Have you got little tasks that are keeping you for expanding your business? Stuck doing social media posts and likes or writing content for your site?
Maybe it is time to think about outsourcing to virtual assistants or microtask websites.
Should You Outsource?
Building a web presence takes time, expertise and labour, but is outsourcing really a solution to these difficulties? Outsourcing offers a competitive advantage for some online businesses, but many neglect the disadvantages before commencing. Poor communication between outsourcers and microtask websites or VAs results in more delays, effort and uncertainty. Good management and communication is needed to overcome such difficulties. It is also important that anyone looking to outsource knows some of the myths about hiring personnel for microtasks and VAs. A realistic discussion about the myths of outsourcing makes it easier to overcome some of the initial barriers.
Myth #1 Outsourcing saves time and money
This is the most common misconception about outsourcing. Saving money on labour, employment benefits, wages and labour relations is not the reality of outsourcing with microtasks or VAs. Communication and managing a VA or microtask website is an unavoidable part of outsourcing especially at the beginning. Time is money for business. The person outsourcing needs to consider some of the pitfalls of using a VA or microtask websites to avoid long delays and unexpected costs. Here are some common issues experienced;
- Clarification of tasks that are not clear or tasks that require further information such as documents, copies and designs.
- Technological problems such as faulty computers, phones and tablets.
- The difficulties of communicating with people in a different time zone when work needs to be completed urgently.
- Long running disputes over payments or delayed work.
- Communication language and cultural challenges e.g. a VA produces work that is out of context due to no knowledge about the outsourcer’s culture.
- Microtasks may not be completed correctly and need to be checked for completion on the website as a result.
- The VA may not disclose information truthfully or uploads fake documents to their profile. The result is more communication problems, rewrites and delays. This costs money and time.
- Initially it is difficult to know the value of a bid requested despite most websites checking the VA’s credential.
Establishing trust and loyalty with a VA takes time and effort initially. It requires strategy and a clear picture of the outsourcer and VA’s expectations. The outsourcer must be prepared for some initial setbacks such as projects that do not work out and websites that fail to deliver an adequate service. Complex plans and documents often require a good understanding of native languages and local issues. This is especially important when working under tight time frames. It may be more cost effective and save time to source a worker locally. The expense of sourcing locally may be offset by minimal communication and management issues.
Myth # 2 Outsourcing is great because all the expertise required can be found online
The internet has resulted in a range of expertise that can usually be sourced at a reasonable price. Finding expertise that may not be available locally is one of the biggest advantages of outsourcing. However;
- Expertise may be available locally through networks that are not yet discovered. For example, a blogger living locally may also be an expert in SEO but does not advertise their services.
- The expertise and credentials advertised by VAs or a microtask website may not match the work that is completed. It is important to check credentials and establish the trust of an expert. This can be overcome by checking social media, websites, forums and any other social proof that supports the legitimacy and credentials of an expert.
Once the expertise, cost and time required for managing a virtual assistant and microtasks website is established, it is then up to the individual to find websites offering a legitimate service. This can be completed by;
- Doing a google search and typing in ‘recommended virtual assistant’ or ‘recommended microtask websites’.
- Look at well-established websites such as:
- Be sure to check the credentials of the employees carefully.
- Joining ‘groups’ or ‘communities’ through social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.
- Asking social media users for recommendations of a VA or microtask worker that suits the needs of the individual.
- Using local and traditional networks such as community groups, friends, friends of friends and colleagues that have expertise online.
Freelancer and microtask websites are made for quick seamless financial transactions with minimal checks for users. The more complex requirements of a job, the higher risk of failure for the outsourcer. More knowledge about the signup and website usage is insurance against bad work completed.
Tips for using a VA or Microtasks websites
Become familiar with the terms of service or user agreement of the website and look for refunds, cancellation of projects and dispute resolution processes.
When requesting workers be sure to give clear instructions that are easy to understand.
Test the worker with simple spelling errors or instructions that are out of context to see if they understand.
Only hire trustworthy VA’s for large or long-term projects. Also, try a few small projects before deciding on a reliable assistant.
Look past ratings and focus on what is most important. There are many virtual assistants with excellent credentials that have only just started work as a VA or microtask worker. They may charge less to gain reputation on a website.
Schedule a live skype video call to make sure the person will do the work that has been requested. Verbal and nonverbal cues will help judge a possible assistant. Do a background check and ask for references by calling previous clients/employers.
Break large projects into smaller jobs for the VA or microtask workers. This a great way to judge the quality of work and to hire or fire.
Outsourcing online can be one of the most cost-effective ways of sourcing expertise. It requires strategy and an understanding of challenges before committing to long term use of online labour. A realistic understanding about VAs or microtask expertise results in better management and communication over time. However, the outsourcer must be prepared for initial setbacks and frustrations. Preventing difficulties can be overcome by doing some simple checks of VA and microtask websites. Decisions must also be made about the cost effectiveness, timeliness and simplicity of hiring online versus locally.
Have you used a Virtual Assistant Before? Are there any other things we should be aware of? Can you recommend any other good VA or microtask websites? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Are you thinking of outsourcing some tasks, then maybe this can help you?
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