Why is it “hard” to hire writers and freelancers?

“Focus on a few key objectives … I only have three things to do. I have to choose the right people, allocate the right number of dollars, and transmit ideas from one division to another with the speed of light. So I’m really in the business of being the gatekeeper and the transmitter of ideas.”

—Jack Welch

He made it seem so simple but in reality, it’s way more complex. Especially if you’re just starting to hire people.

I recorded a video on this topic — check it out on YouTube.

Get my templates for hiring VAs including a sample job posting.

Why Hire a Virtual Assistant

The goal of hiring a virtual assistant is to:

  1. Outsource the tasks that you don’t want to do
  2. Save time, i.e. Hire someone that’s better/faster than you at a task
  3. Save money, i.e. Hire someone that can do the work for less than you

For example, I’m a bad, unexperienced video editor so I hired a film school student in grad school. She’s way better than me at editing.

She also happens to be in Eastern Europe, so a great wage for her is a great bargain for me.

And the kicker is that she’s also faster at editing than me.

The same can be said for my writing — I’ve hired freelance writers that are better, faster, and cheaper than me.

What to expect when you start hiring writers & freelancers

Some people seem to think that hiring freelancers is one of the more difficult things to do. Others say that it’s an easy process (like Tim Ferriss in The 4-hour workweek).

Speaking from experience, it’s not as easy as some make it out to be – at least not initially.

When you first hire a VA, it’s probably not going to work out the way you thought it will. It will be slower

At first, it’s going to go slower than you thought, and that’s exactly the opposite of what you were hoping. Sometimes we wait to hire people until we’re really busy and literally need the help. At that point, it’s extremely frustrating for things to slower.

You may have some thoughts about how a freelancer will make your life easier, only to get back work thats’s not what you expected. The quality might be less than you expected or you may not get anything back at all. Maybe the freelancer has several questions along the way.

They could even turn in the work late after you’ve already paid them part of the payment and then you notice they turned in half the number of words they were supposed to write.

In life, when your expectations don’t match reality, you get disappointed. The lower your expectations are, the smaller the chances are for disappointment and frustration.

Whenever you’re learning something new and developing a new skill — hiring people is a skill — expect that it’s going to be difficult for a while.

There’s a period of time, where you have to figure out what to do and how to do it, and you just have to work through the challenges.

Say for instance, you could be working with a particular writer and they were doing a good job for a while but now they’re out on vacation and they can’t write for you anymore.

You have to adjust to different situations that come up.

Tips For Hiring a VA

Here are a few key ideas to keep in mind…some of these are myths that I’ll dispelled.

Don’t Hire the Cheapest Person

There’s this Chinese proverb that I really like: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

“People incorrectly assume that the goal is to hire people at the cheapest rate they possibly can”

The goal is to get a positive return on investment (ROI). So if you can pay the money and get more out of it in return, that’s a win! Do it.

For example, if you pay $20 for a 1,000 word article and $10 for an editor, and the article can make $10 per month for several years, that is a great investment and a great return. There is always risk in an investment and you won’t be guaranteed that you’ll get a positive return. But I know that over time content for niche sites is a good return and I’m confident based on my own experiences.

Unless you’re on a low budget or can’t outsource anything until you’re able to afford it, this approach doesn’t make sense. In essence, if you pay people a really low rate, it’s probably not going to work out in your favor. 

I want to pay people a fair wage for good work. I know I felt upset when I was under paid for any job I’ve ever had.

Provide GREAT Instructions

You might find out over time, that you need to give better directions to your VA. Let’s assume you’ve hired a competent person, but your instructions aren’t good.

Get my templates for hiring VAs including a sample job posting.

By the way, you might not be a good judge of the quality of instructions. If you’re an expert or if you’ve internalized a process, it’s very hard to see a process like a beginner.

This is why it’s important to give a VA really specific instructions. For example, if you hire a writer, you should give them a style guideline, and other information that will help them write and create the content that you actually need.

Give a VA vague instructions and they’ll have to guess what you want. Remember, the more information you can give them, the better.

If you’d like to know exactly how I hire writers for my niche sites without stress, click here. I also go over the mistakes I’ve made in the past and tell you how to avoid them.

In the video, I answer these questions:

  • Where do you go to find a good writer?
  • How many writers do you hire for one good one?
  • How do you screen writers before hiring them?
  • What is the market price for a good writer?
  • How do you get a VA to add-in code for Amazon images? Do they have access to your Amazon log-in information?
  • What kind of articles do you give the writers for the test job – info or reviews?
  • What can you use instead of Thrive content builder?
  • Do you find products convert better with an Amazon image of the product or just a text link?
  • I have a rather new VA asking to work out of the platform to avoid the Upwork fee. What would you do?
  • How many articles do you write per website to get to a $1,000 per month?
  • If Amazon shuts down an affiliate after 90 days is it better to add links after the site gets ranked and gets traffic, or do you add things from the start?
  • How many articles did you initially post on your Amazon niche site including the homepage on launch?

All of the answers are in my Q&A here:

Your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know:

  1. What do you think is the most challenging thing when hiring a VA?
  2. Do you have any frustrating experiences with hiring a VA? If so, what happened?
  3. What advice would you give to someone who’s about to hire a VA for the first time?

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Doug Cunnington, PMP

I show people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. I love creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but not at the same time).

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