If you are building a website with the goal of generating traffic/making money your two most important hires are a VA and a Writer.
After some recent discussions with a couple people I am helping coach/consult with it became clear that these are the 2 most critical first hires!
Over the past 9 years me and my team have hired A LOT of people via upwork (1,539!!)
But it all started with my first VA and a writer.
Here is a snapshot of what is reported via UpWork…
Hiring your first VA is a crtical step that I believe everyone looking to build a substantial online business should pursue.
The benefit of having a skilled VA that works closely with you to help with your business is huge! I have many that have been with me for A LONG time and I would not be able to operate without them.
I have mentioned it before but…
Of course you know I love sharing detailed tutorials and not just theory…so here it is… something that people have been asking for…exactly how I go about hiring virtual assistants.
The sign up process at UpWork.com is straightforward. You simply sign up and attach a credit card to your account.
Even though they have raised their fee structure the talent pool and management systems still have me using it.
Post a job on UpWork. For me I used a very simple job posting in the administrative general category.
Some people like to use hidden keywords to qualify applicants or say no form cover letters. To me it only makes sense people would use form cover letters when the success rate of job posting has to be around 1/50 so who would spend time creating a unique cover letter. I wouldn’t so I don’t punish people who don’t. The bottom line is I don’t want to hire the VA with the best application I want the best VA at their job so the more applicants for me to select from the better! The ability with UpWork to see who is serious and who is not is easy with their previous work history so I don’t use the cover letter to judge how serious an applicant they are.
For most job postings dozens will apply in only a few hours.
I like to keep the momentum going of someone who just applied and hire them as soon after they applied as possible.
This momentum when managing VA’s is critical right from the start. When I hire someone I want to ensure they continue to progress through the work without a break…if a great VA has a 1-2week break from being assigned work they often are hard to get restarted.
When I have hired someone who applied to the job longer than 24hrs ago I notice a decline in their responsiveness. My focus in this phase is to keep the momentum moving and the cycle time from application to hired short.
Here are the 4 measures I use to find the best possible VA.
Based on the criteria above hire the 1-3 best potential VA’s with no interview. Simply select the 2 best and hire them.
Here is where the blind experiment method comes into play. Without an interview I just go ahead and hire someone then in the next steps there is the “experiment” to prove who is the best VA.
When the cost of making a hiring mistake is high (such as in real life) it makes sense to be as thorough as possible… however, in the online world where ending a contract costs only the few hours the candidate was working you can save yourself a TON of time bye not doing any interviews.
Once the VA’s have been hired it is time to send them their first assignment. It is important to follow up with the instructions right after you have hired them. The assignment I am looking to assign is something that is simple and will prove to me if they have what it takes.
Example of the 2 assignments I am going to assign…
That is it! I like to provide more detail on all future assignments but this clear enough but not too detailed job will show me what kind of person they are.
The review of their work starts with their communication, I like to see the confirmation come shortly after being hired saying they understand the job. If I get a ton of emails asking simple questions like “how do I create a Google Document” or anything they could easily learn with Google then I know they will be a burden on me or my team leads time and not free it up. If they are crisp with their daily communication and deliver great results in an organized fashion within the timeline then I know what kind of worker they are.
Using this test assignment has been a huge help to me and my team in terms of weeding out low performers before they have been a drain on my team.
The 4 basic skills I am looking at during this phase is…
In the past I have spent time trying to train up low performers to make them high performers. However, I am now very convinced my time is far better off training up my best performers and churning through VA’s until I find some stand outs who can be top performers.
WARNING – You will get many emails after you end the contract of the VA asking to be re-hired and providing many passionate pleas why you should hire them. It does hurt to say no to some people. If I think I gave them a fair opportunity I can’t get too worked up about ending their contract but it still sucks. So if you plan on following my no interview hire 2 fire 1 strategy be aware there is pain associated with it.
This step deserves its own section but here are some basic instructions that will ensure you are effectively managing a VA…
1. Require daily updates via email…
2. Use a Google Document that includes training, tasks and work completed
3. Provide consistent feedback both positive and constructive. Aim for a ratio of 4:1 positive to constructive.
Much of this is the same as I wrote back in 2012 and although the cost per article has increased the principles still hold.
Getting high quality articles written for a very low cost is a key strength for my online business. In this article and for the first time I share exactly how I get high quality articles created cheaply.
I have a ONE simple Google Document spreadsheets for my various projects with a typical list of…
The job on UpWork doesn’t have to be anything special. The key to hiring good writers is understanding what they are looking for and providing it.
My ideal writer is looking for an opportunity to get 5* feedback and steady work. I am looking for someone who is…
These qualities typically reflect themselves in a stay at home mom or recent college graduates who are looking to get experience.
Here is my article writing job posting I like to use…
Article Writer Post
I have a quick 5 article writing job if you are interested in getting some 5* feedback on your ODesk profile and potential long term work.
I will provide you with the article titles and would like you to research them and then write 750 word articles
– Native English
– Interested in completing this job quickly for the fixed bid amount and receiving 5* feedback
– interested in potential longer term writing assignment after the successful completion of this job
– Bid at or below the $40 for 5 articles
No need to interview since there is very little you can learn to better inform your decision. By not interviewing you take on 2 risks…
Many people will disagree with me on this but hiring them right away without an interview saves me a lot of time!
If schedule is not important to you and you have a lot of articles ready to be written it can be a good strategy to assign articles 1-5 for one writer and 6-10 to another. By doing this if you do end up with 2 great writers you can use all the articles on your money site.
Here are the instructions I send via UpWork as soon as I hire them, this email is nothing special but lays out what deliverables are expected and when they are expected.
A great podcast if you are interested in running an efficient team is Manager Tools who teach the basic principle of project management is defining “who is doing what by when”.
One change I made to this template that improved the number of writers that completed their articles was asking for a small action right away “email me confirming you have received and understand these instructions”.
—- Email Template —-
Welcome to the team. I really look forward to working with you!
My name is _____ and I am the team lead here, please email at _______ to confirm you have received this email right away.
If you ever have any questions or concerns you can get in touch with Jon the owner at _______
Here are the 5 articles each article needs to be 750+ words and 100% unique…
Following the general instructions provided at the link below (specifically section 4)
Please send all articles in one email in individual .doc form to the emails above.
Hopefully you can complete all 5 articles in 1 week, 5* feedback and more work will follow.
If you have any questions please contact me.
Thanks and I look forward to speaking with you more.
_______ (Team Lead)
Once the articles have been received they should be checked for the following…
I then have my team leader move each article to a dropbox folder and share the link on the google document.
Once the articles required are available (uploaded to dropbox folder and added to the content tracking spreadsheet) my content publishing VA is triggered to get the articles published on the given site.
Another complete post could be created on the different ways to ensure quality content is published.
For me I use Thrive Themes and Content Builder extensively to help ensure my posts formatting is of a very high quality!
Depending on the quality of the writer, me and my team manager will move them onto bigger assignments as required.
So that is it, six steps showing how I get cheap articles written that are of high quality!
The basic concepts have stayed consistent in my business for the past three years.
If you are starting out and looking to grow your team I hope my hard earned lessons and the strategy I have refined now over the years is helpful!
If you have any tips/tricks when it comes to your first hires please share in the comments below.
I think it is safe to say that we all believe that the more efficient and effective we can be with email the better off we will be!
This quick post is to provide you with a summary of my current strategy at getting the most out of each email opportunity without spending all day in email.Continue reading
This post is to try and share what I have learned building multiple teams online and a recent review of my business teams revealed some of my failings (which I share below).
There is a common question I get about how do I manage to get so much done…. The fact is “I” don’t.
In reality within my business I don’t do many of the day to day tasks. The majority of my day is reviewing reports, weekly one on one meetings with my managers, writing these posts, talking with clients, strategy for clients and coming up with new business ideas is the majority of my non-email work week.
For every new project I look to setup a team, sometimes this isn’t possible and I do most of the activities myself (IE my initial FBA business). But for the most part the benefit I have seen from using a team has been huge and one of my key questions when evaluating new projects is who am I going to work with on that project.
This post is going to focus on how I go about building and setting up a team for a new project whether it is existing team members or new people I am partnering with.Continue reading
One of the questions I have gotten a lot lately is so what exactly is an “internet business” or “what exactly do you do”?
Similarly a lot of my online friends ask me so how many projects do you have on the go and how do you manage them all?
With this post I hope to be able to answer both.
I will show exactly what I do with my online business and also all the different projects I am currently involved in…
I am often asked about how I manage my online businesses with the limited hours I have. How do I have so many projects on the go ensuring each gets adequate attention?
The answer is by putting great people into project/business management positions and then managing them work continues and decisions are made even when I am not around.
This shorter post shows exactly how I manage one of the important positions in my business with 2 simple tools…