How to Make a Good Hire on Upwork

This post is part of our series, Summer Scale Up. We’re helping you scale yourself and accomplish more.

working virtually upwork

Outsourcing parts of your business is something that has the potential to completely change your company or freelance practice. It can accelerate your growth and free up your own time for tasks that use your talents if it’s done right.

I’ve found Upwork to be a quality source for freelancers and it’s worth learning how to make a good hire there. A couple of our virtual assistants and project team members were found there and we now have a process for making sure we hire the best person for the job.

  1. Don’t write a crap job description
    The first step to making a good hire on Upwork is making sure your job description reflects exactly what you need well. You’ll attract better candidates that way.

What qualifies as a “crap” job description:

  • Copying and pasting another company’s job posting just because the title of the position is the same. There is NO WAY that you are looking exactly for what another company is looking for. Do the work and really put the time and effort into communicating what YOU need because bringing someone else on, virtual or not, is a big decision.
  • Not putting in the time and neglecting to include enough information. If you only provide a few sentences about what you need and don’t include enough context, you’re going to attract candidates who will submit the same kind of low quality work.
  • Only focusing on personality/work style or skills. You need both hard and soft skills to make this important partnership work.
  • Sounding like a jerk who is looking for a subservient person. Actually, scratch that. If you sound that way, you probably are that way and it’s better for everyone that you don’t take the good candidates’ time so they can work for someone else who is a better manager/human being. Good work relationships are about mutual respect. Get in the mindset that you are looking for a team member.

A good job description includes:

  • A list of the top skills required to perform the job, including any technical skills
  • The length of the engagement
  • Performance expectations
  • Information about your company and/or product
  • How and when you will make your decision
  • What the work dynamic will be (communication via email or phone, teamwork required, whether you prefer someone who can work during the work week*, how you like to work, when the work needs to be completed, weekly time budget, etc.)

*There are a lot of freelancers who have full time jobs during the week and make extra money on the weekends with Upwork. Keep in mind that these candidates won’t send deliverables until the weekend. In many situations, this could work. Just keep in mind that a full time freelancer is quite different than someone who hasn’t yet made the move to quit their day job. Personally, I prefer someone who can make progress WITH me during the normal work week and I don’t turn my email off on the weekends so I’d rather not see updates from a VA on Saturdays and Sundays.

  1. Use your interactions with the candidate as measurement
    Don’t stop at their portfolio or reviews. Take advantage of the messaging capabilities of the platform and get a little back and forth going before you make a decision to hire or hop on Skype for a short interview. You’ll be surprised on what you can pick up from a texted conversation if you just pay attention.

Ongoing messaging is a great way to assess:

  • Timeliness– If it takes a while for the candidate to get back and you are moving forward with other potential team members, they might not be the most reliable. You need someone who is reasonably responsive and candidates will be the most anxious to get back when they are looking for new work. Not a good sign if they lag in these early stages. I usually look for an Upwork freelancer to get back to me within 24 hours and that’s what I expect once I’ve hired them as well. 
  • Intelligence– Blatant misspellings, sentence structure, and grammar mistakes will help you initially weed out the less talented. It doesn’t matter if what you need them to do doesn’t involve writing. Smart people read and develop writing skills from reading so a person with poor writing skills might not be that interested in learning and that is not a good hire, especially in the virtual world when they will be working independently and will have to figure some things out on their own.
  • Personality– Do they anticipate what you need to make your hiring decision by including details? Do they seem equally concerned about finding a good fit? Are they humble? Does their level of formality fit what you are looking for? Or simply, did you enjoy interacting with them?
  1. Don’t settle for the first applicant
    You’re going to find a better fit for you if you use a pool of applicants, first weeding out the ones you can tell you don’t want to hire based on their initial message to you, their portfolio and/or resume, and their reviews.

Then, after messaging back and forth with the remaining candidates, pick two or three that you 1) feel are the most capable for the job, 2) enjoyed interacting with the most, and 3) were the most timely.

  1. Take advantage of Skype
    Especially if the job will involve some interaction via phone or Skype, schedule a quick Skype call with your top two or three picks. There is a lot you can tell about a candidate in even just ten minutes.

Tip: Even if you will only require correspondence via email or text for the actual, it could also be a good idea to get your candidates on a video call. Once you make that personal connection, your hire will feel like they actually know you and will feel more accountable.

Do you have any tips for hiring freelancers? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

What You Eat at Work Can Make You More Productive

What You Eat at Work Can Make You More Productive

Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

Mango Buckwheat Porridge from Simply Quinoa:
Spicy BBQ Chickpea Burgers from Oh She Glows:
Moondeli Recipes

Moondeli Bliss Booster

Brant Wickersham on Emotion and Vulnerability
Yoga with Adriene

Career Lounge
Marketing Mastermind

This is What it Feels Like by Banks
Imagination by Gorgon City
Empire Ants Ft. Little Dragon by Gorillaz

Let’s Connect!

If you’re reading this, tell me how you eat healthy during the work week or what gives you energy to be productive!

Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow!

Working from Home is More Productive

Hi, I’m Ludell and I’m the Marketing Director of an educational publishing company called Eazl. Our channel has all kinds of interesting things, from weekly Brain Boosts (to keep you informed on all things business, marketing, and the labor market) and free mini courses to 20 min. travel shows and interviews with industry experts. On my vlog playlist, you’ll find videos about my day to day marketing experiences and I’ll show you what it’s like to be me -a marketer and entrepreneur. I’m also curious to learn about your own experiences.

Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

Eastminster by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license

If you’re reading this, tell me what some of your favorite marketing or entrepreneurship books, blogs, or courses.

Thanks for watching See you tomorrow!

My Marketing Mastermind Group

How men can support women going through burnout

This post is an excerpt from an original post by Sam Cherubin. 


A Conversation with Samantha Keen

What is burnout?

First of all, I want to define burnout from my own experience as a practitioner. I work on the level of subtle bodies, or the non-physical level of the human condition. This includes the body of vitality or life-force, and consciousness or the spiritual dimension.

When a person has burnout:

  • they’re deeply exhausted
  • they feel cynical
  • they don’t believe they can make any difference

In this experience, in their body of energy, there’s a very deep depletion that needs to be addressed first. But this exhaustion is more than something a weekend in bed can fix. The depletion comes from being emotionally overstimulated for a long time. Think of nurses in an Emergency Room – they push themselves to do things they didn’t want to do or their body wasn’t ready for.

eazl sam cherubin

After a long time of going against your own internal rhythms and needs the result is potentially a deep level of energy depletion. At this level of exhaustion, there’s a disconnection from the body of life-force, and consequently, desires and wantings. So, the person is both deeply drained, and they’re not connected to themselves, at a source level.

This is why meditation-based therapies like the ones that I practice can be so beneficial, because they facilitate both a re-connection, and also a boost to the life force.

Burnout was first defined by Freudenberger in 1974, but more recently, Dr Christina Maslach Ph.D has been leading the research. She’s at UC Berkeley, just around the corner from where I live.

She defines burnout as a psychological syndrome involving:

  • Emotional exhaustion (feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work)
  • Depersonalization (unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment, or instruction)
  • A diminished sense of personal accomplishment (feelings of incompetence and failure in one’s work)”

To continue reading the article and learn more about how to support women experiencing burnout , click the image below:

sam cherubin


From TEDx: David Allen and The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Productivity guru and coach David Allen talks about “Stress Free Productivity” at TEDxClaremontColleges.

David Allen created a methodology for productivity that we can all integrate into our lives and benefit from. Watch David’s talk on TEDx to change your perspective on your To Do List and set yourself on the path to stress free productivity.

Book mark this post for those days when you are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, I just put it on in the background on a Monday morning so I can start the week focused.

Useful links:
David Allen’s Getting Things Done Methodology
David Allen on Facebook
Getting Things Done Network on LinkedIn
David Allen on Twitter

About TEDx:
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.



Favorite Productivity Apps & Tools

favorite productivity apps

The Eazl marketing and entrepreneurship community has spoken; we’ve pinpointed the top 5 favorite productivity apps and tools. If you have any tools to add that weren’t mentioned or an opinion about the ones we DID mention, leave us a comment below.

  1. Slack
    The winner, BY MILES, was Slack, which is an extremely useful tool for teamwork and project management.

We used Slack to manage our digital incubator which, admittedly, deflated like a pierced tire…not because of the platform but because of functional issues that we would absolutely changed if we tried it again. In fact, learning about the platform was the best thing about the incubator!

I would definitely use Slack again if I worked with a remote team on a piece of content or an event.

  1. Google Drive
    Coming in second was Google Drive and I cast my own vote there as well. Everything Google makes seems to be just the right amount of useful, easy to learn, and non-invasive (as in, Facebook-level all up in my grill styles life integration).

We use Google Drive for just about everything here at Eazl, from course video storage and Photoshop file sharing to blog post writing and marketing campaign planning.

It ticks all the boxes on the list of what we need to run an organized company.

Favorite Productivity Apps

  1. Xmind
    I’d never hear of this one until 13% of respondents voted for it but I am a BIG FAN of mind mapping –we even created course content on it– so I’m interested in trying it out. The free version should be enough for personal use.
  1. Evernote
    Before I converted to Google Drive, I was an Evernote user and there a couple of users in our community who voted it as their favorite productivity tool.

I eventually let Evernote because I was never able to fully integrate it into my work process and none of my team members used it. I did find, however, that it’s great for planning and writing blog posts if content is your thing.

I never tried the paid version, which probably would have kept me using the tool. It’s actually REALLY affordable

  1. Wunderlist
    I’d never heard of Wunderlist and what makes this app stand out amongst the others is the to-do list format and the focus on integrating professional and personal responsibilities. It looks like a great on-the-go tool that might compete with your use if iCal.

For Marketers and Entrepreneurs: Create More Leisure Time with These Productivity Tools

productivity tools

Productivity hacks have been on-trend for several years now with leaders like Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin. It’s more than just a trend, though, and goes beyond trying to be a super human who does it all and eats their cake too.

Beyond those hardcore individuals who want to master fitness and be the ultimate money making ninjas, there are plenty of folks who just want to be able to spend more time with their families and do non-work activities that they enjoy. This includes activities that are enriching outside of a typical work day but directly influence your performance at work.

Eazl is a family business and it’s important to us that we not only continue to provide value for our communities but are able to live the kind of life that we prefer. We want to keep this ecosystem going and ensure that all are benefitting from the existence of this company.

This often involves strategic maneuvers and decisions on how we spend our workdays, the creation of processes and habits that support both the lifestyle and the creation of value, and long-term foresight that enables us to go towards things that makes sense while steering clear of anything that would dilute or misdirect the combined mission of Eazl and our lives.

These are some of the tools that we use to make sure that we have time to stay inspired in both life and business.

If your work involves spending a lot of time with email correspondence, MailButler can serve as your digital assistant so that ongoing outreach doesn’t fall into the cracks. You can schedule emails for the future and reserve bandwidth for other activities.

Another feature that we like is the ability to see if an email has been read. Whether you are a freelancer trying to push forward payment for your services or a project manager who wants to keep a team on schedule, this can be useful.

MailButler works with Apple Mail and should save you a lot of time while maximizing your effectiveness.

Getting Ahead with Content
Committed hours or workdays for content creation are essential (if content is part of your job description). Try tackling all the elements of your content strategy in one go rather than spreading it out over the work week. If you are in the mood to create, keep going rather than changing focus to other tasks because you don’t want to end up strapped for time to finish up your content on a day where you are feeling particularly not inspired to write.

This can be applied to other duties beyond content creation as well. Try to cluster your activities and focus on completed tasks to make room for other things that need your attention.

Google Apps Suite
The toolbox that Google provides is a straight up time saver. You’d be surprised how much time and bandwidth you save when you don’t have to move from app to app to get your work done.

PayPal Mobile App
If you collect payments of any sort online, the PayPal mobile app is a great way to stay on top of billing while you are on the go.

So easy to use if you naturally read news on mobile. No committed sessions for coming up with shareable resources and, from my experience, it has increased the quality of shared content by eliminating frenzied content searches.

Do you have any productivity tips or favorite apps that we didn’t share here? Comment below!

From Hubspot: 5 Personal Assistant Tools That Actually Make Life Easier

personal assistant tools

“With the recent release of Google Home in the U.S., voice-activated devices are a big topic du jour lately. But which personal assistant tools are the most helpful? What do you need for each one? And how much do they cost?

While a simple search for ‘personal assistant apps’ seems to yield countless results, shifting through them can be a task.

Today, consider us your digital personal assistant. We narrowed the options down to our very own top five. Read on, and discover which ones will best fit your needs.”

successful content

eazl courses

Do This to Make More Time for Family & Personal Development

personal development

Carving out extra time isn’t that hard once you start paying attention to how you already spend most of your day. I challenge you to keep track of one 24-hour period. You’ll be surprised at the excess amount of time you spend on unimportant tasks (including work tasks) and how the hours get away from you. Do you REALLY need to spend 2 hours sorting through emails every day? Are the things you are stressing about today even necessary for you to have a successful workday?

This post is not about making you a more productive superhuman. It’s about carving out time for family, enjoyment, and personal development.

  1. Get rid of Facebook
    In most cases, Facebook is a huge timesuck although it can depend on the quality of your own network. If you’ve been using it professionally and have a feed that builds on your intelligence rather than sucking away your time on nonsense, more power to you. But, chances are most of you are still keeping up with people from your past and you don’t even know why.

Facebook is addictive intentionally and the sooner you break the habit, the sooner you can stash away those lost hours for more important things that will actually get you where you want to be.

If you use Facebook for a business page or ads and feel like there is no way around it, we encourage you to install something like this Chrome plugin, which is a news feed eradicator. You can log in and do what you need to do without getting distracted by the addictive, and often toxic, newsfeed.

2. Learn how to say “no”
We talk about this a lot here at Eazl and, honestly, I’m the leader of the say “no” mentality here. It’s something I’ve never really had an issue with as a hyper-logical person and I think I always took it for granted until I realized that most people feel unwarranted guilt and anxiety about saying “no”.

We don’t want to upset or disappoint others. We don’t want to feel regret about lost opportunities.

Sometimes, your ambition can get the worst of you and you can actually take yourself completely off track if you take every opportunity placed in front of you. If we did everything, we wouldn’t be good at anything. Focus and stay set to your path. That’s the key here: YOUR path.

Everyone around you –even those who love you– are going to want you to do what they think is best for you. Often, it’s based on their own desires or ethics or preconceived notions of who you should be. Don’t fall for that. You are the only one in the world who will care about you first.

  1. Spend your time and energy on (and with) good people
    Something I have realized as I’ve gotten older is how much of our (limited) free time is spent putting energy into relationships that are not positive if we allow it to happen. In order to be a high functioning person who can stay motivated in both life and work, you have to put good things into your brain.

If you have friends or family members or even co-workers who are passive aggressive, dependent, or do and say things to intentionally bring you down, you might want to take some steps to limit interactions with them or break ties with them completely.

Imagine a life where you are surrounded by supportive and kind individuals who want you to succeed. That should make your decision much easier.

4. Prioritize….like, actually do it
Not everything on your to do list needs to be done. Every day, select 4 tasks to accomplish that will have the biggest impact on your business or your day. This is something that Paul Klipp taught us and we are so thankful. Don’t get caught up in the weeds or feel like you have to get everything done!

  1. Eliminate non-positive behaviors
    We all have habits that need to be checked every now and then. Maybe you find yourself on social media during work hours (when you could be wrapping up earlier instead) or maybe you don’t need to watch a third episode so you can finish up that book that’s been on your nightstand all year. We make choices every day about how we spend our time.

This doesn’t mean you have to ALWAYS be productive but you should always be thinking about what will feed you and help you prosper. Sometimes, it’s allowing yourself to take a break to watch an episode of Westworld; sometimes, it’s making yourself get off the couch so you don’t spend another night at home parked in front of the TV.

We don’t have to be perfect but, the more we remember to check ourselves, the more we’ll naturally make better choices and look back on time as well spent.

  1. Follow your intuition
    This might seem cheesy, but your gut will often guide you in the right direction. If someone asks you for a favor and you know you’re strapped for time or you end a first meeting with a client and they seemed kind of difficult, you should follow that feeling and eliminate.

When you eliminate, you make room for other amazing people and opportunities that are right for you and those who really value you won’t be offended to hear “no”.

Do you have any strategies that aren’t included in this list? I’d love to hear about it. Just send me a Tweet!

Why It’s Dangerous to be Intellectually Lazy

Intellectually lazy

Have you ever been on a team at work or school and there’s that one team member who just won’t contribute or do any of their own thinking, leaving you or other members with the responsibility of doing their work for them?

Or maybe (*gasp*) you ARE one of those non-thinkers?

In this post, I want to talk about why it’s dangerous to be intellectually lazy and what you can do to 1) Get out of the rut and turn your life around if you are one of those people or 2) Set your boundaries and encourage behavior changes if you are a person who intellectually lazy people tend to depend on.

As an entrepreneur and marketer, I’ve come across many people and situations where clients, colleagues, or customers look to me to do the work and the thinking for them. Now, it’s fine to ask people for advice and we should all expect to work with others and be helpful. Do not be afraid to ask for help or to give it!

But, you need to be careful about distinguishing between something that you have no way of learning yourself versus something that simply takes a little bit of your own brain power and effort to figure out.

There are some things that we are all capable of, no matter your intellectual capacity, and those of us who do our own thinking instead of delegating to someone else and making it their problem can spot a lazy thinker from a mile away.

MANAGER’S NOTE: Using your own brain power is SUPER important when you have team members or managers that have a lot of responsibility (this includes pretty much all of us who are not retired yet).

You’ll be seen as a weak link if you can’t take care of the easy stuff on your own because you might be making others’ work more difficult than necessary. Being this kind of thinker will have many implications for your work relationships, career opportunities, potential business partnerships, and even personal relationships.

Intellectual laziness leads to:

  • Low ceiling for your career and promotions
  • Replacement in the workforce by an active, lifelong learner (you need to be a thinker to compete in the modern economy)
  • Feelings of inferiority

Essentially, it makes you replaceable. And that’s not good in a personal finance, got-to-pay-the-bills kind of way.

What does it mean to be intellectually lazy?
There are a lot of behaviors that might qualify as intellectual laziness, but I want to focus on the few areas that might be affecting your career the most. Here are four of the main behaviors we need to work on eliminating right here. Right now. Today.

  • An intellectually lazy person often hands their thinking responsibilities off to someone else who they feel can do it better. They don’t believe they can deliver satisfactory results themselves and might want to save themselves from any harsh judgement that might result in them owning their own decisions.
  • An intellectually lazy person will often ask questions that have already been answered or are clearly covered in some kind of written correspondence or guide. They have little attention to detail and would rather take another person’s time to get the answer they need than spend their own time looking for the answer themselves.
  • An intellectually lazy person only consumes condensed versions of information, such as blog posts or headlines and neglects to fact check or read long form articles from unbiased sources. The result is often the possession of opinions and perspectives that are a filtered version of someone else’s (most likely non-qualified) and is tainted by misinformation due to lack of research.
  • An intellectually lazy person might lack the discipline, focus, or experience required to truly hear others, consume content, and understand what they’ve taken in to apply the information to their work or life.

How to change non-thinking behaviors
One of the first actions you need to take is accept that your cognitive abilities and actions are not a result of circumstance but a result of habits and behaviors, which you can change…like RIGHT NOW kind of change.

Something I want to ask you to adapt is a Growth Mindset. The Growth Mindset has changed the way that successful businesspeople, educators, and social scientists approach challenges and was pioneered by Stanford professor, Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset”. Her research-backed idea is that you can actually grow your brain’s ability to learn and solve problems.

Here’s a growth mindset meditation that we put together. I’d love for you to try it out if you are struggling with self-limiting perspectives on talent and intelligence.

Some other ways to build your confidence and brain power include:

    • Take online courses. Like, actually take them. Don’t just pay for it and not take it (believe it or not, this is what most people do).

eazl courses

    • Read, read, and read more. People who don’t read simply aren’t as intelligent as those who do. Reading can help you get ahead in your field, get re-inspired and motivated, and teach you to be a better writer -all things that are essential for career success. A lot of the most successful entrepreneurs and managers are avid readers. You can easily find recommended reading lists from almost any successful business person online. Like this list of Elon Musk’s favorite books.
    • Find intelligent news sources. Our minds are constantly inundated with non-news “news” sources through excessive use of social media. Find out what the smartest of the smarty pants are paying attention to and refer to those sources directly instead of Facebook or Twitter to stay up-to-date with world events. This is not unrelated to career success! The journalists that get real estate in our brains affect our worldview, which has a direct influence on our attitudes and abilities at work. Filling your brain with conspiracy theories and click bait headlines will make your mind cloudy. Put quality content into that beautiful brain of yours! We love NPR, for example.
    • Practice listening to others and responding thoughtfully. 
    • Resist the urge to pass off your responsibilities to a high achiever. Do whatever you need to do to complete your share of the work and collaborate with your teammates or manager. That might mean working late, doing some additional reading, or getting additional help in some other way.
    • Know what your strengths are. If you find yourself contributing the least at work, try to focus on providing help in the areas in which you are skilled. It’s also good for your manager to know so they can create effective teams where you feel (and are) valuable. If you think you don’t have a strength, work on building those right now (see: online courses).
    • Exercise your brain as much as possible. Find thinking activities that you like to do in your spare time like puzzles, crosswords, or problem solving video games. Your brain is a lot like any other muscle in your body: it’s completely miserable trying to work it out when it’s out of shape, but it becomes fun when it is in shape and high performing.

How to fend off a non-thinker
The upside is that almost no one INTENDS to be a non-thinker. Most of the time, intellectual laziness stems from lack of confidence and fear of being wrong. It’s important for those who are intellectually active to have empathy for those with a different mindset but not allow the mundane thinking tasks of others to be rested on their own, busy shoulders.

There are, however, some ways to handle those moments when a team member is trying to steal your bandwidth for something that shouldn’t be your responsibility:

  • Send them in the direction of a resource that might help them rather than filling in all the blanks for them.
  • Communicate the value of your time, it’s already limited nature, and how much responsibility you already have.
  • Give compliments and positive feedback when it’s deserved. This will encourage your teammate’s performance and make them feel less dependent.
  • Clearly mark a good chunk of your day as quiet work time to limit disturbances and interruption.
  • Never do all the work for them. This sets a bad standard and encourages repeated delegation onto your already full plate.

Are you struggling with feeling capable at work or with the added weight of a teammate who won’t help carry the load? Tweet at me and let’s have a conversation about your frustrations.