How To Build An All-Star Team Through Outsourcing
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How To Build An All-Star Team Through Outsourcing

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Sure, a lot of entrepreneurs are equipped with talents and skills, but let’s get real here: you can’t do it all on your own. As you get busier, your bookkeeping or blog posts will inevitably fall ...

Sure, a lot of entrepreneurs are equipped with talents and skills, but let’s get real here: you can’t do it all on your own. As you get busier, your bookkeeping or blog posts will inevitably fall by the curb, and you will find yourself navigating tasks that are outside your area of expertise – both of which can stall your business growth. So what’s the best solution? Build a virtual team! The first few steps are guaranteed to be time-consuming but once you’ve figured out how to grow your business with help from extremely qualified professionals, it won’t take you long to realize that you can compete with the big players in your space – and actually win.

For more information on how to build a team of A-players, you can check out our online courses (http://www.melbourneseoservices.com/seo-products/
) or you can watch our video discussions on our YouTube channel.

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https://www.facebook.com/seomastermind
https://www.youtube.com/user/theseomethod

https://plus.google.com/+Melbourneseoservices

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How To Build An All-Star Team Through Outsourcing How To Build An All-Star Team Through Outsourcing Document Transcript

  • OUTSOURCING You can't do it on your own. We’re coming to the tail end of the tape now, and this is session that I know a lot of people, when we sent out the initial survey and questionnaire to everyone, this is definitely a section people wanted to hear more about. There is not a huge amount out there about outsourcing and outsourcing well. We’ve done it very well and I think we have Meagan to thank for a lot of this. She’d done a lot of project management work before she came to work with me and she brought a lot of that expertise here. You can’t do it on your own. I showed you the SEO method before and to try and implement that while still trying to run your business, means you never get anything done. So I’m going to show you how we go through outsourcing it. Build a team It’s important that you build an A team. If you haven’t read a book called Topgrading by Brad Smart, it’s definitely a book worth getting. He goes through the whole process of hiring A players and how to make sure that you get the best people on your team. When I’m talking about an A player, is someone like Ben, like Meagan who put in one hundred percent, who have your best interests at heart and the business’ best interests at heart, who you can almost just let run free and you know that they will create something that will ultimately add value to the business in the end. It’s really key. If you can find those A players, and you hold onto them, then that is just going to propel you hugely down the track. It’s all well and good to go and try to outsource different things to India or the Philippines and you might not get someone who is an A player because you’re just sitting there thinking, look I just want to get a batch of articles done, I don’t really care about that. But the difference between having someone who is a star and someone who is not, will make all the difference in the world. www.theSEOmethod2.com 1
  • We’ve gone through quite a few different people over in the Philippines; we’ve got one girl, Grace, at the moment and Grace will probably watch this, we really appreciate her work because she is a star. She is someone we can tell exactly what to do, she is a self starter, she’s a self learner, she asks good questions. Those are the people that you want to make sure that you build around you. Video isn’t my strong point – Ben complements that. Making sure that things get followed through – I’m very good with coming up with the ideas and Megan’s good at making sure it’s followed through and actually happens. I think a lot of people go wrong when they’re building a team and they’re going through hiring, they sit there and look for people who they like. Oh, he seems like a good bloke because he’s interested in this or he’s interested in that. You don’t want to hire people because you think that you’ll have a good time with them and you’ll get on well with them. You hire someone because you know that they will be able to complement what it is that you don’t have. We’ve had other situations in the past and this is a testament to Meagan. When we were going through the hiring process she said, oh, look, our personalities might not match really well, but it doesn’t matter because what they bring to the team makes it so worthwhile that she can see that benefit. It’s all about that person adding value to the team. So just make sure that you play to your strengths and not your weaknesses. A lot of people what they’ll do is, you will think, oh, here is an area that I’m not strong in, I don’t know how to do this, I’m not very good at copywriting or I’m not very good at article writing. What they do is focus in on those areas, hoping that by focusing in on the areas where they’re weak, it’ll bring that up and then bring the whole average of everything that you’re doing up. But it’s actually counter intuitive, the inverse is true. If you focus on those things that you’re not good at, you just won’t enjoy what it is that you’re doing and you won’t be able to channel your creative outlet into things that you are good at doing. So find out what your strengths are and make sure that you play to your strengths and then build a team around you who can help complement those things that you’re not necessarily strong with. www.theSEOmethod2.com 2
  • Get your feet wet This is how I would suggest that you get started. If you haven’t done any outsourcing before, the first thing that you want to do is head over to rentacoder.com. I have tried things like Elance and oDesk and a few of the other ones. The majority of where we do our hiring to start off with is through Rent A Coder. They do excellent coding, you can get excellent coders on there obviously, graphics, video and you can also get writers on there as well. But typically speaking, if you want to try and go for writers, then you might head over to something like elance.com because they’ve more of a first world background. There will be a lot of people from the States bidding on that, whereas Rent A Coder you can get people in third world countries and countries where English may still be their first language but the dollar goes a lot further. This is what I would suggest if you’re new. Rather than going out and just hiring someone from the Philippines to work full time for you because you hear what a great opportunity it is, if you haven’t done any outsourcing first, this is what I would suggest. Start on Rent A Coder, find out one or two small jobs that you want to get done. Find out just a few jobs or maybe if you’ve got a really big project, break it down into one or two small pieces and then bid that same small component of the overall job out to multiple people. So you’ll get three or four people post on your job. Whenever I post my job, this is a little hot tip, I just like to start off my auction, I can’t remember who I learned it from, but ‘this is an easy job for someone who knows what they’re doing.’ That’s a really good start to your description because it’s pre framing them to think, oh, it’s difficult, then you say, well, you just don’t know what you’re doing. Then typically it will get people to be more competitive. So that’s a really good opener there. www.theSEOmethod2.com 3
  • But if you have a big project, you’ll break it down into smaller pieces and then you’ll bid it out on Rent A Coder. Now for those of you who don’t know, Rent A Coder is just like a reverse eBay. Rather than you posting up a product and people bidding on how much they are willing to pay, you post up a job and then people will bid how much they’re willing to work for. You’ll get to look at their feedback to see what work they’ve done previously, you can go through their portfolio and analyze what it is that they’ve done. Now when we try and select people, like I said, we’ll break down that little component of the job, we’ll post it on and the things that we’ll look for is making sure that they get good feedback from lots of people. I like to see at least twenty feedback points. I don’t want someone completely fresh to Rent A Coder, unless they are going to come at a ridiculous price, $5, $10 a job because they want to prove to you and they want to build up their feedback points. There are exceptions to the rule, but typically I like to go with people who have feedback. The main reason for that is I don’t like to waste time anymore. As much as you can try and dig for gold to try and get that one or two people who might save you $10 or $20, I think you’re going to be better off to bid a little bit more and get a higher quality individual and then it just makes things flow a lot more smoothly. So you bid it out, you have a look through all of the people who apply. Then what we do is contact. We award the job to one person. We choose the next two best candidates or one candidate, if there is such a person. Then we’ll send them an email through Rent A Coder and say, hey, we have decided to go with someone else but we do have some similar work and we’d like to trial you. So if you want, we’ll get you to do the same job or something similar. So you get maybe three people all doing a similar job. It’s only a small job so you will try and give them a deadline of three or four days. What you’re looking for is, one, they need to be very good on communication. When you’re dealing with virtual assistants, that is key. If they’re not good on communication, then they’re not going to work well as a virtual assistant for you. So they need to be excellent on that. The quality of work needs to be very good as well. I like to see how much hand holding they require. Ben’s going through the process at the moment where he is learning how to use Rent A Coder and get the most out of it. You try and start to find that balance, you use ScreenFlow and Camtasia to record the job specifics of what it is that you need done. www.theSEOmethod2.com 4
  • You’ll learn after doing a few jobs with different people, what it is you need to include in the video to reduce the number of questions that they’ll ask. That’s a really important skill that you want to try and develop, how can you create videos that lead people through what it is that you want them to do and spell out each action. I will record a video for them. If I make a mistake while I’m doing it, I will keep on recording and I will talk through that. I will say, oh, I clicked here, I should have clicked over here. Some people try and make those videos where they’re trying to get someone to do some work for them, a work of art. But sometimes it is just better to get the video up there and chances are, if you make a little stumble, they’re going to make a stumble, so if you’ve recorded it, at least they know how to recover from that stumble. Don’t worry too much about having those videos excellent quality and chances are, no one’s every going to see them other than the person who you bidded the job out to. The first thing that you will do when you list your job on Rent A Coder is you’ll list out the job. I usually don’t like to put too much detail. I’ll make sure there is enough detail where they know what the job is about and I’m quite clear in that. But I’m not going to go into super specifics. I’ll say to the successful bidder or the successful applicant for this job, I will then go ahead and make you a detailed video that will explain exactly what needs to be done. I don’t want to post that on Rent A Coder and have everyone who comes to that auction see it because there are different people who trawl Rent A coder looking for new ideas. I have heard of entrepreneurs and people like that who will go to Rent A Coder, scope out what jobs people are posting so that they can come up with new ideas because other people are posting it and they detail the exact job specs of what it is that they’re looking to do. So it is a lot more tight. Then once we’ve selected someone, we’ll send them a video. Once they do a little bit of work like I said, those few key things you want to watch out for. Something else I was going to mention, in the auction, I also like to put down the bottom, that this is a trial for ongoing work. What you want to try and demonstrate there is have them be more competitive on their bid. I want them to think, I just want to get in the door because this could potentially be regular work for me. A lot of times when I first work with someone, I’m happy to bid a little bit higher to get the quality person in, but I’ll tell them that at the outset. We’ll set the job and I might set it $50 above what I think it’s worth so I get some good quality applicants that apply. www.theSEOmethod2.com 5
  • Then when I reply to them I say, look I’m happy to select you for this job, just to let you know though, it will be ongoing work. I deliberately bid higher to make sure that I get a good quality of applicant. Then the person that we ultimately end up working with, we work out something fairer on a more competitive rate. That pre frames them down the road that you’re going to be negotiating a little bit on price. You want to look for ones who do quick replies and work best. I also use Need An Article, that is another service as well for articles. A lot of the writing these days I’m very much the content generator. So I use Rent A Coder for those things I talked about, graphics and video and coding because I don’t do the writing so much and I don’t bid it out on Rent A Coder because I’m creating the content. But if we needed to get some articles written for blog networks or things like that, we’ll go through Need An Article. We’ve sort of shifted away from that. We used to use them a lot more. Meagan used to pump quite a few requests through there but now we’re hiring assistants whose job it is, we skill them up and train them up as to what it is that we want and then they can write our articles to those specifications. Has anyone given Rent A Coder a go? A few of you probably have. One? Rent A Coder, I’m telling you now, that is a goldmine. Talk about an easy business model. If you design websites, you find a coder in Russia who can build a WordPress blog for you and do a nice design, and he’ll do it for $50 and that for him is fantastic pay for a couple of days work. You can go and resell that to a local business here for $1000 or $2000 and you just make the minor tweaks. There is such a huge opportunity for looking for arbitrage opportunities, the opportunity where you can sell something at a much higher price than the price at which you can acquire it. Rent A Coder is an absolute goldmine. You get to tap into these third world countries where they are so happy to get paid $US4 and $5 an hour and they’re university educated and they provide excellent work, they’re good communicators, they’ve got a very good work ethic. Try and get someone like that here, try and get someone for under $25 an hour to do anything in the web space here and you’ll be struggling. That’s not to say there’s not a time and a place for having good team members and I’ll talk about why I build my team here and how that plugs in, because they are also very key, they just have a slightly different role and they might not even know it. www.theSEOmethod2.com 6
  • Playing for keeps When it comes to playing for keeps here, when I’m doing my work on Rent A Coder, I’m building up this virtual team. I’m bidding out these jobs and this is initially how I got started. I found a graphics guy, I found a video guy, I found a writer, I found someone to do each of these different areas I’m outsourcing and I found them through Rent A Coder. After I’d worked with them for a little while I said, hey, do you want to jump off Rent A Coder? They’re taking out a little bit of extra fees. We both lose in it. How about I send the money to you directly, thorough PayPal, because you’ve already done three or four jobs? You know I’m trustworthy, I know you’re trustworthy. It’s going to be much better for both of us and we’ll share in the savings. Then I take them off Rent A Coder and then we work with them on just an email basis and it just makes it a little bit smoother. What you’re looking at doing here, and why I talked about playing for keeps, is the idea that when you’re building this outsourcing team, you’re looking at building a team not to do one off tasks. Out tasking is getting someone to, hey, I want you to update this blog and you have to create a video to teach them how to do it and they do it once and you never hear from them again and the next time you need your blog updated you post the same job on Rent A Coder and find a new person and do it again. Out tasking is you’re just getting a task done once and you’re forgetting about it. Outsourcing is all about building your virtual team, making sure that they’re there, so next time I need my blog updated, instead of me having to re educate them, they know what it is I want, they know the standard of work I require, they know all of these things and it’s about training them up and working with them and wanting to work with them for the long term. It’s going to make things move a lot smoother for you. www.theSEOmethod2.com 7
  • So we use Rent A Coder to find people and then we work with them off line. You want to make sure that you build your virtual team. So again, coming back to your business, thinking about where you are now, thinking about the different components in your business, thinking about where you get caught up in certain tasks, repetitive tasks especially, those are the types of things that you want to start and write down and say, these are the components that I want to start to look to outsource. Think of the different areas as well: graphics, video, coding, web. Get a person for each area and build up that virtual team and just tell them, hey I want to work with you and I’ll let you know when I’ve got work and I’ll just email you. These people, if they’re on Rent A Coder, they’ll be happy because they’ve got someone who is sending them through that regular work. So it is good for them and it is the stepping stone, the gateway drug if you will, before you hire someone to work with you full time. You’re just doing the baby steps because you don’t have to commit to $200 a week or whatever it is. You can just do baby steps, get them to commit on that small level. Getting serious Then when you start to get a little bit serious, I think what I found was, and this might have been the job ad that I’d written when I attracted Meagan to the position, was saying, I’m an entrepreneur with a virtual team who is finding that I’m the bottleneck to getting the work done. I’m constantly feeling like I have to keep these assistants busy because I’ll basically start at the top, give them something to do, go to the next person, give them something to do, go to the next person, give them something to do, get all the way down the bottom. Then by the time I get down to the bottom, I jump back up to the top to give them to start working on something again because now they’ve finished whatever it is I started. I was just jumping and managing all of these different assistants. At that point I realized, hang on, I’m spending so much time managing assistants that I’m not able to stop, take a step back and be able to work on my business because I was so involved and stuck in the business. That’s the point at which Meagan came in and really freed it up, and I don’t think she knows or understands how much I appreciate the quality of what she brings to the business in making sure that things actually happen. www.theSEOmethod2.com 8
  • That’s why it’s important to plug these other team members in the managing of the virtual assistants. I find the people who work with me in my office, typically speaking, first they’ll learn everything about the business or the area that they’ll be working on. So they’ll learn and understand the way that works. Once they learn and understand that, the next step I teach them how to start outsourcing what it is that they’re doing. So that way, what they do is they become almost more of an editorial role. So Ben now is working with a couple of people on Rent A Coder where he’s now getting them, he used to be the one who was cutting these videos up. But now he’s got someone else who is cutting these videos up for him, uploading them to YouTube and then he’s doing more of the editorial role. What you want to try and do is, you think about what are these repetitive tasks that I’m doing and where can you get them done for the lowest dollar per hour and creating systems in place to make sure that those tasks can get done. Where Ben would previously charge me at his hourly rate, we’re now outsourcing that to a couple of different assistants. We pay about $US7 to cut a video, put an intro on it, put an outro on it, write us a description, upload it to YouTube and it’s $US7 per video. That’s alright, considering how much we were doing beforehand. Now if you think of scaling that out, now Ben doesn’t even know what’s coming next. We’ll start to plug more and more people underneath Ben and that’s really what the people in the office are all about. The people are about managing those outsourcing assistants. You’ve got to first understand that part of the business. It’s very hard to try and teach someone to do something and know how to ask the right questions if you haven’t done it yourself. I’ve written my Ezine Articles, I’ve done my hard yards, I’ve posted in blog networks. I know all of these things inside and out because I’ve done it, so when it comes to the person who’s going to do it, I can say, here’s what needs to be done. Why is this taking you forty-five minutes, when it should take you fifteen minutes? We’ve had situations like that in the past with assistants who’ve been taking a lot longer. I say, it shouldn’t be taking that long. I think that’s the first stage. If all of this is new, first learn how you do this yourself, then go to Rent A Coder, start to outsource some of those and start to build some of your team and get that team. Then after that, depending on where you’re at, at that level, you might look at plugging a Meagan into your business. www.theSEOmethod2.com 9
  • If you’re not at that point, maybe what you do is you look for going to the Philippines or something like that and organizing a full time assistant who can maybe take a whole lot of those jobs and squash them all together. So they might become your web all rounder. In fact that’s what we write in our job ads. We ask for a web all rounder, someone who understands all bits and pieces and we try and give them a whole lot. So go to the Philippines. The Philippines is a great place to outsource. I’ve had a lot of experience outsourcing to India. They can be at times difficult to work with, and they’re very much yes men. They say yes, yes, yes but when it comes to actually delivering, often they fall short. I know Dan and I talked about this, only recently you had a situation like that as well. It’s all too common for them to say, yes, we can handle this but then when push comes to shove, they can’t. That’s why we’re finding great success in the Philippines, for $5 an hour, $6 an hour. I think you can hire a lawyer, university degree, for like $7 an hour over there. So I overpay people over there. I can replace myself. John Jonas talks about you can hire people in the Philippines and you pay them $US300 a month and they’ll work a full 40 hour a week for you. Me, I’m happy to pay that little bit more. I pay my guys more than fair because I’m looking for those A players. For me, I want it to be win for them and it will be win for me. Our full time assistants, we pay them $US200 a week for a full 40 hour work week. For over there, they’re on very good money, especially for some of these guys. I’m happy to pay that. They’re well educated, they speak great English, they have excellent work ethic and I’m just finding the Philippines, and you’ll hear a lot of the internet marketers are starting to say, the Philippines is a great place to outsource. www.theSEOmethod2.com 10
  • The needle in the… How do I actually find these people in the Philippines? How do I find the needle in the haystack? There’s the Topgrading book. The first thing that we do is run an ad on jobstreet.com. It’s really important to craft your ad like a direct sales piece. You want to write it speaking to the person. It’s just copy. You want to imagine you’re a player reading this and you want to talk to that A player. What is it that would grab their attention? You want someone who is not looking for a little bit of extra cash, you want someone who wants to be involved in something exciting and something that is growing and something that is going to be a creative outlet. You’ll often find really A players aren’t as concerned about the money. For them it’s about the experience and being involved in something and knowing that they’re growing and building that information base. I know a lot of the people who we hire, I try and write it for, here’s an opportunity to grow. I’m happy to grow. You find a course that you want to work through. I’ll buy that course for you. You can delve into my library of all the courses that I’ve got. That will save you. Courses that I spend $2000 or $3000 on, you can get them for free. I’ll say to them, I want someone who wants to do that on their own. I don’t want to pay for their learning unless it’s required by the job. I will say yes, if it’s required by the job, I will pay for that training, but I also like the idea of finding someone who wants to develop themselves and wants to grow themselves, and I’m happy to facilitate that. It’s a win win. They get access to all of these courses that they never get access to and I get the benefit because then that gets funneled back into the work. So we run an ad on JobStreet. Here’s a live example of one of the ones we did recently. We ran an ad, we got 98 responses of people who came back to us. I got my Mum to do some basic culling. She went through and had a look at any of the ones who didn’t have university degrees, no work experience and the time availability. Of that, we filtered it down to about fifteen people. Stage two was Meagan sent out a survey to them with a series of about two pages with different questions. We asked, what’s web 2.0. why do they want the position, have you done any keyword research and a few things like that. www.theSEOmethod2.com 11
  • The reason we do that is, A players will fill that out and fill it out willingly. A B player or a C player will just say, no, this is too hard, I’m just going to keep spamming all of these different jobs until I find one. So I want to get someone to jump through a couple of hoops and then once they do that, then I know they’re a qualified person who I’d be interested in talking to. Then we send them an easy test. Pretty much you want to give them an underarm throw, something very easy that they can catch. You want to see how quickly they respond, very similar to Rent A Coder, where you want to give them just a small job to see how it is that they go. We might say, here is an article. Watch this video, optimize the article, write some titles and then send it back to us. It’s a really simple job, shouldn’t take you more than an hour. We see how quickly they get back and the quality they get back. Obviously that task is going to depend on what it is you’re hiring the individual to do. So if it’s a little coder or something like that, give them a, please go over to my web host and install a WordPress blog for me and pre populate some of the different categories, or something like that. Of that, you’ll get more people who drop out and you might only get a few and the few who do reply, you pick out the golden ones and then we do an interview process. We’ve got a series of questions that we go through for the interview process. I’ll hop down on Skype and Meagan will sit with me as well. Meagan will typically make and take a lot of the notes as I’ll ask the question, which is a really good thing to do. It’s good if you get in that position where you’ve got someone to do that. That way I don’t have to think about making sure that I’m logging everything, even though we record everything. That is another hot tip. Make sure you that record all of your Skype calls. There’s a free call recorder, it’s called Call Recorder on Mac and PrettyMay on PC. You should be recording all of this. It’s like content, you’re creating it. If you’re going to have a project manager come in, they can then listen to all of those interviews that you’ve done, listen to the way that you do it, model the way that you do it, then they can do it. If you’re creating it anyway, most of these things, if you do it once, most things you only have to do once. Once you log a system, then you can look to outsource it. www.theSEOmethod2.com 12
  • So in the interview process, we’ve got a series of questions that we’ll ask. The main thing l look at, and this comes from Topgrading, at the start of the interview, I want them to talk through their work history. Tell me about your first job, what did you like about it, how was your boss, was he a good boss, bad boss, whatever? I don’t like to call them bosses either, but the people who you work with. The next step, where did you go to, what was your next job like? Tell me about that, why did you leave? What you’ll find is, if you ask someone what they liked about it, what they liked about their boss, why they left a particular position, you’ll find recurring themes and that’s where the gold is when it comes to interviewing. You’re looking for recurring themes, you’re looking for someone who left because their boss was dreadful and he always overworked them and he expected too much. They might say that two or three times. Then you think, maybe it’s not the boss, it’s they’re taking the same problem to every job that they go to, they’re taking themselves. That’s the same problem to every job that they’re going. Maybe that’s what’s causing the recurring theme, not that it was the job. Obviously, there are going to be times when that is the case, that’s why you want to identify recurring themes. Then in addition to that, we have a whole series of questions that we ask as well. One of the questions I like to ask is a little bit off the wall and I’ll say, this question I ask and it is quite broad and I ask it deliberately so it’s broad, what do you like most about business? The reason I ask that question is ultimately they’re going to be working in business. I want someone who’s excited about the idea of building business and being involved in business. Even though they might see themselves as a content writer, they’re involved in business. So I want to make sure that they see business as important and not just say, oh, I’m not really interested. There are a few other questions like that which we have: what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses? So there are a few questions that we go through. From there we get the final few or the final one and then we make a decision based on them and then we hire them. Question: Do you do video interviews? www.theSEOmethod2.com 13
  • Answer: It depends on their internet connection. I think Grace for her interview had video. I prefer video if you can, just because it’s that connection. I’m a real person. Once you sit there and you speak to me and you see me, we’re connected a lot better than if you were just hearing a voice. So where we can, we do. Welcome to fight club Once they have been selected, welcome to Fight Club, here are the different things that we send them. I’ll send them a welcome letter. The way that we position ourselves is, I want them, when they sign up to us, to feel like I’m signing up to a company. I’m not signing up to some little one man band dude who isn’t going to be there. When people sign up, they want to make sure that they’ve got some good job security. They want to make sure that they’re signing up to a good company, especially in the Philippines, it endears them to you even more. So we have a welcome letter, we have a job description, here’s what you’ll be working on. We just take some of those elements from the job ad that we write. I outline how I’ll be paying as well. Typically I have a three month trial period, where I’ll say, look, if you’re not happy with this job for whatever reason, or we’re not happy, we’ll just part ways and that is all well and good. Also during that period they’re on a training wage. So they might be on $4 instead of $5 an hour. Then I say at the end of those three months, we’ll bump it up the extra $1. I’ll get them to sign a confidentiality agreement as well and we also have a form where we get them to send out all of their details as well: contact, address, all those sorts of things and they will send back a signed confidentiality agreement and all of their personal details to get them to scan it in and email it back to us and then Meagan prints it out. We have a file for every person who works with us and all of the details are stored in there. Also right at the outset, I like to set the expectations for them. We have an intro call just before they start, where I’ll talk them through everything, here’s your work description, making sure we’re all clear and on the same page and I’ll go through my expectations. www.theSEOmethod2.com 14
  • I have a list of expectations. I can’t remember them all off by heart but, I expect you to be open and honest at all times. I expect you, if there is an issue, I don’t mind mistakes, but all big issues once started out as small issues, so I want to make sure anytime something small pops up, you tell me at that instant. If you don’t tell me at that instant, and I find out later on that you knew something was up and you tried to hide it, I don’t like that sort of thing. What are some other things? I want to make sure they’ve got a thirst for learning, I want to make sure that they’re continually growing and learning. This is something in your business that you want to sit down and say, what is important to you, what are your important values that you want your key star players to exhibit. I do this even when I hire staff with Meagan and Ben when they came in with me and other team members. I’ll sit down and go through this with them. I think people appreciate it because you’re saying, here is what I’m expecting from you. If you don’t think that you can meet these expectations, tell me. I make them relatively easy, open and honest. If you’re an A player, that’s a no-brainer. A players, all these things and all of these extra hoops that I make people go through, it’s looking for that A player. An A player will go the extra distance and you’re looking for A players. Expectations on the flip side – I don’t want to be sitting there saying, hey, I need you to do this, I need you to do that. I also say, hey, here is what you can expect from me. You’ll get me open, honest and upfront. I don’t beat around the bush. If something needs to be said, I’ll say it when it needs to be said. I’ll tell them, there are a few other different things. One of them is I say, I’ll pay you on time every time. A few key things I say, you meet my expectations and I’ll meet your expectations. It’s a really good way to start working with someone. Also very early on I’ll give them an education package to get them up to speed. That’s one of the reasons we are recording these DVDs. These DVDs are going to be training for my assistants. One of the first things that they’ll do, they’ll watch you all having your group mastication and going through this whole process that we’ve gone through today and then that will just introduce them to what it is that we do and give them a really good grounding. www.theSEOmethod2.com 15
  • There’s the SEO method, they’ll now get the DVDs instead of the SEO method, this is 2.0. The Thirty Day Challenge, for those of you who don’t know, that’s an excellent free resource. If you type Thirty Day Challenge training, you don’t even have to opt in and you can go to straight to the download page, sorry Ed. You can jump straight in and you can actually send your assistants straight to that download page. You can say, I want you to go through the pre training, I want you to read about Google Reader. You heard me talk about Google Reader, go to the Thirty Day Challenge thing if you want to learn more about it and watch the section about Google Reader. If you want to learn about Market Samurai which is a tool I only briefly mentioned, all you have to do is go there and you can watch the training. There are so many good free trainings in there and it’s a great way to get them to start to get their head around all of the different things. How to work with them How we work with them once we get going, the first thing you want to do is make sure that you give them that underarm throw, a really easy task very early on. Show them what to do. What I mean there is, I’ll record it on Camtasia or ScreenFlow exactly here’s the process of what it is that I want you to do. I’ll record it and document it. I’ll also give them, where I can, some written notes as well. Usually what I’ll do is I’ll get a notepad and I’ll write bullet points of everything that I’m going to cover in the video. Then I’ll record the video and I’ll use the bullet points in the notepad to make sure I stay on topic. Then I send them a video; in the PS, I write PS here are the notes from the video, bang. So they’ve got a little bit where they can jump around and they don’t have to go backwards and forwards between the video. Record them, show them exactly how to do it. Let them do it with you so the first step when teaching someone how to do something, is, here let’s do it together and you’ll show them. That’s why I record the video. Then we’ll do one together. www.theSEOmethod2.com 16
  • If they’re in the office I’ll sit down and do it with them, otherwise, if they’re virtual, you do the work and then you get back to me and let me know how you went. Then I’ll let them do it on their own and I’ll provide feedback. So at that point I’ll say, right, go ahead, do the work, send it back to me and then I’ll review it and then once I review it, I’ll give them some feedback points. If there are some feedback points, I will get them to do the task again. Then they’ll do it again and I’ll give them more feedback points. Then if there are still feedback points, I’ll give them those and then I’ll say go do it again. I basically will keep on doing that to the point at which they do the task perfectly with no feedback. So this is like a process that we’ve gone through and developed and I think it is important. You’ll go back and look at these points later. You may not be at this level yet, but this material when you do get there will save you hours of heartache. So record them, show them how to do it, let them do it with you, then let them do it on their own, give them the feedback and then the final thing is every now and then you’ll review it. Then the very final step after that is then they have to teach someone else how to do it. Once they do that, then they’ll start to record videos and then they’ll become that person who then has people underneath them to train them. But you’ve got to first learn how to do it yourself. Daily workflow Now, the daily workflow. This is how we work with them on a daily basis. The daily work flow is, you’ll chat with them in the morning. So this again is talking about the Philippines assistants. Usually we’ll chat with them in the morning, five, ten minutes usually at the start when they first sign on with you it’s going to be a little bit longer. You might have about a half an hour session. Once they get going, it’s only going to be five or ten minutes a day. What you’ll do is you’ll review what they’ve worked on in the previous day and you’ll also set out what today’s plan is. For the review, you’ll just sit there and send an end of day email. This comes from Eben Pagan’s work and I know Eben Pagan draws from a lot of different areas, so who knows who the original source was. Ask for an end of day email that says, what did you do for the day, what did you work on, what issues did you have, any problems that you had and then any questions that you might have. List them in an email. www.theSEOmethod2.com 17
  • When they list what it is they work on as well, this is more so for virtual assistants, get them to append the time that they spent on each one of those tasks next to each of their to dos, so you can make sure. Sometimes that is just a matter of making sure, not so much, because when you hire A players you don’t need to worry whether or not they’re taking advantage of the situation. A players don’t take advantage of the situation. A players work full out all the time. The reason that you ask for those times is more so you can find out where they’re getting stuck on certain things. Or maybe you say, right I want you to do some link building and here is the type of link building that I want you to do. Then you might find that it is a new link building method that you’re testing out and it is taking them half an hour to do a little session. So you calculate over the course of two weeks they’ve spent five hours building links. Then you say, right I want you to now go over and analyze how many of those links actually stuck. Three of the links stuck. Ok, so we spent five hours to get three links. That’s probably not a good use of our time, let’s drop that. So that’s one of the reasons you want to make sure you log times. Also we’ve started to build like a repository, a document where we log all of the times that certain tasks take. So that way, when a new assistant jumps on board, we know, to spin an article, to post it through to the three websites and to do it well, to AMA, Portal Feeder and Unique Article Wizard takes about an hour, probably a little bit longer than that. We know how long it takes so when they start, obviously they’re going to take a little bit longer at the start, but once they get it, that’s how long it should be taking. End of day emails are really key and also it’s another underarm catch. You tell them, the email should only take you five or ten minutes at most. If it’s taking you longer than five or ten minutes, you’re putting too much detail in that email. It’s also a very underarm throw. You tell them, I want you to do it every day, at the end of every shift. If they can’t handle giving you a five to ten minute job every day, then chances are that they’re not going to work out in the long run anyway. It’s a very good early indication as to the quality of the individual if they’re going to do the end of day emails because it is such an easy thing. Here’s something that you don’t hear other people talk about and this is something that I learned from a podcast called Manager Tools which internet marketers don’t really delve into. I’m trying to build a business, I’m not doing a one hit wonder promotion, so I ‘m interested in developing my skills as a manager and it’s a really good one. One of the things they talk about, really good successful managers in big business have monthly one on ones with their team members and their directs. www.theSEOmethod2.com 18
  • So what you’re doing there is every month, I try and do it every month, but sometimes things get caught up and I might not do it for a month or two. With some virtual assistants it can be even longer but you want to make sure that you check in with them. You always start off, and this is where I suppose these guys will get some insight into some of these monthly one on ones that they might not use. I’ll always start the one on one with the same question. I’ll say, how are you going? I use that as a litmus test very early on to say, how are you going? They’ll say good. You’re always looking for patterns. If they’re saying, good, good, good, because I keep all of the notes for my one on ones, I’ve got a folder filled with all my notes from that, good, good and then one day they say, yeah, I’m alright, then there might be something up. Then that’s when you can chat with them about that. It’s win, win, it’s not anything sneaky or anything like that. I want to make sure that they’re happy and enjoying the role so when they come into work, when people, are enjoying what it is that they’re working on, then you’ll get the best output from them. So it’s win, win. Not only are they enjoying it but you’re getting the best return on your investment as well. So I’ll start off with that question and there’s a little bit of insight for you guys. I’ll ask them as well, what have you been working on and what do you like and don’t like? Meagan was good at bringing me up on this one. l like to make people happy when they’re working with me and I try and give them tasks that they really do enjoy. Sometimes when they tell me there’s a task that they don’t enjoy, I’ll look at ways to try and think, how can we plug another system underneath them to then outsource that particular task that they don’t like? Meagan said a few times and it’s true, even in jobs that you like, there are going to be tasks that you have to do that you don’t enjoy. So I’m trying to get over that and that is something for my evolution. I used to think, how can I take that off their hands when they’re not necessarily enjoying it? As long as, on the whole, they get to work on different things that they like and they get that creative outlet, then they’re going to be happy. So what do you like and don’t like? What would you like to work on as well, that helps provide direction for the business. www.theSEOmethod2.com 19
  • That’s how we evolved with what we were doing with Melbourne SEO Services. We were an information marketing business, selling stock market products. We had a massive network of sites and I was testing all my SEO material on all these little sub sites. Once a month we’d have a team meeting where we’d get down and we’d plan out what we were doing and talk about all those sorts of things. The team started to say, hey, we’re evolving into a search engine optimization company. That was not a direction that I was necessarily heading in, but I was asking the team what they wanted to work on and we moved in that direction. What skills would you like to develop? If they want to work on a particular project, are there any skills that they need to develop to work on that project and then I’ll help facilitate that. I’ll give them courses, I’ll do whatever I can. Then at the end, I’ll ask, are there any questions or comments as well? From the way things work in the office, I mentioned that we do try and have a meeting maybe once a quarter where we’ll sit down for half a day and we’ll just strategize out, here are the different areas of our business, here’s where we’re making most of our money, let’s do more of where we’re making money. That’s another real key. Sit down, find out what’s already working and do more of it and where you’re making money. We do that on a monthly basis. We’ve just implemented recently, probably the last few months now, once a week, every Thursday, we’ll sit down and just for half an hour we’ll talk about what’s everybody been working on. We’ll have fifteen minutes where someone will get the floor and they’ll get to talk about whatever they want to talk about, to do with business or something that is going on in their own personal life or something that they can bring to it. That was really good at bringing the team together even closer and this is not so much for the outsourcers that I’m talking about, this is more so for the internal office people. www.theSEOmethod2.com 20
  • Creating systems The next thing that we’re looking at doing is you want to, anything where you’re doing the repetitive tasks, this is where you’re creating the system. You should only do repetitive tasks once, record it with Camtasia, do whatever you can to get the system in place, then get it outsourced. You want to have a written overview and supporting videos. Creating a work wiki, this is a brilliant idea that came from Jeff Johnson. I flew over to his seminar, that was I think the most expensive seminar I ever went to, about $10,000. I flew over to Detroit and I think learning that one idea was just key. We have now, on our network drive, catalogued all of these different tasks that we do in our business. It might be basic web work, FTPing, it might be loading an auto responder, it might be all of the different areas within your business. At the end of the month I have to prepare some invoices to send off to certain people. I’ve documented all of that and then on the network drive we have all of that catalogued. So if anyone’s got a question, they first go to the network drive, try and find the video that answers their question. If there’s not, then they’ll come to me and sometimes as well, when they solve the issue for themselves, I’ll say, can you make a video? So it’s almost like the team is building up this work wiki of all of these short videos that help solve problems. That was a fantastic addition to our business. Money is made in the repetition, so when it comes down to SEO and content creation, that’s why I was talking about, you want to continually do it on a regular basis. If you can get systems in place that make sure it happens on a regular basis, that’s when you start to see growth, especially from an SEO point of view. Then that, assuming you’ve got your on page optimization, and your business funnel that we talked about so long ago at the start of today, if you’ve got all of those things right, then once you start to create those systems that’s when you start to create some freedom for yourself. I still work incredibly long hours and work very, very hard, but I’m putting these systems in place now where I’m gradually stepping out and stepping back. With Meagan’s help, now I can take a break over Christmas or I can take a break at the start of the year and know that the office is going to keep running. www.theSEOmethod2.com 21
  • My girlfriend doesn’t let me work on the weekends. I get five days a week now, instead of the full seven. Work tends to expand to fill the space that you give it. Sometimes if you squash it down into a smaller amount of space, you’ll end up being more productive anyway because you know, I’ve got this set amount of time and you don’t just find yourself wasting time. Tools for the trade Tools of the trade. Some of the things that we use to work with virtual assistants are Google Docs. I showed you an example of that. That was that Google Doc spreadsheet of the SEO method that Ian wanted to get a copy of. That particular Google doc, when people first sign up with us, or start work with us, one of the first things we get them to do is open a Gmail account. So that way, once they open a Gmail account, we’re actually about to change this slightly because we’ve installed Google Apps on Melbourne SEO Services so that when they sign up they get grace@melbourneseoservices.com. It’s still done through Gmail but the reason for doing that, it makes you feel like you’re part of a real business, you’re not someone who is signing up people under Gmail. Because it is with Google Apps, what we do is, we can then share documents. So they’ll sign up and we’ll share with them the documents that they need to work on. Everybody is working on those docs. We’ve got docs for all different parts of our business. We’ve got multiple assistants who log in, they will be updating tags, they’ll be updating URLs and they do all that sort of work. That’s why we started to get them to put their initials, so that we can make sure who’s doing what and making sure it is being done correctly. Google Docs is a fantastic addition to building a virtual empire. You need to get a domain name or use drop boxes as a dumping ground. You want to have some domain name that’s not really used for anything other than dragging and dropping things in there. So you give them a video they need to work on, you just drag and drop it almost like the work wiki, but online. You have to be careful though because obviously that’s very much your intellectual property. www.theSEOmethod2.com 22
  • With our network drive, with all of the different videos, that’s my business and that explains exactly what we do. So we don’t put that work online but we have cut down versions of that. Meagan put together the process for the way that we do the promotion for our websites and that component is online, so when an assistant starts, they actually get the documentation. We’ve got a manual that says, here’s how you do the first wave of the SEO method. They learn step by step through each one of the different components and we’ve got supporting videos and all that sort of thing. Basecamp is another very useful tool and this is how we manage different assistants. We have a lot of issues when you’re emailing backward and forward as to who said what, what got said, especially when you start to build a bigger team. We’ve got Andrea who couldn’t make it here today and she will be watching the videos. She chats with the assistants every day. Let’s say if Meagan chats with an assistant and says something and then Andrea chats to an assistant and says something, there needs to be a central meeting place so everybody knows what’s been said. So we use Basecamp for that. Everybody gets their own log in, we assign different tasks to different things that need to be done under Basecamp and then all of it is done. It is almost like a message board. All it is, it is an online place for you to collaborate where you can upload files, but we don’t use it so much for the uploading files, it’s more for the central communication to make sure that, when Meagan is away, Andrea knows exactly what’s going on. When someone else is away, I can log in and make sure I know exactly where the different assistants are up to. So Basecamp is the one that we use for that. There are a few other solutions and there is a free one. Then Skype, Skype is a critical component as well. The next level Into the tail end of this session, taking it to the next level. I told you I was getting too busy managing all of the different assistants and that’s when I looked to get people into the office. Andrea is like an assistants’ supervisor. So she manages all of the assistants. She does the daily checking with them, chats with them on the phone in the morning. We’ve got a separate room out the back where she goes, hops on the mike, has a chat with them, talks through their end of day email, says how are you going, any questions, any issues, ok, what is the plan for today? www.theSEOmethod2.com 23
  • So that gets done every day. I like that everyday contact because that’s what connects your assistants to you. When you’re working in a virtual environment, unless you’re making that personal contact, it’s too easy for them to separate and not feel like they’re a part of your business. So that’s a really key thing to make sure everybody gets chatted with everyday. Meagan is more of the project manager now. She used to work with the assistants but now she manages the office and makes sure that Andrea has what she needs and Meagan will get conceptually in her head, ok, here are the different things that we’re working on and then makes sure that that gets passed on to Andrea who then makes sure that gets pushed through to the different assistants. My suggestion for hiring people in your office, especially for project management and supervisory type roles. Hire Mums, they’re stable, they’ve had their kids, a lot of them aren’t looking to climb up the corporate ladder at this point of time, it’s more of a lifestyle thing. Sometimes they just want to be involved in something rather than sitting at home doing their own thing, they enjoy coming into the office. They have excellent experience, a lot of them have already worked in corporate backgrounds and then had kids, got out of the workforce, so return to work Mums are really good. They have a really good work ethic. So we’ve got a few Mums in the office because they’re really good. Depending on what the task is, we do also hire people straight out of uni as well, and depending on what they’re skill set is, that’s not a hard and fast rule but when you hire people straight out of uni, sometimes they’re already on the cutting edge for different technologies. They’re familiar with web 2.0 and there’s not that education process, but what you’ve got to understand is, you’ll grow with them up to a certain point and then typically they’ll move on because they’ve got their career and the rest of their lives to go. www.theSEOmethod2.com 24
  • 80/20 rule The final piece for this one is the 80:20. Start building a team straight away. Use Rent A Coder, get yourself a virtual bench and then when you can start to look to outsource to the Philippines. Only build A players, I can’t stress that enough. It will make all the difference. Assign work based on outcomes not keeping people busy. This is the key insight that I had probably about six months ago or twelve months ago. I used to think more about keeping people busy than I was thinking about what the actual outcome was. So you need to think in your head, I have a project that I want to take through to completion and that is when I’m going to get paid. When I was talking about focus at the start of the day, you need to make sure that you think about the AA and think about, I want to get that project and then start to outsource based on the outcome that you’re looking to get. Don’t just keep people busy, otherwise they’ll end up working on tasks that aren’t getting you closer to the outcome. Outsource what you’re not good at or you don’t like. That’s a good place to start, play to your strengths as I talked about. You want to make sure that you focus on what it is that you’re good at. I’m good at content creation, I’m good at the marketing, I’m good at the vision, that’s what I focus on. Then you make sure that you get other people who complement those other parts of your business. Start working on your business, not in your business. There’s a Michael Gerber E-Myth type quote for you. That’s what I think the project manager really does help you to do. It enables you to take a step back because they’re handling things from a day to day and then you can approach things from a new perspective. So any questions on working with a virtual assistant team? Question: It seems like there might not be exactly a contradiction but a challenge in what you were just saying about working on a single project but at the same time not worrying too much about what you team’s doing. What I mean is, if you’ve got a video person, there’s only a certain amount of video that needs to be done in the project and then it’s done and then you’re doing other things. If you’re not starting on another project, then that video person is going to be sitting idle. Maybe in that case you shouldn’t have taken them on full time, I’m not sure. Is there sometimes an argument for working on multiple projects so that all these people are doing their bit? www.theSEOmethod2.com 25
  • Answer: If you made a commitment to that person where you will be paying them, then obviously you don’t want to have them sitting on their hands and you want to make sure that you keep them busy and you’ll skill them up to do other areas as well. There is always something that can be done. They can be creating systems. If they know their particular role inside and out and they’ve come to the end of the video job, start getting them working on building a system so that they create something in place so they can step back. Yes, if you have committed to a certain number of hours, where I think of some of the assistants where they’re not on an hourly rate for us, then I’ll be more outcome driven. I still try and think outcome driven if they are working for me in a more full time capacity, but there is a little bit of a balance there. I think Meagan has a comment she wants to add to that. Meagan: I think also just to clarify that point, you can have numerous projects that are actually going on in the workplace, but I think what you meant, Dave, was actually business ventures as such, when you said focus on one project. It’s more like a business focus. What area of internet marketing are we going to focus on for this month, rather than trying to put all our eggs in one basket and not have an actual business focus that we’re going to achieve. Answer: We’ll strategize that, we’ll strategize what is our outcome in those monthly meetings and then we start to assign tasks to the assistants based on outcome, based on what it is that we’ve talked about, rather than keeping them busy. We know what it is. Does that help answer that question? Did you have anything you wanted to add Meagan, with working with virtual assistants? Meagan: You covered it all quite thoroughly, the only other thing could think of, was not falling into the trap of having all your virtual assistants thinking you’re getting a lot of productivity out of them because they’re at such a low pay rate. Some of them may not realize that they’re meant to use a self initiating work style. www.theSEOmethod2.com 26
  • So you might find that they’re on Skype all day to you, asking little questions here and there and then it consumes your whole day and your tasks that you’re meant to be doing haven’t been achieved by the end of the day. So letting them know very early on in the piece, do the work they can do during the day and with their end of day emails, that’s when they put in any questions, any stumbling blocks that they had, anything that they’re actually querying and that way it doesn’t waste your time. www.theSEOmethod2.com 27