In this episode, host Julie Hood shares some secrets to working with outsourcers and virtual assistants. She talks techniques and tools to make your life a lot easier and set yourself up for success.
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5 Secrets to Get Yourself Ready
- Get yourself ready!
- Just accept: It IS going to take longer to have someone else do the work.
- Plan ahead – way ahead!
- Determine your communication style for your team.
- What tool(s) will you use to track your projects? Here are a couple commonly used tools (Trello, Asana, Dubsado)
What kind of help do you need?
- An expert who already knows what to do.
- Someone you are going to train – in your methodology.
What kind of work will they be doing?
- One-time setup (outsource this when it will take you hours and hours to learn something you’ll only have to do once).
- Repetitive projects (this can be the best place to outsource).
Set up SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) to document your process and hand off to your helpers.
Be sure to check out the legal rules, payroll taxes and rules for hiring contractors.
Get some help – a great place to start is with graphic design!
Sign up for my free course Is My Course Idea Any Good? here.
Connect with me on Clubhouse for FREE masterclasses at @JulieHood.
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Hello there. And how are you doing today? Let’s talk about what it takes to start outsourcing some of the tasks of your online course business and exactly where should you start. So let’s jump into it. Welcome to the course creators, HQ podcast, helping you navigate the latest techniques for creating and marketing online courses. And now here’s your host Julie Hood.
So welcome to episode 63. I am so glad you’re here. And if you are new to thinking about doing an online course and wondering my wonderful, my idea is any good. Be sure to head over to the show notes and grab the training that I’m giving away for my podcast listeners, it’s called Is My Idea Any Good. And I take you through an exercise that’s short and sweet, but it’ll help you identify if you’ve got a good course idea or not. So that’s in the show notes at coursecreatorshq.com/63. So you can jump over there and grab this episode.
All right. So let’s get to it. I actually need to give you a little bit of a brutal honesty here to really grow your course business past being a hobby. You’re going to need to hire some outside help. And that’s probably obvious for a lot of you, but some of us, you know, we are just those Lone Rangers. Think we can figure it all out and do it all ourselves. And I will tell you that was me.
When I got started, way, way back in the day I had quit my corporate job to be a stay at home mom and decided, oh, I can do this sort of side hustle business while my kids are sleeping. And you know, it, it really couldn’t grow the way I wanted it to because there were only so many hours in a day for me and I really to have grown at the weight needed to be. I wish I had hired some outside help earlier in the process.
So I want to tell you that now so that you can get off to the right start, but we also want to make sure that we are doing this well, and you don’t want to create more headaches for yourself, but having someone helping you, who isn’t the right person or who can’t do the work that you need.
So I’m actually in the midst right now of getting a new person on board, and so I thought I’d share some of the hard earned secrets that I’ve gained over the years that will hopefully help you make it a smoother process as you’re hiring new people for business or outsourcing. So there’s sort of two different things as opposed to actually hiring someone and outsourcing to a contractor. So we’ll get into that. But first I want to talk about five things that you need to do before you get started.
And the first one is that you really have to get yourself ready to have someone helping you. And I know that sounds bizarre, but a lot of times what happens is we get super overwhelmed. We’re like crazy busy and we think, oh, we’re just going to throw somebody in here and they’ll make life easier. And what ends up happening is it doesn’t work well because you are not ready to either help them do their job well, or you just don’t have the time to do it properly. So I want you to consider that you’re going to be hiring someone way before you think that you are going to need them so that you can get yourself organized.
And then also for all my perfectionists and control freaks out there, we may have to come up with a few ways for you to get comfortable with other people, doing some of this stuff and not doing it perfectly or not doing it exactly the way you want them to and be okay with that. We need to get okay with the graphics being good enough, but they’re done. Or, you know, we don’t want to do bad work, but we definitely want to make sure things are getting done well.
Okay. So number two is that it is going to take longer. And this is one of the thoughts that I have struggled with through the years, because I can always say to myself, oh, it would take so much longer to have somebody else do this. I can just whip this out in a hurry. Well, yes I can. And that is not the point.
The point is it is going to take longer to have someone else do it. But the point is that they are going to be spending the time, not you. So when you can pass things off and you can hand it over to someone and then a day or two later, they hand it back to you perfectly the way you need it. That’s such an amazing feeling of like, wow, I didn’t have to do it and look how well they did. I’m so excited that, that, that little feeling, once you get that you’ll become addicted to having someone else do all those things that are time consuming or that you don’t want to be doing.
So it is going to take longer though. And, and just because there’s more steps and more communication involved. So once you get that thought out of your head, that I can do this faster. Absolutely. You can probably do this faster, especially for the things that you know how to do well, but we’re going to set ourselves up for the longterm so that we can get some helpers in there. And even if it takes longer, it’s not going to be your time spent doing it.
Number three, you really have to learn how to plan ahead. And I am notorious for this one. In fact, yesterday, I was working on a new project and I needed the video to be edited. And I was debating about whether to have my video editor work on it because I needed to give them a couple of days to get access to the file and have time to work me in.
And I was like, you know what? This is one of those things where if I had planned further ahead, then maybe I could have them do it. But because I need this instantaneously, this is probably going to be one of the things I got to do myself. So you will need to sort of get in your mindset that I’m going to have to work further ahead so that I can give my helpers time to do the work for me and get back to me and we can communicate around it.
Now that also leads into the fourth thing that I want to tell you. And that’s what you sort of want to figure out what your communication style is going to be with the people that you were working with. So for example, do you want to do everything by email? Do you want to do everything by phone? The challenge with doing things by phone is you don’t have the details so that either one of you can go back and remember, what is you were talking about or are maybe you’re a slack person. Maybe you’re going to set up a slack that you use.
But one of my suggestions is to try to just have one main way that you put the information about what you’re talking about so that you can get back to it and they can get back to it. So if they’re not working on it today, if it’s a couple days later, where is all the details going to be kept? Where are they going to be stored so that you all can keep track of who’s doing what, when and what you talked about.
And then number five is you will want to try to figure out what tool you’re going to use. And I recommend trying to just have one. So one of my clients uses Skype. They use slack, they use email, they probably have a couple Trello boards floating around and it’s, it’s craziness for us because we need to get back to something we talked about three weeks ago and I’m always like, okay, did we talk about that in slack? Do we talk about that in Skype? Or was that an email conversation?
And the good thing to me about using email is that especially if you’re using Gmail, the search functions are fantastic. So I can go back and search their name and search a topic and get things to come up. Now that’s not so easy on some of like slack and Skype. Those, those don’t search quite as well as Gmail does. So I’ll tell you one of the things that I use with my staff is Trello.
And here’s part of the reason why, as we are commenting on things, the comments can be set up so that they come through our email. So I’m really good. I check my email several times a day, so I can see the emails coming through and see the different comments and use the search function. So that’s what works for me may not be what’s working for you.
You know, you may have some other tools that you really, really like. So some of the other things I’ve seen out there are Assana, Dubsado is also one that I’ve seen people using, but coming up with what your tool set is going to be for not only tracking your different projects, but also communicating with your, the folks who are working with you, that is pretty essential to making things work.
Kinds of Help You Need
Okay? So now let’s talk about the kinds of help that you could need. And I like to break this into two different groups. The first one is, if you don’t know how to do something, and you want to hire an expert who already knows what to do, that is a completely different kind of outsourcing. Then if you want to train someone in the way that you do things that you already know how, and you want them to do it your way, and both of those can be helpful in different kinds of situations.
You just need to know ahead of time, like, which of those am I going to need? Because it affects where you look for people, how you describe the project and probably how much you need to pay. Because when you want to pick that expert, who already knows, let’s say how to set up Kajabi for you. That’s going to be more expensive than if you can get just a general kind of virtual assistant. And then you’re going to show them how to do the project that you need.
So also related to this, in addition to what kind of help that you need is to think about what kind of work they’re going to be doing for you. So there’s one time set up sort of things. So this is, you know, setting up a blog for you, setting up Kajabi, setting up your podcast to get it created, to begin with, or is it more of a repetitive type of project?
So this is things like for the podcast every week, you’re going to have to be posting your podcast. Maybe it’s doing graphics for your social media or sending out your email newsletter every week. So I will tell you for a, the time in getting someone, the repetitive type of projects can be a great place for you to get started and have someone helping you.
Because once you train them the first time and you get things all set up with them, then they can just do the same type of work for you every single time. It’s just a repetitive project every week. So that is different. And probably what I would call easier than those one time kind of set up projects because the one-time sort of things you’re right.
It might be easier and faster if you know how to do it, to just get the setup first and then get the help from, for the repetitive pieces of it. Now, when you don’t know how to do it, that’s when you need to jump in and get those experts to help you on those one-time setup sort of things.
And especially when you don’t know how to do it, because the time that you’re going to spend learning, how is probably less effective. And it’s just a one-time thing. It’s not like you need to learn this ongoing, you know, it’s a, one-time set up sort of project. So let somebody else that already has figured that out and knows how to do it, let them do it for you so that you then are not wasting your time learning how to do something that you’re only going to do once.
Okay. So the next piece of this, then if you are going to do some of these repetitive type of projects and you know that you want to train them in the way that you do them is we need to set up SOPs. And if you’re wondering what the heck, Julie is an SOP, SOP stands for standard operating procedures. And what you’re doing is you are creating an easy way to follow a certain repetitive procedure.
And you want all the information to be in one place, all documented. So the easiest way to do this, I will tell you is to use a zoom and record your screen, especially for things that you’re doing that are online with certain tools. And you just talk through the process. So that can be a simple way to get a quick procedure together so that someone can help you.
And then you can expand on it past that. So you can create checklists for them so that they can just use that checklist every time let’s say, they’re sending out your email newsletter, here’s the checklist of everything that they need to do in the order. They need to do it in that’s really, really simple standard operating procedures to get you started, but it will make your life so much easier.
And here’s why once you create these, then whichever virtual assistant or person that you have with you, you can start by handing them the standard operating procedure, and you are way, way ahead. You only have to create those procedures the first time. And then you’ve got them in there ready to hand to the next person. So if you need to, ask somebody new, you’ll have the procedures already put together.
Okay. I also want to talk quickly about working with students and finding people to work with. So for a lot of time, I have worked with students and there are some things I really love about working with like college students. And number one, they learn really quickly because they’re in that mode of school and they understand how to learn quickly. The second thing is, are usually really pretty good at technology. You know, those younger kids, they’re, they’re pretty savvy and pretty good at that. Especially when you find the really outstanding students, they’re also pretty hungry for some kind of job experience, sort of like an internship. Although I always pay my students, I don’t like to do a free internships.
I think you get better work and you know, students need to be, have, have money too. So I always make sure I’m paying my students, but you may be able to pay them a little bit less than you would have to pay someone who’s a full-time virtual assistant. So those are a few of the things. And one of my suggestions for finding the really good students is to call your local colleges, especially community colleges and asked to talk to people maybe in the area, especially this is where I’ve used people who do video editing and graphics. And you ask them to tell you who some of their best students are. And if they’re looking for a part-time job, a part-time work with you.
So that way you can find those students who are those superstars already, the instructors and the professors usually know who their best students are so they can share it with you. Now, one other thing I need to mention here is there are probably some legal and payroll taxes and information. If you’re going to hire them as an employee. So make sure you talk to your attorney and your accountant all about what you need to be doing there.
I’m not a CBA anymore. So I can’t tell you all about that, but I do know that is a piece of the puzzle for the students I’ve worked with as employees. If you want to hire them as a contractor, there are some other pieces of the puzzle and you can look up IRS contractor rules. There are some things that you have to do in order for them to be considered an outside contractor and not an employee.
So just so you know about that, and if you’re looking for some other places to find people to work with, one of my favorites is to ask some of your colleagues, some of the people in your masterminds, people that you’re working with, who they work with, and if they have some extra bandwidth that they could help you, but make sure you go back to the kinds of help and the type of work that you need.
So, you know, whether you’re wanting someone that already knows what to do or whether you’re wanting to train them, whether it’s a one-time setup or sort of a repetitive ongoing kind of project, both of those will be really important to figuring out which person. And so when you’re asking your friends, make sure you tell them those four things so that they are pointing you in the right direction and giving you someone that can fill those buckets for you.
So my overall advice is absolutely absolutely get some help. A really fantastic place to start is with some graphic design help, that there’s a lot of graphics that you need as a course creator, not only for your courses, but also for your social media. And it’s a pretty easy way to get some outsource help and get yourself ready for the, having someone working for you and know that it’s going to take a little bit longer.
So you’re going to plan way ahead and make sure that you’re ready for them and able to help them. So I hope this advice gives you some food for thought and gives you some ideas around what you need to ask for what you need to think about as you’re getting ready to hire or outsource your next person. And I just want to say, thanks so much for listening.
Thank you for following and subscribing. Thank you for reviewing. I have the best podcast listeners on the planet, and that includes you. So thank you so much for taking the time to review or recommend us to your friends, recommend us in your Facebook groups. I totally appreciate it. And I respect the fact that you have given me this time on your earbuds this week.
Thank you so much. Have a fantastic week and happy hunting for your next assistant. And I will catch you next time on our next episode. Take care.