The Five Key Areas That Lead
To Explosive Business Growth
Welcome to Freelance F.O.R.C.E.!
If you’ve ever wanted to get more done in less time, this course is for you. And if you want to grow your business faster, then you’re going to love this course. That’s because you’re about to find out how to build a virtual team of freelancers to do all the most important jobs in your business.
To that end, we’ll start this course by going over the five components of an effective freelance F.O.R.C.E. These components include:
- FOCUS on Five Key Areas
- ORGANIZE Your System
- RANK Your Priorities
- CREATE Your Core Values
- EDUCATE Team Members
In short, you’ll uncover your business needs, prioritize them, and then assemble a team who can help you achieve your business mission.
And that’s not all. You’ll also discover:
- The biggest time-consuming and costly mistakes you can make when putting together your team, and how to avoid them.
- The seven habits of highly effective teams, and how to cultivate these factors in your team.
- How to find the R.I.G.H.T. team members who are a good fit for your business.
And much more. By the time you’re done with this course, you’ll know how to build and motivate a freelance force that works tirelessly to increase your profits!
Now, we have lots of information to cover, so let’s get to it…
Focus On the Five Key Areas
In order to start the process of building your virtual team of freelancers, you need to understand the key areas of your business, and what sort of team members you’ll need to complete tasks in these five key areas.
NOTE: what we’re going to focus on is building a team of freelancers (sometimes called independent contractors). These are NOT employees. That means that you don’t control their time, and you don’t even set their rates. It also means you don’t need to worry about payroll taxes, health insurance, or anything else that’s usually required when it comes to hiring employees.
In essence, what you’re going to do is build an overall freelance force by assembling the following teams:
- Design Team
- Content Team
- Tech Team
- Marketing Team
- Support Team
Take note: even though I referred to each of the five areas above as “teams,” the reality is that you may start off with as few as one person on each team. In other words, your freelance force will consist of one person on your design team, one person on your content team, one person on your tech team, one person on your marketing team, and one person on your support team. Then, as your business grows, so too will your five teams.
Which brings us to the question: what sort of tasks do people on these teams do? Let’s take a closer look:
This team provides the expertise to design your website, create graphics for things like blog posts and advertising banners, and create ecover graphics for your products.
Your first team member may be a well-rounded designer who can easily move between creating a blog graphic and an ecover.
This team will create a variety of content for your business, including:
- Blog posts.
- Lead magnets and rebrandable reports.
- Products (ebooks, reports, and even scripts for video products).
- Social media posts.
- Emails (both article-style newsletters and advertisements).
- Sales letters.
And similar items. This team can also work on tasks such as tweaking private label rights content, repurposing your existing content, and similar tasks.
If you start out with just one member of your content team, this should be a person with a variety of skills who can create both regular content (such as blog posts) as well as provide sales copy for you. Later, as your business grows, you may hire separate people for content and sales copy.
These are the people who take care of the technical tasks, such as setting up and maintaining your website, developing scripts and apps, and similar technical tasks. Generally, the first member of your tech team will be your web developer.
This team provides a variety of tasks, which may also include help you create an overall marketing strategy for your business. This team may also manage your:
- Affiliate program.
- Social media channels.
- Email marketing.
- Search engine optimization campaigns.
- Paid advertising campaigns.
- Viral marketing efforts.
- Blogging campaign (including guest blogging).
- Conversion testing.
Generally, most marketing experts specialize in one or more of the above tasks, so it can be difficult to find someone who has the flexibility to do all of these tasks for you. However, you can certainly train someone to complete the basic tasks needed for each category above.
For example, your content team can create much of the content required for things like email marketing, social media, SEO, blogging and similar. Then you just need someone to do conversion testing to check that your campaigns are working. Or you may decide to hire someone for a bigger task, such as managing your affiliate program.
Point is, it is possible to start relatively small and scale as your business grows.
Your support team has two main jobs:
- Offering customer support. In other words, these are the folks who handle your customer service inquiries, whether via a help desk, email, web chat, and/or by phone.
- Supporting you. This is a virtual assistant who helps you with day to day tasks. This person may complete tasks such as research, uploading articles, coordinating certain tasks with other members of your team, doing data entry, and anything else where you need some help.
When you’re just getting started, you may hire one person (a virtual assistant) who can provide a wide range of services, ranging from customer service help to research to other tasks you need.
As mentioned, you may start with just one person on each team, and then add team members as your business grows.
Which brings us to the next question: how do you organize your team to work as a cohesive unit? That’s what we’ll talk about in the next section, so stay tuned.
The Secrets For Creating A Nearly Hands-Free
System for Growing Your Business
At this point you’ve started thinking about your needs by focusing on the five key areas of your business. Now it’s time for Step 2 of the Freelance F.O.R.C.E. formula, which is to Organize Your System.
Here’s the thing…
You need your team to work as a cohesive unit. This is true even if your team members never interact with one another. And that’s why you need to plan all your projects and decide the flow and process for these project (and how freelancers will fit into your system).
Now before we delve into this idea of creating systems, let me share with you two ideas that you may find useful, depending on your situation:
- Consider creating process maps.
Some of your projects may be really simple. But the majority are likely to require multiple steps, and you may find it easier to create and keep track of these projects by creating process maps. That’s because this is a visual representation of the workflow, so you can check it and see at a glance what needs to be done.
- Think about whether your team members will interact.
If you’re creating a system where team members are going to interact, then you need to give them a platform for these interactions. This platform should be built with project management in mind, with features such as attaching files to messages.
One such example is Basecamp, which is designed for project management and team communication: https://basecamp.com/.
Another example is Slack, which is an app that your team members can download. You can find it here: www.slack.com.
Both of these solutions make it easy for team members to collaborate on projects, share files, and so on. For example, it makes it easy for your copywriter to hand off a sales letter to your web designer (who’ll design the page and upload it). And these platforms make it easy for you to monitor all interactions, approve projects as necessary, etc.
However, even if your team members never interact, these solutions are still solid options for your business. That’s because emails can get lost. When you use a project management platform, you and your freelancer can discuss projects and share files (even in real time using the messaging features), and you never have to worry about emails disappear into bulk folders.
With these points in mind, let’s talk about your systems…
Creating a System
For every type of project you handle in your business, you’ll want to create a system.
If you’ve handled this project yourself in the past, then creating a system is easy. All you have to do is list the steps, and then assign team members to these steps. (You’ll see an example below.)
If you’ve never completed a certain type of project before, then you’ll need to complete some extra steps in order to create your system or process. Here are the steps:
- Research the process. Here you use Google or your favorite search engine to run a “how to” search (e.g., how to set up a sales page… how to set up a sales funnel… how to create and sell an ebook… etc.).
- Ask others about the process. Once you have a good understanding of how to create a process, then you’ll want to ask experts how to make the process faster, easier and more cost-effective. These experts may include other small business owners and/or freelancers who perform these tasks on a regular basis.
TIP: If you currently don’t have any freelancers and/or business partners who can answers these questions for, then join business and freelancing forums and groups online to get answers to your question. (E.G., search for business groups in Facebook and/or “small business forums” via Google to uncover these groups.)
- Create your process. Now that you’ve done both research and talked to experts, you can confidently create your system/process. This means listing each step, and then assigning team members to each of these steps.
Now let me share with you a common example of a project where you assign different team members to complete different steps. For this example, we’ll assume that your team members do NOT interact with one another.
For this example, let’s suppose you’re creating a paid report and a sales letter to sell it. Here are the steps involved:
Step 1: You create a detailed project brief for your content team.
Step 2: Content team researches the topic of the paid report, fills out the outlines, and contacts you for final approval and to ask any questions about the project.
Step 3: You modify the outline if needed, answer any questions, and approve the project to begin.
Step 4: Content team creates the report.
Step 5: You go over the report and either ask for changes (if needed), or approve the report.
Step 6: Different member of your team (such as your virtual assistant) preps the report for sale. This includes proofing the report, formatting/designing the interior, and converting it to a PDF.
Step 7: You create a detailed project brief for your design team to create an ecover graphic.
Step 8: You answer any questions the design team has, and give the green light for the project to start.
Step 9: You get the finished graphics and either approve them or request changes if needed.
Step 10: You create a detailed project brief for your copywriter to create the sales letter. You also hand them both the finished product and the graphics.
Step 11: You answer any questions the copywriter has, and then they begin working on the sales letter.
Step 12: You get the completed sales letter, and either approve it or request changes if needed.
[NOTE: Depending on what your copywriter is capable of doing, they may design/format the sales page themselves, or you may ask them to work with a member of your design team to design and format it.]
Step 13: You instruct a member of your design team to create your download page.
Step 14: You create a detailed project brief for a member of your tech team to upload the sales page, the download page and the product to your site. They’ll also check that payment buttons, links, and opt-in forms work.
As you can see, there are several steps for this type of project, with action needed to be taken on your part at crucial points during the process. However, once you start working with a team, this whole process will go quickly and smoothly, as everyone will know exactly what they need to do. Still, it’s a good idea to create a process map for each project, just in case you lose an experienced team member and need to hire someone else.
A Simple Three-Step Process For Planning
A Highly Effective Outsourcing Calendar
We are now at Step 3 of the Freelance F.O.R.C.E. System, which is where you’re going to Rank Your Priorities. This means you’re going to determine what to outsource right now in order to grow your business (and what to outsource over the next six months).
You see, most small business owners don’t have unlimited funds to outsource every part of their business, and I’m guessing that you’re no different. As such, you’re going to need to determine your needs, and then prioritize these needs with your budget considerations in mind.
Here’s how to do it in three steps:
Step 1: List all possible tasks.
Obviously, the tasks you need done in your business are going to be different than the tasks other business owners need. As such, I can’t provide a complete list for. However, I can provide an example.
First, remember that you want to focus on the five key areas of your business, including:
- Design Team
- Content Team
- Tech Team
- Marketing Team
- Support Team
Now within these key areas, you’ll want to list the tasks you need done over the next six months to a year.
Let’s say you’re an information marketer and you want to put together a sales funnel and start promoting the products. Your initial tasks might look like this:
Design team: Create your website (including overall design, as well as design of individual pages such as sales pages); create ecover graphics for products and lead magnets.
Content team: Create a lead magnet; create a frontend offer; create a core offer; create a backend offer; create bonus products to go with these offers; create sales letter/landing pages to go with these offers; create emails to promote these offers.
Note: For this example, we’re assuming you’re creating text-based products such as reports and ebooks.
Tech team: Install WordPress on your website; set up any additional pages; upload your sales pages and download pages; maintain your website.
Marketing team: Set up a lead page; plan your email marketing strategy; manage one or more traffic sources (e.g., an affiliate program, content marketing, social media marketing, guest blogging, paid advertising, etc.).
Support team: Prepare products for sale; prepare content for publication; handle customer service inquiries.
Step 2: Rank these tasks.
Now you need to determine which of these tasks to outsource. Use the following question to help you make these determinations and then rank the tasks in order of those you want to outsource immediately versus those you’ll outsource in the mid-term and long-term.
Ask yourself the following to help you decide what to outsource:
What are your biggest challenges/”stuck” points?
What tasks do you tend to procrastinate on?
Which tasks do you despise?
What tasks would be better suited to a professional?
Which tasks are you good at?
Which tasks do you really enjoy?
How long does it take you to do each of these tasks?
How much does a freelancer charge for each of these tasks?
What are your short-term and long-term business goals?
Which tasks are most important to moving your business forward now?
What are the high-value and low-value tasks in your business? (Hint: outsource low-value tasks, which frees you up to do high-value tasks.)
For example, maybe you determine that you’re not a very good writer, so it makes sense to outsource all content creation (including lead magnets, products, emails and similar). You’ll then want to prioritize these tasks while taking budget considerations in mind.
If you outsource all content in this example and still have money leftover in the budget, then you can outsource other tasks that will help your business grow quickly, such as marketing. Perhaps in this case you hire an affiliate manager to recruit and motivate affiliates.
As your business grows, you’ll then have the money to reinvest back into other outsourcing tasks, such as additional marketing efforts, customer service, etc.
Step 3: Create an outsourcing calendar.
So at this point you know what needs to be done, you know which tasks are best outsourced, and you’ve prioritized these tasks according to your needs and your budget. Now you’ll need to create an outsourcing calendar that fits your needs and budget. For example, this may mean spreading out the tasks over several months to accommodate your budget.
So, let’s stick with the example of creating the sales funnel and focusing on the content. You’ll prioritize those tasks that will have the biggest impact, while taking your budget into considerations into mind as needed:
For example, your outsourcing calendar may look like this:
Month 1: Get a lead magnet, opt-in page, frontend offer, sales page, and initial autoresponder series created. (That way you can start promoting your lead magnet and frontend offer immediately to start recouping your investment.) Hire a design and tech team member to handle any design/technical tasks that you’re unable to handle (e.g., ecover design, web design and security).
Month 2: Get your core offer and sales letter created. Get an autoresponder series to promote the core offer. Hire an affiliate manager to set up your affiliate program.
Month 3: Get your backend offer and sales letter created. Get an autoresponder series to promote the backend offer. Hire someone for your marketing team to run your social media marketing strategy.
Month 4: Create one or two additional offers to sell on the backend. Hire someone to run your paid advertising campaigns. Create another set of emails for your autoresponder to promote these offers.
Month 5: Create another high-ticket offer to sell on the backend. Hire customer service reps to field customer service inquiries.
Month 6: Hire a marketing team member to start rolling out your blogging strategy. Create another set of emails for your autoresponder.
Month 7 and beyond: Scale your business by focusing on:
- Creating additional sales funnels.
- Adding in new traffic sources each month.
- Converting traffic to buyers via your email list.
- Hiring a conversion specialize to optimize your funnels.
Again, the above is just an example – your outsourcing calendar will look different depending on your needs and budget.
Also, keep in mind that this calendar only shows you what the freelancers are doing – you’ll continue to do other tasks (such as customer service, marketing, etc.) until you outsource those tasks too.
How to Create A Business Framework That Guides
Your Freelancers Into Producing Their Best Work
You’ve been learning about the Freelance F.O.R.C.E. system, which is all about finding and hiring an effective freelancing team to grow your business. We’re now at the fourth step of the system, which is to Create Your Core Values and Mission (and then share them with your team members).
You can think of these components as rudders for your business. Without them, your business may drift along rather haphazardly. You won’t have a clear direction for your business. And your freelancers won’t be working within a clear framework that guides them (nor will you understand how your freelancers fit into this framework).
That’s why this lesson is broken into the following parts:
- Part 1: Define Your Values.
- Part 2: Determine How Freelancers Fit Into This Framework.
Let’s look at each of these pieces in more detail…
Part 1: Define Your Values
As mentioned, the understanding goes both ways. You need to define the following pieces of your business to better understand how freelancers will fit into your business, and your freelancers need to understand these pieces too as it will guide how they complete projects for you.
Here are the pieces:
- Core values. These are the guiding principles/beliefs/philosophy of your company, which should be tied into your mission, vision and goals. For example, one of your company’s core values may be to provide services with enthusiasm and passion.
- Company mission. This is a statement that describes what your company does. Here’s Google’s mission as an example: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Company vision. This is a statement of what your company aspires to be or do. Your company goals should help drive your vision. For example, Disney’s vision is to make people happy.
- Company goals. These are your overall business goals that are guided by your mission and help propel your vision.
For example, if your company vision is to empower and educate stay at home moms to start their own profitable home businesses, then you might have goals such as creating a Facebook ad campaign to reach as many stay at home moms as possible.
- Brand. This is how you want people to FEEL when they’re using your products. For example, if you sell weight loss information, you may want people to feel empowered and attractive.
- Company culture. This is how your freelancers, business partners and other company insiders interact with one another as well as the outside world.
Note: some of your expectations with regards to your freelancers may be related to your company culture. (The company culture becomes more important to freelancers if your team members are interacting with one another, which isn’t always the case.)
NOTE: The process of creating all of these pieces is beyond the scope of this lesson, as we’re primarily focused on how these pieces relate to your freelancing team. As such, if you don’t already have these pieces in place, you’ll want to pick up a basic business book to learn how to create these items.
Once you’ve put these pieces in place, then take a look at Part 2…
Part 2: Determine How Freelancers Fit Into This Framework
There are two parts to this:
- You determine how freelancers fit into this framework.
For example, your freelancers are going to directly influence your company culture if your team members interact with one another, so you want to make sure you choose freelancers who are a good fit into your existing culture.
Another example: the tasks you hand to your freelancers are going to be directly related to your company mission, vision and goals, so you want to get clear on these items BEFORE you build your team.
- You share your company values, mission, vision etc. with all incoming freelancers, as knowing these things will help them grow your business.
Let me give you different examples of how knowing the following information about your company will help guide different team members.
- Core values. If one of your core values is about passion/enthusiasm, then your customer service reps need to reflect this in their interactions with customers and prospects.
- Company mission, vision and goals. All freelancers on your team should have a good understanding of these components of your business, which will help them understand their contributions to your business.
For example, if a freelance app developer understands that your company mission is to make it easier for people to lose weight, then he’s going to be using that as a guideline when he’s brainstorming a meal-planning app with you.
- Brand. Knowing the brand will many freelancers on your team. For example, if your brand is all about helping busy people lose weight, then your content writers know that they need to create shorter (no-fluff) content.
- Company culture. This piece is particular important if you already have a team, and members are interacting with one another. Sharing this information with prospective team members will help them decide if they’d be a good fit with the team, and the culture will also help guide existing team members.
Let’s wrap things up…
As you can see, this is a lot of information to present to freelancers. However, these are also important pieces that your freelancers need to know. As such, here are tips for presenting this information to your freelancers:
- Provide a fast-paced introductory video for new freelancers to help them become acquainted with these components.
- Create a company handbook for freelancers describing each component, and explain how these components should help guide their work.
- Remind freelancers of these components as needed in your project brief. For example, remind copywriters of your brand so they can reflect it in your sales materials.
Go ahead and work on putting these pieces into place, and then join us in the next section as we go over the last part of the Freelance F.O.R.C.E. system!
A Powerful (Yet Simple) Retention Strategy That
Makes Your Team Members Stick to You Like Glue
You’ve invested a good amount of time into building a freelance team with members who fit your needs and budget. Now what you need to do is make sure these team members remain part of your team. And that’s why you should do onboarding with new team members, which means you educate them about your business and their role in your business.
Because here’s the thing…
Freelancers are in no way tied to you. Sure, they may be contractually tied to you for one project, but if they’re unhappy on your team then they’re going to drop you as a client. That’s why you want to make sure they’re comfortable and happy, which starts with the onboarding/education process.
These is a three-part process which includes:
- Complete Contracts.
- Connect Team Members.
- Create Training Materials.
Let’s look at each of these three parts:
Part 1: Complete Contracts
In some cases, your freelancers may present YOU with an agreement to sign. This is perfectly acceptable, as long as you have your attorney review the document to be sure that it adequately protects you and your interests.
Otherwise, in most cases you’ll need to present your freelancers with agreements. You can have your attorney draw up simple “boilerplate” agreements that you modify for your different team members. In general, these agreements will cover issues such as:
- The scope of a particular project. This should be as detailed as possible (to prevent “scope creep,” where the project grows beyond the original specifications).
- Payment details. This not only covers how much the freelancer will receive for the job, but also when he or she will receive the payments. (E.G., 50% upfront and 50% upon completion of the project.) Your agreement should also be clear about what happens in the event changes are needed.
- Ownership of the project. For example, the agreement may state that obtain all rights/ownership of a project upon payment.
- Any other sort of (optional) agreements, such as non-disclosure agreements. You’ll want to discuss these other options with your attorney to see what you need to protect your business.
TIP: You can use a service like HelloSign.com to digitally sign documents with your team members.
Once you have the agreements out of the way, then move onto the next step…
Part 2: Connect Team Members
One of the challenges with building a team of freelancers is that they tend to be all over the world, and they work independently to complete their tasks. As such, they miss out on the traditional benefits of working in the same building as others, such as socializing around the water cooler. This sort of socialization helps build morale and bonds the team, which makes them work more effectively together.
As such, you may foster these bonds by connecting your team members with one another. A good way to do this is by giving them a common platform, such as on Slack.com. You can create private channels for each of your five teams, as well as one common channel where team members can socialize, joke around, etc.
Simply put: even though your team members are working independently, they may feel more loyal to you and your business if they feel like a valued member of the team. And meeting and getting to know other team members – while completely optional — is one way to foster this feeling.
TIP: You may also consider pairing new members with experienced members of your team. For example, if you hire a new writer, you may ask an existing writer to “show them the ropes” as needed. Just be sure that you compensate your other team members for providing this guidance.
Part 3: Create Training Materials
When you add a new member, you’ll want to provide them with the following documentation:
- Detailed project brief. This brief should explain exactly what you need, with clear tasks and expected outcomes. Remember that your freelancer is not a mind reader, so provide as many details as possible.
For example, if you need a writer to create a short article for you, then your brief should include:
- Working title.
- Intended audience.
- The purpose of the content (how it will be used).
- Length of the content.
- Outline for the content (what topics to include and how it should be structured).
- And anything else that’s relevant to completing this task.
- Samples. Instead of just telling your freelancer how you’d like something done, show them. For example, if you want a writer to create a funny blog post, then show them a variety of samples with an explanation of what you like about these samples.
(Just be sure your freelancer understands that the samples are for inspiration only.)
- Process maps/systems/tutorials. In some cases, you may need to train your freelancer how to complete certain tasks. In this case, a process map, system or tutorial may be helpful.
- You may create a set of copy and paste scripts for your customer service team to help them handle typical requests (such as refund requests).
- You may create a tutorial for your blog writers that explains how you’d like the content structured and created, along with information so they can log into your blog to upload the content.
- You may create a process map that shows your team how all projects are to be processed. For example, a process map may direct the copywriter to show a sales letter to you for approval, and then pass the finished copy off to the web designer to design the sales page. A graphic designer may be brought in to create the ecover graphics, and a conversion specialist may monitor the entire process and ask the web designer and copywriter to make tweaks.
Be sure that your new team member also has everything they need to perform their job. For example, be sure your designer has your login information so they can access your domain, your hosting account, your website, and anything else they need to perform their job.
This three-part process of Completing Contracts, Connecting Team Members, and Creating Training Materials is a great way to introduce your new members to your team, educate them about how to be a valued member, and get them excited about working with you. Point is, if you want to retain your team members, then don’t skip the onboarding and education process!
The Seven Must-Have Elements That Every
Project Description Ought To Include
One of biggest frustrations business owners experience when they outsource is getting a poor end result. Generally, there are two main reasons why you may experience a poor result:
- You’ve hired an incompetent freelancer.
- You haven’t communicated your needs clearly.
We’ve talked about hiring high-quality freelancers elsewhere. That’s why in this lesson you’re going to find out the seven crucial elements of a project description. Be sure your description has these seven items, and you’re sure to get great results.
Check them out…
#1. The overview.
This is simply one or two succinct sentences describing the project, along with a working title (where applicable). This lets your freelancer know what the project is about with just a quick glance.
E.G., “I’d like a blog article detailing five fat-loss methods, with a special focus on low-carb dieters. Working title: The Five Secrets for Effortlessly Revving Up Your Metabolism to Start Burning More Fat.”
#2. The purpose.
The next thing you want your freelancer to know is how you plan to use the item that you’re having them create. This section of your brief should answer the following questions (where relevant):
- What are your objectives? E.G., To attract leads with solid content, and convert those leads into subscribers.
- What do you want the end user to do? E.G., To click on the link at the end of the article and join the mailing list.
- How does this item fit into your sales funnel? E.G., This is an article you intend to publish on your blog which leads to your lead page.
As always, provide as many details as needed to give your freelancer a clear idea of the purpose.
#3. The intended audience.
Here’s where you answer the question, who will use/consume the end product?
Be specific here. Don’t just give a generic answer such as “people who want to lose weight.” Instead, offer as many details as you can – profile the audience – so that the freelancer can create an end result that really speaks to the user.
For example: This article is for women over 40 who’ve tried countless diets and have had their weight yo-yo up and down for the past several years. They’re frustrated because their weight went up after having children, and now their metabolisms are going down as they approach menopause. They’re looking for easy weight loss solutions to fit in with their busy lives.
TIP: It’s also a good idea to provide a description of your company, including mission and branding information, as this will provide context for your freelancer.
#5. The specific formatting instructions.
Here’s where you provide your specific, detailed instructions for what all you want included in the project. This includes these two components:
- An outline. If this is a text-based product (like an article or report), then let your freelancer know exactly what you want in each section. If this is another item (such as an app), then likewise provide details such as both the form and function of the app (what the user interface looks like, what happens when the user taps on certain buttons on the interface, etc.).
- Other relevant details. This is where you provide everything else your freelancer needs to know to create a good result for you.
For example, if this is an article, then you can provide details on tone, style, how you’d like the content formatted, etc.
For instance, you might tell the freelancer you want an article with a conversational tone, intriguing subheadlines for each section, and plenty of examples and tips.
#6. The samples/examples of what you want.
Now that you’ve explained exactly what you want, you need to provide samples and examples to make your instructions clear.
For example, if you told your writer that you want an article with a conversational tone, then show him samples of articles with conversational tones that you like.
If you told your designer that you want a certain type of “whimsical” graphic, then show him a half a dozen examples of graphics with the same feeling of whimsy that you’re seeking.
#7. The finishing details.
The last part of your project brief should include all the other details your freelancer needs to complete the project, including:
- The deadline. Generally, this is something you and your freelancer should discuss and mutually agree upon based on your respective schedules. However, if you’re creating a project description for a freelancing site to attract potential new team members, then you’ll state your own deadline. (Keep in mind that being flexible with your deadline will allow you to attract higher-quality candidates.)
- Milestones. If it’s a bigger project, then you may assign deadlines (and perhaps payments) to various project milestones.
- Budget. Here you’ll describe how and when you’ll pay the freelancer, and how much is dedicated to the entire project.
- Experience level, skills required, and other tools required. For example, list here if you want someone with English as a first language, or perhaps you want a designer who works with a specific piece of software (like Photoshop).
- Short or long-term considerations. If you’re looking for someone to do work for you over the long term, then let prospective freelancers know that those who do satisfactorily complete smaller assignments will be considered for larger projects.
- Openness to questions. Here you’ll want to make it clear that you encourage questions.
Now that you know the seven must-have details every project brief ought to include, it’s time to put these ideas to work for you. These ideas work for all briefs, from product briefs to articles to apps to designs and more. Be sure your next brief includes these components, and you’re sure to see great results!
The 5 Biggest, Costliest Mistakes You Can Make When Building Your Freelance Force – And How To Avoid Them
If you’ve been paying close attention to this course, then you know there are a lot of advantages to building a freelance force. Simply put, it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to grow your business – and it’s virtually hands-free for you!
Naturally, this only applies if you avoid some of the costliest mistakes involved in working with a team. Many business owners end up learning these painful lessons directly, and they lose valuable time and money as a result.
The good news is that you don’t have to learn these lessons through trial and error. Instead, just read on to discover five of the common (and costliest) mistakes… and how to avoid them.
1. Hiring Before Getting Clear About Your Needs
We’ve already identified the five key areas where you’ll want to hire freelancers to take care of specific tasks (Content, Marketing, Support, Tech and Design). However, before you think about hiring anyone for each of these categories, you first need to get crystal clear about your needs. This means you should have a business plan in place, and then find people to help you implement this business plan.
For example, let’s suppose you decide to hire a write to create blog posts. You spend a significant amount of time and effort finding a good writer. Then a couple weeks later you realize you need someone who can not only write well, but also someone who can optimize that content for the search engines. If you find out your current writer can’t do that, then you wasted both your time and his.
Point is, get crystal clear about your needs before you start the hiring process.
2. Viewing Your Team as an Expense
A good way to think about your freelancing team is to view them as an investment, rather than an expense.
If you view your team as an expense, then you’re going to be tempted to shop around for the lowest-priced freelancers. And as the saying goes, if you pay peanuts then you can expect to get monkeys.
For example, if you shop around for the lowest-price writer to create blog content, you’re likely to find someone who speaks and writes English as a shaky, sub-par second language. Or you might find someone who rushes through the content so fast that they don’t take the time to properly fact-check their work. And your blog is going to suffer for it.
These sorts of freelancers end up being very expensive, as you’ll need to re-do their work (or suffer the consequences of publishing poor content).
Point is, view your team as an investment – and then research to find freelancers who’ll add value to your business.
Which brings us to the next point…
3. Rushing Through the Due Diligence Process
I get it – you’re eager to build your team. And doing due diligence the right way may seem sort of tedious and time-consuming.
But here’s the thing – while doing the research to find the best freelancer for you does take time upfront, it SAVES you a ton of time and money down the road. Because if you rush through this process, you’re going to end up with a freelancer who either offers poor-quality work, or they’re unprofessional and prone to missing deadlines.
So, save yourself some time and money by taking your time with the due diligence process.
4. Failing to Create a Backup Plan
Even if you’ve done your due diligence and picked the very best freelancer possible, unexpected things can still happen. A death in the family, illness, natural disasters or even technology problems can contribute to the freelancer turning in work late… or worse yet, completely abandoning a project.
Question is, do you have a backup plan? What will you do if one of your freelancers doesn’t get the project completed on time? What will you do if one of your freelancers simply disappears mid-project?
These are questions you’ll need to answer as you build your team, and be sure to put a backup plan in place. For example, you may have other freelancers onboard to serve as backups, or in extreme cases you may be able to step in yourself to complete the work.
5. Creating High Turnover
All of your freelancers work independently, and depending on how your business is set up, they may not ever interact with one another. As such, they may not see the big picture and how they contribute and add value to your business. In turn, this can lead to some freelancers feeling unenthusiastic, which of course results in the work suffering. You may even have high freelancer turnover rates, which costs you plenty of time and money over the long term.
You can avoid these problems by following these tips:
- Let freelancers know they’re a valued member of your team. In other words, take the time to tell your freelancers how much you appreciate them.
- Offer constructive criticism. Don’t berate your freelancers when they make mistakes. Instead, be very clear about what you’d like them to do differently, and then politely ask them to make these changes.
- Give freelancers the big picture. When you hand off an assignment to a freelancer, give them an idea of how their contribution fits into your overall business. This will help them feel like a valued member of the team.
For example, if you ask a writer to create a report, let them know how this product fits into your overall sales funnel.
Now let’s wrap things up…
Building a team of freelancers to run your business can be one of the best business decisions you’ve ever made. Or it can be a total nightmare if you end up making any of the most common mistakes that can potentially cost you a lot of time and money. You just learned how to avoid five of the more costly mistakes, so be sure to keep these points in mind as you build and manage your team!
Seven Surprisingly Easy Ways To Turn Your
Freelancing Team Into A Well-Oiled Profit Machine
Some business owners have a virtual team. And some business owners have a highly effective virtual team that runs smoothly to produce profits. If you too like the idea of building your own highly effective team, then you’re going to want to check out these seven ideas…
1. Communicate Regularly
One of the best ways to both stay in the loop and bond with your team is to communicate regularly with them, both formally (such as when you’re touching base about a project) and informally.
- Make a commitment to touch base at regular intervals when you’re working on a project. For example, you might decide to touch base twice per week for updates on a certain project. This ensures that you’re aware of any problems before they fester for too long and become bigger problems.
- Follow up on personal information. If your freelancer shares something personal with you (such as having a baby), follow up later to ask about the baby. Again, this sort of small gesture helps you develop good relationships with your team members.
2. Create Consistency
Your freelancers will set their own hours. However, depending on what sort of projects you’re working on, you may ask your freelancer to create some consistency with their schedule. That makes it easier to talk in “real time” about projects or even collaborate with other team members as needed.
3. Be Available
Yes, one of the big benefits of building a freelancing team is that you create a virtually hands-free business. And it’s awesome when the team members all know exactly what they’re supposed to do, and they dive right into their tasks.
But heads up: just because it’s virtually hands-free doesn’t mean it’s completely hands-free. If you want a well-run team, then you need to make yourself available. That means not acting like it’s burden to answer questions, provide clarity, offer examples, etc.
Be sure to create an “open door” policy, and regularly encourage your freelancers to ask questions. This helps ensure you get good results, and projects whose reality matches your vision.
4. Create Bonding Opportunities
You may have a business (like mine) where team members don’t interact with other team members. In other cases, you may have members of your team working together, such as having your copywriter work with your web designer to create a high-converting sales page.
In these cases, you’ll want to create bonding opportunities for these team members. One way to do this is to set up a communication platform (such as Slack.com), and create a “channel” that’s dedicated to light-hearted talk. You can then post in that channel to demonstrate what sort of content you’d like to see (such as G-rated jokes).
Another way to bond team members who work together is by holding video conferences. For example, you might pull your writing team together once a month on a conference to go over upcoming projects. Doing this sort of meeting via video helps people put faces to names, which fosters bonding.
5. Be Sensitive to Cultural Issues
If you have team members scattered about the globe, then you’ll want to be sure you (and any team members who are interacting with one another) are sensitive to culture issues.
For example, humor is very different in certain parts of the world – so what you may consider funny could be construed as offensive by others on your team.
Another example: Those with different religions, or those who live in a different part of the world, may take different days off than you.
None of this means you want to pry into someone’s personal life, but it is a good idea to try to gain some understanding of how where your freelancers live might impact their viewpoints.
6. Manage Expectations
Both you and your individual freelancers have expectations about your working relationship, so it’s good for both parties to make their expectations clear before you even begin working together. You may also want to revisit this issue from time to time to see if your expectations have changed.
If you have mismatched expectations, it’s a good idea to find a compromise upfront so that problems don’t develop down the road.
- How do each of you expect to contact one another? (Here we’re referring to communication channels, such as email, phone, video calls, Skype, Slack, Facebook, etc.)
- How often do you expect to get updates on a project?
- How would you like a project delivered? (E.G., do you want a blog article delivered as a .doc, .txt or some other format?)
- Do you expect your freelancers to attend meetings or do consults on the phone?
These are just a few issues that may pop up. You’ll need to figure out what all you expect so you can discuss them with your team.
7. Hone Your Management Skills
A lot of business owners make the jump from being employees to being business owners – and they’re not prepared to manage projects or their team. That’s why you’ll want to be sure to hone your management skills. Check out these tips and ideas:
- Offer praise when warranted. Your team will quickly feel demoralized if they only hear from you when they’ve made mistakes. As such, be sure to let your team members know when they’ve done a good job.
- Consider the source of mistakes. When you get a project that didn’t turn out the way you wanted, step back and consider how YOU contributed to the result. E.G., Did you provide a clear and detailed brief? Did you encourage questions?
- Ask your team members how you can help them do their job. You might be surprised by the answers!
- Read up on efficient management. Most people aren’t naturally good managers, but it is something you can improve. That’s why you’ll want to read books on management to hone your skills. (Check Amazon.com to uncover the bestsellers.)
Now let’s wrap things up…
If you want your team to run like a well-oiled machine, then you need to start implementing the communication and management tips you just learned. They are simple and easy to implement, yet they can turn your team into a highly effective team!
The Secrets Of Finding the R.I.G.H.T.
Team Members To Grow Your Business
It’s one thing to build a team of freelancers. It’s another thing entirely to find and hire freelancers who’ll do a great job of implementing your plans and growing your business. That’s why you’ll want to focus on hiring the R.I.G.H.T. freelancers.
Here’s a quick overview of how to find the R.I.G.H.T. team members:
- Good Fit
Let’s take a closer look at each of these components…
First off, you’ll want to take a look at the freelancer’s rates to be sure they fit within your budget.
This doesn’t mean selecting the cheapest freelancer, as cheap freelancers are usually cheap for a reason (e.g., they don’t provide good quality work). Instead, this means selecting the BEST freelancer possible who fits into your budget.
The nature of the job requires that freelancers know how to work independently. They need to self-motivated. They need to be able to get the job on time without someone constantly looking over their shoulder.
A lot of freelancers start out their careers thinking it’s easy to do these things, but then they quickly find out that they’re not cut out for working independently. And if you happen to have hired them right as they’re figuring this out, you’re sure to have to deal with missed deadlines and/or poor-quality work.
Here’s the key: look for freelancers who have a long, established history of providing good work. If someone has been in business for at least a couple years and is receiving great feedback from employers, that’s a sign that the person knows how to self-motivate and work independently.
Now let’s look at the next component of the R.I.G.H.T. formula…
The next thing you want to look for is someone who is a good fit for your business. This includes the following:
- The freelancer skills match the projects you need completed. For example, if you like a certain style of graphics, then make sure your graphic designer has the skills to produce this style of graphics.
- The freelancer fits with the company culture. If you have a laid-back company culture, then a very serious freelancer may not be a good fit. This is a judgment call, but making the right call can help reduce turnover rates.
- The freelancer is likely to get along with other team members (where interaction is required). Not every team of freelancers is going to interact (mine don’t). But if yours do, then consider whether a new freelancer is likely to clash with other strong personalities on the team.
Here’s the next component of the R.I.G.H.T. formula…
What you’re looking for here is someone who is interested in going above and beyond the call of duty. You want someone who always puts in their best effort, and is very conscientious about creating high-quality work and turning this work in on time.
Here you’re looking for someone who is well-trained and experienced on the key skills you need.
You see, any freelancer can say they’re a “copywriter” or a “designer” or a “programmer.” What you’re looking for is someone who is trained on these skills (either formally or self-taught). You want someone who can demonstrate their competence and show you proof that they know what they’re doing. That’s why it’s always a good idea to look at a freelancer’s portfolio during the due diligence process.
Now let’s pull all these components together…
Ask Before You Hire
Now you may be wondering, how do you determine if a prospective freelancer is a good fit on these five points? You can start by asking them the following questions:
#1. Why should I choose you (over similar freelancers)? Here’s another way to ask this question: What do you bring to the table that’s different from your competition? This is a good way to ferret out qualifications such as the freelancer having unique skills that could be a valuable asset to the team. It may also give you insight as to whether your freelancer has some of the characteristics mentioned above, such as being hard-working.
#2. Do you have experience [with some specific type of project]? If so, please explain. Obviously, the idea here is to make sure that your freelancer has the exact skills you’re looking for to complete certain types of projects.
For example, some writers create great blog posts – but they don’t do as well with reports, ebooks and longer content.
Another example: some programmers are skilled at creating Facebook apps, but they don’t have the skills to create Android or Apple apps.
#3. What are your expectations for the work environment? This sort of question will help you determine if the freelancer is a good fit with your company. It’s also a good starting point if you do hire the person, as you’ll want to know the freelancer’s expectations (and let them know your expectations too).
#4. Why have you parted ways with other employers/outsourcers? Here you’re not looking for generic answers such as the “the job ended” (though often times that truthfully is the case). If the relationship could have continued but did not, you’ll want to try to understand the reasons why.
For example, did the freelancer clash personality-wise with the vendor? Was the vendor unhappy with the quality of work? Did the freelancer lack specific skills that the vendor needed?
NOTE: It’s a good idea to follow up with references, as a freelancer is obviously going to frame these events in a way that shines favorably on them. Still, you can learn a lot about a freelancer simply by listening to how they talk about others. If a freelancer always blames others for the breaking down of professional relationships, that’s a red flag.
#5. Why do you want to work here? Again, this sort of question will help you determine if the freelancer is a good fit with your company.
Now let’s wrap things up…
Now that you know how to find the R.I.G.H.T. freelancer, and you know what questions to ask, let the due diligence begin!
The Quick and Easy Way To
Double Your Money By Outsourcing
Once you building your freelancing team, you’re going to quickly see that outsourcing is a very profitable venture. But until you’ve actually experienced it for yourself, it may be a little hard to imagine. If you’re like a lot of people, you might even still imagine that outsourcing is an expense, where you hire others to do certain tasks that you don’t want to do.
But the truth is, outsourcing (when you do it right) is an investment. That means that for every dollar you invest into outsourcing, you’re going to get more money back.
Sometimes you may make a little money. Sometimes you may make a lot. Sometimes the cash comes quickly and upfront. Sometimes it’s a slow burn where you make money over the long term. It all depends on what you’re outsourcing.
Point is, there are a lot of different ways that outsourcing can help you grow your business. But for the purposes of this lesson, I’m going to share with you a simple example of how to double your money by outsourcing a project. Take a look…
First, let’s decide on a project and the intended outcomes. Let’s suppose you want to create a new product to generate income and to turn your newsletter subscribers into buyers. Your goal is to double the money you invest in this project.
For this example, we’ll assume that you’ve already started building your business, and that you have the following pieces already in place:
- A lead page that offers an enticing lead magnet.
- A mailing list (let’s assume you’re just getting started in this niche, so the mailing list has 2000 people).
Those pieces are already in place. For this example you still need the following components:
- A low-cost tripwire report. This should be highly related to your lead magnet so that those who’ve requested your lead magnet will naturally want your tripwire offer too.
- A set of three emails to sell this tripwire offer to those who are already on your list, as well as those who’ll join in the future.
- A short sales page for this tripwire report.
Now let’s look at what you need to put these pieces together…
You’ll need the following team members:
- A write to create a report that you’ll use as your tripwire product.
- A writer to create three emails.
- A copywriting to create the sales page.
- A graphics person to create an ecover.
- A tech person to upload the sales page to your site.
Take note that you may be able to get one writer who can create all three pieces for you, or you may need to hire multiple writers (one to create the report, and a copywriter to create the emails and short sales page).
Here are example costs for this project:
- Cost to outsource the report (which is the tripwire product): $450.
- Cost for three emails: $75.
- Cost for short-form sales page: $200
- Cost for an ecover: $50.
- Cost to upload the sales page: $25 (for this example we’ll assume you already have a theme in place, so the sales letter only needs to be lightly formatted and uploaded into an existing theme).
Total cost for this project = $800
You upload your three emails to your autoresponder. Since these emails are going out to a warm list, let’s conservatively estimate a 4% conversion rate. And let’s further assume your offer is $20.
You have 2000 people on your mailing list, and 4% of these subscribers purchase the product. That means you have 80 people giving you $20, which adds up to $1600 total.
Boom – just like that, you’ve doubled your outsourcing investment. Now you can take that $800 profit and reinvest it back into your business so that this project continues to make money for you.
For example: You can invest in paid advertising (such as on Facebook) to promote your lead page. When people join your list, they’ll soon get the emails promoting the frontend offer… and now every dollar you make is pure profit, since the project already paid for itself.
As you can see, this is a very simple example. And yet it’s a very doable example too. Best of all, if you already have a list or even just a source of traffic in place, you can instantly recoup your investment – and in the case of this particular example, you could even double your money upfront (and then continue to make money over the long term).
All of the numbers I provided in this example are easy to adapt to your own situation. You may pay more or less for the variety of services mentioned. In some cases, you may even do some of the work yourself (e.g., you may skip the tech person and upload the sales page yourself). And of course if you don’t have a traffic source in place, you can hire a marketing team member to get traffic for you, such as someone to set up and run a Facebook ad campaign.
The beauty of all of this is that you don’t just make a certain amount of money, and then the profits faucet turns off. If you pick good projects, they’ll continue to make money for you for weeks, months or even years to come – and that means your ROI grows every time your project makes more money.
But don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and start outsourcing parts of your business ASAP, and soon you too will find out just how profitable it can be!