google ads service

Google Home Service Ads: What They Are And Why They Need To Be On Your Radar

Generating leads in the home service industry isn’t what it used to be.

While word of mouth advertising from happy customers is still one of the strongest factors in attracting clients, digital marketing has changed the entire industry over the last few years.

Traditional methods of advertising are slowly dying out, as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, social media, and content marketing is killing them.

To that end, Google is attempting to corner the wild west of business services with its roll out of the new Google Home Service Ads for contractors. With each new release, both digital marketers and businesses across the country have to adapt to learn how to best generate leads.

To give you a head start, we’re going to be taking a look at what exactly the Google Home Service Ads are and why they need to be on your radar.

What are the Home Service Ads?

Over the last few years, Google has been hard at work on beta testing for the new Home Service Ads Program. As of now, the program is relatively small and has only been released in seven cities across the country: Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Diego, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.

Despite the small sample size, it’s clear that the program is growing and can be expected to be coming to your city in the near future.

The basis of the program is that it is meant to connect its users with home services providers (think, gardeners, plumbers, electricians, etc.).

However, that’s not all.

Google is going to great lengths to ensure that the companies who are advertising on their platform are reputable. Not just any company can sign up with the Home Service Ads Program.

To be considered for the program, every single service provider has to first be approved by Google.  Google is doing background checks, license checks, insurance checks, ‘advanced verification’, and reputation assessment.  You can read about it in Googles own words here. Once qualified, customers will be able to see a “Google guaranteed” badge and review score next to every company on the platform.

The plan behind this is to connect users and companies through these “micro-moments” where customers are looking to make a purchase and come across the right advertisement at the right time.

From a business perspective, the setup will look like this:

  • In this program, you pay only for leads from the customers that select your business
  • Your weekly budget limits the amount of leads that the program generates for you each week
  • Although you may get varying amounts of leads each day, you will never spend more than your designated weekly budget.

When a user clicks a lead or requests more information, Google will bring them to a page that features three different companies for the customer to choose from.

 

What Google is trying to do is to compete with other providers like Angie’s List that provide customers with access to pre-qualified service providers at no cost.
After the customer selects their three potential service providers, Google then takes them to a page to help them work through the quote process.

 

 

Again, the biggest difference between the Home Service Ads Program and traditional advertising through Google is that you cannot simply pay-to-play in this arena. Whereas basically anyone can get airtime with Google in traditional advertising (being an online authority is just a small perk), your business ranking in the Home Service Ads Program is of paramount importance.

In this new platform, the placement of your ads is determined more on how strong of a company you are and less of who is paying the highest price for a well-placed ad. Since they have a $2,000 insurance plan in place for these companies, it’s important to Google that they only feature top-notch businesses.

Here’s the kicker, as I mentioned earlier, you pay google for the lead…. But Google will also sell the lead to the other three companies the user selects as well.  So you will have some competition, BUT the other service providers must meet the same standards as you.  This means you won’t be competing with the ‘Chuck and a Truck’ fly-by-nights.

While I do see Google Home Service ads as a potentially game changing advertising platform, it won’t make an awesome content marketing plan obsolete.  Nothing can ever replace getting your content out there and building trust through education.

Why it Matters to You

After reading all this, there are going to be plenty of small businesses out there wondering what this all even means for them.

Let’s get into that.

For those who have been using traditional methods of paid advertising up until now, there are a few things that you need to start considering before the Home Service Ads Program rolls out in your city.

Primarily, businesses need to be concerned about:

  • The status of their online reputation
  • The amount (and quality) of reviews that they have online
  • The systems that they have in place to provide their potential customers with quotes

For those who have relied on organic traffic over the years, they may be in for a rude awakening, as the ads are in prime attention grabbing territory on the page, and don’t look like ads.

When people Google “gardeners in Cincinnati, Ohio” right now, they are presented with search results that feature a list of what are clearly ads before you scroll down to the organic search results.

However, the Home Service Ads Program changes that. In cities where the program is already in place, the businesses that are advertising through this program are placed above both the ads and the organic search results in a way that doesn’t even make them look like ads, and they feature the ‘Google Guaranteed’ text and trust icon.

 

Finally, home service companies need to be sure that their presence has been optimized for mobile. When people search on mobile, organic results will be getting pushed down even further than they were before. What’s more is that the companies featured in the Home Service Ads Program also have the “call now” button built into their search result.

Moving Forward

If you aren’t currently in a city that has put the Home Service Ads Program into action yet, you have time to prepare for the eventual roll out in your city.

Although it may seem like an insignificant change to some, your company might be in a bit of trouble if you don’t optimize your presence for the coming changes.  Think about this, Google is one of the largest and most reputable companies in the world.  People trust Google with everything from directions, their online security, and planning their next trip.  I feel the general public, our customers, will find the ‘Google Guarantee’ a powerful symbol.

By taking care of your online presence and reputation, learning about how to become part of the program, and optimizing your site for mobile users, you’re taking a big step forward in terms of ensuring that your company takes advantage of these new features.

You can find out more about the new program and keep up with news that is relevant to you at the following link.

Comment below, and let us know what you think.

Quantitative Wealth Protection

Intro To Trend Following: Quantitative Wealth Protection

Learn how to avoid the downside of the market with simple, time tested, quantitative trend following. You don’t need to be a genius.

Using the S&P 500 as an example I explain:
-The problems With buy & hold investing
-How trend following can protect your wealth (from drawdowns and volatility)
-How simple trend following works.

My Blog Post which covers the lost decade between 1965 and 1975

Portfolio Visualizer for Trend Following Backtest

Worlds Longest Trend Following Backtest by Alpha Architect

Avoiding The Big Drawdown by Alpha Architect

Peter Schiff Radio

Nikkei 225 Index Chart

Meb Faber’s S&P 500 Chart With 10sma

Transcript:
Hey everyone what I got open on my screen right here is the last decade of the 2000’s particularly the S&P 500 as represented by Vanguard’s S&P 500 mutual fund that tracks the index. Through the 2000’s, the decade where stocks went nowhere horrible decade for investors you started out with a $10,000 investment in 2000 January first it was ten years later at the end of 2009. You’d lost basically 10%t of your money as you can see right there. So not a fun time to be a you know an investor and you had some big drawdowns, you went you know from having 10,000 down to 6000 then back up and then you lost 50% of your money in the financial crisis and then you kind of started rebounding.

So I started my investing career as an investor in the early 2010’s right after this happened. So you know I was looking at asset allocations and no matter which asset allocation you ultimately see something like this you know. 10 year period things gone nowhere lots of drawdowns if it doesn’t look appealing, I wouldn’t want to be an investor and I still don’t so I refuse to be an investor that is you know investing right here and then losing 40% of my money. That’s got to get painful feeling, I haven’t gone through that yet and I hope I don’t and I plan on avoiding it quantitatively as I’m going to explain here nor would I want to be you know up here with 12,000 in my brokerage account and then get down there below 6000. Got to be a horrible feeling you know this volatility in the drawdown is just not something that most people can sit through and I think a lot of investors say yeah no problem you know I can ride out the drawdowns, I’m in it for the long term but when push comes to shove it just doesn’t work out for them. They can’t do it or they don’t, they might stay invested but they might not be investing more money in for buy and hold the work you have to be investing money you know at the drawdown periods. But for many of us you know our income goes down when we’re in this periods.

So what can we do to avoid the drawdown? Now I’m going to bring up you know a couple of the profits as I call them of the investing world, and I don’t believe any other you know any other garbage one of which is Peter Schiff. Peter Schiff is one of those guys that believes the market is going to collapse, the economy is going to go to shit and only he knows how to protect you from it Now that stuff is junk I don’t think Peter Schiff knows anything more than anyone else, in fact I say that he knows a lot less than anyone else you know but these guys try to pump you into buying gold or some special foreign stock. Usually through some high priced, overpriced investment and they kind of have this following that of people that believe they’re like a god of some sort. That’s just ridiculous, I don’t want to go down that road. I did follow Peter Schiff for a couple of years you know way back you know before I even started investing but the one thing about him is he’s consistently wrong he doesn’t rely on any data he is just a talking head making noise you know and publishing books and market news and all kinds of commentary.
Ultimately his end goal is just to get you into his funds and his investments to make money. So I knew that that wasn’t something I wanted to get into so I researched and kept looking for ways of quantitatively avoiding periods you know like the lost decade here and that led to Trend Following. So trend following basically means that you go with you know the market, so when the market’s going down you stay out of it when it’s going up you get back in and you can do this with a simple moving average. You see the 10 month simple moving averages is the red line here, so if the S&P 500 is above its 10 month simple moving average you’re in it you’re invested. When it goes below its simple moving average and it’s in a down trend you get out and you go to cash. It’s very simple to do, it only requires you know trading once a month you can just look once a month S&P 500 up the very first day of the month. S&P 500 above its moving average you stay in, S&P 500 below it you go to cash or an alternative asset as I will explain.

So you know here you see a period from 1990 to 2012 and this is you know by Med Faber. Med Faber had done a lot of research on Trend Following and has published quite a few papers but let’s see what it looks like in practice. So first we’re going to remove that. Time period I’ve got set from 2000 to 2017, so if the 10 month simple moving average. Or excuse me if the S&P 500 is above its 10 months simple moving average you’re invested as you would be here. One in the 10 month simple moving averages below it you’re out of it you’re invested in cash and you can see that from a time period of 2000 to present the try to follow it started use absolutely kick the ass of buy and hold. You know buy and hold out a cumulative or compound annual return of four point seven nine percent timing portfolio up at nearly eight percent.  Not to mention the draw down much lower only a 16.7% drawdown versus nearly 51% drawdown for buy and hold and sharp ratio which measures basically risk adjusted return is much higher than buy and hold.

Now for some people sitting in cash is an optimal you know you can get some return in our asset classes that do get returns particularly those that have a low or negative correlation to stocks and that would be bonds. Particularly Treasury bonds but for the sake of this I’m just going to show it with a total bond market index by Vanguard.  So you know when you’re looking at it let’s go back to the morning star right here.  Through the last decade bonds pretty much went up, they had a little bit more momentum as things were going down that’s to be expected with a lower correlation. So rather than going into catch you could go into bonds and get a little bit of you know kind of extra returns, little bit of extra returns instead of sitting in cash. So a plug in the you know Vanguard Total Bond Market Index and we’ll redo this and you’ll notice that the annual growth rate goes up a little bit, not a lot just a little bit. Up just over one and a half percent gets you some more returns rather than sitting in cash you sit in a relatively stable asset so you know investing in the stocks when they’re above the simple moving average and then going to bonds when you’re below it has done pretty well. It’s gotten you nearly a 10% return, we’ll call it nine and a half that is what it is you know for the last 17 years or so and minimize your drawdown.

But I don’t want you to think that this trend following strategy is some holy grail, it doesn’t. It’s not here to help you beat the market you know the reason why I’m showing this period from 2000 to 2017 is because there’s a lot of kind of up and down with the market sideways going. When you go into a bull market the trend following the lags behind it so if we go from the period of 2010 to present you’ll notice that the buy and hold portfolio is four and a half, five percent above an annual return above the trend following portfolio. So it’s doing well, it’s a bull market buy and hold is working. So the trend following strategies really work when the market isn’t a bear market and that’s when they shine. Over the long term they equal out, you’re going to get about the same return you know over a long period of time just without the drawdown and volatility. So to illustrate that we’ll set this back as far as this thing can go which is 90’s or, late 8’s excuse me based on the data available for the S&P 500 mutual fund. And you’ll see you know during the bare run of the 80’s and 90’s into the dot com bubble the buy and hold you know index of the S&P 500 just absolutely kicked the trend of followings ass. There are times here when people are probably saying trying to follow him doesn’t work but when the skies go grey and the bears came to town the trend following strategy started to shine and as a buy and hold you know dropped the trend following took off and you know through the end of the 2000 with the financial crisis it still you know went on.

Now we don’t know where our current bear, excuse me bull market is going but it could catch up to the trend following strategy. Trend following isn’t a 100% of the time a winning strategy but it gives you some protection so that you have money when things go south you know. Some of the big things with buy and hold investing is that you’re supposed to be continually investing money but the reality is when we’re in these bear markets your income is lower. Psychologically you don’t want to invest, you want to hold on to cash. So it doesn’t work, you’re not investing when the market is down as you should be you know through buy and hold strategy. The trend following works because it keeps your sanity together, you don’t have to live through the drawdowns I tend to think of it like insurance. When there’s a bull market you’re spending a little bit of money in the terms of percentage annual return to avoid losing money later. That’s how I see it, it’s like an insurance policy to me. When the market goes down I know I’ll have money there to use for whatever I need to use it for or just for my own sanity.  And that’s something I’m willing to trade and I think many investors are, I think that the current trend of flocking towards buying old investments is going to go south once we run into a bear market here because many investors are just. Overestimating their risk tolerance they say yeah I’ll be able to live through these I’m in it for the long haul. But when things go down you know 10% down 20% they’re probably going to want out or they’re going to wish they were trying to follow.

The other thing too is not all markets go up forever. There’s the case of Japan, Japan and the Nicki index. It kind of peaked in the in the late 80’s and it never recovered since then and pauses camera for a second while I pull it up. Alright so here’s the Nicki 225 Japan’s index. It peaked right here just before 90, it was up here and it never recovered since then so you know I bet there’s a lot of people in Japan saying Buy and Hold just doesn’t work look at our economy. And there’s nothing to say that the United States can’t go Japan, there’s nothing to say that the S&P 500’s trend is going to keep going up. So a lot of the investors that were you know back in the Japanese markets probably wish they were trying followers now I believe the S&P 500 in the U.S. equities will continue this up trend for the foreseeable future but they might not. You know they always say past is not prologue when it comes to investing returns and while the S&P 500 has had a great return what if it doesn’t? And that’s where trend following comes in and trend following offers some protection, it’s 100% quantitative. You know you can look at the strategy the first day of the month if it’s above the simple moving average you go into your stocks, if it’s below it you go into bonds.

There’s nothing hearsay, there’s no punditry, there’s no talking heads like Peter Schiff telling you oh it’s going to crash. You don’t care you don’t even need to watch the news in fact I suggest you just do not watch the news. I don’t, I don’t care what the news says about the S&P 500 but let’s just see what we’ve got here. Let’s just see what it says today, S&P 500 just did something that is meant gains 100% blah, blah, blah. This stuff doesn’t matter, with trend following all you need are two simple numbers, the current price or total return and the simple moving average and you’re either into your investment or you’re not. So yes you could try to follow S&P 500 but there are ways also to make it more diverse and trend follow other markets, you know we can look and see that this not only appears robust outside of time as we’ve seen here but through other markets as well. So we can take a merging markets for example and you’ll notice.  Merging market data only available from 96.  And it gets whipsawed a lot more but you avoided a lot of the drawdowns associated with a more emerging markets here and you’ve actually had a higher total return again we don’t know if that is going to happen going forward. We can’t guarantee you’re going to have a higher total return but you can you know avoid some draw downs.

We could do the Eva index, other foreign stocks. I did this wrong. Out of Market asset of bonds.  From 2003 again foreign stocks you’d have avoided the big drawdown of the financial crisis and avoided a lot of the, you know up and down volatility since then to have a higher total return. Trend Following works across nearly every asset class and you know if they take my word for it there’s Alfa Architect has done a ton of back tests on it, they’ve even got some back test going back as far as the 20’s with data on it showing how robust it is.  So all linked to those in the show notes and let me know if you have any questions you know I think there’s a lot of investors out there that if they knew about trend following and knew how easy it was they would do it and that’s what I’m trying to tell more people about it.  Thank you guys.

 

how to find a wordpress developer

Quest For An Excellent Freelancer WordPress Developer: Part 3

It all began with the realization that I year after year I had spent too much time working on websites.  So I started a search to find an awesome Freelance WordPress Developer to get things done!

In part 1, I discuss my envy of all the pat Flynn’s of the world and how they have awesome developers working for them at very good rates.  I outline my process (including job posts) and assessment to find a developer.

In Part 2, I had some flops, and revised my assessment project in this epic quest to find a WordPress developer who can take over a my company website and other web projects for me.

Anyways this now part 3, I’ve now got 4 candidates remaining who’ve been assigned the following task in WordPress.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/JcbfaUjVOJA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Here’s where true colors would show.  I was looking for someone who could complete the tasks with little involvement from me.  To clarify further, let me explain what I wanted to avoid; I wanted to avoid developers who would give me a project that was poorly tested, and then waiting for me to tell them point by point what needed to fixed.  That is really frustrating.  I need things delivered right the first go around

Rather than explain everything point by point and use screen shots, I decided to make a video discussing the hires, and the outcomes (video transcription below).  Check it out!  I ultimately settled on working with a gentlemen from the Philippines (Jhunmil), whom I felt displayed the best attention to detail, and seemed the most responsive, at a rate of $6/hr.

Whats Next?

As of writing this, Jhunmil and I,  have been working together for about 2 weeks.  So far its been happy a romance.  In a future post I plan to discuss some of the projects / tasks I’ve had him undertake,

Transcription:

Hey everyone, I wanted to go through and discuss the outcome of this assessment, for you know, finding a virtual system to do WordPress development 00:10 I figured it’d be a lot easier to verbalize it and show with video than it would be to try and type something up and put in a bunch of screenshots, where things wouldn’t be immediately clear. So, let’s get into it.

Besides for the first guy I mentioned in another post on freelancer, where I’d hired him and he asked for 100 dollars to be sent via Western Union, and he did nothing. These are the 4 people that I 00:36 they’ve all got good feedback, you can see that, the lowest being 7 thousand dollars earned and they all have pretty high job success results here. They’re all 00:47 from India, Bangladesh India, and the Philippines which is you know, where you’d expect to find a developer at these rates. And where most virtual systems are from. So, they all got started off with the same project which you’ve probably already seen if you’re following this post. They needed to put this little notification bar up at the top of the website, it was nothing there, so this would be, the website would end right where my curser is now. So, I needed to put this in and it had PSDs, they needed to make it responsive and just overall look good. So, that it would be used and engaging. Next up 01:23 contact form, they kinda outline the contact form with the fields, then I also outlined what it must arrange to in responsive, and then I also told them to stylize it. So, you can see the directions here, the contact form needs to be designed to match the website nicely and be visually engaging to the user. So, two tasks, I’ve done these myself and I know that I, it can be done in less than 5 hours, I can do this in a couple hours, like 2 hours, considering that I’ve already done it. If I didn’t know how to do it, it would probably take me around 5 hours and I’m not really a developer, I’ve kinda learned development over time as a result of running websites. So, I can do it, but I would not call myself a developer, I would not try to hire myself out, and do these development tasks myself. So, I have an idea of how long it should take and what the results should be. So, now let’s go through here and see what we’ve got done. The first one was from 02:22, he worked on this domain right here. Everything looks pretty nice on his, he did everything right, everything looks good up here, when you switch it to responsive, it looks good there. Let’s flip it to a responsive version and you’ll see, as we go through it, it’s all working, it’s all going well. Right on down to the smallest 02:49 which is what it shoulda done, right around there it’s gonna switch to a tablet view and then keep expanding on up. I thought it was pretty nicely done and let’s see the contact form which woulda went on this page right here. Here is the contact form, you know, you can tell he put some effort into it and colored it and tried to get it to match the site. Not the best, I mean, not something that I’d really want to set loose on, but he’s at least got an understanding of what to do, and making it happen and puts in an effort. You know, I can direct more on what these things need to look like as he works with me, you know this person would understand what I’m looking for. When it comes to responsive, everything went well in responsive, so he’s got the stack order right, first name, last name. So, everything worked well on his. And I’ll kinda give you the heads up, he’s the person I chose to work with. The next person we had was Amir. Amir had a lot of good feedback, including some Tim Farris in his portfolio. Let’s go through there and see. Now, 04:04 there’s Tim Farris’ site. 04:07 did some work for Tim Farris, whether or not that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it’s certainly nice to have Tim Farris in your portfolio right there. So, I tried him, 10 bucks an hour, he was the person I originally hired and we 04:22 given him the original assessment, which had a bug in it. No more bug in this, the bug 04:28 too complex and he needed my guidance and coaching. I needed to tell which file it was in, which is kinda to be expected, I mean it was very difficult to trouble shoot, so, he did that, and did complete it and then we also gave him these tasks and here’s his. Now, first thing, immediately noticeable, is up here in the header, he’s got the little arrow, not in the right place, so 04:51 Amir, or excuse me 04:56 put it right there where it should be, his is not doing so well there. And when you switch it to responsive, things get even more complicated. So, 05:08 see down here, 05:11 switch over there, 05:13 here as you get into the responsive versions, it doesn’t really work out with that little arrow and then as you keep going narrower, I’m getting into what is mobile, then it does this, which it shouldn’t do any of this stuff at all. So, you know, kinda poor execution and you know, that type of thing shoulda been caught and fixed before delivery to me. His contact form is right here, it’s ok, again doesn’t look good but that’s something that can be you know, fixed. But then once you start switching this thing to mobile, I think we’ll see that the contact 05:54 contact form looks good in mobile too, so not bad. All things considering, you know this wasn’t too good, I didn’t like this. This is something that should obviously be caught, before it you know 06:07 my attention, and something I’d expect a WordPress developer to do, on their own without my involvement. So, I didn’t like that I had to do this, he also took a little bit of time, you know, quite a bit of time, seemed like he had a lot of other projects going on. So, this one was kinda shuffled on the back burner, so communication, punctuality, just didn’t feel up to par there. So, I wouldn’t, wouldn’t work with him for this type of project. 06:31 have some development skills. Next up is 06:39 the lowest price of all of them. A lot of good feedback, let’s see what he’s done. One thing to notice is that his is kinda out of center, and this where I get in to you know, attention to detail so, this whole, the two white, I guess text boxes, are more aligned to the right. If we look at what they are over here, 07:03 center, there it shifts to the right. And he also kinda chopped off a little bit of the PSD here when it was fitting in. So not too good at implementation there, but right here, it’s looking good in mobile. 07:17 pull this over on my screen. And then here’s where it has problems in the tablet version, it’s just kinda cutting it all off so, poor implementation with the responsive version of this. And then you can see it just kinda sticks there. But again, that’s getting what you pay for, absolute low dollar, you’re gonna get this type of work. His contact form, he put a little bit of effort into it, you know I don’t really like the way it looks but I don’t like the look on any of em. When it comes to responsive, let’s see how his contact form is. It does work in responsive so, not bad, but you know I guess, kinda not something I wanna work with. There’s also an issue with the header, look at that. This header doesn’t, it should go up there, or be sticky. But it’s not staying in place. So, you know, cheap development work is gonna get you cheap results. Obviously being the lowest cost, that’s what I got here. So, you know, he’s got some good WordPress skills but not somebody I’d rely on to do you know, high level word press development. And, 08:38 go on the final freelancer was 08:39. Now, 08:42 had some good feedback and I’ll tell you up front, that he did pretty good work. The only thing was his communication was poor. Poorer than 08:50 I mean he could communicate directly one on one, but I didn’t feel like I was a priority, I was shuffled back, he had a lot going on. And that’s just not something that I wanna work with. I needed somebody that could really prioritize my stuff and keep these projects rolling. So, his header implementation was rather flawless, possibly the best implementation from the header I’ve seen, all the way down to responsive, just keeps working. So, pretty good on the header, the contact form again wasn’t bad. There’s the contact form, not stylized as well, but I’m sure he could probably do it. And then we go responsive, it goes down to responsive so, it works. The fields could be adjusted, overall not a bad implementation of it, but, his communication or lack of, you know just kinda seemed like a problem. I mean he could communicate effectively, but he just wasn’t quick to get things done, and I think that he is a part of an agency, so when you’re kind of looking at it, you can see it in here, yeah he’s associated with an agency, so I don’t think it was actually one person doing the work, behind the scenes. Seems like there was other people going behind the scenes and that just wasn’t what I was looking for. That said, I would consider working with him or his company again in the future, you know based on the development work that I 10:29. But as an ongoing virtual assistant developer type of person, he isn’t someone that I wanted to work with. So, I ultimately decided on working with 10:41, the freelancer from the Philippines, he was really communicative, he did everything with very little feedback from me 10:52 did it all pretty well, you know he’s also got experience as a front-end developer which is good, so he understands a little bit more of the marketing aspect of things. And you know, I plan on working with him a lot in the future and I think he’s got a lot of potential. So, that’s what we got, and I hope that kinda helps you in your process of finding and hiring a developer or virtual assistant. Thank you

quest for freelance wordpress developer

Quest For An Excellent Freelancer WordPress Developer: Part 2

In part 1, I outlined my assessment project for freelance developers, and where to find them, and how to filter them.  I’ve gotten some decent sounding prospects so it is time to see what they are made of!

My First Hire

The first hire was a gentlemen from Pakistan on Freelancer.com at an hourly rate of $8/hr — Webdevsolutionz.  He responded quickly and ensured me that he could do the assessment project in 4 hours.  Great!  I assigned him the project, gave credentials and went on.

The first hire in my search.

Less than 24 hours later, I got a Skype message from him.  I switched my screen to Skype excited to hear that the work was completed, only to find disappointment.  He was asking me to send him $100 through Western Union, and then he would refund me on Freelancer.  No.  Hell to the no.  I never heard from him again, and no work was ever done.

Freelance developer from Pakistan u to shenanigans….

Frustrated With Freelancer.com —> Upwork

At this point I was a little frustrated with Freelancer.com and decided to post the listing on Upwork.  There was a little bit more to in than frustration…. many of bloggers I follow who frequently hire VA’s seem to mention Upwork.  So I decided to give it a try.  This Time I hired with verocity — Jon Haver Style.  5 hires.

The next hire would be Amarjit.  He had good feedback, including Tim Ferris’s website in his portfolio (I never validated this) and communicated well.  He set off on the first task which was sorting out the ‘bug’ (a line of code I messed up in the wordpress theme files).  Although rather simple, it was difficult to find, and caused the website to look extremely distorted.  It took him a bit longer than expected, and with a little coaching from me as to the file it was in, he was able to get it fixed.

Maybe The Assessment Project Was A Little Too Difficult

Based on feedback (or rather lack of) I was receiving from prospective Freelancers, and Amarjit’s difficulty with finding and fixing the bug.  I began to rethink things.  The coding error I had placed in the assessment was A) intimidating, and B) a little unrealistic.  This type of error wasn’t reflective of typical WordPress tasks.  With that said, I decided to change the assessment.  I replaced the task of fixing the bug, with the task of implementing a new header bar from PSD to WordPress.  Check out the revised assessment project in the video below.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/JcbfaUjVOJA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

With the assessment project revised, I hired 3 more people.  I also gave Amarjit the new task, in fairness to him.  Here’s the 3 new hires.  All with good feedback on Upwork.

We’ll find out, how they work out in part 3!

 

quest-for-excellent-wordpress-developer-1

Quest For An Excellent Freelancer WordPress Developer: Part 1

From design dimming CSS errors to blatant disregard of functionality, anyone who has attempted to hire freelance developers has certainly found it frustrating.  I outsource development work, all the time for my company website, and consistently find myself disappointed with the level of quality I get from Freelancers.  This leads me to just doing the work myself which is a huge waste of my time as an entrepreneur.  I need to take my hands off websites and focus on more growth related tasks.

How Do They Do It?

I hear stories from Pat Flynn and the likes of their awesome developers who work magic with websites.  Virtual assistant developers from around the world who can design things with excellence and build plugins seemingly over night with little guidance, all for $1,000 or so a month.  While I believe them, I have yet to find such a unicorn, as expressed by my frustration above.  I’m evening willing to pay more than what than the ‘higher side’ of pay for an offshore developer, if it means ‘hands off my websites.  Now I am going to make a concerted effort to find such a developer, and not stop until I find a teammate.

In a recent post, I outlined some guidelines for hiring and finding developers.  This time, I’m going to take it a step further in an effort to find an awesome developer that I can rely on.  Preferably someone to become a full time developer for my websites and projects.  I’m also going to share their results with you!

Here’s How I Am Going To Do It

  1. Create An Assessment Project.
  2. Post Ad On Freelancer Job Boads
  3. Filter The Applicants
  4. Hire Applicants for assessment, Fire quickly (if failing.

My WordPress Assessment Test For Freelancers.

I’m going to create an assessment project on a WordPress website, that I’ll ask Freelancers to complete as their first project.  The assessment will be designed to test their ability to troubleshoot problems, comprehend instructions, implement moderate level html/css/php, and deliver a well-functioning user-interface.  Finding a developer that can do it and meet all those requirements is gem, and worth hanging on to for future use.  The Freelancers all will be paid their bid rate whether they complete it to a satisfactory level or not.

So here’s what we’ve got! First up, I’ve taken a copy of a live site, and set it up on a sub-domain.  This will create a ‘play environment’ for testing.  Then I’m going to create an error in the theme coding.  I’m not going to reveal the specifics, as I still plan to use this test scenario in the future, but the error is a really simple fix and, to an experience developer, the error can be noticed in the source code of the website.  Although simple, the error will cause substantial visual issues the site which will appear daunting for anyone not able to recognize the issue quickly.

  • Assessment site with errors that will need to be fixed.

  • Site as it should look bug free.

The next part of it will be designing and setting up a contact form, using contact form 7.  I’ve provide a rough outline of a contact form and fields I need, with the stack order in responsive.  The developer needs to design this form, picking colors and such, then implement it in the site.  This task serves a few different purposes of assessment.  It will show their ability to think independently and comprehend instructions.  Notice in the the project scope document I made, it lets them know that they need to choose the colors and style it to match the site.  While that sounds simple, it would not be surprising to see a black and white contact form on my site, indicating they didn’t understand the part about colors and styling or they just couldn’t do it.  Next getting the style and responsive stack implement will require a little bit of CSS and php editing.  Getting the form to render visually free of errors isn’t a task for amateur developers.  Then comes functioning and user interface.  I need the form to clearly show validation errors so that the user intuitively knows what specific errors there are, or if the form has been submitted successfully.  This part has proven tricky for a handful of other developers.

Both parts of the assessment are similar (nearly identical) to tasks, that my most trusted developer has done before so I have a good idea how long they should take.  I even asked him, what he thought would be acceptable and his response was “5 hours + 2 for your knit picks”.

The Job Ad

There’s no magic sauce to the job ad.  I’m using Freelancer as I’ve used it before and have a well established account, but you could post it anywhere.  The key aspect I list is that freelancers should be able to complete a ‘PSD to WordPress’.  This means taking the elements of design file and making them function on a live site.  I’ve set the budget at $8 – $15/hr, and am looking for someone hourly.

As I said in other posts, I’ve found excellent cheap developers and shitty developers at over $50/hr.  In an effort to find the best level of service at the best price I started the search low.  Ideally looking to find developers at $10 per hour.  If none could complete the assessment to my standards, I would raise the price a bit.

The actual job posting on Freelancer, got over 100 bids.

Filtering Down The Freelance Developer Candidates

Over 100 applicants applied with hourly rates came in from the minimum $7 on up to $20+.  This is not uncommon when posting on Freelancer.  I used the filtering tool of Freelancer.com to filter down to candidates at $10/hr or lower.  From there it was time to make contact.  I started with those Freelancers who had the ‘Best Rank’, a combination of rating and quantity of projects complete.  There is one caveat to this, Freelancers with a high rank are likely to be extremely busy, and give less care to earning more good reviews, and they also might be agencies — I prefer to work with someone one on one directly.  So, some of the ideal Freelancers might not show up so high here.  As opposed to having 100+ reviews, they might just have 20+ reviews, but they could still have close to 5 star so as a minimum I look for at least 20 ratings and 4.8 stars or higher.

With the candidates filtered down, I sent out a project scope document, telling them to review it and let me know how many how many hours they estimate that it would take to do the work, and of course let me know if they have any questions.  While the big question is how many hours they estimate it would take them, I’m also looking for communication indicators, such as how their grammar is, and if they ask any questions related to the scope of the project.  Having the knowledge of how long this should take a qualified developer is key.  Ideally I am looking for freelancers that say 5-7 hours (or less) for this scope.  I would be open to longer estimates, up to 15 hours, as some might want to under promise and over deliver.  Any freelancers that estimated more than 15 hours, for this project, which I know can be done in less than 5 hours were filtered out.

At this point we have a good pool of candidates who

  • Can communicate moderately
  • Have good reviews
  • Rates at the target price
  • A reasonable estimate from time

From here I decided I would go with Freelancers who had near the shortest time estimate 4-5 hours.

At this point we have a good pool of candidates who

  • Can communicate moderately
  • Have good reviews
  • Rates at the target price
  • A reasonable estimate from time

From here I decided to go with a freelancer who had near the shortest time estimate 4-5 hours.  It was now time to set them loose on the assessment project!

trend following with dollar cost averaging

Trend Following With Dollar Cost Averaging (it doesn’t look that awesome)

Simple, quantitative trend following can help you avoid the drawdowns and black swans of the market… considering you can stick to the rules.  This is highly noticeable when you look at a chart showing the growth of $10,000, especially over any time period including the ‘lost decade‘ of the $2,000s. Read more

top market fund mutual fund

Top Pick For A Winning Emerging Market Fund Mutual Fund

We sit in a period where emerging markets haven’t been so popular.  Over the last 10 years the diversified emerging markets index has gone nearly no where, having been left in the dust by US Equities or a globally diversified portfolio.  From 2008 through 2016, the S&P 500 Index returned 7.1% per year, providing a total return of 85.5%.  During the same period, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index lost 1.3% a year, providing a total return of -11.3% all the while volatility as about 50% greater than the S&P 500 Index.  The result of all the gloom and pain emerging markets have inflicted has been that many investors are simply under weighted to emerging markets, which represent about 13% of global market capitalization. Read more

shipt app review

Shipt App Review: A Breezy Grocery Delivery When You’re Horribly Sick

I still am sick.  I woke up this morning at 3am with my body in full purge mode.  It was not good, just believe me.  I spent the next several hours purging, feeling nauseous, and unable to  even keep water in my system.  At one point I even contemplated going to the ER.  I was fucking miserable. Read more

best bank to start checking savings account

Ask Me Anything: What Is The Best Bank To Start A Checking/Savings Account For Building a Banking Relationship?

That is a fair question, most likely from a young adult.  Going through the financial cycle of life most young adults hope to own a home and will likely need a mortgage, and also have a large growing brokerage account.  Most people young or old have the perception that establishing a long standing relationship with a bank will help them get better access to credit, and lower costs.  Banks know this and marketing accordingly with ‘relationship banking’ products.

Ultimately though, the relationship becomes a one way street, down the banks road.  I see many banks pushing financial products under the guise of a ‘relationship’ on consumers/savers that either a consumer doesn’t need or would be better served with from another company.  For example, Bank Of America, where I hold my business checking accounts, is big on the relationship thing.  They annoyingly  send some solicitor calling or down to my office to find out ‘what they can to do help me’.  Then if my response is anything remotely polite, they spin the conversation towards the latest payroll product, account security thing, check cashing machine, or high business loan — all of which I could get at, or do have, at a better rate somewhere else.  Something they could offer like a 2% cash back credit card, they can’t/wont/don’t offer.  So I’ve got my 2% cashback credit card through Capital One, the Spark Cash For Business.

When you go to apply for a loan type of product your relationship doesn’t matter either.  I was once entertaining a mortgage and checked with Bank of America, whom I’ve also had personal accounts with for 10 years.  They didn’t care that my account was 10 years old, and ever had a late payment or overdraft fee.  Their offering was simply a matter of my credit report and income… so much for relationship.  Again I found that a more economical mortgage through a random mortgage broker.

The bottom line here is, don’t worry about a ‘relationship’.  Shop for each product as you need it and choose the most economical option.

Some of the best offerings out their right now are

  • 1% savings account from Goldman Sachs bank. 
  • A brokerage account with many low/no fee etfs and mutual funds like Schwab, Vanguard, or Fidelity.