8 things I’ve learnt about getting stuff done by freelancers

I get LOTS of stuff done, most people think I do it myself, but if I did how would I ever have time to do other fun stuff? no, to get on in life you’ve got to delegate, for 90% of projects you can hire freelancers to work on your ideas, but how do you do that?

Do you have an idea for a website, online business, or application, but need a programmer to turn that idea into reality?

Many of you I know have been in the same position, so here’s my best advice, below.

But first, a quick request: If you are a programmer, please leave a reply below with YOUR best advice. Feel free to include your URL and email for anyone to contact you. I know my advice is not complete, (and you may totally disagree!), so any further advice is appreciated.


1. Reduce your big idea to “Version 1.0”.

Dream the big dream of everything your site/service/company might be some day, and write it all down.

But then think of the bare minimum that would make you happy, and people would find useful. What are the three most essential features? What is the most essential feature?

Call this Version 1.0. Save the rest for later. No need to even tell people about the rest unless they’re really really interested.

A programmer is much more likely to say, “I can do that!” to this simple version.

Your goal here is just to get Version 1.0 built. That, alone, will be a huge accomplishment. Everything below is describing only Version 1.0.

2. Write a simple overview of what it does.

Again, remember: only describe Version 1.0. Stop there. The big version is written down somewhere else.

Leave off all details that the programmer doesn’t need to know.

For example: If you want to sell videos, you don’t need to say what’s in the videos. Just “sell downloadable and streamable video files.” If you want the site to translate ancient Arabic poetry to Spanish to increase global tolerance, just say, “Translate paragraphs from Arabic to Spanish.”

Be succinct. Programmers love that.

Include people in a story, using the terms you use.

For example: “A company creates an account, then creates a new project with a title and description. In the project, they upload multiple documents to be translated. Each document has a from-language, to-language, and a name. The system counts how many words are in each document. When the company marks the project as ready, it is announced to the translators. The announcement shows how many documents, how many words, and a price. The translator rejects or approves. They log in to translate the documents, one at a time, marking each finished when done, which sends the file back to the company for review.”

From this, the programmer will look for nouns and verbs, so start to think in those terms to help you communicate better. (A programmer would see: Company, Project, Document, Translation, Translator, etc.)

3. Write a detailed walk-through of every click.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself using the site.

Describe every thing you can click on the first page.

Git no imagination? then mind map it with mind meister (google it)

What happens when you click it? Exactly what did the system do? What happens next?

Start to think in IF-THEN branches. Example: “If it’s a new user, it takes them to this welcome page. If they’ve been here before, it takes them to their account page. If it asks for a number, but they type a word, send them back to the same page but with a message.”

In a text file, write down every thing you know this Version 1.0 needs to do. Every click. Every action. A long list of small simple things.

Start to think of the exact wording of what you want it to say, but save that somewhere else. Don’t clutter this list with wording.

The goal is to keep this long list of actions very clear and simple, so that a programmer can see it, and see that each step is easy. For them it should be like eating chips, not an elephant.

4. Break it up into milestones.

We tend to think of other people’s work as easier than it is.

So break Version 1.0 up into many “milestone” steps. Think of it as a day’s work. (It might take more or less than a day.) The point where they upload their work for you to test. Where you test it and are happy that little piece works.

Don’t expect it to look pretty at this stage. Expect it incredibly ugly but functionally working. Like building a house, the paint and decor goes last.

For example: in my translation site story, above, the first milestone might be just a plain ugly web page where a company can create an account, create a new project, then upload named documents into that project. That’s it! If that works, that’s a good start.

Thinking of your project in milestones makes all the difference. You’ll stop and communicate at each, making sure you’re happy before continuing. Misunderstandings can’t run on too long. You’ll estimate time and cost better. And you’ll both feel a good sense of momentum.

5. Make your first milestone a stand-alone project.

To find a programmer you like, you need to take just the first milestone, and treat it as a complete project.

Open a new text file, and copy just the parts of the story and walk-through that are included in the first milestone.

If a feature doesn’t come until after the first milestone, remove it from this copy of the story. Remove it from this copy of the walk-through.

This text file should contain a start-to-finish project that sounds like a day’s work, and mentions nothing else.

Now start to prepare it like a help-wanted ad. Say, “We are hiring a developer to create only the beginning of an application. If this milestone is completed well, there will be more work immediately. The requirements are as follows….” Then paste just the story and walk-through for your first milestone.

Because you don’t want them to just say, “I finished. Here’s the source code,” make sure you finish with something like, “For completion of this project, please have this up and running on a development webserver I can access to test its functionality as described.”

Because posting this help-wanted ad will bombard you with dozens of offers that sound legitimate but have never read your ad, you should really do this step: At the end of your post, write something like, “VERY IMPORTANT: To separate you from the spammers, please write I CAN DO THIS  as the first line of your bid. We will delete all bids that do not start with this phrase, since most bidders never read the requirements. Thank you for being one who does.”

Get this all in a plain-text file, ready to paste.

6. Post it at elance, guru, odesk, rentacoder.

Go to the following sites to open an account at each: elance.comguru.comodesk.com, rentacoder.com

Post this short project at each site. Use their escrow service. Location of provider doesn’t matter – they can work from anywhere. Don’t pay for a highlighted listing. Pay by the hour. Set the bidding time limit to 7 days. Most bids will come in the first 2-3 days.

You’ll get many offers, but if they don’t have your magic phrase at the top (“I CAN DO THIS” or whatever), delete them. This is very hard to do, since you’ll feel thrilled that so many people are offering to help, saying things like, “We have looked at your project and would be glad to complete it immediately,” but trust me and delete those. If they didn’t read something marked as VERY IMPORTANT already, you don’t want to work with them.

Also important: Only go for providers who have great reviews from many past customers. This shows they are used to working this way through this site. Decline bids from providers without many great reviews.

If they have 1 negative review ask them about it, sometimes even the best people make mistakes or deal with people with dumb expectations so ask.

Don’t aim for the lowest bid. Use these sites to find someone that seems great and capable, even if they are twice as much as the lowest bid, they might work 10 times faster and better.

Each of these sites has its quirks, so sorry I can’t recommend specifics for everyone. But be considerate and nice, once they’ve mentioned your VERY IMPORTANT phrase to prove they really read your requirements. That’s cold enough. Once they’ve passed that test, be very responsive and friendly.

7. Hire one from each.

Here’s the real reason why you’re stopping at a simple milestone: you’re going to hire at least two different people to do this first step, expecting that one will go bad, one will be so-so, and one will be great.

Yes it means you’re paying multiple times for this first milestone, but it’s worth it to find a good one.

I’ve found it easier to choose one provider from each site, so you can “award this project” to just one, and track their work there. They don’t need to know there are others.

Some will definitely go bad. Just expect it and don’t let it upset you. They’ll say something has come up, that they can’t start until next month, that it’s harder than they thought, or just disappear and never reply. When this happens, just mark that person’s project as cancelled or complete, and say goodbye nicely. Then carry on with the rest.

Lastly, ask each one to send you a zip file of the entire source code after each completed milestone. Even if you don’t know what to do with it yet, save it. Unzip it and look through it in any text editor. You might actually understand some of it.

8. Continue with the one you like best.

The goal of this project is to find just one programmer (or team) you really like.

If you don’t, then just go back to re-post that first milestone again, but changing it based on any feedback you got. Perhaps set a higher price or describe it better.

Once you do, you can let them in on the whole project. Send them your full “Version 1.0” story and walk-through. Get them involved in the whole thing. Hire them to make the next milestone happen, and the next and the next.

They may ask you to continue working and paying through the website, to boost their reputation there, or they may want to just go direct. Either way is fine.


I left out many things, of course, but if you feel something needs to be mentioned, please leave a reply in the comments, below.

Let me know how it goes!

Neil

free SEO videos (step by step rank No 1)

Last week I told you I built my dad a new website:

http://fastdrainunblocking.co.uk/

I used every trick I know to make sure his
website makes him a lot of money.

Plumbing and drainage is a VERY competitive
market so we used the latest SEO strategies
to get the site to rank very quickly for his
buying keywords.

fast drain unblocking

If you search google for that you’ll see
his site is already ranking very well.

(No 1 & 2 when I just checked)

Would you like to see how I did that?

Well I video’d the whole thing so I can
use them as training videos for my team

Want a copy for free?

OK here’s how to get it, simply e-mail
me a testimonial about how my e-mails
and marketing tips have helped your business

neil @ neilasher.com

Simple!

Once I get that I’ll send you a link to the
training video’s

They’re uncut

You’ll hear me giving specific instructions

Step by step

Every detail and strategy covered.

If you want to rank No 1 in Google
for a very competitive keyword in
just 6 days e-mail me a testimonial now

Neil

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Hi if you’re reading this then Hurrah!

You’ve found me doing some SEO for a youtube post all about Sir Michael Wilshaw

I saw a great a great article on the BBC today all about sire Michael Wilshaw and he was saying how

terrible our schools are and that kids are not being taught what they need to do well in life.

Shocking and that’s what Sir Michael Wilshaw says too.

Anyway one of the products we market is a early learning programme for kids so this is a great opportunity to

leverage the media and drive some free traffic to my site :-0

so that’s what I’m doing.

I’ve also set up a google adwords campaign on the keywords that are trending for this too

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw PPC campaign

That’s my ad 🙂 here it is in case you can’t see it

  • “Child Literacy in The UK
  • Is Appalling” Says Michael Wilson
  • For 1-4 years – There Is A Solution
  • www.freeparentingreport.co.uk
cool huh 🙂

and notice I’m linking to BIG sites so that this post gets lots of credability with Google and ranks faster for the keyword

Sir Michael Wilshaw get the idea?

So once again this is how to take advantage of this for a new media and SEO

I’ll also e-mail my list about the video as it sells my product at the end

Neil

P.S watch this video Sir Michael Wilshaw so you can see how I monetize the youtube traffic 🙂

life cycle of an entrepreneur

Neil Asher Rocks!

Neil Asher - Lifecycle of an entrepreneur

If you are or ever have been a work from home entrepreneur, you can probably relate to this…

These are the 4 Stages of the work from home entrepreneur Life Cycle, according to ME.

At the risk of laying my emotional immaturity bare for all the world to see, read about the four stages below.

I figure I’m probably in good company, however, according to Jung in his book memories dreams and reflections (which is AWESOME by the way), our emotional development stops at about age 7. So that would make the following juuuust about right then :)

Stage One

I call this one the wide-eyed and bushy tailed stage. Cause it’s the phase in being a work from home entrepreneur where you are all star eyed and bedazzled by what kind of earning potential you’ve got out there waiting for you.

I went from earning £8.50 an hour as a chef, to £100+ an hour (that’s my conservative guess–definitely on the low end, figuring £5,000 a week which is what I was making back then in my first business.

Stage Two

Here’s where the problems begin. You somehow missed it before, but now it becomes clear that being a work from home entrepreneur is actually work. Heaven forbid.

By stage two, you’re getting used to making money with a whole lot less effort than 99% of the world. And that’s the problem.

Call it human nature, but that soon gets old. You start to realize that while generating £10,000 a week is great, BUT…. it’s still work.

Dissatisfaction starts to brew. :)

Stage Three

Here’s where things can go south quick if you don’t just stop and take a breath and understand that you are where you are because you need to be there at the moment.

Tough pill to swallow sometimes, but it’s the truth.

However…

It can be hard to remember that when you look up long enough to see that you’re generating X pounds while you read about other people telling you they make £50K a week.

You don’t really think about all the risks, hard work, sacrifices, or their string of failures that led them to their current success. All you can see is the difference in the bottom line.

Thoughts like, “Well if that guy can do it, anyone can do it.” start to creep into your head.

Stage Four

The pressure builds enough for you to consider busting out of this (now crap) business and doing the next big thing.

After all, everywhere you look, there are a ton of successful people (far less equipped than you :) that are doing it. If they can do it, why not you?

Here’s where you have a choice to make.

You can either shrink back and stick with what you know, and somehow just be OK with the nature of the business. That you work for money. And that when you don’t work, you generally make less.

OR… you can stretch yourself and make a move.

For me, Stage Four is the time to make the move. A BIG, BOLD move.

Cause you realize that the only perfect business you’re ever going to get is…

YOU.

So you start shifting your thought processes. Instead of being focused on how to keep your client “happy” and how to keep the projects coming through the door, you start focusing on step one in business: generating more revenue for yourself… selling more of your own stuff or other people’s stuff.

This is where you need to FOCUS.

My advice make your first business work BEFORE you start the new business.

What does “work” mean?

For me it means it runs without me, if I need anymore than an hour of work to make the business work then it’s not a business, it’s a job.

So stay focused and systemise the business and get people to run it for you.

Then you’re ready for the next one.

Neil Asher

How To Kill Your Competitors

Business is fun, I love the idea of creating value and making a quid for my efforts, it puts a smile on my face and spring in my step :o)

BUT

It's a jungle out there - Neil Asher

Make no mistake, it’s a jungle out there.

Money is a powerful motivator for people and there are people who will do anything they can to get money, specifically YOUR money.

There are basically 2 ways to win at business;

1. Be the best in your niche

2. Be the only one in your niche

Normally I talk about being the best in your niche, however once you get started you’ll quickly learn that there are plenty of other businesses who’ll stop at nothing to be the only one in that niche too.

As I said it’s a jungle out there, to survive you have to know how to fight when you need to.

Over my 20 years of business experience I have occasionally had to defend my business against attacks from competitors, I have found the best form of defence is invariably to attack back.

So here’s 5 simple ways to kill your competition in your niche.

advertise negative keywords

Report to ASA:

The Advertising Standards Authority is a simple tried and test strategy to give your competitors a headache.

99% of ads that companies run fall foul of the ASA’s guidelines, a cursedly glance at their site shows the extent of the battles that are fought between the major companies on the UK high street:

http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications.aspx?date=12/21/2011#results

From Tesco, sainsburies and Asda doing battle to Phones 4U.

A confident at the ASA admitted that 99% of their complaints where instigated by rival companies, making the ASA unwilling pawns in the battle for your cash.

So, first port of call is to report your competitors to the ASA.

Adwords Strategy

Google adwords is brilliant, I am still amazed how much money can be made from it so easily, and how few business owners utilise this simple but effective tool.

For all it’s good it can be used for battle too, here’s how;

No matter how good your business is you will get complaints, no matter how well you handle complaints the sad truth is that some people would rather go online and bitch about your company than come and talk to you directly to solve it.

Naturally as a business owner you do everything you can to mitigate these complaints but once they’re online they’re their for all to see.

Why not help customers find the negative reviews that your competitor so desperately wants to hide.

A very effective strategy is to place google ads on buying keywords and direct the traffic to the bad reviews online.

nasty huh… works VERY well.

It’s brutal in the big bad business world and it’s best you prepare yourself for attack so you can defend should you find yourself on the receiving end.

Write negative reviews

Naturally the adwords strategy won’t work if there are no negative reviews online, so why not create your own and post them to sites dedicated to bitching and moaning.

This is highly unethical, however I know this happens all the time.

Tripadvisor is at the heart of a VERY BIG ongoing legal battle with a group of hotels that have been targeted with negative reviews by competitors, the hotels can do F.A to remove these false reviews and their business is slowly being killed as a result.

Think this couldn’t happen to you?

Think again.

Instant search

You’ve seen Googles latest innovation with instant search, this is when Google sees what you’re typing in the search box and offers suggestions as to what you might like to see.

This is VERY easy to game.

I have used this on numerous affiliate sites to get keywords that i want to appear to appear,

quite simply it is repetition and diverse users that make a keyword show up in instant search.

If you get 10 people in 10 different locations (a location as defined by IP address NOT physical location) to search for “(business name) rip off” then lo and behold that search terms comes up in instant search after a few iterations of doing this.

then it’s just a simple case of having the domain name and doing very very simple SEO on it and you’re done.

Register web sites

So the instant search naturally you’ll want to make sure you register www.(your own business name)ripoff.com ASAP

There are MANY more ways, however for the next level it starts getting pretty gnarly and I’d rather not share those strategies publicly as I use them more often than I care to admit.

However, what i’ve shared here will kill 95% of attackers.

This is not a pretty fluffy post, I hope I’ve shook you up a bit.

Business IS fun, it IS rewarding and I believe it is a great vehicle for personal growth. I would however be doing you a grave disservice if I didn’t give you the whole picture.

I don’t know anyone else who does, do you?

Neil

P.S I welcome your comments on this post.

we have a problem

Greetings 🙂

Neil Asher - what to do when things go wrong

Neil Asher - what to do when things go wrong


Normally I tell you about stuff that’s working
which is great of course and helps you.

BUT

What about when stuff goes wrong?

Most people won’t tell you about that stuff as
“it’s bad for business” meaning they want you
to think everything is perfect.

Believe me…. sh*t happens!

So I thought I’d give you a heads up on a recent project
and some of the problems we’ve had so that you
can avoid them 🙂

Lesson No 1.
Test everything (twice) and expect problems.

I regularly get people on my facebook page to help
me test out websites in exchange for free products.

This is a great strategy and gives you some VERY
valuable info, however, even after doing this and all
my team going through the site invariabley when we
go “live” we get problems.

So my advice put your site live and slowly send traffic to it!

Lesson No 2
Everything costs twice as much and takes 3 times as long

We test 2 business ideas a month usually, we have it down to
an art, everything is systemized, we have great suppliers we
work with, and still we hit snags that end up costing us time
and money, this is inevitable.

My advice, when you do your plan, double everything!

Lesson No 3
Traffic starts slow…. deal with it

When I put a business live the temptation to
send massive amounts of traffic to the site is
hard to resist.

I like nothing more than making 5 – 6 grand on the first
day of a new site.

BUT

This is not the way to do things.

This is a recipe for losing tons of cash fast.

My advice, start with the very best targeted traffic you can.

Once you can make that convert, start to broaden your keywords
and targeting in facebook.

Then as you know how things convert you can ramp up 🙂

So there you go.

If you take my advice you’ll save a ton of time
and money.

Neil Asher

How can you almost guarantee the success of your business?

How can you almost guarantee the success of your business?

Wish You Were Here - Next Year You Could Be

Well you can’t guarantee business success, anyone that tells you that is lying.

But you can increase the odds of success, I use a 15 point process when i’m evaluating business ideas, I’m not going to share it all with you but I will share this 1 strategy which, for me, is the starting point of all the best businesses I’ve built.

One of my business rituals is to go to WH Smith every Tuesday Morning

I do this to get information on the market and a feel for the general feeling of people.

I’m also looking for ideas, specifically I’m looking for 2 things:

1. Products that I can sell in other countries

2. People I can build products around

Let me give you an example of those.

One of the products I sell very successfully throughout Europe is a hair care product. I first discovered this product on the front page of InStyle Magazine, it was also featured in Vogue and Cosmo (not on the cover) so I knew there was a great buzz about it and also knew that it would do well in the EU as I tend to find that most things do, with some tweaking and localisation.

It was touted as the best low budget product in the UK, I took the product to the EU, increased the price and started selling it.

We sell about 150 bottles a day.

I sell a “how to be an awesome fisherman” type newsletter to fishermen, my step dad John fishes as do my 2 brothers, but I find it boring as hell. But when I saw that the best fisherman in the world lives in Yorkshire I knew I had a product I could sell to the 2.5 million people who call themselves fishermen in the UK.

I contacted him and asked him if I could interview him and use his image etc and offered him a royalty on the newsletter, naturally he agreed. Free money and publicity is persuasive.

We started off with 50 subscribers and now have over 1000 and growing, plus of course fishermen are notoriously good at buying other stuff to catch bigger and bigger fish.

The opportunities are endless.

So my strategy is to find someone or something with massive amounts of credibility built into it. Then build a product around them.

My good mate Joff is very close to jancis robinson who is a very well respected wine writer for the Times. Massive credibility built in to her, people know and trust her.

Do you think that if Jancis recommend a wine it sells?

You better believe it does!

What if Jancis had a wine business do you think it would do well?

I do.

In fact I have an incredible idea for the wine industry that would turn that industry on it’s head, i figure £25,000 to test the business and if I’m right it’s a £100 million a year business. If you’re interested in the idea e-mail me.

but that’s a different story.

I saw a magazine dedicated to Dr Who, so I did some research, I found a guy who makes £500K 4 times a year by putting on a Dr Who convention, I then researched further, Dr Who is shown in 22 countries….

See, where I’m going with this?

Right now there are literally thousands of ideas waiting for you to take action to put them into existence, good ideas, some are a couple of grand a week ideas and others are blockbuster billionaire ideas.

They’re everywhere.

Let 2012 be the year you put one of those ideas into practice, there is no better time to be an entrepreneur.

The economy means there has never been a better reason to take control of your destiny.

Job security is a thing of the past.

State funded pensions are a joke.

The only way to free yourself is to educate yourself, and the fastest way to learn is to get started.

Don’t look for a business to start, look for a problem to solve.

When you’ve found your problem look for someone or something that can give you instant access to credibility and a market of buyers.

The easiest way to find that is an hour at WH Smiths looking through the magazines.

Neil

P.S last Thursday I asked if anyone wanted to see my SEO strategy that involved some naughty boobie pictures, I had 15 people put there hand up for that out of hundreds that read that post so I have to conclude no one wants to see it. If you do then go here and tell me:

P.P.S I’m in Australia! Nice and warm on Bondi Beach :o) after months indoors, I am so white that I am actually reflective, so far I’ve stooped 3 yachts crashing into the beach 😉

Gary halbert Rocks!

Gary Halbert – Live at the System Seminar, San Francisco 2004 

Here’s a series of YouTube videos of Gary Halbert – Live at the System Seminar, San Francisco 2004.

Gary went to the System Seminar with his friend and fellow copywriter, John Carlton.
John was scheduled to speak at the seminar, but Gary wasn’t.

Gary asked if he could speak at one of the night sessions and Ken McCarthy said yes.

Somewhere there is a DVD with the full Gary Halbert presentation.
It would be nice if a FUB member could find and provide links to it.

Below are just some snippets of Gary’s video presentation at the System Seminar.

"Gun to the head" marketing http://www.youtube.com/v/KEyG-5R5prw 
The biggest mistake http://www.youtube.com/v/giM6B9VUgZU 
"You guys are my heroes" http://www.youtube.com/v/J8lmROEnzl8 
Triple Your Response "I feel sorry for you if you're 
using auto-responders" http://www.youtube.com/v/HlxcL5vzVqM 
What people on the Internet are starving for http://www.youtube.com/v/b4D4dquicKY 
I don't care about search engines http://www.youtube.com/v/nwHwI6WP5KQ 
Rave Review Ad Copy http://www.youtube.com/v/Y_m3onRvpyE 
The Biggest Marketing Mistake (Part One) http://www.youtube.com/v/giM6B9VUgZU 
The Biggest Marketing Mistake (Part Two) http://www.youtube.com/v/H8kYtZaRQv0 
Human Engineering http://www.youtube.com/v/dmjYQ76RLWA 
The Power of Snail Mail http://youtu.be/Uymj_YUs-lI 
Door To Door http://youtu.be/3VnNvXnCs2Y 
How To Sell Emu Oil (Part 1) http://youtu.be/qfeKtLW-m-U 
How To Sell Emu Oil (Part 2) http://youtu.be/LelUbPrViRA 
Advertising in Newspapers (Part One) http://youtu.be/q2s7YSxyhxI 
Advertising in Newspapers (Part Two) http://youtu.be/Pl62gMoVZ0Y 
How To Close A Sale (Part One) http://youtu.be/lmRgfe-72Ho 
How To Close A Sale (Part Two) http://youtu.be/VMbI0nBUpAA 
Carbon Copy Letters http://youtu.be/cMy-jLMBEk8 
Copywriters Success Trait http://youtu.be/Gs73gw-gs2g 
Refund Strategy (Part One) http://youtu.be/US567Y_Gx9M 
Refund Strategy (Part Two) http://youtu.be/FmJztzjlR48 
People Are Starving http://youtu.be/b4D4dquicKY 
Physical Addresses Equal Profits http://youtu.be/FdNEtrOfGGI 
Gary's Shortest Letter http://youtu.be/O7YwMgBENng 
The Quest For Information http://youtu.be/RShCvUqJyso
Finally I have a mind map of Gary halberts copy writing process on my neil asher facebook wall