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How to hire a virtual assistant for your online business


Feb 3, 2021
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Whether you’re selling workouts online or other digital products, most business owners agree: We have more to do than time to do it. But trying to do everything yourself is a recipe for burnout.

The best way to avoid that is to hire a virtual assistant who can help you get everything done.

If the idea of hiring a virtual assistant feels like a big step, think again. It’s an investment that can actually pay for itself. In many cases, it also unleashes new growth and opportunities.

Keep reading to learn how to hire a virtual assistant, what they can do for you, and where to find them.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is a contractor who provides professional services, such as data entry, market research, and content creation, while working from a remote location.

Virtual assistants may be full time or part time. According to OutsourceWorkers, 58.9 percent of virtual assistants work full time.

And they can handle a wide range of activities. Outsource Workers reports that nearly 59.2 percent have college educations, which means they can handle advanced tasks as well as administrative work.

The most common VA skills are:

How to hire a virtual assistant for your online business

The process of hiring a VA is similar to hiring an employee. You still need to:

  • Define your expectations
  • Determine the skills necessary to fulfill the role
  • Decide how to manage the person and keep them accountable
  • Decide on a budget for the position
  • Create a job description
  • Post the position.

Define your expectations for the role

Virtual assistants can help with any task that can be done remotely. That can range from answering calls from your virtual phone system to handling your bookkeeping.

But before you can find the right person, you need to define the role you want them to fill, including the tasks you’ll give them and the schedule you’d like them to keep.

  • Step 1: Identify the tasks you least enjoy, that require skills outside your own expertise, or that keep you from focusing on higher ROI activities. If those can be done remotely, they can be outsourced to a VA.
  • Step 2: Ask yourself if these tasks can be filled by one person or will you need more than one virtual assistant? It may be more efficient to assign related tasks to one person rather than having to manage several VA’s.
  • Step 3: Decide on the number of hours you’ll need from them. Then think about your preferred work schedule. Do you need your VA to be available on your schedule? Or are you comfortable with working asynchronously with someone in a different time zone?

Determine the skills necessary to fulfill the role

What skills should you look for in a virtual assistant? There are five skills that all virtual assistants should possess.

  • Communication – Can they communicate clearly and effectively? 
  • Organization – Can they manage multiple projects or clients?
  • Self-motivation – Can they work without supervision or external motivation?
  • Technical knowledge – Do they have the technical skills for their role?
  • Adaptability – Can they adapt or even change roles as your business grows?

Depending on what you need your virtual assistant to do, they may need other specialized skills.

For example, if you’re hiring a VA to do your bookkeeping, they’ll need training in accounting or bookkeeping. If you want a virtual assistant to help with customer support, you might need someone who knows your customer service software and/or speaks multiple languages.

The more clearly you can define what skills you’re looking for, the easier it will be to know when you’ve found the right person.

Just as you would when hiring an employee, look at their credentials, experience, and who they’ve worked with in the past. If it makes sense, ask to see a portfolio of other projects they’ve worked on.

Decide how to manage a virtual assistant and keep them accountable

Communicating your expectations is essential to having a successful relationship with your virtual assistant.

Once your virtual assistant is onboarded, you’ll need to have a system in place to make assignments and track progress. This is especially important if you have more than one VA.

Look for a team management tool, like Trello or Asana, or a sprint planning software that lets you: 

  • Assign tasks
  • Set deadlines
  • Track progress
  • Send direct messages
  • Hand off projects as assignments are completed

If you pay your virtual assistant on an hourly basis, you may want an app that tracks hours or creates time sheets. Clockify, Toggl, and FactoHR are good options for this.

You’ll also need to give your virtual assistant access to your website and other tools.

Be aware, you may not want to give a virtual assistant full access to all your tools. It makes sense to protect some areas of your business from unauthorized users.

Fortunately, many platforms allow you to set permissions so users only have access to the features they need access to. Kajabi is a good example of this. It allows you to create multiple tiers of added users so you can assign specific roles and set permissions for all your team members, including your VAs.

Let’s say you want the virtual assistant to manage comments on your blog, but you want to be sure they don’t accidentally change any of your site’s settings. You can set them up as a support specialist and set permissions that allow them to manage comments but little else.

Decide on a budget for the position

There are several factors that affect how much you should pay your virtual assistant. These include:

  • The type of work you’re hiring them to complete
  • Where they’re located (cost of living)
  • If they’re paid hourly, per project, or on an outcome basis
  • Your budget
  • Their experience and knowledge.

If you’re hiring a VA through an agency, they’ll likely have a set pay scale. They’ll subcontract the virtual assistant, and you’ll pay the agency.

When hiring a VA directly, the terms can vary. You’ll often adopt one of three payment structures:

  • Hourly pricing: This is the most common arrangement. It requires your virtual assistant to track their hours.
  • Retainer pricing: With this arrangement, you’ll negotiate a number of hours and/or deliverables and pay a set monthly rate. 
  • Project pricing: This is best for one-off projects or for when you need a virtual assistant for only a short period of time.

How much should you pay a virtual assistant

According to Small Revolution, virtual assistants in the U.S typically earn between $13/hour and $35/hour. reports the average salary for a virtual assistant in the United States is $19.03/hour.

If you hire overseas, the average salary for full-time virtual assistants can vary widely. It may cost $400 per month for someone in the Philippines. For the same role, someone in Australia may cost $5,600 per month.

Tip: if you need help calculating how much to pay a virtual assistant, use Delegated’s cost calculator.

How to create a job description for a VA

You should develop a clear job description for the role your virtual assistant will fill.

A written job description: 

  • Sets expectations 
  • Gets you and the VA on the same page
  • Makes it easier to evaluate performance
  • Helps you and your VA meet the goals you set out to accomplish together
  • Makes the hiring process easier

A side benefit is that a written job description makes it easier for candidates to know whether the job is a good fit for them. That will reduce the number of resumes you  have to weed through, making it easier to select the right candidate.

Post the position

Once your job description is written, it’s time to put the word out that you’re looking for a virtual assistant. There are lots of options for doing this.

Freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr provide you with immediate access to a huge talent pool. There are 100,000+ virtual assistants on freelancer platforms alone.

A quick LinkedIn search will turn up a number of virtual assistants for hire. Create a connection request, and when they accept, you can send a direct message asking if they’re available.

Referrals are another great way to find a VA. Since many virtual assistants work part-time, they can manage more than one client. Ask friends and peers who they recommend.

One of the more efficient ways to hire a VA is to use an agency.  Rather than spending your time combing through Upwork, Fiverr or LinkedIn, let the agency put in the leg work of finding your best candidate.

Tip: The Manifest has a list of the top 70 virtual assistant companies, along with descriptions of each agency, a list of former clients, and notable projects they completed.

How can a virtual assistant help your online business?

A virtual assistant brings the same benefits as a good employee. VAs can do just as much work and can fill any role. But a VA will likely cost you less.

Here are five ways a virtual assistant can help your online business.

Time savings

If you continually find yourself bogged down by mundane, time-consuming tasks, a virtual assistant can help. By taking low-level tasks off your plate, they can free your schedule for high-value work that drives growth.

If you hire a virtual assistant from another part of the world, time differences can actually be a benefit. Because you work asynchronously, the VA can have a project completed and ready for your review when you start your day.

Or, if you prefer to work similar hours, they will often adjust their schedule to overlap yours.

Money savings

Hiring a virtual assistant can be significantly cheaper than hiring an employee. One study reports that a virtual assistant costs less than one-third the cost of an employee. Taking overhead into consideration, you could actually save up to 78 percent.

With an employee, you’re responsible for payroll taxes, benefits, training, office space, and office equipment (even if they’re virtual). Because virtual assistants are contract labor, you don’t need to provide benefits or office equipment.

Improved productivity

Most remote workers (91 percent) admit they’re more productive working at home than they were in the office. A Stanford study confirmed it. Remote workers are actually 14 percent more productive than their in-office counterparts.

That’s because, when they’re in the office, non-work-related activities like social media, reading news sites, personal conversations with colleagues, and even searching for new jobs can add up to more than 5 hours a day.

That leaves just 2 hours and 53 minutes of productive work in a normal business day!

By contrast, virtual assistants are pros at working remotely. They’ve already got their work-from-home rhythm, and they’re eager to take on new assignments.

Improved processes

From sales to marketing to customer service, you may have all your processes figured out. But that doesn’t mean they’re as efficient as they could be.

Virtual assistants are specialists in their fields. An experienced virtual assistant knows how to improve your processes, which can save you time and money while helping you generate more revenue.


Maybe you need a full-time virtual assistant for the next few months, but a part-time worker after that. Or maybe your weekly requirements tend to change. When you make the right hire, you’ll have as much or as little flexibility as you need.

Kajabi makes it easy to use virtual assistants

Kajabi understands you’ll likely need to add team members over time and makes it easy to collaborate with them.

With Kajabi, you can easily add a virtual assistant as an account user, create tiers to categorize each user, and assign specific tasks to your assistant.

That way, your VA can focus on the tedious but important tasks of your business while you focus on more strategic and valuable aspects.

Bottom line: hiring a VA can be impactful

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a big investment. But it’s also a strategic step that can unlock exponential growth for your online business.

By handing off administrative or technical tasks, you free yourself to take on new and more exciting activities.

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