Given the advent of very fast internet available in various parts of the world, more people are opting to work from home as Virtual Assistants (VAs) as a way of increasing their income.

Small business owners and solopreneurs can gain a competitive advantage by making use of virtual assistants and effectively saving on insurance, benefits and other costs incurred from hiring full time staff.

There are essentially two types of VAs – Virtual assistants that are available for one-off short projects and Virtual assistants that are available for long term work.

Most websites provide details of VAs available for one-off projects where you do not require continuous support. It can be easy to find a VA to build a transactional relationship based on a short project but much harder to find a reliable VA to work with on a daily basis.

Below are some of the websites where you can find short or long term virtual assistants to carry out a variety of task

1. Upwork: Formerly known as Odesk, this website has freelancers for almost every industry. It offers employers the option to post both short term and long term engagements with options for hourly or project work. The biggest drawback is reliability which can be an issue as there may be instances when freelancers do not deliver work on time or may not deliver the desired work at all. They also have a “Pay to Play” model which may discourage some freelancers from participating on their website. Some users have also sighted having been scammed on the website by people with fake profiles. www.upwork.com

2. Fiverr: Created to be a platform for the providers of digital services, this website connects buyers to providers of various services. Initially, all services were offered at $5 but the platform has now allowed the posting of higher priced jobs. Most projects on the platform are delivered in a relatively short time period. There are several downsides to using this website, however, including substandard work, misleading worker reviews, and refunds not being remitted to your bank account. https://www.fiverr.com/

3. People per hour: This website offers various jobs across many industries including Virtual Assistants. Although it may provide ways to cut cost as freelancers do sometimes submit very low bids, this site does have several issues. These include payment (escrow) problems, high rate of commission and freelancer bidding issues which may not necessarily result in the right person being hired for a particular job. https://www.peopleperhour.com/

4. Freelancer: Has been around since 2009 and has recently acquired several websites which offered similar services. The website is known for having lots of job listings but is plagued by the same issues that similar sites or services face. Complaints from users include hidden fees, less than inspiring dispute handling, nonpayment for work completed and low bids by less qualified freelancers. https://www.freelancer.com/

5. Flexjobs: Promising listings that preclude scams, this website largely displays listings from other websites that offer genuine work-from-home positions. Listings sometimes include company descriptions and links to the original job posting. Making use of the service requires a subscription fee ranging from $14.95/month to $49.95/year for freelancers to join. This fee may deter some freelancers from seeking work on this website and several of the job listing can be viewed for free on other websites. https://www.flexjobs.com/

6. Guru: Is one of the first freelance websites to offer virtual work. It is free for both employers and freelancers to make use of this website. Compared to similar websites, Guru, has one of the lowest commission fees at 4.5% of what freelancers earn. Disadvantages of using this service include priority being given to freelancers who have paid subscriptions which may result from bids for VA work coming from those who paid to submit applications rather than the best person for the job. Users also complain that the website does not do enough to combat scam artists on the website. http://www.guru.com/

7. Taskrabbit: This people-as-a-service website offers many jobs from VAs to people to run errands. This website does offer some security as they run checks on freelancers but it faces the same inherent problems that this type of platforms face. Employers risk hiring individuals who may not complete time sensitive tasks and they also have high commission fees which may preclude the best candidates applying for a particular job or project.

The downside to hiring virtual assistants without going through an agency is that most VAs work with a number of clients on a range of projects at the same time. Since individual Virtual Assistants that do not work through an agency cannot plan or predict work allocations, it’s easy for them to get overwhelmed with too much work and end up providing you with a poor quality of work.

8. Beyondvas.com: We offer dedicated virtual assistants to busy business owners who require a higher standard of work. Over the past few years, we’ve heard so many horror stories of poor quality virtual assistants and therefore it’s important that you take your time to find a professional virtual assistant that meets your business requirements. Our professional virtual assistants are reliable and are accountable to their line manager so they continue to provide a good quality of service throughout their time with you. Our virtual assistants also go through a rigorous vetting process and are naturally motivated to provide the best service to you and your clients.