Imagine hiring an online personal assistant who can do all sorts of wonderful stuff for you – book your travel, do Internet research, make phone calls, organize purchases – really anything that you want them to do. Now imagine that it only costs you $3 per hour to hire such a person. Is this possible?
Absolutely. But you do need to be aware of some of the pitfalls of this.
Basically, there are three main approaches you can take when getting a personal assistant. For starters, you can get a completely online assistant. This is where it can cost you only $3 per hour, because you can find assistants working remotely from India or the Philippines at these lower wage rates. You can also hire an online assistant from your own country. If you live in the US, it's going to cost anywhere from $10 to $50 per hour – depending on the skills and experience of the person. We'll cover more details on this further on in the article.
A second approach is to get a local person who can do physical tasks for example buying your groceries, or taking your laundry to the dry cleaner. This could be a college student looking for some extra cash. You can find this type of person by advertising on a site like Craigslist.com or through friends, or even by posting a notice in your local college. The great thing about this type of approach is that it can be inexpensive and it can save you a large amount of time. Having a person who comes to your house or office enables them to do a whole lot of stuff that the remote assistant cannot handle and it also allows you to communicate directly with them, rather than over the phone or email. This type of person could cost you $10 to $20 per hour and you could get them to work for say 10-20 hours per week. Therefore, you are looking at $100-400 per week, depending on your situation. Obviously, this is only going to be appropriate for you if you can afford this amount and your hourly rate is significantly higher. But if you earn $60 per hour for example, it makes a lot of sense to hire a college student at $15 per hour to help you out, and save you time.
The last approach is to get a full time high-level personal/executive assistant. This is going to be very expensive! It's probably only appropriate for someone earning at least $300,000 per year and you probably need to earn significantly more to really justify the expense. Also, there are the headaches of the additional costs of hiring a full time person that add significantly to the cost. Therefore, this option is not really something I would recommend for most people.
Working with remote personal assistants
The idea of having a personal assistant at $3 per hour is an enticing prospect. It can save you a lot of time, whilst not costing you very much money. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of pitfalls and you could end up tearing your hair out.
So how do you find a good person and not end up frustrated? From my experience there are no easy shortcuts. Basically, you need to evaluate a large number of people to find someone who is good. My method is to create a difficult test to give to people and make sure you get several people who seem qualified to take the test. You then start working with the person who performs it best or you can work with four or five people for a couple of weeks and then pick the best person. Probably the number one factor when testing this person is to find someone who has very good English. Many people in India and the Philippines can speak English, but few have perfect English. The person's level of English ability is also often an indication of their general level of education and training.
Once you speak with the person over the phone you can gauge their personality and if you think you can establish a good working relationship. If you are looking for someone to make a lot of phone calls you will need to make sure that they are available to work during US hours and ensure they have an excellent phone manner.
Another important point is to ask them simple but key important questions: What are your plans for the next year? How long are you planning to do this type of work? What is your situation at home? Do you have a private space to work from? Look for someone you believe will be able to dedicate themselves to this job over a long period of time as you don't want to be going through the selection process again too soon. You also need to check on their Internet speed. They should have a minimum speed of 500kpbs to be able to perform phone calls over the Internet using Skype or similar services.
Where do you actually find people? You can find people through Odesk, posting on Craigslist in the Philippines or India, Guru or other services such as Global Workforce and Remote Staff in Australia.
In the end it is worth it to find a great online personal assistant because they can make your life so much easier! Imagine the time you could save and how much more you can get done with this kind of help!