You may remember I made a post on virtual assistants some time ago. I ended that post unsure of whether the AskSunday service would actually better my life. Now, three months later, I’m back to announce the results.
I mentioned in the last blog post that I had sent AskSunday my first request: to research volunteer opportunities relating to women I could take part in.
They responded with the necessary information within the timeline I gave them (48 hrs). The data collected was OK overall. The one thing that freaked me out a little was that they told me they needed more time to call the centres to find more information! (I had only given them 1 hour on the task). I felt like the volunteer centres wouldn’t take too kindly to my assistant calling to ask for volunteer details – it kind of defeated the purpose of the whole “give your time to the community” thing.
I gave them some more small tasks to do after that, but I couldn’t give them anything big because I would be paying $15/hr after the first three hours… ouch. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the products they returned either, although this could be a result of my instructions not being specific enough. Most importantly, even after I instructed them not to call after that first almost-fiasco, they continued to try to contact the leads they got from their research! At one point, they attempted to contact a potential employer; I freaked out.
Another thing that really bothered me was the fact that you don’t get a dedicated VA in the true sense of the word. You are assigned a contact in the company you can email and relay all your instructions to, but they don’t necessarily do the work themselves. They will have an entire team behind them, so your task will most likely be outsourced to someone else on the team. This means that a lot of information could be lost in the communication chain, and also that your VA never truly learns about your needs.
Even though I was slowly getting turned off from AskSunday, I still loved the idea of a virtual assistant. Upon some more research, I decided to quit AskSunday and try Upwork.
Upwork is a website that matches freelancers with freelance jobs. Said freelancers are from all around the world; there are North American ones as well as Middle East ones. Some freelancers work for around minimum wage, but there are lots that are willing to work for as little as $1/hour!
I’ve since quit AskSunday and started using Upwork. I find that I get way better results for what I’m looking for, which is mostly web research and data compilation.
From my experience, here are how the two services compare:
· You don’t have to bother finding a new VA every time you need a task done as you just message your VA over Skype (or whatever other method of communication you’ve deemed best)
· More secure
· Good for small daily/weekly tasks
Con: This actually is pretty expensive ($15/hr)
· No minimum hours per week – when you need someone, you can hire them!
· The freelancers I’ve worked with tend to ask more questions which leads to results that are better suited to what I was looking for
· Can hire specifically for the skills you need (e.g. I usually specify high proficiency in Excel)
· Less expensive – up to $1/hr!
· Especially good for projects because you can pay them a fixed price for the entire project rather than going hourly
Con: This is considered less secure because you are hiring a stranger and have no vetting process but your own. I would not trust anyone on Upwork with my personal information.
Now that this experiment has officially concluded, I think I have added a very important tool to my arsenal. I would definitely recommend Upwork for tasks that are time-consuming, mindless, and can be easily outsourced. Maybe AskSunday would work better for someone in a higher income bracket.