In today’s episode, I have my old friend Dom Wells on the show to talk about building remotes teams in your business. Dom has been on TMD in the past in my 30 in 30 event, when he wrote HOW TO EASE INTO LIFE AS A DIGITAL NOMAD – OR HOW TO NOT JUMP IN THE DEEP END. Now he’s back!
Dom Wells is the founder of Human Proof Designs and a fellow digital nomad. Dom is originally from the UK, spent several years living in Asia, just spend a year in Canada and is heading back to the UK for a little while. Here’s how Dom describes Human Proof Designs:
” This site exists to make starting a niche website that much easier. With the training on the blog, the ready-made sites we’ll sell, and the custom projects we’ll do, you will find that getting started doesn’t have to be as confusing as you first thought. ”
Dom has done a fantastic job building his business to 6 figures over that past few years. I knew Dom from way back in the day when we were both working with affiliate websites and Dom’s goal was to have 5 figure months. It’s been great watching his journey.
What’s gotten Dom to the level of success he has right now is the team he’s built in his business. So in this episode, we dive into how he’s built that team.
Enjoy the episode Dudes and Dudettes!
IN THIS EPISODE WE COVER:
- How do you find them?
- Tools used to manage the team
- Strategies for hiring and managing people depending on their role
- Dragging your feet your hire someone because you think you can do it ALL yourself.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED:
Wanna connect with Dom?
- Website: HumanProofDesigns.com
- Facebook Group: Niche Site Entrepreneurs
- Podcast: Human Proof Podcast
LT: So, Dom, thank you so much for coming onto the show and co-hosting this episode with me. It has been such a long time since we last not only saw each other but actually, like, spoke properly as well.
DW: Yeah. Well, that was probably the same time, actually, wasn’t it, the last time we spoke and met.
LT: Yeah. I mean, well, we were talking just before we hit record and saying, like, we talk, like, fairly regularly via Facebook Messenger but that doesn’t really count.
DW: I mean, it doesn’t but I feel it kind of does. I have so many kind of e-friends now, for want of a better word, and some of them have become really good friends in real life that I’ve hung out with on multiple occasions. And some of them I’ve never met, but I speak to them every day. And it’s kind of funny that maybe before I started travelling and I was living in Taiwan and I had friends that I played football with every week and went to the bar with and stuff, but I felt like my actual best friends were these online friends who I’d never spoken to. So, yeah, don’t knock the Facebook Messenger too much.
LT: Well, I mean, the one time that we did meet up was, like, the first time we were actually, like, even closely in the same – well, we were in the same time zone because we were both in England at the same time. But, like, for the majority of, like, our e-friendship, you know, there’s always been, like, a big time zone difference too, hasn’t there?
DW: Yeah. Yeah, I guess – and I think it was probably about two years before we even did meet up face-to-face as well.
LT: Yeah. Cool. So I did give you, like, a proper introduction in the intro to the show. But would you just like to introduce yourself to all the dudes and dudettes and, you know, let them who you are, sort of, like, what you’re doing, how you fell into it and, like, a brief, like, travel history as well.
DW: Okay. Sure. Yeah. So, actually, the two are kind of related anyway; like, my travelling and what I’m doing. But essentially I started an online business back in 2012 when I was living in Taiwan and I had been there for about four years. Originally I went there to teach English, and – yeah, long story short I kind of grew tired of teaching English but I wanted to stay in Taiwan long-term. So I started looking at different options for making money, and online business is perfect for someone like that because I couldn’t really get a good job outside of teaching English because I wasn’t fluent in Mandarin and all of that.
So, yeah, I just started looking at online stuff in my spare time and I started building affiliate websites and making money through, you know, that kind of business model. And that grew into me founding Human Proof Designs in 2013. Because, basically, I had been growing my own sites and I occasionally sold them on Flippa. And one thing I noticed was a lot of people were buying these kind of junk, scam websites, like, someone just cobbles together a website and says, “This is going to make you $1 million on autopilot.” I mean, you’re probably familiar with that kind of promise.
LT: Yeah. Back then there was a lot of that going around.
DW: Yeah. Well, there probably still is but they’ve just moved on to something different. So, yeah, long story short I thought, “Well, why don’t I just build sites that are actually legit?” And, you know, they’re like starter sites for people who want to get started but they don’t want to learn how to build WordPress sites from scratch and they don’t know how to do keyword research and all of those things. So that’s how I started. And, yeah, I did it under my own flag rather than selling via Flippa, and eventually it’s grown to where we are now, about four years later. It doesn’t feel like four years; it feels like – well, I guess it’s three-and-a-half, but it feels like, I don’t know, a month sometimes. And, yeah, so now I have a team; I have, like, four or five full-time employees in different countries around the world; and then below us – below them we’ve got a lot of different freelancers and virtual assistants and writers and graphic designers and all sorts.
And starting from about April last year, which is 2016, I left Taiwan with my wife and we decided to just do a bit of travelling. We got married in March, so we thought, “Okay. Before we settle down and have children and do all that boring stuff” – no offence to children. But, yeah, “Before we do all that, why don’t we travel for a bit?” So on a whim she applied for a working holiday visa in Canada, something that you’re probably familiar with.
LT: Very familiar with that one.
DW: And she got accepted. And she said to me – she waited like a week, I think, and she said, “Oh, I got accepted.” And I was thinking, “Why did you even apply? But cool.” And she said, “Yeah, you don’t have to come, you know. I’ll just go to Canada for a year and you can do whatever.” And, like, we’d been engaged, like, three weeks. So I was thinking, “Yeah, I’m pretty much – I’m going to come, of course.” So, yeah, we ended up just leaving Taiwan and travelling. And we’ve been in Canada now about eight months, but we’ve done a lot of travelling while we’ve been here. We went to New York, and then we’ve travelled around Canada a lot as well. And so I like to say that I kind of accidentally became a digital nomad, because even though I started making money online I never wanted to necessarily – I wanted to be free to travel but I never wanted to, like, be a nomad. I kind of figured I would just travel a lot but I would still be based in Taiwan or England or wherever. But now I’m kind of nine months into travelling and I’ve been hanging out with a lot of other digital nomads, I think, “Oh, right. I guess I’m a digital nomad too, then.” So, yeah.
LT: I think it’s also quite funny, like, how you say, like, you accidentally fell into it when, like, obviously originally being from England you ended up moving to Taiwan to teach English but then no longer taught English, and then you sort of, like, used your business to – did you, like, try to build the business to stay in Taiwan longer and, like, if that failed would you have eventually gone back to England?
DW: I mean, my motivation changes all the time so I’m trying to remember exactly why. I think when I was about 24/25 I read the Rich Dad Poor Dad books and then, like a lot of digital nomads, I ended up reading The 4-Hour Workweek book as well. And I think at that point I realised, actually, anybody can become successful online and can, you know, make a go of it. You don’t have to have gone to business school or have entrepreneurial parents or whatever. And I think my motivation, really, was just that I wanted to be financially free, financially independent; I wanted to have nice cars and a nice house and stuff.
So the plan was never to free myself from my job so that I could stay in Taiwan or I could go back to England; I guess I wanted to be able to go where I pleased. Because, like, in Taiwan before when I was teaching English, if I wanted to go home in the summer to visit my family, maybe I would have to go back every two or three years because that’s how long it would take me to save up the money for the flight. And then when I’m back in England, I didn’t want to stay too long because I wasn’t earning while I was back there.
So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be really cool if I could just work for myself so that I don’t need to ask permission from a boss to go home and I can work while I’m in England, and I can afford to fly twice a year if I want.” Like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I just said, ‘Hey, I’m going to fly home for Christmas this year.’” And that kind of grew into, “Well, wouldn’t it be cool if I could live anywhere?” or, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could make enough to pay for me and my wife?” And so it’s just – I don’t really think there was a distinctive plan, but one thing I knew was if I did go back to England I didn’t want to go back unless I was kind of already sorted; like, I was already successful. I didn’t see the point in going back and then getting there and thinking, “What am I going to do now? Like, I’ve got a degree in media; I spent three years teaching English abroad. Like, why did I come back?” So, yeah, I knew I wanted to sort of come back with my head held high, like, you know, riding a horse into town; that kind of image.
LT: No, that’s cool. Yeah. I mean, that’s sort of, like – like you said, like, the location independence is, like, the reason why, like, a lot of us listening to this show right now, like – that’s the reason why we, like, either started our online business or that’s sort of, like, what we want our online businesses to allow us to do; like, have the freedom to travel wherever we want, whenever we wanted. So I think it’s pretty cool, like, you say you accidentally fell into it, but to me it kind of sounds like that was, like, the goal the entire time was to give you, like, the location independence but sort of, like, now you get to, like, properly experience it now that you’re, like, travelling around Canada.
So for this – the topic of this show is going to be all about how to, like, build that remote team sort of, like, how you, like, manage them. And like you said, that’s sort of, like, what you did, like, pretty early on with your Human Proof Designs. You know, you said you’ve, like, got, like, four full-time employees now. And hiring is something that I’m looking to do. I’ve done some, like, sort of, like, hired people for, like, one-off jobs and now I’m looking to sort of, like, hire someone full-time. So I think this is, like, a perfect topic for this show; you know, me looking to do it myself and you with all the experience. You can sort of, like, help teach people sort of, like, the dos and don’ts and sort of, like, some, like, best tips and strategies and – we’ve got a whole load of things that we want to go through, haven’t we?
DW: Yeah, definitely. And I think the starting point, I guess, is – I mean, we could talk about how we find people and what sites we use. But I also wanted to say that I think in the beginning, when you start hiring people, you need to really be thinking, “Who am I hiring? What’s the role? Am I going to be training them?” You know, “Do I want them to bring established skills?” Or, “Am I looking to hire someone for something that I can’t do myself?” Like, for example, “Am I hiring a coder because I don’t know how to code?” Or, “Am I hiring a graphic designer because I can’t even draw stick men.” So the strategy definitely depends on what exactly it is you’re after. And sometimes the hard part is actually figuring that out for yourself, because most of us – you know, we never really were told, “Get to this point and then hire that person.” So a lot of it is kind of figuring it out as you go.
LT: Yeah. And, you know, so the thing that I’ve sort of, like – the way I’ve sort of, like, found the people that I’ve hired to do sort of, like, one-off jobs is I’ve used the website called upwork.com. It used to be Elance when I first found it. So it was Elance and this other one; they, like, came together and created upwork.com. And basically Upwork is just a place of – like, where freelancers can sort of, like, sell themselves or their services. So, like, before I’ve used Upwork to find someone to help remove malware that was on my website. I had Google warn me that there was, like, malicious code on my website. The hosting company that I was with wanted to charge me £65 per website that had this malicious code on, and I had, like – I think I had, like four or five that Google, like, warned me had code on. No, sorry, it was three. Three websites had the malicious code on, and they wanted to charge me £65 per website. And I was like, “Fuck that. I ain’t paying that amount of money.”
So I went on Upwork, and I think back then that was when it was Elance and I paid someone – I think it was, like, US$80 and he found the code, he removed it on all three websites and also resubmitted the websites to Google. And it was done. So what I would’ve paid for just one website, this guy managed to do all three. And then the last person that I hired – so that was the first person. But then the last person I hired was to do my logo, which is that head with the man bun and the beard. I paid someone, like, $20 to make that. I’d already had, like, an idea what I wanted; I drew it out on paper; they just created it. So Upwork is a great place to find, like, a wide-range of, like, potential people you could hire for either one-off jobs or potentially join your team. But there’s definitely a lot of other places out there.
DW: Yeah. I use Upwork a lot as well. I just logged in while I’m talking to see if I can find a report of how much I spend on Upwork. But probably we spend – as a company, we probably spend something like, I don’t know, between five and 10 thousand dollars a month on Upwork. So slightly familiar with it. Yeah.
LT: Just a little bit. Just a little.
DW: Yeah. Yeah, it was really good for collecting Amex points. I came to Upwork through oDesk, actually, which was the other one that it - - -
LT: That’s right.
DW: So, yeah, I think oDesk bought Elance or Elance bought oDesk, and then they created Upwork, which for a while was called Doesn’t Work because it had a lot of problems. And, yeah, we definitely use Upwork for a lot of stuff. But I don’t think I would necessarily go there for a higher-level position. All of my best sort of higher-level hires, they either found me actually or it came from my sort of circle of influence, so people I already knew. I might say, “Hey, you know, would you be interested in doing this role for me?”
LT: See, that’s another thing actually. I know you’ve got, like, a Facebook group, and I’ve seen other people sort of, like, hire from within their audience. You know, it’s people that are going to be familiar with your brand and, like, your message and what you’re trying to do. So, like, not only can you sort of, like, hire people from these sort of, like, freelance websites but, you know, some of the really good hires can come from within your audience too.
DW: Yeah. And I think for my next position, it’s going to be, like, a full-time marketing position, someone to basically do the growth-related tasks that I don’t want to do myself anymore or, like, I don’t have time to do. And for that I’m going to post on my blog and hopefully find someone from my audience to fill that role. There’s a lot to be said for hiring people from your audience, because they’re familiar with your brand; like, if they’re a customer of yours, then they’re going to be familiar with your customers as well; and they’re also going to know the bad things. Because you want to hire someone who’s – you know, they know your products, the good and the bad; I think warts and all comes to mind. So, yeah, for my best hires – my project manager, who – well, actually he’s, like, my entire chief of operations now.
So he pretty much runs the business, like, the fulfilment side of things and he would be, like, my right-hand man. He was originally one of my customers. And he worked full-time building a company with his dad for years, and he decided he wanted a change. So he approached me to see if I had any position. And at the time, I was really struggling. That’s a story we can talk about, like, in a little bit. But, yeah, so I ended up hiring him and he’s become invaluable and, you know, like, the best hire I made. So then my content manager, he also found me. He heard about me and he messaged me to see if I needed a content manager, and I was literally about to start hiring people to be a content manager. So I was like, “How did you know I needed a content manager?” So the best people will almost find you, and that’s really cool. But I don’t really – you know, that’s probably not what people listening to your podcast will want to hear because they want to know how they can go out and find rock stars. And I’m like, “Well, they’re just going to find you. Sorry.”
LT: Well, like you said, you know, some of the best people are likely to be people that approach you. But it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to find good people, like, from either within your community you searching yourself or, like you’ve said, you’re planning on doing posts, you know, on your own website or through using a website like upwork.com. You know, I’ve heard a lot of people getting really good people through those websites. And, like, something that we didn’t really put in the notes for this episode but if you’re trying to hire someone really, really cheaply – say, like, you’re trying to hire someone from the Philippines for, like, $2 an hour – don’t expect them to be super rock stars in, like, everything that you’re doing. You know, if you want really good people, it’s going to cost you a little bit of money to, like, get them on board as well.
DW: Yeah. And going back, actually, to what you said about when you hired a guy off Upwork to fix your website. A lot of people don’t realise this, but you can actually hire talented people for less than you might think. Because either they don’t know how talented they are or they don’t want to charge more because, you know, they just want to get the client; they want to, like, outprice competitors. Or they’re someone who has a full-time job and they just want to make an extra $50 a week on the side. So when I first started hiring writers off Upwork, I was pleasantly surprised with how I could actually hire some pretty talented writers for a lot less than I thought I would be able to hire them for. The downside is, though, that you can’t hire someone cheaply for the long-term.
So for one-off jobs, yeah, you can definitely find some really great people. But if you hire, like, a stay-at-home mum to be a writer for you, you’re either going to have to pay her more eventually or you’re going to have to keep hiring new ones every few months because they burn out; either they don’t want to do the work for pennies anymore or they get the money they needed and then, you know, they move on. So that’s something to consider as well.
LT: Yeah. So I’d like to move on to sort of, like, some of, like, the hiring strategies. Because you said before we hit record that, you know, you have some, like, different strategies depending on the type of role that you’re hiring. Like, you’ve already mentioned, like, if they’re, like, a high-level, like, employee or someone who’s sort of, like, going to, like, manage a team, it’s going to be different to hiring someone who’s just going to be, like, a part of a team, like a writer or something. And then, like, if they’re a certain specialty, like – I don’t know. I can’t even think; my mind’s gone blank. I can’t think of an example. But, you know, if it’s someone that’s going to need training and all that sort of stuff. So do you want to just quickly go through some of, like, the different hiring strategies that you use that you’ve used to hire, like, some of your higher-level people and then some of your sort of, like, team members.
DW: Yeah. So I think the story of how we built our keyword research team is going to be a really useful one. So what we did, basically, most people when they’re running their business and it’s, like, a one-man or one-person show, they wear multiple hats. So, you know, like, they are the keyword researcher, the writer, the web designer; all of those different things. So what I did was when I hired Brad, who is the chief executive – I can’t even remember what he is – the chief operations officer, he was very talented and he works hard and he had a lot of experience in business. And as I mentioned, he also was familiar with my brand. But he didn’t know how to do half the things that I needed him for. So what we basically did was we started with the keyword research team, because that was the most pressing bottleneck in our operations at the time.
So I taught him how to do keyword research the way that I wanted it done. So I made some videos for him; I assigned him some work; he did it; I gave feedback; and then he worked at it for about two weeks until he could do it sort of, you know, with his eyes closed. Obviously you can’t do keyword research with your eyes closed, but you know what I mean. And then what he did was – because I hate hiring people because I’m a bit shy and I just don’t like hiring people. He then hired four or five keyword researchers from – I think we did some on Upwork and we did some on onlinejobs.ph. Because, you know, Filipinos are fine for things like keyword research. I know some people might not want to use them as writers, but for keyword research they’re good and you can get them for a decent rate.
So, yeah, we basically hired three or four of them, and they watched the same videos that I had made for Brad. And they went through the training and Brad did Skype calls with them, and he basically gave them feedback. So it was, like, kind of rinse and repeat; I taught him and then he taught them. And then some of them – there was a bit of churn; some of them weren’t very good or they went missing because they realised they didn’t want that kind of work or, you know, whatever. Like, sometimes cheap freelancers just disappear. But I think in our second round of hiring, we hired a guy called Jerwin who very quickly showed that he had leadership qualities and he was just like a rock star keyword research, basically. So then Brad trained him to be the leader of the keyword team. So he taught him how to do all of the kind of leadership roles as well. And this process took about, I don’t know, two months – a month-and-a-half from me teaching Brad to Brad basically building a team and replacing himself.
LT: That’s pretty impressive, actually. I was expecting you to say it took, like, six months to get all this in place. But month-and-a-half, two months; that’s pretty quick.
DW: Yeah. I mean, it’s an ongoing process. Like, we’ve had to fire keyword researchers; we’ve hired new ones; we’ve had to help Jerwin know when he needs to hire more people. Because sometimes we say, “Hey, do you need an extra keyword researcher?” And he says, “No, we’re good.” And we’re like, “No, you need to hire another keyword researcher.” And so sometimes we’ll hire them; we’ll train them; and then we’ll give them to him or something like that. So it’s definitely – it’s not, like, after a month-and-a-half we were done and dusted. But after a month-and-a-half, we were at the point now where I had given that hat to Brad; Brad had given that hat to Jerwin; and keyword research was done. It was sorted.
And then we moved on to the next thing that needed help with. So that was – our writing team needed – you know, that was the new bottleneck. So, again, I taught Brad how to manage the writing team; I taught him how to hire writers; what to do; how to assign work to them; how to get editors; blah, blah, blah. And then he worked with the writing team for a long time, and we approached one of our best editors and said, “Hey, do you want to be the new manager of the writing team?” And he said, “Sure.” So that’s how we hired John who is the manager of our writing team.
And then, you know, we just rinsed and repeated. And then we had Dean working for us as our, like, only web developer/site builder person, and we did the same thing. We basically said, “Okay. We’re going to duplicate Dean now.” So we hired more web developers and we just did that. So over the course of about – it was about nine months ago that I hired Brad. So over the course of nine months, we’ve completely built out the team and built them from scratch. And I don’t even know some of them; I’ve never met them; I’ve never spoken to them; I just pay them at the end of the month. And different managers are running their respective departments, and Brad keeps an eye on everything.
LT: So most of, like, those sort of, like, slightly higher-level jobs you hired from within, you know, people that you already had sort of, like, “on the books”. Ones that were, like, standout you just asked them, “Would you like to be, like, the manager of this team now?” And then sort of, like, the hiring process then fell to either Brad or to them. But how did you sort of, like, find, like, your first writer? Like, so if someone listening to this wanted to go out and hire somebody from either, like, Upwork or, like, from the Philippines website you mentioned, what would be sort of, like, the things that you would, like, put in the job posting or the things that you’d be, like, looking for in the applicants to, like, really make sure that they stand out? Or, like, make sure, like, you’re going to be getting someone on your team that hopefully isn’t going to be completely incompetent.
DW: Well, it’s a bit of a trial-and-error process, because I didn’t know what my strategy was when I first started. So when it comes to what did I put in the job description and stuff, I basically – I’ve only ever hired, really, for something that I knew how to do myself. So I basically said, “This is what the job involves.” Because, you know, I’ve been doing the job myself for six months or whatever, so I would just list the role. Like, if it’s a writer I’d say, “This is what you’re going to have to do. This is what the topics are going to be about. Here’s a couple of examples. This is how much we’re going to pay.” Blah, blah, blah. So I would describe the job, because I don’t want them feeling like we misrepresented the job. So we’ve kind of got to sell ourselves as well. So the best way to do that is just say, “This is what you’re going to do. This is how much we’re going to pay.” And people who are interested will apply.
For weeding things out, what I did in the beginning was I would ask a very specific question that was slightly irrelevant in the application process. So, like, on Upwork you can specify some questions to ask them. And you get questions like, “Why do you think you’re good at this job?” And, “What experience do you have related to this?” But you can also create custom questions. So we would do stuff like, “What’s your favourite colour?” Or just something random like that. And if they didn’t answer that question, we didn’t interview them, even if they were the best candidate, because they don’t have an attention to detail. And you’ve got to start somewhere with filtering, so.
LT: Yeah. I mean, that was a tip that I was told when I, like, was first looking for, like, people to hire. One of the tips is, you know, to see if they read through the entire job description properly. You should get them, like, either in, like, the email that they send you or, like, how they should, like, sign off or whatever it is; you know, put something, like, really random in there. Like, saying, like, “Okay. When you, like, email us with the job, make sure the title of the email is” – I don’t know, say – “’Human Proof Designs Writer Blueberry.’” You know, some, like, random word in there so you know then that they’ve read, like, the job description and you don’t even need to open any email unless it has “blueberry” written in there because you know they’ve gone and read through the entire job description. And that’s a good way to weed out, you know, at least – like you said, it’s a good place to start weeding out people.
DW: Yeah. And then when it comes to the next step, like, maybe you’ve got 100 people who did put “blueberry” in the title and you think, “Well, I only need to hire two.” A lot of it comes down to gut feeling; you know, like, maybe you think, “Okay. This persons seems good and I want to continue with them.” And you do get better as well. Like, now if we get 100 people who kind of pass the first filter, we might only offer the job to five of them because we can tell very quickly who has a similar application to successful candidates we’ve had in the past. So we’re hiring from previous experience. It’s like, “Okay. We know that this person looks exactly like one of our best writers, so let’s give them a shot.” But for those people who obviously aren’t at that level of experience, I think the best thing to do is use your gut feeling and then hire them for a short project first. So if you want to hire a full-time writer, just give them one job; like, just give them one article.
And what I normally do is, if I need two full-time writers, maybe I’ll hire 10 and I’ll give all 10 of them one article to write. Because then you’re getting work out of the – you know, I wouldn’t bother doing an interview with them and waste time, like, on a Skype interview; I’d just say, “Okay. Write this for me.” And some of them apply to 100 jobs a day and they’re not going to reply, even if you’re hiring them; they’ve gone missing already. Maybe they got another job or they forgot that they applied for one. So if they don’t reply in, like, 24 hours or 48 hours, I’ll probably just cancel the actual offer. And then, yeah, based on those – let’s say, like, nine of them actually completed the work; one or two of them, they’ve spun the content, it won’t be very good or, yeah, they just didn’t follow your instructions, so they’re gone. And then from the other six remaining, one or two of them will stand out. So maybe I’ll offer the job to four of them, because I know that there’s going to be some churn, and all four of them might be great but two weeks later one of them gets another job or just goes missing. So it’s just kind of a process of narrowing them down and hiring more than you need as well is a big tip. Like, if you need 10 writers, hire 20. And then either you’ve got 20 great writers and you can scale faster, or 10 of them are going to go missing and your service isn’t going to be interrupted.
LT: Sweet. That’s a good tip; hire fast and fire fast. That’s a phrase that I’ve heard used in the past.
LT: And, like, going back – so, like, that’s really good for – like you said, you know, a lot of your hiring has been for things that you’ve, like, done yourself for, like, six months so you just, like, know what to put in the job description. And I just want to quickly, like, give, like, my experience when I was trying to hire somebody that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. So the example I gave earlier on was about having, like, malicious code on my website. I didn’t have a clue on what I was doing. So when I went into Elance – which is what Upwork used to be. When I went into there I said like, “Google’s giving me this warning. There’s malicious code on my website or on these three websites. I need it gone.” And that was it. And I didn’t put a price or anything; I just said, “This is, like, my issue and, like, the problem that I need solving.” And I had people apply for the job and they said, “Okay. Well, this is what this is most likely going to be,” or, “This is what this is.” You know, “I’ve had, like, this much experience with this. I’ve got, like, some reviews that you can check out on my profile. And this is how much I’m going to charge.”
So, like, even if you don’t know what, like – if you don’t have any experience in what you’re trying to hire with, just tell them what your problem is or what you – like, a rough idea of what you want done. And people will, like, apply for the job and they’ll tell you sort of, like, from their past experience what they can do to help you and also how much they would charge you to do it. So even if you don’t have the experience like Dom said, then that’s sort of, like, how I’ve gone about hiring someone in the past for something that I didn’t know what to do.
DW: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Because another concern again is if you don’t know exactly what to do – like, what the task is, then how do you know if they’ve done it to your requirements or something. So, yeah, it’s good to maybe get them to suggest what they’re going to do and then you can maybe verify it as well and see if it makes sense.
LT: Yeah. And especially if they’ve got, like, reviews as well, you know, other people that they’ve done similar jobs for already. If they’ve got, like, a good rating, then they’re most likely going to do a good job for you as well.
DW: That’s a good point, actually. Sorry, just before we move on. When looking at reviews, you need to put a lot more weight on the negative reviews than the positive reviews based on the actual content of the negative review. Like, if I – like, with writers for example, they might have nine people who said, “Great job. This writer was good.” And then one person who said, “They plagiarised. I ran their work through Copyscape and they had just ripped off another article.” So, for me, I won’t hire them because maybe those other nine people didn’t check that the work wasn’t plagiarised or maybe the writer only plagiarises 10 per cent of the time, but that’s a customer that I’m going to end up having to refund if my writer does that. So, you know, like, if you’re going to a restaurant and 100 people have said the food was delicious and one person said it sucked, you’ll probably be like, “Well, I’ll go anyway.” But when it comes to a writer, I don’t – yeah, I’ll make sure that they’re clean and they don’t have one sort of red flag on their profile.
LT: And like you said, it also comes down to, like, the gut feeling as well. So if you, like, see that negative review and, like, it gives you, like, a bad gut feeling, then don’t go with it.
DW: Yeah. I mean, some negative reviews you think, “Well, this person’s just a dick. You know, I don’t care what they said; I’m still going to hire this person.” So it really depends on the actual nature of the review, and you can even ask the freelancer about it and just say, you know, “What’s your take on this particular review?” Like, you know, give them a chance to defend themselves.
DW: And then take it from there.
LT: Sweet. So we’re getting close for time now, and there’s just one other thing that I really want to bring up really quickly. And that is sort of, like, the tools that you can use to sort of, like, manage your remote team. I have a client that I work with and I use a tool called Slack, which is – it’s like an instant messaging tool but you can create separate channels. So if you’ve got – like, for, like, in your case, for example – do you use Slack?
DW: My team use it every day; I don’t log into it much anymore because it’s a distraction. But as a company we use it, yeah.
LT: Yeah. Because inside of Slack you can create different channels. So for, like, in your example – or, like, in your company for example, you could have a different channel just for the writers; you could have a different channel just for the keyword researches; you can have a different channel for the webmaster or the web programmer, like, the site designers, you know.
LT: You can have a different channel and, you know, the people from the other teams won’t see the conversations that are going on in other teams. But then you can still, like, have conversations with everybody on your team in one place that isn’t email, which you could easily get, like, lost in and, you know, you could lose things all the time. So Slack, I know, is a really good one to use. And, like, jumping back to something you said earlier on about creating videos for tasks for people. Now, I know – so these are called systems of procedures. And basically what you want to do is if there’s a repetitive task that you do over and over again, then you want to create a video on how you do it because that is the perfect task to pass off to someone.
And if you can create a video on how you like it done, if they have any, like, questions or, like, saying, “How do I do this? How do I do that?” And you say, “Just watch the video. Everything’s in the video how I do it and how I like it to be done.” It’s all there. And then you can just create, like, a systems of procedures library. So that way if somebody else comes in who’s new, you know, you can say, “This is the task I want done. Here’s the video on how to do it. Go away and do it.” So I think the idea of doing, like, the videos, like you said you’ve done, is a fantastic idea and something you should do very early on.
DW: Yeah. And you can even require that your team keeps their own SOPs updated. You know, like, obviously you’ll pay them for doing it but you could say, “Okay. At the end of every month, review all the SOPs. And if something’s outdated because we’re using a different software now or, you know, whatever, then you should update it.”
DW: And another tip for videos as well is if you can include a transcript or some screenshots to go with it because if they can’t remember one tiny detail and they have to go through a 20-minute video to find the part, it’s a lot easier if you just have, like, a document to go with the video that they can quickly scroll through just to – like, an easy access guide as well.
LT: Yep. Perfect. Yeah. And that’s something that you can outsource. Like, once you’ve created the video, you can hire someone to create the document for you so you don’t have to do that yourself either.
DW: Yeah. So for us, yeah, Slack is a big part of our daily communications. But we also use Trello, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with, but Trello is like a project management software and it’s free to use. And you basically can create boards. So imagine, like, a virtual whiteboard or corkboard or something like that, and you can put little – I think Trello calls them – I can’t even remember what it calls them, but basically they’re like - - -
LT: I’m pretty sure they’re called boards.
DW: Yeah. But then within boards you have, like – imagine it’s, like, a post-it note and you can just - - -
LT: I think that’s what they’re called. I think they’re called notes inside Trello.
DW: Okay. So, yeah, you can write yourself a note and you can drag it to the corresponding board. Like, we use it for our content plan. And we’ll say, “Okay. This article needs to be written, it needs to be published on Tuesday and it needs to be written by Dom.” So my content manager, Kelvin, will tag me. And when he tags me, it sends me an email and I then say, “Okay. This article is done.” And I’ll tag him, so he then comes in and he checks the article and then he publishes it and tags me when it’s published so that I know to send an email to our subscribers. So you can do some really cool stuff with Trello.
LT: Yeah. Both Trello and Slack are free. They do have, like, a paid version as well. But for everything that I’ve used and, like, seen people use, like, the free versions for both of those are – like, they work perfectly fine.
DW: Yeah. And you can even use them together. I think there’s that tool called Zapier and you can create an integration where if someone is tagged in a board on Trello, they get a PM sent to them in Slack.
LT: Sweet. So they’re the two that you want to be using or at least check out. Cool. So, Dom, is there, like, one final tip that you would give someone when it comes to hiring someone for the first time?
DW: Yeah. I would say just do it, because you’ll learn a ton from doing it. And in my case, I hired, like, six months later than I should have done because I was afraid, “What if I hire someone and it means my business doesn’t grow and I make less money?” Or, “What if I hire someone and they suck and it kind of pisses off my customers?” “What if I do this? What if I do that?” And every time I’ve hired someone, the business has made more money because we’ve grown. So, you know, now maybe I only make 40 per cent profit from when we complete a site for someone, but we can complete 100 sites a month now whereas before we could only complete maybe 10 sites when it was just me. So it’s never too early to hire someone. You know, even if your business isn’t necessarily profitable yet; you can’t hire people fast enough, in my experience, and whatever doubts or fears you have, the sooner you just get over those and start hiring someone the better you’ll actually be at the whole thing anyway. So, yeah.
LT: Perfect. Great way to sum it up, my friend.
DW: Yeah. I tried.
LT: Cool. So before you go we do have one final thing to do, and that is the rapid-fire question session. Are you ready for it?
DW: I think so.
LT: Cool. So I want the first answer that comes to your head, and I’ll ask the next question straight after. So question number one: what is your favourite country that you’ve travelled to so far?
DW: Hawaii. It’s not a country, but it should be.
LT: Close enough. What is the last YouTube video or movie you’ve watched?
DW: Schindler’s List.
LT: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?
LT: What’s that?
DW: It’s like a deer. It’s like an African deer.
LT: Okay. I’ve never even heard of that before. So question number four: what is your favourite drinking game?
DW: Watching Withnail & I and trying to match them for drinks.
LT: If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?
DW: Probably my mum’s dad, because he died before I was born.
LT: Name one book you would recommend everybody should read.
DW: The Alchemist.
LT: That’s one that I’ve heard, like, a few people recommend now. I’m definitely going to have to check that one out.
DW: Yeah. I don’t even know – I mean, you know, you just say the first thing that comes to your head, right, and that’s the first – it’s probably not the best book I’ve read, but it’s the first one that came to my mind.
LT: Must be good enough.
LT: And number seven: what’s your go-to song when you need to get into the mood to get shit done?
DW: I don’t actually use songs anymore, so I don’t know. Probably something that I listened to as a teenager by, like, Foo Fighters or something like that.
LT: What is your favourite swearword you’ve learnt in another language?
DW: In another language?
LT: That’s not English.
DW: I don’t know.
LT: You lived in Taiwan for a long time; you must know a good one.
DW: Yeah, Taiwanese has all the best swearwords. Probably – I don’t know. There’s just too many to choose from. Can I draw a blank on that one?
LT: I’m disappointed. Just give me one. One Taiwanese swearword.
DW: Okay, fine. “Gan ni niang.” That’s actually Mandarin, not Taiwanese.
LT: And what does that mean?
DW: It means “fuck your mum”.
LT: I like it. Number nine: what is your favourite podcast apart from this one?
DW: My one.
LT: Perfect. And can you give me your best travel story you have in under five minutes.
DW: Yeah. So there was a period in two thousand – I don’t know – fourteen till – well, it’s recurring. So it happens quite frequently now too, where whenever I went to a new hotel there was always an issue with the kettle. And obviously, being British, the first thing I do – and my wife is Taiwanese as well, and so Taiwanese love tea too. So the first thing we do when we come to a new hotel is, you know, put the kettle on. And I remember, yeah, one day we drove, like, seven hours all the way up to the Lake District and we turned up in our hotel by Windermere and plugged in the kettle, hit the switch to turn it on and blew the power for the entire wing of that hotel. So, like, we tripped a fuse or something. So we were like, “Oops.”
And then about a month later we went to Paris, and there was no kettle so I phoned the reception up and was like, you know, “Hey, do you guys offer a kettle?” And he said – he was, like, really confused. He was like, “What? What do you want a kettle for?” And I said, “For hot water, you know, for tea.” And he went, “Oh, kettle. Cattle/kettle. Yeah, sure. Come. Come to, you know, reception.” And when I got there I said, “What did you think I said?” He said, “I thought you said cattle; you know, like, a cow. Like, I was thinking, ‘Why does this English guy want a cow?’”
And then, I don’t know, we went to another hotel and before we went there – this was, like, a year later – I was joking with my wife being like, “I wonder what the issue with the kettle is going to be this time.” And so we got into our room and it didn’t even have a kettle; it was just a cable – you know, like, the cable that plugs into the kettle – and then a blank spot where the kettle should be. And we were like, “What is going on?” And basically we had checked in, like, 20 minutes early and the cleaner was in the process of, like, emptying the kettle water somewhere else and, like, washing the kettle. So then we got in there and there was just an empty cable. And it just seems like wherever we go we’ve got kettle issues, especially in North America. Like, hotels here don’t have kettles; they have, like, coffee machines and stuff. And it’s like, I don’t know, how can you have instant noodles with a coffee machine?
LT: Yeah. Yeah, I’m not a massive fan of the coffee machine. Because, like, obviously being English as well, I like my cup of tea. So, yeah, I definitely need a proper kettle. So I understand your plight, and I think it’s pretty funny that, like, being English, you have constant kettle issues.
DW: Yeah, kettle anxiety, I think, is a good one.
LT: Or is it just the fact that you are English that you just notice that there’s kettle issues? Maybe, like, loads of people have them but they just don’t notice it.
DW: Yeah. Yeah, maybe, like, we’re kettle snobs or something. But I remember also in Taiwan, when I was living in Taiwan, one of my American friends, he was saying how, you know, English and American people are so different. And I said, “Like, what for example?” He said, “Do you have a kettle in your house?” And I was kind of life, “What kind of fucking question is that?” I was like, “Yeah, of course I’ve got a kettle in my house.” And he said – I was like, you know, “Don’t you?” And he was like, “No. Why would I want a kettle?” And I asked one of my other English friends. I said, “Do you have a kettle?” He was like, “Yeah, it was the first thing I bought.” So it’s definitely a British thing.
LT: Yeah. Thankfully, when I first came here to Canada, my first roommate was an Englishman and he loved his tea just as much as I do. So I wasn’t without a cup of tea in Canada, which was good.
LT: So, Dom, thank you so much for coming onto the show and talking about this topic with me. Where can people find you online if they wanted to reach out to you?
DW: Well, humanproofdesigns.com is the main place where they can hang out with us. Just get in touch via the contact form or send an email. We have a Facebook called Niche Site Entrepreneurs which people can join. By the time this podcast goes live, my podcast will probably be live as well and that’s just The Human Proof Podcast. So you can listen there. So, yeah, quite a few places you can find me.
LT: Perfect. And I will put all of those links into the show notes for this episode as well. So, again, Dom, thank you so much for coming onto the show and we will definitely need to talk again soon.
DW: Yeah, definitely. It’s been really good.
LT: Thank you very much. Take care.
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