I have not hired anyone on Upwork yet and want to get input so that I can have a good experience with a VA and see if what I want is feasible.
I am in the US and am looking for a VA that can do web research as well as make phone calls, including scheduling meetings with others and myself. As an example, I now have a personal assistant who did research in my area and scheduled a painter to come and give an in-person estimate, a tile person to fix some tile, and several other persons. So it involved getting access to my schedule so she knows when I am available, being able to find and vet quality persons online (using craig's list or thumbtack or some other resource), calling them, receiving their phone calls if they were not available right away, and so on. In the beginning I had to go over my expectations a bit, how I wanted candidates screened (although she has done most of it on her own), and so forth, now I just receive text messages occasionally, "person X coming tomorrow at 1000 for electrical estimate, person Y coming at 1300 for audit."
Is it possible for someone overseas to do something like this? I know there are ppl who speak fluent English. My concern was the time difference for making calls to US persons (although hopefully there would be enough of a window each day to do that). Since I don't have Internet on my phone, it even seems that I could get her a US phone number (Pinger) so that I could send and receive text messages, and maybe there is even a way for her to call me, or at least for me to call her.
Or am I asking too much to try to get a virtual assistant for similar miscellaneous tasks? Has anyone used an overseas virtual assistant for these kinds of things?
Over the years, I have hired a lot of freelancers from outside the US and overall, I would say that I've had good experience.
Surprisingly, you will find that a lot of the applicants outside the US work during US time zones. During the interview process, it helps to be upfront as to what your requirements are. I always ask what time they are available to work to see if their working hours match my requirements. I find that setting expectations during the interview process is always helpful.
What I like about Upwork is that you are not hiring blindly. There are many resources available for you to assess whether you are hiring the right freelancer. I make it a point to check their Job Success rating, feedback rating and comments that have been given by previous clients. In addition, I also check Upwork test scores as well as length of time with a client.
We've always used Skype for freelancers. It works well as we don't have to pay any fees when calling from one Skype account to another. For freelancers who need to make US calls, we provide them with Skype Unlimited US for only $2.99 a month. There are certainly a lot of free and inexpensive programs/apps you can use for calling/texting outside the US. You just need to know which works for you.
It sounds to me that you do have a solid process for hiring and combined with Upwork's resources, you should be able to find a freelancer that's right for you. Good luck!
To update my original post, I hired multiple overseas PAs since that message, and have had largely excellent experiences. There is a lot to learn in screening candidates, some will screen themselves out when you explain your requirements, and I have done very well with every hire. Some post audio recordings on their profile so you can get a realistic sample of their English. I did end up setting up a phone account for one of them. Also a talented one can hire many logistical details. The people I interacted with did not know my PA was overseas, they thought that he was local.
Hi Tommy C, I found your original post, as I am also looking to find an overseas PA to maintain my online business. Can I ask, did you use Upworks to find your PAs and what you think is a fair hourly rate?
Appreciate any feedback you can provide.
Fluency in English is price-of-entry for a VA/PA. Equally important is fluency in the culture. This is the downfall of overseas call centers. They can work from scripts, but freeze when the call goes off-script.
Familiarity with the U.S., its practices, geography and peculiarity, is vital if your PA/VA will interact with your US customers. Hourly cost of an overseas VA/PA is very high if the $2/hour freelancer loses a customer for you.
I just wanted to send a quick note to your question. I am in the process of setting up a freelance account for virtual administrative work. My profile needs some major editing at this moment so please all, don't view it, with the option of critizing. The process of editing it and finishing it is this weekend.
However, I wanted to share this because I live so close to Canada and worked in Toronto for a soft ware company virtually for awhile. I wanted to let you know about the "What's App" App if you do not already. You can call, video, text, send messages all for free to any number in any country. Toronto is such a versatile and mixed culture from all over the world everyone there seems to use this app instead of regular messaging. So, my suggestion would be to try this first before spending money for a new number, etc.