Wife Outsourcing Using Facebook

Outsourcing Facebook No, it isn’t what you are thinking!   😛

For the past 18 months people have been pestering me to create an account on Facebook.   I’m already a huge fan of LinkedIn for business networking, but just haven’t had as much interest in starting up with Facebook.    Well, about 12 months ago my wife got bitten by the Facebook bug and was then infected from head to toe.  The symptoms were diverse, but she had an acute case of “sit-at-the-computer-all-dayitis”.  She was infected AND addicted!

I don’t remember how or where it hit me, but I realized one of the great powers of  outsourcing is leveraging other people’s specialization of resources.   My wife had become an expert at navigating Facebook and loved to comb its pages.   Seeing that she was one of the main proponents of me starting a Facebook profile I asked her if she would create an account for me and get things started.   Of all the requests I’ve made to her in the 8 years of marriage, Continue reading “Wife Outsourcing Using Facebook”

The Newly Rich

The Newly Rich 

I’ve been following the adventures of a guy named Jed who has embarked on full implementation of the principles listed in the Four Hour Work Week.  His blog, The Newly Rich, has some great examples of what did and didn’t work during his experiments outsourcing to a virtual assistant.

He originally took the same path as a LOT of people who just finished reading the 4HWW and started out with GetFriday and a few alternatives.  He ended up with a stateside college student and has been having good success.   I’m especially excited that Jed started a new post series called Outsourced Wednesdays where he’ll post a weekly sample of a project he’s outsourced along with the responses from his virtual assistant.   

Honestly, I wish more “buyers” would blog about their outsourcing experiences.  It is fun and educational to read detailed examples of correspondence between buyers and providers.

Jed has even started up a new company called Having Things Done.  He’s even listed out some of the philosophies behind Having Things Done where he addresses many of the hurtles and problems people have been experiencing with other VA services.

oDesk – Project vs Hourly

outsourcing providersI’ve been really happy with my experiences outsourcing with oDesk so far. Their system of tracking hours and providing me with visibility into what my providers are doing is wonderful!

In the past 5 months I’ve posted about 6 different “jobs”. Each have been hourly based and while each were instigated by a specific need / project, they all had potential for longer term relationships.

Well, this changed. I had a VERY specific project that I don’t anticipate, at least not immediately, the need to employ someone long term or on an hourly bases. I needed a shopping cart created for one of my sites. Nothing fancy, just osCommerce installed with a few modifications and plugins. I’ve installed OSC a few times myself, but I’ve never really dove into modifying it or hiring anyone to do so. I didn’t want to pay someone hourly for something I had no idea how long would take.

Three (well actually two) options presented themselves:

RentACoder – Used them many times in the past for project based work. While I’ve had great success with them in the past, their system isn’t the most user friendly and payment to providers isn’t super straightforward. Their system is based on a per project system and they have a bunch of tools and policies in place to make sure a buyer gets what they were promised.

::oDesk(“a”):: – As mentioned above, I love their hourly platform but I haven’t tried their project based option. Payment for hourly projects is super easy and straightforward. Their per project system seems to still be in its infancy and seems to be lacking some of the tools / policies that RAC has developed over more years of experience

eLance – Well, I signed up a few months ago, posted a project, wasn’t terribly excited about the responses I received. Their UI looks really clean, but there wasn’t really anything that was there to pull me away from RAC or ::oDesk(“a”)::.

In the end I went with ::oDesk(“a”)::. Posting projects is pretty straight forward and I’m assuming that payment will be just as easy as they have been with hourly providers. I’ve already received about 25 project bids and have chosen a programmer. I’ll keep you posted with how things progress.

My questions for you:

Do you prefer hourly or project based pricing models? When and why?

Outsourcing My Virtual Assistants


As you may know I’ve struggled finding constant work for my VA.   I’ve got a few brothers that are in varied businesses and we often help one another out with advice and projects.   I’ve offered up my VA to do basic level tasks (research, data entry, etc.) for them whenever they need it.

Well, one of my brothers finally took me up on the offer.   He needs to locate the company info (CEO name, company contact info, etc.) for about 100 companies.   In almost all cases the info is available on the websites… we just need someone to visit the sites and compile the information.   What a perfect project for my service provider!  I asked him if he had a budget for the project and he said that as long as I provide him with samples of the work as we progress then he’s fine with whatever it takes to get the job done.

I asked my brother to send me a layout of what he wanted in an excel sheet along with a row already filled out as an example.  I took the sheet, refined it (based on my experiences so far communicating with outsourcing providers) and added as much detail on how to proceed.

The bad news… my provider is out on a scheduled vacation so I’ll need to wait a while until she’s back to begin work.  Fortunately the task isn’t super time sensitive, but I’m pretty impatient about the opportunity to give my brother a taste of person to person outsourcing.

Has anybody else outsourced their assistants to someone else?  If so, did you do it:

  1. Indirectly like I’m doing – Basically my brother knows I’m outsourcing and is providing almost all the info, I’m just lightly managing and sending the project along
  2. Directly – For example:   VA, meet my brother… brother, meet my VA.

The $4 Per Hour Virtual Assistant

There are a plethora of blog entries and forum posts that reference poor experiences with the companies mentioned in “The World Is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman and “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss . Specifically, Brickwork India, YMII, & GetFriday.com. Many people have expressed their displeasure with the quality of work and lack of communication. Many hypothesize that this is due to the huge influx of demand to these two companies and their inability to handle the growth. Some say it is just the nature of outsourcing to India and other countries.

In my post, What Is A Virtual Assistant? I received a few great comments. Two questions (in my interpretation of the comments) have been raised:

  1. Can a provider who charges only $4.00 an hour really provide quality work?
  2. Is it even possible to find “good” providers under $15.00 an hour?

I personally can’t definitively answer the first question because I’m still new to outsourcing, but if the taste I’ve had so far is an indication, then I believe the answer is yes.

The second question is the one I want to focus on. Tim Ferriss makes it sound like it is pretty easy to find someone for $4.00 per hour. I’ll say this, it is difficult to find quality providers at this rate, but I believe it is possible. A few points brought up in the comments mentioned above say that many of the outsourcing service firms have raised their rates. That may be true, but there are plenty of companies that still have rates around $6 – $8 an hour if you are willing to commit to 40 hours a week.

Okay, $6 – $8 an hour is great, but it isn’t $4.00 an hour. What if the die hard worshipper of “Four Hour Work Week” is absolutely determined to find a Virtual Assistant (yes, I’m going to keep using this term until there is a widely adopted alternative to VA) that is $4.00 an hour?

As I mentioned before I’ve found a great virtual assistant success using oDesk. I may have been lucky, but I found a very inexpensive provider that has really helped me get a bunch of stuff done. What if this provider decided to break up with me and end our relationship? Would I be able to replace her with another similarly skilled and inexpensive virtual assistant?

Well, as a test I did a search on ::oDesk(“a”):: for administrative support providers that had at least 50 hours of ::oDesk(“a”):: experience and had a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. This returned 20 providers that matched this criteria. Not a ton of results, but the search proves there are experienced providers with good reviews who are available for work. If I expand my search a bit by increasing the rate to under $6.00 an hour and at least one hour of ::oDesk(“a”):: experience then I get 103 virtual assistants who want to work for me!

For reference I thought I’d post some information about the VA I’ve been using who is under $4.00 per hour:

  • Education: Bachelors in Biotechnology and a Masters in Business Administration
  • Worked for a large bank in India doing data entry & customer support
  • Top rating on tests for English and Telephone etiquette

Keep in mind I’m not expecting providers in the $4 – $8 per hour range to be Jack / Jane of all trades or be able to do everything I’d expect from a US based $30 per hour VA. With that said, I think there is a huge market for admin assistants to do things like:

  • Data entry
  • Internet Research
  • Email filtering / first tier support
  • Other general admin assistant tasks
  • Basically any task you’d give to a college intern

What do you think? Are $4.00 an hour person-to-person virtual assistants a viable option for small to medium sized businesses? Try a search for a provider on ::oDesk(“a”):: to see if there is a good match for you.