Virtual assistants, a newbies guide

JeevesAfter reading the post by author Timothy Ferris on his blog, I decided to take the plunge and try the world of virtual assistants. I knew nothing about virtual assistants until I read his book entitled “The 4 hour work week”. The title is what caught my attention and everything within its pages described exactly what I thought impossible. Ever since then I wanted to apply his principals of lifestyle design but just never got around to it. I don’t know what it was about his post that made me feel more comfortable with the notion, but here I am.

At first I tried looking at a few web pages that specialized in Virtual assistants, which seemed way to complicated and I didn’t feel there was enough recourse if the company tried to screw me! I decided to check out elance, its one of the sites Tim recommends looking at if you needed someone to do your evil bidding :). The process was as simple as posting my request for service and verifying my credit card account. They need to verify this to make sure you are going to pay of course.

Within an hour I had bids and messages to read and approve. Each stating their level of service and expectations as well as providing links back to their profiles and portfolios, which I took some time to read over. Since this was my first VA, I decided that my deciding factor would be cost as I have never even worked with a real assistant before let alone someone on the web. We settled on a trial period of 15 hours to see if they were a good fit and would go with 4 per hour there after.

I felt pretty secure in my transaction because of the escrow service provided by Elance. At least I will have some recourse if they decide not to provide the level of service that I expect.

Yesterday I sent them their first task. Its a very basic research assignment, the ones that you HATED to do in school. I gave them some specific constraints and time requirements to see if they were able to follow directions even if it didn’t seem logical. Since it is a trial period, I don’t think they have assigned me a dedicated VA yet. Im hoping that one will be provided after my trial because this person is going to need to know my habits and moods if they expect to work well with me. The next day, much to my surprise, a nice cheery message was awaiting for me in my inbox.

I was very happy with their research on the required topic, they followed directions exactly as I had directed, and I was excited because I believe this is going to be the start of something quite fun and interesting. At first glance I thought that they had done somethings wrong, but after looking over my directions it was me who made the mistake. I will be a bit more careful to review my directions next time.

Follow up with my next post to see how tonight’s tasks unfold. I will also fill you in on my recent experience hiring programmers on Elance. Ive also noticed, having an assistant, i’m actually starting to think of more tasks for them to do. Where as in the beginning I had no clue what sort of tasks I would assign an assistant. Its not until you actually start, that you realise how much of your life can be outsourced to someone else.