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Hiring Someone on the Internet for Design or Programming Work and Project Management Software

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We discuss the sites that I have hired people from for specific programming and web related tasks such as oDesk, Elance, Thesis Forum and Wishlist Member Forum as well as the process I’ve gone through when hiring someone for a specific web related job.  We discuss how to coordinate tasks, assign tasks and review work with project management software such as Teambox or Basecamp.  Finally, we talk about setting up a subdomain for employees to work on client’s site so everything can be reviewed before a client would see any work.

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Video Transcript

Chung: Okay, great. Awesome. Okay so my question… it was about setting up how to hire someone and what’s the best way to hire someone to work for you in terms of web design. For example, I could do the basic stuff but in terms of the more advanced design, I want to hire someone who can do that for me and then what I’ll do is I’ll probably sell the website or keep it for myself. But I guess my first question is what’s the best way to hire someone so that you know, at the same time you’re able to manage them to work on your site.

Rick: Well I think… you know, a couple of things are going on there. One of them is how do you find somebody to do that job, right? And the way I’ve hired people in the past is through… actually I was just going to say through oDesk and Elance but actually I hired somebody off of the forum as well.

Chung: Okay.

Rick: And the person I hired off of Elance isn’t actually working on my site, right. She just does my transcriptions but it’s very convenient to have you know, that kind of a remote relationship. The person I hired off of oDesk is in Eastern Europe and he is doing some programming for me that I’m not capable of doing myself. And I put a little job posting on oDesk and watched and waited as the proposals came in. The time I hired somebody off of the forum – it wasn’t off of the Thesis forum it was off of the Wishlist Member forum. And it was a person who did the same thing I do on Thesis she does for Wishlist Member. You know, she was always answering questions on the forum and so I asked her if she would help me with a little programming task with Wishlist Member. I guess the how to find somebody comes down to either using many of the outsourcing services and just putting a job on there and seeing what kind of proposals you get back. Or it involves finding somebody specific that you’re working… that you see in whatever community you happen to be in and seeing if they’re interested in the job. A lot of people in the Thesis forum are advertising to help.

Chung: Yeah, exactly. So do they have to…

Rick: And so then I’m on the other end of that too. That is, I do programming for a guy who’s on the forum a lot. I get email from him and he just approached me off of the forum. I’ve never advertised on the forum to give programming work but he just sent me an email off of the forum and asked me if I’d be willing to give him a hand on a couple of things like that. And so I guess that just goes to say that that’s how I’ve been hired to do individual programming parts and that’s how I’ve hired people to do individual programming parts.

Chung: Okay. Well I appreciate… actually I don’t think I was very clear when I was asking the question…

Rick: Okay.

Chung: I’ve actually hired a few people in the past but they haven’t worked that very well. It could be because I didn’t know a lot about…well, actually I didn’t know anything about designing and programming and that’s probably why I wasted… I guess it’s a lesson learned that I spent money to make mistakes – I’m sure other people have done the same thing probably could have told me. But I mean, I don’t have a problem with finding people it’s just I kinda have a… I’m trying to find out the process because now I’ve found… I have people that I’m going to test but the thing is that once I test them… what is the best way to test them so that you’re literally on top of them. Well not literally on top of them but like you’re actually able to manage or see how they’re working on your project because I know that oDesk…see I’ve never dealt with oDesk. I got this other program that I think is online php or something. Anyways, it’s another place where I found outsourced workers and basically I want to find a way to be able to manage them while they work on my website because once I get you know, 4 clients a month or 5 which to me is a lot. How would I be able to… I’m like the project manager. How would I be able to manage all these information and documents coming in like you know, I’ve used Basecamp and stuff like that but as far that goes like I’m kinda wondering about a new perspective on how you found like what do you do to make sure that you know, it’s kinda of a step by step kind of thing? Because that’s kinda hard the way you look at things like you kinda… you have a client and stuff like that you’re pretty organized.

Rick: So what I’m doing is I’m having a project management web application installed on my domain right now. It’s called Teambox and you can go over to, you can see what it’s like. That is the… I have just recently hired a full time employee from the Philippines to help me do video editing and content management because I’m just too busy to do all of it. And so I don’t get to do as many videos as I want to do because it takes me so long to go back and edit them. And so I’m setting up Teambox and Google apps as my 2 management tools for managing the different projects that he and I would be working on. Now I’ve used Teambox with partners and with clients as well and Teambox is very much like Basecamp. It’s very much like Basecamp and I have clients on Basecamp, I have other clients on Teambox, I have another client that’s on a different open source private management system that I installed on my domain and I just don’t think it’s as good as Teambox.

Chung: Okay so Teambox works pretty good for you.

Rick: Teambox has worked very well for me and now I just don’t want to pay for it for each project. Since it’s open source also, you can have it installed on your server and then you don’t have to pay for it. And so that’s what’s happening as we speak actually. Somebody is installing it for me on my server.

Chung: Okay.

Rick: And then… and that’s nice because it had threaded comments, it has task lists, and then you can assign tasks to different members of your team. It has documents, it has file uploads, it’s very easy Basecamp-like system for managing that you can host yourself.

Chung: Okay so how do you decide to use Teambox versus Basecamp?

Rick: Well Basecamp is quite a bit more expensive you know.

Chung: Well I think it’s $19 a month. I just got the basic…

Rick: But it’s $19 a month for what? Free project or something like that right?

Chung: Can’t remember. I don’t use it anymore just because I let my guy go. Actually 2 of my guys go so… they weren’t very good. That was kinda my other question is how do you like I mean, in terms where you find them, how to find them, how to communicate with them, how do you pay them, I’m okay on but how to determine whether you need to let them go or let them stay or not? It’s a problem for me because you know, especially with web design which I know not too much. I mean, a lot more now after I’ve gone through your videos, but do you have a template that you use? Or how do you kinda go about testing someone to see if… what is your duration of this test or do you even do that at all?

Rick: I didn’t do that. I just did interviews.

Chung:  Okay.

Rick: And you know, today is his first day. I mean, you’re asking me at a juncture where I just made a decision about that. So I didn’t test them.  I know that I’m better at all the stuff than he is. So all I have to do is review his stuff before we try it and if I was going to have him work on a client’s site, which I’m not, but were I to do that, I would have a completely separate development site that he would work on.

Chung: It depends on like…

Rick: No. For example, I did website from a guy called And I just set up a subdomain on one of my servers that was I think and that was the development server that I use to build the site. And then I got it all the way to the point where the client liked it and then once he was happy with that, moved it on to his site. And that’s how I would do it… especially with an employee and especially when you aren’t absolutely confident in the way that it’s going to turn out. I’d have them work separately on something that the client doesn’t see.

Chung: Okay and so…because when you talk about servers it’s kinda over my head. You mean…

Rick: Well, just my host.

Chung: Just like… okay just your… okay. So you’re not talking about an actual physical server at your…

Rick: No. Just the host.

Chung:  Just the host, okay.

Rick: So for example Teambox is being installed on Bluehost… on one of my Bluehost accounts. And who’s your hosting company?

Chung: I use Hostgator right now.

Rick: Okay. Well Hostgator actually allows the installation of ruby on rails applications and Hostgator, you can have Teambox installed at Hostgator as well. And so that’s what I mean by my server. I don’t have a physical server. I have a bunch of different hosting accounts.

Chung: Okay, okay. So this Ruby something, I’ve never even heard of this before. What is this exactly in this…

Rick: Ruby is a programming language similar yet different from php. It’s a different web application framework or language and I don’t you know, I just said everything I know about it. I’m not a ruby programmer and I’m not likely to become one. It’s just a different language, different from php.

Chung: Right, right. Okay.

Rick: And but anyway, not all hosts have or allow ruby installations but Hostgator does and Bluehost does.

Chung: Okay, okay.

Rick: So how do you test them? You know, I just think you interview them and…

Chung: Once? Twice? Three times? Do you have a list of questions you kinda go over? I’m sorry I’m asking so many questions. I’m just trying to…

Rick: I do. I have a list of questions that… I put together a job description. And then I put together a list of questions that I wanted to have them answer and then you know, just to make sure there wasn’t going to be a language barrier problem, I send them the questions in advance and then we just talk about them.

Chung: I’ve never used oDesk before. I’ll need to interview people once I’m on the oDesk website? It seemed pretty good. But the only thing is that in terms of getting them to do the work, what if I don’t like the work? What is your experience with dealing with…you said you have a gal who does the transcriptions from oDesk?

Rick: No that’s from Elance.

Chung: Oh that’s from Elance.

Rick: I guess I haven’t had a situation where I wasn’t happy with the work. So I haven’t really had to deal with that and I usually… you know, on Elance… the person I hired from Elance is a grandma who lives in the Midwest and so there’s no communication difficulty and she was a legal secretary for her entire professional career. And so the whole transcription thing is slam dunk for her. And the guy that I hired in Eastern Europe he’s way more skilled than I am.

Chung: He does your programming does he?

Rick: Well he’s doing the installation of Teambox.

Chung: Okay. So it seems like you’re getting a lot of the top quality guys who’d be better to work on…do you have a… it’s like did you have to work a lot on the job description or did you just kinda…

Rick: Well you know, took me a few hours.

Chung: Oh okay. So what are the few points that you kinda mentioned that… so maybe it’s my job description that is lacking.

Rick: Well, what were the key points? Let’s see.

Chung: Key points that you believe got you better outsourcers versus you know, crappy ones.

Rick: Alright.

Chung: Like you did you put a fee in there?

Rick: No. You know, I basically paid people what they asked for.

Chung: Okay.

Rick: So I didn’t ever end up with a question of having to negotiate. I just… I put the job out there, I got proposals back, I interviewed people. The people I liked I just agreed to pay them what they asked for.

Chung: So if you don’t mind me asking Rick, what would you be looking on in terms of hiring someone to do some transcription for us?

Rick: Here in the US, I’m paying $15/hour.

Chung: I see, okay.

Rick: So but she’s fast. You know, she did… it cost me a little under $500 to have the second half of the e-commerce site transcribe. So that was about 8 hours of video I guess.

Chung: Another thing is that… what is… what do you… because you said he’s a very good programmer?

Rick: Yes, correct.

Chung: What did you look for in terms of… what are some of the qualities that you look for in a top programmer like that and what did you expect to get that he be paid?

Rick: Well the two things I would have looked for there were good communication skills. You wan it to be easy to understand so you can tell them what you want them to do. It’s clear that they understand what you’re asking them to do and then I just looked at their… either their test scores in oDesk or their experience.

Chung: Okay.

Rick: And this guy in particular has you know, plenty of experience doing exactly what I want him to do so…

Chung: Okay. What was he asking for in terms of…

Rick: He asked for $200 to do the installation and I said, “That’s great.”

Chung: So did you hire anyone sort of full time or part time?

Rick: Actually I do have somebody working starting today, working full time.

Chung: From the Philippines?

Rick: Right.

Chung: Okay. What’s their task?

Rick: He is mostly managing the video content so he’ll be editing video content, you know getting it posted. He’s going to also help me put together a marketing program. I haven’t done any marketing on my site at all. So now that we are where we are, we’re going to start marketing and he’s going to help me with that.

Chung: Okay. Well, okay so that’s really interesting yeah. I’d like to find out your feedback and your experience in a couple of weeks as to how it’s going and what you found you know…

Rick: Sure.

Chung:  Yeah, that would be very cool because a lot of people would benefit from that. So…

Rick: Well you know, I’m expecting to have a…he’s probably going to hear this right, I mean I’m expecting to have a great time with Chris. Chris is a very bright young man who is personable and well-spoken and understands what we’re doing and I think it’s going to be just terrific. I’m really looking forward to you know, making this website successful with his help.

Chung: Excellent. Yeah, because I’m always looking for like I am looking for you know, designers and programmers. As for me, it’s always easier and most of the time better to work with someone where I will interview them than to just get someone random at a you know, oDesk or Elance or something. Alright so if it works for you and he has friends who might be interested in a position as a programmer or a designer then send them my name or email.

Rick: Okay, so Chris when you’re editing this video, look up Chung Tang and let him know if you have buddies who need a job.

Chung: Yes it’s just Okay.

Rick: Okay

2 Comments… add one

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2 comments… add one
  • Michael Johnson January 31, 2013, 10:22 am

    How has that installation of Teambox worked out? Can you do a review of the software and how you use it to manage your team and what are the benefits of having this loaded on your server? Can you go over the installation or how we could get the same thing done if we chose to? and is $200 still seem like a good cost to get it done?

    • Rick Anderson February 2, 2013, 7:52 am

      Ultimately we stopped using our own system and instead are using the standard hosted version of teambox. Primarily because the features in the hosted system are better. And it’s one less thing for me to manage, troubleshoot and upgrade. We use it for task assignment and for tracking the progress of a task. This is primarily true for video editing. I do the rough edit of the video (break it into segments & delete the worst of my mistakes) then assign the task to the video editor. When he is finished he assigns the task to the publisher. She writes a summary of the videos and it is reviewed by the editor. She marks up the summaries, writes meta information and picks taxonomy terms and then the publisher publishes the post with the videos. Once done the task is assigned to the transcriptionist. Once transcribed it is reassigned to the editor who check it for errors. Then it is reassigned to the publisher to publish and is finally assigned to the SEO who cleans up the text for SEO and creates internal links.

      Each video is worked on by at least 5 people (and sometimes 6) so we use teambox to help manage that process.