Fancy Hands Review
What it’s like to work as an on-demand Virtual Assistant in a sharing economy.
I worked for Fancy Hands as a Virtual Assistant for about six months when I was burned out on freelance writing. I had had one too many clients disappear without issuing payment and simply couldn’t face the prospect of doing hours of work while never getting paid (again!).
I knew I needed a break, but didn’t want to lose the flexibility that I came to love working as a freelance writer. So I dug around and came across Fancy Hands. Intrigued by a crowdsourced-type platform for being a Virtual Assistant, I applied and was accepted.
What follows is my Fancy Hands review (the good, the bad, and the downright awful).
Applying at Fancy Hands
The application process is pretty straightforward. If you’d like to become a Fancy Hands Assistant, you can head on over to their application page.
You’ll have to sign in with a Gmail Account and take an “Aptitude Test” which is really nothing more than a quick questionnaire to see if you can locate basic information online (like the cross streets of a popular deli) and have general admin knowledge (like the uses for Google Docs and Microsoft Word formats). There’s also a couple of questions about grammar (they’re, there, their use).
Trust me when I say, it’s simple and takes just a few minutes to complete.
After that, you’ll have to submit a recording where you’ll introduce yourself and pretend to place an order for a pastrami sandwich (seriously). This is just to make sure you have a clear speaking voice and pleasant phone demeanor (you’ll spend a good deal of time on the phone when you work for Fancy Hands).
What it takes to be a Fancy Hands Assistant
For starters, you’ll need to be comfortable on the phone and be able to navigate the internet with ease. Google will become your new best friend (if it isn’t already).
You should also know where to look for stuff online. For example, if someone wants to find the best sushi restaurant in their town, you should know to turn to Yelp. You’ll quickly learn all sorts of reference sites and use them frequently to complete tasks for clients.
Claiming Tasks at Fancy Hands
When you login to your Fancy Hands account (after your application has been approved) you’ll see a Dashboard where tasks will be listed along with their pay.
At Fancy Hands, you’re paid per task. You can earn between $2.50 and $7.00 for each one you complete (sometimes you can even get a small bonus if the client really liked your work!).
When you click on a task, you’re just previewing it. You’ll see exactly what the client is looking for and can decide whether or not you want to claim it. Be warned though, tasks can be claimed out from under you (at which point an annoying pop-up will tell you you’re “too late!”). So be sure to act quickly if a task does interest you.
When you do claim a task, you’ll need to get started on it right away. So, you can’t login and claim a task and put it off ’til after dinner or when your kids go to sleep. Make sure you’re always ready to work when claiming tasks!
You can only work on one task at a time. So you can’t login and accept ten tasks and start chipping away at them. You accept one task, complete it, and move onto the next. Now, keep in mind, sometimes a task can’t be completed right away. For example, let’s say it’s 2:00 a.m. and the client wants you to call their stylist to schedule them for a haircut. Obviously, the salon is closed at 2:00 a.m.
So you’ll have to wait until they open in the morning to place the call.
When you accept a task like this, you can put it on hold (with a note) and move onto another task. You’ll be reminded to finish the task at the time you set your note for (say 9:00 a.m. when the salon reopens).
Anytime you complete a task or put it on hold, it will go into the Mentor Queue where a fellow Fancy Hands Virtual Assistant will review it and either send it off to the client or bounce it back to you with a request for revisions.
In my experience, this doesn’t happen a lot. Most of the time when you do get something back it’s because you didn’t completely fulfill the task or didn’t follow protocol for putting a task on hold (when you get hired on you’ll be given a handbook of sorts which will guide you on the art of completing tasks).
Dealing with Clients
A Fancy Hands review would not be complete without discussing client interaction. Most clients are easy to work with and are reasonable in their expectations. In my time as a Fancy Hands Virtual Assistant only two clients stand out as being less than awesome.
When a client receives a completed task, they can respond to it at which point you’ll get an alert that you need to review and respond to them. There is a time limit (eight hours, I believe) for responding. If you fail to respond in that time, the task will go back to the dashboard for other VAs to claim which means you lose out on the pay for that task even if you already did all the work for it.
Sometimes clients abuse the symptoms and sneak multiple tasks into one (Clients get a set number of tasks they can request each month based on their subscription).
I’ll give you an example. I was asked to compile a list of used cars in a particular city that were within a certain price range. When I completed and submitted that, the client then asked if I could identify which of those cars were “certified pre-owned ones.” After completing that, he requested I find out which ones had leather interiors. Then he asked for only those cars which were in a five mile radius of either his home or work address.
As you can see, these were four separate tasks since each one took me 20 minutes (remember a task is something that should take only 15 to 20 minutes to complete). I was expected to complete the requests each time even though I was only paid for one task ($3.65). When I contacted support, I was told to just “do the tasks” and move on.
From time to time you will need to contact the Fancy Hands powers that be in order to provide a solution to a question for which you cannot find the answer in your handbook. Anytime I contacted them it was about a task that was too lengthy or a client that was dragging out tasks (as in the example above).
Sometimes Fancy Hands customer service would step in on your behalf and politely ask the client to submit a separate task for a particular request. Other times they’ll just tell you to do what the client is asking.
I always found Support to be really responsive, but not exactly friendly. Sometimes they go to bat for you and other times you won’t agree with their decision, but do what they say anyway because there’s not much else you can do.
Getting Paid at Fancy Hands
As I mentioned, you’re paid per task at Fancy Hands ($2.50 to $7.00). You’re considered an independent contractor and are responsible for your own taxes.
Don’t be alarmed by the lower per task pay rates. Each task should (emphasis on should) take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete (although some may only take a few minutes). So, even if you only accepted $2.50 tasks, you’d still earn between $7.50 and $10.00 an hour (not great, but not terrible either).
In my experience, I found most tasks paid right around the $3.00 mark (meaning you’ll earn between $9.00 and $12.00 an hour on average).
Payments are made every other Tuesday via Dwolla. When I first started, they allowed you to choose whether you were paid through Paypal or Dwolla, but they have now migrated to Dwolla-only payments. Only one time while I was there were payments late. In Fancy Hands’ defense, this was more of a Paypal issue (perhaps why they now only use Dwolla…
Work Availability and what I loved about Fancy Hands
What I loved most about working for Fancy Hands was the flexibility. You can login and work on tasks 24/7. I liked being able to login at 4:00 a.m. and complete tasks. Fancy Hands has clients all over the place, so there’s always some kind of work on the dashboard no matter what time of day or night it is.
With that being said, there isn’t a ton of work always available on the dashboard. And usually when there’s little work available, the tasks lingering on the dashboard aren’t the most desirable (as in will probably take way too long or are really complicated!).
You’ll learn to identify which tasks are the most advantageous to accept and which ones to stay far away from.
Ridiculous Tasks and what I hated about Fancy Hands
In the early stages of my VA career at Fancy Hands, I was eager and perhaps a little overzealous in which tasks I accepted. One task required that I call the DMV on behalf of a client to find out how they contest a ticket they received. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.
It took 40 minutes of waiting on hold just to talk to a live person. Then I wasn’t able to actually get any information because the DMV needed to speak to the client and confirm his identity. When I tried to patch him in, he didn’t answer. Of course, when I submitted my response to the client, he bounced it back to me requesting to patch him in at a particular time on a different day.
I ended up abandoning this task because I couldn’t sit on the phone for another hour for a measly $2.50.
Unfortunaltey, there are many tasks you’ll find will take way longer than 15 to 20 minutes. In these instances, you should be able to finish as much work as you can and submit it at which point the client would have to submit a new task in order to complete or conitnue it. However, this doesn’t always happen. As I mentioned, Fancy Hands support will tell you to simply complete the task and move on (and nine times out of ten, you will because you don’t have a choice otherwise).
So, because of unreasonable tasks, some days I would make terrible money — in the neighborhood of $4.00 an hour when it should’ve been triple that. But as I said, you’ll quickly learn (the hard way) which tasks are worth it and which aren’t.
Fancy Hands Review Final Thoughts
For six months I worked as a Fancy Hands Assistant. If I had to, I would do it again. For the most part, the tasks were easy to do and some were even enjoyable. On occasion, you will have tasks that take way too long to complete or difficult clients (as is the case anytime you deal with the general public). But given the 24/7 flexibility and regular pay, it was a decent way to work from home any time day or night. Plus it gave me a much needed break from freelance writing.
You can move up and become a “Mentor” which pays you $0.10 per task you approve. They’ve recently started offering W-2 positions known as Assistant Operations, Manager. So, if you put in the time and effort and do good work you can be recognized and move up in the organization.
The bottomline? If you consider yourself a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades, have a relatively thick skin and a desire for flexibility, Fancy Hands is a reputable company offering okay pay. Some people claim to make a full-time living as Fancy Hands VA while others (as was my experience) use it as a supplemental or part-time work from home option.
Have you worked for Fancy Hands? Help others know what it’s like to work for them — I would love it if you provided your own Fancy Hands review and star rating in the comments below!