$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.

How did you find your Virtual Assistant?

There’s been interesting discussions here in Australia about businesses outsourcing offshore versus inside their own shores.  The importance of doing business with people who know how business is done in one’s own country, and all that entails with respect to legalities, taxes, IP, and so on.

A colleague recently came across an article in the US that discusses those same things and the concern for local jobs within their own shores because of the constant promotion about outsourcing offshore. Actually there are quite a few articles. Check these out here, here and here.  And here is an Australian article about what has happened to one bank in Canada due to their decision to offshore some of their workers. And here are some Australian articles here, here and here.  The first discusses the pros and cons of off-shoring versus engaging in Australia.  Cost should never be the only factor the writer says. The last one raises an interesting point. If you are an Australian based VA and you are working with a team that are in different countries, what information is being sent where relating to your clients? And do your clients know this?

This article talks about what we can learn from India and what they are doing. It also raises about the changes happening here in Australia and what our government has been taking away from us.

I agree that there is room for off-shoring some services but often the excuse is that they couldn’t find anyone here in Australia, or they’re a brand new business and can’t afford to pay Australian rates.  In this case I’m speaking about the Virtual Assistant industry and related industries of bookkeeping, graphic design, web design, transcriptions, and so on.  If you Google “Australian Virtual Assistant” or “Virtual Assistant Australia” there are lots of references to Australian based VAs, their networks and their Industry Association. So I have no idea what they’re searching on if they’re not finding Australian based VAs. And if you’re a brand new business it’s important to think about how you’re going to build your business here locally. Are you networking, meeting people face-to-face and building a support team around you as well as a set of resources?  Are your own potential clients local or overseas? Engaging local support will help widen your local business circle and many VAs help their clients to make connections in many different ways.  Remember, while I’m talking about Australia above, this very much applies to any country where the Virtual Assistant industry is present.

So, going back to my original question. And this is a message for anyone in any country – not just Australia. This post is directed at those who engage Virtual Assistants to assist in the daily running of their businesses. Where have you sourced your VA from? And if you chose to source a VA outside of your own country, why was that?  Share with us here the difficulties you might have faced trying to find someone locally (if that applies) and likewise, those who do use local VAs (irrespective of which country you’re in) how did you find your VA? Was it word-of-mouth? A Google search?  An article or something else?

This is a topic we discussed at the recent Australian VA Conference held in March, and even two of our presenters had mentioned they found it hard to find Australian VAs. This has made us more determined to do something about that.  We’ve created a Survey on this topic and invite you to participate. Just a few questions – not many, will just take you a minute.  We’ll share the results in a few weeks.  Hopefully the answers will help guide us with the way we promote online and get information out there about our industry here in our country.

Article by Kathie M. Thomas

Note: Any member of the AVAA is welcome to share this article and share the survey.