Hiring Help for Your Blog, pt. 3: Protecting Yourself, Paying Others, and Terminating Employees


So…you've figured out what kind of help you need, you've put out a job ad and gotten a ton of great responses. You've done interviews and screened your potential hires. And you've extended an offer to someone (or several someones) and told them all the details of what you want them to do for your blog. Are you done? Not quite! Then what comes next? Well, in the final part of our 3 part series about how hiring help for your blog (you can find part 1 here and part 2 here), we'll be talking about the BIG questions, namely how to protect yourself, how to pay your team, and how to let someone go if it's not working out.


Protecting Yourself

The hardest thing to do if you've been running things solo for awhile is to shift some of that trust and responsibility to another person. Even if you're 100% confident things are going to work out awesomely with your new hire, it's still hard to give up control. That's a totally natural and understandable feeling. After all, you've been putting a lots of time, energy, and resources into your blog and no one is going to care about it the same way you do.

Having some restrictions is not only good for your peace of mind, it's also good just in case things go sour down the line. There are several different ways that you, as a new employer, can help protect yourself. As a quick note, this is not legal advice. Any questions about the details of employment law in your state or country should be directed to the appropriate resources.

First of all, draw up contracts and work agreements. A couple of good ones to start with are a work for hire agreement and a confidentiality agreement. I also like to draw up an agreement outlining the specific job responsibilities my new hire has as well as my responsibilities as their employer. These agreements help protect you by making sure everything is clearly understood and above board for both parties. You may also want to get a W-9 form from your new hire for tax purposes.

Both you and your new hire should sign the paperwork, and you both should have a signed copy on file. Keep a hard copy of this file somewhere you can easily access, and also keep a copy on your computer in a place you can pull it up anywhere (like DropBox). That way, even if something awful happens (like you're in the middle of a lawsuit when your house and all your belongings, including your laptop, burn down), you can still access your most important documents.

Next, create separate log-ins and e-mail addresses that you control. On my blog, all my writers have an email address ending in my domain name of thelingerieaddict.com. However, I'm the only person with admin access to delete accounts, create accounts, or change account passwords. You'll also want to create separate log-ins for your blog; each writer or editor or what have you, should have their own username and password. Similarly, if you're hiring a social media manager, look into using a third party service like Buffer; that way, no one has access to your actual social media passwords.
Speaking of admins and access, remember that everyone doesn't need to be an admin on your blog. Admins have a lot of privileges, and the worst thing in the world would be if someone else's admin account was hacked and your blog became adversely affected as a result. Hope for the best, but anticipate the worst. How much damage would be done if someone malicious was able to access one of your employee's accounts?


How Much to Pay

Yes, it's time for the big payment question. I've found there are two schools of thought when it comes to paying hires: paying cheap and paying fair. People who are part of the first school like to get the lowest price possible, no matter what. That can mean hiring overseas, underpaying employees, or using exploitative labor practices (like some of the internships we've heard about in the news lately). The second school, paying fair, tends to be more concerned with just compensation and matching or surpassing the going market rate.

I'm a believer in that second school. For one thing, it's more ethical; with rare exceptions (like non-profits) your team should not help you make money for free. For another, it's just better for your business. When people are paid fairly, they're more likely to stick around, and finding and training new people all the time can turn into a massive time suck…which pretty much defeats the point of hiring people in the first place. In short, I believe you get out what you put in, and paying people fairly is part of treating people fairly.

There are two ways you can decide how much to pay. One, you can just ask your new hire what their rates are. When you're contracting with a graphic designer, attorney, accountant, or other professional, they will likely tell you how much it costs to work with them. However, if you're working with someone who's new to the business or doesn't have their own rate card for whatever reason, then you would need to come up with a pay rate through a combination of market research and checking your own budget.

When it comes to setting a pay rate for a new hire, you want to make sure your rates are inline with market averages, appropriate to their experience and the complexity of the work, but not too high or too low. You'll also want to make sure it's a rate you can actually afford to pay because once you agree on an amount, you don't want to have to backtrack it. When it comes to writers, for example, I've heard of people getting paid as little as $20 per blog post and upwards of $150 per blog post, but the average pay is probably closer to the low middle of that range.

If paying people is just flat-out not an option, you may want to reconsider hiring staff at this time. After all, you can always revisit the hiring question once your revenues increase. You could also work on an in-kind agreement, offering a valuable trade in exchange for their services. For example, a few months of free ad space might be quite appealing to a new graphic designer, especially one who's trying to make connections in your niche. The important thing here is recognizing that other people's work, just like your own, has value and should not be given away for nothing.


How to Terminate an Employment Relationship

Sometimes, no matter what you do, things just don't work out. It doesn't necessarily mean someone's to blame or that someone's at fault. Both of you could have done everything right to the best of your ability, and it's still just not a good fit…for whatever reason. When it becomes clear that you need to let someone go, it's important to act quickly and decisively.

Once you've decided to terminate a hire, you want to start by deleting their access to important documents, emails, blog accounts, etc. I prefer to do this just before notification; the password to their blog email address is changed as is the password to their WordPress log-in. This lets you access their accounts for any final clean-up or notifications before deleting them (if you so choose).

After that, you'll want to notify your employee of their changed status. It's crucial to make a clean break. Once your mind is made up and you've informed them, don't unmake it. This is not the time to be ‘wishy-washy.' Be kind (because there's no need to be cruel) but firm. You can offer a reason for the termination if you like, but lengthy, drawn-out conversations at this point are unnecessary and counter-productive.

Above all, don't feel guilty. If you've done everything you could to help make this work out, there's nothing to feel guilty for. Once your employee is terminated, inform the rest of your team about the news. There's no need to give any reasons or specifics; a simple “So-and-so is no longer with [your blog name] will suffice.”

I hope this three part series on hiring help for your blog has been educational and informative, even if you’re not quite at the point of making new hires yourself. Do you have any questions about some of the issues ranged in the series? If so, please post them below and I’ll try to answer them.

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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