Outsourcing is a big part of that! And my recent conversation with Jason Dion of Dion Training was a great opportunity to focus in on the topic.
Take your time upfront and do it right. If you treat [contractors] well, they’ll treat you well.
I’m still mulling over what Jason and I discussed in today’s episode. While not everyone has the same outsourcing needs, there’s a lot to take away and a lot of great ideas to consider.
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (4:17) An update on Udemy, web sales, and more from Jason since our last podcast conversation
- (7:10) Jason’s freelancing
- (8:53) Comparing our different approaches when it comes to outsourcing tasks
- (12:08) Hiring freelancers on a need-basis vs. growth mindset with full-time hiring
- (15:23) How Jason has found his team and why he focused on hiring from the Philippines
- (18:21) His favorite book on where to start with outsourcing
- (20:07) Jason’s take on pay rates, benefits, and bonuses for freelancers
- (25:13) How he handles the financial side of hiring in the Philippines
- (29:11) The legal ins and outs of hiring contractors vs. employees
- (32:26) How Jason and his team communicate
- (35:40) Roles and responsibilities within Jason’s team
- (37:00) The tool Jason couldn’t live without
- (38:38) His top tip for vetting freelance applications
- (40:28) Jason’s final piece of advice for course creators interested in outsourcing
I really enjoyed today’s episode, so thanks for listening in! If you felt inspired by what you heard, please do me a favor and take a second to leave a review of my podcast over on iTunes. I’d really appreciate it!
Jacques Hopkins: Regular people are taking their knowledge and content, packaging it up in an online course and they're making a living doing, but not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way, and I'm here to help course creators actually succeed with online courses. Hi, I'm John Hopkins, and this is the online course show.
Hello everyone, and welcome to the online course show. This is the show where we talk all things online courses, and if you're new, welcome. If you've been around, welcome back. I am your host of this show, Jack Hopkins, and I absolutely love online courses. See, I was an engineer for about eight years, all the while trying to create my own business so that I could escape.
Escape that career that I've had going as an engineer. And it wasn't until I created an online piano course that I finally found success. In fact, my piano course has recently crossed over the seven figure Mark in sales all time. And now I spend most of my time helping others with online courses, including channels like this podcast.
So I'm looking forward to geeking out with you on online courses. Together in this episode, and I do have a guest coming on on today's episode, and it's someone who has been on before. Jason Dionne was first on back in episode 79 of the podcast where the conversation focused on transitioning from a huge YouTube me presence to hosting most of his courses on his own site.
So you can definitely go back to episode 79 set the stage for this one, but today in this episode, Jason catches up. He's been continuing to crush it with his courses. And one area that he's really been dialed in with lately is finding amazing fulltime help in the Philippines. And this is a very, very interesting topic.
And like I said, he's got this whole thing dialed in and he's going to walk us through exactly how we set everything up. He's got five employees full time in the Philippines doing amazing work for them. One of them even does content creation, like literally writes out scripts for courses for him. I actually jumped into outsourcing a similar way years ago when I was still working my job.
I was just getting started and I needed a little bit of help because I didn't have a lot of time myself and outsourcing full time to the Philippines was popular five years ago. Something like that. And so I use one of the services at the time that found me three people to interview, and I interviewed them and I hired somebody and I got this wonderful virtual assistant named juvie.
You ended up working for me for like three or four years, and she was the only person that was working for me for a while. It was interesting because she actually ended up marrying somebody in England. She moved over to England, they had twins, and. She kept saying she was going to come back to work, come back to work, and she's like, jock, I can't do it.
I can't do it with the twins. And so she no longer works for me, but I still follow her on Instagram. We're still friends and it was a really great experience working with her, but I haven't really had anybody working for me 40 hours a week since I was working with juvie. And at this point I really just have my contractors spread around.
I've got somebody working on SEO for me. I have somebody working on Google ads and being ads in Facebook and Instagram. And I have a writer and I have customer support and I have somebody that edits this podcast and the show notes and graphic designer and video editor, and she's all these people that are amazing, but nobody's full time.
Nobody's dedicated to me and my business, and that's definitely one of the things we talked about in this episode. One of the things I talked about with Jason was the pros and cons to having kind of part time talent versus somebody full time. Why we go to the Philippines, what the advantages are there.
And like I've said. Jason just has this whole thing dialed in from finding the right people to actually how to work with them on a day to day basis. So this is a huge value episode for somebody that could use a little help. So sit back, relax, and let's get on to the full conversation with Jason . Hey
Jason, welcome back to the online course show.
Jason Dion: Oh, thank you for having me.
Jacques Hopkins: So you were on last, on episode 79. So for those that listen to that episode, why don't you catch us up on what's been going on in your business since then? Yes. So, we talked back in episode 79 trying to get some advice on where to go from here. And we talked about trying to set up funnels and do marketing and things of that nature.
And honestly, I never got around to doing it. Unfortunately, we've been able to, continue to grow without doing that so far. Doing really well and we have continually grown our business and we're doing that mostly with natural marketing as opposed to doing any kind of ads or anything of that nature.
Jason Dion: Yeah. When we last talked, you were kind of just making that transition from really focusing on you, to me to moving everything off onto your own domain. So it sounds like you've been able to continue to do that and things are going really well for you over at, I want to say Deon, training.com.
Yeah, so everything's been going great there. It used to be that we had a 90% of our revenue was coming from you. To me, we've gotten that down to about 40 to 50% of our revenue, even at the same time as you, to me, has grown in dollars is become a smaller percentage of our overall business picture because we've increased our sales on our own site on training.
Jacques Hopkins: Are you removing anything off of you to me or you just kind of letting that do its thing and really just focusing on your own domain?
Jason Dion: No, actually we are continuing to add new stuff to you and me all the time because it's still a great marketplace for us, in a very high volume market place. And one of the things that's worked well for us is when people go to uni and they buy the course there, they go through our course and eventually they need additional things that we can't sell.
Things like test vouchers or access to hands on labs. And so they know. They can go from you to me, to our site and get those additional things. So that's kind of become, I guess, if you will think about a marketing funnel that is our advertisement, but it's, we're getting paid to advertise there as opposed to us having to pay somebody to advertise. So that's why that funnel for us has been working well.
Jacques Hopkins: So, but that's not against you, Tommy's terms of service in any way, is to promote your own stuff in your own domain. Somewhere along the way with your course there.
Jason Dion: So you can't promote it inside the course itself. But the last video of the course, you're allowed to have what they call the bonus video. And in that bonus video, that's where you can sell whatever you want. So for instance, if you had a short piano course there, the last bit you could say, Hey, I know this was a five day corn, peanut and five days course, but if you want the 21 day course, come over to piano in 21 days.com and you can get it there, right?
So you can do that selling in the end, but you can't do it along the way. Also, the other thing that we do is as we bring students into the courses, we tell them that they can join our Facebook group and we tell them they can come and get more information. At Deon trainer comer, we have articles that are helpful and not paid for.
So content marketing, and that's within you dummies guidelines and rules. So once they're in our Facebook group, they then get to know us and they start seeing my other students talk about, Oh, I bought this thing over at Deon training. And so a lot of them will then go over Deon training. So I'm not marking the students directly, but they do eventually get marketed to by other students.
Jacques Hopkins: Very, very interesting. All right, cool. We'll look the main topic that I wanted to go over with you today. Not, not, I wasn't looking to bring you back on just to get a general update. I want to, I want to focus on something that I think you could provide a lot of value to the audience on. I think the topic that we nailed down, it revolves around outsourcing.
I know you've had a lot of success with outsourcing, so wanted to start off the discussion. Let us know how you've got your business set up when it comes to outside help. Yeah.
Jason Dion: So I think there's always a point in, of course, creators career where you're going to get to a point where you can't do everything yourself. And most of us who create things, we like to create everything ourself and have that control. But you're only gonna be able to go so far being by yourself. Right? So the first thing I outsourced was I started, I actually insourced the first thing, and that was my wife was a stay at home mom. And so I taught her how to do video editing because that was one of the things that took a lot of my time.
And so by teaching her how to do the video editing part, that free up time for me to go make more horses, since that was my first hire or outsource, if you want to call it that, after that, once I started filling up her time and my time, we need outsource again. So we did, we started, I think you do a lot of this where you contract out individual tasks.
So I want somebody to write me some questions. I want somebody to design a website. I want somebody to make a graphic. I want somebody to do the close captioning for my courses. We use rev.com for that service, and those are very one-off individual tasks that anyone can do. As long as you have clear direction and guidance on what you're looking for, you can get a good product.
But then beyond that, we actually started outsourcing to overseas. Now we have five people who work for us in the Philippines that work for us full time. And I think that's what we going to talk about a little bit is, you know, why did I go that route as opposed to just individually outsourcing each task.
Because I think right now you're outsourcing. Individual parts of your business, but you don't have somebody who's full time working for you right.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Let me explain how my business is set up. Cause I know we're both having success, but we're doing it in completely different ways. So I'm doing it kinda like what you were saying, but I've got two different types of people.
I've got people that consistently work for me. Nobody's full time, right? But I have people that consistently do things for me at least on a weekly basis. And then I also have. Like one off tasks where people, I kind of have people that I've vetted that are available when I need that task done. So like something that would fall into that category is, is some sort of graphic design.
That's not something I need done very often, but when I do need it done once a month, once every three months, I have a guy that I've vetted. Who is always available that I found through Upwork and can do it. But most of the people that work for me are more consistent than that. So I have a writer who works for me every day, and then she does some customer support.
She does the show notes for this podcast. She does a lot of things like that. I've got, you know, a team that does Google ads and being ads, Facebook type stuff. I hired an intern over the summer to help me manage Instagram. I have an SEO guy, but none of those people are full time employees. The only person I have in the Philippines is my audio editor who does this podcast, but you know, he, he works hour, maybe two hours a week for me, not 40 so it's, it's going well, but I'm very curious to hear about your full basically full time people that you, your five full time people that you have going working for you in the Philippines.
Jason Dion: Yeah. So, you know, when we started out, we started doing things just like you're doing where we would outsource the individual tasks like that. And for instance, my graphic guy, I still don't have a full time graphics person, but I have the same person that has done work for me before. And anytime I need a new logo or new design, I call him up.
He sends me a new graphic and we're good. And that's a one off task. But when I started thinking about how I wanted to start building our company for the longterm, I wanted to get more consistency. And I think you're getting some of that consistency with the person you have who's entering your emails and doing that kind of stuff.
But when I went to look for that, I decided to actually hire somebody full time, and that was our first hire, was a virtual assistant. Her job was to go through all my courses. She learned the material. She was doing quality checks to make sure we had everything spelled correctly. She would do minor writing tasks.
She did customer support, she answered student reviews. All of those kinds of tasks were the first things I offloaded to her. And generally the way that my process worked was I took things and I offer them to my wife with my wife, learn how to do them. She would then turn around and offer those to our assistant, the Philippines, because I figured if I could teach my wife how to do it.
Cause she's not a technical person. I teach cybersecurity courses. She's not a, if she could learn whatever it was I was trying to teach, then I figured that the other person could as well. And when it comes down to figuring out whether you wanted to hire for per task or for 40 hours, the reason I did the way I did was I wanted somebody who was dedicated to me and my company.
I have a lot of friends who have outsource pieces or they do a 20 hour week VA. and what I've noticed with them is they don't have as much success because that VA now has to piece together, work across bosses to make up their 40 hours or their salary. So you kind of have a divided attention. When I looked at the Philippines, for instance, the labor rates are much lower there than it is here in the United States.
And so what I would pay, you know, somebody over there might be what I would pay somebody for 20 hours here in the States. And so for me, it was, we were making enough money in a company that was an expense we were willing to eat, to be able to have that person dedicated to us full time. So that's kind of the reason we went through that.
And there's a lot of different reasons to do it or not to do it, but that's one of the reasons why we chose to do it was I wanted somebody who was focused on my business and not trying to balance me with three other employers.
Jacques Hopkins: It does make a lot of sense that I do have, some of my contractors are very loyal to me and my business, but others, like you said, they're spread thin. Right. And I can give you the example of my video editor. He's incredibly talented. He's in Romania. I found him on Upwork. Sometimes he's got a lot of other stuff going on because the work I have for him is not necessarily consistent. And so if I just send them over, Hey, Hey, I've got this file is ready for you to work on.
He's like, Oh, well I can't get them to them for like a week and a half. Whereas if I had my own, you know, not my own, but like somebody that was working just for me, then I know they could immediately jump on it. So that begs the question then, what if you don't necessarily have enough work? What if you don't have 40 hours a work per week for somebody.
Jason Dion: That's a great question. And one of the things I learned early on and I accepted is that I don't pay for hours. I pay for your time, right? So my people are hired on it. This is how much per month you're going to make. If you get all your work done in 20 hours, that's fine. If it takes you 50 hours, that's okay too.
And for us, it ebbs and flows. So I treat them the way I would any other member of my team as a salaried employee, I work the same way. There are some weeks that I'm trying to get a course out. And I might work 60 hours this week, but then next week I'm going to work 10 hours. Right? And so we do the same kind of thing with our folks.
If they work a lot this week, they take off time next week, and I don't track hours. To me, it's more important that they're bought into the vision of the company and the way that we've worked with them. They are employees of the company in their minds. Now, according to the IRS, they're contractors because that's the way the law works.
But we treat them just as we would any other employee, you know? and it's worked out really well for us because we value them as part of the team. And the other thing I find is that it gives you the ability to help them. Move up in the company and move up in their abilities. So when you're hiring a contractor, for instance, let's say I'm hiring a VA and I want them to answer student support emails, right?
That might take them, I don't know, two hours a day to answer emails. I'm going to be less likely to want to teach them and make them grow into other positions. Because I'm not want hiring for that one thing. Now with my VA that we first started, she started with us about a year ago. She went from being the review person, the answering emails person.
Now she's actually taken on the role of being a video editor and we've upscaled her over the year and because she had a lot of capability and we kept giving train her more and more, and we've built her up with us. If she was a contractor, we wouldn't have done that because then we would have lost her when she went to go be a video editor or somewhere else.
So it's one of the things that those people can grow in your company. And again, as they take on additional roles, you should compensate them for that. And we do that, we give them raises and we take care of them that way as well. So I think it's just more of a focus. don't have those people, you know, people become part of a company and they are more bought into it, then a contractor would be.
And I think it does go back to what you said with, you know, a lot of times they are either piecing together jobs from a bunch of places because they're. Individual contracts or you're not their priority, right? So you're your video editor, Hey, I'll get to that in two weeks when I can. Right? And you might need it by this weekend and that's not going to be good for you.
So I think those are the kinds of things you have to weigh as you're going through there as far as what do you do if you don't have enough work for them, that means they get a break, right? Or you find something else that they can do. I know for me, before I hired my first person, I had about six months worth of backlog of stuff I've been wanting to get to.
And I never got to. And so I just made this big list and I said, okay, here's what I want you to start with. And as you got through that, start going through this other backlog list, and you know, my VA Sarah was able to clear that list in about three months. It would have taken me six. So she worked out really well for us.
Jacques Hopkins: All right. So you're obviously very satisfied with your team. How do you find these people? What service do you go through to find these people? That's a great question. So originally when I was doing one off contracts, I use sites like freelancer and Upwork, and if you need a web designer, a graphic designer, a content writer, to do one job for you.
That's a great place to go if you're looking for a longterm VA. I don't like those sites because the people who are on Upwork and freelancer tend to be very entrepreneurial minded, which is great, but they're trying to run their own little company of one. And so as a VA that you hire on there for X dollars per hour, they're trying to get as much work done as they can, as quickly as they can from as many people as they can.
And so what I've noticed is the quality there tends to go down because they're trying to produce more. Cause if they can show up 80 hours of work into a 40 hour week, they make twice the money. So I don't like them for that. Where we ended up finding our folks is we ended up deciding early on that we wanted to hire from the Philippines.
We chose that for a couple of different reasons. One, I had been there before and I understood the culture to the wage in the Philippines versus the U S was very beneficial to us as a U S employer, and we could pay a higher than normal Philippine rate, so our employees would be taken care of, which is still, you know, much less than what an American would cost.
So it works out well for us. It works out well for them. Three, the Philippines has exceptional English language skills. They used to be, you know, very heavily influenced by the U S military for, you know, decades and decades. So most of the people there speak, read, and write English extremely well. When I talk to my VAs, most of them sound like I'm talking to you, not a thick accent, exceptional language skills.
And so that was the reason we decided to go for the Philippines as far as where we find them, there's a lot of places you can go. There's a, there's a website called Phil VA, F I. L. D. a. If you search Filipino VA, there's a lot of websites out there where I found all of my folks. There's actually a Facebook group.
There's a Facebook group called Phil van, which is the Filipino VA network, F. I,L , V, a. N. and I posted a lengthy job description of exactly what I was looking for, what our salary range was, what benefits there were, all that type of stuff, and we took applications and we had 50 people apply for our first position.
Out of those, we narrowed it down to 20 who were considered, and out of those five of them got interviews. And out of those five we were intending to hire one, but we fell in love with two of them. So we hired two, two of them right off the bat, and that was our first few hires.
Jason Dion: Awesome. And those first two hires, those are both still working for you? Yes. They both been with us for about a year. Our first two hires was last September, so 12 months ago, one of them was hired as the VA. The other one, his background was programming and website design. And because we're a tech company, he was interested in doing it. And when I look at his background and his education experience, I felt the VA position was below him.
But I had a need for a web guy and a guy to build labs for me. And it was a position I was planning on hiring a couple months later, and I liked him, so I ended up hiring him on for that position. So I actually created a position a couple months early to hire him, and both of them were still with us today. Since that time, we've added three more since then as well.
Jacques Hopkins: And the three more that you've added, you've gone about it the exact same process. This Facebook group posted a job description and weed it down from there.
Jason Dion: Yeah, and one of the things I would tell you, if anyone is thinking about doing this process to hire people, you need to buy this book. It's not my book, it's Chris Ducker, virtual freedom. Sorry, part of it, but this is the blueprint that we use step-by-step. We took his method of how to post the job, what to put in the job description, how to put our benefits plans together. All of that stuff was directly from this, you know, $10 book, and if you're a podcast listener, which obviously you are, if you're listening to this, he does have a 26 episode podcast.
It's basically this entire book for free. So highly, highly recommended before you hire your first person to do that. He'll help you figure out which country you want to hire from, how you want to hire those people, how you want to pay those people, how you build a compensation plans, what kind of tasks are good for VA's to take over versus what stuff you should be doing yourself. All that stuff is right there in the book.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I remember reading that book several years ago, Jason, and it's obviously a very good book. We'll link to it in the show notes of this episode. I'm curious about the podcast you mentioned cause that's a, that that might be something I want to check out as a refresher and maybe I'll check out the book as well cause I'm definitely fascinated by what you're saying, but I certainly have plenty of followup questions about the way you're doing things because you seem so you just like giddy about this.
I mean it's, it sounds like you've had a lot of success with it because finding the right people is so important. I mean, I've, I've definitely had bad hires. My first. You know, foray into outsourcing was because reading that book, you know, hiring a full time person in the Philippines many, many years ago, and I was just getting started with this stuff and she was, she was good, she was very good, but she was just kind of a general VA.
I didn't have anybody else working for me. And eventually she married a guy from England, moved over there, had twins. She's like, Jack, I can't keep doing this. I can't work for you anymore. And I never really went back to finding that full time help and more had been piecemealing it together. So you're, you're inspiring me to maybe get back into that, but to ask some of those followup questions. Do you mind giving like a range of pay that you're paying and what benefits are you giving to these people?
Jason Dion: Yeah. So that's a great question. So as far as pay, generally what I'll see in the Filipino VA group is people are, are offering somewhere between three to $5 per hour is generally what a VA makes. Which again, the United States is below minimum wage, right? But if you're paying in the higher side of that band. In fact, we, we pay at the top or above that band. The people you're hiring have a much better quality of life. They're getting a lot more money, and even if you're paying what minimum wage in the U S is over there, that's a highway.
And so it isn't. We've got to figure out what is the going market. The idea is not to screw the people, right? But you also want to make sure that you're paying them a reasonable wage for the work they're doing. And you want to make sure you have room to be able to give them increases over time. Right? So for my first person, they started adding lower wage with the promise that in three months, if this works out, that was kind of the trial period.
I was going to raise it up to their full wage. So we had already negotiated what your full wage will be and what it is during training. And the reason for that was I knew that for the first three months it was going to take time for somebody to learn my processes or my skills, and you weren't going to get your 100% output of that person.
So we had basically negotiated that, Hey, for the first three months are going to work for 75% and then you automatically have a race to this newer, higher level. That person, like I said, Sarah, she only lasted about three weeks at that lower wage and she was already full speed ahead. So I said there was no reason to make her wait for three months.
And so I gave her the raised rail at the beginning. And the same thing with my other folks. They've always been pretty good about. Hit the ground running. If you hit the ground running, we'll raise you up sooner. I tend to reevaluate people's wages every at least six months to make sure that we're being competitive with whatever the market is.
My goal is always to pay above what the market is, because that allows me to choose the best people. If you're trying to get people at two and $3 an hour, you're going to get two and $3 an hour labor. If you're paying five and six and $7 an hour, you're going to get, you know, five and six and $7 an hour labor, which over the Philippines is, you know, top 10 top 20% of income earners over there.
So it's you get what you pay for, right. All the folks I have, they all have bachelor's degrees or above. Half of my team have master's degrees. Half of them have bachelor's degrees. They're phenomenal. They do awesome work. I have one who's a general VA. I have one who does content writing for me. Literally, we worked together on the outline of what a course will be.
He goes and writes all scripts for me, and then I go back and that's the night. That solution of what will end up in my course. And he has a master's degree and he's, you know, fully technically qualified to do that kind of stuff. And as far as benefits go, once somebody's been with me for six months, we do give them coverage for them and their family for health care in the Philippines, it's not that expensive.
So for a family of four is somewhere between a thousand and $1,500 a year to give them full American style healthcare. So that is one of the things that we do cover for them, and that goes a long way with the employees as well as their families being taken care of. And the way we always look at it is if you're taking care of us, we're going to take care of you.
The other thing we do in the Philippines is there's a thing called 13 months, which is basically in Christmas you give them an extra month of pay as their Christmas gift, and we do that for our folks as well. We do send, you know, presence and things like that throughout the year as well for, you know, birthdays and anniversaries and just things to make them feel like they're a part of the team because they're part of the team. so that, that's one of some of the things that we do.
Jacques Hopkins: It sounds like I need to have one of your VA's on the podcast and get their side of things and see, cause it sounds like it's pretty awesome gig. So that for the healthcare thing, do you just give them that money or do you actually have to go through some sort of health care service?
Jason Dion: Yeah. So the way we did it with them, because all my folks are in the Philippines within about a four hour radius of Manila, summer, North, summer, South, and so in different areas, there's different healthcare companies that were better, right? So if you're in Louisiana, maybe blue cross blue shield is more prevalent than Kaiser Permanente.
So what I did was I said, Hey, go out and get me a quote. I don't care which one you get. You choose which one is best for you and your family based on what's there. Give me the quote. Once you show me that the invoice is a, it's going to be $1,200 for my family of four I, why are you the $1,200 you pay the company and you've got your health, and that's the way we've handled it. That way I don't have to deal with it. I don't have to run around and deal with all the hassle and they're getting the plan they want.
Jacques Hopkins: Did you learn that from Chris Ducker? Is that something you came up with on your own?
Jason Dion: So he recommended that? Yeah, so if you have a lot of people in the same area, you can negotiate like a group plan or something like that, but it was just easier because they're all kind of spread out to let them choose their own.
Jacques Hopkins: Cool. And then you mentioned the 13th month pay. I remember that from back when I had my Filipino VA. I know she appreciated that very, very much. That first, first December of working together, she'd only worked for me for a few months, so she didn't know she was gonna get it or not. And when I gave it to her, she was so happy. She was like, all my friends were getting in. I didn't, I told them I didn't think I was getting it. And so I think that's a really big deal over there.
Jason Dion: We had the exact same thing because with 13th month, if you're a Filipino company, you're required to get it. But because we're an American company, you're not required to get it. And we hired our folks in the middle of September, so they'd only worked for us, you know, after September, October, November, and by December 1st we gave them 13th month. And they were very surprised and very appreciative. And again, one of the things that. They keep working for us. They keep doing good work for us.
So we want to keep giving good stuff to them because you know, if you treat your employees badly, they're going to treat your customers badly. And my VA's are the ones who talked to my students before. I do. Most of the times somebody has a customer service issue or they've got a question or they need a refund. The people that are gonna be dealing with is my VA's usually first. And so I want them to be treating my customers well and I want to treat them.
Jacques Hopkins: Now what service are you using to actually pay.
Jason Dion: That is a great question. So this is something you really do have to think about of what's the best way to pay your VA. Originally we started out using PayPal. PayPal does have pretty high fees for folks, especially in the Philippines. So it didn't work out as well for us. It was easy cause we had a PayPal account. We just wire the money over. But I had one VA that because there were brand new VA, it took three weeks for PayPal to release the money to them.
And that's not good. So we didn't like that. We looked at Payoneer, which if you're a really big company, you have a lot of VA's, you can tie up with them. Because we only had two employees. They wouldn't take our business. And they sent our money back, which was really strange. And then Sarah, my VA did some research and she found a company called remit, which is an app you do on your phone.
And it basically would take the money out of my account in dollars and sends it to them and in Filipino pesos. It has, they have two modes. One is the the free mode, which doesn't cost you anything. And that sends it in, I think it's four or five days. So, and it takes it from your checking account and puts it in their checking account.
They also have an express mode where literally it's $4 for whatever you transfer. And when I hit a button, it's in their account in about 30 seconds is fantastic. Cause there's been times when like, Oh, I forgot to run payroll a couple of days ago, so I'll be at the weekend theater, pull out my phone and wire the money over immediately to them.
The other thing as far as pay is make sure you always pay your people on time or before. Don't be late with money because especially in the Philippines, a lot of people do live paycheck to paycheck. And so if you're late with the money, they may not be able to have money for rent. So you got to make sure your pay.
So we always make sure we pay at least two days before payday for us as the first and the 15th and we always make sure we pay at least two days before. So the money is in their account ready to go before the first or the 15th.
Jacques Hopkins: Love it. Love it. And how do you handle raises? Like how often and how do you assess that.
Jason Dion: Yeah. So, you know, I have a friend who used to say, your raise is effective when you are. and, and I follow that very heavily. You know, I haven't had this problem yet, but all of my folks have been exceptional. I've had one bad hire who lasted with us about three weeks and it just wasn't working out and we ended up getting rid of them.
And that person was actually my fault, not their fault. We can talk about that in a second. Cause when we talked about hiring, but yeah, as far as raises, at least every six months, I look at my folks to make sure they're getting. Either, you know, there are benefits or their raise or something of that nature, and making sure that we're continuing to increase them and valuing them.
Because when I look at it as the longer you're with me, the more valuable you are to. Right. So for instance, my content writer, Matt, does an awesome job. He's been with me for about three months now, now that he's been with me for three months. Three or four months. He's gotten used to the way I write. And so his stuff sounds a lot more like what I do.
If I had to start it with another person, that's another three or four months, I've got to work up again. So sure, he's worth an increase in rate, you know, that he's been with me for three months or six months so that he'll not want to go somewhere else. And how do I stay with them? Right. And so I think that's kind of stuff that's important to you.
And again, it goes back to treat others how you want to be treated. Here in the States, it's pretty common to have a yearly review of raises. I tend to look at it every six months for evaluation. And so far everybody's got raised about every six months.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. And just to make sure I'm doing some math over here correctly, because you mentioned that you're paying these people basically a monthly salary, right? You don't really think of it as an hourly rate necessarily, but when I was asking you for a pay bracket, you gave me the three to $5 Mark. So for, let's just say you're paying somebody roughly $5 an hour, five times 40 hours in a week is 200 and then if I multiply that by four, that's 800 so we're talking about it on average about $800 a month here.
Jason Dion: Yeah. Most folks make, if you do that, three to $5 that would be somewhere in the, you know, 500 to $800 a month. My folks, like I said, are above that range. Okay. My lowest paid employee right now is 800 and she's only been with me for about four.
Jacques Hopkins: So like an 800 to $1,200 a month salary. Is that a pretty good salary in the Philippines?
Jason Dion: Yeah. So if you look up the Bureau of labor and statistics down there, if you are in the $800 or more, you're in about the top 15% of income earners in the country. So it's kind of like saying, Hey, you're a, you're a teacher or you're a marketing professional. Here in the States, we're making 50 or 75,000 a year, and that's kind of that same wage range, middle class at that point.
Jacques Hopkins: So Jason, my next question is how do we set this up like properly with the government and the IRS and all that? If we want to make sure we're doing this the right way.
Jason Dion: Yeah. So the first thing you should do is you need to figure out what tasks you're going to be giving that person. And the IRS is very specific on what does a contractor and what is an employee.
You want them to be a contractor, not an employee. If you can, because that's going to save you a lot of money because there are not us citizens and they're working for a us company. You don't have to collect taxes on them. You don't have to withhold on them. There's a form you have to fill out called the w, a, B, E, N as in like Benjamin, B, E, N, and it's simply a one page form.
They put in their name, their address, their country, what their citizenship is, and their passport number. You hold that in your file and say, if you ever get audited by the IRS, you say, yes, I paid my contractor and here's their w eight B. E. N. that's the get out of jail. I don't have to collect taxes on them form.
And again, this is an American form. Now every country you hire from is going to have different rules as far as taxes and regulations and that stuff. The nice thing about the Philippines is they have been doing outsourcing for a very, very long time and most of it to American companies. So their laws are very well set up for us to outsource to them.
It is the responsibility of your VA that you hire to pay their taxes on their side. So from us as the American who's hiring them, our job is to make sure we pay them what we told them they're going to pay them. They then go back to their government and say, Hey, I made 800 a month, or whatever it was, and they pay their taxes on it on their side, and there's a form they have to fill out as an independent contractor in the Philippines that they handle between them and their government.
Basically it's a register, say I'm a business of one, and they go through that process. Most Filipino VA's will know how to do that if they don't have them, just Google it. There's a lot of Filipino VA sites out there to help people figure that out and get to that process. My first VA knew how to do it and so I made sure everybody else talked to her and made sure that they were done right.
Jacques Hopkins: But if they're only working for us and they're working 40 hours a week, how the the government isn't, the U S government is not going to come to us and say, this person is an employee and you need to treat them as such.
Jason Dion: Yeah. So if you Google the IRS regulations for a contractor, there are certain things that will make them an employee and certain things that won't. The way I run my business, I'm very much that they are contractors and not employees. One of them is I don't control their working hours. I don't care when you work or where you are.
I care that the work is done. So for instance, for my folks as my customer service team. Their job is to answer the emails within 24 hours. Now, if I said you have to be in your seat between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM and you need to answer the phone call this way and you have to answer the email this way, that becomes an employee arrangement.
And so that's what I said. You definitely want to pull up the list of what, there's basically a checklist that says, does your employee do this? Yes, they're an employee. No, they're a contractor and you've got this little flowchart that the IRS has. It's about 10 different things they consider if you ever get audited, they're going to go through that list and say, okay, you provided them the computer, you provide them the place to work.
You told them they had to be there from nine to five. You said they had to do it this way, and he goes through this checklist. It's like, okay, these people are an employee, not a contractor. This goes back to, you know, we talked about the medical coverage before. I don't provide them medical coverage. I provide them a bonus of money that they can buy medical coverage.
Because again, as a contractor, I can't buy you medical coverage, but you can tell me how much it costs and I can give you a bonus. And so that's what I do of it.
Jacques Hopkins: Let's talk about tools next. I'm bought in like legit bought in. I love this. I love the way that you're operating things, but the next thing on my mind is, okay.
How do we communicate with people with them? How do they communicate with each other if necessary, and how are, let's say that you've got a repeatable process that you follow. Let's say that there's weekly thing, whether it's like a video or a blog post and three or four different people have different assignments on that. What tools are you using to get things like that done.
Jason Dion: Yeah. There's a lot of great tools out there for us. The primary thing that we use is the Google G suite. Right? It's like $10 per month per employee. So I've got my fine employee, not employee, not employee contractor. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Per email addresses how they do it.
Right. So I have, you know. Sarah at Deon training, Jason had Deon training, right? And so each one of those accounts you make, they charge you for that. That gives you access to the sheets program, the docs program, the PowerPoint type program. So you have the whole office suite and a shared drive with unlimited storage space.
In my world, that's really important because I do video and that's a lot of files that are huge. So for us, the element of storage space is why we choseG suite. It allows us to have a common shared drive and in that shared driver for working on, of course, I have the folders outlayed. We have a common Google sheet that lists out the course and we have different columns of what people's tasks are.
So as I film it, I write filmed and then my editor goes edited, and then the publisher and says, reviewed, or here's the issues, and then it goes back to them and then we email around that way. The other thing we do to keep everybody safe is we do a Google hangout once a week. We do it Sunday night for me, which is Monday morning for them, and that's kind of our weekly kickoff.
It's a really quick 15 minute meeting. We basically all get together and so we can say, okay, this week, here's my priorities, here's what I need done, and you know, we're working on X, Y, Z course, and we need to get this, this, and this done. And we task out and they give me reports back. The other thing you do is when you first start out with your folks, they should have an end of the day email to give you updates on what they've been working on as they've been with you for longer.
You can extend that out and you might say, Hey, I only need it once a week. Sarah, for instance, she's been with me for a year. She can kind of read my mind at this point and I don't need to micromanage her. So at the end of the week, she'll just give me a list of what I need to know. My newer folks, they still send me a daily update of where they are.
Another tool that's great is things like Asana, base camp or Trello. We personally use Trello, and that's a project management tool, so we can actually have columns of what needs to get done. What does basically the backlog of tasks that I need done, what we're focusing on this week, what I need to review, and then what's been done.
And I do that a lot with my web guy. So here's a hundred features I want my website to have and he'll pull out three or four that he's going to work on this week, get those done and then tell me it's in the review for me to look at Skype works really well. It's completely free to use. You can do face to face video chat screen shares.
They can text me anytime they need. So that kind of stuff works well. And so we keep it fairly simple with that. And then Remitly for payment is one of the ones that we use a lot as well. So those are kind of the big ones. Oh, the other tool that we use, which isn't necessarily as much as for the VA's, but just a great one for people who are into social media, is a program called meet Edgar.
And we use that to schedule all of our recurring posts because we post daily questions for our students. And originally my VA would actually go in each day and post that, and we bought that tool, she loaded it up, and now it doesn't automatically priests her up to do higher level tasks.
Jacques Hopkins: You know you're tech guy. And so I was expecting all this advanced stuff, but I mean, you're keeping it pretty simple. You know, Google suite, email for communication, like I love it. Like it's, I don't feel like I'm that far off from being able to implement something like you've got. So this has just been fantastic wealth of information here. One last question I have for you is, what are the titles of these contractors that you have working for you right now?
Jason Dion: Yeah. So the basic one is a virtual assistant that is, if you think about traditional secretary from the sixties seventies or eighties back in the day, right? They would answer your phones. They would check your email, they would type up documents. They would do research for you. If you were an executive and they'd bring that back to you so you can then take that and do whatever you needed to with it. That's kind of your, your everything generic person. The second person I have is a web designer, and that's because I have my own site and we built our entire LMS.
We had to get all of the integration done and make sure it's working and I can do it. So I'm a tech guy, but again, it's one of the things of what should I be doing versus what should I outsource because only I can be the guy on screen making the course. A lot of other people can do anything that's beyond the scenes.
Right. And so that's why the reasons why I hired him and had him take that stuff on for content writers and other one that people do now, the people who are writing your email campaigns, blog posts, social media posts. In my case, I even have them go as far as researching and writing courses. We just did a brand new Linux course that's coming out a couple of weeks.
And 99% of it was written by my content writer down in the Philippines. I reviewed it and then we filmed it. And then other one that we have as a video editor and because we do everything in video, we needed more editors beyond my wife. So that's why I turned one of my VA's into a video editor. We trained her up and taught her what we needed.
Oh that brings up a great tool. Sorry, the one tool that I couldn't live without right now, cause there's a program out there called shadow.tech. It was originally designed to be a gaming PC in the cloud. So you basically be able to go into. Any computer or tablet and be able to access this really powerful computer and be able to play games on it.
We turn that into a video editing machine and it's about 25 bucks a month and somebody VA from the Philippines logs into this computer in New York and she does all the video editing from there and that way it has all the files or are ready to go at any time and it's got a gigabit data connection, speed and all that kind of stuff.
So it's phenomenal. Higher than I made. That was bad was I hired a video editor a couple of months ago, probably about six months ago. I rushed into hiring because I want somebody quickly. I didn't go through my normal process. I hired the person and trying to send gigabytes of files to the Philippines to get edited, just was too much of a slowdown.
I would upload, you know, two gigabytes worth of files that I recorded on a Sunday afternoon, which is eight hours of video, and it would take her three days to download it before she can start editing it. And so it just wasn't working out. It was a bad hire. Once I moved to shadow tech works great because I uploaded to this high speed server in New York and all she needs to do is stream the video as she's editing it.
Jacques Hopkins: So no, that's a phenomenal tool. I love that. Even if it's somewhere else besides the Philippines, you know, any anywhere outside the U S I mean, or even in the U S like if you can directly put the files on a computer and then they just access that computer. That sounds like the best way to go about editing, you know, really high quality video.
Jason Dion: Yeah. And I have a buddy who, he had a video editor he worked with for a long time and they just moved to upstate New Hampshire and they have a very salinity connection and he's worried he's gonna have to fire the editor because the editor couldn't get the files anymore. And so he bought a shadow tech DC for that person, and now that person's able to do his job and still work from remotely.
So it works out great. Yeah. And one thing I would say when you go to look for hiring somebody, put out a very thorough job description of what you're looking for, and then put something in there that will make them have to verify they've read it. And what I mean by that is the first one that I did, we said, I want to see a 62nd video of you telling me what your favorite movie is and why.
Now that has absolutely nothing to do with the job right. But it does two things for me. One, it tells me, you actually read my job description thoroughly and you know that you've read it because you did this weird thing I asked you. And two, I can now judge whether or not you can think and speak in English effectively because I got somewhere I couldn't understand what the person was saying.
And I'm like, do I really want to work with this person for years on end when I'm going to have trouble communicating? And so that helped me narrow down my field into the five people actually gave five interviews too. And then we chose from there and each time I posted a job description, I changed that to something different. So that they can't recycle an application for 17 other VA positions. I want to make sure they read mine and they're applying to mine.
Jacques Hopkins: I love that. I normally will put in mind whether it's even if it's just a simple Upwork post to tell me in your application, just tell me your favorite color. But what you're suggesting takes it a step further because not only are you seeing if they've read the whole scope and can follow instructions, but you're also seeing, okay, can they put up a simple video together?
How do they present themselves and how well do they speak? So it covers a lot of bases. I think that's really important, especially when we're talking about outsourcing and outside of the United States.
Jason Dion: Yeah. And to be clear, I wasn't judging anybody on how they look or what they're wearing, or even the presentation. I just wanted to hear your voice. I was okay with just being audio only. I just want to be able to know, could I communicate with you and give you directions? Because most of the way I give tasking is via that staff meeting on Skype or on Google Hangouts, and if you can't communicate and listen, you're going to miss what I want you to do.
Jacques Hopkins: Jason, this is a fantastic podcast episode. I feel like we could have taken this and just like turn it in all into a course on its own. Like this is such valuable information. So I appreciate it so much for coming on and sharing this. So candidly, before we wrap up. I mean, anything else that we should know about this stuff.
Jason Dion: Definitely read the book, so I'm not a genius. I just follow the directions really well and I found that when I followed directions, it work. When I didn't follow directions, it didn't work. I think the biggest thing is when I hire somebody, I'm looking for somebody who I think can do the job, but more importantly.
I liked their personality and I get along with them because you're going to be dealing with this person, ideally for years, right? When I'm hiring somebody in this position, I'm not looking to hire somebody for a three month gig because every time I have to have turnover, that means I got to spend time training them again, right?
Because you're going to spend a lot of time in that first month or two, getting that person to either productive for you. And so if you have a turnover every three months or six months, it's just a painful process, right? So take as much time as you need to hire the right person. And training the right person who has the capability of growing with your organization.
And it's worth paying them another $50 a month or another a hundred dollars a month when it comes time for review to keep them on your team because you know that person is valuable because you don't have to retrain them. So I think that's the big thing is take your time up front and do it right. And if you treat them well, they're going to treat you well. And then everybody's making money. Everybody's happy.
Jacques Hopkins: Love it, man. Thank you so much. Let's wrap this up and just let people know how they can connect with you and all the things you have going on that are helping people.
Jason Dion: Yeah. So, you know, our big business is cybersecurity training. So if anybody needs a it certification, probably not your audience, but we are dot com you want to see how our site looks and the kind of videos and stuff that my people are putting out. You can go on Deon, train.com and read on the front of the page. There's a big video and you'll see the kind of quality that you can teach people how to do. The person who did that video never knew how to video it before I hired them. So you can really get some really great stuff if you're willing to put in the work to train them.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I know exactly what video you're talking about and that is impressive. That is impressive. Now I know that you provided them with some pretty good inputs, but the output is, is fantastic and that's, you know, that's something that you can be proud to have out there as if you would have done it yourself.
So awesome. Just awesome. Awesome stuff, Jason. It's good to catch up with you again and we'll definitely have to have you back on a future episode as well.
Jason Dion: Glad to be here.
Jacques Hopkins: See ya.
That is going to do it for episode 98 of the podcast and guys, listen, we have to have a real conversation right now. Now is the part where I would normally, I would pitch my course, one of my affiliate links, something like that, but I'm not going to do that right now.
What I could really use from you, you listening right now. Is a podcast review. If you have gotten anything at all out of this podcast and want to give back in a small way and support me in what I'm doing here, a review on iTunes, Apple pie cast, whatever it's called now would mean the world to me. We're nearly 100 episodes in more people than ever are listening to the show.
It is soaring up the rankings and it's just been so much fun. But I was looking at the reviews and can you believe that the last one was literally eight months ago? That is unacceptable, but I'm just going to chalk that up to the fact that I'd never really talk about reviews with you guys, but I'm talking about it right now and let's get back on track with them.
Do me a solid, if you've gotten any value out of this podcast, I would sincerely appreciate it. You going right now and leaving a review. Thank you for listening to that spiel and I really appreciate it if you do that. So guys, that's a wrap here. You can find the show notes for this episode at the online course, guy.com/ 98 and check back next week for episode 99 where we're taking a deep dive into one of the biggest online course platforms that a lot of people out there are using.
It's called Thinkific. Many of you know that I host my course myself. Many of you know that I host my course with ClickFunnels, but think effect, and even others have their pros as well. So stay tuned. It's going to be a good one. And we have a super special episode coming up for episode 100 really soon, so stay tuned.
Lots of great stuff coming up with the online course show. See you next time.
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