I’ve been doing a lot of work on my most recent niche website lately. It’s been about a month since I worked on the content creation and web design. The site now has over 20 high quality articles. They were all written by me and are all over 700 words with some pillar posts over 1,500 words. I have completed the exhaustive keyword research to make sure I cover most aspects with regards to this topic and that I’ll have over 60-70 articles once the site is finished.
Writing content and building a site is nice but it doesn’t get you ahead if you don’t have any visitors. This is where it all comes down to and why you need to start building links. This niche site project is very important for me as I’m currently designing processes and trying different methods that I’ve never used before. If this works the way it planned, I will be able to use this whole process and boost all my existing websites. At this stage, I’m still experimenting. My latest experiment was hiring a VA to do a part of the boring administration. Surprisingly, after I spoke to Jon from Authority Website Income, it took me only 30 minutes to find the most effective VA I have ever hired before through ODesk.
I always thought that paying someone $1-3 per hour would only lead to mediocre work. When I first tried ODesk, I was ecstatic; I could hire people to work for me full time for as little as $80 per week! I wanted to make sure I hired someone highly effective. So, I spent several hours looking at profiles, talking with my partner, writing an extensive job posting, reviewing applicants carefully and even interviewing three of them before I hired my first virtual assistant (VA). The whole process probably took me 20 hours if not more. And then, $500 literally wasted on a mediocre VA, I fired her and kept a bitter taste of my experience.
Since then, I’ve used ODesk only for very specific and contractual tasks such as editing or copywriting. I hired my two other VAs through my own personal network where I knew them before they started working for me. I had to pay them a lot more man $2/hour but at least, the work was getting done properly and in a timely manner.
At that point, I was probably feeling the same thing you do when it comes to using services such as ODesk; I was terrified. I was frozen in front of a world that I don’t completely understand and where I thought it would require tons of hours to find the right VA, coach him and finally probably waste more time than saving it! If you don’t know where to start or how to hire your VA, this article is for you.
I decided to give ODesk another chance to find a quality VA for less after discussing with Jon and how he has setup his work team (all coming from ODesk). I don’t use his exact technique but I’ve started from what he showed me.
This time, it took me 30 minutes to hire a highly effective and professional VA. I’ll do my best to share this 30 minute experience with you. I broke down my experience into 7 steps I’ll be using in the future for all my hiring as my goal will be to build a team of three VAs working on my niche sites.
The first step is basic but crucial. By determining what you need, I mean literally write down in small, easy-to-read, sentences what needs to be done. Instead of talking about the job itself (I was looking someone to help me do web research and link building), I outlined each specific task I needed for the new site.
This needed to be done regardless if I was going to hire a VA or not. It may require more than 30 minutes doing but if you want a solid site, you need this outline with an attack plan anyways. Without a plan, you’ll start working on your site as long as you have a passion for it without a clear direction of where you want to go. Like anything else in life, results will be okay at best without a plan.
I didn’t want to start by giving a complete attack plan to my future VA because this would require me to spend countless hours before hiring to make sure I don’t spend $100 per week on a guy who doesn’t know what he is doing.
I took a microscopic approach where I wanted to ask my VA to perform a single task for 10 hours on week #1. At 10 hours, my risk had now dropped to $30. I think I can afford this! Jon suggested that I hire whoever I feel like without doing much screening or interview. Test the VA with a specific and simple task and see if he can succeed. After all, any applicant can tell you they are experts in SEO and that they speak English fluently. You only see if it’s real once they start working for you (it’s pretty much the case in the “real” world as well, right?).
So I spent about 15 minutes writing a short but straightforward job posting:
The Job Title is pretty straightforward: I’m looking for someone who will do web research and help me with link building. Remark: you will receive several “I’m an expert in white hat SEO” applicants. The hourly rate is between $1 and $3 per hour. You don’t need to pay more than that for such tasks. I highlighted the potential a contractor could get by working for me. As I posted a maximum of 10 hours at first, I want to make sure I can capture the interest of people willing to work full time. However, I’m not ready to hire a fulltime VA yet.
The last paragraph is about required skills. The English level is the first thing to mention since I can’t hope to do well with my comment strategy if my VA leaves stuff like “me like lot of your post”. You have the option to select skills when you do your job posting, this is how I’ve selected “article-submission, blog-commenting, directory-submission, internet-research, link-building and SEO”. Then you simply have to hit the “publish” button and you are halfway set to find the VA of your dreams!
Once you publish your Job posting, ODesk will automatically suggest a few candidates. These contractors didn’t apply for the job yet but their profile fits your requirements. I had three best matches for my position and I contacted them and asked if they would consider applying on my job. After that, I closed the ODesk window and moved on towards another project.
Fast forward 45 minutes later, I received several notifications from ODesk telling me that I have new applicants for the job. I had received 65 applications… that was way too much for my brain to process. This is why I kept going with Jon’s advice: I hired someone within 5 minutes and closed the job application.
It appeared that one of the three best matches found replied to me and was interested in that job. The guy charges $2.78/hour, had worked over 1,000 hours at ODesk (you want to make sure your guy has been employed several times), showed a 4.77/5 rating and high English skill level.
This was enough for me to think that this guy could do a relatively good job at least. I hired him for 10 hours max during one week and gave him a very simple task to find articles I can comment on talking about my topic. Within 10 hours he had found 1,000 urls where we can comment. The next week, I kept the 10 hours but asked him to start commenting and writing about a web research he has to do. In a few more weeks, I’ll have more tasks and more hours but for now, I keep him at 10 hours per week to see if he’s worth it. I am better off saving my time working on other projects than coaching and interviewing candidates. This is why I’ve hired rapidly but started slowly to train the VA the way I want him to work with me.
There is a reason why my VA was so effective on day #1 of his employment: I designed a clear and clean process on how to perform the task I asked of him. For each task, I send him a Word document with a step by step method to apply. I even provide him with examples to make sure he knows exactly what is being required. It does take some time, but it helps a lot to manage both his time and mine. By going through the process in detail, I must pause and think about each thing that needs to be done. This is a great moment where I can add value to my process and make sure I am taking the right actions.
I already know which tasks he will be required to do in the future as they were designed in the attack plan done in Step #1. The only thing left to be done is to design each process and to create a calendar of tasks to send more and more things to be done by your VA. In a few months, this guy will most probably work 40 hours per week for me if he keeps doing such a great job.
TADA! A valuable VA hired within 30 minutes of my time!
My VA had successfully passed the two week test. I asked him to complete three different tasks (web research, blog commenting and article writing). During this test period, the VA showed me that he was able to follow my processes from A to Z, to complete web research rapidly, write smart and good English blog comments and write informational 400 word articles.
If he had failed to meet my standard, I would have simply wasted about $60 but not much time spoiled. I would have simply fired the guy, reposted the job, hired another one that make sense in 5 minutes and hoped that it worked out this time, that the VA would do the job. By using metrics such as 1000 + hours worked and over 4.5/5 rating, you increase you chance of success significantly!
Once you found a great VA, you don’t want to stop there. If your VA stops working for you after a year, you will be left with an awesome working process, but no one to complete it. This is why it is important to build a team of three VAs able to do each other’s work. I would rather have three VAs working 10 hours a week for me than having 1 VA at 30 hours.
Hopefully I’ll be able to get 3 VAs at 30 hours and it will be worth it!
I you have any questions, please go ahead, I’m sharing as I’m learning with my new virtual assistant!
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