How to Vet & Hire a WordPress Subcontractor

Hiring a virtual assistant or multiple subcontractors can be one of the best decisions you can make for your WordPress business. They can take care of the tasks you aren’t well-versed in, or the tasks that require a disproportionate amount of time for the return they provide. Delegating tasks such as these frees up your time to focus on your most important, high-value tasks.

Those who’ve successfully worked with virtual assistants and have developed processes for managing these people sing their praises—but there are certainly also people who have had their share of nightmare WordPress subcontractor experiences. Just as with a business hiring part- and full-time employees, many of these issues can be rooted out with a proper hiring process.

If you don’t want to be personally involved in the hiring process, you have some options. You can hire a virtual assistant services company (or some type of agency that specializes in doing specialized freelance jobs) for specific tasks, or find freelancers with the help of virtual assistant agencies (similar to more traditional recruitment agencies that find and train workers).

The issues with these options inevitably stems from a lack of control and inflated pricing, since you’ll have to either pay for the services of your middleman recruiter or contribute to paying down your hired agency’s overhead.

More than likely, you’ll discover that your best option is to directly engage in hiring a WordPress subcontractor. The question is, how can you do this effectively?

First thing’s first: you have to share your job offer where WordPress subcontractors are looking for work.

Where to Hire A WordPress Subcontractor

If this is the first time you’re hiring a WordPress subcontractor (or any type of subcontractor for your business!), you’ll have to build your hiring process from scratch.

Here are a few places you can find talented WordPress subcontractors:

  • Online job postings: Craigslist is a great (also cheap) place to post jobs. If your WordPress subcontractor’s physical location isn’t important, post to major markets (Chicago, NYC, LA, etc.) for additional visibility and a greater pool of talent to choose from.
  • Online job sites: Upwork and Fiverr sometimes get a bad rap from the freelancer’s perspective, but as a client, you gain access to a marketplace of talent with a range of skills and levels of expertise. The potential WordPress subcontractors on these platforms tend to be most ideal for one-off projects but you’ll find that some relationships that begin on these platforms blossom into long-term working partnerships.
  • Referrals: The WordPress community is an amazingly collaborative place: simply ask for help and you shall receive. If you don’t know who to turn to, consider attending a local WordPress meetup or WordCamp event and get to networking!

Posting a Job and Writing a Job Description

If you’re hiring a WordPress subcontractor through online job sites or portals, or through freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, the vetting process starts as soon as you post your job ad.

If this is the first time you’re attempting to write a description of the work you’re hiring for, I don’t envy you. Although you likely have a pretty clear picture of what you’re looking for in your head, it can be hard to translate that into copy.

If you’re having a lot of trouble coming up with something effective, consider hiring a copywriter to get it right. Think of writing a good job description as an investment: you can reuse it again in the future as your business expands or if your first WordPress subcontractor doesn’t work out.

Here are the basics to help you find the right candidates:

  • The basic job description: Explain what tasks you’ll be paying your subcontractor to do.
  • Skills needed: If knowledge of a certain programming language, theme framework, or specific backend development skills are necessary to be effective in the role you’re hiring for—make sure to call this out! It will help to disqualify those that won’t be a fit so that you can save time in the hiring process down the road.
  • Hours needed: Since you’re hiring a WordPress subcontractor, not a part- or full-time employee who may rely on one company for all of their income, be clear about how much time you expect your work will take up each week—and if the assignment is on-going indefinitely or for a limited period of time.
  • Expected pay: Many businesses going through their own hiring processes treat this information as a secret treasure that you must quest for, only to be disappointed when you jump through all the hoops and find out that the rate of pay is insultingly low. Do yourself and your potential WordPress subcontractor a favor (and save you both a lot of time and effort) and provide a rate of pay directly on the job description—even a range will do.

If you have multiple business needs, you may be tempted to hire an all-in-one WordPress subcontractor—but try to resist that temptation. You’ll be much more effective by hiring several specialized individuals. With this in mind, make your job description as specific as possible to what you want your WordPress subcontractor to help you with.

Establishing a WordPress Subcontractor’s Credibility

If your hiring process involves posting on websites that don’t require users to make an online account (like Craigslist), make sure to ask for references. Really, regardless of where you’re finding potential WordPress subcontractors, references are a great way to establish accountability and credibility.

Hiring from freelancing platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork is helpful when you’re on a tight budget or just want to outsource basic tasks that aren’t worth your time. Many of the workers on these platforms are likely new to freelancing and are looking to build their portfolio and client list. That’s not to say there aren’t also high-quality, established freelancers hanging out, just that low prices tend to reflect green talent.

Besides offering a cheap source of talent, looking for help on these platforms helps minimize your risk because they require users to create profiles. Most of these platforms invite those hiring freelancers to leave ratings and reviews based on their experience working together, which can help you determine a potential fit before hiring a WordPress subcontractor.

Of course, if a person can jokingly get their shed to be the #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, it’s easy for someone to make multiple accounts and create ‘jobs’ in order to leave positive reviews and attract potential clients. So exercise judgement when going through reviews—if you notice any negative feedback, that probably actually means that they’re legit!

It’s also worth understanding that competition is fierce on freelance work platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Freelancers have to bid on jobs; some even give low offers to appease the client (or simply because they live in a country with a relatively low cost of living, and they can). For freelancers new to a job platform, it can be hard to book jobs because most clients worth their salt are looking for workers with evidence of successfully completed jobs.

Interview

Hiring for any job requires pushing a large quantity of candidates through a funnel until you eventually land on just one WordPress subcontractor who’s perfect for your needs.

In his book, Recruit Rockstars, Executive Recruiter Jeff Hyman shares how his hiring funnel usually shakes out:

wordpress subcontractor hiring steps (150 candidates, 20 viable, 5 vetted, 2 finalists, 1 hire)
Jeff Hyman’s hiring funnel from 150 candidates to 1 rockstar hire

Image Source: Jeff Hyman

Although this hiring funnel technically refers to hiring for a full-time job, you can draw similar conclusions about the ideal number of candidates (and steps!) required to land on the one person who’s perfect for your company.

Once you’ve sifted through the applications of all your potential WordPress subcontractors, you should come up with a (proportionately lower) number of viable options. At this point, you’ll want to invite these people to move forward to the interview stage.

The interview stage is probably the ‘easiest’ part of hiring because people know to expect this stage when applying for a job. Ideally, you’ll have spent some time thinking of which questions will be important to ask candidates, so that you can repeat questions across candidates to create some level of standardization for comparing them against one another.

The interview stage allows you to learn more about each candidate, but sometimes people will say what they think you want to hear, especially when you conduct an interview over email or as an audio call. As much as possible, push for a face-to-face interview (or at least a video call!) so that you can observe your potential WordPress subcontractor’s nonverbal cues.

Verbal communication only makes up 7% of conversations, while nonverbal communication makes up the other 93%, with nonverbal communication composed of tone of voice and body language.

Interview Questions to Ask your WordPress Subcontractor

When crafting your interview questions, consider asking about the following:

  • What are your skills? Aside from the core or technical skills you’re looking for, you’ll also want to ask questions that suss out the nature of their soft skills. According to Toggl, you should hire employees that meet at least these three criteria: 1. A history of self-management: evidence of this demonstrates that they are motivated and can work with minimal supervision. 2. A good support system: working remotely can be lonely! 3. Good writing skills because much of the communication made between remote teams is through text-based tools.
  • How would you react to X situation? It’s important to include situational questions to understand how your potential WordPress subcontractors think. Entrepreneur Josh Steimle shares 17 questions he usually asks his virtual assistants during interviews.
  • Expectations: Ask questions about your potential WordPress subcontractor’s schedule and availability, talk about pay, and expected tasks and scope of the job. Make sure to invite questions at this point—you want to make sure that none of this is a deal breaker and that you both understand what it would be like to work together.
  • What their life is like outside work. You want to know if they’re balanced and should take the opportunity to dig deeper into what motivates them.

Shortlisting Potential WordPress Subcontractors

Once you’ve decided on a few candidates with great potential, offer them a paid test project to see if they can walk their talk (in terms of experience) and simulate what communications would look like if you decided to work together.

Offering a test project is also an ideal way to determine:

  • Their attitudes toward work
  • The quality of the work
  • How quick the turnaround is
  • If the worker can do the job independently, with minimal instructions
  • …and other finer points that you don’t usually have the opportunity to dive into until after onboarding and training!

At this stage in the hiring process, it’s important to test the skills you need the most help with: in this case, WordPress website maintenance.

Ask for Samples

If you’re hiring a referral and the WordPress subcontractor you’re eyeing is already considered as a professional, they may find it offensive if you ask them to complete a test, especially if they’ve already proven that they’re good at what they do.

In certain situations, in lieu of a test, you can ask WordPress contractors for a portfolio of their work. Anyone who is serious about what they do should have a professional portfolio to showcase their work.

When looking through a potential WordPress contractor’s portfolio website, observe how they treat their own website maintenance. Usually, people will take this opportunity to showcase their best work. If their website looks sloppy and not up to par with your standards, then at least you know who not to hire!

Trial Period

Once you’ve chosen your top candidate, ask them if they are willing to complete a longer paid trial run. This trial run can last anywhere between two weeks to two months. It will give you a taste of what it’s like to work with the candidate over a definite period of time. It will also encourage your chosen WordPress subcontractor to give the trial their best effort, knowing that a hiring decision will be made upon its completion.

During the trial period, give the WordPress subcontractor limited access to trade secrets and sensitive information (like bank accounts and passwords). Kimanzi Constable shares a cautionary tale of how trusting he had been and how his virtual assistant almost stole his content. LastPass is a great way to securely share passwords with WordPress subcontractors.

After the trial period is over, you’ll have a much better idea of whether you want to work with a given WordPress subcontractor over a longer term.

Final Thoughts: How to Vet & Hire a WordPress Subcontractor

If you’re hiring someone to subcontract work to, or even to make routine changes to your own WordPress websites, you need to figure out if you can trust that person to access your website and do work that follows WordPress best practices.

Establishing a multi-step hiring process for WordPress subcontractors might seem like a lot of work but it cuts down on the chances that you accidentally onboard someone who either can’t be trusted with your business’ sensitive information or who doesn’t actually have the skills they claim to have.

Hiring a virtual assistant/WordPress subcontractor can be the best decision you can make to reclaim your time (and make more money!), so long as you properly vet them. So take the extra time and effort to get to know your candidate before fully committing and later regretting it. 

 

Maddy Osman
If you’ve worked with WordPress subcontractors before, share your own tips for successfully vetting candidates in the comments below. Have more questions about getting started? Drop them in the comments so that the WordPress community can help you out!