When the group were rounding up our last call on Sunday night (Monday morning for me), someone pointed out that we were now on Day 38 of the challenge. I guess that makes today Day 39.
It's absolutely unbelievable how much has been done in these first 5 and a half weeks.
I've been meaning to write this update for some time, but so much has been happening (not just with the project, but with HumanProofDesigns as well) that I've barely had the time to sit down and take stock of what we've done.
Just making this list of things that have been done since my last update is mind-blowing, and I'm sure there are things that have been left off:
- 2 main pillar articles published
- 19 blog posts published (3 more scheduled, 8 more being written)
- Epic post writer hired
- Editorial Calender filled out until March
- Outreach and promotion plan completed
- About 20 fantastic Google hangouts had
- First website visitors
- First sale ($20) Woop Woop
So I'll go into all those details later, especially the first sale part, but as the title of this post suggests, I'm going to focus on talking about hiring talent in this post. It's been the toughest, most fun, most difficult, and most exciting part of the challenge, all thrown into one.
If you're following along with the challenge, I imagine this is the part you also have the most confusion over.
Just Jump In
One thing that has come out of this is that I've been able to almost immediately apply everything I learned in this challenge to HPD and my online efforts across the board.
My fear/ignorance on how to properly hire talented people without breaking the bank had been holding me back for a while.
It's every Internet Marketer's problem:
How can you hire people who don't suck, can write legible English, are reliable, but won't cost you more than you can afford to pay them?
In the last two weeks since I finally jumped in and got on with hiring people, I've hired 3 Americans, 1 South African, 1 Romanian, 3 Filipinos and 1 Bangladeshi all for the same prices.
The fact is that there are just plenty of talented people out there who are looking to earn money, and no matter what their living costs are, there will be those who just need to find some stable income.
There will always be talented people who need money. If you're smart, you can hire them for fantastic prices.
That quote might sound like I'm encouraging you to exploit people's financial troubles, but it's not what I meant.
What I'm saying is that if you go ahead and post a job on odesk or wherever, you'll be surprised at the responses you get and the amount of talented people willing to work within your budget.
It's been a crazy learning curve, and this time 35 days ago I'd never posted a single job on odesk in my life. Now I've got 9 freelancers on staff, 3 more who I've hired outside of odesk, and a whole bunch of systems getting stronger.
Who To Hire?
One question that came to my mind when I first started hiring people was:
Who should I hire, how much should I pay them, and what jobs do I even need to outsource?
Aside from writers, I'm used to doing pretty much everything myself on these projects, so my biggest issue was deciding what work I actually needed to hire people for.
I touched upon this a little in the previous post, but I wanted to go over it again.
Here are the roles I've filled:
Writer x 2
I originally only wanted 1 full-time writer and one backup writer to fill in if something happened to the first. After a discussion with Stuart Walker and testing out my first writer, I decided that I'd need another one to handle my epic posts.
Stuart's argument was that “real authority” is going to cost more than a budget writer can do, and the amount of research required would mean the budget would have to increase somewhere.
An “epic post” is going to be 2,000 words long, will require A LOT of research, a lot of authority, and some serious quality to it.
I have a writer I've used in the past who I know will absolutely kill it with these posts, and will also add so much more value to my site than I ever could.
She's about 5x the price of my regular “bloggy” writer, but her work will make my site 10x better, so it's a tradeoff I'm prepared to pay for.
I'll also have her write my review posts, as these will need to be exceptional too.
This is the only situation where I'm breaking my “Talented people can cost less” rule, because I really want to work with this particular writer.
Graphic Designer x 1
I hired a graphic designer to take care of infographics for me. I'm not planning to use infographics as often as some of the other guys on the challenge, but I do want to try to publish at least one or two per epic post.
I got burned on the first designer I hired. I didn't limit his hours, and while he produced a decent infographic, he charged me 17 hours.
4 of those hours were fixing typos he'd made.
I asked him to copy some data on my site and turn it into an infographic. He did so, but with a few typos. I asked him to fix them, and he took 4 hours to do so, even though his application had said unlimited revisions.
I asked him why, and he said “Quality takes time.”
Apparently “Fixing mistakes” takes longer.
Some great advice came out of this though, and it helped me hire a lot more useful people going forward.
Here's what the mastermind group came up with to stop this sort of thing happening:
1. Limit the hours that your freelancer can do to 1 or 2 hours, and tell them to show you what they've done at this point. You should be able to tell if they're doing a good job, and either give them some more hours to get the job done, or end the contract and move on.
2. Set a fixed-price for a job. This avoids getting burned by too many hours being spent.
Those are some pretty easy tips to follow, but will save you a lot of stress (and dollars. Stressed out dollars).
Jobs I still need to fill.
Outreach/Blog Commenting VA
This person will be responsible for promoting the blog, getting guest-post gigs, and other aspects of the promotion campaign (beyond the scope of this article).
I was *this* close to hiring one last week, he seemed amazing, perfect for the job, and I was really looking forward to working with him.
He said all the right things (and more), but after I hit the hire button and gave him his first assignment (which he'd already agreed looked fine), I never heard from him again.
This kind of thing happens sometimes when people apply for multiple positions, or so I'm told.
It sucks, because all the other people who I almost hired now seem rubbish in comparison. I'll get over it though and find someone else.
Like I said, there will always be talented people up for the position.
The guy I mentioned above was so promising that I was even going to move him into a PM role later on. The PM would basically be in charge of everything; giving writers their assignments, loading them onto the blog, hiring new outreach people and getting infographics done.
Basically they'd do all the work I set out for them, leaving me free to do HPD stuff.
For now I'm going to just keep on doing this job myself, but as time goes by I will definitely be hiring a PM to keep things running smoothly.
Experience Gained Is Paying Off
I've been blessed (and cursed) this month with an incredible amount of orders and work coming my way for HumanProofDesigns sites.
The great thing is that the experience I've gained from this site project has given me the ability to hire 2 new website builders to help me fill orders, and 8 new writers to get the content created.
I had always assumed that more dedicated and higher quality writers would cost more (it's a reasonable assumption to make), but as I've explained, it really isn't the case.
These writers can produce BETTER work than the previous ones I used, and it costs me less as well, which makes up for the additional expense of having website builders working for me.
The best thing is, they really appreciate the work as well.
I never would have been able to achieve any of this without just jumping in and exploring oDesk, so I really encourage you to just dive in if you're on the fence.
It also means that I definitely need to get a PM sorted for my 6-figure site project so that I don't explode from over-working.
Two weeks ago I posted one of the pillar articles into a social network, got some traffic, and 1 sale as a result. The product in question earned me a $20 commission, and a pat on the back from the other members of the group.
I'm not the first one to make money in the group, and I'm definitely not the one getting the most traffic, but it still felt fantastic to pop the site's cherry so early on in this epic marathon.
Only $4,980 to go this month then!
I wanted to tell you all the details of my site in this post, but it's just not going to happen yet. I need to dedicate an entire post to the niche breakdown, the site build, and all that jazz, so I'll have to get that done next week instead.
Hey maybe I'll even make a video and give you the grand tour.
Make sure to wipe your feet on the way in though, the site is still shiny and new.