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The Virtual Assistant myths (and what I’ve done)

I have had several virtual assistants (''VAs") work for my businesses over the years. I now have at least 2 full-time and 2 part-time VAs (all but one are in the Philippines). "Virtual" means (of course) they're not physically here. They've never stepped foot inside the U.S. And I've never traveled to meet them.

A VA is not an 'employee'. They're essentially independent contractors. That means you are not required to pay any payroll taxes, additional insurance premiums or benefits - regardless of what country they're in - even in the U.S.

Here's a picture of my VA Raymond with his family. Raymond and his wife have been working with me for at least 6 years:

Raymond (background), his daughter and wife Ryshel enjoying some RARE time off

Raymond (background), his daughter and wife Ryshel enjoying some RARE time off

There are myths about about VAs, (at least with regards to the Philippine-based ones), so let's tackle them:

  1. They have no education. Many are college-educated
  2. They have no experience or skills. I'd be hard-pressed to find a larger pool of educated, loyal and skilled workers here in the U.S.
  3. They can't speak or write/type in English. Many are moderately to fully fluent in English
  4. They can't be trusted. I've given them limited access to my Amazon and Paypal accounts without any problems, ever. Filipinos value trust and loyalty very highly
  5. They are 'slave labor' used by greedy businesses. Although they're far cheaper than American labor, 'salaries' of $250 to $350 per month are totally sufficient for a full-time basic-skilled, college-educated VA. On the opposite end, a high-end FT programmer can earn $1000+ per month and live like a king. (By comparison, hiring a U.S.-based programmer can cost at least 10x as much)

My real challenge years ago re: VAs was finding ones that were already vetted and with Amazon experience. I had to train them myself. But lucky for you, there are services today like FreeeUp, one of only 2 providers I trust.  Services like FreeeUp have already trained and at-the-ready VAs for your businesses - not just your Amazon or eBay business, either. FreeeUp has done the headache-stuff: finding, vetting, hiring and training a VA for you. That's invaluable because doing that yourself that can take weeks to months. I know because I've done it.

Keep in mind the FreeeUp VA is not 'yours to keep', however when you're assigned one, they stay with you. In other words, you're not dealing with a different VA each time your task needs to be completed . FreeeUp is essentially a (trusted) VA marketplace with 300+ talented VAs at the ready.

And all you do is pay per hour for each VA (versus hiring them outright.)

Don't do what I did: I am my own 'employer' so I pay my VAs regardless of the amount of work they have. So there are times when they are idle for hours to weeks but I choose to pay them regularly nonetheless (I'm loyal to them). With FreeeUp, you're only paying for the hours the VAs work for you. FreeeUp is their 'employer', not you! Also - FreeeUp has highly-trained VAs from all over the world (including the U.S.), not just the Phillipines.

By using a VA service like FreeeUp, you don't have to worry about:

  • Philippine Holidays. They don't work on certain holidays, and IF they were your own full time VA, they expect you to pay them double their monthly salary in December (it's their 'bonus' for the year and it's part of their local law and culture).
  • Paying them for idle time. You're only paying for the work they're doing
  • Training them. In most cases, FreeeUp VAs already know how to do at least 7o% of 'what you need them to do')
  • Remembering to show them new processes (see above)
  • Hiring or firing. FreeeUp does that
  • Finding replacement workers. FreeUp does that. In many cases the replacements are probably at the ready
  • Vetting good VAs from bad ones (FreeeUp takes care of that)

In this new blog post, Connor of FreeeUp explains how a VA can help your Amazon or eBay business: jordanmalik.com/blog/virtual-assistant-amazon-ebay/

Feel free to post a comment below and let me know what questions you have or, what your own experience with VAs has been like.

- Jordan

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Moe January 30, 2017, 5:42 pm

    Informative post and I always struggled in this area which brought me much concerns but I now feel I can tackle this area.

    Thanks Brotha Jordan!

  • Robert Shurtleff January 31, 2017, 9:45 pm

    Could you please add a short list of the types of tasks you have your VA do?

    • Jordan Malik February 1, 2017, 1:53 pm

      Sure:

      > Product research (“What can I sell on Amazon”)
      > Number-crunching (downloading and editing Paypal and Amazon seller financial statements for my accountant/CPA
      > Research/some writing for my software/ebooks products
      > Getting refunds from Amazon (investigating damaged products that were not reimbursed, etc.)
      > Shipping back unsellable items from Amazon FBA warehouse to me
      > Development of my software

  • Chinedu Osuagwu January 31, 2017, 11:42 pm

    How do I get certified or trained in this kind of work? Sounds interesting and unique to work as a virtual assistant.

  • star February 1, 2017, 9:05 am

    It’s still in my memory I have a bad experience on that site Free up by Nathan … they charge even a minutes talking to their staff …when I back out my order and asking for refund … still cheaper in Fiverr.. sorry Jordan I’m one of your followers but I don’t recommend it .

    • Jordan Malik February 1, 2017, 1:50 pm

      Hi Star, sorry to hear that. I fully investigated Freeeup (before I wrote this) and many customers are extremely happy with them, so yours might have been an early/rare instance during their growing phase.

  • Cory February 1, 2017, 11:35 am

    Are these VA’s able/trained to source amazon products for my OA business ?

    • Jordan Malik February 1, 2017, 1:49 pm

      Yes! Freeeup (or any other reliable freelancer/freelancer service can provide assistants trained in all aspects on sourcing).

  • Wayne March 1, 2017, 3:17 am

    Hi Jordan!

    You mentioned that Freeup was one of two providers that you trusted. What’s the other one?

    Thanks!

  • Joaneen May 7, 2017, 8:46 pm

    I have a va and I hired and trained her myself , I posted ad and hired 4 from online-ph jobs I paid them while they learned but I eliminated them as they weren’t getting what I need and ended up with one she is part time and I increase her pay regularly and give her bonuses, she manages my paid group for oa for now and I am teaching her more so she will grow with me. but I love having a va she works while I am asleep.

  • Michael Morejon May 9, 2017, 1:25 pm

    Is Freeup cheaper or more expensive than finding a VA myself? I know it’s a lot less of a headache because of the training and all that, but just curious.

    And is your VA from FreeUp or you have your own VA that you trained? Thanks Jordan!

    • Jordan Malik May 9, 2017, 1:38 pm

      *Generally* in the long term yes it’s probably cheaper to hire a virtual assistant directly. Do that if a.) you are ok with the process of training and managing someone and b.) you need someone to work (I mean really work, not just say they’re working) 30+ hours per week and you plan on having them around for (say) 6 months or more.

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