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When your business or blog starts to grow, you might find that you just don’t have enough time in the day.
This is a problem we all face, and there are a number of ways you can solve this.
Becoming more productive is one way.
And I have spoken to the Productive Super Dad before on this podcast to help you get some ideas on how to improve there.
But sometimes that just isn’t enough.
If you seriously want to free up some of your time, you need to get some help.
And these days, getting help often means hiring a Virtual Assistant or someone similar.
These kinds of virtual employees are great. You send them a task from wherever you are, and they just do it. Sometimes while you sleep!
And often at a very reasonable price. Can’t beat that.
But the challenge starts when you want to find, hire and work well with such people.
That is why I got an expert on the podcast to share her knowledge in this area!
And she has not only a lot of experience working as a freelancer, but also in hiring them for her clients
A lot of what Diana knows, she shares on her website which you will find a link to further down.
So she was obviously the perfect person to talk to about this topic and she certainly had a lot of information to give.
In this podcast, I discuss with Diana the full freelancer hiring process:
Take a listen to what Diana (or read the transcript if that is your thing).
If you prefer to read the transcript, you can
Ashley: Hi Diana thanks for coming on the show today. It’s great to talk to you finally.Diana: Hi Ashley it is nice meeting you.
Ashley: And let’s get a quick run-down of your background because you’re a freelancer as well, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today, so maybe we’ll just get a quick background of what you have been doing for the last years.
Diana: OK. Well I don’t much like talking about myself so this part will be short. I am born in Bulgaria and since 5 years ago I became a freelancer and pretty much since then I have been traveling the world a lot. This is a dream of mine, come true. I’m a freelance marketing consultant and basically work with clients on their marketing projects whether it’s a price of content you need to get rid of or they need a website review or they need a marketing plan or just writing some marketing collateral materials. They can hire me for that. And working online has given me the freedom to travel because that is really what I want to do and so far it’s working great. I moved to Spain a few months ago and I am talking to you today from there; southern Spain.
Ashley: Yeah that’s a really cool thing. I remember because we have been in contact since almost he beginning of when I was online and you were, I think in Sofia at the time right? In Bulgaria? So and then all of a sudden you were like oh I’m going to Spain.
Diana: [Laughs] Yeah that’s the beauty of freelancing. Just pick up your stuff and go wherever you want.
Ashley: Yeah and that’s one of the cool things I guess we’ll touch on today. As well as the freelancer and that’s kind of what I do a little bit as well. I’m more in web design but I could also do that from anywhere in the world and that’s the beauty of online stuff and freelancing is part of that. You could get your work via the internet. You could give your work back via the internet and you can be anywhere there is a decent internet connection. Now you’re in Spain.
Diana: Yeah and thanks to Skype you can even talk to your clients or freelancers in real time if you need to discuss something in real time. So it’s, sky is the limit in whatever you want, whenever you want.
Ashley: Yeah, I was actually just talking to a guy yesterday, a new client I got for a website and he is not used to this and he was figuring out a way to connect to me and downloading applications and trying to figure out how he could talk to me. I’m like download Skype man its easy and he went with some other thing I can’t remember what it was, I had to download a new client. But in the end we got connected and we got to screen share and everything. It only took a few minutes. And he was very happy. He was like oh my God I can’t believe I’m working with somebody in Switzerland. Ok. Yeah that’s the way of the world these days. It makes your life an amazing thing. What I wanted to do today was talk to you because this is something you have a lot of experience in and something I’m growing into on the opposite side of the fence which is why I would like to hire some people in the future and we were just discussing this before we started recording, I’m not exactly sure who or how I need to do this but one of the options I have is to hire a freelancer, which is what you do. so I guess the first question we can help people answer is if they want to hire somebody, and if they want to go down this path of even having someone just for a task or just for so many hours a week or whatever, what kind of things or how would you go about making the distinction of hiring a freelancer which is the kind of work that you offer. When would you hire a freelancer and when would you be looking for someone more permanent or an assistant.
Diana: Right this is a very important question actually. Not many clients ask themselves that question before they start looking for a freelancer. Of course it pretty much depends on what type of work you need help with but in my experience I have seen the best relationships between clients and freelancer came out of, for instance, if you needed help with your daily work like uploading blog posts or maybe sorting out your email or going through your reader or finding blog posts which you want to read or which can wait until your free time on the weekend for instance. That is something that can be outsourced to a virtual assistant. This is a very popular profession, today, among freelancers; of course it requires special skills. In terms of programming skills or marketing skills. Or just to be organized. To be good with time management, maybe that’s why virtual assistants are so much on the rise. That is maybe the most searched, most looked for profession today, after writers. Writers will always be on the top I think. So apart from virtual assistants which is almost always better outsourced than having someone in house, other than that I think the main distinction you need to do is whether you need someone for a long term or short term. Whether you have a quick job or your have a large scale project. Which is better handled in house. You need to decide how much control you want to have over the day activities which are concerning the work. How much control you want to have of the day activities. Because if you want daily reports or you want to have to pre approve everything, every step of the way, maybe it’s better than to hire an employee because as a freelancer. A good freelancer who is a freelancer not because he doesn’t have anything else to do but because he has made a choice to be a freelancer. Chances are that freelancer will not like to be micromanaged. So if you want to have 100% control over everything, go with an employee, don’t go with a freelancer. Rather than that I think that everything can be outsourced to a freelancer. Even for instance in my, from my experience, I have been hired for small jobs like writing a press release but I have also been hired to manage a marketing team of ten people. It was one project which was very interesting because the whole company was totally neutral. Two people were from the same country, from the same country but they didn’t have an office and we were like I don’t know maybe 30 people, 40 people, all over the whole, it was the definition of a virtual company.
Ashley: Wow that’s crazy.
Diana: Yeah so bottom line is everything can be outsourced and every task can be outsourced to a freelancer. Of course a manufacturer obviously cannot. But if it’s done online and via computer it can be outsourced. But it very much depends on who you as client are and what you as a client want. What type of person you are.
Ashley: Do you really need to be able to give up control in way, I mean not completely but you can’t go to someone like how’s it going, any questions, when you don’t have that access so you don’t have the be able to still control it but in a distance in terms of time and a distance in terms of actual distance as well, I mean you can no longer…
Diana: Yes but I wouldn’t call it give up control, I would call it trust your freelancers. I mean when you work with someone, there are clients who demand constant presence and they can pop up at any time. He wants to know exactly how the design is going. Well when will I have the first draft? Whatever. There are such clients but those in my book bare bad clients. Yeah there are people who agree to work like that. But usually those are people who do not handle work well they cannot take responsibility, they cannot make decisions for themselves so again it very much depends on what type of work you have and what type of person you are. Because for instance if you, with this podcast you need transcribers I suppose.
Diana: So for this type of work, transcription, you don’t need much decision making or anything. So you can hire a transcriber based on solely how much it will cost for all your minutes and how much time it will take. Whether one hour, or if they will transcribe it for one day. Or it will take them one week. Obviously here the choice will be very easy, a transcriptionist’s transcription is accurate there’s not much that can go wrong. You don’t need to check up on your freelancer. Because they will transcribe it or not, you will find out soon enough. If you for instance are looking for someone who will transcribe your calls, transcribe your audio, and they will get the audio and make a summary touching up on the main points that were made in that audio. And then you are no longer looking for a simple transcription, you will care more about the level, how well you write or she writes, how quickly then can, what the turnaround time for the transcription but also the blog post that they will write, and if you through into the fix, formatting and choosing contextual images there are other skills that person needs to have not just writing but good research and to know where to look for what images and create the work. So my point is that adding simple things to the scope of the work then the requirements for that person change and the type of people you look for change. The approach when you look for those people will change as well.
Ashley: Ok well let’s take that example and its more or less the kind of thing I am starting to look for and it’s probably something similar to many people have had for a blog post or my podcast and they will probably keep away from it for a minute. Let’s just say I want the blog post, I want someone to do my images. If my images I’m not sure I’m going to give that up yet, so I’m not going to break down, and when you start looking for someone you need to make sure what you can give them is reasonably packageable, is that how people come to you with these kind of tasks, is that the best sort of practice for describing a task for a freelancer.
Diana: Well, hmmmm, well let me see because people don’t usually come to me with these types of tasks but I have been looking for people for this type of task.
Ashley: So what would you say is a good way of getting the information to the freelancer?
Diana: There are two ways to kind of approach this matter, one is what most people do and one is more not so popular but if you ask if it’s better, especially in your case, but the more conventional one is you just think of all the requirements that you have. As silly as it sounds take a sheet of paper and write down everything you will need that person to do, that is find images, that is if you need that person to also do something with the images like add text or maybe edit them or with some other program, that is something which not many can do so there is a filtering mechanism that put in place right there.
Ashley: So you need to break every skill down and every program down that you’re going to be touching in the task that you’re going to do so that you know you get the right people.
Diana: Exactly yes, include everything that you need to be done. So that you for yourself can figure out what you need. And then you can go and post that in the job post and you can look for someone to hire who possesses every single skill that you need. Or you can go ahead and find someone who has not done many of the things or not done anything maybe he or she is just starting for instance and then from A-Z. Which way you will go very much depends on whether you have a process you like to be followed or you are fine with that person doing the work as they like as long as the end result is what you want. So if you have a process , for instance you like your blog post to be saved in word first then you review them. Once you review them and approve that everything is good them that person can go ahead and find the pictures that go with your requirement. Once they find the pictures you approve them again and the only then you start the way maybe it’s better to train them to stuff like but if all you care about is okay the blog post when it is uploaded to word press the proper images with proper credits so that I can for like two minutes and then hit the publish button then it does matter. They need to be able to do this on their own.
Ashley: If you were to look for someone who, that must also be quite difficult , from a guy in Australia’s podcast I listen to that he prefers to train these people and it’s also more likely they will stay on for longer because they have gained a skill from him, then they have gained a skill and they get bored and they leave or whatever. But I mean how would you go about someone to know they have the potential to learn this from a distance , that’s quite difficult.
Diana: Yes. It can challenging especially in the beginning because you are not used to working this way it’s easier not to get fooled but to believe someone is something which she isn’t but even in the beginning there are certain precautions you can take. So for starters if you are just starting and you do not have experience working with freelancers you can always turn to websites like oDesk and Elance where those are basically big freelance job boards and there are a lot of clients who need various services and there are even more freelancers with certain skills who are bidding on job posts published by clients. So it’s a bidding site, I believe that you are familiar with those. Should I summarize for the audience listening to this. These are where a client publishes a blog post the way that we just discussed and you publish what you need, who you need and why you need, and when you need them, into the details how it is better to publish a job post , to attract suitable candidates. The ideas behind oDesk and Elance, there are many more but I have used this so that’s why we have talked about them. Clients publish their job posts and there are freelancers who send them cover letters, basically apply to that job. Then the client has the freedom to choose one or more of the freelancers and after let’s call it an interview , after a few messages or even a Skype call, they can talk to various freelancers and decide they will hire you or I will hire two of the applicants, that’s the process, but if you don’t have experience working with freelancers, the y are carefully crafting the freelance post. First step when you protect yourself from spammers or bad freelancers it’s sad but there is a lot of spam on those websites and you can fall victim and waste an awful lot of time. Filtering through crappy freelancers. So the first thing you should do is choose the title of your blog post because that will save you and the quality freelancers some time. For instance in your case let’s continue your example with the person who you need to transcribe your blog posts and sort images and the blog post into WordPress. Ok so let’s say you look for that person on ODesk or Elance. If you title your job post transcriber needed, you will get applications from transcribers. If you title your job post, for instance, help needed with WordPress blog, this is totally vague. I mean are you looking for a WordPress programmer or are you looking for someone to write a blog post on a regular basis. I mean what are you looking for? Help with WordPress blog needed is awfully vague. So be sure when you post your blog post to make the title as clear as possible so that because if the person who you are looking for and you want to work with them, that is probably not applied to a job with a vague title, simply because they found their time too much and they will not waste their time into asking additional questions only to figure out whether your project is or isn’t good for them.
Ashley: So you make a really long title describing it?
Diana: Well not really, really…
Ashley: Not sentences.
Diana: Yeah not sentences. But it should be clear enough and it’s better to be longer and clearer instead of vague and not getting enough information , for instance, again thinking on the fly here but in this particular example it would be what let’s say you need a transcriber , needed a virtual assistant for transcribing and publishing blog posts in WordPress , for instance. So the person will know that transcribing is needed, but also basic knowledge of WordPress in order to publish the blog post. Now if they have both those things they will take the job post and then they will know all other things like image editing and Photoshop if needed or research for suitable images that will be explained in the job post.
Ashley: So already in the title I mean it’s like many things we do in a blog post when you publish it and you put it on social media, people won’t click on it and in your case of Elance or oDesk it’s the same thing. People are quickly looking for new work I don’t see things which catch their attention then they are not going to open them.
Diana: Exactly. Yeah. The completion among freelancers is awful. I mean awfully big, a lot of competition. So it’s between clients and the good freelancers, the quality workers, the people who know what they time is worth, who have the skills and sell them for top dollar, they know that they can choose their clients so the way that I am explaining how you as a client can filter freelancers. The same way freelancers can filter their clients based on the job posts, they can decide they should apply or avoid a certain client.
Ashley: Ok so the next part of the job post would then be a description of, you’ve also got a section at the bottom, description and then skills you can choose I think from what I’ve seen. Is that the best place to write what you need in terms of skills? Or is it best described in the description? How do you split that up normally?
Diana: I would say best described in both, for instance , their interface , here I don’t want to mislead you because I have not applied for a new job in a very long time but they have recently I was looking for a transcriber on oDesk and I know that now all the skills that you can insert are preset. You cannot just go on oDesk and write ‘good English.” When you start typing there is a drop down menu and you need to a choose a certain skill from the preset skills which oDesk has set. So yeah it’s best if you describe what you need into the job post. And you should give as many details as you can. Like how long do you expect the project to be. Are you looking for someone for the next month or are you planning to use the services of this person for years to come. So how long would it be? How much of a workload? What’s your budget? Because that is important as well. Of course you cannot say I will give $86 and you will stick to that number that is an estimation and freelancers know it. But for instance if you are looking for a writer and you have $20, you can give $20 for a blog post. Obviously writers who are charging $50 or more would not apply because they will see that you don’t have the budget for their services. So having said that it is important to set a really strict budget. If you don’t, you risk either attracting the wrong crowd. Freelancers who will not deliver the quality you need or freelancers whom you cannot afford. Yes. Either way that is one risk if you do not set the budget right. the second thing is you risk to not have many suitable candidates because if you have underestimated the budget then people because you don’t know better, it may not be a matter of budget but you simply don’t know better because this is the first time you’ve done this. So people may not apply to your job because they will be your cheap client for instance, that this work costs more you have to see so many other clients price this type of project in this price range. So in those cases, so it’s basically if you find someone like a friend of yours or someone who has been on the other side of the fence. For instance like if you are looking for help with marketing you can come but you don’t know how much something costs you can always come to me and say hey Diana. I am looking for a freelancer but I don’t know how much it will cost can you help me to figure it out, just for this, how much money do I need to give that person. So it’s best if you seek such help in order to set the budget right for your project. This will ensure attracting the right crowd. It’s funny what I have noticed when a long time ago when I have been looking for link building techniques at some point. That’s how people are doing it and I had been looking for clients projects and I had been hiring link builders. So but I had never been into that black hat link building. But were a lot of people who were doing it and they were doing it like for $1 per hour. $2 per hour. Really cheap rates. But I was looking for people who have some kind of marketing background. They will not just build links but they will focus on more on building relationships and network with the people they will call on their websites. So when I put the minimum rate that I require for let’s say $10 per hour or I don’t know some higher number than $2 per hour, those contractors that were doing back end link building , they never applied. So this is another way to filter the candidates that you will get.
Ashley: OK so it’s also probably a little bit of experimentation and experience. If you can find someone to help you who has done it before , find some posts of people who have done it before like your website is giving a lot of advice on the marketing side of things and that obviously helps. Because it seems like yeah from my side I mean it’s a sort of Pandora ’s Box. I’ll be typing something and putting it out there and then I’m going to get this crazy amount of responses. So having a good headline and having a detailed description, choosing the right skills. Trying to be realistic with your budget because let’s face it if you go too cheap just to be cheap its obviously stupid.
Ashley: I hired someone recently, cheaper for my transcriptions because my normal transcriber was busy and the quality was a lot less and in one case it just disappeared. So he came back and blamed Fiverr in the end. But I was very skeptical that it was Fiverr’s fault because yeah. I mean it was just a coincidence that he disappeared and that he was cheaper or whatever. But anyway. It didn’t matter in the end. I managed to get my original transcriber to solve these problems. And she did it in an hour. It was taking him a week. So the difference was insane. She was an insanely fast, accurate, English fluent transcriber. And he’s from Indonesia. His English was ok. But I found a lot of errors just flicking through his transcription. And I had an hour to fix most of it. And then you’ve got to ask yourself is there much point being crazy cheap. So obviously if there is a balance there try and be a little bit more generous than you think is that cheapest price but obviously you don’t want to go too crazy then, yeah maybe you blow your budget. [Laughs].
Diana: Yeah well truth is value always beats price. I mean its way more important what do you get for your money. And that is something which a good freelancer knows. At least I have not met a freelancer who knows what they are worth and they are willing, they will never say ok you know what I will cut my price in two , just for you, only for you. There are a lot of freelancers who are doing it. I don’t know, I think they simply are new to this whole freelance idea. Or they are really desperate.. Or they don’t have really have anything special to bring to the table. A freelancer who knows what their value is, a freelancer who knows what they are worth, they will never come to you offering you a discount. Simply because you are paying for a value that they bring. You are not just purchasing bread in the store where you will get a discount when you buy two. And not one. It doesn’t work like that.
Ashley: SO on these platforms once you have posted you get people applying and do they also give their rates when they are applying. I think that’s what happens. I think I’ve read something like that. How does the other side. You put your job post up and then you start getting responses.
Diana: Yes but sorry I forgot something very important. I don’t know how I can forget it. Be specific in your job posts. Yeah sure despite what you need and what you want but also ask questions which relate to your post. To the needs that you need. You are looking for a freelancer to fulfill. For instance if we continue the same example with the person who will be transcribing your posts and inserting images and publishing on WordPress. An example of some specific questions would be what is there experience with transcribing? How much it takes for them to transcribe one hour audio file. Or I don’t know if they have not difficulty but if it matters for them whether they transcribe in regular English or US English or British English. It’s not necessarily relevant to your files per se, but the way that the freelancer answers your question will tell you a lot about the freelancer. If somebody replies yeah sure whatever thing is given to me I will bring it back within a day, something isn’t quite right. or if a freelancer replies well ok I am , if you speak fast Australian English I may have difficulties so it may be more expensive but generally speaking I’m good with American English. For instance. It will tell a lot about the experience of the freelancer. Yes based on the way they answer your questions. Whatever the questions.
Ashley: So yeah they are basically taking time to answer honestly and care that they are responding with you rather than just everything is cool, I can do it.
Diana: Exactly yes. That is my point. So ask specific questions about the tasks that you need and in relation to that to the specific freelancer.
Ashley: And I also saw on this post that I was reading about it, that some people suggest putting a stupid word in their subject replies so that you know who the people who have read the post through have actually read the post rather than just responding because they have seen the title. Have you heard of that? I think you wrote a post about that too.
Diana: Yes, I strongly recommended it before. And I saw before, not that it’s not relevant anymore. On Elance it is. This recent oDesk interface change that I mentioned earlier, that word is a bit redundant because right now you have, I suppose, oDesk help has been listening to their client’s feedback because now oDesk has introduced the ability to ask specific questions. Not in the description of your job post but separately. A freelancer cannot apply to your job unless they address these questions. There is a single field for each question. So when a freelancer applies to your job all you see at first is the answers to your questions. If you want as a client you can click through and see more and then only then can you see their whole cover letter and if they use the code word or didn’t. At this point the code word is not that relevant. At least on oDesk, I have not used Elance in a long time but I think that they did not change that and it is still relevant. There when you receive applications from freelancers all you see is a long list of candidates with the first three lines of their profiles and the beginning of their cover letters. So if you have a code word, listed in the job post and they did not put it on top of their application you will see it … so you will easily filter out everyone who did not start their application with the code word.
Ashley: So I’ll just clarify that for people who don’t know what we’re talking about. Basically when you put a job post up there you’ll get I don’t know how many replies. Tens or maybe a hundred, who knows? You get quite a few replies and a lot of them will be just stupid automatic replies. People who aren’t serious about your job or whatever you assume. It could be more than half. And the common way that people have found the filter that is to put a word probably at the end of your jobs description saying please use this code word and then it shows that they have read through. Maybe they have fond the code word at the bottom. Maybe they are getting smarter. At least it is not an automatic reply, right? If it’s an automatic reply they won’t have seen the code word. So you are filtering out in a way some junk by giving a code word. Then the people often put that code word, you say please put this at the front of your reply. Just say tiger or elephant or whatever. And you see the ones that have that and you know that the rest haven’t read your description so they are not serious about the job. So the examples I read about it the guy had like 20 replies and only 5 used the code word and out of those he chose 2 people. Or something. And then this question thing is doing the same thing, if they haven’t gone to the trouble of reading your question and addressing it properly then they are obviously not serious or not relevant to your job so that’s a good way of filtering them out. Okay so another thing I was thinking about and I read in this post I was talking about recently from the guy who had this recent experience which kind of got be thinking because I wanted to do this anyway. Was this is idea of a trial assignment. And I guess this is especially is if you are wanting to keep someone on for a longer time, which is what I am thinking about. and I guess yeah you can maybe take a couple of people and see who comes up with the best response to the trial and then take that person as a sort of semi-permanent person you choose. Have you had experience with that kind of work as well?
Diana: Yes. I strongly believe in the positive effect of trials. Today I was addressing a comment on my blog where a reader of mine said that she finds if you introduce a trial early in the relationship you basically say to the freelancer that you don’t trust them. Or if the freelancer requests the trial , the freelancer tells the client I don’t trust you. I have never seen it from this perspective but I disagree with that. I strongly believe that the trial is a good thing. Especially for some type of tasks. Let’s take the same example with transcribers who will need also to search for images and publish the WordPress blogs. If you hire 2 or 3 people for this job, especially if you are looking for a long term relationship. If you hire several people to do this job you can easily see with whom you will work best. Because yeah sure I am a perfect transcriber and I do great with research of images and I am very well versed with Photoshop. I will do everything that you ask me and I will do it perfectly. But I am a night owl and you are a morning person. And we are never online at the same time. And it can take 3 days to finish a blog post only because you sleep when I play and vice versa. So obviously I will not be a good choice for you. It’s that I don’t do my job well. It’s not that you don’t trust me or I trust you. It’s not that I don’t like you or you don’t like me. Not at all. It’s just a schedule mismatch, if I may call it that. And unless you try out someone you cannot know that.
Ashley: And you say also that the communication is something that this guy was talking about and his post too was if you have a couple of questions and you see those people responding to those questions. Even during that trial, task or whatever it is you can still see already do they read your emails properly, are they answering your questions. Are they caring about what’s going on in the relationship, because it has to potentially continue for a long time. If they are really difficult to work with and correct and bring on track. Not open to criticism for example , yeah it may never work right? It’s just like an employee at work. If you hire somebody , and with an employee it’s really risky because it’s harder to fire them. Or at least in some countries. Here we have a 3 month trial in Switzerland but yeah if you hire somebody and you can’t get rid of them that’s … it can be horrible. They come in late. They drink a lot of coffee. They smoke a lot. They don’t really do anything. Yeah. Anyway. So basically you give people maybe even the same task to do WordPress post, even the same post and see how they come up with a result and whether they follow instructions.
Diana: Exactly. I think that is the most valuable thing about a trial. To see how well you work with the other party. For instance okay let’s talk from both sides because yeah you as a client you can hire several people for a trial but you as a freelancer can also request the client to work on a trial basis. I mean all you say is yeah I like you, I want to work with you, but I’m not sure if we will work well together, let’s try it. For instance you don’t go and design the whole line of business marketing collateral for someone, website brochures and all the press related stuff. And online banners, et cetera. You do not get into contracts in such large scale directly. You better start a trial and see how it goes to design a single banner or a single ad. Or just the website although the website is already large enough. Yeah it can turn into a disaster really quickly if you have not negotiated the working conditions with the client. I believe that the trial will help you determine if your communication skills are a good match with the other party’s communication skills. That’s the most valuable thing of the trial. It’s not a matter of trust. It’s not a matter of liking. It’s just a matter of work flow and how you and the freelancer or the client work.
Ashley: Yeah together. Obviously it’s very difficult remotely and you have to use some of these kinds of things. These filtering descriptions. And in the trial too, just to clarify that in case people are wondering what to do and go through this process if they have gotten this far already. It’s a paid thing right? You pay each person even if they doing the same thing for you. A certain amount of money to do a small task in order to give yourself a safety net. Right?
Diana: Yes. I would recommend it’s a paid trial. I have seen clients who do non-paid trials. But that’s pretty much a similar thing like with the budget that we discussed earlier. If you offer request a trial and you do not pay for it there will be several freelancers who would agree to do that but most probably they will not be the best choice. Those will be freelancers who do not value their time. They don’t know what they are worth. So maybe their quality of work will not be high either.
Ashley: Yeah that makes sense. It’s more or less. Like okay I’m desperate I’ll take whatever I can get. If it means working for free , I’ll work for free. You’re giving the wrong signals by asking for that. So from both sides and listening to this and what they are planning on doing. Yeah accepting free trials may be an option but it’s not a good precedent to set for your future and not good for your client saying they are obviously cheapskates or whatever. And I’ve had similar cases in building websites for people too. You get clients who just you end just emailing back and forth and back and forth and they never respond or they miss appointments or they don’t give you the information you require and I still in the past have ended up doing the work for them and really regretted it. Because you can say very easily and very quickly now I can see, now that I look back that it was a bad idea. So it’s the same thing with freelancing. I guess you have to be really careful. And just another couple of quick things. While we’re on the topic. We should finish up before we get too long and people get sick of hearing us and want to go for a jog or something. So it’s ok. We’ve applied for some jobs. We’ve put the descriptions out there. Hopefully filter the people. We’ve done a trial. We’ve chosen somebody. For me personally and maybe for other people listening. There are small tasks and you can get those on Fiverr and also on Elance or oDesk. But let’s say we are looking for someone even if it’s only 5 or 10 hours a week, looking for it to be a long term relationship and it’s also something that I need. I’ve got certain tasks I do not really want to be doing anymore. They are taking too much of my time. I want to find someone good to do them. What’s some of your recommendations for keeping those people. Keeping them happy. Keeping the relationship going and so forth to keep everything running smoothly.
Diana: Well the first thing and of course this shouldn’t be done too early you must be sure that this is the person with whom you want to have the relationship in the long term. Once you do that and once you are sure then you should tell that you want to keep them on the team for good. Well not for good but for the long term. As long as you can. Because you might think I like them I want to keep them but the freelancer may or may not know that because unless you tell them you cannot be sure that they know. I have seen it many times, freelancers decline a project and move on to other work simply because they got a better proposition or a project which will require, better workload, larger workload, meaning more money. So or for instance you have certain tasks which are on an ongoing basis. There’s no constant flow of work from you. So the freelancer may take other work and when you need their services they will not be available for the time being. But if you have told them okay, it’s an ongoing project, let’s be on an as needed basis. I will have work now for you and then next month. But I want to give it to you. Ask them , what should I do to make sure you will be available to do that work for me. So then the freelancer will always have in the back of their head that okay I am going to take another project which is large scale. Let’s email Ashley and ask him if he has work for me coming up, if I should block some time on my calendar for him or not. So a little clarification and just putting your cards on the table is the first step to ensure a fruitful long term relationship. Unless you tell them that you want them for the long run they will not know it and they may or may not be available when you need them. Another thing you can do is actually those are two things. One is to regularly reevaluate their work and pay rate. When I say regularly. Of course it depends on the type of project and the work quality. It will be one thing if that person works for you 5 hours per week. It will be different if he or she works for you 20 hours per week. But at least once per year, I think it’s good to reevaluate what this person is doing for you. Whether the scope of activities is growing or not. Whether the quality of the work is changing for the good, for the better or for the worse. Just evaluating what you have been doing, where are you going, are they happy. Asking are you happy? Do you need something? This seems straightforward but you cannot imagine how few clients do that in reality.
Ashley: Yeah I heard something similar again from this Australian guy James Schramko and he talks about for him the way he keeps his employees really happy, he has like 20 in the Philippines right now in his company basically. He said firstly the whole training thing is keeping them constantly motivated. And asking what they need. Asking if they want to change jobs. I mean obviously he has the scope for that. But yeah if you just treat someone like an entity and not as a person I mean everybody wants to grow. I mean everybody wants to learn something new. Not necessarily all the time but you know occasionally wants to do something different and I think if you never ask you never go to that person as another person and say hey how’s it going? Are you happy? Is everything ok? How are things at home? How’s the work going? Do you need more work? Have you got too much work? Is the work boring you? I think everybody likes to be asked that even at a normal job and I rarely get asked that by my pervious bosses. And it’s horrible and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like working for companies anymore because they just didn’t care. I think you have to remember that as a freelancer, they are working for you. They are kind of your employee and you should treat them as a person. He also said one thing he tries to do is actually to call them up on Skype and see them. He said a lot of people never meet their employees and that really makes a huge difference. And he often sends them something at Christmas or whatever just to personalize things a bit more and create a relationship. Not just an entity who is doing a task and gets a piece of money or whatever you want to call it but becomes an actual person and a trusted employee. Yeah and you were also saying and I think it was in one of your posts I was reading recently something also about the reevaluation of the rates but also potentially bonuses if you are really happy with the person.
Diana: Yes. And it pretty much depends on the type of work because in this example with the transcriptions and blog post publishing it doesn’t really relate to the revenue that you have as a blogger or a programmer or whatever you do as a client. If publishing the blog post doesn’t have direct impact. So it will be hard to tie freelancer’s performance with your success. And in that case yes a Christmas bonus for instance would be nice. But what’s more important and often overlooked by clients is that lets say if you’re in marketing and you design some kind of campaign for whether its holidays or not it doesn’t matter there’s a campaign and the goal of this campaign is sales. So after the campaign is over and after you should carefully analyze what were the costs associated with this campaign. How much and which freelancers did what part of this campaign? Which freelancer had the most impact if I may say so. I mean tie the freelancers work directly to your revenue and give them a bonus according. Yeah sure it’s the freelancer’s job to create but he can do it well but he can do it superbly well. So if he did it superbly well, well show your appreciation with the financial bonus.
Ashley: Yeah it’s the only way you can really reward them. You can’t take them to dinner.
Diana: Well if you’re local you can of course. Send them something, but whatever the case it’s totally up to the client how they will show their appreciation. Financial bonuses I have not seen a freelancer to reject that. Or decline a financial bonus.
Ashley: Sure .
Diana: If you don’t have a better idea, I don’t know I have not thought about this. I cannot give you an example of when something else will be better than a financial bonus. Probably there is some kind of a nice surprise. Let’s say send me two tickets to go to Hawaii.
Ashley: Yeah if you know the person really well maybe you can help.
Diana: You can be creative with that. But you cannot go wrong with a financial bonus. What I’m saying is that clients should really show their appreciation and a financial bonus is a way to do that.
Ashley: Okay. Cool. So I think we are coming up to a long time podcast. I’m going to wrap it up and I think we have pretty much covered the whole thing from how to apply, think about what you need , write things down in detail, divide it up into good head line description tasks, filtering, paying bonuses. I think that should be enough to get everyone started and of course people can always come knocking on your door I guess somehow through your blog. What’s the best way to get a hold of you on your blog or social media?
Diana: My website , there is a contact form on the main navigation you will see contact me or there are also direct links to my social media pages on the top site. That is the best way to get in contact with me basically because I am always online. Well yeah. Almost always online and the easiest way to get in touch is through the contact form of my site. Because that way they never go into the spam folder. So I will see it.
Ashley: Yes. That’s www.dianamarinova.com right? Rather than spell it people can go to the show notes which is madelemmings.com/episode17 I believe were on. Or enter the blog and just look under podcasts you’ll also find it.
Diana: I was just going to say that they can just leave a comment on the blog post which you will post. On the podcast, I will keep an eye on that and I will reply to questions there or make a follow up podcast.
Ashley: Yes, sure. Diana is one of my favorite commenters. She asks very interesting and difficult questions. Which are always worthy of discussion and actually most people just don’t write much so whenever I have a chat with you in my comments it is always great fun. Most people don’t go to that level of detail and it’s actually really appreciated. I’m not sure if you know that. Yeah you write some of the best comments I’ve had on my blog.
Diana: Thank you.
Ashley: Be sure to go on the comment section and chat with Diana after the podcast and yeah enjoy the rest of the time in Spain. And you’re going to quickly pop home soon and then also come back and were going to be all over the place. That’s the joys of freelancing and you’re also trying to start a few startups as well and people can have a look at that on your website as well. You talk about your indiegogo campaign and your startups you’re also looking at another one now and doing other things which we won’t talk about … you’re a very busy lady.
Diana: Yes but its good busy.
Ashley: Yes exactly. Well I appreciate your time and I wish you a great day. We won’t hang up after we’ve finished here but we’ll say goodbye to everyone else and yeah wish you a pleasant afternoon.
Diana: Thank you very much for having me Ashley. This was a lot of fun.
Ashley: No worries. It was a pleasure to talk to you. Thanks Diana.
Diana: Thank you.
Diana: Bye everyone.
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Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).