Ata certain point in your life as an internet marketer, you’ll have to hire your first employee. Unfortunately, this is a significant expense, and the way in which you do it can either make or break your business.
One way to minimize risk and maximize reward is by steering away from your local market and instead hiring a virtual assistant in a foreign country. Virtual assistants can be excellent additions to a growing business, and they can help you scale very quickly for one half to one third of the price you’d be paying local.
But in 2020, it’s easy to be misled while hiring a VA. Most people end up paying way more money than they need because they turn to one-stop-shop VA agencies to take care of the fulfillment for them.
Don’t do that. Instead, take just five minutes to read this article and learn how to hire a VA effectively. I’ll give you the secret sauce — a simple, five-step guide to hiring the best VA for your internet marketing business in 2020.
Step 1: Use Simple Platforms That Don’t Suck
New VA-hiring platforms are released each day. Most of them suck.
I’ve found two in particular to be decent: OnlineJobs (cheap) and UpWork (a little more expensive).
But to be honest, most of the time I just use Craigslist or Facebook groups. People will groan at the mention of Craigslist, but it’s a powerful tool if used correctly — you just need to learn how to filter. I like Facebook because it allows me to see a picture of the person I’m considering, and a picture is always worth a thousand words.
Step 2: Write a Solid Job Posting, With a Twist
When creating a job listing, most people simply copy and paste from a pool of local posts.
Don’t. You’ll get crappy, unqualified candidates that waste your time.
Because you’re working with people in different countries, and those people have different skills, expectations, and cultural backgrounds, your VA listing needs to be a little different than a run-of-the-mill local job post. You need to include several things that you might’ve never considered before.
In order, the things I always include are:
- Include an Internet speed requirement. I always shoot for 25Mbps or higher. Nothing is worse than being unable to communicate with an employee because of their shoddy connection.
- Include a computer memory requirement. I specify 4GB RAM minimum, since the work I ask my VAs to do is usually not too computationally heavy. If your work is, ask for more.
- Make sure your VAs have a decent webcam, a good microphone, and a quiet space to work.
- Ask for a voice recording alongside a resume & CV. Good English skills are critical to internet marketing success. But don’t just put this anywhere — specifically place this sentence in the middle of a large paragraph in the middle of your job posting. This will filter out any applicants that can’t read instructions.
Step 3: Interview Your Candidates
After a few days, you’ll have collected a substantial number of inquiries. If done right, you’ll have between 50–100. Remove anyone who hasn’t supplied a voice recording from consideration.
Of the remaining candidates, narrow down the list to only those who fulfill 80% of the rest of your requirements. Know that you can’t aim for perfection right off the bat — it’s simply unrealistic. You have to work with what you have.
Get your pool of 5–10 candidates and schedule video interviews over Skype or Facebook Messenger.
Ask them five to ten standard interview questions, and pay close attention to their English skills. They will be nervous, and many of their answers will probably seem somewhat weird or illogical at the time. That is fine — instead, look for passion and an honest willingness to improve their skillset.
Step 4: Hire Three VAs For a Trial Project
Of your interviewees, pick the top three. You’ll be hiring all of them for one or two short projects.
“But doesn’t that mean I have to pay more money?!” you’re probably thinking.
Yes. You would much rather spend an extra $50 now than spend another two weeks looking for an additional candidate.
Make the project take three to four hours to do. Tell them they have one day to do it, and let them know you’ll pay each of them whatever your hourly rate is for one full day. Make sure they know this is a trial project to determine whether they’re the right fit. Then pay them in advance, not afterwards — they’ll genuinely work harder and faster to prove themselves to you.
Step 5: Choose the Best Candidate
Once you receive your projects, put all three side-by-side and look for obvious differences in quality. They won’t be perfect, and spelling/grammar will likely be lacking. But that’s fine — this is the first piece of work they’ve ever done for you, and it’s as bad as it will ever be. Remember that.
Pick the best candidate and begin working with them. Congratulations, you’ve now hired yourself a virtual assistant for internet marketing!
Hiring a VA can be challenging for multiple reasons. Language barriers, timezone differences, misaligned expectations — any one of these can quite quickly ruin an otherwise strong working relationship with a VA. You need to be firm and specific with what you’re looking for, and never settle for less.
Don’t be afraid to spend a little more money up-front to find the right fit. I can’t tell you how many weeks I wasted going back and forth with one or two candidates, when what I really should have done is hired five at the same time and filtered from there. But live and learn.
Because when you find the right virtual assistant, it all becomes worth it. Your VA will return time to your day that you didn’t even know you missed. They’ll work diligently on your behalf, and oftentimes will go above and beyond the call of duty to provide value to you and your clients.
And they’ll do it all for significantly less money than you’d pay if you hired local. Scale faster, take on more business, and go places you only dreamed of by learning to hire a virtual assistant in 2020!