More threads by Tim Colling

Tim Colling

Local Search Expert
LocalU Member
Sep 3, 2014
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New topic: VAs (virtual assistants): I need to start looking into this, to find affordable intelligent part-time help with some projects.

If any of you could recommend a good way to go about this, please let me know. I don't want to hire employees, especially not here in the people's republik of kalifornia. I know a lot of folks rave about VAs in the Philippines, etc.
You can try via online job platform site like upwork, elance, peopleperhour or fiverr. There are plenty of talented freelancers out there. Make sure to do a thorough interview to determine the best match for your project.
I think someone tried to reach out to me this afternoon about this topic.

I received a skype request to share contact info from a person with a skype profile that has a photo of a young woman and no explanatory text. I declined the invitation. Then I just logged into here and found that a person with the same name "liked" my original post.

If you want to engage me in a skype conversation about VA services, that's not the best way to do so.

Just sayin'...
Tim - Over the years I've experimented with finding a GOOD VA. A few years ago I found an excellent one via upwork (then oDesk). Here is the process I used to find her.

1. I started off on oDesk (now Upwork) by posting a small task.
2. For those who responded, I used the internal filtering that Upwork provides to narrow the field of candidates. For example, look at hours worked and feedback. Pay attention to communication skills otherwise you spend too much time trying to bridge language barriers.
3. I tried a few, perhaps 3 which turned out to be too painful to work with. But the fourth one was the charm.
4. Over time I increased the range and scope of tasks. Fortunately she is a quick study and sometimes shows me tricks in excel and other programs I didn't know.
5. -->> I pay her more than her standard rate and tip her when appropriate.<<-- This works wonders in getting things done.
6. For any task, I find it easiest to create a general written outline and then a screen capture of me performing the task which is uploaded to YouTube for her reference.


1. Depending on the VA, they might have other clients they are working with. So if you need a task done in a few hours or days, you might have to wait while they tend to other clients. (I have an agreement with her that she'll get paid a slight premium for this type of work.)

2. Just like an employee, they have a life outside of their VA work. When she had her 2nd child, she communicated that she'd need some time off which was ok with me. Point here is to make sure you and the VA communicate clearly so each understands these variables.

3. While I can keep her busy with work most weeks of the year, there are a few slow times were I either can't process the work for her or we are all caught up. I tell her this so she can plan her week ahead.

4. Relying on her too much. As with any "out sourcing", there is the possibility that one day she'll no longer be available. We have a plan for this. But it would be painful if we are in the middle of a project.

In Summary

If you can survive the painful process of finding a good VA, they are worth every penny you pay them.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the detail. Can you give me an idea of the range you pay this person, and what kind of tasks you have them doing?

I feel like I'm constantly thinking "this work should be done by someone else", but, feel most of what I have is too one-off in nature to outsource. Like, it would take me .5 hour to teach a person to do it, and I can do the whole thing in 1.5 hours.
Sure, with bonuses and tips it comes out to about $8 to $10 an hour. For the tasks, they are wide ranging.

Examples include:

  • Performing general local search audits (this helps in diagnosis and prospecting)
  • Citation work
  • Some general Google Adwords work
  • Website migration work helping port content and data over
  • Optimizing the images for websites - social media
  • Facebook posting (creating the posts to be scheduled)
  • Setting up a schedule of Tweets through Hootsuite
  • Setting up posts for Pinterest
  • CRM management work (often this just means reviewing a client's CRM data every once in awhile ensuring it stays clean
  • Cleaning data for import into various systems and platform such as products for ecommerce platforms
  • Some basic SEO work such as making sure the title tag, meta description and url are following a specific guideline
  • And more

Initially I struggled with the question of, "this work should be done by someone else". And at times I still do. But have realized that I can achieve much more through delegation than trying to do it all myself. I know of a few other people and organizations that have a much more streamlined system of leveraging VA's than I do. So I am probably just scratching the surface.
I have also considered and tried using va to do some tasks for me. I ended up spending more time trying to traing them to do it the way I wanted. Depending on the tasks you need done you may consider hiring a company that subs out citations and backlinks and such. I use a company called marketers center for this stuff and the price is really affordable. The best part for me is that you don't need to train anyone.
Thanks for Sharing. I'm actually impressed with what you are able to get done with a VA. I would have expected to the tasks to be considerably more menial in nature.

Hmm...I will have to think about what I can do with this.

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