After launching the first version of my catalogue of freelance brokers – BrokerList.io – I needed to actually fill the platform with content. Since the starting point was the consultant broker market in Sweden, in Swedish known as konsultmäklare, I just picked a few different relevant search phrases like “konsultmäklare stockholm“, “konsultmäklare göteborg”, “konsultmäklare malmö”.
The thought was simply to make the search, go through the top 100 search results and collect the factors that I wanted to include on the site, such as URL, LinkedIn etc. My thought was that it was stupid for me to do this myself (“my time is too valuable”) and that I should hire someone to do it.
Finding a VA
I mainly checked three outlets for VAs. First was Fiverr. I sent the specification of what I wanted done and got a quote of 10 hours from the guy, averaging on about 5 euro per hour, totalling about 50 euros.
Later, I also asked in a Facebook group “Svenska Digitala Nomader” (Swedish Digital Nomads) if anyone could recommend me some Swedish speaking VAs (this is because I thought there might be a slight advantage to someone speaking Swedish to be able to distinguish between let’s say a consulting firm and a consultant broker – konsultbyrå vs konsultmäklare, or konsultförmedlare, which would lead to less noisy results). I got a few suggestions from there.
Lastly, I posted in the group “Svenskar i Berlin” (Swedes in Berlin). Since I’ve been living in Berlin the majority of past year, I’ve realised that a lot of Swedish people here are actually living on bare minimum and are constantly struggling for money which lead me to the hypothesis that it would be easy to find someone here that would be willing to do it for less than they would in Sweden.
I got one quote for 10h at 12 euros per hour, which was higher than I expected, and with taxes that would probably end up costing something like 170 EUR.
Doing it myself
In the end, I wanted to get off the ground as quickly as possibly and I had some hours to kill so I ended up doing it on my own for one of the searches. And I’m glad I did, because in doing so, I realised that it the “well thought out process” was not so well thought out.
- Skip the CSV. thought it would be faster to fill a Google Spreadsheet and then export that data to the database. But in retrospect, the programmatic mangling that I would need to get it right do would probably lead to me spending more time than just filling out the forms in my platform. Lesson learned, do it directly in the platform!
- UX Improvements in the admin interface. Transferring the data from the CSV to the admin interface, I realise that there was a bunch of stuff that I needed to fix in the interface. One such example was the box where you pick the locations a broker is active in was way too small, leading to a whole bunch of scrolling.
- Time requirements. I finished the first 100 results of the query “konsultmäklare i stockholm” in about 1.5 focused hours. That would total 4.5 hours in total for the suggested three search phrases that I had asked the VAs to do for me. Basically, their estimates were twice as high as the actual time that it took me to do it. I think this is a good learning to bring with for future hirings.
In the end, I’m happy that I did it myself at least once. Most likely, I’ll do a few more rounds myself, just to make sure there are no hidden learnings still left in there.
In the future I’ll probably get a VA to do it anyway, but I’ll be able to do that with more confidence in that I have an efficient process in place and how long it’s expected to take and thus what such an outsourcing should cost.