Do you rely on virtual assistants (VA’s) or contractors too much?
I do, or did err…probably still do. I’ll explain.
Hiring Virtual Assistants & Contractors.
I use virtual assistants and short-term contractors for various projects that I don’t have the skill set to complete. I especially lean heavy on these individuals for web design and content generation. I’ve had pretty good success using Odesk.com though I have heard from others that Craigslist.org and Elance.com are good too.
Finding a good contractor (especially one overseas) isn’t an easy task. Very rarely do you hit a home run when hiring your first contractor so it’s sometimes necessary to give small tasks to several and then load up whichever one produces the best work. The one thing I found out real quick when I started hiring contractors is that when you find a good one, you keep them busy. It doesn’t matter if you have work for them or not, you have them do something for you otherwise they’ll start to look for work from other people. These people could eventually pay more, offer better projects or simply keep them too busy to work on any of your next projects.
Why Having One Contractor or VA Can Bite You.
I recently had a fantastic contractor that wrote me top notch content. You could tell in the “voice” of her writing that she was passionate about the topic. We worked together on multiple projects and weekly blog posts for a couple of my websites. I always made an attempt to keep her busy and be very flexible in delivery times. I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t paying her top dollar so I hoped that my flexibility and easy to work with attitude made up for this. She often mentioned that she truly enjoyed writing about the topic and the money was a secondary concern in her mind. I thought all was well… until she quit.
I had hired this particular contractor to write all the content for a new site I was building. It was a flat fee with the idea that she would deliver one or two pages a day and the ultimate flexibility to deliver the final project on her time. Content was coming in day after day and then once every other day and then once a week. Finally nothing. I had stayed in touch without pressuring her too much but did stress some urgency in a future deadline. Once I started putting pressure on her for additional content the reasons and excuses started flowing.
I found out this contractor ended up taking a full time job and simply didn’t have time for my projects anymore. The night of the hard deadline I eventually set for all the content to be delivered I received her resignation. I was left with about 30 out of 50 pages of content written in a “voice” that would be damn near impossible for someone else to pick up and finish with. I now sit with a website that’s incomplete and lost 60 days that she had taken to never finish the task.
Don’t Give The Power To Your Contractors / VA’s.
I’m by no means telling you to avoid contractors but to make sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When my contractor quit on me I was left with several sites that weren’t getting the regular blog posts published and a unfinished site that I have been wanting to get live for months.
The lesson to learn here is to diversify your contractors. If you can, try to have one or two per website instead of one or two total for all your projects. You could potentially run into the scenario I had to deal with and you’ll be panicking to qualify new contractors so that you can avoid down time for your projects.
Status of My Projects & Tips For Hiring Online Contractors.
I am just about caught up on the work the original contractor was unable to deliver. For the website that was only half completed I qualified and hired another contractor that I dare say is providing even better content. Yes i’m paying a little more but it’s well worth it. Sometimes it’s just worth the extra cost.
I also wanted to pass along some tips to anyone who is new to the contracting for help scene:
- Don’t hire anyone overseas for link building. It very rarely works.
- Hiring overseas content providers can work but you’ll want to test their writing skills and make sure their English and grammar is acceptable.
- Also make sure to get previous writing examples. See if they’ll write the first paragraph of any content you want written before you hire them.
- Never hire the cheapest. Everyone makes this mistake at least once. I tried hiring people to write $3 articles. You get what you pay for at this rate. I have had success in getting good content in the $7-$10 range. For $15-$20 you can get pretty well researched or even people who know the industry really well. It’s easy to fix grammatical issues but finding that voice or passion is nearly impossible in a “researched post”.
- Don’t always assume contracts from the United States will cost you more.
- Don’t assume you’ll get great quality just because someone is from the U.S. Always do your research.
- I almost always hire my web developers & graphic designers from the Philippines. I only had one project not turn out.
- Be VERY SPECIFIC as to what you want and provide examples when possible. Never make any assumptions – especially with web development. I recently paid a premium because Internet Explorer compatibility was an assumption I made. The contractor was not happy as he felt he did more than what the contract entailed.