If you would’ve asked me to walk away from my computer for longer than 24 hours as little as 12 months ago, I would’ve freaked out. There’s NO WAY I’d have done it – who else would answer customer questions, write articles, and do general website promotion?
Six months later, and I’m singing a completely different tune.
In fact, I went to Cancun 3.5 months ago for 3 weeks. I stayed at 3 different resorts and the first two of them didn’t have Internet access. (One just didn’t have it – the other one didn’t have it due to a storm that blew everything out).
For about 1.5 weeks, I couldn’t use the Internet. While at first I was a little taken aback, it ended up being AWESOME. It gave me time to unplug (no pun intended;)), pull out the iPod, and lay out on the beach.
When I ended up getting to my third resort, I didn’t even care to check the Internet.
I can’t tell you how monumental this was to me. I actually took out my journal and wrote about what it felt like to relax because I’d never done it before. Even when I worked retail pre- Internet Marketing, I’d work crazy 36-hour shifts (I was salaried) to make sure I always had everything perfect.
The reason I was able to finally relax – and do it confidently – was because I knew I had a phenomenal team behind me that was taking care of everything. It was all under control.
It’s like those cheesy sales letters: I really was still bringing in thousands of dollars from a lounge chair while sipping drinks with umbrellas in them and hanging out with my best friends.
In this report, I’m going to give you some of my best tips for hiring high-quality workers so you can enjoy the same happiness.
And one thing to clarify from the start – a lot of people think you need to start off with a huge budget when you’re outsourcing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can certainly start out by hiring people for small things – things you’re not good at – and then work your way up. When you make more money, you can then go on to outsource the things you’re good at as well.
No matter what position you’re in, these tips should provide a lot of value for you.
#1: Be Ridiculously Clear
This might seem like common sense, but I assure you that many people don’t do it.
Whenever you’re giving instructions to people – make them as crystal clear as possible. Not only will this save you valuable time from going back and forth on emails, but it’ll save you aggravation.
If people are getting paid by the hour, it’ll save you money, too.
And if you’re specific from the start, it’ll make your bids MUCH lower on bidding sites like eLance..
I’ve tested this a few times. Whenever I make a post that has directions in “Step By Step” format, it just seems easier to people so the bids are much lower.
You don’t need to be outrageously detailed – but just break out the basic steps.
For example: If I were posting a project to get JV partners for yayFOOD on eLance, I’d write out:
Step 1: Go to Google, type in “calorie cycling”
Step 2: Find 50 sites that provide contact information and put them in a spreadsheet. Also note one-line about something specific to these websites (i.e. “Your article on low calorie but incredibly filling foods was fantastic!”)
Step 3: Contact these 50 sites via gmail (I’ll provide email address) with a generic script I’ll provide. There’ll be a spot for your one-liner that you’d copy and paste.
(I’d go on to explain how long this needs to take, etc… but that’s an example of the step-by- step.)
Another benefit of being incredibly clear is that you can identify bottlenecks and make sure your system is tweaked as well as possible.
An extra thing I do a lot is make videos when explaining things to people so they can see exactly what I mean. It’s quicker and very clear.
In addition to being clear about the scope of the project, you’ll also want to be clear about what important items like deadlines, payment terms and other expectations. And to protect both you and your freelancer, you should draw up these terms into a legal agreement and both of you should sign the agreement.
I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t give you a template to use. However, I can tell you what sorts of items you might find inside these agreements, such as:
Payment terms. Here you should list how much the freelancer will get paid, when and how. For example, for a writing project you might pay 1/3 up front, 1/3 when the project is half done and 1/3 upon delivery of the completed project.
Secondly, you should make it clear how the freelancer will get paid, such as by bank transfer, check, PayPal or some other method. Be sure to ask your freelancer for his or her preferred payment method.
Deadlines. If you have a relatively short project (such as a short report or a logo), you might just mutually agree on the completion deadline. If it’s a larger project, then you may set deadlines for milestone (e.g., “Get 25% complete by [date]”).
Copyright and authorship. Make it clear that you’ll own sole copyright and the sole claim to authorship for any writing or design project a freelancer completes for you. Also, be sure that your project is unique.
NDAs, trade secrets, etc. If you’re bringing on someone who’ll see the inside of your operation (such as a virtual assistant), you may include a non-disclosure agreement.
Scope of the project. Lastly, your agreement should be clear about the scope of the project. What, exactly, are you paying the freelancer for?
Your freelancer might have you sign an agreement, which is fine. Just be sure to read it over first, and have a lawyer look it over if there is anything you don’t understand. If you write your own agreement, then likewise you should have a legal professional review it. Otherwise, have a lawyer draw up a template that you can reuse.
#2: Do Your Due Diligence
Before you rush off and hire anyone, make sure you’re dealing with a professional who provides quality work. Where applicable, check the following:
Check the freelancer’s portfolio. If you’re hiring someone for a talent like writing or design, check the freelancer’s samples. If he or she doesn’t have one online, ask. And if you don’t see a sample that’s relevant to your project, ask the freelancer if he or she has ever worked on something similar.
Contact references. If you’re hiring someone like a virtual assistant or customer service representative, it’s important for you to contact his or her previous employers. You may also check on the references of other freelancers such as writers, designer, programmers and similar.
Review feedback. If you’re hiring someone from elance.com or similar, check the onsite ratings and reviews.
See what Google turns up. Finally, run a search in Google for the person’s name, website name and known email addresses. Generally, you’re looking for someone who has a long, established history… without customer or partner complaints.
#3: Never Hire Someone Full Time Right Away!
When I hired my assistant, I initially hired her for a small project on eLance.
She did a phenomenal job, so I asked her to do something else. Then something else.
After she did a great job 3 times, communicated well, and I felt comfortable with her, I asked if she’d be interested in working for me on a recurring basis.
I never mentioned there’d potentially be more work for her – just wanted to see how she’d work on the smaller projects.
I do this with most of the people I hire and there a few reasons why this is so awesome:
a) It’s good for both parties – you and the worker. Both of you feel comfortable with each other (the people you outsource to see you pay on time, are friendly to work with, and you see that they provide great value, communicate well, don’t give excuses, etc.).
b) It gives you time to wade through the “BS” factor. Of course people are going to say they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread… but you’ll get to verify it for yourself.
c) You only have to risk a few dollars to make sure instead of a few hundred (or thousand). I’ve heard of multiple horror stories of being shelling out tons of money for full-time workers only to find excuses and lost money.
Here’s another tip: Train your workers right away. If you want things done a certain way, then let your new hires know immediately what you want and expect. That way they don’t get in the habit of doing the job wrong, which is harder to “untrain.”
#4: Milestones Are Your Friend
If someone’s working on a big project for you, a good idea is to pay in milestones.
You can do the typical half upfront, half upon deposit, or you can go more in-depth.
You might want to pay in quarters, or upon specific deliverables (for example, a batch of research is completed).
This protects both you and the worker.
It’ll protect you because you can stop at any time if the work isn’t being provided to satisfaction, AND you can stop before you’ve gotten in too far.
It’ll also allow you to make sure the project’s going the way you want it to. You have more control.
Sure, it might be more time consuming, but if this is one of your first interactions with this person, I’d recommend doing a little more micromanaging than you normally would.
This setup will also of course protect the worker because they’ll know they’re getting paid.
#5: 5 Minute Summaries Give You Hours Of Relief
A huge takeaway that I got from Eben Pagan’s Altitude program was the idea of having the people you hire email you with a 5 minute summary every day.
All they have to do is quickly tell you:
a)) What they did and the results they got.
b) Any problems or challenges they faced.
c) Any questions they have.
By getting these summaries daily, you get to put your finger on the pulse.
Some people might not even remember to do the summary, which’ll tell you a lot about them from the beginning.
For the people who DO remember, you can see how they’re doing and fix any issues before they escalate.
One complaint I hear a lot from friends is that they believe the people they’re hiring aren’t doing anything, or are wasting a lot of time.
When you do the 5 minute summary, you’re keeping people honest.
I know a lot of people say they want passive income, don’t want to do extra work with checking the summaries, etc… and I completely agree about the passive income.
It’s not rare at all for me not to touch my computer for a few days.
When I get back, though, I’ll check out the summaries.
(You could also have a trusted assistant check the summaries out for you and keep everyone on focus.)
#6: Crucial Things To Look For…
Another lesson I got from Eben’s Altitude Program is that you never want to hire people on an emotional basis.
In fact, Eben says that if you really like someone when you’re interviewing them, it’s a red flag.
For us entrepreneurs, this is huge. See – most people like people who are like them. If you’re an entrepreneur hiring an entrepreneur-type, you’re just asking for one of two things:
1) Someone to go and create a competing business down the line.
2) Someone to not be around for long.
In that same theme, make sure that you’re hiring people for the right reasons.
Don’t hire people just because you want to help them (family, friends, people in a bad situation, etc.).
Eben mentioned in Altitude that it’s hard – even for him — but it’s crucial. There are few good stories that comes out of situations like that.
Another thing to look out for is to make sure you avoid seeing only the good in people.
I was on a mastermind call this morning, and one of the people I was talking to had hired a smooth-talker for $500/month. He wasn’t producing, but ended up somehow convincing her to bump his pay up to $700/month. She also bought him a computer and other assorted tools.
8 months later, she still had no website and was out thousands of dollars.
Remember – being nice is important (and actually the next tip) – but don’t make the mistake of being too nice.
#7: Attitude Is Everything
I hate to admit it, but I used to be an assistant manager at both Wal-Mart and Target. I directly managed my own team of 50+ people, and there were times when I was in charge of 300+.
Throughout my time there, the way the managers would discipline people would be to “coach” them. By coaching, we’d write up a paper, deliver it to the person, and it would go in their file.
There were three levels of coaching and then an ultimate termination.
I remember most managers would get screamed at when they coached people.
One even got punched in the face (I worked in some inner-city stores).
I coached more people than any other manager, and never once had any kind of issue. Even when I had to fire people, they were nice about it.
This wasn’t a lucky coincidence. It was because I was completely nice about everything the entire time, yet firm and consistent as well.
I made my expectations well known. People knew what I expected and I gave tons of feedback on a consistent basis. Nobody was ever surprised when I coached them because they’d been communicated with the entire time. And remaining positive was key – I’d coach people with a smile. I’d have people laughing with me as they were getting disciplined.
I tell you this because the same thing goes with people I outsource to, and what I recommend you doing as well.
In fact – my virtual assistant hadn’t billed me for 4 or 5 months in a row. When I asked her about it, she told me she felt like she was letting me down so she didn’t want to invoice me.
Obviously I don’t want to not pay her – she does a phenomenal job – but I use that example to show how clear I try to make my expectations, and how positive I am about it. If she would have felt like I was rude, she wouldn’t be able to invoice me fast enough – even if she knew she wasn’t meeting deliverables.
Not to get off on too much of a tangent, but I consider it an injustice to let people deliver subpar work and then to not say anything. It’s not just an injustice to you – it’s an injustice to them. I think most people are good at heart and would like to know if they could use improvement (in a constructive manner).
In addition to letting people know what they need to fix, let them know exactly what they’re doing right.
Don’t forget to drive home the positive. Some people I outsource to tell me that there are certain clients they absolutely hate because they always complain, change expectations, etc.
(Another tip: If you think you might change your mind throughout the project – which I totally do sometimes – warn people ahead of time so they don’t get frustrated with you.)
You might think it might not matter how your workers feel since you’re paying them on deliverables, but I can’t tell you how many times people have thrown in extras for me because they liked me, or how often they put me ahead of the line.
I really don’t say all of this to boast – the point is that how you communicate with people will mean a LOT.
#8: Think Outside Of The Box To Find Workers
John Reese gave an invaluable tip out on how to find workers to hire at a seminar I once went to. It’s so ridiculously common sense but I never thought of it and find it absolutely brilliant.
See… you’re probably a member at forums of hobbies/things that you’re passionate about, right?
I know when I used to love fashion, I was on quite a few message boards. When I got into belly dancing, I perused those websites a lot.
People that are passionate about their craft usually can’t get enough of it.
(Copywriters- board.com immediately springs to mind.)
And when people are passionate… they’re usually good at what they do.
If you look on graphic design message boards, writer message boards, etc… you can often find people to hire that aren’t familiar with the common bidding sites.
You can train them exactly how you’d like them to be trained and won’t have to worry about having them be flooded with work when you need them.
You can often find them cheaper than you normally would, too.
(I recommend paying them more than they ask for if they do a good job, by the way – they’ll love you for it and always put you at the top.)
I’ve been able to find some incredible people this way.
And in case you don’t find your dream freelancer that way, then here are six other places you can go looking:
Freelancing boards. These include elance.com, getafreelancer.com, scriptlance.com, guru.com and rentacoder.com. Basically, instead of you seeking out a freelancer, you post a project and invite freelancers to bid on it. As mentioned before, be sure to be ridiculously clear for best results.
Forums where freelancers congregate. You’ll find freelancers on business and marketing boards, especially on warrriorforum.com (check the “Warriors for Hire” section) and wahm.com.
Personal recommendations. Ask your social networking connections, your business partners, your colleagues or even the members of popular business forums for their recommendations.
Google. Here’s the obvious one. Just go to Google and run a search for your preferred type of freelancer. Then check both the regular search results as well as the paid (sponsored) AdWords ads that run alongside the regular results.
One note, however. For best results, you’ll want to run multiple searches. For example:
You might find a graphics designer by searching for graphics designers, graphics design, logo designer, web graphics and similar terms.
You might find a writer by using any number of searches such as writer, freelancer writer, ghostwriter, copywriter, article writer and similar terms
CraigsList.org. This is a good place to look if you’re interested in working with someone locally, such as the case might be if you want to do face-to-face meetings or if you want an in-office assistant. You can search your local city for freelancers. Or you can post your own “want ad” seeking out a freelancer for a specific job. As usual, be ridiculously clear.
Offline. Here’s another good place to look if you’re interested in working with someone who lives near you. You can look offline in these places:
The phonebook. You can look for an agency that offers the services you need. However, keep in mind that most agencies charge higher fees or require a longer commitment. So if, for now, you’re just looking for an assistant to help you for a few hours a week or you’re looking for a freelancer to do a few projects, skip the agencies and try these other methods…
Place an ad in the local newspaper. Simple but effective. Again, be clear about what you need in order to get the best results. You may point people in the ad to a web page for more information.
Go on campus. Your local college or university campus is very likely brimming with talent. And best of all, it may be relatively cheap talent. You can place an ad in the school newspaper as well as place flyers on the bulletin boards of the appropriate departments.
NOTE: Do be aware that your student freelancer is just looking for a temporary job, and that he’ll likely quit when he’s done with school and/or if he transfers to a different school. So if you’re looking for someone to work with you for years, this may not be good option. But if you’re looking for someone to work on a project for a few months, this could be a good source of talent.
To Wrap It Up…
All of these tips have worked wonders for me when hiring people.
Like I said at the beginning – I never thought I could take time off from the Internet. Not only do I do it now, but I do it with confidence because I know I’m working with some of the best people on the Internet.
I can all but guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll find the same freedom.