Whether you’re back-to-school and short on time or simply have too much on your plate as a full-time TpTer, hiring help can be exactly what you need to grow your store. Today we’re talking everything you need to know as you get ready to make your first hire. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share any tips or ask any of your hiring questions: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
This is a topic that people are excited about! There have been tons of questions and inside the group regarding how to hire help. So, we are going to do our best to answer them all. Let’s dive in.
What you need to know before you make your first hire
Here’s a word of warning—it’s hard to hire people. You have spent time and energy building your TpT business and it’s hard to hand over tasks to others. Essentially, you have to trust them to be able to continue the work you have started. It can be tough.
Not every person you hire is going to be the right fit. But before you even start looking for your first hire, you have to do a little more work yourself. You need to figure out what you want to hire for. Think about what tasks you are doing that you don’t want to do. It might be that you struggle with getting them done or that you just don’t like them.
Then, you need to get crystal clear on what tasks you’re going to hire someone to do and what your expectations are. It’s your job to choose the right person and give them proper training. If you try to rush the process, you’ll most likely end up disappointed.
I’ll share with you my exact hiring process to show you exactly what I mean shortly. But, just remember that before you jump into the process you have to have a purpose for your hire. What are they going to help you accomplish? If you don’t know, they aren’t going to know either.
What is a VA?
This is a popular question in the group because it’s the common advice that you’re probably hearing all over the place. If you are overwhelmed in your business, people will tell you to “hire a VA”.
VA stands for Virtual Assistant. These are people that can essentially help you do a lot of those smaller and more time-consuming tasks. A good VA is someone that you can work with to teach them how to do a task and then turn it over to them and they take it from there. This is a person that doesn’t necessarily need a lot of specialized skills in one certain area.
For example, a VA may help you reply to a few emails, create some Pins, and respond to a question for you on Facebook Messenger.
Angie recently hired someone to work as a VA. She is in her local area but is going to work remotely. They met and Angie showed her several tasks that she was looking for someone to complete. They include things like creating pins and copying and pasting resource descriptions from her TpT store to her website. They are not necessarily difficult tasks, but they are time-consuming. Angie can do them, but she’d rather not have to.
What a VA is not
A VA is not a mini-me. This can be a sticking point for a lot of TpTers and it was for us at first too. When I first started trying to find someone, I didn’t really know what I wanted help with. I just wanted someone that could step in and handle what I do on a daily basis while still being affordable.
That was unrealistic.
However, there are definitely people out there that can take some things off your plate. You just have to know what to look for.
What can I hire help for?
Instead of hiring a VA, you can also hire for specific tasks. Look for the tasks that you don’t enjoy doing, or that you aren’t great at, and hire someone to handle that exact thing.
For example, I recently decided to hire for customer service. It wasn’t something that I needed when I first started out and was only getting an email a day. But now I get 20-30 emails a day. My inbox was a nightmare. My husband helped me out over the summer and I was surprised to see that someone that wasn’t a part of my products and services could handle it so well.
When he went back to work, I really didn’t want to take it over again.
I ended up hiring a friend that had recently had a baby and decided not to return to work. I had worked with her in the past so I knew a little about how she worked. So far, she’s helped me with HelpScout, Facebook Messenger, Stripe, and Kjabe even though she had never used any of them before.
All I do is make a quick video tutorial, get her logged in, and then she handles it. She’s even helping me with purchase orders and refunds.
If you’re creating a lot of ELA content having a writer could be a great place to start, especially if it’s a task that you don’t enjoy doing. When you find a great writer that can take on your content you can produce more resources in a shorter amount of time.
I would recommend looking for a writer that can provide you with quality passages on grade level, understand the directions, and ask questions when needed for around $30/page.
The positions above may not be the right hire for you. Take some time to think about what would help you the most. Look at what tasks are on your list that you continue to move down the list because you don’t really want to do them even though you know they need to be done.
Maybe it’s handling all of your social media. Or, maybe it’s just creating your graphics for social media. It could be a photographer to capture great images of your resources.
How do I find the right people to hire?
Even though there are multiple ways you can find people to hire, it’s the hardest part.
Angie had a friend that was looking for part-time work that she hired as her VA. I hired someone I knew personally for my customer service. You can start your search by seeing if there is someone that you know that could use a part-time job.
This can be a great way to go because you know something about the person before you hire them. When you hire blindly, it gets a little more complicated because you aren’t sure they’ll be reliable.
Lately, I’ve been using Upwork to hire for small tasks. Or, if I’m looking to hire for an ongoing position, I post it on my website. This can be helpful because then I get referrals for people that have experience in education or at least know someone that does which usually means they have an understanding of it.
The biggest challenge for me was trying to find actual teachers to hire for lessons I was working on for a big project. I got lucky and received a resume from a teacher that previously worked at a social media marketing firm. I jumped on it and then referred Angie too because she does such a great job. She now handles my social media and weekly newsletter.
The hiring process
When you turn to outside sources to hire, it can get tough. They may not be interested in the work that you’re doing. They may disappear on you. Or, your personalities might not mesh well. Experiences like this led me to develop the following step-by-step hiring process:
- Contact them – Tell them about your business and ask them a few questions.
- Wait for a response – See how long they take to respond. It doesn’t have to be within minutes, but if they take a week then you know you don’t want to work with them.
- Do a video interview – If they’re interested, they will take the time to do a video interview with you. This gives you a sense of where they are and their personality.
- Give them a sample activity – Let those that you like know that you’re moving them on to the next round. Give them a sample activity to do. I like to give them an activity that’s similar to what I’m looking for them to do. I’ve found that 50% of people won’t do it.
- Choose one – When you make it to this step you’ll have a small group of people remaining. Choose the one that you think is the best fit.
This process does take time, but it’s well worth the investment because it helps you hire the right person. If you try to hire someone fast there’s a good chance that next month you’ll be looking to hire someone else.
How much do I need to spend?
Before I hired the current writer that I use, I was paying someone $20/page for passages and she was not doing a good job. Her work was semi-plagiarized and I usually had to rewrite it. But I didn’t want to hire someone else and have to pay more.
Then, I realized that I was having to do the work that I was paying someone else to do. If I was just willing to pay a little more, I would take this work off my plate.
If someone is causing you more work, then you’re doing it wrong or you have hired the wrong person.
Do I need a contract?
You absolutely want to make sure that you have a contract signed when you hire someone. It should specify details on the work they will do for you, the terms of payment, what rights you will receive for the work, and a nondisclosure if necessary.
You can see a business lawyer or check the templates offered by Brittany Ratelle at Creative Contract Co. She’s an attorney for creatives that we had on as a podcast guest answering your legal questions in the past. She has contract templates that you can use to protect your business.
I use HelloSign to have my contracts signed. You get three free every month and I rarely use more than that. It’s straightforward and easy to use.
It takes time to build a team
Remember, as you start to build your team look to hire for the things that you don’t want to do first. Just focus on one thing at a time. Here’s the order that I hired in:
- Social media
- Customer service
With these four hires in place, I feel really good. But it took time to get to this place and it’s not something that everyone will be able to do right now. It’s not cheap because I’m paying people what they’re worth.
It’s a slow and steady process so just pick one thing and get started.
If you have more questions on hiring for your TpT business, feel free to share it with us over in the MasterMind group.