Along this SEO journey you might find the need to outsource certain tasks or even hire a virtual assistant. After personally outsourcing a range of SEO related work over the years I’m going to share my process so you can do likewise. Before we get started though, you need to do a through analysis of the tasks that need to be outsourced and have a clear idea of exactly what you need before moving forward.
You might have some tasks that you need help with but aren’t quite ready to outsource yet. Let’s figure it out by asking these two questions:
The Crucial Outsourcing Questions
Are you certain there is no way to automate the job?
Challenge your mind, damn near anything can be automated. Before you jump to the outsourcing route be 100% sure that you can’t automate this task using something like ubot studio or winautomation. If you’re not advanced enough to create something like that then maybe you should be focused on outsourcing the creation of a bot, not hiring someone. This could be the most valuable takeaway from this entire guide.
Is the job easily replicable and ongoing?
You might have a bunch of SEO work going on right now but do you have a replicable process that will require maintaining an employee? It might sound like business 101 but you need a clear plan for what this assistant is going to execute and actually fill up 20+ hours per week.
Still good? Alright well let’s continue then, there are a few big freelancing networks to choose from which I’ve used:
I’ve used Elance for the most part, seemed to run into more spam on odesk. Easy enough to use, only takes a few minutes to get in there and setup a profile.
The Job Listing
Now let’s make our first job listing, simple enough but there are some crucial components to include.
For one, since we’re SEOs let’s make sure we give it a good title that will help the visibility within Elance search for our potential candidates searching for a job.
Bad: Looking for VA to Help Me Spam Links
Good: Hiring Virtual Assistant for WordPress and SEO Work
Get the picture? Make a good title so people will find it, same with the actual job description.
Now the actual job, the key is to do a small test job first. So your job listing is for hiring a virtual assistant but you can make the amount of hours fixed as a trial period of sorts and tell them that in the description.
Then to increase your odds of landing a keeper hire more than one applicant and throw the same job at each of them. This is what I’ve done every single time to find someone good, I hire 2 to 3 people and start working with them, the strongest performer will be revealed very quickly.
My next tip will help you further filter out the shitty job applicants, include something at then end of your description that says:
In your application please explain why you’re a good fit for this specific job, we won’t accept cookie cutter applications.
This way you can avoid most of the assholes who just mass apply for jobs with some cookie cutter bullshit and don’t actually read your description.
Now that you have a good job listing put together the final element is choosing a good geographic area to target. Now this depends on the specific job you’re trying to accomplish but generally for SEO related stuff the Philippines is great. Surely you’ve heard SEOs says this before but why?
Well there are several reasons, the first is the wage is incredibly low there compared to what we make in the U.S. It’s crazy, like doctors make a couple hundred bucks a month, seriously no bullshit. They also have a very high English literacy rate which is also a big plus.
Now depending on what your job is, you’re going to want to do your research to find which areas are the best fit. For dirt cheap SEO work, it doesn’t get much better than the Philippines. You’ve got India but my experience has never been good there with virtual assistants. I’ve still outsourced plenty of tasks there, for example I recently hired an Indian shop that helps me edit a bunch of WordPress themes and they did an awesome job.
What about content writing?
Not something I outsource like this, finding good writers is a pain in the ass and managing them is just as bad. Writers get lazy, content quality slides, and you’re wondering why you ever hassled with it in the first place. If you’re scaling unique content then I’d work with one of those mills or services, quality will be about the same without the management nightmare. Don’t be thinking you’re going to find the next Hemingway in the Philippines for $100 a week, let’s be realistic here.
-Use a small test job
-Make them reference something from the job description content
-Target the right geographic area
Training, Management, and Productivity
After you select some candidates the work doesn’t stop there of course, now you’re going to need to get them going on the test job. There are a couple tools that will help you create some training materials. The first clutch mention goes to Jing the screen capture tool. This is huge for taking on the spot screenshots with arrows and boxes, you can’t be busting out paint 20 times a day folks. For longer videos I use Camtasia which gets the job done and is fairly easy to use. Those tools for video then I use Microsoft word to create PDFs.
The beauty of the training you’re creating is you’ll just dump it on each candidate and see how they handle it. This will reveal damn near everything and you’ll know who’s your winner. Be sure you have all this training ready beforehand especially the actual training for the job. I know you want to dive in and start hiring people today but get your ducks in a row first.
Communication is HUGE!
Now the glue that is going to hold all this together is good communication. If your VA doesn’t ask questions then they are going to screw things up which could have easily been avoided.
Some ways to foster good communication:
-Stress the importance of communication and how you’ll always be available to them for questions.
-Don’t be a dick, seriously. Especially in the Philippines you can’t be too aggressive with people, it’s a different culture so act accordingly.
-Create a daily communication requirement recapping work either through Evernote or email.
Dropbox is also huge for running something like this, you can have instructions ready for your VA at a specific time and have them return the completed work in the same folder. This has always been one of my primary tools, the key again is communication so they know how everything should be organized and what will be ready at what times.
You’ll be making lots of corrections in the beginning so you need to have patience to get the results you’re after. Many times I’ve gotten to the point of frustration with training someone where I wanted to punch the screen and tell them to fuck off, seriously. But I pushed through and wound up getting the gem of a VA I needed.
Surely I’m leaving some things out but these are my golden nuggets for hiring a beast. My biggest piece of advice for someone reading this is to make sure you work through those crucial outsourcing questions before moving forward. Hiring a virtual assistant is no magic solution and can open an entire new can of worms and headaches under the wrong circumstances. But they can also enable you to massively scale at a low cost if you’re utilizing them correctly. Analyze every aspect of what you’re doing, isolate the bottlenecks, automate first, outsource second.
Now that I’ve gone through my process I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment with your experience working with VAs and outsourcing SEO tasks. Have a horror story? A life saving tip? I want to hear about it.