I checked out a Virtual Assistant Subscription Service so you don’t have to! Bonus, I’ve listed a dozen real-life examples of how I used this service. This Fancy Hands Review is not sponsored in any way – it’s purely my opinion. That said, some of the links I used to Fancy Hands, Fiverr, and Free Up are referral links and if you’re going to sign up I’d super appreciate it if you use them so I can earn some of those sweet, sweet credits.
Update: Fancy Hands hooked me up with a refcode, to help you capture a bit of savings: tidytim-2020
Looking for a quick summary? I feel Fancy Hands is worth a try, and it’s biggest drawback has more to do with whether you are good at delegating than anything being wrong with the service. Check out my in-depth Fancy Hands review and several use-cases below:
It was January when I first had some of the questions that you might be wondering right now. One evening, fresh off of reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I was browsing his twitter when I became enthralled by the comments section of this tweet:
What are one-time actions that pay off again and again in the future?
– enrolling in an automatic savings plan
– buying a water filter to remove lead from drinking water
– removing your tv from your bedroom
— James Clear (@JamesClear) February 11, 2018
One comment, “Subscribe to Fancy Hands or a similar service,” sent me into hours of research. I started with “What is Fancy Hands?” — the answer: a Virtual Assistant subscription service. This raised many questions:
- Can I, a normal person with average income, hire a Virtual Assistant?
- Is my time important enough to start outsourcing work?
- Why would I? What could I accomplish if I did?
- Can I afford this? Will the time I save be worth the cost?
- Would it be worth subscribing just to write a Fancy Hands Review?
I learned that Virtual Assistants can be useful for all sorts of things – one reviewer said Fancy Hands saved him hundreds of hours – and that he asks his assistants to call hotels and ask for free upgrades on his behalf. The idea of outsourcing different types of calls spoke to me, and I subscribed.
Where Fancy Hands Works
Great use cases:
- Fancy Hands is good with research – whether you need to find all the local yoga studios in your area (complete with schedules & rates), prepare a “what to do in case of cuts or burns” first aid primer, or find out if those kickstarter projects you backed actually retailed for what they promised.
- I’ve been meaning to create some Local Donation Guides for my website, so I set an assistant on some research. The legwork is done but I have a lot of follow-up to do.
- You can gift credits to a friend. Useful if you have employees that get annoyed at certain tasks – you can throw them some help once in a while.
- You can set up weekly tasks, which can save you from repetitive processes.
Fancy Hands Assistants can make purchases on your behalf:
- Still deeply interested in James Clear, I decided to buy his Clear Habit Journal. Found a coupon code and everything. Only issue: It wasn’t available to Canadians on Amazon, and the Baronfig website was declining my credit card!
- Fancy Hands facilitates the purchase, then charges the amount to the card you have on file with them. This saved me the time I would have spent dealing with Baronfig’s customer service: My assistant used the coupon code I provided and sent me the tracking number as soon as it was available!
My top 3 “requests”
- I shared my pdf rehearsal schedule from Cabaret with my assistant, and asked them to input all the rehearsals into my Google Calendar. I’m pretty serious about my google calendar, and I wanted the location of rehearsals identified as well as what we’d be working on in the descriptions. She did a remarkable job!
- One assistant compiled a seasonal report from our retreat facilitator & hosts feedback at the Edge. I provided a template, so it was mainly a copy-paste task — one that I was happy to outsource, saving me from doing it myself or asking one of my team members to spend their time on it.
- I had two of my interviews transcribed, and added them here as blog posts. The transcriptions were top-notch but not strictly necessary as I’ll describe in a minute. I also had an assistant research podcasts I could pitch myself to as a special guest. This was all “make-work”, so I could use up my extra credits to end my subscription as I’ll describe below – but it was very well-done.
Where “Fancy” Falls Short
I ended up canceling my Fancy Hands subscription . . . here’s why:
Training & Rating
You don’t get the same assistant every time. This means you have to be really good at explaining each request you make, and you lose the opportunity to train somebody like you would do by hiring a dedicated person. Fancy Hands is the budget-friendly VA option. As this is my first Virtual Assistant of any kind, it isn’t a huge drawback for me.
You can “rate” your tasks, which Fancy Hands says will help improve their service and train their team. It’s well-known, however, that staff in customer service positions across many industries are punished for anything below a 5-Star rating. This makes it difficult to be honest.
I asked for 3 quotes each for two different products, again for work purchases. This is where I hit a snag:
- Fancy hands assistance are all technically proficient english-speakers based in the US.
- As a Canadian resident with a preference to shop local, my requests to prioritize Canadian options and provide pricing in CAD was not always honoured.
- Some of the quotes came with “free shipping within the USA” or US shipping rates rather than outlining what it would cost to ship to my location. This changed the quote dramatically at some shops.
I recognize, localization is actually Fancy Hands’ strong suit if you live in the US. From Canada, it was a minor snag.
My biggest issue with Fancy Hands? I felt caught in a loop. Fancy Hands gave me a certain number of credits per month to use on tasks, but I didn’t always know what to use them on.
- The credits roll over to the next month and build up (you don’t lose them), but you do have to stay subscribed to access them.
- This made me feel like I had to keep paying, even when I wasn’t getting the full worth of the program. I ended up asking for tasks that I didn’t necessarily need, just to use up my credits. These so-so tasks were not done badly – It just wasn’t worth paying for “make work”.
- Also, a global pandemic came along and changed the way we all work and play. No more rehearsals & call sheets to be added to my calendar, no more hotels to book (a few to cancel, but I temporarily forgot about my assistants and did that dirty work myself). No more retreats to copy and paste feedback from.
I ended up canceling my Fancy Hands subscription . . . for a little over a week.
Why I went back
I resubscribed to Fancy Hands this week, because writing this review helped me realize I was actually pleased with the service.
- Now that I’m blogging more, I can use some credits on proofreading.
- Things might swing back to life once we’re in the clear from COVID-19.
- Some tasks I previously thought would be too complicated to explain became more viable to outsource when I learned how to make short training videos using Loom. This allowed me to outsource a complex Google Sheets data entry task for a fantasy league I run, saving me a weekly headache.
Through this process I also learned about & explored some other websites that feature Virtual Assistants.
- Fiverr offers VA’s that will do specific, one-off tasks for you and just charge you for it. IE: pay 10 bucks for somebody to proofread your blog post. I’ve used Fiverr to design my refreshed logo and checklists – I would go here for budget-friendly specific tasks like design work.
- Freeeup and other marketplaces let you hire & train a virtual assistant to work with long-term. If the price is right, I might look into finding a freelancer that will charge me on a usage-basis. I’ve used Freeeup to hire a graphic designer for Northern Edge – a great solution if you have a larger budget.
What will you outsource?
Are you curious about Fancy Hands? I do recommend giving it a try. Especially if you are creative enough to think of enough ways to use the service. If not, you can always come up with some make-work and cancel like I did.
If you had a Virtual Assistant, what would you ask them to do? Comment below!