Dear Lynn Terry, Outsourcing Thoughts
And the Cross Blog Posts continue… 🙂
Lynn Terry asked me a question on her blog (read her post here).
Earlier this year you mentioned that you were outsourcing some of your work. Do you find it hard to keep good help, or is that all working out beautifully? Can you share some tips on choosing freelancers or virtual assistants?
Hey Lynn. That's a great question. I've actually had a project on hold for a year or so that will hopefully address this issue on some level. (More on that soon, but you can peek at www.Shelancers.com )
Outsourcing can be hard, especially if you hire someone who has their own goals of establishing passive income. Then their own business “gets in the way” and the work that they are supposed to be doing for me gets put on the back burner. Deadlines don't get met, and, as the client, you start to feel like you're being a bother even asking them to get the work done. Not cool. That's when it's time to start looking for a new helper.
Tips on finding freelancers? Well, I mostly find them through networking, although I have put out feelers to my lists before, as well. I figured, if the person is already familiar with me, and is reading my newsletters, that's a pretty good sign that she might be someone who I want to consider working with (and someone who I'd like to help by giving her some $$ to stay home with her kids). I also find help locally.
As for keeping good help once you find it, I mostly try to get my helpers on retainer, and, if they're good, I ask how many hours they need per month in order to meet their financial goals (and then I grab all those hours). If I've got them for 80 hours/month, then I know that my work will likely get done — because I'm paying them a big chunk of change each month. They can either spend their time looking for more clients, or do the work I've given them.
I also like to find people who live in rural areas. Oftentimes, the pay available to them is so poor that I can easily get loyal people just by paying a decent wage. Of course, this hasn't been fully tested, but I've found it to work quite well for me. For instance, in the city I live in in Florida, it's next to impossible to find more than a $8/hour job with any flexibility. So, if I offer to pay $15 and give flexibility, they are less likely to leave me. (Other than for benefits, which I can fully understand.) Now, if I was still living in Portland, Oregon — I couldn't find anyone to stick around for $15/hour.
1. I always pay my helpers with mass pay. I certainly don't expect them to eat the paypal fees. I pay the fees.
2. I try to have backup plans in place for my helpers so that, when emergencies do come up, it doesn't leave me in a lurch (or make THEM feel badly for leaving me in a lurch).
3. I give them free learning tools every chance I get. If I listen to an awesome free audio, I'll pass it on to them. If I buy a course that has rights and applies to their work, I'll pass it on. I want them to be very knowledgeable.
4. I try to give raises before they ask.
5. I'm always on the look out for fresh helpers. That way, if I find someone who is new and wants to learn and just needs to make some money, I can give that person some easier tasks (at a lower pay rate) and keep my higher skilled helpers working on the more difficult tasks.
6. I use checklists. For instance, in my infopublishing business (not my IM stuff, but other niches I'm in), I have a checklist that my main helper works through for each and every new ebook, and she acts as a manager to keep the project moving ahead. (Contacting my ecover person, getting affiliate tools ready, etc.)
7. I do try to be very flexible with my helpers, but that can also backfire in that their other clients then get put ahead of me on the list. (I'm not a squeaky enough wheel, I guess.) I'm working on better communication with them. Kelly actually has a weekly staff meeting with her helpers and I'm considering implementing that, as well. Otherwise, my team is all off doing their things and I lose track.
8. I also always ask my helpers what they ENJOY doing. I certainly don't want someone who hates customer service answering my emails, and I don't want someone who loves to write to be left doing article submissions for me. So, I am constantly assessing and tweaking their responsibilities to adjust for their interests and abilities.
— Sidenote —
Click here for free outsourcing info.
— End Sidenote —
Well, that kind of worked its way into a big fat tangent. Your original question kind of got lots in my reply. 😉
Hmm… a question for you…
What is your #1 source of income? And, has that changed over the years you've been working online?
Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
Keep an eye on Lynn's Blog to read her reply.
I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.
Lynn TerryOctober 15, 2007 at 10:02 am
Excellent timing for such a detailed and helpful answer! (see my hyperlink) You actually sound very much like me in the way that you handle outsourcing management – but I picked up a few great tips that are certainly encouraging.
Thank you 😉 And my reply is coming soon…
AdministratorOctober 15, 2007 at 10:19 am
One other thing is, that I think a lot of VAs act out of fear. They keep actively looking for clients, until you show them that they don’t need to.
I commented about that on your blog, Lynn. I try to show my VAs the big picture and give them a lot of work, so they know they have income for the foreseeable future.
As someone in the service business (I’m an affiliate manager) I know that there’s always the fear that the rug will get pulled out from under you and you’ll lose money you’re counting on. So, I do try to take those feelings into consideration for my VA’s, too.
Nell TaliercioOctober 15, 2007 at 1:38 pm
Great advice and tips. I posted mine last night, also. Looks like we agree on many points.
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Lynn TerryOctober 19, 2007 at 6:13 am
Very good point, Nicole. I am anxiously awaiting Alice Seba’s newest course on Outsourcing… and in the meantime writing up outlines, reference sheets, etc. And I am working on some video walk-through’s to save on future training time.
In other words, I’m done ranting now… and ready to get back at it full swing 😉
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TriciaDecember 3, 2007 at 10:27 am
I am a upcoming VA and have been reading and doing as much research on VA as possible and just wanted to say thank you for the tips. They help me learn what I need to do to keep my clients. I am only looking one or two good clients. And know this stuff may just help me find them. Again Thank You.
chrisFebruary 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm
very nice 8 outsourcing tips Nicole..
you’re making a good relationship with your helper….:)
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