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!

These Brands are Killing It on Instagram

these brand are killing it on instagram

I love finding branding and marketing inspiration on Instagram and I’m loving the platform in general these days because the user experience is a lot more enjoyable than the toxic environment on Facebook. You can find out more about how we feel about THAT whole sitch here.

In my feed, I like to see posts from a mix of different kinds of companies because, as a marketer, I’m constantly paying attention to what other marketers are doing well. If you are a marketer or a small business owner, you might know what I mean. And I’d LOVE to see what profiles you’ve been following for ideas and inspiration. You can leave a comment below or Tweet at me and I’ll check it out your favorites.

Lately, I’ve been feeling an intense amount of marketing love for a few companies in particular.

  1. Moondeli
    Moondeli makes healthy tonics that can be added to nut milk, coffee, juices, and smoothies. Their ingredients feature some of the highest quality, most potent rainforest plants like turmeric, maca, and cacao.

Their branding enforces the “alternativeness” or, shall I say, traditional kind of health products they sell. (I always think it’s funny to call ingestion of ingredients that have been known for their health properties for hundreds and hundreds of years “alternative” just because we’ve made advancement in medicine. You can have both, you know?)

With Moondeli’s branding suite, you really do feel like you’ve been pulled into a community and an experience that centers around beauty and natural health. From their logo and typography to the corresponding symbols on their different products, they’ve created something that is attractive; something that possesses all of the right elements to get their target market’s attention.

 

<<photos of packaging on my IG account>>

They invest a lot in their photography as well. They are consistent in their themes, layouts, and colors -a ton of the flatlays feature crystals with a color palette of pinks, blues, greens, and greys. It’s that kind of ethereal feel that is earthy yet coming on trend. It’s just pretty and fun to look at.

🌑💜💭✨ #energytonic ✨ #almondmilk ✨ #amethyst ✨ #intentions

A post shared by 🌕 M O O N D E L I 🌕 (@moondeli) on

 

Something else they are doing right? User generated content. They’ve created a culture where their community feels so connected to Moondeli’s product, strangers are tagging away and the company ends up with a ton of free, beautiful content to fill their Instagram feed and build their credibility. Not only that, but it also seems that the community has taken cues from the company on what the aesthetics of a photo featuring a Moondelli product should look like.

And it’s in the customer’s interest to create a photo that Moondeli might share because it might help them grow THEIR OWN audience.

See what they did there?

Stunning capture by the radiant @sidneybensimon 🙌🌞💙✨#gratitude #plantmedicine #love

A post shared by 🌕 M O O N D E L I 🌕 (@moondeli) on

 

Finally, I love that Moondeli breaks down the barrier and rids the customer of the burden of HOW IN THE HECK to use their products. They frequently give tips on on new uses and include recipes in many of their posts. There’s also a recipes page on their website. This serves the purpose of eliminating hesitation to purchase because the viewer already knows specific ways they will use the product.

Enjoy some more of Moondeli’s eye candy and check out how I used some of their products here.

  1. Ox and Otter
    Shiyana of Ox and Otter is a ceramicist who runs her entire business with just an Instagram account (over 90k followers) and a SUPER SIMPLE website that currently features all of her sold out creations. Think about that next time you get caught up opening accounts and building elaborate websites when you should be focusing on your product.

 

My favorite handmade indulgences all in one- 🌿Pottery 🌿Rings 🌿Body Care

A post shared by Shiyana (@oxandotter) on

Shiyana creates beautiful, one of a kind ceramic mugs and bowls and is a self-described Ceramic Artist Glaze Witch. What’s fun about Ox and Otter is that you are following HER -the creator of the beautiful pieces that you might someday get to purchase if you can catch a mug in your cart before they all sell out. Since you see her often, posing with her Black Wave and Midnight Rose works of art that happen to hold coffee, you feel a much stronger connection with the brand. It’s that feeling of friendship that social media is so capable of creating between a person and their stranger-followers.

Ox and Otter has a look that users are clearly responding to, so Shiyana is smart to focus on creating variations of the same kind of design, “milking” what is already working for her.

One thing that I love most about Shiyana’s content is the amount of effort she puts into her photoshoots. Rest assured, there WILL BE color coordinated nail polish that compliments the mug on display and everything from her makeup and clothes to the background reinforces the branding. Really, it’s just her taste that is very unique, beautiful, and focused.

 

  1. Liberated Heart
    With the ultimate summer/festival wear, Liberated Heart is also tapping into the witchy, celestial vibe that Moondeli and Ox and Otter have done so well. They operate mainly between their Instagram Account and website.

When the brand launched in 2013, it gained a cult following and became a  leader in festival fashion and, after that an additional surge in attention when model Candace Swanepoel was photographed wearing one of their dresses. Then, the company focused on engaging the influx of commenters on their Instagram photos, which really paid off for them.

I think that Liberated Heart manages their ratio of content expertly. It’s a good mix of straight product promotion to sell specific items for their catalog and themes like desert scenes, palm trees, beach frolicking that support the branding so well.

Weekend setup vibes ✨✨✨ @lisadanielle__

A post shared by LIBERATED HEART (@liberatedheart) on

 

  1. Room Service Vintage
    I used to shop at Room Service for most of my furniture and a lot of my decor during the time I lived in Austin, Texas. I continued following them for years after I moved because I love to torture myself with vintage steals that I can never have because they don’t ship.

Room Service uses their Instagram account to sell the pieces they post by allowing a 2 hour hold on items. They even keep the posts updated with their “sold” status and it obviously works well for them.

Cherry Blossom Pink Recliner with Cane sides, 42″ t x 25″ w x 28″ d, $149.00 -SOLD-

A post shared by Room Service Austin, Texas (@roomservicevintage) on

Their photos aren’t that fancy and there aren’t any posts created “just for looks” -this is a purely functional account. It simply a catalog and they get enough high quality pieces in to be able to develop leads on Instagram.

It’s these little tricks that can work for small business -something you might want to keep in mind if you deal with one-of-a-kind retail.

 

Do you have any favorite non-major brands that you follow on Instagram for inspiration? I’d love to know what you are paying attention to. Tweet at me or respond in the comments below.

From Brant Wickersham: Why Emotion Is Okay

This is an excerpt from an original blog post on The Inquiry of Excellence blog.

brant wickersham
“Vulnerability is often overlooked and ignored.

For longer than I can remember, I’ve heard that men are designed to be tough. From a purely genetic and physiological sense, it is easily understood. Men have higher levels of testosterone than women and can naturally build muscle at higher levels than women. The issue that I find in this statement, however, is not its association with muscle or the physical nature of being a man, but that it’s also been attached to the mental side of being a man.

brant wickersham

It’s frowned upon to cry, frowned upon to be seen as weak, and on top of that, the least manly thing you can do is to always be that moody friend.

Naturally, we are susceptible to emotions, but men have been trained into thinking that emotion is not a factor to personal development.”

brant wickersham

From Jessika Jake: Dealing With Difficult People in the Workplace

This is an excerpt from an original post by Jessika Jake.

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“It’s interesting to track the legal precedents that have been set (though also, in my case, promptly forget them and not bookmark them), but I will tell you this: Any good (and law-abiding) company will have a policy against bullying and aggressive behavior. If you are bringing up a complaint and get patted on the head with “Now, now, it’s just a personality clash,” change the topic to the inarguable, observable behaviors that are being demonstrated. Below is a partial list from ChangingMinds.org’s list of aggressive body language.

  • Facial signals – frowns, pursed lips, sneers, snarls, and stares
  • Stiffness – tensing up, clenching fists
  • Invasion – Invading personal space, false friendships
  • Insulting gestures, large gestures – chin tilts, arm thrusts, exaggerated movements, banging on tables, etc

In addition to aggressive body language, there is also verbal aggression. For an overview, read this Wikipedia entry, which notably highlights:

Workplace aggression can have devastating effects on an organization’s employees.[5] For example, it has been found that targets of workplace aggression report lower levels of well-being.[5] Other studies have shown that aggression in the workplace can cause the victims of such behaviors to suffer from health problems.[26]Bjorkqvist, Osterman, and Hjelt-Back even found that targets exhibited symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as anxiety and depression.[6]

aggressive behavior

From Forbes: Never Give Up Your Salary Details

salary

“It is wonderful to see job-seekers waking up to realize they have more power in the hiring equation than they thought they did.

Employers can’t grow their businesses without great employees on board.

Job-seekers need to know that there are lots of badly-managed organizations that treat job-seekers like dirt. Almost everyone has run into one of those organizations at some point.

The faster you run away from organizations (and recruiters) who treat you badly, the sooner you’ll find the right people to collaborate with!

Don’t give up your current or past salary details just because someone asks you to. What you get paid now and what you got paid at every job you’ve ever held is your personal information — and nobody else’s business.

Recruiters will ask for your salary history and so will employers. If you run into the question ‘What did your past jobs pay?’ on an online job application, here’s how to handle it.”

readfullpost

How men can support women going through burnout

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

eazl-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 World Economic Forum: Why the most successful businesses have strong values

most successful businesses

“By using a behaviour-based lens instead of a checklist, LRN’s PEI study demonstrated that companies with the highest levels of ethical behaviour are the ones that have placed values at the centre of their organizations.

Among high-performing companies, two-thirds are increasingly focusing on values instead of rules. That compares with one in three of the lowest-performing companies. In fact, the highest-performing organizations in our study have elevated human values to such an extent that more than 90% of those values have become part of the company’s brand appeal. In 70% of high-performing organizations, values have also become a business enabler, providing a reference point for the tough decisions, and in turn leading to better decision-making.”

most successful businesses

 Want a peak at our values and ethics here at Eazl? Visit us on Instagram!

Getting Right With Your Finances (Actionable Calendar for May 2017)

getting right with your finances

Your ability to use modern financial tools and systems is a crucial ingredient for a successful and happy life. Credit scores, credit cards, student loans, mortgages, tax-deferred investment accounts, and financial instruments like index funds, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and bonds are fundamental to existence in our modern world.

Commit to getting right with your finances this May with this calendar that will keep you on track, taking you from assessing your current financial health to creating a plan for adding more income and determining investment opportunities.

personal finance calendar

Use the calendar (download and/or print) as a supplement to the tools and process we laid out for you in our newest course.

Ignorance is an expensive choice and there are plenty of organizations who would be happy to keep taking advantage of people who can’t navigate these systems. Get out of the weeds and upgrade your financial prowess!

Top 6 Personal Finance Resources

personal finance resources

At Eazl, we create content that helps our community members feel more empowered and confident by focusing on knowledge and innovation. After taking a step back from our current course catalog that includes training on entrepreneurship, management, freelancing, marketing, and career, we asked ourselves, “What is missing and what would make this group of courses more complete?”

Our answer to that question is something that so many of us struggle with today: managing personal debt and finances.

Luckily, we had the expertise for that area right here on our team so we immediately went to work to create the training, which includes a list of resources that will help you get real control over your money and your future.  

Money management is all about having the right tools and sources for knowledge. From handling debt to buying a home, you want to make sure you are using quality sources for information.

We put together this list of Top Personal Finance Resources:

  1. Browse Homes and Home Prices
    Zillow is one of the best resources for researching homes and their prices in the neighborhood that you are thinking about investing in. Just search a zip code and get an idea of the price range, browse through all available listings,  and specific the features you are looking for in your new home.

2. Estimate Monthly Mortgage Payments
Bankrate’s Mortgage Calculator will help you estimate your mortgage payment, how much interest you might pay, and your estimate principal balances. Determine the impact of taxes and insurance on your total monthly payment.

3. LifePower: Credit, Debt, Saving, Investing, & Buying a Home
Eazl’s new course on personal finance will help you learn how to build and manage your credit, handle debt, use credit cards, start saving and investing, and buy real estate.

4. Check Your Credit
Credit Karma is our favorite resource for checking your credit score. It’s totally free and will give you an idea of what actions have lowered your score and what options are available to you if you have a favorable score.

5. Learn how to Repair Your Credit
Fico gives some actionable tips on dealing with bad credit and how to maintain good credit.

6. How to Negotiate Fees with Your Realtor
Dealing with realtors can be tricky and frustrating because they are middlemen who generally receive insane fees for what they do. Learning how to negotiate with a realtor is essential if you are looking to buy or sell a home. Aaron Crowe at Credit Sesame has some tips.

 

Do you have any other personal finance resources that you love? We’re working on creating a master list and would love your input. Comment below!

Personal Finance: Terms You Need Know from a Money Guru

personal-finance-terms

If you’re anything like me, you might find the world of personal finance (think: credit, debt, and acquiring property) to be strange and unfamiliar. I never had my parents teach me and it was never a focus in school. The only advice I ever received came from my mom when she said, “Don’t get a credit card,” when I headed off the University of Texas at Austin at age 18.

I may not have listened to that advice. : /

The lack of guidance from adults in my life combined with having worked hard on my education and career for the past 12 years hasn’t left me much time to school myself on the ways of dealing with money, debt, and assets in any remotely competent way. I mean, there is a lot to know and it can get pretty complicated and time consuming.

personal finance terms

I got lucky… really lucky when I met my now husband and business partner, who purchased his first stock at age 12 and went off to school in three-piece suits, thinking he would someday become an investment banker.

Davis has fun playing with money and learning about all of this adulting business that most of us find so boring and stressful, plus he had a few good role models who passed down some wisdom to him along the way and has had a ton of experience managing the financials of small businesses and artists.

On any given day, you might find him on the phone with a creditor transferring a balance, negotiating account fees for our business and personal bank accounts, or maybe even closing a bank account to switch banks when they won’t wave an outrageous annual fee. (He holds the banks accountable!)

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Davis –and something you might have learned too if you’ve taken any of our courses– it’s that he will do the hard stuff and he always finds a way to work the system.

That’s why, in our newest course, he continually repeats the phase, “I use the system. The system does not use me,” as a mantra for all things personal finance.

If you are clueless when it comes to personal finance or you need some brushing up on your skills after frantically submitting your taxes and feeling kind of crappy about how you have handled your money, start with this list of terms that you should know and understand in order to upgrade your wealth management game.

personal finance terms

Then, come join us in the course because we have all kinds of little secrets about handling your money the right way.

personal finance course