You need a damn good VA. You need a person who is more organized than you, learns quickly, follows instructions to a tee, and cares about your business as much as you do. This post will show you how to find and train that person – a process that I have refined over 4 years and nearly 100 outsourced employees.
In my business, this VA or “site manager”, handles every aspect of the development of my sites. She does keyword research, launches domains, and sends out the content of 5 new sites each day to writers/writing services, while also organizing all the existing sites in her portfolio. This could include linkbuilding, doing rank checks, adding adsense and adding additional content to sites that are ranking. The only thing she does not do is actually buy the domain.
Where to start your search for the damn good VA
I hired my first people on bestjobs.ph almost 4 years ago. I followed Jon Jonas‘ advice, which at the time was a great resource. I’m not saying it isn’t anymore – but my outsourcing staff outgrew Jon’s in about 6 month’s time so I cancelled my subscription.
A couple years ago bestjobs.ph closed their doors to international employers. I’m not sure if that’s still the case as I have only hired based on referrals since then. At the time you could still search the resumes but you couldn’t contact them unless you had an address in the Philippines. If you already have an employee in the Philippines they likely won’t mind using their address. And if you don’t, you still have their full name and with Google and Facebook it’s not that hard to figure out how to contact them…
Note: I’d appreciate someone who knows, or looks into this to comment on the current status of bestjobs.ph, whether they are open to international employers contacting their members or not, and their cost. I’ll update this post and give that person credit if they do.
With Bestjobs closing it’s doors, Jon Jonas saw the opportunity and created his own outsourcing jobs site, onlinejobs.ph. I used this a couple years ago and it was decent. Whatever you use to find an employee, the key is to get one gem of a person, and use referrals to expand from there. Some tips on filtering your search:
Hire in Manila or the surrounding burbs. It will be more expensive, but you won’t have nearly as many infrastructure problems, you’ll get much better English, and better schooling (which, unlike the US, actually seems to make a difference). Davao is also not bad and cheaper – but you will have more infrastructure problems.
Pay well. Don’t be an asshole, pay well and you will be rewarded with loyalty (and not have someone working 3 jobs on you). Offer vacation pay, paid holidays, and a 13th month bonus. This will show people that you’re serious. I offer my Site Managers 20k pesos/mo, but start with a trial task and then a trial month before that. This is all explained to them up-front. I know people who pay 6k/mo and expect their employees only to be able to do menial labor, and to do it at 1/10 the speed of a normal human. Hmmm… maybe they’d work faster and smarter if you paid them enough to live on and not forced them to work 3 jobs?
Ask them to Work Nights. This one is a topic of hot debate, but I prefer my Site Managers to work at the same time I do. It’s just so much easier for training over Skype, and it means they can come to you with questions immediately. Note that my writers work whatever hours they want, and get paid much less.
Filter #1 – Their resume and a sample of their writing. Thie sample article that you request from them should read as though it were written by a North American. It should be well researched, creative, with good use of rhythm. If it isn’t say goodbye and move on.
Filter #2 – Use a time-sensitive, decent-sized trial task. I start with a collection of 9 articles to be completed within 3 days. For 3 of these articles I ask the writer to go to a website on a given search term that might link to an example site, find the email address or form of the website in question, and ask the webmaster for a link on the website (don’t actually send the email). I ask them to be creative and attentive. Half the time people will not get it done in time, this calls for immediate disqualification. I pay them 1000PHP immediately upon completion of the trial task.
Demand Perfect fluency. TheVA has to write perfectly, no mistakes. The articles have to be creative and well-researched, no bullshit. The emails should be well written, should have researched the target site well and mentioned the content in them. They should also describe the example linkee site well in the email. If they’re smart they will have emailed sites that are content sites (and not stores), and maybe they even did a whois to find the webmaster’s email address. Be astounded by their ability, or at a minimum pleasantly surprised here, don’t be happy with passable content. You want a gem, always keep this in mind.
Filter #3 – Have a phone interview. Once they’ve passed the trial task and you’re pleased and you’ve paid them, schedule a phone interview. The VA should be comfortable on the phone. If they avoid it, that is grounds for immediate disqualification. It does not matter if they have an accent, they won’t be customer service reps – what matters is that they are comfortable, you can understand eachother, and ideally they speak colloquially.
Filter #4 – Start with a Trial Month. At this point, out of 20-30 potential candidates that sent in their initial resumes, you will be left with 3-5 people. Hire them all for a trial month. For this month, you can pay something like 13.5k PHP. Have them do keyword research, launching of sites, and writing articles including link building through your expired domains. Send them all out the same manuals, and spend the same amount of time with each person, giving them each 15 sites a week to go through. At the end of the trial month, hire the best person. If it’s a tie you could hire both and just transition one into a full-time writer if you don’t have the work for both of them. If you really don’t want to let one go, send a colleague an email and let them know you have a gem that you don’t want to fire. If you don’t have a colleague, send me an email and I will hire them or post their resume here for readers :)
You absolutely need a VA that can handle every aspect of your business. This combined with some part-time writers, is ALL you need to pump out 100 sites per month. At the moment my micro niche business has a total of 6 full-time employees – 2 Site Managers setting up sites, 1 SEO finding and setting up expired domains, and 2 full-time writers that write articles for link building. The rest are PT writers I pay per article, they publish about the same amount as my 2 full-time writers. I spend about 2 hours a day on this business, and am able to pump out up to 300 sites a month.
Following these steps, you CAN find this VA in 1 month’s time, and have that person trained to do everything you are doing within another month. This will save you a lot of time… time that you can now use on scaling your business, or finding expired domains. So go out and do it!