$2 an hour VAs, says Sydney Morning Herald

If you are a VA in Australia, have you seen the article in the Sydney Morning Herald “Outsourcing Puts a Price on Spare Time”?  This was brought to light at a VA forum on Facebook and has had a fair bit of discussion. Rightfully so too. When are journalists going to do the research and show things on an equal basis? Let us share with you an email of complaint our President sent to them.

I wish to complain about the article “Outsourcing Puts a Price on Spare Time”

In it, people are given the idea that they can get a VA for $2 an hour. This is terrible. It doesn’t even state where those VAs are or what currency.

“Virtual assistants can be found for as little as $2 a day. VAs can be hired to do personal and professional tasks – anything from making dinner reservations to surveying customers.”

For your information the VA industry has been here in Australia since 1996 and is alive and strong. There is no way any VA here would work for that rate. Would you work for that rate? It wouldn’t even pay for our internet connection to run a business here in Australia.  VAs’ rates range from around $30-$70AUD an hour here in Australia, depending on the service being provided. We have an industry association, run annual conferences, have training courses, etc.

Even mentioning Airtasker and Freelancer – why not mention actual VA directories or networks that outsource VAs? And yet you go on to mention Concierge and Lifestyle Managers which is here in Australia at obviously a higher rate than the $2 VAs mentioned.

This is very disappointing. Did the author actually research our industry in this country? Or did they just take the word of those other ill-informed people who write about these ‘cheap offshore VAs’ without actually finding out for themselves? Would be nice to see our industry accurately represented in articles.

Clearly it was not in their interests to research our industry here in Australia and this is something we often see in the media. What are your thoughts? And would you like to share your concerns about this article too? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Seeking new clients

When VAs (or anyone in business for that matter) are starting out, it is very tempting to go to where you know existing clients are. By that I mean, a client you know who is already using a VA.  Or perhaps you might choose to contact an existing VA to see if they have any ‘extra’ work you can pass on to them.

Both of these practices are frowned upon in the industry.

Examples:

  1. In my own VA practice I regularly get those just starting out, emailing me and begging me for work. Never mind that I already work with a team of VAs, these new VAs seem to think that I’ll pass work on to them over and above the team I work for.  Unfortunately (for them), that is not the case. Why would I pass work on to someone who is unproven compared to those I’ve been working with for some time? I suggest to them that they must go the same route the rest of my team have done, and that is fill in an application at my site, follow through with what’s required for that application and join the team I work with.
  2. A VA company or business decides to approach a client of another VA, offering to do that same work at a much lower price.  If the client is loyal to the VA who has been supporting them, they will either ignore the email or deny the request and would most likely tell the VA they work with what has taken place. This leaves a bad taste in our mouths, so to speak. That new VA has just sullied their own reputation and most likely will never get that client, or even get to work with the VA in question. In actual fact, they are attempting to poach (steal) a client of an existing VA and therefore are showing that their ethics are questionable.  Further that VA could get branded a spammer for unsolicited email by the clients they’re trying to attract.

What should the two VAs above do instead?

They should spend time getting to know the local VA industry and that can be done by joining any one or more of the local VA networks available in their state, country or region. There are three VA networks listed on our site, as well as a couple of discussion forums and a meetup group.  Spending time getting to know other VAs can do several things for all new and existing VAs:

  • Provides the opportunity for others to get to know and trust you
  • Helps you to learn more about the industry and how to run your own VA practice
  • If a VA is in need of support they may well ask you personally, or promote via a group you belong to, and you get the opportunity to apply for that
  • Joining a VA network gives you exposure to real clients, who don’t yet have a VA to support them.

Other things the new VAs can do, to help themselves are:

  • Develop an online presence through a website, or a listing on a VA network, or both
  • Develop a presence in social media – but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. When people say ‘no’, they mean it for now. That might change further down the track but they won’t refer to anyone they consider to be a nuisance or annoying
  • Spend time at local networking events and meet people face-to-face. Many businesses often will refer work once they’ve gotten to know you, or have heard about you from someone else (word-of-mouth marketing – WOMM)
  • Spend time networking online in various forums and groups – perhaps find your ‘target market’ and join their networks online.

There are right and wrong ways of doing things and it simply needs some clear thinking and planning in order to start running an ethical and reliable VA business.

Kathie Thomas
AVAA President