Can you imagine commanding a large army of workers whose sole purpose is to promote your blog? Now picture everyone in that army working for less than $1 per hour. Sound impossible? I thought so too until I got the revelation that I really could build my own army to work for me. I am not plotting world domination, but I am preparing for search engine domination.
My name is Freddie Taylor. I own and operate a few websites around the Internet, but the one I focus on now is Invest With Passion. My goal is to earn money through these websites to pay for the lifestyle I want for my family. Working diligently in my business, it has grown modestly. If only I had help building my websites.
The Spark for my VA Army
VA stands for Virtual Assistant. Basically, an online virtual assistant is a remote employee or subcontractor hired by you for a very specific task. It is a great concept, but one that many people don't consider.
Every initiative in the world needs a spark. Mine came when I was listening to a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seminar on the new Google Panda updates. Search engines are very fickle and website owners need to be aware of the needs and changes of these search engines. Google is the largest search engine in the world, so I sat in on a webinar on the subject.
The webinar was pretty basic. They didn’t share much I wasn’t already aware of, but then came their comments on outsourcing and their VA’s. The speaker actually said they have over 100 VA’s working for them for under $0.70/hr. each. The number of VA’s is one thing, but cost per hour was another. From that moment on in the webinar, I couldn’t think of anything else. Imagine what I could accomplish if I had 100 people working on my business with me?
Couldn’t Believe it Was Possible
The thought of creating a VA Army began to consume me. Before I knew it, I was on Odesk.com getting the hang of the platform. I found it very easy to navigate and with the help of a friend I crafted my first VA position.
I needed someone to help with my SEO work on my websites. The need for assistance backlinking for my website was the top priority. A backlink is a hyperlink from someone else’s website to yours. It is a pretty simple process, but one that has to be done if you expect to dominate the Search Engines.
After posting my job request, I had over 150 applicants for the position within 12 hours. On Odesk, you post a job and the contractors apply by providing their credentials and the amount they will take to fulfill the job. My position was an hourly wage, not fixed fee. Many of the replies were from people willing to take .22/hr. to $3.00/hr. I couldn’t believe it was possible, but there it was right in front of me.
Many of the people applying for the jobs ask for much more than this, but it is my aim to build an affordable VA Army, not one that will cost me thousands of dollars each month.
3 Lessons I Learned While Building My VA Army
Allow me to share with you some of things I learned from my first interactions hiring VA’s. It should be noted I have only been at this for about a month now, so I am sure I have much, much more to learn. Ultimately, I have hired 6 VA’s ranging from $0.22/hr. to $1.11/hr. Here is what I have taken from this experience so far.
1. Act Quickly – Once you post a job and decide you have a need. You should act on it quickly. Don’t rush your decision on which to hire, but be aware these people are applying for the position and looking to get started sooner than later.
A few of the people I attempted to contract had already taken another position with someone else. These people were offering 50 hours of work per week, but I was only looking for 10. I can’t be mad at the person for getting enough work to sustain them.
Losing a few of my prime choices let me know that I need to act quickly. Post the job and act when you are ready to go. There is no way of knowing if someone will be able to complete your work task if you don’t give them the opportunity.
2. Follow Up Often – Any time you are training someone to do a job, you need to be in constant communication with them at the beginning of the job. Don’t be afraid to send your VA a message or chat with them on Skype. You need to find out if they are doing the work properly or need some sort of new direction. You cannot find any of this out if you are not in communication with the VA.
Don’t be shy. Just remember once you get this person trained properly, then you can step back and let them go to work. That is the point you desire, remember? We are building a VA Army to work for us while we are doing other things. This can only happen if you are ready and willing to communicate with the VA.
Acting quickly on questions and messages from your VA is of critical importance as well. I learned this the hard way as I was losing a lot of productivity by not being available to answer my VA’s questions. Before I made a decision to be available, the VA would send a message asking a question of me. 9 out of 10 times, these questions mean the works stops because they need some direction.
I wouldn’t answer the question until the next day. The VA would be sleep while I am away. Many of my VA’s are half way around the world, which means a very different sleep cycle. This was a very ineffective way to operate my VA Army.
I made the decision to really focus on being available. I would answer questions from my phone when I was out. I did what I had to do to follow up quickly. The result was my main VA really understanding my system and getting comfortable with it. It has led to this VA needing nothing but more work because he finishes the back linking process very quickly, which is a problem I’m happy to have.
3. You Will Have To Fire Someone – This is the realization you should come to understand right now, before you start to build a VA Army. You will have to fire someone at some point in time. My suggestion would be to do it early, before you are waiting on this person for too long. You don’t want to have any down time, so give the person a respectable amount of time to work and fire them if are not getting what you desire.
I have had to fire several people in my short period of building my VA Army. The reasons for termination were two different scenarios. The first guy didn’t perform the work I asked. I had hired a VA and asked him to create a keyword list for one of my niche websites. There were some very specific things I was looking for in this keyword analysis.
The VA didn’t give me any of the specifics I was looking for. This meant I wasn’t happy with the report. I gave the VA plenty of time to correct the assignment. He kept saying tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow it will be ready. It never came and I fired him after a few days. No need to waste your time and energy.
The other situation I had was a lack of communication. I hired a few VA’s to do some SEO work for me. Once hired, I sent them all a message letting them know I was ready to get started. Attached to the message were some resources they would need to complete the assignments. After a few days they were still not working and did not acknowledge they were going to start the job.
After a few more days of silence, I fired that lot of VA’s. It didn’t make any sense and already was a bad sign. Remember #2 above was about your follow up, but the essence is good communication. If they could not communicate with me when the job started, it meant their communication would be terrible throughout. Rather than dealing with that I decided to fire them and move on.
Those are three quick lessons I have encountered while building my VA Army. I know this is going to be a tough process at the beginning, but as we start adding more and more competent VA’s it will get easier. My system will be proven and my wording with be clear enough for a competent person to get the job done.
Hopefully these ideas help you on your question to build an army of people ready and willing to do your bidding online.
Editor's Note: Freddie, I hope you report back with your progress in a couple months. I can't wait to hear more about how your ranks grow and you add a few generals to command the troops!