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Fancyhands: A Review of My Last Two Months of Tasks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marshall Kirkpatrick @

I am a big advocate of low-cost virtual assistant program Fancyhands: $35 per month for up to 15 tasks requested by email. I’ve posted some pretty complicated requests over the last 6 months or so that I’ve been subscribed. People ask me about the service often, so I thought I’d show readers here how it’s been going over the last few months. It’s been interesting. Like so many things in life, I think you may get out of it what you take the time to put in.

Below is a picture of my email inbox, with a search for the Fancyhands threads. Below that is a more detailed discussion of each request, but the high level take-aways seem to be: I’m not remembering to use anywhere near my full quota, many of the tasks I request aren’t working out so well but the ones that are working out have been great.

You might think: Marshall, you need to make simpler requests – those are the ones that get the best results. But you’d be surprised at the crazy requests I’ve gotten great results from in months past! Like: send me a spreadsheet of every daily newspaper in the US, its name, its location and its URL. No problem! That was great. I think it depends largely on who happens to answer my request on the other end. I’ve gotten some really sophisticated responses and some really frustrating ones.

1. Most recently I asked the Fancies to find out the name of a browser that Hilary Mason told me about and that my friend Tyler Gillies knew about too, but I couldn’t remember the name of. I said it was a browser that developer types used that let you download all the text on a page in a scrape-type dump. The reply I got back: most developers use Firefox. So…that one didn’t work out so well. I’ve gotten great replies from Fancyhands before for questions like this though.

2. I asked for an OPML file (a bundle of RSS feeds) of the blogs of the top 15 tech incubators in the US, as determined by an analyst firm whose list I sent in my email. This is unusual: it took two weeks to get the results! They worked out great though and I really appreciate it. Good thing I wasn’t in a hurry 🙂 To be honest the file needed some cleaning up too before I could use it. It looked like someone had Googled for how to create an OPML file, found my own directions from this blog and then done a fairly clumsy job of it. Hey, it was almost free and I didn’t have to do it myself!

3. In this request, I had this crazy idea that someone had built a Greasemonkey script or that there might be some javascript out there that I could tweak that would let me hover over the linked-to Twitter messages now posted on Techmeme and preview them in some sort of pop-up, without having to load a whole new page. This was a fairly freaky request and sure enough, it didn’t end so well. The person who responded at Fancyhands said they sent multiple email requests for help to Twitter Headquarters! LOL. I wrote back, as calmly as I could, and asked “you didn’t mention my name in those emails, did you?” Thankfully, they said they did not. I let that thread end right there.

4. Twitter usernames for the same top 15 tech incubators mentioned above: boom – one day, perfect results. Way to go Fancies.

5. Taking dogs to Europe: what are the rules and restrictions? Quarantine required, etc? Got a real succinct, helpful answer that same evening. Someone Googled and summarized, so I didn’t have to. Worked out great.

6. Customer reviews of retirement communities, and one in particular. This basically doesn’t exist, it appears. Neither I nor the Fancies could find any good sites for this. Next week I will ask Fancyhands to build me just such a site. Kidding!

7. Twitter list of music service employees. This one worked out really well. I used this as a foundation to build one of my favorite Twitter lists and to write this blog post.

8. Please make a Twitter list out of Time Magazine’s Top Twitter Accounts to Follow. This worked out great. Same day, good results.

9. Sprint news summary. I was headed to a telecom conference and asked the Fancies to summarize top news stories over the last 6 months about Sprint. They had done a real good job on a related background research request earlier and had some hopes for this request. Unfortunately, the respondent sent me back 5 crappy links that weren’t good for much and were barely on topic. I said so in an email response and they emailed me back Google News search result URLs for 5 different search terms on the topic. Not so hot.

In summary: It looks like I got 6 solid enough responses over the last 2 months, out of 9 attempts. That means I paid a little over $10 per successful response. I can live with that, for now. I should have thought about more requests to make, as I paid for up to 70 in that time period. I just haven’t taken the time to think of ideas often enough, though. Some months past I’ve sent more requests and gotten some really dazzling responses.

I think it’s a tool I’m still learning to use. That’s been my most recent experience with the service. In case you were wondering, and I know some of you have been.

  • Hi Marshall!

    I subscribed to Fancy Hands service as well, and overall, I’m really pleased. I’ve been using the service for a month and a half (ever since I read about it on your blog) 🙂 and I’ve gotten varying results. Some REALLY GOOD results (I asked for a list of 3 cheapest printers in Austin for a specific printing project, that was DONE in a week!) AND (I asked for a spreadsheet of continuing education directors at 140 mid-west college campuses, and gave them the list of colleges I wanted results from, and GOT IT!)

    and some mediocre results (I asked for a list of marketing directors at various brands on May 6th, tomorrow is June 1, it’s still not done) (And I asked for a list of funders for 10 local music organizations, and got a list of 8 funders, after all of the duplicates were taken out (it looked like they didn’t really try))

    And some not so good ones (I asked for examples of biotech companies using social media, and got a list of “4” and 2 of them were not biotech companies, but then I asked them to do it over, because I could find 15 examples of that in 3 minutes of google searching, and gave them examples. I’ve had to ask them to do it over a couple of times, so that is maybe my fault for not being clear enough about what I need.

    I’ve been trying to use up my 15 tasks each month.

    I think I’m getting incredible value for $35 per month, even with these mistakes. When my friends tell me how overwhelmed and stressed they are, I ALWAYS recommend fancy hands for any little research tasks they might have.



  • Mazarine, that’s great to hear!

  • Your number 1 browser question is ofcourse best asked on Twitter. I think 😉 When people knwo the answer they’ll give it and there are a lot of people listening. But making lists, looking for series of adresses etc is not something you’ll get out of Twitter. That seems a fancy thing.

  • E Hart

    I worked as a VA for them and never got paid – over two months ago – after making multiple requests. If you want to use a company like this, just know this happens. I’ve posted on their chat board and am not the only one they have chosen not to pay.

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