Today’s post is an answer to a question submitted to me in the Online Selling Experiment facebook group by David. The question is “How do you teach a new VA to source products for you?”
I have hired virtual assistants for various jobs in my business over the past few years. In the past few months I have hired a VA exclusively to help me source online arbitrage finds on Amazon. This has been a great way to add a steady flow of deals to my Amazon business. I am not claiming to be an expert at hiring VAs, but this post will outline my process for hiring and getting a new VA started sourcing for you.
Select Where to Hire From
The first step is to decide where you would like to hire a virtual assistant. The 2 main options are upwork and onlinejobs.ph. Upwork is free to get a posting up on, and then they make their money by taking a 10% fee out of the amount that you pay your VAs. Onlinejob.ph has a monthly fee (I’m on the quarterly plan currently) and then they don’t mark up the wages you pay.
For an online sourcing VA, my preference is onlinejob.ph. English is one of the official languages of the Philippines, and my experience so far has been that the applicants from the Phillipines are extremely easy to communicate with.
I have had a couple of pieces of software built specifically for my business, and these I have better luck through upwork. That could just be me, but there seems to be a larger pool of developers on upwork from my experience.
Overall, onlinejobs.ph is my preference for online sourcing VAs, but you really can’t go wrong with either if you hire properly.
Create Your Job Posting
No matter which site you choose this will be an important part in the process. My recommendation is to include some general ideas of what you are looking for in your posting. I would not include specifically that they will be looking for items that can be sold for a profit on Amazon. The primary reason for this is that there are some individuals who I know that have had issues with the same VAs working for multiple people at the same time. Effectively they would be sending multiple clients the same product finds. Strictly due to this, I recommend keeping it vague at the beginning.
I also include in the posting that there will be a task test required. This lets them know that they will have to put in a little bit of effort to get the job. I put a task test together that will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
One other tip that has worked very well for me is to put something in the job posting to make sure that they have read the full posting. I generally ask them to put their favorite color, or favorite day of the week in the subject of their application. This makes it extremely easy to see if they have read the posting.
Take a look below, the ones with a color read the posting, and the ones without a color didn’t:
With the volume of applicants you get, this is an easy way to weed out some applicants. Essentially I don’t even look at the applications unless they followed the instructions in the application.
As you create your postings you will have options for what level of English applicants speak, how their previous jobs have gone, what verification they have gone through with the site, among other qualifications. I recommend selecting exactly what you are looking for when you set these qualifications. There are generally a large volume of applicants for this type of position, so I recommend setting the requirements that you want. I am making my job posting template available for download. It’s in word doc format so you can copy/paste as a template to create your own job posting. Download that below:
After you have created your job posting, you probably won’t have to wait very long to have applications start rolling in. I have had as many as 100 in the first 24 hours some of my postings have been live.
The first thing I look at when evaluating candidates is to see if they followed the details outlined in the job posting. Essentially I am looking for them to answer the random question in the subject line of their application, and ask to be sent the sample job task.
Assuming they meet those requirements, then I will take a quick look at their profile to see if anything jumps out at me (past reviews, profile doesn’t look real, etc.), and see what they are looking for in terms of wage. If nothing jumps out at me and they aren’t looking for more than a normal wage for the position then I will send them the task test. I expect to pay between $300-$500 per month for a full time VA working in this type of position. As long as their asking rate is in this range, then I have no issue. In reality, it should be pretty easy to generate a sizeable ROI on VAs wages, so it’s more about finding someone who will be productive and is easy to work with as opposed to getting the lowest possible price.
A quick side note here: due to different markets, currency exchanges, etc, this is actually a very competitive wage in countries like the Philippines. Essentially we shouldn’t be comparing it to US wages as it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Whenever people get concerned about this wage that appears very low, I always ask them: if you were to visit the Philippines and you could rent an apartment for $125 per month, would you insist on paying whatever rent you pay in the US or would you pay $125? I’m willing to bet you’d pay the market rate there.
Now, back to the evaluation. I send the task test to all applicants that followed the process I was looking for in the job posting. The primary way that I evaluate applicants is through the task test.
I generally have applicants collect information from one website, find the matching product on Amazon, and then collect some other random information as well. I will make the exact template I use for a task test when hiring online sourcing VAs available here in this post. Download it here:
I go through each applicant’s task test in detail. I will be very picky in this step. I am looking for a VA that did exactly what my instructions said. With the hires I made so far, I’ve had several to pick from who followed my instructions exactly. Ultimately, I go through and find the one that I believe is the best fit, and then I will offer that person a job.
Hiring a Candidate
Prior to hiring you will want to make sure that you agree on all terms related to the employment with your VA. These include: wages, when they will start working, how many hours per week the VA will be working, what hours during the day the VA will be working, how time off works, what dates they will be paid, and any other details you want them to know up front. After you and the VA agree on these terms, the actual process of hiring a candidate is a pretty simple process. Essentially you will just mark them as hired within the online portal for the site you are using.
If you use onlinejob.ph, you will also send an invitation to use timeproof, which is the tracking system that allows you to track your VAs hours, and see what they are working on.
Once you have those pieces setup, then it’s time to get your VA their first task.
Monitoring Output / Managing
Both onlinejobs.ph and upwork have a monitoring system to make sure that your VAs are actually working. Their systems are called timeproof and work diary, respectively. These are both software program that record your VAs screen at certain intervals. You are then able to review the screenshots at any time to make sure that they are working on what you ask them to. These systems will also track the amount of time your VA works each day. This makes it very easy to know how much to pay your VA, as well as to be confident they are working diligently on their projects.
How to Pay Your VA
I use paypal with virtual assistants on my team through onlinejobs.ph. I have them send me invoices directly through paypal and then I am able to pay them with a credit card. I prefer to use a credit card to pay them as that way I earn rewards points. Make sure that the card you are using does not have foreign transaction fees if you do elect to use a credit card to pay.
If you use Upwork, you are able to pay directly through their system. It allows for payments via paypal, credit card, or a bank account.
Personally, I pay my VAs on the 15th, and the last day of the month. You can pay just about any frequency you want, just make sure it’s agreed upon upfront with your VA. Paying your VAs should be a pretty simple process overall.
Other Considerations / Tips for Success
- Be sure to be very clear in your instructions. Just as you would with any other team member it’s important to spell out all of the details of each task.
- Google docs is a great tool for working with VAs. It’s very easy to share documents back and forth and either party can make updates.
- Teach your VAs how to use tools can help them with the process. I am in the process of getting one of my VAs using OAXray, and have another testing out the Textbook Arbitrage google chrome extension. Essentially any tool you use for online arbitrage, give them the opportunity to use as well.
Those are the vast majority of the details of the process that I use to hire an online sourcing VA. Done properly it can be a great addition to your business. I’ve been having the VAs on my team work on tasks outside of online sourcing and getting involved in other areas of my business. The possibilities are endless.
Hopefully this post helps to give you a good idea of how the process goes. If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing via one of the buttons below. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comments section!