My First Month Using A Virtual Assistant…Was Awesome

by Scott - 46 Comments

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If you’re anything like me, you were giddy after first hearing about virtual assistants.

My challenge was that I had no idea what to outsource or how to use a VA effectively. But as a someone who loves efficiency, I knew I wanted one. (Get Yours Here!)

Zirtual Review

Sound familiar?

Well, I just completed my first month of using a dedicated personal assistant through Zirtual, and let me tell you, it was awesome. I’m going to outline my experience in detail including the exact requests I used him for so that everyone whose felt like me can have a better understanding of what’s possible.

Background Context of My Previous Outsourcing Experience

In the past, I’ve used TaskRabbit, Odesk, Elance, FancyHands, and Mechanical Turk for a variety of undertakings. These have all been contract or one-off engagements. Zirtual was my first experience working with a dedicated assistant.

For the first month, I wanted to limit all virtual assistant requests to tasks unrelated to my day job sans research. To be transparent, I wasn’t comfortable assigning anything that could potentially negatively effect my work product (scheduling, calendar etc) as a VA rookie.

The Service and My Assistant Josiah

I purchased the premium plan for 10 hours of unlimited requests. It ran me $197 a month. All Zirtual assistants are U.S. based and next day turnaround on requests is guaranteed.

My assistant’s name is Josiah. He lives in Arizona and works as a photographer, web designer and internet marketer. I told Zirtual what I was looking for and they paired us up. Shortly after, we skyped for 30 minutes so we could understand each other’s workflow.

What I love about having a dedicated virtual assistant compared to other services is the efficiency afforded by open accessibility. He has access to all of my online accounts that I’ve granted him permission for. Some example accounts include Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Dropbox, Amazon amongst others. He also has the ability to make purchases for me through the secure Zirtual credit card integration. I can even call him during normal working hours to get an immediate response on something if I need to.

This set up scales far better than services where you need to provide account information on a recurring basis. Our relationship also becomes more efficient the more we work together and develop a greater understanding for each other’s preferences.

Maybe I’m too trustworthy for my own good, but so far I’ve felt very comfortable with the Zirtual experience. This has been echoed by other Zirtual users I know.

All the Tasks He Executed For Me Last Month (10 hours)

One of the main challenges for me when I initially broached having an assistant was understanding what could be delegated. I thought posting a list of everything he did for me this month would help others gain insight into what’s possible.

Requests:

  • Find contact at ECSI to chat with about adjusting my student loan payments
  • Find exact process and phone number for getting a new debit card from Wells Fargo
  • Volunteer Research: Find Out the Process and Availability for Volunteering at two places I selected
  • Schedule a call with someone using my calendar availability (7 instances)
  • Restaurant reservations (4 instances)
  • Adding things to my calendar (4 instances) – I’d forward an event message and ask him to add it
  • Find a tutorial on how to download SoundCloud files locally onto my Iphone
  • Book a Dr’s appointment within a date range given my preferred availability
  • Reschedule Dr.’s appointment…shoot.
  • Isolate all the pictures of my family’s Dog in Dropbox and put them into a folder. Sometimes I need a cheer up. It happens.
  • Data Entry from photos into excel sheet (2 occasions). I’d take a screenshot of unstructured data and have him log it into a google spreadsheet so I could sort and manipulate it.
  • Find out the return policy for a electronics purchase
  • Find articles on all the benefits of joining the freelancers union. Turns out there’s a ton of sweet discounts and anyone can join
  • Call and see if some coupon my mom emailed me for Banana Republic applies at non-factory stores
  • Invite everyone whose requested to join my google group HackingNYC every 2 weeks (recurring)
  • Find Google+ Communities on Business Development, Sales, and Productivity for me to check out
  • Find tutorials on how to extract audio from a video clip using screenflow
  • Download the audio files from a membership site into my dropbox so that I can add them to my Itunes
  • Sign me up for rewards accounts on 3 airlines I use occasionally. Log the credentials in a google docs spreadsheet.
  • Find 5 Google Analytics/SEO experts for an Odesk job I created

This is part of what my $197 got me.

What I think is far more compelling is the additional value I was able to create for myself with a hypothetical, additional 10 hours of bandwidth. Granted I wouldn’t have done all of these things if I didn’t have someone to delegate tasks to, but I would have done many of them. And I have to tell you, it felt good to chip away at that “maybe-someday” list with someone else’s help.

Note* “value creation” doesn’t have to be manifested solely in $$ or work output. It can mean more time with friends, reading that book you finally wanted to, or just less stress because you’re avoiding hassles.

Zirtual Review: Worth it?

I personally feel that this was an incredibly good use of my money.

Not only for the reasons I described above, but also for the increased comfort I now have working with VA’s. I’ve chatted about this before, but when it comes to experiential investments, you should be prepared to initially take a loss.

Many things we attempt to teach ourselves require a certain level of confidence to achieve a profit (a scenario where more value is created than lost). Think of this within the context of investing. Initially, the resources you’re spending on improving your skills probably outweigh the monetary gains you’re able to create for yourself. However, as your experience accumulates, you gain more confidence allowing you to invest more aggressively. This renders potential for a higher profit.

The same goes for outsourcing. In order to maximize the benefits of labor arbitrage, you need to cut your teeth so that you can pursue it aggressively…so what I’m saying is you should just get started and stop waiting for someone to hold your hand. I think this is worth repeating: experience facilities the aggressive pursuit of profit.

If It Turns out You Want to Take Advantage of Zirtual…

Right now Zirtual is only accepting applications that have been referred to by existing members. If you want to try it, you can become eligible by entering through this affiliate link.

Otherwise you will need to find someone else who can refer you. Yes, I do get a referral fee for this. But hey, it’d be way worse if I told you how sweet something was and then you couldn’t have it ; )