How to Hire a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines – with John Jonas

If you’ve ever considered hiring a virtual assistant to help with your business you won’t want to miss this interview.  And even if you’re already outsourcing, you’ll learn incredibly valuable techniques for building strong and productive working relationships with your VAs.

John Jonas’ team is made up almost exclusively of Filipino VAs and he’s one of the best-known experts on outsourcing to virtual assistants in the Philippines.  He’s the founder of OnlineJobs.ph, a job board for Filipino VAs.  He’s also the creator of ReplaceMyself.com, a training program for virtual assistants.

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How much it costs to hire a full-time, 40-hour per week VA
  • Whether you should go through a hiring agency or hire directly
  • A step-by-step process for finding, hiring, training and managing your own VA

 

 

Full Transcription

Andrew: Hello everyone, my name is Andrew Youderian, and I’m the founder
of eCommerceFuel.com, where we talk about building profitable
online stores and eCommerce businesses. And in today’s
interview, I want to find out how to find, hire, and train
Filipino workers to help you grow your own eCommerce business.
Now, I’ve had the privilege of working with a fantastic, top-
notch Filipino VA for the last three years now. It’s been a
great experience. I more or less kind of stumbled into
outsourcing to the Philippines, just by haphazard. It worked out
really well, and I’m thankful it did.

Today’s guest is – his focus and his area of expertise is solely
in Filipino outsourcing. He’s got a lot to say on the topic.
John Jonas is a recognized expert in Filipino outsourcing, and
he’s the founder of the ReplaceMyself.com VA training program
and onlinejobs.ph, a job board for virtual assistants from the
Philippines.

John, thanks for being here.

John: Hey, no problem, man. It’s good to be here. Good to talk to you.

Andrew: So, dive right in. At this time right now, how many VA’s from
the Philippines are you actually working with and employing?

John: I have 12 VA’s that work for me full-time, and that number is
pretty steady right now.

Andrew: Wow. Is that pretty historically you’ve had that many people on
your payroll?

John: No. We hired our newest one probably six months ago. You know,
I started this like seven years ago, and it just has steadily
gone up over time.

Andrew: So, 12 VA’s. A lot of people I think listening, and myself
included to some extent, you know, keeping one or two VA’s busy
full-time, they’d think how in the world would I do that? What
do you have these 12 full-time VA’s doing for you?

John: The interesting thing is that Filipinos are really dang good,
and they do everything for me. They do everything from all the
programming, webmaster, technical work in our business. I have
one, two, three, four full-time programmers.

Andrew: What type of programmers? Are you talking like PHP WordPress,
or are we talking…

John: I have some guys that are really, really, good PHP programmers,
and they’re not doing WordPress because I don’t have them
working on a WordPress system. I have another guy that’s a
fantastic programmer who works on WordPress. He’s also a really
good designer, and if you’re looking at any of my stuff, he’s
done the design work on a lot of it. He’s just really, really
good. Some of my stuff that I don’t have him do design work on
is not so good. It’s not so well designed, but the stuff that he
does is fantastic.

Another one of my guys does design or just programming, and tech
support for stuff. Then I have a designer, another designer, on
her own. She designs PDFs, does layouts for them, or just
creates graphics, or webpage layouts, stuff like that. Then I
have some VA’s that – it’s kind of hard to explain what they do
- they will do everything for websites for me. So, they’ll do
industry research and tell me what websites we should be
building, or what niches we should be going into. They will find
the domains, they’ll write the content. They do the marketing
for them. They do the SEO, they do the video marketing articles.
They do the [indiscernible 04:10] research. They’re doing all
that stuff. They’ve been trained to do all of it. I have a girl
that is doing some specific marketing tasks for me like
publishing to Kindle, or iBook, or Nook. She’s also doing some
specific video marketing for me or doing a little bit of SEO.

Andrew: You’ve got people across – and that’s one of the things I was
really wondering about was in my experience and with
outsourcing, I think a lot of times, too, I think, oh, I can get
a VA, and maybe they can do some Tier 1 e-mail support. They can
do a little bit of market research for me. But in my experience,
I’ve always been really hesitant to outsource some of those more
complex, especially technical tasks, programming, graphic
design. I mean, one of the questions I had was, you can
realistically get solid, good programmers, and solid, good
designers when you’re outsourcing like this to the Philippines.

John: That’s the easiest. I mean, I have a girl that’s doing Facebook
marketing for me right now. Like, logging into my Facebook
account and posting status updates, status updates that she
wrote, that she created a marketing calendar for. She sends me
every day, here’s what’s going on Facebook today. Here’s what’s
going on tomorrow. Here’s the contest. Here are the questions
we’re going to ask. Here’s the graphic. She’s done all that
stuff for me.

Andrew: Wow.

John: All of this stuff requires training except for the
programming/design work. If you go look at onlinejobs.ph, that
entire site was programmed, designed, layout, logos, back-end,
database, everything on that site was done by my guys in the
Philippines.

Andrew: And we’re going to get into that a little bit later when we
talk about finding VA workers. But again, like I said in the
intro, that’s a site that you started for actually connecting,
finding, and hiring Filipino VA’s.

John: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: So you’ve got this, it sounds like a very capable army of
workers in the Philippines. Do you have anyone stateside that
you hire? Are there some things that you prefer to kind of keep
locally, or that work better when you keep them sourced in
state?

John: This is new to me, actually. I hired my – I’ll tell you my
experience. Typically people don’t – what you’re saying about
who you can hire, or who you shouldn’t, is people’s usual
experience is that, like, I don’t think I can really get people
to do this for me, or people often don’t know what’s possible.
You don’t know that it’s even possible to hire someone overseas
who can do this kind of work. That’s the first barrier that I
typically come to.

So then, your question right now is, what do I prefer to have
here? Well, my experience years ago in hiring people from the
U.S. was the first thing they did was they learned what I was
doing in my business, and they quit, because they wanted to go
do it on their own. They wanted to go make the money themselves.
I was teaching them how to run my business or how to make money
online, and it was like, forget it. So that’s kind of why I went
to the Philippines in the first place.

Why that works, there’s a whole different story. Six months ago,
I hired my first U.S. person. Over the last six months, I have
four girls working for me, one of them I just started this week.

Andrew: So, these are U.S., four U.S. workers?

John: These are U.S.-based people. So, one of them is creating
training. She creates training to give to the Filipinos so that
we have trained people. One of them is creating marketing
campaigns for me, like landing pages, advertisements, stuff like
that. She’s super, super talented. One of them is handling all
of our PR. So, Filipinos write press releases, and then she
edits them and makes them really, really good so that we’re
getting top-notch distribution on them. And another girl is
writing my newsletter.

Andrew: So a lot of times it sounds like some things your team in the
Philippines can do a great job on, but also sounds like some of
the U.S. team will also act as a buffer between you and them for
some writing things to do a little quality control on that.

John: Right, and actually, one thing I forgot to tell you was I have
a writer in the Philippines who edits all of the other
Filipinos’ work. They’ll actually say I need this written for
our website, and they’ll send it to her, and she writes it and
sends it back to them, because her writing is perfect. She loves
it, and she can write so much that that’s all she does is
writes.

Andrew: I’ve found writing is so important, because you can have
someone – I’ve dabbled in Spanish a little bit and traveled to
Spanish-speaking countries, and when I have to speak or write in
a second language, you know, my I.Q. drops by about 90% to
people who are listening, right? And so, this is by no means a
bash on Filipinos, but it’s tough when you have someone who’s
very smart, but maybe their English isn’t that great. As a
native English speaker, it’s easy to tell, right, when you get
that e-mail. I’ve gone through maybe three or four VA’s before I
started working with the one that we’ve had now for over three
years. That was always an issue was that written English, when
you’re online and doing stuff, I mean, almost everything you’re
doing is written, and so having someone with English that seems
native is so huge.

John: It’s a really big deal. And it is hard to find. You really have
to filter people in order to find that perfect, perfect English.
I have a couple girls that are perfect.

Andrew: It’s definitely, it’s hugely valuable. Well, maybe we’ll
transition into salary and cost. If you’re going to be hiring
someone, because I believe your philosophy is don’t hire someone
for an hour here, an hour there. Hire someone full on and treat
them well, and get them on as a full-time employee, and that’s
where you’re going to see the most benefits. When we’re talking
about that strategy, what are going to be the costs to hire
someone at three different levels, and I’m sure they vary, but
let’s talk about a general entry-level VA that has good English,
but is going to be doing a lot of maybe e-mail support and
administrative work, so a general VA; a content writer with
excellent English, someone who you could say, hey, go write this
article for a decent website, and you wouldn’t have to worry
about spending a whole lot of time re-editing it; and then
third, finding a talented programmer or designer. What would
those three tiers run you per month?

John: This is all full-time. I only deal with full-time. There’s such
a huge, like what you said, your experience is a completely
different experience when you’re hiring full-time or part-time.
And actually, when you said hiring an hour here, an hour there,
the cost is about the same to hire someone for 20 hours a week
on a contract, temporary basis versus hiring a full-time person.

Andrew: Sure, because there’s more stability and they can count it, and…

John: There’s more stability, and you’re paying someone $3.50 an hour
on oDesk, or you’re paying them $300 a month full-time, and
you’re getting half the work done on oDesk for the same cost.
So, for a VA, for a general, entry-level VA, you could pay $250.
$250 a month for someone who is starting out and they’re
capable, and their English isn’t perfect, but it’s good, and
you’ll never have any communication problems with them. You’ll
always understand them, they’ll always understand you,
communicating isn’t an issue in the Philippines at $250. If you
were to pay $300 or $350, typically as the price goes up, you
get better work. It’s not always the case, I mean, the first -
I’ll talk about a programmer. The first programmer I ever hired,
I hired him through a service, and I was paying them $750 a
month, and they were paying him $250. So, he was making $250 a
month, the guys blog was a page rank six. He had written
numerous WordPress plug-ins, which were being used by thousands
of people.

Andrew: I’m sorry. What was the difference again, the split between how
much you were paying them, and how much he was getting?

John: This is always so shocking, I know. I was paying the company,
the recruiting company, $750 a month for this guy, and they were
paying him $250.

Andrew: Wow, that’s bigger than I assumed. Actually, with my VA right
now, and just for sensitivity, I don’t want to – because I may
actually have her on as an interview later, I don’t want to
disclose her actual, what we’re paying back and forth, but she
was originally when I found her, she was working for a VA firm,
one that was based in the U.S., but they had operations over
there, and through a series of events, they went under and she
kind of ended up being on her own. So, I went back to her and
offered to work with her on a freelance basis, and it was like
your experience. I mean, when we agreed on a price, I think it
doubled her salary month-over-month; doubled almost. And it
saved me a substantial amount as well. It was a huge win-win.

Andrew: I’ll tell you my situation with this particular programmer. He
gave me his 30 day notice one day because there were office
politics where he was, and he couldn’t deal with it anymore. And
I was like, no way, dude. This guy, literally, was the best
programmer I have ever seen, and I’m a programmer. I graduated
from college in Computer Science. I worked as a programmer
before I figured out how to make money online. I know, I’ve
worked with some really, really good programmers. This guy was
unbelievable. He gave me his 30 day notice, and I said, no way.
I will hire you on your own. What are you making? He told me
$250, and I said, I’ll double it immediately. And I said, but
you can’t like quit tomorrow, you just gave a 30 day notice,
you’ve got to stay for the 30 days. And he quit the next day and
started. He was so excited to make $500 a month, and you know, I
was now saving $250, and he had doubled his salary.

Andrew: Did that cause any problems between – because I remember when I
hired with that VA firm – they made me sign a non-hiring clause.
Once they went under and didn’t do a very good job of managing
the transition process, I had no problem with hiring them.

John: That was my issue, too, but he had already – he was quitting.
He was quitting the company, and he was quitting me, because of
the company politics, and . . .

Andrew: He was quitting before you offered him the money, it’s not that
you’re offering, right?

John: Yeah, right. In terms of a good programmer, that guy today he
left me a couple of years ago to work in Singapore making $2,500
a month. I think today he’s making like $4,000 a month. The guy
is freaking unbelievable. If he was in the Philippines, he would
probably be getting about $2,000 a month, and that’s $24,000 a
year. He’s unreal. He’s a $100,000 a year person in the U.S.,
easily. But you can find – our other really good programmers are
making between $500 and $750 a month full-time.

Andrew: So, the scale ranges anywhere from $250 for an entry-level
person to about $750 to $2,000 for a top-notch programmer,
depending on where they’re at.

John: My really, really good content writer, I’m paying her $600 a
month, and she’s amazing, and I doubled her salary Monday. I had
hired her at like $300 a month. So, and she’s unbelievable.

Andrew: And I imagine, I mean, one thing I’ve found too – and I think
this true in all of business whether you’re in the United States
or your outsourcing – if you try to get people at cut-throat
market rates, if the going rate is $250 and you’re paying $250
and that’s it, that might work for two weeks, a month, three or
four months, but you’re not going to be – I mean, maybe they’ll
stick with you, but if you invest that additional amount,
especially with the kind of leverage you can get from the
pricing difference between here and the Philippines, that just
pays such huge long- term dividends in terms of loyalty, in
terms of the VA’s doing a better job for you because they’re
excited and they feel appreciated. I mean, it’s definitely
worthwhile to pay your employees well.

John: Very, very true. I have a couple of different guys that I have
doubled their salaries one day because they were doing such a
good job for me. When you find those rock stars, you’ve got to
do what you’ve got to do to keep them.

Andrew: Yeah, well said. So that being said, there’s probably a lot of
people who’d be listening to this saying, $250 a month, how can
you ethically pay somebody $250 a month in the Philippines? I
think it’s a legitimate question. Is that something you struggle
with? What would be your reply to that question?

John: If you haven’t done this before, if you haven’t hired someone
before, then you don’t know. You don’t know what they’re like
without you giving them a job. First of all, I have a couple of
responses. Number one, the person I’m paying the $250 a month
was asking for $100 a month. Like, they said they wanted to work
full-time for $100 a month, and that’s how it is in the
Philippines. I mean, you’ll see when you look at resumes, when
you look at what they’re asking, they’re asking for $215 a month
for full-time work, because there aren’t jobs in the
Philippines. They don’t exist, and so if they’re not working for
you, they’re not working. It’s not like they have another
option, you know?

Here’s another good one, here’s two examples. One of my guys
told me one day that he lends money to his dad on a regular
basis, because he makes so much more money than his dad does. He
makes $450 a month. Another one of my guys told me that he’s
teaching his friends how to do what he does, because he makes
more than double what any of them make. He makes $450 a month.
So, when you’re paying someone $250 a month it’s not great in
the Philippines, it’s kind of average, but here’s the
difference. At $250 a month, they’re working as a manager in a
store in the mall making $250, six days a week, 12 hours a day,
or they come to work for me and they work eight hours a day, and
really they’re working six or five hours a day, five days a
week, and they’re working from home, and they’re making the same
amount or more. That’s why if you don’t want to hire someone in
the Philippines because ethically you have an issue with it,
what you should know is that person that you’re not hiring in
the Philippines isn’t eating because they don’t have a job.
There’s not another job for them. And if you want to, pay them
more. I love giving bonuses to my guys. I love doubling their
salaries, because they do great work, you know? So, there’s kind
of my bit on it.

Andrew: I think it’s a good answer. In terms of workability and
scheduling when you work with VA’s, I’m in eCommerce, most of my
audience is also either in eCommerce or aspiring to get into it,
and with that – if you’re just writing articles, it doesn’t
matter if you’re doing it at the same time that your counterpart
or the team in the United States is doing it, but with eCommerce
operations a lot of times, you need to get back to customers
that same day for order issues, and it’s more time sensitive. It
really helps to have people that are on the same work hours as
the U.S., which in the Philippines, unfortunately, it means
you’ve got people up all night a lot of times, which can be
tough. Is that something that a lot of VA’s expect to do, or
it’s kind of standard, or is it something you have to pay a
premium for? What’s kind of the rule with that?

John: Here’s two different solutions to that. One, you definitely can
do it. And I’ve had people working for me before at night. In
fact, when I very first started, that was one of my things, I
wanted them to work at night so they’re all during my time.
After a couple of weeks, I asked the guy, how is it working at
night? He was like, it’s hard. He’ll totally do it, but it’s
hard. And I said, that’s fine, work during the day. You know,
I’d like to make your life better, work in the day. So they’re
definitely willing to do it to get a job. It’s not even
something that you need to pay a premium for, because they’ll
still do it. It’s hard. Nobody here wants to work the graveyard
shift because it’s hard. So that’s one thing.

Here’s the second thing. When I get up in the morning, I don’t
usually get to my computer until like 11:00 in the morning,
maybe noon. Sometimes I will still have them, one or two of them
communicating with me, at that hour. And then usually from like
11:00 or noon to like 4:00, I don’t get anybody. Everyone’s
sleeping during those hours. But then at 4:00, I start getting e-
mails again from people, because they’re up and they’re working,
and some people are morning people, and some people are night
people. And so, you can pretty easily find people, someone
that’s going to work until 10:00 pm in the Philippines, or 11:00
pm or midnight, and then you’re getting some good morning hours.
And you’re going to get other people that are going to want to
get up at 6:00 am and start working, and then you’re getting
some good afternoon hours there as an alternative to requiring
them to being online 9:00 to 5:00 U.S. time.

Andrew: Because a lot of times, you don’t have to be able to talk all
eight hours throughout the day. It’s just nice having a little
bit of overlap, where on a daily basis you can catch up, you can
talk, and then…

John: Right, which that’s a good point. You’re talking about talking.
In the Philippines, culturally, they have some embarrassment
issues where they feel like they’re not good enough, or they’re
not going to qualify or they’re going to let you down. Talking
to you is one of those things. They know they’ll understand you.
They watch American TV, they watch American movies, they know
they’re going to understand your English. They’re very self-
conscious about their English, and they think that you won’t
understand them. And so, unless you absolutely have to talk to
them on the phone, try to avoid it.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s actually, it’s funny you say that. I think it was
probably, with the VA I’m working with now, it was probably the
first year, I could tell she didn’t feel comfortable chatting
with myself and my team on the phone. We’ve been together three
years now, and so when we get on the horn and talk it, she’s
very comfortable now because we’ve built up a rapport over all
this time. But I remember there was one time – I think it was a
different VA – I was out for, I have an eCommerce business and I
was out on the road, and there was an issue that came up and I
didn’t have a U.S.-based team member who could handle the phones
at that point. This guy was just freaking out about something,
so I had my Filipino VA, I said, you know, why don’t you call
him and try to tell him what the issue is, and it was just – it
did not go over well. I think I asked her about it later, and I
think she was really embarrassed. I think the customer was like,
what? Who is this? What’s going on? You know, it was…

John: Really?

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, it was just – because she got really nervous, and
then he was wondering what was going on. So phone work with, at
least Filipino outsourcing, has been something that I haven’t
really focused on.

John: I do have a girl who makes phone calls to the U.S., and if you
got a phone call from her, you wouldn’t know that she wasn’t in
the U.S.

Andrew: That’s amazing.

John: People don’t know she wasn’t born and raised here, but you can
definitely find people willing to work on the phones. Every
major call center, every major company is moving their call
centers to the Philippines. Amazon is in the Philippines, Apple
is in the Philippines, HP is in the Philippines, Dell is in the
Philippines. They’re all in the Philippines now. All of their
call centers are in the Philippines.

Andrew: Wow, I didn’t know that.

John: So, you’ll definitely find good people.

Andrew: I think it was more, in my case, I think it was more of a case
of she just hadn’t had a whole lot – I mean, her English was
pretty good, but she got really nervous on the phone.

John: You do have to find the right person.

Andrew: That being said, what are some of the common mistakes people
make in terms of finding and hiring Filipinos, and then also
managing and training them? Maybe those are two big sections, so
let’s take the finding and hiring first. What are some of the
mistakes people make?

John: You’re right, these are big sections. Some of the biggest
mistakes that I see people make are trying to find that perfect
VA. You go into the job site, and you go and search and sort
through, and you find the perfect one for you. And you e-mail
them, and they don’t respond to you, because they have another
job. Filipinos are so loyal that if they have a job and they get
an e-mail about another job, they’re very likely to not even
respond to that e-mail. So that’s one of the mistakes.

What I’d recommend instead is to contact 20 people who could be
relevant to you, and e-mail them all and see who responds. And
then e-mail them again and see who responds, again. And then e-
mail them again, and see, and communicate with them numerous
times because you’ll get a much better feeling for their
English, for their personality, for how they fit with your
company, for their attention to detail. There’s all kinds of
stuff you’ll get as you communicate with them numerous times.

Another common mistake that I find that people make is trying to
hire someone that they don’t have to be involved with. Trying to
hire someone who’s an expert already, and you don’t have to give
them any training or feedback, and they’re going to do it all on
their own. And that’s a really big mistake. With the issue that
we talked about already, with Filipinos feeling embarrassed and
shy, they need your feedback. They need positive reinforcement,
they need you to tell them how they’re doing in their job, and
to tell them what they’re doing well, and to provide good,
friendly negative feedback on stuff.

So what I find people often doing is finding one single mistake
that a Filipino made and giving up, rather than working with
them through that issue. For example, I got an e-mail from a
Filipino this week saying they had gotten a job with someone
else, and that person wanted to talk with them on Skype, and her
microphone doesn’t work on her laptop and she couldn’t talk on
Skype, and the employer fired her immediately. It wasn’t for a
speaking job. She was going to be writing and doing WordPress,
but he wanted to talk to her on the phone, and that was it. That
was the end of it. Yeah, end, done. I mean, that’s a huge, huge
mistake. With Filipinos, you need to – you’re paying them $300 a
month, there are going to some issues. You’ve going to have to
deal with issues, and that’s a big mistake that I see people
make is not wanting to deal with any issues. So, there’s one.

Andrew: And that’s something that they will go again, that’s kind of a
universal truth for anyone. If you bring anyone in on-board as a
full-time employee, and you just throw all this stuff at them,
and say, hey, figure this out, you’re going to get crap results.
You need to – it’s kind of the input, what you put in is what
you’re going to get out of it, for VA’s or anybody.

John: That’s even more true in the Philippines. For example, I had a
guy that told me one time, John, I tried what you’re telling us
to do, and it didn’t work. Well, what did you do? I hired like
20 people, and I had a project manager, and nothing ever got
done. And I was like, well, would you do that in the U.S., like
hire 20 people all at once, and expect something? No!

Andrew: Sounds like a nightmare.

John: Rather than trying to hire a project manager – this is another
mistake – people go out and try to hire a project manager
upfront, and hire three others for them to manage. You know,
people say, holy cow, this is so much more affordable than doing
it in the U.S. Go out and hire one person, and get that person
doing something really, really well. Get them doing something
that you’re currently doing. Give them something like off of
your plate. And this is another tip, as I see people make this
mistake. People try to hire someone to do something that they’re
not doing, something that they don’t know how to do, something
they don’t have any idea about, and try to hire someone to do
it. For example, hiring a technical person, hiring a programmer,
where you have no idea about programming. You have no idea about
the technical stuff, you don’t even really know the skills
you’re looking for in hiring someone.

So what I recommend instead – and programming’s a different
story, technical stuff is not something you want to learn, but
let’s talk about marketing, traffic generation, something like
that. Rather than hiring someone for something that you’re not
doing, something you know nothing about, hire them and get them
doing something that you do know, something that you have an
idea about, and something that you can provide them meaningful
feedback on so that they begin to trust you. What happens is
with the Filipino embarrassment issue and them feeling unworthy
and feeling like they’re going to disappoint you is that if they
don’t learn to trust you, then when there’s a problem with
something, they don’t want to let you down. They don’t want to
disappoint you, and so they’ll just kind of disappear. And so if
you give them a task that you don’t know something about and you
expect them to figure it out, they’ll get to a point where
they’ll get stuck and then they’ll disappear. And then you just
lost a really good employee. So rather than trying to do it that
way, try and get them to do something that you do know. Try and
give them something off your plate, so that you free up your
time. Then you’re more effective at the other things that you
are doing, and they’re getting good at what you were previously
doing, because you can provide meaningful feedback to them. And
now when they’re good at that, you can teach them to do
something else.

Andrew: That’s such good advice. I mean, you can’t teach somebody and
you can’t manage somebody if you don’t know, if you haven’t been
there. People don’t come in as a manager, historically, if they
haven’t done something, because they have no idea what or how
long something should take. They have no idea what a good
quality product on the back-end is going to be. It’s so much
harder if you haven’t done something yourself. In terms of my
outsourcing, everything I’ve done, whether it’s to people in the
U.S. or overseas, if you don’t do it yourself first, it is so
much harder to do. And doing it yourself first, even if it takes
a little bit longer upfront, it’s going to make it easier when
you outsource and set up processes and manage those people.
Otherwise, you’re just asking for a huge disaster.

John: 100% true. I mean, that is really that’s how you get to a point
where you create systems in your business, where other people
are working your business. And the great thing about Filipinos
is they’ll never quit. As long as you treat them well and build
trust with them, they’ll never quit. Which means over time, the
more you teach them, the more you can start to step away from
your business and kind of walk away and work less, and pull
yourself out. Where so many people are like, I’m working in my
business, I’m doing this, and when you get someone else, you
start to step away, and you can start running all your business,
and less in your business, and it’s a really, really big deal.

Andrew: Yeah, it is. I don’t know if you realize how funny that looked,
you getting right up in the camera like this, but it was the
perfect illustration. I think it was well done.

One thing I wanted to ask you right off the bat and totally
spaced it because we were talking about some other great things,
but why the Philippines? I mean, you’ve got India, right? If you
want a programmer, you know, Eastern Europe is kind of a hot
spot for programmers. There are a lot of places that outsource.
A lot of developing countries, as well as kind maybe more
affordable second world countries, so what’s so great about the
Philippines?

John: There’s a whole bunch of things. Number one, you’re talking
about more affordable. The Philippines is about as affordable as
anywhere in the world. India is going to cost you three to five
times more than the Philippines.

Andrew: Really?

John: Yeah, it’s crazy the wage difference. In the Philippines,
English is a primary language, like mandated by the government
that business be conducted in English. In the Philippines,
street signs are in English, billboards are in English, radio is
in English, TV is in English. Elementary school is taught in
English. It’s not always for all these things, but it’s
everywhere. So, English isn’t an issue. They’re very, very
westernized, so there’s a huge difference between the way people
think in India versus the way they think in the Philippines. And
it’s not bad in India, it’s just different. So when you
communicate with them in the Philippines, they’ll always
understand you.

And there’s some really big cultural things with India that make
it difficult. We don’t have time to get into it, but they’re
very concrete and documented, like, this is – and it goes back
hundreds and hundreds of years of why culturally it’s hard. And
the Philippines doesn’t have those things. The Philippines was
kind of like an American colony for a number of years. The U.S.
kind of saved them in World War II, and they were kind of under
our government for a number of years – I don’t know the whole
story about it – but they really look up to foreigners. So then
you combine all this stuff that I’m telling you with the fact
that in the Philippines they’re honest, and not everyone’s
honest, but you’ll know, really quickly. I mean, you would know
the people you’ve worked with, you know immediately if they’re
honest or not. They’re loyal, almost to being a fault of theirs.
They’ll never quit as long as you gain their trust. They’re hard-
working, they speak American English, they have computers and
internet access, which means you don’t have to go through a
service to hire them.

The really, really big one is they’re not entrepreneurial. They
don’t want to know how your business works so they can steal
your business. They just want a paycheck. They want a stable,
secure paycheck they can take home and support their families
with, which means when you combine all this stuff together, it
means that you can teach this person stuff you would never teach
someone else, and they can run more of your business for you.
Stuff that other people couldn’t do or you wouldn’t want someone
else to do because they might steal it, they might go out and do
it on their own, you know? They’re going to work for you for a
long, long time, so that your training upfront doesn’t have to
be perfect, you can train them over a period of time, and get
them working for you well, and that’s okay, because they’re not
going to quit. Then the next person you hire can go to them for
answers, and that makes your life so much easier. So, there are
all kinds of cultural things that when you combine them
together, and it really changes the way that this whole thing
works.

Andrew: Yeah, I think the loyalty is a huge one that I’ve seen, and the
English speaking, obviously. I think those are the two big ones
that in my experience have been just deal makers. You said,
honest. In terms of personal information, if you’re going to
effectively outsource, at some point, you’ve got to give up
server credentials, you’ve got to give up credit card
information, you know, you’ve got to give core sensitive pieces
of information about your business to somebody that you’ve never
met, and it’s scary. How do you deal with that? Is that
something that you worry about? Have you had problems with that?

John: So, I’ll tell you, they’re honest to the point where my guys
have my credit cards, they have my bank account information,
they have my home address, they have – usually even passwords to
my personal e-mail. They have remote access to my desktop
computer, they have user passwords to all of our servers and
hosting accounts. They have access to my PayPal account.

Andrew: Wow, that’s a scary one. I mean, that’s one where you can just,
you send money, and it’s gone.

John: Yeah, they could send themselves money, and I know that. I’ve
helped literally thousands and thousands of people hire
Filipinos over the years, and one time I’ve heard of someone
having stuff stolen from them. And that was because they had
done some really stupid, crappy stuff to that Filipino worker
and that Filipino worker wanted revenge. And I’ve never once
seen it outside of that. Having said that, please, whoever’s
listening to this, please don’t go do something stupid that
you’re not comfortable with. Please don’t go do something just
because I said they’re honest, don’t go giving them your credit
card the first day if you’re not comfortable with it. But,
again, if you think about it, your credit card, what’s the worst
that can happen? They go and spend $50, $200 on your credit
card, and you go to the credit card company, and say, this is
fraudulent, and they give you your money back.

Andrew: And you fire them and you move on.

John: With credit cards, that’s how it works. Your websites, your
servers, you know, they could do more damage. I’ve never ever
seen it happen. So just don’t do something that you’re not
comfortable with, that’s the big thing.

Andrew: So, it’s possible, but don’t be paranoid, there’s not a track
record of scams and abuse. It’s not like outsourcing to Nigeria
where there’s a hotbed of internet fraud.

John: It’s the opposite, there’s a track record of honesty.

Andrew: So, we’ve talked about a lot of different things, the mistakes
people make, some of the pitfalls people fall into. Let’s talk
about the right way to do this, from start to finish. And
actually, it’s very fitting we’re having this chat right now,
John, because my VA that I’ve had for three years, a fantastic
worker, she actually has been cut back to just a couple hours a
day because she’s moving on to a different career, something she
loves to do, and we’re really excited for her. But we are going
to have to fill that spot, and so we’re going to be looking to
hire a new Filipino VA here in the next two to three weeks. So
I’d love to walk through it. If you could walk us through the
step-by-step process so if somebody’s listening and they’ve got
a pen and paper, they can jot down one, two, three, four. How do
we go from right now no VA, no systems, not knowing anything
about it, to the point where, in let’s say, a month or so, or
two months, we’ve got somebody who can consistently help us with
our business. Where do we start, and where do we go from there?

John: Okay, first thing, decide what you want them – you know what? I
have a document, Seven Steps to Getting Started Hiring in the
Philippines.

Andrew: Oh wow, it’s almost like we planned this, which we did.

John: Yeah, totally, and I’m going to go through it with you. And I
can tell you these things, but I’m going to make sure that you
guys can get this in the end. What I was saying before was in
step number one, decide what you want them to do. Decide, find a
task, pick something that you want that person to take off of
your plate, and get them doing it. Whether it’s dealing with
your WordPress or dealing with adding products into your cart,
or writing descriptions, or categorizing, or writing articles
that you can market. Pick something, and decide what the skill
is that you want this person to have in order to do that task.

And if the task is writing articles to do marketing, the skill
that you want them to have isn’t article marketing. The skill
you want them to have is really, really great English. If it is
adding products into your shopping cart, the skill isn’t
eCommerce experience, it is someone with really great English
and a little bit of technical skills. They can learn what you
want them to do. More important is to find someone with really
great English, unless you’re finding a programmer or a designer,
okay? Define the job, decide the skill, then go to onlinejobs.ph
and find the person.

Andrew: Okay, so step one, define the job, and write down exactly the
skills, not the position, but the skills you need for that
worker. That’s step one.

John: That’s right. And those skills, there’s not very many of them.
You don’t need someone who can write perfect English and do
programming and do design work and is a WordPress expert and can
make phone calls for you.

Andrew: They’re going to be mediocre at everything.

John: They’re going to be mediocre at everything, and you’re going to
let them go. First of all, you’re not going to find them. I got
an e-mail one time that said, John, I need a person who can,
one, write six articles a day that are perfect that I don’t have
to mess with; two, spin those articles into 18 articles a day;
three, write custom plug-ins for WordPress sites; four, make
WordPress themes that look really great; five, answer customer’s
phone calls. There were seven things on this e-mail, and I was
like, you’re trying to hire me, and I’m not even good at all
those things. You know, like, you’re crazy. So, pick something,
and the skill that you should be hiring for is one skill that
you’re looking for.

Andrew: So, step one. Nail down that position. Let’s go to step two.
What’s step two?

John: Go and start searching out candidates. And there’s two
different ways to do this. You go to onlinejobs.ph, which
onlinejobs.ph is one option, bestjobs.ph is another option. When
I found bestjobs.ph, I thought I was in heaven, and this was
four years ago.

Andrew: Sorry to interrupt. Bestjobs.ph, and these will all be in the
show notes, but bestjobs.ph?

John: Yes, bestjobs.ph or onlinejobs.ph. The difference is
bestjobs.ph is kind of on a downwards trend, but when I found
it, there were like 30,000 Filipino resumes, and today there are
like 11. And onlinejobs.ph is kind of on an upwards trend. It’s
like two and a half years old, and there’s like 65,000 Filipino
resumes there. Another couple of options – you can go through a
service, like you and I talked about earlier, agentsofvalue.com,
or 123employee.com, they are a couple of options if you don’t
mind the $6,000 or $10,000 a year mark-up, that’s okay. You will
be finding the same people. You’re not going to get a better
candidate from them. I know they’re recruiting on onlinejobs.ph.

Andrew: So, you’ve got the option for – and those are going to be
recruiting agencies – either local or even sometimes national
outside. They’re hiring firms that go in and hire a bunch of
Filipinos, house them, and then they subcontract them out to
individual people.

John: They mark them up and then lease them back to you.

Andrew: Yeah. I think probably the ones most people are familiar with
are oDesk, Elance, some of these really well-known freelancing
sites. What do you think about those?

John: You just said it right there, they’re freelancing sites. You’re
hiring a temporary person. If you go through oDesk, you go
through Elance, here’s the thing. You are hiring 100% turnover
in your business, automatically. That’s the definition of it is
you’re hiring yourself turnover. In a month, they won’t work for
you, they will work for someone else, and when you need
something else changed of what they’ve worked on, you can’t. You
have to go back and find someone else. You will never step away
from your business while you are dealing with freelancers. You
can get a lot of work done, but you’re not automating. You’re
not automating your business that way. For me, there are three
ways to automate. You can automate with hardware with machines
in a car factory; you can automate with software, software tools
that do a bunch of steps for you; or you can automate with
humans, and have them – or you can automate with humans and
software, humans using software. If you’re using contract
workers, it is not automation because you are always still
involved in steps of a process.

Andrew: Well, if you have a contract worker, they’re not someone – I
think a lot of people may not understand this, but maybe they do
- but just to clarify, a contract worker, you can’t always – I
mean, you set up a contract for a limited project or a limited
amount of time, but you can’t just immediately with a contract
worker shoot something off at 3:00 in the afternoon and say,
hey, I need this done by the next day. They may have time to do
it, they may not. They may want to do it, they may not want to
do it.

John: Well, regardless, it’s not part of the original agreed upon
agreement. This one thing that you need done, that’s not part of
the agreement. Forget it.

Andrew: The one thing I’ve found oDesk and Elance really helpful for is
very specialized work for a defined amount of time. Like, for
example, my eCommerce sites run on Magento, and Magento is a pig
to customize. It’s complex, and it’s powerful, it’s really
powerful, but it’s definitely an area of expertise you need to
be able to customize it well. So when I need to have some real
detailed changes made to that, I go on oDesk and get a great guy
who can do it. He’s a little more expensive, you know, he’s $50
an hour or something, but he does it and he’s done. But, not a
great place to find workers that are going to help you systemize
your business, kind of in perpetuity, so you can step back.

John: That’s so true. Specialized one-time things, absolutely. What
you should do, I think, is hire a programmer in the Philippines,
someone who doesn’t know anything about Magento, but they’re
good at programming, and let them start learning it. Give them a
simple modification task, and in three or six months from now,
they will be able to do anything you want done. In the meantime,
if you don’t have something for them to do, let that person do
technical customer support. Let them do customer support,
whatever it is. There’s so many things they can do, but then
they’ve learned Magento. And now they’re the expert, and they’re
working for you instead of at $50 an hour, they’re at $3 an
hour. There’s a lot of hours that you can waste when that’s the
cost of this.

Andrew: You don’t have to be quite as much of a taskmaster.

John: You don’t have to be so productive every single second, you
know. Okay, here’s the thing. Go into onlinejobs.ph, and like I
said before, don’t go in and narrow it down to one single person
and e-mail them. There’s two ways to do this. You go in and e-
mail 20 different people that look like they could be correct.
If you do the advance search in onlinejobs.ph, you can search
for multiple skillsets at the same time. So, you can get someone
who is a programmer and understands – we don’t have a Magento,
there’s not a Magento category at onlinejobs.ph – but stuff like
that where you can go through someone who understands PHP, and
MySQL, or someone with PHP and eCommerce experience.

So you can search for multiple skills and start to narrow it
down, and then e-mail 20 people and see who responds. And when
you e-mail them, send them a generic e-mail. Don’t say, I need
someone who is an expert at Magento and can modify this piece of
it and has this experience, and is going to do this and this and
this. You will scare them off, because if there’s one thing in
there that they don’t think they know, they’re not even going to
respond. And so when you e-mail them, send them, hey, I need a
programmer. I would love someone with some eCommerce experience.
If you know Magento, that’s even a bonus, if not, I just want a
good programmer, reply back to me.

Andrew: In these e-mails, should you say, here’s my budget, here’s how
much I’m looking to spend, or should you wait until you find
somebody?

John: I personally don’t say, here’s my budget, here’s how much I
want to spend, because I want to find the right person. If
they’re at $600 a month or if they’re at $300 a month, you know,
if I find the same person at $600 or $300, I’m going to hire the
$300.

Andrew: Okay.

John: Just so you know, typically if you have a $300 or $600 person,
the $300 person is not as good as the $600 person. That’s pretty
standard across the board. But, I hired a guy at $300 a month
who said he was a good programmer, and he wasn’t as good as he
thought he was. And so we gave him a few other tasks to do, and
today he’s fantastic. He’s a good programmer and he’s a good
designer, and that was a good hire.

Andrew: Find out what you want, step one. Step two is go to bestjobs.ph
or onlinejobs.ph.

John: Onlinejobs.ph is a much better option. I was just giving you
guys different options.

Andrew: I’m sorry, I’m looking at my notes here, and that one’s the one
my eyes settled on. But go to onlinejobs.ph preferably, and then
send out e-mails kind of with broad descriptions to 20 or 30
people. So, we’ve done that, so what’s step three?

John: So, another option there is going in and post your job.
Different people kind of work differently, and when I do this, I
want instant feedback. I want to know what I’m looking for, so
I’ll go in and e-mail people. Other people just work
differently, they’ll go in and post a job and wait for everyone
to respond to them. There’s another option.

Okay, step number three is interview people who respond. So,
people who respond to you, start interviewing them. Ask them
lots and lots of questions across multiple e-mails. Ask them if
they have another job, how many hours they’re working, and where
they live, and how they learned English, and what their skills
are, and what their best skills are, and how they got those
skills, and what experience they have, and ask them all these
things over multiple e-mails, and you’ll get – you’ll have a
much, much better understanding of who they are and how they fit
into your company.

Andrew: So, when you’re doing that, let’s say we e-mail 20, and let’s
say 7 reply. Do you do this for all 7 candidates? Do you kind of
go through and vet and say, yeah, this guy looks like he may be
better, do you kind of, I guess, cut the finalists, based on
what you see?

John: I will do that throughout the e-mail series. So, everyone who
replies to me, if 7 people reply, 1 or 2 of them are just
completely not qualified and I didn’t know that, because I don’t
spend half an hour in the first place e-mailing 20 or 30 people.
I went in and looked and found people that were relevant and I e-
mailed them. And then, 7 replied, 2 of them are just not
relevant, and I won’t reply, and 5 of them are, and I’ll send
them some questions. And I’ll read their responses and send them
questions, and they’ll respond. And 4 of them will respond back,
and 1 of them will kind of just drop off, and I’ll just keep
going through that until I narrow it down to the one person I
want to hire.

Andrew: So, really it’s just correspondence. So, you’re not going in
and saying, okay, 5 candidates, here are three potential
customer e-mails you could get, please write me a reply, and
kind of role play how you respond to this. Or if it’s a
programmer, you don’t say, you don’t test them, or you don’t
give them a mini-project to say, get a WordPress blog up in such
and such a time, and do this customization. You’re really more
just trying to get a feel for what they’re like as you
correspond back and forth.

John: So, all those things that you just said are things that I do
do, but I just started doing it, like, in the last three weeks.
One thing you don’t want to have them do – and here’s the
problem. You say, oh, you’re a writer. I want to see your
writing. Write me six articles about whatever your eCommerce
site is about. Immediately, they’re going to say, you know what?
Screw you. There have been enough scammers that say, hey, I’m
interested in hiring you, write me six articles so I can see
your work, and then they get the articles back and then
disappear.

Andrew: Free labor.

John: So, you can definitely test people, you just need to be careful
with it. Don’t have them doing work that – let them do work that
they see this is unique and you’re not going to use it in your
business and run off and steal it, because otherwise, you’re
going to lose good potential candidates.

Andrew: Or if you are going to do that, if that’s really important, let
them know that maybe you’ll compensate them for the work that
they do do.

John: I’ve done that. Hey, I want to see how your work is. Do these
three designs for me, and I’ll pay you $30 whether I hire you or
not. You know? Put up a WordPress blog for me, and maybe it is
or it isn’t one that I want to have done, and I’ll give you $10,
you know? Maybe I’ll do that with four people. And maybe two of
them do it, maybe three of them do it, maybe all four do. So,
you definitely can test people. Sometimes I will pay them,
sometimes I won’t. It just kind of depends on what it is.

Andrew: So, we’ve got the field narrowed down, and let’s say, it’s
based on some e-mails, maybe some potential tests, we’ve got
that one person we want to hire. So, once we’ve got that final
candidate, what do we do to move them into our actual workflow?
I guess a couple of things, when to pay them, and then,
secondly, how do we get them up to speed? What are some of the
best practices for integrating them into our businesses?

John: That’s step five in this document. Offer them a job, tell them
you’re hired. Here are my expectations, I expect you to work a
40-hour week, you can have time off whenever you want, I just
need to know ahead of time. You know, they have Filipino
holidays that we don’t have, and you know they’re going to work
over Thanksgiving. They’re not going to work between Christmas
and New Year’s, nobody does in the Philippines. Tell them how
much you are going to pay them, how often you’ll pay them. When
you get started, you’re going to have to pay them once a week.
Don’t ever pre-pay for work. Always pay them after the work.
When you get started, they need to trust you, and they’re scared
about doing a whole bunch of work and not getting paid, so pay
them once a week for the first two months. After that, you can
switch to paying monthly. I pay all my people monthly. I have
them send me an invoice on the same day of every month so that I
remember to pay them, because otherwise I will forget.

Andrew: You don’t have that automated?

John: The payments?

Andrew: Yeah, there’s not like a – the way I’ve got it set up with my
VA is just an automatic monthly salary for the work that she
does through xoom.com. It’s the same amount every month, so it
just kicks in, you know?

John: There are a couple of things with that, and you need to be
careful with that. One, the exchange rate changes, and you need
to pay attention to that. So if you’re paying them $300 a month,
I’ve seen the exchange rate as low as 38 to 1, and as high as 51
to 1. That’s a 25% difference in their salary that they get.
Right now, it’s pretty low, it’s about 40 to 1. So, if you
contracted them when it was 45 at $300, and you’re still sending
them $300, they’re losing a significant amount of their
paycheck, and so you probably need to be paying them more.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t automate that through
xoom.com.

Andrew: Can you set it up to pay in the local currency, so you just pay
$40,000 or $20,000, and then it just charges, you know? Maybe
that would be work, but . . .

John: I don’t know, you probably can. The other thing is, I like to
send them bonuses. And so when I pay them, I’m going to send
them a bonus rather than sending two different transactions and
having to do it twice and having two fees, that’s it. The other
thing is, you just mentioned xoom.com. Up until two months ago,
I always recommended xoom.com. Xoom.com is going away. They are
specifically disallowing commercial transactions, which means if
you are paying someone working for you, xoom.com does not want
to be a part of that anymore. For the last couple months, we’ve
been researching, trying to find a better solution, and we’re
actually, we’ve been working with another company who we found
that is going to be a much, much better solution. It’s going to
be at payments.ph. It’s not available – maybe it will be
available tomorrow. Another issue with xoom.com is if you’re in
the U.S., xoom.com will not take transactions from outside of
the U.S., so everybody in the rest of the world can’t use
xoom.com. Payments.ph will work from anywhere, have lower fees
than xoom.com, higher exchange rate than xoom.com or PayPal,
which is a big deal for the Filipinos that if they get an extra
30 pesos in a month, that costs you an extra dollar, 40 pesos is
an extra dollar. That’s a full meal for them, maybe multiple
meals for them. It’s a big deal. So, having a higher exchange
rate is a big deal. Payments.ph is going to be a much, much
better option going forward.

Andrew: Assuming payments.ph, you know, xoom.com may be, probably not
going to be a great option going forward, apart from
payments.ph, what are some of the other alternatives for
payment?

John: PayPal is another option. PayPal is just slow. PayPal takes a
couple days to get them the money, so you have to be prepared
ahead of time. The Filipinos are dependent on this money. This
is their life. If you don’t pay them on time, they do not eat.
And that’s pretty important. So PayPal is an option, sometimes -
PayPal usually takes three days to get them the money in the
first place. Sometimes PayPal will screw you over, and just say,
no, sorry, we’re not going to send this money anymore. Not that
they – they’ll never take the money, and the Filipino won’t get
it. I’ve never seen that happen. With PayPal, I’ve seen it
numerous times where they say, no, sorry. You can’t send money
to this person anymore. They have to eat, what do I do? The
other thing with PayPal is their exchange rate is super low.
Like, a point lower than other places, and that point when
you’re sending it 300 times is a big deal. So, there’s a couple
issues with PayPal. Other options, they’re just more expensive.
Emoneygram.com, remithome.com, westernunion.com you’re wiring
money. That’s what you’re doing with xoom.com, or emoneygram.com
or westernunion.com, you’re just wiring money. There are other
options.

Andrew: So, there’s a number of options. So once you hire them, you set
up some payment stuff, maybe talk a little bit about getting
them plugged in. Why don’t you talk about ReplaceMyself.com, and
how that ties into being able to get someone up to speed in your
business?

John: So, you have to give them their first task. And this is where
most people see the process, and they say, oh, man, that’s so
painful, I’m not even going to do this. I have to give this
person a task, and I have to give him some training, which you
do. You really need to train them. And if you have something
specific that you want them to do upfront, you know, hire them
and work with them through that training and give them one
specific task and then provide them feedback as they go through
it.

What I realized years ago was I’ve done this enough times that
I’ve created all this training, and it’s training specifically
for a Filipino, and I could make all of my training available to
other people. So that’s what ReplaceMyself.com is. It’s all
about trying to make this hiring process and your experience
easier, so that you hire someone and then you give them my
training that I created so that you don’t have to go through
that training process. And if can, give them the training of
mine about something that you know so that you give them the
training, you don’t have to provide the training, but then you
can provide intelligent feedback as they work through that.
That’ll just make this easier. Or if you don’t want to do that,
if you don’t want to use ReplaceMyself.com and the trainings
that I’ve created, you’ve got to give them training.

One thing you can’t do is you can’t go buy a product that was
intended for you to teach you how to do something, and give it
to the Filipinos. Every info product I’ve ever seen is intended
for you, the CEO, to implement and which assumes that you’re
going to be making the business decisions, and if you give that
to a Filipino, they’ll come to a point where they have to make a
business decision, they don’t know how to make that decision,
they don’t want to make the decision, and they’ll disappear.
And it doesn’t really work.

Andrew: So, don’t go buy How to Make $10,000 In Thirty Fast Days for a
$1,000, hand it off to your Filipino VA and expect the money to
come rolling in.

John: Not going to work. You have to be CEO of your business. I mean,
that’s a big transition. A lot of people right now are trying to
start their own business. They’re trying to run an eCommerce
site. They’re trying to be an affiliate. They’re trying to do
whatever it is, but they’re the grunt worker. They’re doing all
the grunt work, and they’re not the CEO of the business. And so
there’s a big transition phase there from being the one who’s
doing everything them self to being the one managing everything
and letting other people do the work. And in that transition,
there’s lots of training that has to happen. And some of that
training is for you, and some of that training is for the
Filipino, and some of that is for how you guys work together.
And that will happen over time, but initially, you’ve got to
give that Filipino training. And then you have to kind of step
away from that and not micro-manage every tiny, little piece of
it and start focusing on the bigger picture, focusing on working
on your business instead of working in your business.

Andrew: So, the ReplaceMyself.com training modules, how are they set
up? Are they PDFs? Are they videos? And then also, what topics
do they cover? What can you, after you give a VA some of these,
what can you expect them to do?

John: So, they’re, the ReplaceMyself trainings are a whole range of
trainings. Some of them are PDFs, some of them are video, some
of them are audio, some of them are web pages, some of them are,
you know, a collection of specific web pages, other people’s
information that have the best information. And they’re
filtered. So, like, go look at this page and ignore the first
paragraph, the first couple of paragraphs, because it’s not
relevant to what you are going to be doing. The page entries are
at least six bullet points, something like that, or videos that
we’ve created, that I’ve created saying, hey, look, here’s how
we’re going to do this. So it’s combination of things. They
cover the whole gamut of marketing. So, like Facebook marketing,
or Twitter marketing, or article marketing, or video marketing,
or SEO, or link building, or copyrighting, sales copy. We have
local business stuff like Yelp, or Google Places, or building a
mini-net, or QR codes or building mobile websites, or …

Andrew: Wow, you have training on there for Filipino VA’s on how to
build a mobile website?

John: Yes. And that training is, there are multiple options. There’s
like, here’s how you build a single, stand-alone mobile website
in five minutes, here’s how you turn a WordPress site into a
mobile-ready website, here’s how you build a bigger, more fully
robust mobile website. Here’s a couple of different tools, you
can use this one, this one costs this much, this one is free,
this one costs this much, here are your options. Here’s how you
use them. So, here’s how you integrate QR codes into this mobile
stuff, you know? Here’s how you do Facebook with mobile
marketing, here’s what you do for a local business.

So, we have all of these trainings on how to do this stuff for a
Filipino, and that’s the really big difference between what we
do and what anybody else does is training on how to build mobile
websites is geared at you targeting the client, or you for your
website. What we do is targeting at a Filipino to doing it for
their boss, where we say, look, when you get to this point, you
don’t make this decision. You shouldn’t make this decision, ask
your boss, because they should make this decision, and they’ll
tell you what to do and you do it. And that’s how this should
work. You should be making the decisions, they should be doing
the work.

Andrew: Got it. Very cool stuff. That sounds like pretty comprehensive
training, too. I didn’t think you would have as much stuff as
you said.

John: We don’t have like eCommerce. We don’t have specific Magento
training, something like that. We do have some – in SEO, we talk
about SEO for eCommerce stuff, where you’re [indiscernible
1:04:29] a specific page with a specific product name, and
you’re linking to that specific page, and keywords, and . . .

Andrew: Got it. So, getting close now, we’ve been talking for an hour.
It’s just flown by with just tons of good stuff. So, I do want
to wrap this up, but one last question. You’ve been doing this
obviously for so long, what are some of the tools or websites or
utilities, what are the resources that you use that are really
helpful in terms of communicating with VA’s, managing VA’s? What
are some of those that you can share that would be really
helpful for people getting started?

John: We’ll talk about a couple of them. Number one, I communicate
with my people using e-mail, I’ve already talked about that a
little bit. Instant messaging, either Skype or Google Talk. They
all use Yahoo Instant Messenger, which I don’t use, so I have
them use Google Talk. I use a project manager system, which as
part of ReplaceMyself.com we licensed the project manager system
that I use from the company, and so you get that with it.

Andrew: So, if you buy ReplaceMyself.com, then you do get the PM
manager system with it?

John: You do get it. You also get free access to onlinejobs.ph. And
so there’s a whole bunch of stuff you’re going to get with
ReplaceMyself.com. Jing is a total game changer for this. I wish
I could download it here – you’re not seeing my screen – it’s
screen capture, screen recording software made so stinking
simple that it will save you an hour a day not writing e-mails
and not rendering videos. Jing is free, which is crazy.
Jingproject.com, it’s made by the makers of Camtasia. I’ll just
tell you real quick, it sits up on your desktop, you drag it out
and capture like a square, either an image or a video. If it’s a
video, you talk to it, and it records your screen, and your
mouse, and you do your voice, and you can explain something
exactly what you want, or you capture an image and you annotate
it and draw arrows and stuff, and you send that. You click a
button, Jing uploads it to a server, and gives you the URL, so
all you have to do is click ‘paste’ into an e-mail. And you
don’t have to render or FTP your files or host or any of that
stuff. It just works. It’s so fantastic.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a great tool.

John: We use Google Docs for a lot of stuff, for tracking stuff, for
writing, for spreadsheets, for – it’s really great to be able to
share something back and forth and not have to send the document
back and forth. And they can keep it updated, and it just works.
We use that for some task management, you know, managing like
tasks on a project sometimes, or the project manager system, or
we’ll link to that in the project manager system, and – I’m
trying to think of what else we use on a regular basis. There
are software tools…

Andrew: Go ahead, I’m sorry, John.

John: There are software tools that we use to do things, but those
are kind of more specialized. Jing is the really big one. Jing
changed everything. When you start using it – when I started
using it, it changed everything for me.

Andrew: It’s so much easier to – if you want to show a process to a VA,
instead of having to walk them – instead of having to type out
an e-mail for ten minutes step-by-step, you just do a screen
cast and shoot it over to them in a minute and a half, two
minutes. It’s great. Too, I would add, for project management
and kind of collaboration, Asana is a great one that I use.
Again, this will all be in the show notes, but Asana is a great
tool. It’s free up to 30 users, so unless you are getting to the
point where you’re at John’s level and you’re hiring so many
people you’re past 30, it should be free. And then Skitch – I
think it’s only for Mac, but it may be available for PC, I’m not
sure – but Skitch is another great tool for taking awesome
screenshots.

So, who’s that?

John: This is my baby, and she just walked in. I have a – I work from
home. I have an open door policy at my house, and we just moved
and we don’t even have doorknobs on our doors yet because we
remodeled everything. And she walked in.

Andrew: What’s her name?

John: This is Lila.

Andrew: What was that?

John: Lila.

Andrew: Lila, got it.

John: Say hi. Can you give smiles? She is the smiley-est, happiest baby.

Andrew: How are you doing, Lila?

John: Hey, look. Look at that.

Andrew: Is your dad getting you trained in outsourcing techniques here
at an early age?

John: That would be my 9-year-old.

Andrew: John, awesome. Well, I think that does it. We’ve chatted for an
hour and fifteen minutes. I really appreciate you coming on,
talking, sharing a lot of this stuff. And again, I know we’ve
been over it before, but if you want to find out more about
John, ReplaceMyself.com is where you can find those training
modules and access information about them. Onlinejobs.ph is the
job board he referenced. Any other sites that you’d like to tell
about or resources that people can come and find out more about
you from?

John: I blog about a lot of this at Jonasblog.com. So, that’s – you
can find me at johnjonas.com, but I blog about a lot of this at
jonasblog.com

Andrew: Well, John, it’s been a privilege chatting with you. I learned
a ton of information, and thanks so much for coming on.

John: No problem. Thanks for having me. It’s been great to be here.

Andrew: Thanks, everyone, for listening. We’ll talk to you soon.

 

Show Notes

Websites Mentioned:

Tools Mentioned:

  • Jing - Free tool for creating and sharing screencasts
  • Asana - Project management and collaboration tool
  • Skitch - Capture, annotate and share screenshots quickly
  • Google Docs - Document collaborating and sharing

 

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Comments

  1. Kamal says:

    I’m halfway through listening to the interview. Great stuff! I’ve learned a ton from this so far. We will definitely be looking into hiring VAs once we get up and running and use this video as our guide.

    I’m at the portion of the video where you talk about credit card access and password access given to VAs. LastPass is a program we use at our company that lets you share login rights to any online account with any person without giving them access to view the password itself. Even if you trust a person it’s easy to remove a person’s access using LastPass if they quit working for you, preventing you from having to go and manually change passwords for everything.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Kamal! Glad you’re finding it useful. And great suggestion on LastPass – that’s what we use, too. We absolutely love it.

      • kamal says:

        Nice! Haha, I should have known you would be all over LastPass. It’s a great program! Keep up the great work on the blog.

  2. John DeLancey says:

    Fantastic information as always, and excellent timing, as I’m finding the need to offload tasks more and more and had been wondering about VAs.

    Since you mentioned the need to hire another VA fairly soon (depending on when this video was shot, you may have already done so, but let’s assume you haven’t), what do you think about documenting and sharing your experience using some of the guidelines mentioned so we can see a “real life example” as it unfolds? I know I would love it, and I suspect I’m not alone.

    Regardless, thanks again for the fantastic information!

    • Andrew says:

      John – that’s a great idea, and something I actually considered as well. There’s only one catch – we just hired a new VA based on a recommendation from our existing assistant, so unfortunately the process wouldn’t be as detailed / useful as starting from scratch. But again, great idea.

      However, I think along that same vein you’ll enjoy the next upcoming post very much. While I can’t reveal it quite yet, it will be an in-the-trenches look at working with virtual assistants from a very unique perspective.

  3. Richard Esq. says:

    Nice job Andrew and great interview.
    But I find your joke and generalization about Nigeria quite distasteful. Enough said.

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Richard! And I apologize if my comment offended you. I didn’t mean it to be offensive, but I’ve personally had numerous encounters / issues with scams originating from Nigeria and know many others have, too. Despite some of the well publicized issues, I by no means meant to imply everyone from Nigeria was a scam artist.

      • Richard Esq. says:

        Thankx! Andrew. No Qualms.
        By the way, your ebook is powerful.
        I just responded to your followup email. I’d look forward to your response as you said. The OnlineJobs.ph is quite fantastic as well.

  4. brian says:

    I listened to John Jonas before and I recall he does lots of niche sites ? I went down the outsource route(SEO/backlinking) when I was into the whole niche site empire but that business model crashed and burned. I think its definitely key having everything dialed in and at the scale when you can keep them busy fulltime otherwise just paying for services that do something specific all day long is more common for most people that don’t have a stable business yet online to have fulltime workers.

    I recall John Jonas owns OnlineJobs.ph which would have nice that he mention that in full disclosure even it is the best resource.

    • Andrew says:

      Agreed – I think having great systems in place and knowing WHAT you want your VAs to do is critical to outsourcing success. VAs aren’t magicians, and need quality direction like any other employee/contractor/paid help. And with Google cracking down on low-quality and over-optimized link building, you do have to be really careful when you outsource your SEO. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, one of my sites got burned, too, by poor quality link outsourcing I didn’t monitor closely enough.

      For the record, John (or I – can’t remember) do mention / disclose that he owns OnlineJobs.ph in the interview.

  5. Liza Otto says:

    This is a good information. Anything that saves me money for my business, I am willing to try. Thank you for all this information. Such a blessing!

  6. Maggie says:

    Love this post :) I was born in the Philippines and lived there until I was 26. I work with a Filipino VA (who is wonderful) and have several friends who work in call centers.

    I think one reason many Filipino VAs / call center reps communicate well in English that in the Philippines, if you went to a private school (and many, although not most, people do), you speak and write in English all day. Except for one class, which they call “Filipino,” ALL of your classes are taught in English. I know, it’s kind of strange.

    Personally, I (and lots of Filipinos I know) write much better in English than I/we do in Tagalog, but speak both fluently. I’ve since dropped the Filipino accent, but it comes back when I speak in English or “Taglish” to my mom or dad over the phone, then drops off again when I speak to my husband and son, much to their amusement :P

    As for the ridiculously low pay by U.S. standards, it’s not just for the lack of jobs, I think, but could also be the difference in cost of living. If I remember correctly one U.S. Dollar is the equivalent of 40 Philippine Pesos. So for goods that aren’t imported from the U.S., like rice and produce and such, a dollar can go a long way.

    • Andrew says:

      What a great perspective on Filipino culture and a background on the outsourcing world there – thank you! I think you’re right – the prevalence of English has played a big role in making the Philippines a top destination for outsourcing recently.

      Thanks for sharing, Maggie!

  7. Owen says:

    A great interview. I have heard of John Jonas before but was never ready to take on outsourcers.
    What confuses me is what to pay someone in relation to what you want done and how to work out how long a given task will take.
    Keep up the good work, Andrew

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Owen! John covers pay scale – from $250 to $1,000 – in the interview for specific tasks. But in regards to time allowed for certain tasks, that’s a bit trickier. It can really be a judgement call, and that’s probably a great topic for another more detailed discussion.

  8. kurt says:

    Great video. I clicked on one of your links at the bottom when i was 3/4 the way through your video and it loaded in the same page. When I went back to this page, I realized the video does not let you fast forward. I would suggest using a different video player and making your links open in a new window. Thanks

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Kurt! Will get that fixed for future videos.

      • Angus says:

        Great video. REALLY enjoyed it. I first used outsourcers around 2001, just brushing back up on my knowledge. I also had the same problem where accidently moved off the page and then found I couldnt speed up the video (or only in short bursts when buffering had progressed).

        • Andrew says:

          Thanks Angus! I’ll look into the buffering issue and try to get something that allows for easier skipping around for future videos. Appreciate you letting me know about the issue.

  9. Great stuff here Andrew!

    It’s certainly import to leverage business and delegate certain task to others in order to be most successful in your business!

    Great tips, thanks so much!

    All the best,
    -Alex

  10. John Burgos says:

    Amazing Interview !!!

    I just went to bed almost 3 am watching this great interview. I learn a lot in one hour and trust me if the interview goes at least 2 more hours I will see it from start to finish. This interview is so helpful for small business to get more information on how to do outsourcing.. Plus I want to say thanks to John for the great work that he is doing to connect entrepreneurs to make relationship with Philippines.

    Thank you guys !!!!!!

  11. Tony says:

    Interesting listen. I think you did a great job guiding the interview, Andrew. I look forward to when it arrives on iTunes so we can stop and resume the podcasts to fit our listening schedules and habits. A couple of things that jumped out at me were:

    - His enthusuastic recommendation of Payments.ph, while it was blatantly obvious to me from listening to his enthusiasm for it, would have made me feel better had he disclosed his direct connection to it beyond referring to is as “we’ve been working with another company who we found that is going to be a much, much better solution.”.

    - While I understand what your guest was trying to say re: essentially raising and training a VA to fit your long-term needs, there is absolutely no way his example of Magento is a situation where I would ever consider doing that. That would be like hiring a pianist to play trombone. Do you really have the patience or capital to throw at that type of training?

    - Re: his warning to not solicit samples from a potential VA, and then turn around and use their work without compensation, he’s dead on. (although for a legitimate business to do so would be a direct indictment on the lack of ethics they have to begin with) I have found that a spin on this works great to choose from a selection of candidates, albeit with one main difference. As a test, specifically on oDesk, I hire everyone on my narrowed down short list to do the exact same work. For example, when I hired my latest two to build local citations, I gave 5 candidates the same project, by way of PDF forms that mimic each citation process. When completed, I was able to look at exactly how they completed each step, giving me the best chance to hire the exact people I needed.

    Andrew, keep up the good work, and I look forward to the next episode.

    • John Jonas says:

      @Tony – thanks for the comment and feedback. I appreciate it.

      Actually, http://www.payments.ph (which I own) is a partnership with Ko-kard (which I have no interest in…other than the partnership). Ko-kard on it’s own isn’t great, but with the partnership agreement we put in place and with the changes they’ve made specifically for Payments.ph, I really do believe it will be a better solution than any other out there. So, when I referred to “another company we’ve been working with”, I was referring to ko-kard.

      But…you’re right, I should have said that I own Payments.ph.

      John

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you enjoyed the interview, Tony! Thanks for the positive feedback. When you said:

      “there is absolutely no way his example of Magento is a situation where I would ever consider doing that.”

      …I think it really depends on the circumstances. As I don’t currently have a full-time Filipino programmer on staff, I wouldn’t do this right now. It obviously makes much more sense to hire someone who is already an expert, especially given the small amount of custom work I usually have done. But in the future – when I plan to hire a full-time programmer for some ventures I’ll be pursuing – I think developing a talented programmer you already hire into a Magento expert could be very valuable. It would obviously be an investment over time, but one that could potentially pay off give your circumstances and needs.

  12. Eva Ron says:

    Hey Andrew!

    I found your blog a few months ago, Since then I am receiving from you very useful emails. I received an email about this blog post about a couple months ago, I checked out the post, I started listening to the video. but then I stopped in the middle! (yah,,,,yah….I know, SHAME on me! ) I believe that it probably wasn’t the best time for me to see the full video then, because today, I am now working full time on the Internet, I do all of the tasks of building my website to backlink…..I built about 3 sites now. I know it’s not much, but I started.

    I just want to thank you for this AMAZING post! :) Hopefully I will be able to hire an outsourcer soon – Thank you soo much!

  13. Gen says:

    Great video! I learned a lot. After watching it I looked for candidates on onlinejobs.ph, emailed about 12 of them, but got only 1 reply and it says:

    “My team is very much interested with your job post. We are from IT-wasp a group of freelancer here in Iloilo, Philippines. Currently we have available , dedicated team member that is able to work with your project full time and long term. Our difference with the other freelancer we work in one place and we have a Project Manager to monitor our task.”

    It made me think of the example you (or John, I’m not sure) gave during the interview, about paying a company $750 a month and the employee actually being paid only $250… should I be suspicious?

  14. Attila says:

    Hey Andrew!

    Great video, I have been looking around some time about how to hire a VA and I have to tell you this video has all the information I needed.
    Looking forward to hire my firs VA :)

    Just a quick note, the link for the Jing doesn’t work
    the link

  15. This is really great, thanks, I’ve been paying random people for book formatting or ebook conversion but would like to have one guy on retainer….

  16. If some one wants expert view on the topic of blogging and site-building after that i recommend
    him/her to payy a visit this weblog, Keep up the fastidious job.

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