“I like to talk to people. I've got one assistant, one Blackberry. That's my overhead. I don't text that much or email. I like to sit down face-to-face and have a conversation with you. I'm old-fashioned.” ~ Mark Wahlberg
As the owner and operator of my own business, I’ve become very self-reliant. I know that if I don’t take care of important tasks myself I will stress over them. It is hard to delegate work to others that you haven’t really had the time or know how to run background checks on. Even when you have carefully planned projects, sometimes it is difficult to find people with the qualifications you would prefer.
For the past few years now I have been discovering amazing talent online. I know it seems like a big risk, putting jobs online and hoping someone responsible answers your ad. Avoid the anxiety over in person interviews and researching qualifications, it’s time-consuming and I would rather focus my efforts elsewhere. It doesn’t mean I take hiring practices lightly, but I know where my strengths are.
There are many online freelance worker/client websites, but none other than Upwork. Upwork.com has been a great tool for my growing business. As I said, for many years I’ve been a one-man show. We all need a little help from time to time, and Upwork makes it simple and stress-free. Whether you need someone short term or long term, if there are short tasks you need to get done that you have no time for or if you want to build a working relationship with an independent contractor for the long haul, Upwork has this covered. For at least five years, the website has had some changes. It was once called oDesk, but the changes have been great improvements. Things have been simplified and there are safeguards in place for both contractors and clients. Plus you don’t need to be a large company to use this service. Businesses like Unilever, Pinterest, and NBC are just a few that use Upwork for hiring out virtual assistance specialists.
I didn’t think I’d ever need to hire someone for the day-to-day tasks, but menial tasks steal time away from me that I could be using to create and foster other projects. I obviously do things like checking the emails and invoices myself, but culling through other tasks requires additional help. I am tech savvy, but the sheer flood of messages can be daunting. I can get someone to create a whitelist for my personal email and bring urgent emails for my business to my immediate attention. I also have someone who schedules posts on my press releases and helps direct information to the appropriate people.
Starting is the easiest part, simply visit Upwork.com and hit “Get Started” in the upper right-hand corner. You don’t need to input any credit card information until you are ready to hire. It does help if you have a ‘registered method of payment’ before you begin to interview potential VAs, they will see that you are ready to get your project started.
Once you create a login, you are free to browse independent contractors. Some are new to the site and others have long established profiles. Upwork recently merged with Behance so you can find a wide range of qualified people here. The profiles are ranked from either star ratings or by their per hour rate. You can choose from a simple menu how you want to filter results, similar to the filter you use when shopping online: by price ascending or descending, type etc…
I don’t have a strict formula for how I hire on Upwork. I really look at the overview statements and portfolio work. You can also view recent client feedback, and those who have a 90% or above successful job rating are keepers. These professionals can vary from web design experts to email and web traffic specialists. There are also many students and recent grads who are helpful for similar tasks are at great prices.
You can hire people from across the globe or right in your area. You can have a video chat right in the message center now, instead of getting on Skype with them. I like how it’s an all-in-one platform where you can browse profiles, message people, put a face to the name in a matter of minutes, see who is available online right in that moment, and hire.
Upwork also has a great system in place that ensures work is being done on your time. As a client, I can see the activity on a per hour contract like how many keystrokes per minute and screenshots of the contractor's screen. If your task is simple enough, you can do a flat rate contract. Flat rate contracts are also protected with milestones. You can either set up small short term goals for the freelancer to meet and you can approve payment or ask for a revision. Another case may be that once the project is completely done you can release funds all in one sum at the end. It really depends on the kind of work you need to have done, but I prefer to do a flat rate since most of my tasks are simple and straightforward.
The app is limited to seeing messages and updates, but to get the most out of Upwork I do recommend visiting the site on a laptop or chose to view the desktop version of the site on your tablet.