What is the Best Freelancing Site?

This is a difficult question to answer as every individual is going to have their personal preferences about the freelancing sites that they like to use. Personally, I've had positive experiences with Upwork.com, which used to be called Elance for years. However, there are other opportunities out there including:

Depending on your individual preferences and a site that posts the most relevant jobs for you, this is the best way to determine the best freelancing site for you. It is never easy to determine what is exactly going to be most appropriate for your individual concerns but do not hesitate to identify a freelancing site that makes things easy for you as the freelancer. For me, the best freelancer site is Upwork.com simply because it is the largest freelancing platform in the world.

Millions of clients head over to Upwork.com when they are thinking about posting a job. Upwork makes things easy for you by serving as an intermediary. That simply means that they are the platform on which clients can post jobs. As a freelancer, you'll pay a monthly membership fee and a portion of every project to Upwork for this privilege.

Clients will post a job on Upwork and then relevant contractors will apply with the estimation of how long they think it would take them to complete as well as information about their own background. This means that the clients are already presold and understand the benefits of outsourcing this particular project. This is one of the reasons that I consider Upwork to be the best freelancer site.

Once the client has selected a freelancer to work with, they will hire that person and then put the money into escrow on Upwork. This gives you a tremendous amount of payment protection as a new freelancer. In fact, it's one of the reasons that I recommend Upwork as the best freelancer site still in 2017.

Having to fight and chase down money is never an easy prospect and it can be overwhelming and lead to dead ends for a brand-new freelancer. Having Upwork handle this for you makes things easier. The sheer number of jobs posted on Upwork is one of the leading reasons why it's such a popular site.

Since it comes up high in the search engine rankings, it's easy for clients to find it and post a job there. Most people are also familiar with Upwork because they know somebody else who has had a positive experience with it. This makes it that much easier for them to set up a job and an account there to hire somebody.

If you're interested in learning more about my honest reviews of the most popular freelancing sites, check out the freebie below.

Review of the major online freelancer writer job boards.

When to Hire a VA

In this week's training video, I share my thoughts on the popular question 'When should I hire my first virtual assistant?' Rather than focus on a specific timeframe in an entrepreneur's life however, I go into different situations that signal at the possibility that it is time. I also talk about the mindset necessary to embark on the hiring journey and the types of tasks that you might consider outsourcing. Good luck! 


Transcript:

Hi there! Laura here from betterbizacademy.com and the Better Biz Academy podcast, where I interview inspiring freelancers and online business owners about how they make it all work.

This week, I am answering a really popular question, but one that's not so easy to respond to, which is 'When is it time to hire a VA or virtual assistant?' If you have never heard of the concept of a virtual assistant before, this is basically someone who is going to help you do things in your business, so you can free up time and energy to do other tasks.

Now what you choose to outsource to a VA will look different for everyone and that's why it’s so hard to answer this question about when it is time to hire a VA. I can give you some general guidelines. Of course, many people struggle with the concept of paying someone else to do things in their business that the entrepreneur thinks, 'Well I can do that, so why should I pay someone else or I am sure I can learn to do that.'

The reason for this is because you need to start thinking about digital help in the form of a virtual assistant as an investment rather than as an expense. People who help you do things in your business are freeing up your time so that you can do other things; revenue generating activities, grow and scale the business. There are only so many hours in a day, so if you have filled your schedule with administrative tasks or things that are not really in your zone of genius, you are not going to be able to grow your business past a certain point and that's where a virtual assistant comes in.

So, if you find yourself missing deadlines, working really long hours and still barely being able to get everything done or spending a lot of your time on tasks that you hate or don’t know how to do, it’s definitely time to hire a virtual assistant. It’s not easy to recognize that you need to give up some of that control over your business. That's one of the biggest challenges for a lot of entrepreneurs today. More people than ever own their own company and entrepreneurship; especially online blogs and freelancing has grown so much and people are used to doing things for themselves. I mean, I managed my business completely by myself for a year and a half, just figuring out as I went. And then I realized that I can’t do all of this. There is only so many hours in a day and I have hit my limit. That's when I realized that I needed to hire a virtual assistant and since then I have worked with many VAs on my team, but also when I was brought in on other projects to build out their digital bench and people asked me for VA referrals all the time because I have done so much outsourcing and delegation.

So, it can be a beautiful thing when it works properly, but really the main reason and how you'll know when it’s time to hire a VA is because you've hit your limit. You know there are things in your business that you shouldn't be doing, but you still are or you've got things on your list like; launch a YouTube channel or launch a podcast or have better engagement on social media, but you don’t have the interest or the time to fit those into your schedule. Those may be appropriate things for you to outsource to a virtual assistant.

The answer to when is it time to hire a VA will be different for everyone based on how their business has grown. Someone might need a Virtual Assistant in the first six months of their business, but other people might manage things on their own for a year or two before realizing that they need outside help. The important thing is taking that first step and I have got a free report with 70+ tasks that you can outsource to a VA just to get those creative juices flowing, thinking about what all you can get off your plate and still have handled successfully by someone else.

Is Contena a Good Platform for Freelance Writers

As a freelancer in today's gig economy, being able find your ideal client online is a big piece of the success puzzle. In addition to the more traditional ways of doing this, there are also numerous online job boards to tap into.

This week's video shares my findings having tested out a platform called Contena for eight months. In it, I share how the platform works, my thoughts on its pricing structure, the types of jobs I found on there and which freelancers Contena might be a better fit for. 


Transcript:

Hello freelance writers. For the last eight months, I have been testing out a new platform for freelance writers to identify job leads and apply to them effectively and as quickly as possible. That platform is called Contena. In a recent podcast episode, I interviewed one of the employees at Contena to talk more about how the platform worked and how you can get the most out of it. Now Contena is not the least expensive option out there as far as job boards is concerned. Considering that Upwork costs you $10 a month plus any extra money you need to spend on additional bids, the price of Contena is much more expensive. I believe mine was around $100 a month for six months, so it’s a pretty hefty investment at $600. However, I will say that if you even find one or two job leads from Contena, it will easily pay for itself because the jobs that are coming to you are premium jobs.

I have been tracking this program for a number of months, my success with it, and also the general types of jobs that are posted there, so I can tell you more information about it and whether or not it makes sense as far as investing as a freelance writer. Now I would not recommend investing in this platform if you are completely new. So, you have never pitched before, you haven't had the opportunity to gather some great samples. Although the team at Contena will review your pitch to make sure that it’s in line with what their clients may be interested in, ultimately they are not - it’s not even Contena's clients. They are actually curating these job posts, so what they know of it is just what tends to be successful, but they may not necessarily know the company directly. So, that's something to keep in mind is that they are kind of a middleman, a lot like Upwork and other job boards except that the postings on Contena do tend to be premium and more beneficial for that reason. Now like I said, it’s not cheap, so a beginning freelance writer - I mean, at most I ever spent as a new freelance writer was $100 on may be one eBook or training, so I think this is out of reach for a brand new freelance writer. For a writer who is already established and making thirty, forty or fifty thousand dollars a year, Contena might be a great source of job leads for you.  

So, let me tell you how this service works. You sign up with Contena. They'll connect you with their academy. You'll also have the opportunity to send in your pitch directly to your coach - your Contena coach and they'll provide you feedback to help you tweak it before you begin sending things out. You can search directly on Contena's website for opportunities they have, but they'll also send you daily emails about jobs that are open. Now one thing that I want to point out; not all these jobs are contract. There are a lot of full-time remote positions, where the company is actually looking for an employee. Now it’s a full-time writing position or editing position, but for freelancers out there, bear in mind that in my experience I have seen it be about 50-50. So, there is a lot of contracted opportunities, but there is also a lot of full-time jobs and that wasn’t something that I was looking for and it wasn't something I was looking for for my audience. However, if you are looking for one of those full-time telecommute type jobs where you are in a writing or editing position and maybe you want to do your freelance on the side part-time, the investment in Contena may pay off in just a couple of months if you were to land one of those gigs. Now like I said, Contena is curating this information, so it is material that’s available elsewhere online, but you have to do a tremendous amount of work to uncover it. There have been some postings on there from major companies, looking for contracted as well as full-time remote work and it might have taken you days and weeks to uncover it and being first in the door and replying to these opportunities promptly has a big impact on your ability to be successful. So, on that one aspect alone, Contena is great because they are basically pulling all of the information into one place and helping you identify the best direction to go from there. So, you can search on their site. You can use search terms like maybe you would search for health care or nutrition and then they'll pull up anything. And then they also grade the content too, whether its low pay, medium pay or high quality pay. So, you can also use their search filters to turn off any of those low paying opportunities turning up in your search results. Now sometimes the postings are outdated or the job has been filled already. It happens rarely, but sometimes there are old or maybe it was accurate when Contena put it in their system, but a week later it's old. So, one of the coolest things I like about Contena is that they remind you to be on top of your pitch game because you can sign up for alerts that are delivered every single day to your email box when a new opportunity is available. I sometimes get between seven and fifteen of these in a day, so that's a lot of leads to pursue. Now some of them are not targeted for me at all. For example, one of the keywords I put in there was business or SEO, so anytime something with that in the job description comes up, Contena sends me an alert with the link to log into their website and see more about it. I signed up for both the full-time job leads as well as the contracted leads because like I said I wanted to see the split on that and it was pretty 50-50. There is a lot of full-time job leads on Contena, but there are also hundreds of opportunities for contracted work. Now because Contena is a middleman, you can’t really fall thin if you don’t have that much success. It took me a while to start getting responses on Contena because they are essentially just sending me pitch details that were available elsewhere on the internet. There is a lot of people applying for this. A lot of people even within the Contena system. I received a response on I think a handful of the pitches I submitted a few months into using it, but up to that point I was like, what am I doing wrong here? I am not really getting any response. So, it definitely took some time and some work and I recommend having a pitch different for each type of writing you want to do. So, if you are pitching just general blogging in the parenting niche, you might have a parenting sample and a parenting pitch that links to those samples, but when you are writing for software IT that's a whole other industry. Those parenting samples won’t work. So, what I did is, I created sub-pitches for each type of industry. And I honestly found that my ideal client was not hanging out on Contena, but your ideal client might be. So, what are the lot of jobs that are posting; a lot of jobs about editing or writing resumes. There are a surprising number of jobs in the educational sector, asking for people to write lesson plans, edit curriculum things like that. A lot of digital marketing and a general SEO, B2B, B2C blogging needs, a lot of personal finance - they have a lot of personal finance leads on that site - health and wellness and nutrition, medicine and that type of things were also on there as well, but it’s a lot of sort of businessy, techy things. I see a lot of leads that are coming through to do SEO content or to be a digital marketer and you know contribute to the strategy as well as the writing. So, the jobs are kind of all over the place. So, if you are only looking for one particular thing, then Contena might not be the right fit for you. So, for me a lot of my clients are attorneys. I probably saw five to six total leads for anything to do with law, the whole time that I have been on this site. So, it’s not necessarily something where I am going to find my ideal client in that sector. However, I decided to branch out into personal finance and do some more insurance and credit cards and loan type things as well because I felt like it was a similar skillset for me. So, I found a lot of leads there and I also found a lot of leads when it came to just general digital marketing and business. So, because you are going to be applying with the company directly, I think it’s been official to have Contena a look at your pitch and give you some feedback on it, but you may need to tweak it each time. And I mean this is a numbers game so you may have to submit thirty pitches before you hear something back. I don’t think it’s that abnormal. I think for me it took longer because my background is in SEO legal and insurance writing and so my clients weren’t really on Contena to begin with. There was a different type of client that was on that site in general. So, I had to create new samples and new pitches and I was a little out of my element, but in a way, that's beneficial for the purposes of this review because I looked at Contena as though I was a total newbie. I was looking at things in completely new industries that I had not landed jobs in before. So, I think that speaks to the authenticity of this experience because I really tried to view it from, "would this be beneficial for a brand-new freelancer writer." So, there is pros and cons or Contena. In general, I think it can be a really valuable tool for experienced freelance writers. I think the cost factor alone is a little too much to make it be super valuable for a newbie. $600 is a lot of money to invest for potential leads. I'd encourage you to have some income coming in already before you commit to Contena. So, let's say you do the payment plan for Contena. Maybe you already need to be earning $500 a month minimum to justify that $100 payment. Now if you landed multiple jobs from it, we are really able to grow your freelance wiring income then I could see where it wouldn’t be that much of an investment to pay the $100. You know whenever, I hear people say, oh Upwork, you know they take a 20% fee. Yes, but in exchange for the money that I am making from Upwork for the clients that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That number that I am paying in monthly fees is so minimal like it’s a joke. So, I imagine that if you are making hundreds or thousands a month from your leads from Contena and you are in those industry as I mentioned earlier, then I could see where it would be beneficial for you to stay on the site and continue to use it as a paid job board. So, ultimately just my two cents on the whole experience is that it can be valuable, but do your research before committing to it on your own. Make sure you already have some income so it doesn’t feel like a huge blow to be shelling out these $100 a month and monitor it for a while. You know they do have a refund period. I believe it's within either two weeks or 30 days and so if you are not seeing the type of leads that you want to get out of it, you can ask for a refund, but, however, you have go through their academy and submit the homework assignments and all of that in order to be even eligible for a refund. So, bottom line is that you need to have time and a little bit of money to commit to this endeavor as a source of freelance wiring job leads. I think that in my experience, it’s easier to land gigs on other platforms, however, the price per piece on Contena is so much higher where if you developed an ongoing relationship with even one client from Contena it would more than pay for itself. So, let me know have you used Contena as a freelance writing job platform? Would you recommend it?

Is Outsourcing Right for You?

Every so often, I'll encounter a person who hasn't yet had the opportunity to interact with a digital team member. They simply don't realize all of the time that they could gain back or all of the benefits associated with hiring a virtual assistant or other members of their digital team. You may be wondering whether outsourcing is right for you or not. The truth is that any individual who has a limited amount of time (which is everyone, by the way) can benefit from having a virtual assistant.

 

Many People Don’t Start Because They Don’t Know How

Most people simply don't know where to start or they're concerned that they will end up getting burned and decide to control everything themselves. The truth is that as you grow your business or even as your personal life expands with new responsibilities such as volunteer work, family or other goals, you will need assistance to help keep it all straight. In the same way that you might outsource help by getting a babysitter or nanny to give you few hours of focused work time while they watch the kids or hiring a maid to help clean their house every so often. It can be extremely beneficial to outsource work digitally. (Have you snagged my freebie about 70+ tasks you can outsource to a virtual assistant?)

The truth is that you're probably spending a tremendous amount of time on administrative tasks that aren't really bringing you in any extra money but are simply draining your time and your energy.

 

Why You Need to Outsource

The answer to the question 'Is outsourcing right for you?' is typically 'Yes' so long as you have a number of responsibilities that could be given to another person. What many people who are new to outsourcing do not realize is that oftentimes, the people you outsource your work to can do it faster and even better than you.

This is because no one person is great at everything. There are probably some things in your business that you're excellent at and these are probably the activities that generate revenue for you. However, there's a good chance that you're spending all kinds of other time doing different activities that are not generating revenue. Even worse, some of these activities may be things that you actually hate or are not much good at doing. Outsourcing them to someone who is less expensive than you and your time can be an extremely advantageous for your business because it frees up time and energy for you to focus on those revenue generating activities that are in your zone of genius.

 

Spend Your Time and Energy on Tasks That Only You Can Do

Outsourcing is right for you if you have come to the conclusion that you are spending far too much time working on tasks that you should not be doing. The truth is that yes; outsourcing can be hard. You may have to go through several different team members before arriving at the right combination of people. You may experience a few challenges, let some people go from your team, and decide on a list of things that perhaps you need to do versus those that need to be outsourced. However, outsourcing is a journey and it is one that can be extremely beneficial when you are willing to allow yourself to learn the right lessons.                                                                                       

How to Outsource Podcasting Tasks

Starting my podcast at the end of 2016 was a blast, but it was also a ton of work. However, I’m now writing to you Mid-May with a podcast that has episodes recorded through August and a podcast process that largely takes place without me.

Lots of people want to start a podcast but are worried about all the technical aspects or the work behind it. No doubt- it does take work to create and produce a podcast. If you’re smart, though, you can outsource a lot of and keep the costs minimal while still making the most of your time.

You know I’m the queen of delegation, and my podcast is no different. Smart delegation means I produce a ton (two podcasts, two videos, and a blog) of content every single week without fail.

 

Let me show you what I actually do for my podcast, Better Biz Academy:

  • Give a final thumbs up on potential guests and come up with questions
  • Record the show

 

As compared to what I don’t do:

  • Publicize the show being open for guest submissions
  • Respond to approved guest emails about being on the show
  • Schedule the guests directly
  • Collect the bios and headshots for upcoming guests
  • Edit the audio from the show
  • Write the show notes
  • Transcribe the episode
  • Upload the podcast to Libsyn and my website
  • Create graphics for each show
  • Notify my guests their episode is going live
  • Share the episode on social media

 

Now, if I was responsible for ALL the tasks on that list, I’d never get anything done. I’d have to teach myself audio editing (something I don’t want to do) and spend hours working on a podcast that is not a core source of revenue in my business. Since my podcast is a great way to share info with my audience, I want to continue doing it, but not in a way where it becomes a ten hours per week project for me. Instead, I cut myself down to the bare minimum. I even record episodes only 2-3 days per month and spend big chunks of time in “recording mode.”

I recently moved from North Carolina to the Midwest since my fiancé is in the military and got a transfer. We have moved five times in seven years. Planning ahead with these record days has helped me focus on closing out one house and setting up another.

The fact that my team is still behind the scenes getting out two podcast episodes every single week has made a huge difference for me. Since I’ve outsourced this task- and done so smartly- I’ve been able to replicate the process with my YouTube channel, where I also publish twice per week.

Podcasting is work, but it’s fun work when you’re able to find reliable people to help you with the process.

Look for experts who can handle as much of the process as is cost-effective for you. It’s an investment to run a podcast, but with the right team I don’t worry about a great deal of the behind the scenes tasks. What my audience sees is a fully-finished episode.

This week, I wanted to share a couple of services I’m familiar with to help you launch your podcast if you’ve been thinking about starting your own show. You can also score my podcasting course, How to Launch Your Podcast in 30 Days or Less, with this link for only $10.

About five months in and podcasting is hands down my favorite medium. My audience loves it, I love recording, and I also get to cut out all the headaches in it by outsourcing as much as possible. I want that to be a reality for you, too, if you’ve been thinking about starting your own show.

Here are podcast services I personally use or can recommend from knowing others who have used them:

  1. PodcastMotor.com (Podcast editing, show notes, etc.<--- This is a more expensive option.)
  2. www.thepodcastingguy.com (My guy, Tim Hallowell, who rocks. He’s very affordable and professional and has great packages to choose from.)
  3. https://www.goteampodcast.com/, run by my pal Allie Williams and her husband.

 

And, as always, you can train your virtual assistant to handle tasks like making the graphics, posting on Libsyn, etc.

Happy outsourcing!