We’ve all heard the sales pitch about how Filipino virtual assistants can do anything. But I know some of us have been burned by Filipino virtual assistants who don’t meet expectations.
“Filipino VAs are too much of a hassle.”
“Any savings you get from outsourcing to a Filipino VA isn’t worth the convenience and quality of having your own staff or outsourcing to local business.”
Have you heard any of that before?
What most people don’t realize is that the right Filipino virtual assistant can take your business to a whole new level. The key is to find the right virtual assistant, and the first step is to have realistic expectations of what a Filipino virtual assistant can do. Then, from there, you’ll get a better idea of how much they are really worth.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an individual who provides professional:
- creative, or
assistance to clients.
They don’t fix broken businesses.
They can’t build your business for you.
VAs are there to assist you in your business, to help you run things more smoothly. So you can have more time to do things that give you more value.
We surveyed experienced Filipino virtual assistants all over the Philippines and asked them about their skills. We also asked what their employers and clients ask them to do. We made a list of these tasks and estimated how long it takes them to do these tasks.
What we saw is that almost all of the recurring tasks that businesses need require long-term, part-time assistance. Most business owners might be wary of this because it means long-term, recurring costs. That is why we also did a cost-benefit analysis to illustrate how much it would cost to hire Filipino assistants compared to hiring someone in house or outsourcing the same tasks locally on a full-time basis.
From there, we get a better idea of what Filipino virtual assistants can do, how much time it takes them to do it and, how much it costs to hire a Filipino worker to do these things.
All the rates below are based on starting rates. This means the local employee, local VA and Filipino VA would all be relatively inexperienced.
Administrative VA Tasks and Costs
General VAs/ project managers, real estate, legal and medical VAs all fall under this category because they provide administrative support. This category is common for a Filipino VA, and it is often seen as a starting point for virtual assistants who want to specialize in other fields.
Below are the tasks most Filipino general VAs can do. The amount of time it takes to complete these tasks depends on the amount of work provided, but on average, most of these tasks can be completed in under an hour.
Tasks Most Filipino General VAs Can Do:
- Filtering emails
- Managing spam
- Database building
- Updating contacts or CRM
- Answering customer service emails / tickets / chat support
- Calendar management and appointment setting
- Travel arrangement and planning
- Transcription of video and audio files
- Preparing online meeting minutes
- Online research and data mining
- Receptionist duties
- Basic bookkeeping
- Personal errands (purchasing gifts online, tracking deliveries)
- Project management and training tasks.
For a general virtual assistant to do all these tasks for you on a regular basis would require from 20 hours to 40 hours a week.
Starting Administrative VA Costs and Savings – In House vs Local vs Filipino
Technical VA Tasks and Costs
Programmers, web developers, and SEO specialists fall under this category. These virtual assistants typically cost more, but those who specialize in these tasks often have years of VA experience under their belts. They can usually handle more responsibility like general VA tasks, writing or design.
Starting Technical VA Costs and Savings – In House vs Local vs Filipino
Creative Virtual Assistant Tasks and Costs
You can’t have a website for your business without fresh content on a regular basis. To get regular content, hiring a full-time writer/designer is often the best option. Most Filipinos are proficient in written and spoken English, which makes writing tasks easier for them than their Asian counterparts.
Businesses who outsource often call on Filipino VAs do to these tasks:
Starting Writer VA Costs and Savings – In House vs Local vs Filipino
The presence of graphic design communities all over the country have increased the number of graphic designers in the Philippines these past few years.
Starting Graphic Designer VA Costs and Savings – In House vs Local vs Filipino
Social Virtual Assistant Tasks and Costs
Social media is a great way for businesses to engage with their market. It can turn customers into advocates. It can give small businesses a chance to reach a bigger market.
Most social media tasks can be done by a general VA in less than an hour. And with social media tools, it can even be done even faster. Social media specialists are capable of setting up social media campaigns and tracking the progress of these campaigns through analytics to make sure that your business is being noticed.
Most Filipino VAs can be called upon to do the following tasks:
Starting Social Media VA Costs and Savings – In House vs Local vs Filipino
Can You Afford To Hire a Filipino VA?
Below, we’ve put together how much it would cost to have all this done in a year, this is assuming that you would
- Hire one person for each category
- And hire someone relatively inexperienced to save costs.
Let’s say you would rather outsource locally to a VA that costs $20/hour and only hire that VA to work for 52 hours a year (or 4 hours a month). That would only cost you $1040/year.
But how much work would that VA get done?
What about tasks that require special skills like programming or SEO?
You would have to hire another freelancer at a higher hourly rate, which would increase the expenses you make.
A lot of you may say that these figures seem too good to be true. But taking a close look at figures, you’ll see that the cost of hiring 5 Filipino virtual assistants full-time, with benefits, actually costs less than hiring one full-time, in house employee for a year.
Hiring an entire team would only cost businesses $55,369.60, while a full-time, in-house employee would cost you at least $81,422.80.
Even if you increase their salaries within 6 months by $50 each, it would still cost less than $81,422.80.
Think about it. You could hire 5 Filipino VAs with all of their skill-sets for less than what it would cost you to hire one full-time employee. You can hire an entire team of 10 experienced VAs at their rates, get more work done, and still pay less than if you had 5 full-time employees.
If you had some of your VAs doing multiple tasks (a general VA to do social media, your SEO VA to also do writing), this would bring down your costs further. Even if you were to raise their hourly rates and give them more benefits, it would still be cheaper.
Do you still think hiring a Filipino VA is not worth it? Is taking the time to hire, train, and manage a Filipino worker so much of a hassle that you would be willing to lose almost a hundred grand just to avoid outsourcing? In the end, the real question isn’t how much a Filipino VA would cost but rather, can you afford NOT to hire a Filipino VA for your business today?
Check our updated salary guide here.
About Julia Jasmine M. Sta Romana
Julia has been working for OnlineJobs.ph since 2012, first as a writer and now as its social media manager and content development specialist. She also founded the Davao Virtual Assistants Association, the biggest VA association in Davao City.
She’s a full-time wife and mom and volunteers her time as an internet rights advocate.
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Robert Reniva says
I’m Robert, I would like o inquire for a vacant postion as VA, currently I’m a freelance Graphic artist and I’m using Adobe Photosho and Adobe Illustrator.
Hope for your kind response.
Robert P. Reniva
Bookkeepers can do all the VA’s task but not all VA’s can do bookkeeping…bookkeeping/accounting should be a separate category. A h/s graduate can be a good VA but can’t be a good bookkeeper/accountant. A non-accounting college graduate can be a VA but not an effective bookkeeper…oh come on how can they be a good bookkeeper at the same time? They don’t even know the meaning of double entry system and the terms debit and credit.
Fantastic post, John. I think this post will live on for years around the internet. You spent a lot of time on this, and the graphics and information are great. I am currently employing one VA in the Philippines, but hoping to expand enough to hire several more staff soon.
John Jonas says
I’m glad things are working out for you.
These rates are a disgrace. Filipinos are paid much more than that. Yes, there are those who accept these rates, but good luck with quality. No self-respecting online worker / freelancer would work at these rates. Please adjust your pay information to market standards. Even if the Philippines is a third-world country, the real professionals here do not work for such low pay. We do our jobs well and we expect to get paid what is fair. Such rates are hardly just. Some employers/clients may say that Filipinos are not that good, but you only get what you pay for. Try our real professionals and pay at least even half of the “local worker’s” rate and see the difference.
John Jonas says
@Disgusted – We can disagree on this, but the reality is, if you look through OnlineJobs.ph at the rates people are asking for, you’ll actually find the rates we published here are higher than normal.
We published that SEO people get $1100/month. Look through and see how many people are asking for $1100/month.
We published that Writers get $850/month. Look through and see how many are asking for $850/month.
I understand that pay is different in different regions, but we have 150,000 resumes. We have LOTS of data.
We’ve also hired a lot of people. Skilled people. Talented people.
The rates we published are for high end workers.
Dave Hamerson says
@Agreed to John. If we do the math, those $2/hour are very realistic or even better than local employment in PH. It is true that skilled Filipino may demand a good deal but Filipino aren’t not that greedy in terms on online salary because we are talking DOLLARS here, if you do the conversion you will get 2x or 3x higher than salary rate compared to local employment opportunities.
April Ricafort-Custodio says
I will have to agree with @Disgusted. These rates are too low and timeframe for most of the tasks are incorrect. This information is misleading.
John Jonas says
@April – While I agree that these rates are too low for some (you may be one of them), the rates we’ve published are above average.
Spend a little time looking through onlinejobs.ph looking at the rates people are asking for. You may not like it, or agree with it, but they’re still the actual rates people are asking for.
The rates are too low and it underestimates the value of Filipino skills. Employers from other countries might think that we, Filipinos, are cheap from your post. You haven’t even included other benefits that most local companies would pay for their employees like health and life insurance, insurance for the beneficiaries, meal allowances, incentives, bonuses, etc. A lot of Filipinos would just post low rates just to get hired even if they are being paid way too less than their skills but like what Disgusted said, you get what you paid for. So don’t wonder why they are not staying long in the company. Try to live in the Philippines and see if your $8k yearly income can even pay for your meals. We are Filipinos and we know better on how much we should be paid for. Please change your post, it doesn’t help the Filipinos.
Julia Jasmine Sta Romana says
The rates posted here was based on 2014 local rates (Salary information obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics http://data.bls.gov/search/query/results?q=writer). We are in the process of changing it and we have been giving employers updated guides on salaries. The main purpose of this blog post was to illustrate the savings employers can get with hiring Filipino workers, to entice more employers to hire Filipino workers. The more employers we can get, the more Filipino workers are hired. And if you also check our other posts:
You can see that we strongly encourage employers to be generous to their Filipino workers in terms of salary and benefits.
@Julia I understand that you wanted to entice clients but to the extent of making Filipinos look cheap is not a good thing. Please work on updating this post asap as it appears on the top of the search engine but the info are so misleading. Comments from other Filipinos in this post don’t also agree with you.
Miss A says
I don’t find designing a logo in 1-3hrs reasonable. Those are probably copied/downloaded/cookie-cutter logos. It takes me at least a day to present a winning logo with little to no revisions. Means, I have to take into account what the brand is about.
No wonder, I can’t find a Graphic/Logo Designer to add to my team that actually is a “designer”.
This is unless the freelance designers are doing cookie cutter outputs because of the low payout.