How To Hire A Virtual Assistant To Do Mundane Tasks & Save You Tons Of Time (And It's Not As Expensive As You Think!)

How To Hire A Virtual Assistant To Do Mundane Tasks & Save You Tons Of Time (And It's Not As Expensive As You Think!) hero image

Being your own boss and having control over your income is the ideal situation for us all, agreed?

I think we can all agree with that statement—whether we're already making our dream incomes or not.

Another think I think we can all agree with as niche marketers, though, is that just because making a lot of money is fun doesn't mean everything on our to do lists are fun tasks.

In fact, they're often so boring and mundane that we find ourselves procrastinating for hours on end on social media. We're avoiding actually doing them and never get anywhere.

Which is why hiring a VA (or virtual assistant) to take care of those horribly boring to-do list items really helps our niche businesses take off.

We don't have to worry about doing the things we hate, but they still get done, and we can keep our sites and our income goals moving forward.

Because even though I love the lifestyle and freedom of being an online solopreneur, I DO NOT love doing all the mundane tasks that come along with it.

I don’t like mining information, uncovering email IDs, or scheduling social media posts.

I prefer to focus on my client work, growing my own website, and sending invoices.

But the reality is, I can’t do the things I prefer to focus on unless I get these little, mundane, backup tasks done first.

A good chunk of my client work requires research before I can even start it.

But oh my goodness, I hate those endless, hour-long Google searches for just the right piece of information.

So I started hiring some VAs on UpWork to do that research for me.

I gave them test assignments to see their ability and assess whether or not they’d be worth a longer-term time, money, and energy investment.

I expected it to be easy, but it wasn't.

Just the fact that anyone with an Internet connection can sign up for UpWork and claim to have whatever skills they want makes it difficult.

But once you get past that and identify some genuinely “good” ones, you still have no idea how well they can work with your specific business, your specific niche.

And whether or not the people who've rated their work before had the same standards as you.

It was hard, so I settled with the first assistant that was better than the rest.

I thought, “Well, it’ll be good enough for now.”


It was fine for a couple of weeks, but after he decided to be careless with his work, I ended the contract.

Then he wrote this review of me:

hire a virtual assistant

And as you can tell from my response below it, pretty much some flat-faced lies.

It sucks.

Sure, other freelancers I’ve worked with have left me shining five-star reviews that’ll bring up his 2.5-star rating, but I’d really like to help you avoid making the same mistakes I did.

So I’ll walk you through a smart way to find an inexpensive VA on UpWork (or a similar freelance platform) that’ll work well with you and your business, and that won’t cause you a huge upheaval later on.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to write your job description.
  • How to search for the best freelancers and invite them to apply instead of just accepting whoever sees your posting.
  • Red flags to look for in their profiles & where to find them.
  • How to conduct a successful trial period.
  • What kind of cost to expect with your first hire.

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Step One: Write Your Job Description

One of my first mistakes was trying to write an intriguing job description because I wanted to impress people and make them want to work for me.

But this isn’t such a good idea.

Let me explain:

You’re hiring a VA for the purpose of taking care of tasks that you loathe doing, but you also need someone who’s highly attentive and enthusiastic about the work you’ll be giving them.

So to start writing your job description for a VA, write down everything in your business that you hate doing, and beside it, write down how it makes you feel.

For example:

  • Research - It feels like a waste of time & it’s boring
  • Grammar edits - Petty detail, insignificant & time-sucking compared to rest of work

Then, use those tasks (and the opposite feelings) to write your job description:

I’m looking for a virtual assistant to help me with client research and grammar edits.

About you: You get a thrill out of mining for hidden, hard-to-find information that takes way more than a few smart Google searches to find, and you don’t get discouraged easily. I also need someone who’s a native English speaker (preferably American English) with high attention to detail and an impeccable eye towards English grammar that just loves polishing out even the tiniest little details, but is okay with “breaking the rules” from time to time for the purpose of what’s written.

Because you’re hiring for tasks that you hate, you do not want to hire someone who’s just like you… so you shouldn’t write a job description that sounds fun to you.

The job description I’ve written above makes me cringe, but that’s okay.

That’s actually the point.

When I use descriptions like this, I get better results.

Step Two: Uncover Quality Freelancers

So once you have a job description that actually suits the job and the kind of person you need to hire, you will get A TON of applications rolling in.

Like, way more than you can handle.

And to be honest with you, the vast majority of them won’t be all that qualified… even if you go through the pains of listing out every single one of your requirements.

But UpWork and most other freelancer platforms allow you as the client to go through and each different freelancer profiles related to the kinds of keywords you use to describe the tasks your VA will be doing.

And beyond keywords, they let you filter so you’ll only see people who have job success rates of at least 90% (or 80%), and according to your hourly rate—to help you stay within your budget.

Hint: Keep in mind that some more expensive freelancers are also way more productive. I actually save money when I hire a $10/hour freelancer to do the same tasks as a $3/hour freelancer because they’re so much more efficient.

From here, you can read through profiles and “save” freelancers that you like and who you want to send a job invite to.

hire a virtual assistant

I highly suggest clicking on “more” underneath the tags to see what the person is all about and to make sure they’ve got good grammar if they’ll be doing any kind of writing or proofreading.

To review the freelancers you’ve saved and move onto the next steps, click on “Freelancers” in the header, and then on “Saved” in the right side bar that pops up.

hire a virtual assistant

Step Three: Look For Red Flags

The next step is so, so important and will save you a lot of headaches and anger while training and working with your new VA—whoever you happen to hire.

And it’s to look for red flags and eliminate anyone who raises any kind of suspicion.

First of all, even if someone’s got a 100% job completion rate on 2,547 jobs and has an average of five stars from their clients, check out their lowest ratings.

Do this by scrolling down their profile to “Work History and Feedback” and click on “Lowest Rated” from the drop down menu.

hire a virtual assistant

See what their clients say.

If it’s been a while since a negative instance happened, you can forgive them and credit it to learning experience, but if not and that client’s complaint affects the work they’d be doing for you, take them off your list.

That’s one red flag to look for.

Another one, which is a little more subtle, but still very telling, is to look at how they’ve reviewed their clients.

Do they generally find most people easy to work for? (This should be the case.)

Or do you find that they’ve unfairly given their clients low reviews despite getting higher reviews in return?

What things do they complain about? Are they things that line up with your personality traits and the way you work?

This takes more time to dig through, but if you’re trying to make a longer-term hire, you’ll thank yourself for doing it. Trust me.

And it’s really easy to see.

All you have to do is click on the job title within their work history, and it pops up.

hire a virtual assistant

Underneath the client’s feedback to the freelancer, you’ll see the freelancer’s feedback to the client, if any.

And since it pops up instead of taking you to a new page that you have to navigate to and from, you can work your way through a freelancer’s entire work history fairly quickly.

Step Four: Conduct a Trial Period

So after you’ve trimmed down your list of saved freelancers to prospects who seem trustworthy enough to work with, it’s time to do a trial period.

Because believe me, more red flags will be raised here and it’ll become clearer and clearer who’s a good fit and who isn't.

And there’s two stages of this:

  • Give out small, short test projects to multiple people.
  • Hire one person for a pre-determined number of weeks before starting an ongoing agreement.

First, decide on a small trial task that’ll take your saved freelancers anywhere from two to five hours to complete.

You’ll need a budget, but this will also give you a chance to see what their communication is like and how well they take direction.

You’ll also be able to see if they’re bad about making assumptions or genuinely care about the details of your project.

This will again eliminate a healthy chunk of your saved freelancers because you’ll notice more red flags that couldn’t really be raised by simply looking through their profiles.

For example, when I was trying to hire a proofreader, I gave directions to make sure the spelling and grammar were correct.

It was an easy task and most people understood it well, but one applicant scolded me because I hadn’t told him whether or not to edit for MLA or APA.

(And no, he was not working on anything remotely related to a research paper.)

So he got taken off the list.

Step Five: Make the Hire

Once this is done, honestly, you’ll probably only have a few VAs you like enough to continue working with.

Choose the one you feel is best for the task, and tell them that you’ll work together for a time period that seems reasonable—something like two weeks or a month.

And stick to that deadline.

If everything goes well, you can hire them for an indefinite period of time.

But if not, you can do a trial period with some of the other freelancers until you find someone who's a great match.

But... What About the Cost?

You'll find freelancers for hire on UpWork and similar platforms starting at $3 per hour all the way up to $75 per hour or more.

Ideally, the pricing is based on skill level and the demand for their services. (

But this is not always the case.)

If budget is a concern, run your first round of testing with freelancers and virtual assistants in the $3 to $10 per hour range.

If you can find a great VA for $3 or $5 per hour, that's incredible.

But keep in mind that just because you double or triple the hourly rate at $10 per hour, you may ultimately be saving yourself a lot of money by paying for less hours.

So, as an idea, if you give five different freelancers a test assignment with a three-hour window, you can expect a budget of anywhere from $45 to $150 for the test assignment.

This is pretty affordable for most people when you look at the long-term benefits of how having someone take care of your time-consuming tasks.

From that point forward, you can set time limits for how much time your VA is allowed to spend on your project (and therefore the amount you pay them per week), so you never go over budget.

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Commit to the Hiring Process & Save SO MUCH Time Overall

Committing the time and budget to filter through potential VAs will be one of the best investments you ever make.

Because once you have the right person on your team, you suddenly have plenty of free time and mental energy to spend working on strategies to grow you niche site in ways that wouldn't have been possible before.

Because really, what else would you do with your time if you didn't have to:

  • Send out all the emails yourself after writing a skyscraper post
  • Data mine the Internet for email addresses
  • Schedule your weekly emails
  • Proofread your writing

You could do quite a bit, right?

So go ahead and start the experiment so you can see what kind of returns having a virtual assistant will provide for your business.

Like the idea of having a VA help you grow your niche site but don't know where to start?

Stuart's guide on 101 Traffic Hacks will give you some great ideas a VA can take care of to increase your traffic.

Chelsea Baldwin