I hired 2 VAs in 1 month — it’s the best thing I’ve done as an Indie Maker & App Developer.

This May (2019), I hired 2 Virtual Assistants. That alone was easily the biggest personal and professional accomplishment that I’ve done last month! Bigger than shipping new apps, jogging, blogging, etc…

Let me explain how I did it and what I learned: 👇

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How does hiring a VA work, in short?

  • Hire someone from Philippines (will explain below why Philippines)
  • Pay $2–5/hour
  • They do whatever you ask them to do
  • Pay to their PayPal weekly/bi-weekly

What sort of tasks do I delegate?

Here is a list an actual messages that I DM my VAs on Telegram / Email:

  • Hey, could you please find me top 10 crypto & blockchain events in KL in the upcoming 2 weeks?
  • I need a haircut, could you please research top 5 barbershops in my area, and their prices. Just make an Google Spreadsheet plz
  • Please find 20 crypto companies in Berlin that are hiring, find their HR’s emails and link to career pages”
  • Can you draft an article about how to use my new app “Email to pdf”
  • Can you transcribe this audio note / video interview I recorded and make an article out of it?
  • etc…

✅ Done

Here is an example of actual blog post that I delegated writing to my VA:

It’s not 100% perfect, authentic and as you might think, but it’s great enough for SEO and for the time spent on a new risky product.

You might think:

Why would I pay someone if I can do it myself better, faster and right now?

I used to think that way too. But that’s missing the point. Even tho IT IS TRUE, that you can do tons of personal things faster and better, these are all distractions from the 1 thing that you are absolutely best at and that’s making you the most $$$.

By hiring someone to do small things that are NOT your #1 thing, you are essentially reinvesting your $$$ into making more $$$ so that you can do that only 1 thing that you are absolutely best at 💥

🔮 Let me demystify this a bit further, with a CONCRETE example:

  • I am pretty good at Photoshop and Illustrator (photoshopping since 15yo)
  • ! But that’s not the core thing that makes me $$$ today
  • Yesterday I had to trace & convert .png logo into an .svg logo
  • I could open Illustrator and start clicking buttons and get it done in 15 minutes or so…
  • Instead I chose to delegate it to a junior part time designer. Takes 10 SECONDS for me to email what I want and attach the .png file. Then wait 30–50 minutes, receive an .svg version. Maybe less than perfect one. Spend another 20 seconds reviewing and asking to improve 1–2 things. Sent. Received. Done.

So. Even though I waited 2–4x longer. I spent 30x LESS time (30 seconds in total) and SAVED myself from distractions from my core activity. Cost me $1.5. I treat it not as an “expense”, but as reinvestment into my laser sharp focus on what really matters to me.

😨 Some fears that prevented me from doing this earlier:

  • “Indie Maker” pride of doing everything on your own
  • Fear of not having enough work that can be delegated
  • Fear that I wouldn’t be able to afford it
  • Fear that I’ll fail at hiring the right person and my hiring time wouldn’t be worth it

That’s all b/s and insecurities that I had inside of me. The way to battle them

🔍 How to find a good VA?

  1. Post a job on some VA site (here is where I found mine)
  2. Do pay for their subscription — it’s 100% worth it and will make you take the process seriously. People that don’t understand that it takes money to make money don’t get far in life.
  3. Write a job description: 1. Who you are. 2. What tasks you expect your VA to do. 3. Set of interview questions that your candidates need to answer to qualify to what YOU want.
    I treat writing a job description as a self-reflection process of what I, myself, what and how I get it.
  4. After you publish (and pay) a job listing — you’ll start getting applications to your email. Start archiving those that you are not impressed with, and shortlisting those that you liked. It’s a 100% subjective process, and it should be, because you are hiring for YOURSELF.
  5. Once you shortlisted 3–10 applicants — follow up with more questions and perhaps a sample assignment that will make you more confident that the person is right for you.
  6. After interacting with that shortlist, narrow it down to around 3 people — and do a phone call with them.
  7. You’ll get a better feel for the right person after that.
  8. If you are hiring for the first time ever, I’d recommend you hire 2 people at the same time. That will help you understand whether your tasks are too complex or if your VA is too lazy. And then keep 1 VA that has been doing better than the other.

Once you have a shortlist of about 10 candidates, it’s handy to have some kanban tool. You can use Trello. I use Notion and here is how my hiring process looks like 👇

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Start of the hiring funnel
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Start moving people through the funnel, after you get more information about them
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Now you know who satisfied your basic criteria
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Shortlist. Time to start doing calls and test assignments!
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Hireddd!

🇵🇭 Why Philippines?

  • Cheap
  • Hardworking
  • Great English
  • Huge Population

Where to hire, find VAs?

Here is the exact site I use 👈 That’s a referral link, so we both will get discounts when posting jobs there!

💰 How much should you pay someone?

While hiring, I got into a situation when I was 🤷‍♂️ unsure how to compensate both short-listed candidates. My challenge was:

  • 🧔 Applicant A, had a higher rate than what I was advertising in the job description.
  • 🧔 Applicant B, had a lower rate than what I was advertising in the job description.

That got me a bit confused. What should I do? What do people do in this situations? Is there a hiring protocol for this? One would think (and i was certainly tempted) to “squeeze” the benefit and start bargaining for a better deal: offer 🧔Applicant A to agree to my advertised salary & offer
🧔 Applicant B to work at their asking rate versus my offer. That would have been a mistake! Both people would feel cheated and not as enthusiastic to work with you. Moreover, when you pay people MORE than what they asked for, MORE than what they had expected, they’ll reciprocate, they’ll feel appreaciated and would want to do extra for you!

If you find yourself in a similar situation — always pay a little bit more!
Always hire people who have space to grow — they’ll be more excited about the j̶o̶b̶ challenge.

🤔 How to ACTUALLY KNOW if someone will be a good for the job?

Interviews, questions — can help you filter and screen on the surface level. How fast someone responds? Can they write in English? Speed of their internet? etc.
But to find out if someone is actually gonna work out — give them a real task.
Send your top 3 shortlisted candidates the exact same task, at the exact same time. And watch what happens. You’ll be able to see who’s faster to respond, who asks what questions during the process? Do they ask questions at all? Do they need to be managed? And many many more things that you probably have not even thought of (I haven’t!) while creating your job description.

To summarise:

#1 thing you can do as a creative/Maker person who’s having at least some success is:

  • ❌ DON’T buy expensive watch, shoes, clothes, apartment and sh*t.
  • ✅ DO hire part-time help. Buy yourself more time to ONLY do what you are great at.

Credits

Several people I’d like to thank:

  • Eddy Azar + 5 other people i don’t remember 🙈 — thanks for recommending me hire a VA.
  • Veronica Ng for “babysitting” me throughout the hiring process. She’s been hiring doooozens of people at Chasing Lights
  • Roman Zolotarev for asking me questions and reviewing this article.
  • Naval Ravikant for tweet storms and explaining that “having people work for” you is a form of leverage (along with code, media, capital, etc) Explained in one of the earlier episodes of his podcast.
  • MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) for re-affirming how important it is to outsource all the sh&t you dont want to do so that you don’t burn out as a creative. He talks about it in an interview with Logan Paul.

Got questions?

Share the article and tweet me your questions: https://twitter.com/ksaitor
Do not DM — I don’t check them.

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