How to Leverage $3/Hr Filipino Workers for Your Blog – Tom Drake

tom drake hiring filipino workers and VAs

If you’re anything like me–the thought of leveraging your time by hiring people seems INCREDIBLE.

Also–terrifying.

My blog income isn’t $100k/month. It’s not predictable.

Finding awesome employees who won’t break my budget seems like–more work. What if they don’t work out? What tasks am I going to assign them, anyway?

I need a VA to help me hire a VA

The idea of outsourcing tasks to Filipino workers seems thrilling.

Due to the differences in cost of living and culture, it’s not unreasonable to hire a FULL-TIME employee for a few hundred bucks a month (today’s guest, Tom Drake from Maple Money, pays his Filipino blog manager roughly $3/hour.)

But where does one…

  • Find great workers?
  • Figure out what to assign them?
  • Figure out what to PAY them?
  • Navigate the whole process?

Tom is here to walk us through his experiences doing all those 🙂

Listen to my episode with Tom Drake from Maple Money

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The transcript is below in full–but here are my personal takeaways and notes from the call:

👍

First, here are some common platforms for FINDING Filipino Workers:

Freeeup.

I haven’t used these folks yet, but when you signup for a free account, chances are high you’ll literally get a text/email from the CEO.

That’s pretty neat. Their support seems to be really great so far, even before hiring somebody.

Onlinejobs.ph

This style of hiring suits me better, personally.

  • It’s 100% free to post jobs and look at workers.
  • You pay for a month (or two) when you’re ready to double-down and hire somebody.

I like that. This platform is specifically for VAs in the Philippines though!

Pre-hiring: Make a gameplan!

Before you start emailing or Skyping workers, or even creating job postings…it is VITAL you make a plan!

  1. What’s my budget?
  2. Can I satisfy 40+ hours a week of work?
  3. WHAT IS THAT WORK? What tasks, specifically?
  4. What questions will I ask to screen people?

The more clear you can get about what you’re looking for, the better.

That’ll help you create better job postings, receive better candidates, hire the best fits, and likely increase the chance that you’re VA will be effective.

A time audit is a great place to start. Try to figure out WHERE you’re currently spending/wasting time, as well as what you do not enjoy doing.

(Side Note: I JUST received my fancy Timeular time tracker to start doing this more! I AM SO EXCITED and have completed nerded out with this).

My Time Tracker!

Get organized and get specific.

Once you’ve got a general sense of the tasks you’re hiring for, it’s important to communicate that clearly to candidates!

  1. The job posting
  2. Initial email communications
  3. Interviews

Be as specific as possible with what you’re looking for!

  • The hours you expect
  • The tasks
  • Software tools they’ll be using
  • Communication methods
  • Paid leave or other benefits you’ll give them
  • etc

Spend a bit of time upfront organizing and getting clear–and it’ll pay off in the long run.

Hiring Tip: Hire for English and have test projects ready.

Most Filipinos won’t probably feel comfortable Skyping right off the bat (I heard this from Nick Loper’s episode on hiring Filipino VAs), but you’ll want to make sure their written English is on point!

And this is NOT just so you can communicate better–this is a larger sign that they’re fully committed to remote work, and have taken the time to LEARN.

Written English is really bad? No hire.

Create some “test” or “sample” projects.

For the 5-10% of candidates that make it through the initial screening stage, be ready to hand them a test project to complete first.

Definitely make it something you’re hiring them for anyways–and note their response time! The quicker the better. The more communication the better.

👍

Here’s the full transcript from this episode!

Pete McPherson 4:03
Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom 4:04
Thanks for having me on.

Pete McPherson 4:05
It’s an absolute pleasure of course, Maple Money, MapleMoney.com is where folks can find you, of course. And I have some I have a bunch of questions for you, Tom. In fact, actually, now that I think about it, this is easily the most questions I’ve written down for any podcast guests usually have like some bullet points, but I have I’m trying to count at least like nine questions, like literally bullet point nine questions for your job. So this would be really fun.

Before we get to all those questions, most of which kind of sit around this idea of hiring VAs specifically, like overseas VAs, before we get to that I do kind of want to just like jump into your backstory and learn a little bit more about you and the blog, which you’ve been doing for apparently over a decade. I hear. Yeah, actually confirm this for us, Tom. You’re in Canada. Does Canadian money actually smell like maple syrup?

Tom 5:01
I’ve never taken a good enough to know for sure. But it is drives me a little crazy because I rebranded to make more money about two years ago now. And I’ll get these mixed search results when I google myself, where I get all these things about Maple smelling money kind of thing. And yeah, it’s driving me a little crazy, but I can’t say I’ve actually smelt it closely enough to know. But ultimately, I gotta think, no, I can’t see them going out of their way to do that.

Pete McPherson 5:32
Well, actually, I thought that’s where your name came from. I thought that’s why you said a good it looks good, by the way. But I specifically thought you were kind of utilizing that in your brand name. So apparently, that’s not the case.

Tom 5:44
No, I didn’t think of that at all. So go way back to the beginning. For for most of the time, I was Canadian finance blog. It, it made sense back in 2009 it then I hit a point where I didn’t like the word blog. I thought blog was going to become a little outdated sounding Sorry, I know it’s in your name too but

Pete McPherson 6:08
I’ve already feel that too so Yeah, go ahead.

Tom 6:10
Okay. So as a little concerned about blogging and the name and then Canadian finance blog was just a little generic anyway it’s certainly got the point across but so when I was kind of brainstorming how to rebrand I wanted to replace Canadian and finance so I thought going with maple and money was a cute way to kind of replace that name and still sort of mean the same thing. But but much better branding and just just a nice a real brand that like it feels like something I can kind of do anything with. I could go beyond just blogging and I have I purposely waited on the podcast because I have Maple money show I didn’t want to have Canadian finance podcast and just get get further into that.

So I literally I delayed having a pocket by good year, just because I wanted to wait till I had a better name.

Pete McPherson 7:04
Okay, that makes total sense. I’m glad you sort that out for us. All those actually kind of hoping for a yes. I’m hoping that I could get my hands on some Canadian dollars and like, smell them anyways, neither here nor there, Tom.

So we will get to the Filipino VA stuff. But I think in order to properly set that up, I have a few like pre qualifying questions about the blog and podcast.

So when did you discover that you needed help?

And by help I mean like leverage in terms of like a higher part time full time virtual assistant anything like at one point, there’s like strike your brain is like, Oh, I need some help with this.

Tom 7:44
Well, there’s there’s different levels to that, that. So starting 2009 it was probably about 2010 or 11. Whereas I realized I needed some form of help and that came in, in staff writers at the time is probably what most bloggers hire first is a lot more content, I’m going to hire a staff writer.

So I had quite a few staff writers 2010 to 2012. But then, I was actually listening to Derek Halpern and at FinCon, and he was talking about how you should spend more time promoting content, then producing it. And somewhere in my head, I, I sort of recalculated that to mean I should get rid of all my staff writers and start just focusing on my content and promoting that just just the idea that I didn’t need to do five posts a week anymore. It was basically what I took from that.

So in 2012, I kind of went down to one or two posts a week and and focusing more energy on on actually promoting that content. So that was sort of my first real, needing help now know, sort of, as we know, there’s there’s all sorts of behind the scenes, blog tasks and stuff. It was probably 2000, If I get this right 2017 maybe 2016 when I first really wanted to try to get someone to help me out with sort of doing the the publishing part, taking a post from Google Drive and putting it into WordPress and and adding an image to it and maybe a little bit of social media, at least the promotion stuff, not nothing overboard, like not not pretending to be me or something, but just just promoting the latest blog posts.

So a couple times I hired someone to different people, but I hired Canadian vas for five hours a week.

And both times I failed miserably.

I found, I think it was on on me, I think it was just sort of a lack of organization that that caused this problem, where it’s like I hired them, but I didn’t quite have it clear what I wanted them to do.

Pete McPherson 9:56
That big. Hang on one second. Pause, push, push up a sticker here. Let’s go back for just a second.

I have one more question about your staff writer experience. Yes. Actually, I have two questions now that I think about it.

One, fast forward to today. 2019. Do you still have any staff writers or you only producing your own content?

Tom 10:15
Great question. I don’t have them right now. I’m looking to add them. Now, to fast forward to today. Everything we’ll talk about in between is has got me so much more organized. And now I’ve offloaded some stuff. So now I’m to the point where I’m like, Well, on top of my posts, I could add extra writers were where I’m able to assign them actual things and they’re not just writing about whatever they want to write about kind of thing.

So the the organization that we’ll get to is actually led to, I’m looking to hire probably two staff writers to fill in the the Tuesday Thursday and give me a full five weeks again, but but now it’s going to be five weeks of really targeted stuff, things that will do well in SEO, things that will do well on social like the podcast does. So it’ll be a lot more purposeful than it was in the past.

Pete McPherson 11:07
Okay, anybody five weeks just to clarify you mean five days a week?

Tom 11:10
Oh, sorry. Yes. But five days in a week very now I do. I do a new post on Monday, roughly. It’s a new post on Monday, a repurpose post on on Friday. Were the contents been updated in some way? Sometimes a massive recall. Sometimes it’s just a couple new paragraphs on a on a on a software that’s added something new or whatever. And then the podcast on Wednesday.

Pete McPherson 11:35
Okay, I like that. Okay, that actually, I was super curious. I was like, wait a minute. Did you ever use like double dip come back to this and Okay, I like that.

Tom 11:44
Just about you. I haven’t yet. I didn’t go a long time just doing the it before the podcast is basically doing one post a week for probably a couple years and a lot of that was was repurposing that content, sort of improving it and republishing. So there was a times were like in a month I wasn’t even writing new piece of content. I was I was just improving everything.

Pete McPherson 12:06
I actually think this is like a huge event for anybody listening to this and I’ve said this before, a dozen times.

That repurposing, refurbish, refurbishing, revamping republishing all that old content, all the worries, it’s actually incredible valuable for a few different reasons. One, it’s generally thought of to be good SEO practice, just kind of keeping all the content fresh and updated or whatnot to it takes way less time than a brand new blog post, usually, most times, way less time and it continues to help out your audience like I know Robert from the College Investor. He and his team do this I believe under his publishing schedule, but it was something like if it’s five times a week, it’s like three new posts and to repurpose the posts or something like that. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but I’ve heard from a lot of people they are starting to do if not already. What you’re doing so.

Tom 13:01
yeah, Robert Farrington is a perfect example. I think we both go back to like 2012. With that, where, where we were kind of chatting and, and just this idea that that Yeah, let’s let’s start reusing content, we both go back to 2009. And like so many bloggers, you start off and you’re writing, especially back then maybe less now you’re writing like 300 words of kind of shallow content and so that that idea can be a 1500 word deep post, by by going back to it.

Pete McPherson 13:33
I’m totally with you. Okay, so let’s talk about organization for just a second.

I actually had this down as one of my questions on this process of hiring a VA but you actually kind of brought it up. You don’t let me put words in your mouth. But you said you probably are way more organized now about your content production systems, or I’m assuming that the admin stuff as well.

Is there anything that sticks out in your head as incredibly helpful like a light bulb moment anytime over the past like several years, that helped you get like way more organized. And to give you a second to think about that, mainly what I’m looking for is a lot of times when people think about making their first hire, whether that’s a $7 an hour, Filipino VA or jumping right into like full time work, a lot of times I hear this again and again, again, I wasn’t organized enough. It’s not necessarily that I made a bad hire. It’s just that I was organized. I wasn’t specific enough x, y, z, you know what I mean?

So if you could, if anything stands out at all the over the past few years like what helped you get to that organized point set Make sense?

Tom 14:47
Yeah, for sure. I was I was trying everything. My email is just a dumpster fire still is that that will have to get to at some point.

But I tried to Asana tried Trello now I am back with the Asana but we’ll get to that. Okay, so I was trying these things I was kind of a little bit lost.

So one thing I did, and it’s not really an option for a new blogger, but I hired project manager, Lori Mercer she’s she sort of hangs out in the digital collab success incubator circles. She, I hired her for three months. And basically what we did was we we went through and got it got sort of the standard operating practices where where it’s like, tell me what you do, let’s let’s document everything. So we have standard operating practices for how a blog post gets set up in WordPress. There’s writing guides on on sort of we want h2 is here and then h3 is below and all that kind of stuff. How long the paragraph should be, we’ve got everything documented.

That that was a big step. And then The other half of that to go with those standard operating practices, and those are literally just documents in Google Drive.

Pete McPherson 16:05
Okay, I was gonna ask that.

Tom 16:06
Yeah, the other half to go go with that is is Asana. And so now we have tasks set up around every blog posts, there’s every blog post becomes a task and then the sub tasks of researching, writing, setting it up getting images, all that and then those tasks and Asana include a link back to the standard operating practices. So there’s always a chance to, to an easy way to link back to that and and see if you’ve ever got a question as a employee kind of thing you can you can see what the goal is there.

And if something’s not answered by the standard operating practice, then it becomes well bring it to my attention let’s let’s see what we can add there because we want that to be the the complete thing where where someone could kind of dive in and, and and go with it. Like if something ever happened to my employees. The Hacker gets someone else and it shouldn’t be as brutal of a startup.

Pete McPherson 17:04
I think that’s huge for one thing, and you said the, I mean, I’m sure you go back and change it up. But the initial project of creating project management, when you hired this person, you said it took roughly three months with her help. Is that right?

Tom 17:21
Yeah. So she did a few things in that three months, that there was setting this base up, which was probably the first half. The second half she did was was helped me with with the hiring process. So we went through and sort of detailed Well, again, it’s like, tell me what you need, and then we’ll get that written down as well. And that what was written down became sort of the job posting and, and little tricks that we can get into about about sort of how to find the right people in a huge haystack full of employees that’ll, that’ll come to you when you post an ad.

Pete McPherson 17:58
Well, let’s jump into that. First of all, let’s make that the the jumping off point. You just let me know if you want to be more specific to hiring a VA in the Philippines, which, by the way context, I just finished listening yesterday to Nick Lopers, I don’t think it’s his most recent show, but the recent show, Nick Loper did for the side hustle show on hiring a Filipino VA. He literally talked to the founder of I think it’s a Freeeup, with three E’s in there.

And onlinejobs.ph.

She had the two founders on the podcast, and this is all they talked about. So there’s actually like, incredibly fresh in my mind is something I’ve been thinking about for years. I’ve never actually taken the dive and made it happen, which I have so many questions for a time.

But let’s let’s actually start with that after the job posting. You’re going to get people reach up or want to apply. I love to hear just a breakdown of that process of how to sort of through that. And we’ll come back to the very first step a little bit later, maybe knowing exactly what you need help with. I actually think that’s a longer discussion, we can actually talk about that first, I guess. But, you know, I could just take this opportunity to confuse everybody listening. And we’ll start with the, the sorting through people trying to find the person that’s going to “work” so walk us through like a step by step if you can.

Tom 19:29
so that there’s a few tricks and I think this was huge for me, and maybe where where I’ve gone wrong in the past was, is just simply a new job posting asked for certain things. And when those get ignored, you ignore them. If I think of the examples, but like we’d say, certainly send your resume but also send three past examples of work you’ve done in this in this job. Send A very quick sample task, it was it was, it was something like, create a create a quick little image was one when we were looking for a graphic designer.

And by asking for these things, you’ll filter out at least half the people.

Because there’s people I don’t know if they’re, if they’re using bots to do this, or they’re just not paying attention either way, you’re not interested in them, but they’ll just send like, here’s my resume. And like nothing else written in the, in the reply or anything. And so, ability to filter through that just becomes so fast.

And it’s just so simple. Like if they’re not giving you what you’re asking for now. They’re going to be someone that you have to follow up with way too much in the future to like, I’m, I’m very happy with the VA I have because she’s, she’s very great at understanding what I want. Like if I asked her something, most of the time she’s gonna get it right. If she doesn’t all sort of fine tune that. I’ll just point out like the one little thing She’s pretty good.

From there, it’s very rare I’d ever have to point something out a third time kind of thing. Which is exactly what I know I needed. Aaron chase once told me, which basically led to me getting rid of one of the VA. So at 1.1 of the Canadian ones, she told me, I need a babysitter, I don’t need to babysit someone else. And that was that was pretty huge for me, because it became, in the past, it was almost like I was spending way too much time, making sure that they were able to do their work. And now it’s some days I don’t need to contact this person at all, because they can just go to town and do what they know they need to do.

Pete McPherson 21:16
I like that. So you What do you assign your current VA, if you could just walk us through some of the tasks that you’re currently like offloading and that this this person does? I’m always curious.

Tom 21:50
So this this is something that that I kind of came up with that I think worked really well so we have the obvious things were And I call them priority tasks where if there’s a new blog post new podcast anything like that like part of the regular publishing schedule, that’s the priority so it’s it’s take it from Google Drive put it into WordPress, make sure it’s formatted properly with the h2 is with the right title case that we use, both on the title and the subtitles, add three internal links to other posts, she does that. Pick the category right the meta description, right three different tweets.

So those are pre written sitting sitting in Google Drive, three different tweets plus the Facebook, which is like four or five words just a nice short little Facebook piece and, and a LinkedIn sentence. So all this social is pre written based on the post. And I should point out with with this VA, Yes, she’s from the Philippines.

I hired English first.

It was less about like, do you know how to use a sauna or something like that? It was was looking at the the written work and how good is her English both both in provided work and just in the initial emails, we want someone that’s great English I, I wouldn’t have her become a staff writer and write a blog post. But for meta descriptions and tweets, it’s pretty simple to get that many characters that kind of thing and, and and again, it’s all sort of part of our standard operating procedures where even a meta description is roughly two thirds description and one third call to action. So so that when people see that in Google they’ll they’ll want to click through so so everything’s very template but but setting up a blog post or podcast is is definitely a priority task.

Where where I think and that’s all an Asana so she’s doing her tasks, but I think we’re things got much easier for me is having the secondary tasks or sorry, I should hop back. One other thing we consider priority is just there’s some daily tasks, doing some Facebook group moderation like checking the new members making sure they’re decent quality and copying their answers into a Google Doc. We do that just to keep the answers because we’re asking for their email if they want to provide it. We’re asking what their biggest money issue is. So there’s some possible post generation ideas there.

So she copies all that from Facebook and approves them or denies them. She wants a week show welcome all the members using a template and welcome.

So there’s a lot of social tasks that are also sort of priority in that it’s a sauna and she’s doing them when she’s supposed to do them.

To get to the secondary items, though, this is where I no longer have to tell her what to do every day. Because when she’s done priority stuff, or if there’s no priority stuff that day, she she goes to the secondary tasks so I have what I call a content database. I exported every single post out of WordPress. I exported some some stats out of Ahrefs and export it, or not experts sorry, but there’s some manual columns after that, partially me doing content audit, which is a constant job for me. And then there’s tasks for her like the writing the the three tweets, the Facebook and the LinkedIn.

She does that for all past articles or is working on that. So it’s this something where, okay, and she’s making sure images are added to past articles. So she’s constantly improving the past content. And that’s sort of one of her biggest things. And then there’s there’s things like making sure the Pinterest tailwind queue is full. What else has she been doing something else and not thinking of, but it’s this idea that like when she’s not doing the priority stuff, there’s always something for her to do.

There’s there’s no shortage.

Pete McPherson 25:46
I love that. I want to hint at one thing you just said about language in English. And then I actually want to come back to the structure that you initially requested, like when you were hiring somebody how many hours Week, what pay range? Are we looking at? Like, I want to ask about that we’ll come back to that.

But this is actually probably like the one thing from Nick Loper his podcast with the the guys from free up and onlinejobs.ph. That’s the one thing that they really really harped on and agreed on. And it was English can be just like a huge shining beacon of someone who’s awesome if they just have good English, not necessarily that you’re going to have them write a blog post, but it just shows that they took the time to learn it, the care to learn it or that they’re smart enough to have already learned the language and enough grammar to get by and enough spelling to get by.

They actually took that as like a really great sign. Like you said, like they looked at that first, that and timeliness and responses they specifically asked for, you know, send us three examples of your works and this, this and this that and that Very first interaction they said is just like a huge, what’s the word I’m looking for here…sign, they got a huge sign of whether the person is going to be timely or not one case, they said they’ve they’ve hired like thousands of these people by the way. And a lot of times, they’ll be like, three days will go by before we hear anything. Or in one case, like three weeks will go by even though I know this person is really smart. They came recommended to me by another like rock star person that we have on our team. Like this person was highly recommended. We reached out we asked him for stuff. It took him three weeks to get back.

And we were like, No, no, thank you. Like what are the chances of you doing that sort of stuff once you’re hired as well?

So English, exactly and timeliness were like their two big things that they handed out on that podcast. I thought that was interesting.

Tom 27:48
Yeah, I found that exactly. Like there’s that there’s that saying hire slow fire fast. We kind of did hire fast and if we had to fire fast because because of that timeliness. Yeah. Like if if we’re We’re asking, we put up an ad, you get 100 people reply. And, and they’re all within a couple days as it is anyways. I think probably the newest ad probably just shows towards the top right but and then we asked for something else we’re asking for one further task and and yeah, the the ones that reply within within a day or two kind of thing are the ones we want and someone that reply at all maybe they found some other job or whatever, that’s fine but it it becomes very, very obvious.

So yeah, timeliness and English and certainly the just the fact that they’re Replying to Your request fully is sort of that attention to detail I I’d say is sort of just as important.

Pete McPherson 28:41
Okay, I love it. So let’s go back to the the actually what site did you use? That’s the first thing what platforms have you used so far?

Tom 28:49
So for this, I used online.jobs.ph. and and it was great. I’ve also tried to Freeeup I didn’t like free up for me because I really wanted to hire someone directly and Freeeup’s a bit more like, like up work? Well, maybe I think you can still get them directly but it’s just a little. It’s a little more contained. It’s like good. They they send you three people say I think it is right.

You say what you want they send you three people and the three people I got sent didn’t really work out for me. So I much rather sleep go to that fire hose of online jobs pH and you get those hundred replies or more and but it’s so quick to get down to like 10 maybe maybe five really like it. It’s night and day sometimes some of the different replies you get interesting.

Pete McPherson 29:38
So walk us through like how you figured out how many hours a week Am I hiring for before this work or what is the budget I need for like the specific task all those like format and structure.

I don’t really know the right words here Tom. But, How did you think about those things before you actually made your your first hire here?

Tom 30:04
So hiring someone from the Philippines, I kind of worked it backwards. I knew to get a decent employee in the Philippines that had sort of that that complete loyalty to you. You should hire full time.

I don’t I don’t want to say that people though listening to this show that that you you can’t hire part time you certainly can. I just found that hiring full time and making sure they have enough work to do sort of it just makes them this well, full time employee they’re gonna they’re going to care about all every every female you send you that you’re not just one of many requests kind of thing. You’re, you’re the sole person.

So for me, it was sort of let’s hire full time. And and part of the planning ahead of that was certainly how do we take advantage of these these 40 hours a week?

I should mention so this this VA has been working on a few sites. I’ve got Maple money, but I also have a partner in return. Happy here in Canada and I’m also a partner with JD Roth I get rich slowly so between these these three sites alone and I still have other stuff I could get to if I was ever looking for work for but these three sites alone It’s probably about six or 7000 posts between the three sites. Oh my god so when it comes to that that content content database idea right where she’s going into old posts and making sure that they have h2’s instead of some bold, italicized underlined subtitles. She’s She’s doing all that to old posts out in the images and stuff.

It’s…there’s there’s no shortage of work. In my case. I get that if, if someone’s a smaller blog, they’ve got 500 posts and and the and maybe they publish only once a week. Yeah, they might. It might be hard to hire full time then.

Pete McPherson 31:52
Well, for that specific role, yes. In my case, I don’t need that person at all because I have like 50, blog posts and 100 podcast episodes, I just don’t need that. But I do need a lot of other things like, at the moment, I’m just sharing my own needs here. But I need like a graphic designer who can work really well with cross platform stuff like I need a constant barrage of Facebook ad creative, like different things to test like every single week. And same thing with like Google ads and Pinterest ads as well as pins for content and random stuff like that. Like, that’s kind of what I’m looking to hire next, personally, as well as outsourcing some of the podcasts editing for the first time. I’m actually debating. I really enjoy podcast audience.

So it’s hard for me to give up. But yeah, it depends on if you have enough work for the person.

Tom 32:43
So yeah, one thing I just want to add to that was, um, so if, if you’re looking for enough different work for someone full time, it might be hard because then you’re looking for that unicorn that can do everything right.

So there’s certainly some value in being able to find separate tasks.

We should get into at some point here. I I’ve hired graphic designers twice through online jobs pH and failed miserably. So I I’m not sure why that didn’t work out and the blog manager role worked out fine. Maybe just a bit of bad luck. I don’t know.

I agree with you completely like the idea of hiring a graphic designer that could not just do blog images, but yeah, Facebook ads infographics, whatever, even a bonus that they’re slightly interested not not great at it, but at least slightly interested in in some video editing.

I found a lot of people that are graphic designers will kind of do the whole Adobe Suite kind of thing. So I was looking for that at the time just as a as a tiebreaker bonus, that graphic designer could also do some video editing.

Pete McPherson 33:47
That’s interesting. Okay, so you knew you wanted to hire full time for not only just loyalty purposes, some of the benefits there that they are kind of deep in your brand and your Working on those great stuff. So how did you find a budget for your block manager?

Tom 34:05
I think I, if I remember, I think I just kind of looked at what there was a part part of it was just putting the ad up and seeing what comes back.

With online jobs, pH, they were I can’t remember it was a weekly or a monthly number that they they would quote kind of thing, but they were giving their rates so you could kind of kind of play the field there a little and see, it’s certainly not about getting the cheapest person but not getting the most expensive person either.

By finding kind of a happy place in the middle there where you’re getting a great employee for a great price. I kind of knew just reading around online, sort of what prices could be from the Philippines. And I was able to hire full time for about the same price as what I was paying someone in Canada to do five hours a week.

So, there’s there’s a huge discount to hiring someone from the Philippines for this kind of work. Right?

Pete McPherson 35:05
Can you share that number? Do you mind sharing? Or is that off limits?

Tom 35:08
Not off limits. Um, so I pay for a full week I have I have her invoice me at the end of the week for $130. us. I think that’s $3 25 cents an hour. There’s, there’s, like a hint to that there’s, there’s, there’s people that will do it for less, but they’re not great.

There’s people that’ll do it for more, and there’s no need for that. But yeah, I found someone for three 25 an hour but but call it $5 even as it may be a maximum for that kind of role.

When I hired a graphic designer, I think it was a little bit more. I can’t remember exactly. It might have been maybe 150 a week. But since they didn’t work out, maybe, maybe a I went to cheap on that and then maybe maybe you need to go one one. Your level higher kind of thing and the price you’re willing to pay, right?

Pete McPherson 36:03
Yeah, that’s, that’s roughly what the guys from this other podcast episode I keep referencing. That’s pretty much what they were saying to they were saying ballpark. It used to be like, people would come out like the old school Pat Flynn’s, like when he first started out, and all of the , I can’t remember the guys name… he talks a lot about VS. What is his name? Nevermind.

Tom 36:28
Chris Ducker.

Pete McPherson 36:29
That’s it. Yeah. It used to be like, Oh, 200 bucks a month, 300 bucks a month. 400 bucks a month. That’s like a full time living. For these people. You shouldn’t feel bad about paying them that’s full time living. And it’s increased a little bit these guys were saying. Also, like you said, like just depending on the role, like if I hire a video editor like specifically or a podcast editor specifically, it’s going to cost me a little bit more than just hiring straight up administrative tasks that don’t require any specific technical skills that they’ve been trained for in the past or whatnot.

Yeah, it’s gonna cost a lot more. So, yeah, I like that. I like that ballpark as well. That’s something else I want to get across. I think most people probably understand this by now. But just in case you don’t, people out there listening, that’s actually really good pay for most of these people in the Philippines, not only because of placement, lifestyle, adjustments, right, but also that it’s a very family oriented culture. And this means they get to work from home, instead of different places outside of the home or factories or whatnot. This is actually like three or four really big wins for most people who do this sort of virtual assistant work, at least so I’ve been told.

So there’s that.

Tom 37:46
Yeah, the the point you just brought up to about family. It’s, it’s something I really went out of my way to get our original thought working with the project manager was let’s get someone that’s willing to work nighttime so that they’re working during our day.

But what I found in a lot of the replies you’re getting back, it was younger people that that wanted that wanted to work and they were willing to work overnight. And the more we started to set up the system where it’s like, I don’t even need to talk to them in a day at any point.

So why make them work overnight, so that we sort of reposted that at one point to to say you can work anytime you want. And as long as we start to have it somewhat scheduled, though, it’s like anytime you want, just tell us what that time is.

So we started getting a lot more like work at home moms in the Philippines where Yeah, they want to work during during their day, which is roughly evening for us, anywhere from like five to seven depending on your time zone in the evening.

So there’s enough crossover there that if I want to send her an email at the beginning of her day kind of thing. And by day, then I can I can just say like, oh, let’s make sure we do this. Today and are here something totally random and new, I’m hoping you can kind of help with that there’s enough communication there anyways, I didn’t need someone that worked during my hours, at least not for this kind of task.

Pete McPherson 39:12
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And also just know from my own personal experiences, the more organized and systematized one for me, I’m specifically thinking I have my own. SOPs in Google Drive as well. As well as a very short like loom video, over looking or going over the process or the task or what not like the more organized and systematized and specific you can be, the better and the less need that you’re going to be like, literally interacting with these people over Skype or slack on a real time basis.

Right?

Tom 39:52
So yeah, being organized is just one of those things that’s going to give them a sense of security as well like just so not rocket science. Like if just imagine yourself in a in a regular day job like if you’re heading into a corporation and it looks like it’s a complete mess and nobody knows what they’re doing and when they’re doing it and stuff, it’s it’s, it doesn’t give you the best sense of like job satisfaction or job security, right?

So it’s no different here like you You want to give them this is the job this is what you’ll be doing. Here’s all the information you need. I’ve got links to some courses that they can look at, that I’ve taken kind of thing they can kind of just log in and have a peek.

So everything’s there for them that they feel very, it’s a legit job, they want to see that you’re not just some blogger that kind of doesn’t know what they want. And so it helps.

Pete McPherson 40:43
Totally.

Tom 40:44
Another thing I should mention, actually with that about about this idea of satisfaction and security. I also pay one week vacation, and all 10 of the Filipino staff holidays and this might be a way…which is kind of sad that most people aren’t doing this, that they, they hire people and they don’t have to because they’re not bound by that country’s sort of labor laws on what what stat days get paid and stuff. But it was just a simple Google search of what it would be if I was a company operating out of the Philippines. So I offered that so interesting.

And at this price, what’s what’s 10 stat days in a week, it’s a vacation. It’s it’s, it’s not a big deal and the way we work, where we’re basically a minimum of two weeks ahead on our publishing schedule, so by the time she takes the stat day or even the week off, we’re so far ahead. I really shouldn’t even miss her. Really. The machine keeps going on everything scheduled out.

Pete McPherson 41:48
Right. I like that. That’s actually a great tip. Thanks for that time. No problem. So let’s backtrack one second.

Confusing my audience enough here. I love to go out of order. I really do.By the way, this is just how my brain works.

So let’s go back to the I think I might be interested in what Tom has been doing. I’m not sure if my blog revenue is high enough to justify, but maybe I could look at part time work.

How do I know what tasks to offload?

So let’s go back to the like the whole time audit task audit. Can you give any tips for people who aren’t that organized? They don’t have any standard operating procedures? Nothing like that yet. What would you tell them to do any exercises or hacks that they could go through to kind of figure out, Oh, you know what, maybe I should outsource this or how should they go throughout that process?

Tom 42:45
Great idea. But one thing I found that worked really well for me, and that kind of started this, at least a year before I hired is I whenever I hit sort of a roadblock, whether it’s something I didn’t want to do is just procrastination or anything like that if if if I was getting in my own way I wrote it down that this is something to outsource.

I can be terrible at procrastinating so so it’s it was common for me to sort of do that final setup and edit of a blog post the night before it was publishing so I was getting in my own way so just hire this off to someone else they’ll do it will get two weeks ahead you even up to a month now we’re really starting to get a the system moving a little better, but I just found it was any anytime when I was getting my own way.

Something like creating graphics.

So yes, I failed a couple times at hiring a graphic designer but throughout all that I’ve been using design pickle for probably two years now. I they produce good work, I just don’t like that they’re not in my system kind of thing. I want someone that’s in a Asana and doesn’t need me to fill their queue and because again, I’d rather have that secondary task of Just look at the old posts if they don’t have an image create an image so that’s what I really want.

So I’ve been using design pickle but that’s another great example like I I used to make what I thought were Pinterest images, but it looked like a guy creating a terrible image for Pinterest. Bad the font selection bad bad sizing, even at the time, it was less less known back in the day, like what the perfect Pinterest ratio was right.

But so yeah, so it was something I it definitely wasn’t my my kind of genius zone kind of thing. I think it’s a different type of creative needed to create like a nice Pinterest image. So that that was another case where it’s like in that case, I’d say hire someone better than you.

So there’s so there’s that first one just hire for the roadblocks but there’s also just hire someone better than you not. I hear this advice a lot where it’s like if if someone’s 80% as good as you then then it’s worth hiring. I found more success hiring people that were 200 times better than just just because then that bringing some expertise in.

And even if it’s not expertise sometimes it’s just natural gift like when it comes to being able to pick the right images for Facebook ads or for Pinterest images.

So those were two for sure is yeah…hire what I’m just putting off and not doing a good organized job and then and then hire people that are better than you in some cases to hired Monica Louis at one point. She was doing my Facebook ads or coaching you through it.

And her ability to find the right way to word an ad and pick an image. It was something I was I was never really catching on to. There’s just something that certain people might have that skill better than others.

Pete McPherson 45:58
Interesting. I like especially what you said And this has actually worked for me to Tom, I tried to do at the advice of my mastermind group buddies. I tried to do like a bulk exercise, I set aside like two hours to do like, a full time audit, like here’s exactly where I’m spending all my time for the podcast for the blog for email marketing for for everything, and it was OK.

And then I kind of like then get any value of that, but the next hour the next day, but since then, I’ve actually had like kind of a living document in Google Drive, just a spreadsheet that is incredibly accessible.

I actually took the link to the spreadsheet and made it a shortcut on my phone like it looks like an app. I don’t remember how I did that. It’s It was super easy though.

So I have it like a one click away whenever I think about something that I want put on there. Like God, I hate this. I really need to add this to my to outsource list here. And I mean, so I like the idea of having this like living document whether it’s a spreadsheet or a note or anything that you can just kind of keep in the back of your head for you know what, I keep procrastinating this you know what, I stink at this etc etc so that’s actually been really helpful for me to just not a chair.

Tom 47:13
Yeah, it’s a perfect idea I found a few cases now still, like we’ve already got people hired and certainly yell hit something. It’s like, I’m not doing this as good as I could be either. I’m not kind of getting that hundred percent quality to something I’m doing or I’m just putting it off to last minute it’s kind of starting to break our whole nice system.

So then yeah, I’m looking to offload that.

Sometimes I come up with new ideas, something I’ve never done before. And and that can go on that kind of list to where it’s like, oh, we should be doing this. And let’s like something uh, I was just talking about last night I guess, was with with my podcast episodes.

I really want to start doing the downloadable with every episode kind of thing. And I have another person I hired actually a is an editor on on Maple money. And he’s going to be doing get rich slowly as well soon. We hired him in Canada here to 10 hours a week, we just started doing this. And he writes my show notes for the podcast.

And I was thinking, again, just last night, we just kind of came up with this idea is let’s do the whole have a unique download with every episode. So just as part of doing the show notes is the plan will be, well, why not just find a thing like if it’s, maybe towards the end, they break out like five steps to whatever we were talking about. It’s like turn that into a quick little checklist. And then we’ll get design pickle to make a nice PDF out of it.

So it’s just random ideas come and it’s so it’s not always offloading what you’re doing. It could be also finding new things that you wouldn’t have had the time to take on ever. So now that you’ve got this extra time let’s let’s use it.

Pete McPherson 48:55
I like that. report back to me, by the way about the download with every episode thing.

That’s actually something I’ve always shied away from just because the time investment I might do people really need this. And it actually takes a lot of time to manually personally create like this little checklist or whatnot. Like, I gotta learn how to do design now and I got to learn PowerPoint or whatever it may be. So I’m like, No, I’m not gonna do that.

So I’m curious to hear how yours goes.

Tom 49:19
Exactly. It’s the perfect task for when you have a VA and and or an editor in my case and and do you come up with an idea, but you don’t want to follow through on it yourself at all. It’s something where Yeah, like, in my case, the this guy’s already writing the show notes.

So it’s a very small extra step. It’s like just just kick out a little checklist or something that depending on the episode, mix it up a little, I think with with podcasts, we all tell people to go to our show notes and most people won’t.

So it’s just a little bit more enticing to get over to those show notes and subscribe to the newsletter.

Pete McPherson 49:59
Okay, so this is kind of a last question here. Tom,

Actually have two more last question on this topic though. If you had to do it all over again, you can feel free to just spit ball here. I know I didn’t tell you these questions in advance any part of this process whether it’s like getting organized or whether it’s actually what to put in a job posting to help filter people around the hiring process anything.

Out of all this process, if you have or if you had the opportunity to go back and do it again, what would you do differently?

Tom 50:32
I probably do what I’m doing. Now. I just would have did it a lot sooner.

So start starting in 2009. Like there is no reason I think I started hit a what I would consider successful point in 2011. I easily could have had a full time VA from the Philippines then. And I would have needed to be so much more organized. Start operating Like a legit business and not just a blogger, that stumbling forward kind of thing, right. But to get that organization back then and hire back then the amount of stuff we would have done would have been huge.

And maybe that same employee would have been with me for the what’s been eight years kind of thing. And we just have such a system of things like Asana probably didn’t exist back then. Google Drive may not have, but so how that organization to get to the closest value, that’s my Google Home. As far as being a key value, it will take about six months.

Sorry about that.

Pete McPherson 51:39
I’m leaving that and by the way, I’m not editing this out. That’s fantastic.

Tom 51:43
Thanks. I want to go somewhere. I don’t know. Oh, it’s because I said the G word.

Pete McPherson 51:50
I was about to say don’t say it again.

Tom 51:52
Yeah, so yeah, I don’t know one of the things I want to do but

so so yeah, a lot of these these online services.

That probably didn’t exist back well definitely didn’t exist back then. Sure, it would have made things harder I probably would have had to just use email or something like that. But Evernote might have existed back then. Maybe that could at least be used but yeah, yeah just doing this a lot sooner to go a decade and kind of never really be structured like a legit enough business like I’ve been a corporation for years but that’s more about about taxes and income.

It wasn’t about about setting up a truly operating like a proper business with with employees and processes.

Pete McPherson 52:30
Leverage scale growth.

Yeah, actually. Nope. I like one more question has said you switch between Asana, Trello, etc. Why do you finally land on Asana or just using a free Asana version? By the way?

Tom 52:45
I am using a free version but it seems like by having by by being an Asana earlier, I get a few things like I hear that like the if you were to get a free version right now I think you get maybe it’s 15 years or something like that. Maybe it’s last I can’t remember. But I have 33 people I can put on there. So I know I can kind of grow the team.

There’s a few things in the paid version that would be nice, but I’m cheap. You wouldn’t know it was some of the services I buy and stuff but it find value out of them.

I don’t find value out of paying per user per month and and especially when we’re looking at like multiple staff writers or maybe we have a writer that only writes like once a quarter like what to pay for all these people to be set up in asana, in with my frugal side.

If I saw more value, certainly I pay for all sorts of things like I use a higher level of hrs and I consider the best payment I make a month every month kind of thing. So it just depends but with the sauna, the free version is pretty awesome.

Pete McPherson 53:51
Okay, why do you switch to and from Trello?

Tom 53:55
It might have just been me part partially that maybe I wasn’t using it right but I find that that Trello format of like the left to right thing, just and I know Asana can do that now too, but go the whole left to right tasks wasn’t as useful to me as more of a to do list look that Asana will give you.

So it’s probably more mental than anything else, just sort of what works for you. I get some people really like the Trello thing like with a blog post going, you got one column for writing it and then you move it over to editing and you move it over to publishing and all that and that Yeah, I just I preferred here’s a blog posts, here’s like our probably roughly 15 tasks within that and and let’s just check them off.

Pete McPherson 54:44
That’s fair enough. Alright, well, let me wind down here. Tom, why don’t you tell everybody where they can follow you see what you’re up to, as well as follow the blog and podcast. Where would you like to point people?

Tom 54:58
Well, yeah, the blogs MapleMoney.com, and we have Maple money show for the podcast. You can find me on Twitter at what is it Maple money com which is really awkward just because Maple money was taken.

And I’m also on Twitter at Tom Drake, Canada more just have a personal Twitter depending on what you want to talk about. normally talk SEO and such on entendre Canada and then make money columns more the polished business view on Twitter.

Pete McPherson 55:29
And you can also be found at all these conferences you seem to go to a lot so I’m sure folks could come up and find you FinCon, Flynnco, Podcast Movement, etc.

Tom 55:39
Yes, FinCon especially I’m quite I know a lot of your listeners are FinCon based. I’m quite proud that I’m one of the very small group of people that have been to all of them now.

So I think it’s down to like the low 20s that can say they’ve actually been to all of them. And part of that’s just luck. I didn’t have any weddings or deaths or be He’s come up to close. Nothing’s messed with my schedule too much.

Pete McPherson 56:05
Okay. Well, Tom, thanks so much for coming on I, as I think about hiring my own VA is and kind of expanding this team even more. It constantly, like kind of overwhelming and stresses me out. So conversations like this are like incredibly helpful for me hope they are to my audience as well. So thanks for coming on. Let me know if there’s anything else I could do for you, of course, and I appreciate you. That’s all I got.

Thanks!

So over to you? Does the thought of outsourcing tasks to overseas VAs scare you? Excite you? Comment below!

I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

<3 you blog tribe!

4 Responses

  1. Someday, when my blog is too large to manage on my own, I will hire someone to help me out. But for now, I can’t justify hiring anyone 🙂 It’s an interesting alternative to other freelance services though.

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