Practices Subcontractors Overlook


New Member
Just recently I've talked to a few contractors. They discussed their frustrations in working with subcontractors. It seems like they go through subs like water. My question to them is what are subs most often over looking.

The most recent mentioned she had a VA that emailed and just quit. No notice what so ever. The thing she found amazing is that she would have worked with her to give her the necessary time to get through what she needed. So why do subcontractors think they can treat working virtually different.

Please share what you've found subcontractors over look. If you are a sub, did you learn something the hard way when it came to your practices?


Staff member
Re: Practices Subcontractors Over Look

Honestly, I don't think it's strictly a subcontractor-related issue, but is more inherent to the work-at-home / VA industries. A LOT of people get into this business thinking it's going to be easy money, that it won't take actual work to get started, etc. And when they realize they're not cut out for it they bail. Or, equally often I think they just give up, not wanting to do the real work of starting a business (or in this case, subbing for someone else's)

My guess is that it's especially prevalent with subs because this is a situation where the sub wants to 'get her feet wet' - maybe ambivalent about starting their own biz or not sure they can 'make it happen'. So they end up working under an established VA.

I'm not sure it's something that can be 'fixed' other than for hiring VAs to more carefully vet who they take on.

It's Your Time

New Member
Re: Practices Subcontractors Over Look

I agree with Tess - I had been trying to hire my first full-time sub-contractor since January and was feeling quite disheartened before I found my superstar. Despite a quite detailed job description and posting language I was surprised by how many people seemed to approach it as a hobby rather than a serious job. Some people didn't even bother to attend the interview in appropriate work attire.

I think if you are going to use sub-contractors then it is your (our) responsibility to drive the point home that professionalism is paramount and and what our expectations are. That being said I think it's a two way street. Books like the "Four Hour Work Week" promoting the $2/hour VA don't help our industry but I also believe we do it to ourselves sometimes by charging decent rates to our clients and then subcontracting for pittance to our sub-contractors.

I wanted a professional and I'm paying for a professional.

I will soon be hiring my third person and one of the things I will be repeating that worked well this last round is to give the person part-time non-critical/non-confidential piece work until we are both comfortable with the process and each other before I even let clients know that there is a new person on board. Sort of like a risk-free trial period.

I hope this rambling response helps. :)


New Member
I agree it is a two way street and sometimes it is just not a very good match. The first VA I subbed for seemed fabulous on the phone. We hit it off very well. She said she was willing to work with a newbie and was willing to take all the time that was needed. I jumped through all kind of hoops, and spent a lot of money, just to work with her, (that should have been a huge red flag) and it ended up being a fiasco! Nothing I did was right. It was so frustrating and it left me feeling like I didn't know anything! I think sometimes it is a lot of personality and nothing else. Thankfully I now sub for different VA and am building my own client list. It was a good, if painful, learning experience.


New Member
You are all so right. I would like to be a VA to a VA (in the words of Patty Dost) and work with several multi-VA companies and the thing that stands out is that you have to be professional. If you are professional, research the company you are subbing for, know your ideal client and do your due diligence, things should work out. Of course, they don't always but that is a really good start.

It is too bad that some people treat the VA industry as a "hobby." But there will always be those who do because, as Tess says, they think it will be easy money.

And, to "It's Your Time" (sorry, don't know your name) - you are a shining example of what a lead VA should be. You found your diamond, but that person may be thinking the same thing. Good for you!


New Member
This is one of the areas i referenced in my extensive marketing plan final. One of the weaknesses I see in VA field is the fly-by-night feeling some VA sites have. Here today gone tomorrow. Not to mention all of the work from home scams that make becoming a VA seem like it is a scam. That is why these communities are so important, they shake away the chaff *hoping she's a seed!* ;)
Hello everyone,

I have to say this is a good discussion. My name is Simone and I have just about given up on subcontracting for a good VA. First, I can see why everyone says that you should get to know those willing to subcontract through the chats, forums, etc. It is sad when certain individuals do not treat this as a professional, serious business. I am a single mother who desperately wants to work from home providing administrative services and I have had several great clients. Unfortunately they only wanted/needed project work and when that was done, that was it. Second, although I am not a big networker and only know a handful of VAs, that doesn't mean that I am unreliable or not experienced. Because I want to continue to work from home, I see no problem in working on a trial basis as "It's Your Time" states. I think it's a great idea to provide piece work in order to find out if the sub can meet the requirements of the job. I hope that soon it will be "My Time"



New Member
Ladies I have been through many subcontractors since i started and let me tell you what an event it has been!!! I have several subcontractors that I have been working with for several years and several that have disappeared, treated me and my clients unfairly and have tempers beyond belief.

So here is my tid bit. A subcontractor should not subcontract if they are going to take everything a client says or does personally and subcontracting is a career not a pass of time to make a few bucks. If you are in it to make a few bucks and just to be able to work from home then don't do it! I have learned my lesson that I can only take on subcontractors that are serious about their business and treat clients just like they would if they were in the outside working world. Some Subs don't realize that they are not only harming themselves they are harming the people they work with and could potentially harm a persons reputation due to their neglect and unprofessional ism.

Another pet peeve is don't take on more work than you can handle and don't start off being professional and end off acting very unprofessional.

I swear i could write a book about this!! lol Thankfully I have many great subs that I work with and I need to add more to my team but afraid that I will get burned again. Being overworked and having to deal with damaging subs or to keep going through subs is very stressful.

So here is my tip for those who would like to sub:

If you are not serious about working for others and want to have the freedom of coming and going as you please then subbing is not right for you.

If you take on a project finish it and take other people into consideration. Keep in mind that if you goof up a project you could end up causing a law suit for the VA! Yes it can happen. If a client loses on an opportunity that could make them big bucks and if they have the money for lawyers be sure that a lawsuit could be around the corner. Being a subcontractor is serious business not a game.

Anyway thank god I have not had to deal with a lawsuit and hope I never do! I have been burned more than one time and is very stressful.
Hello everyone,

I have been following this discussion and I can't tell you how disheartening it is to read. As a single mother and an experienced administrative assistant, I have been working at building my business since 2005. I have had some really great clients but the work has been very sporadic. I have even had to take a part-time job for a measely $8 an hour which is really only paying for my gas to get to and fro. My thought was that I could work on my business and look for a better paying job at the same time. I may have $20 at the most left over.

To even think that any VA/subcontractor would pull this type of thing is unbelievable not to mention extremely unprofessional. I would hope that there are others like me who value the opportunity to work from home and be a mother at the same time. I would never even think of treating the VA that I hope to work for or the client with any disrespect. In actuallity, working from home doesn't mean you can do exactly what you want. You still have a responsibility to the client or whoever you are reporting to. Professionalism should always be first and foremost along with good work ethics, the ability to finish a project, etc. etc.

I hope there are others out there who feel like I do and respect what we have to offer clients and other VAs as subcontractors. I feel bad for those of you that have had bad experiences but if you really need a good assistant that you can rely on I hope that you may give me the chance to support you.

Best wishes to all of you.


New Member
I agree with you, Simone. Professionalism and respect should always be at the forefront of everything we do (in business or otherwise). When we support each other, we ourselves become supported.
Hi Wendy,

Thanks so much for commenting. All of us who are serious about working in this profession really do need to stick together. I have worked for many levels of management and have learned that being professional is a huge part. I couldn't imagine being anything but to the people I have supported.



New Member

I am a full time Virtual Assistant, and it's my second Career. I am a retired Law Enforcement Officer and my niche now is Business and Internet Investigations.

About two years ago I stop working with subs because they'll disappeared and did not complete the project that was given to them. I would work sometime on 5 assignments by myself because of unreliable subs.

Last year I placed an ad I think, here and different Virtual Assistant network for subs, I knew I will need them to work in the future. I think I interviewed about a hundred people. This is what I found.
  1. Some do Virtual Assistant as a hobby
  2. Most have Call center training and no Personal or Administrative Skills to back them up.
  3. Most that answered were from India, China and Philippines.
  4. Give specific info about want the sub need. EIN#, A paypal account, Prior Knowledge of admin work, new knowledge of Social Media, etc.---What I received were people that were looking for employment and needed training.
  5. I asked for working or business references; I received family members as references. I did check all references. Sometimes I laugh at the responses, but most of time I wondered about these people who were desperate for work and are willing to work outside their field. And the Business owner that probably will hire them because they are willing to work for little of nothing.
  6. I wanted people if they didn't own a business, at least have a working knowledge of how one is ran.

I interviewed about a 100 potential VA's I found only ONE (1). Can you believe that, and I needed 4. And guest what my sub is located in the Philippines, and she speaks and writes American English well. She was educated in the US and lived here and she move back home with her husband and child. She wants to work, because she wants to raise her child herself without sending her to a daycare.

I need subs to work starting from 10 to 25 hours a month. PM me and let me know what your niche is. I will tell you if I can use your skills. Go to my website or my subcontracting site. It is advertised on this forum also.

I think I will be in need of subs, because one client is launching Event Parties before the Day time Emmy's next weekending. And beginning October I think I will need help in the planning of their holiday Parties.

I work one person on this forum with Wordpress Web site. She help me redefine my websites. Her name is Amanda Mock

Right now, my sub and I have been working on project that we're comfortable with.

I have sub for other VA's and don't mind doing it. Sometime I like to work outside my niche, just to learn something new; before doing it I will have a working knowledge of it takes before work on the project.


New Member
WOW - great thread and so many things to address! (Phyllis - I sent you a private msg). First of all unprofessionalism is a problem across the board with the working force today - not just VAs. BUT VAs have a particular problem in that it takes more self-discipline and you are not working one-on-one/face-to-face with the client.

The problems re subcontracting are a two-way street and I feel qualified to have an opinion as I have walked both paths (usually I have an opinion whether qualified or not - lol) I am a little anal and as a subcontractor I want to be sure I am meeting the expectations of my client (and YES the person I am subcontracting for is MY client). I want to get a good handle on what my client needs/wants and that takes time and communication -- two things that many times by the nature of the VA beast are not available BUT ALSO many times the contractor does not explain clearly, give you a learning curve/time, -- sometimes because of their own constraints but also times when they just don't want to bother -- that can cause the blaming of the subcontractor when things go awry and result in bad business relationships and decreased confidence of the subcontractor (as referred to above)

--- it ain't easy!! Thank God we have the support of each other here at VAF!! Good luck to all - hang in there if it is what you really want (if not -- find what you DO want and go do THAT)