE SINCE I WROTE THIS COLUMN) it has been highlighted by some Aussie VAs that there are a number of services here. For details, read the comments below or check out here, here, here, here and here. Or for a virtual assistant directory…here.

In the US, the VA scene is huge. Just try emailing someone over there; you’ll no doubt be met with a response from someone in Uzbekistan who writes with comically misplaced modifiers.

Anyway, this week, I decided to jump the tide and hired Sridhar from Coimbatore to wade through my life admin backlog, to see if it makes life better. To save you reading to the bottom: it does. And in surprising ways.

So, how does one hire a VA? Me, I started with an agency – Elance. You pay $US10 via Paypal and then post your job online.  I was after someone to transfer data on my blog, possibly the most tedious task in Christendom, and one I’d procrastinated on for three months.

Within seconds I was inundated with responses from around the world pitching for my pithy task, replete with enthusiastic emoticons. You’re advised to check each VA’s credentials via clever widgets that show client feedback. But this sent me into analysis paralysis. So I walked around the block, came back and chose the first to catch my eye.  Sridhar from Va4World got the gig at – wait for it – $US3.50 an hour.

Once your breath’s back, let’s tackle the ethical quandary this posits. I can’t flesh out fair trade equations here, but suffice to say this rate is triple the average hourly wage in most parts of India. And, comparatively, a lot more than the $8/hour American-based VAs were quoting me. And, vastly more – again comparatively – than what I’ve been paid in the past for base work. Working on a vegan brownie production line at $5/hour springs to mind.

So, did it work? Did I whoop around my desk when I could finally strike “re-tag blog entries” off my to-do list?  Well, the job came back completed in under 24 hours at a cost of $US30. A resounding success, albeit with a few curious typos. Sridhar was my new favourite person on Wednesday. But let me issue a few tips, mostly garnered from horror stories posted on blogs. First, do not hand over a password you use a lot. For my blog task, I changed my password temporarily.

Also, assign horses for courses. That is, don’t expect an IT graduate in Calcutta charging $3/hour to be able to write a keynote speech. That said, in the virtual world of assistants, there is a horse for all occasions. Online I came across people who hired VAs to chart a diet plan and then issue Big Brother-like daily reminders. Another used their VA to research how to tie a shoelace, the document then passed on to the client’s son. Which is so wrong in so many directions!

But the most salient lesson was found in the way the exercise forced me to get clear. And focused. I’d read other VA users’ tips and knew I had to be certain about what I wanted and issue instructions unambiguously and precisely, otherwise the experience becomes more trouble than it’s worth, what, with the to-ing and fro-ing of tweaks and clarifications. This was a challenge for me. I’m often not very clear about what I want…in life broadly. I have a vague idea and then hope life will lead me there. I get frustrated and victim-y, of course, when it doesn’t. So I got clear and gosh it felt good. Sridhar responded efficiently and we produced some elegant electronic flow.

Here’s the rub: cyber-delegating is a self-referring practice. If you’re not clear with what you want, you’ll get chaos back. Or, as Bill Gates once said, “Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency”.  Hiring a VA was an exercise in efficiency. But also in humility.

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  • Paul

    VA’s are great. Here’s a great application if your job involves monitoring multiple forums with thousands of posts from hundreds of authors.

    The idea is doing the light-lifting research of skimming to find the high quality authors you want to follow or research further then giving the VA their forum name and yelling “sick ‘em rex”.

    The VA’sc can then spend hours & hours sifting through all that author’s individual posts to compile a single an easy to read pdf version of just their knowledge. (Better quality VA’s will even learn which posts are irrelevant and not worth collating as their domain knowledge on the topic builds).

    It saves hundreds of hours of information gathering & sifting that is required to uncover that one diamond.

    It’s about 80-90% as good as you’d compile yourself and covers ground space you couldn’t physically do in your own time anyway.

    [Reply]

  • Gina

    I am a VA and love it. I cover everything from personal tasks to executive secretarial support and function organisation.

    Many of my clients are just average people who don’t have enough time to source quotes, book tickets, do research etc; saving hours of time!

    Always open to new enquiries and clients – ginakirchner@bigpond.com.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.assistinguvirtually.com.au Hazel

    Hi Sarah,

    I am a VA and have been for 3 years in Sydney. After working solidly for over 20 years for other people in an admin / office manager capacity I decided that I would move out and work on my own. It is amazing how many people including small-medium business owners who do not know about VAs and how they can assist their businesses (and business owners themselves) to have more time to focus on what they are good out – THEIR BUSINESS!

    It is a great time for individuals and business owners to outsource their admin / marketing / bookkeeping needs which will allow them to remain the forefront of their business. With no payroll issues, no need to have someone work on-site but with the benefit of a professional VA (secretarial, office management and admin), why would you miss out on this successful business of Virtual Assistants to help you.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.vadirectory.net Kathie M Thomas

    Perhaps you need a VA to help you find all the VAs in Australia and those who use them. Sarah, the industry has been growing here since 1996. There are tons of small business owners in Australia who use them. Some of the industries include: professional speakers, business coaches, authors, solicitors, doctors (for transcriptions), realtors, not-for-profit associations, business consultants and the list goes on.

    For the most part, many VAs specialise in different service offerings so rather than having one VA do everything you could engage 2 or 3 to cover a variety of things. Many clients do. My longest term client was with me almost 12 years before they moved on to do something else with their lives but I have other clients who have been with me for 6, 7 or more years. It’s a great working lifestyle and has allowed me to bring up my daughters and be present for them during their growing years. They don’t know what it’s like to have a mum in a ‘job’ outside of home.

    [Reply]

  • Michele Flynn

    Kathie is right….all you really need to do is write an article like you have done Sarah and do a simple google search beforehand for ‘virtualassistants Australia’ and you might be pleasantly surprised. It is a great industry to be a part of and it is very cost-effective and rewarding for both the client and the VA.

    As Hazel sets out outsourcing admin work creates time for business owners to focus on profit making ventures while saving money at the same time. Thanks for the article focussing on VAs it is good to see; please feel free to look into this Australian industry further.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.interimbusiness.com.au Kirsty Wilson

    Hi Sarah,

    I too am a Virtual Assistant and was one of the main supporters, bloggers & promoters on social media of the recent ANZ Febusave campaign with yourself! The virtual assistance industry is growing rapidly in Australia but then so too is the demand. Social media is adding to both the exposure of VAs and the possibility of doing business a little bit differently.

    I think small business in particular are seeking ways to keep expenses down and having a VA enables them to pay for what they use, without all the overheads of an employee. You ought to check out the Aussie VAs. There are some very committed, experienced and professional Virtual Assistants and VA networks here in your own country.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.acevirtualassistance.com.au Jodi Gibson

    I have been a VA for the past 2 1/2 years and as a relative newbie to the industry have noticed the amazing growth in the industry both here and overseas during this short period of time.

    VA’s shouldn’t necessarily be thought of a ‘cheap’ way to do things but more of a business partner who are as committed to their clients business as much as their own. Australian virtual assistants are among the most dedicated, professional and efficient that I have come across and take great pride in their chosen profession.

    I have a boutique business with regular clientele from soloists to small business owners whom I assist with a variety of business support services from e-Marketing, social media, blog & website maintenance, proofreading, and general administrative services. There is a virtual assistant to suit everyone, and the industry is well respected and well deserving of this respect too.

    I hope that more and more Australians discover the benefits of using our own Virtual Assistants as a great cost-effective and time saving way to take their business to the next level.

    [Reply]

  • Heather

    Interesting post – and quite obvious why you would use a VA from India – how on earth could you afford the rates that some Aussie VA’s are charging.
    If you can handle the lack of perfection in english, grammar and the like then by all means, use the Indian VA. (and let’s face it – some of the VA’s here have equal literacy skills)

    It’s all down to the bottom line and what it costs… isn’t it!

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  • http://www.absolutelyvirtual.com.au Monika

    Heather – I don’t know what your profession is but VA rates in Australia and other western countries are way less than the rates charged by consultants, coaches and other high-earning business professionals. Is what a VA does for a living considered of less value than other business professionals? A super VA can make or break their client’s business.

    Other business professionals would be horrified if their clients sort the same services that they provide in third world countries, to use as an example only, coaching or accounting or perhaps even journalists, their standard of living would reduce dramatically.

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  • http://www.virtuosovirtualassistant.com.au Elizabeth Williams

    Australian VAs are strong within the Australian community, our skills are wide and varied through our different experiences of the corporate community. I have only joined the industry late 2009 but as as result of the Global Financial Crisis this industry has had an amazing growth.

    [Reply]

  • Lisa Beavan

    Hi Sarah, I’ve been enjoying your Sunday Life articles and can resonate with many of your articles and as a VA of 7 years and a PA for 15 years before that, part of me groaned when I read your article today. After some reflection though, I believe it’s horses for courses when deciding on whether to use a local VA as a ‘business partner’ or an off-shore VA to provide the services you were perhaps looking for.

    I, and many other Australian VAs, are dedicated to the clients we work with (as you can see from the comments above). I know I’m lucky enough to work with people that I absolutely love, admire and respect and who treat me as very much a part of their business. When you have that relationship, you’re more than willing to go the extra mile for your client. Having said all that though, this is not to everyone’s taste and a business partnership may not be what you’re looking for. However, if your article did anything at all, it raised the awareness of VAs and that can only be a good thing!

    PS – I’m not a big fan of cocktail parties either…

    [Reply]

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  • Sarah

    Hello to the VAs who’ve responded here. Word got around! I’ve updated the post to include most of your details and alerting people to these comments.
    Just to clarify, my post was mostly about the virtues and philosophy of hiring a VA. It wasn’t a discussion about the industry itself (that’s not the scope of my Sunday Life column).
    Also, I’ve been looking out for talk of VA use here for about 2 years and hadn’t come across any dialogue. In the US, countless bloggers and commentators discuss the topic, as I”m sure many of you know.
    Anyhow, feel free to use this comments forum to highlight your services further for readers! Post tips or most-used services etc
    Sarah

    [Reply]

  • http://www.vadirectory.net Kathie M Thomas

    Sarah, many of our clients have written about using a VA but perhaps their writings do not show up well in google.com but they might in google.com.au. It really depends on what you were searching for. It’s mainly been done via newsletters and occasionally via blogs. I’ve done a few interviews of clients who use VAs and this can be seen at http://vadirectory.net/blog/category/client-interview/

    [Reply]

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  • http://www.virtuallyyours.com.au Rosie Shilo

    Hi Sarah
    I link Australian businesses with Australian VAs on a daily basis through my VA Network, Virtually Yours. Many Australian businesses understand and respect the value of a skilled, professional Virtual Assistant who can understand our business culture, financial/tax requirements and what is happening within the media and social avenues – all of which can benefit business owners.
    I have a list of articles at http://www.virtuallyyours.com.au/about.html which were written about Australian businesses using Australian VAs for your information.
    I do agree with your last statement however about needing to know what you want before delegating tasks. A VA can help you work out what to delegate and how to clear your thinking, but the actual tasks need to be defined before you hand them off, otherwise you never know what you might get back – especially if there is a cultural/language difference.
    Sincerely
    Rosie Shilo

    [Reply]

  • Heather

    Monika -

    “Other business professionals would be horrified if their clients sort the same services that they provide in third world countries, to use as an example only, coaching or accounting or perhaps even journalists, their standard of living would reduce dramatically”

    I note that you use the word – “sort” instead of sought and that your sentence is grammatically incorrect; it also makes no sense.

    I assume that you’re an Australian and therefore have a supposedly better command of the english language than overseas counterparts.

    In hiring a VA, I would like to think that the fees are reflective of the quality of work. If I have to constantly re-read reports to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, then I would prefer to pay the lower fees of the VAs’ from India (or other such places)

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  • http://www.execstress.com Lyn Prowse-Bishop

    Wow – I can’t believe “Also, I’ve been looking out for talk of VA use here for about 2 years and hadn’t come across any dialogue”. That’s amazing.

    I’ve been a VA since 2000 with clients across Australia, in the US, Canada, the UK and Singapore and a member of a number of international VA organisations since I began. I’ve been blogging for many of those 10 years – http://blog.execstress.com/ – as has Kathie Thomas who I note commented above. Her VA network has been in existence for more than 10 years. Mine – The Australian Virtual Business Network – http://www.avbn.com.au – has been around since 2006 and a Google search for ‘Australian Virtual Assistant’ turns up not only the Australian VA Convention, but Kathie’s blog and my site in the first four places, together with Rosie Shilo’s network (who also commented above). Even the most cursory of searches turns up PLENTY of VA discussion in Australia.

    Unfortunately, as I wrote in said blog (http://blog.execstress.com/?p=43) a VA is NOT an Indian outsourcing company as found on Elance. As I also posted in that blog (http://blog.execstress.com/?p=48) offshore freelancers are not necessarily the most ‘professional’ people – if they’re happy to steal content from established businesses, how can you trust them with your confidential material?

    A client gave me a recent testimonial comparing my service to one he’d used from overseas: “I have previously had overseas people do transcription for me but your ability to accurately understand my accent and your ability to edit on the fly provided far greater value for money.”

    Of course offshore companies service a particular end of the market – and not one that I target per se. But I think the distinction needs to be made – or reiterated – again – an Indian freelancer is NOT a virtual assistant. The sooner the term is ACCURATELY applied to those who have years of professional administration/secretarial experience the better.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.word4ward.com.au Lorraine Grout

    Heather,

    Surely everyone is allowed to make a typo now and then? Even the most popular authors need editors and proofreaders. As a VA I specialise in supporting individuals and businesses to effectively deliver their written message and some of the work I do involves editing reports, documents and website content created by off-shore VAs who speak English as a second language or use an alternative spelling system (e.g. American-English).

    Not all VAs are word nerds like myself; their skills may lie elsewhere. Most VAs specialise in some form, whether it be bookkeeping, web design, medical transcription, research, or event planning and organisation. It makes sense to use a VA with the skills to match your project. If a project requires a high level of written communication then it makes sense to use a VA with those skills irrespective of where they are based. For projects involving indepth knowledge of web development software code, minor typos are not such an issue.

    One of the biggest advantages for an Aussie business using an Aussie VA, is that most are self-employed business owners themselves. They understand the current economic climate and are perhaps more aware of pertinent leglislation (e.g. copyright) and other relevant industry requirements. As other VAs have pointed out, they work ‘with’ their clients to build business, not for them.

    Incidentally, you have an unncessary apostrophe after VAs in your last line. But as I said, everyone is allowed to make a typo now and then.

    Lorraine

    [Reply]

  • VAs are great

    I use VA for a lot of my admin and mundane work. They are very efficient and cost-effective. I think the most important thing is to communicate what you need done in a clear manner.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.officesupportonline.com.au Marie Chandler

    Well Sarah, you have certainly stirred the hornet’s nest here and across many forums where VAs gather! I too am a Virtual Assistant and have been for the past couple of years. I agree our industry seems to be kept in the shadows when compared to other countries – maybe we are ‘the quiet achievers’. I like to tell people I am the modern equivalent of the old ‘typing from home’ ladies and that thanks to technology such as the internet I am able to learn and offer a broader range of services that will save my client time, money and stress.

    Even if partnering with your new VA and spending time to build a trusting relationship takes a bit of time, it will be time well spent when you are free to spend more of your day building your business, winning clients and getting that step closer to living your dream.

    If you hired an assistant to work with you in the office, you would need to complete the same process – it’s just that we aren’t there physically.

    Thank you for helping to raise the profile of Australian VAs, even if it was unintentional :-) I’m sure there are many more people out there this week asking ‘what is a VA and where do I find one’, so that can only be good for the industry.

    Have a great week!

    Marie

    [Reply]

  • Sarah

    VAs are Great: my point exactly. Hiring a VA is a fantastic way to get clear.

    [Reply]

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  • http://www.akavirtualpa.com.au Anita Kilkenny

    How totally frustrating that someone who claims to be a journalist cannot even research her topic efficiently. Sarah, sounds like you DO need a VA to assist you! Even the most basic word string search – “Virtual Assistant Australia” comes up with countless pages of Australian based VAs.

    There are also 3 large VA networks based in Australia, all of whom have many VAs as members:
    A Clayton’s Secretary http://www.vadirectory.net/,
    Australian Virtual Business Network http://www.avbn.com.au/ and
    Virtually Yours http://www.virtuallyyours.com.au/

    Lastly, I’d like to mention that just this month I was involved in co-organising the inaugural Australian Virtual Assistants Conference http://australianvaconference.com/ here in Melbourne where VAs from all over Australia attended.

    To suggest that you hadn’t come across any dialogue, is beyond comprehension.

    However thank you for bringing our industry to the attention of the Sunrise audience and hopefully we will be given the opportunity to have our say on what a virtual assistant really is, not someone who researches how to tie a shoelace!

    [Reply]

  • Heather

    Lorraine,

    Wasn’t a ‘typo’ – was intentional.
    And, as the “word nerd” that you profess to be – you would know and understand the correct usage of apostrophes.

    Heather

    P.S. ‘Typos’ are the lazy persons excuse for spelling and grammatical errors.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.akavirtualpa.com.au Anita Kilkenny

    How totally frustrating that someone who claims to be a journalist cannot even research her topic efficiently. Sarah, sounds like you DO need a VA to assist you! Even the most basic word string search – “Virtual Assistant Australia” comes up with countless pages of Australian based VAs.

    There are also 3 large VA networks based in Australia, all of whom have many VAs as members:
    A Clayton’s Secretary http://www.vadirectory.net/,
    Australian Virtual Business Network http://www.avbn.com.au/ and
    Virtually Yours http://www.virtuallyyours.com.au/

    Lastly, I’d like to mention that just this month I was involved in co-organising the inaugural Australian Virtual Assistants Conference http://australianvaconference.com/ here in Melbourne where VAs from all over Australia attended.

    To suggest that you hadn’t come across any dialogue, is beyond comprehension.

    However thank you for bringing our industry to the attention of the Sunrise audience and hopefully we will be given the opportunity to have our say on what a virtual assistant really is, not someone who researches how to tie a shoelace!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.vadirectory.net Kathie M Thomas

    Having contacted Sarah direct it was suggested I post same here.

    Hi Sarah, you’re obviously getting quite a bit of attention and traffic from the VA industry here in Australia at the moment, and elsewhere.

    Your blog has quite been the topic of conversation on our discussion forum (we have well over 1000 VAs on the discussion forum) and also Facebook and Twitter.

    I know you struggled to find Australians who were using VAs. Perhaps the approach might have been to search for Aussie VAs and then find out about their clients? Whatever, you’ve got our attention now and hopefully we have yours.

    To give you my story briefly.

    I began as a homebased secretary in March 1994 and registered the name “A Clayton’s Secretary” (the secretary you have when you haven’t got a secretary!). 18 months later the internet entered the business scene here in Australia and I took my business online, not even guessing what might soon take place. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with women writing to me asking if they could do what I was doing – using their admin and secretarial skills at a home office, working online, and being present for their families. After consulting with my Accountant on this new turn of events I decided to set up a network of homebased operators, which was soon to be called ‘Virtual Assistants’ as the same phenomena began to sweep the world. So the industry is roughly 14 years old as a recognised industry although there are a smattering of people like me who have been in business for longer.

    I developed Australia’s first Virtual Assistant Network and soon discovered I had to set criteria for membership otherwise I’d have every person and their dog wanting to join. It was my business name that was on the line. That criteria became the accepted criteria world-wide – a minimum 5 years admin/secretarial/office-based experience in a job somewhere else before becoming a member of our team.

    Today there are approximately 30 VA networks around the world, but of course as the US is so much louder and more visible on the web, it’s obvious they often show up first, including those vocal few ‘clients’ who promote using cheap labour from Asian countries. I’m not against the use of services elsewhere, I do too occasionally, however any VA work I cannot carry out, is passed on to my team.

    We do literally save clients a lot of money, time and effort. We’re equipped and skilled to do things that would take our clients so much longer to do. It makes sense that they spend that time doing what they do best and charge out their time to their clients, rather than spend it doing the admin stuff that we can do so capably and often in much shorter time periods.

    You may be interested to know that the VA industry has its 5th annual online convention this coming May (http://www.oivac.com.au) and just this month we hosted the inaugural AustralianVAConference here in Melbourne. The industry is still developing and growing and it’s often technology and our clients’ needs that help shape the industry.

    Sincerely,

    Kathie M. Thomas

    [Reply]

  • http://www.absolutelyvirtual.com.au Monika

    In response to Heather’s mention of my typo – this was unfortunate on my part and immediately recognised after I hit “submit”. Unfortunately this was due to the frustration I felt at the time because of the unwarranted reputation VAs have as an industry.

    If Heather cares to follow up with me she would find out that I do copywriting and proof reading for one of Australia’s top copywriters who is more than happy to give me a testimonial and vouch for the quality of my work.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.virtualservices.com.au Terence Kierans

    More focused research, Sarah, might have elicited the fact that there is a large number of VAs in Australia; many of whom are earning a comfortable living by providing the services for which their clients have a need. Their clients are “buying Australian” too.

    Some prefer the title “Virtual Business Professional’ to provide a degree of separation from the highly skilled transcriptionists etc who are practicing VAs. My range of expertise covers technical areas such as database design and maintenance, and automated spreadsheets, as well as proof reading, website maintenance and HTML newsletter production.

    Yes, there are male “VAs” in Australia as well Sarah.

    Regards

    Terence

    [Reply]

  • http://www.word4ward.com.au Lorraine Grout

    Heather, regarding your use of apostrophes, I’m curious as to which version of the style manual you’re using. Especially as you failed to correctly insert one with reference to the lazy person. If typos are an excuse, shall we debate the missing period at the end of your last sentence of your original post?

    [Reply]

  • http://www.virtually-possible.com Charmaine Simpson

    There is a lot of hype today after today’s Sunrise episode was aired and without reading through all these posts I just want to say, yes I’m also a VA! I don’t think this episode really discussed how Virtual Assistants operate within Australia as I don’t spend any time researching how to tie shoelaces although I do assist my clients on a multitude of tasks just as a Personal Assistant would in their office, except I am in mine! Not all that hard to understand….and it works extremely well for solo entrepreneurs and also for me!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.virtually-possible.com Charmaine Simpson

    PS: Sarah I’m not sure how you haven’t been able to come across any dialogue of VA use in Australia – google ‘virtual assistant australia’ – you will be inundated with information. Maybe this could be content for future discussion….. Many solo entrepreneurs, small business and online business in Australia use VAs. Thanks for opening your blog for discussion :)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.vadirectory.net Kathie M Thomas

    Just a correction on the OIVAC mention above, my apologies, it should have been http://www.oivac.com.

    [Reply]

  • Paul

    Sarah, given the avalanche of posts from VAs promoting their virtues I think you should next post a blog article on plumbers. :)

    [Reply]

  • Kellie Carrier

    I have only been a VA for just over 3 years. I am currently providing administrative services on a part – time basis as I am still trying to establish my home business. In doing so, I am working a 9-5 job then coming home and working through the evenings ( and most weekends ) to work as a VA. I also have 4 children.

    Generally, I provide services such as Data Entry, Typing, and general administration, however, I also have one client who is currently holidaying in Germany. My client can enjoy his 4 weeks away,knowing that his mail is being collected; cheques are being banked and his emails and phone messages are taken care of – by his very own Virtual ‘ Personal ‘ Assistant.

    Kellie

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  • http://www.freelancer.com Freelancer

    Freelancer.com is the largest micro-outsourcing site in the world. We are based in Sydney, Australia and have just smashed through 1000 jobs per day. We now have over 2000 new registered users per day.
    We have a lot of VAs and other service providers that are highly skilled and very cost-effective.

    Harness the power of crowd sourcing today.

    Register and post a project. Use the special coupon code “SARAH” to receive three projects for free.

    http://www.freelancer.com

    [Reply]

  • http://www.freelancer.com Alaister

    Freelancer.com is the largest micro-outsourcing site in the world. We are based in Sydney, Australia and have just smashed through 1000 jobs per day. We now have over 2000 new registered users per day.
    We have a lot of VAs and other service providers that are highly skilled and very cost-effective.

    Harness the power of crowd sourcing today.

    Register and post a project to find your perfect VA. Use the special coupon code “SARAH” to receive three projects for free.

    http://www.freelancer.com

    [Reply]

  • brad

    I outsource a lot of my work and find it very cost-effective and give me the time to do what I enjoy

    [Reply]

  • brad

    Freelancer.com is the world’s largest micro-outsourcing site. We are based in Sydney, Australia and have just smashed through 1000 jobs per day. We now have over 2000 new registered users per day.
    We have a lot of VAs and other service providers that are highly skilled and very cost-effective.

    Harness the power of crowd sourcing today.

    Register and post a project. Use the special coupon code “SARAH” to receive three projects for free.

    http://www.freelancer.com

    [Reply]

  • Sarah

    As a general reply to all the VAs who’ve posted here…deep breath…I appreciate all your comments. Yes, I’ve read them. As I mentioned previously, my column wasn’t about promoting the Australian VA industry.
    I state in the column that, in my experience, I hadn’t come across anyone who’d used one. Which isn’t really open to dispute, right?
    I’ve approved all comments that have come through on this, but can I just put it forward that making comments about other readers’ use of punctuation etc is really not nice stuff and doesn’t progress things at all. Not cool.
    Also, comments about my apparent inability to use Google are equally unsavoury and unwarranted as, again, my column is about my experience. Not a story on the Aust VA industry.
    Thank you to all of you who were able to use the forum to highlight the benefits of your industry and to do so with grace and decency.
    Sarah

    [Reply]

  • http://www.execstress.com Lyn Prowse-Bishop

    I too wanted to thank you Sarah for opening your blog for all this comment. I did want to clarify that references to use of Google have generally been in response to your saying you had not been able to find any dialogue in Australia about VA use for 2 years. Which would have been easily rectified by approaching any one of the three major networks here in Australia referenced by Anita.

    I do have to say though that blatant promotion of services – three times – the same post – by the Sydney company is a little bit ‘off’ isn’t it on someone else’s blog? Though it does pave the way for the discussion on the difference between a ‘freelancer’ and a professional virtual assistant. They’re not the same thing. :)

    Thanks again for the discussion. You might be interested in a client viewpoint posted on my blog recently: http://blog.execstress.com/?p=177

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  • Paul

    I’ve learnt one thing about VAs today – don’t pick a fight with them! (and watch you’re bloody punctuation).

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    nicoletta Reply:

    I’m with you Paul!

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  • http://www.akavirtualpa.com.au Anita Kilkenny

    LOL Paul ! I love your sense of humour! :-)

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  • Toby

    Sorry, Sarah, for not leaving a comment on your blog earlier. Only just got back from a spot of tiger hunting in the Highlands, see. Now, I know you’re busy, Saz, but whats all this about VAs? Blimey! Here I am bringing the light of Christendom to these savages over here with only my energetic young houseboy Pradesh to help (I wager I could probably get away with calling Pradesh my ‘AS’, or Actual Slave). I mean, I don’t need any fancy ‘virtual’ help up here at the plantation when there is so much cheap and eager darkie labour to go around. But I do like the cut of your jib, Saz. After the natives chucked us out of all their benighted lands and asserted their ‘independence’ (to their woe! Rule Britannia, Saz, and damn the darkies!) I think you’re spot on dealing them a bit of old-fashioned colonial – those lefties would call it ‘neo’-colonial, I s’pose – high-handedness. Why on earth would you want to pay some over-blown smart-alec social climber 20 quid an hour in Australia to perform the kinds of basic functions we all do by ourselves (because we’re grown-ups) when you can pay a Calcuttan IT graduate an hourly rate equivalent to a take away soy latte (a small soy latte Saz, of course)? I say you’ve stumbled onto a Deal, even if because they speak English as only a third or fourth language they misspell words and phrases like ‘exploitation’,'globalisation’, ‘unfair labour market’ and ‘race to the bottom’. Hold on a mo, Pradesh is calling me. Looks like the darkies have started some kind of push for equal employment laws and conditions. The ungrateful wretches! Time to get the elephant gun down from the rack again and show them how we White Overseers do things. Wish me luck, Saz!

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  • Susan

    hmmm..try posting this again, did not seem to work before!

    I’m currently using two Virtual Assistants….one from a Indian company based in USA which has been good – however, the Australian company http://freemycloud.com.au/ has been fantastic! They hire out va’s from Philippines, which I have found have excellent English and comprehension. The Australian Va’s are great as well.

    Thanks,

    Susan.

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  • http://www.empowerexecutives.com.au Lisa Cumes

    Sarah,

    I’m embarrassed for many of the comments made by members of the Australian VA industry (of which I am one). Comments seem petty, short sighted and bordering on malicious….

    Great article, of which some people missed the point. Perhaps they are trying to express their passion for their career, industry and in favour of hiring locally. They should write their own blog, article and submit it to Sunday Life :)

    I hope you haven’t been turned off of Aussie VAs.

    Cheers,
    Lisa

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