Nathan Hirsch is a 28 year old serial entrepreneur who is an expert in hiring online and building eCommerce businesses. He co-founded his first eCommerce company out of his dorm room in 2009 drop shipping products on Amazon.com and built it to sell over $25 million worth of product over 5 years. While scaling, Nathan discovered the power of outsourcing and ended up building a remote army of freelancers.
In 2015, Nathan co-founded and became the CEO of FreeeUp, an online hiring marketplace that allows business owners fast access to a hand-picked network of top talent freelancers in eCommerce, digital marketing, web development, and much more who have already been vetted for skill, attitude, and communication. FreeeUp interviews hundreds of freelancers each week and only allows the top 1% of applicants into the network. The company has been growing at rapid paces (500%+ YoY) and has quickly become atop destination to hire online for over 3,000 businesses around the world.
Nathan has built his personal brand to be synonymous with online hiring and entrepreneurship through 75+ guest appearances on top podcasts: Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas, Eventual Millionaire, and more. Nathan has also become a regular speaker at industry conferences where he teaches other business owners how to hire freelancers and gain back more time in their growing businesses.
Today’s guest is Nathan Hirsch, founder of the freelance platform Freeeup. FreeeUp differs from other freelance platforms because they don’t allow every single freelancer to join. They have an intense vetting system and only allow 1% of the freelancers who apply to become a member. The idea for FreeeUp came from Nathan’s struggles with having to go through over twenty applications each time he posted a job to a freelance platform.
In this episode, Nathan tells us how he went from selling textbooks, to baby products to building his own freelancer platform. He talks about the current demands of the freelance world, from the perspective of client and freelancer, as well as how he views marketing trends as they pertain to his business. Lastly, Nathan gives us the secret sauce of a great job posting and freelancer first outreach message.
This is the Lean Commerce Podcast.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
1:06 I always imagined I’d work a “regular job” but found that I hated working for other people and didn’t want to make this my entire life. I saw college as a ticking clock and my chance to start a business.
1:52 I bought textbooks at the end of each semester,becoming a competitor for my school’s bookstore. By creating a referral program I was able to get so much business to my “bookstore” that I received a cease and desist order from my college.
2:30 I started to sell on Amazon and was really excited to work with customers and have my own business, but knew that books weren’t the future. So, I experimented with outdoor products, computers, etc.Nothing else would sell until I branched out of my comfort zone and got into the baby product industry.
What is Freeeup?
4:28 Hiring on Fiverr, Upwork and other freelance platforms didn’t help me, as I needed a faster way to go through applicants. I created FreeeUp and then made it so clients have immediate access to any freelancer they need.
6:45 The difference between FreeeUp and Upwork is that FreeeUp only allows one freelancer to enter per one hundred applications. FreeeUp’s on boarding process is faster and gives clients a a no turn over guarantee, paying for the inconvenience of having to hire a new freelancer ifan issue arises.
7:59 FreeeUp freelancers are 40% USA, 40% Philippines and 20% scattered. FreeeUp is very picky about who they allow on the platform because FreeeUp is only as good as the freelancers and only as successful as how happy freelancers are when using the platform.
Did you build the demand side first or the supply side of FreeeUp first?
11:29 We did $1 million in our first year, $5 million in our second and our third year will reach $9 million.I had the advantage of being an Amazon seller, so I had freelancers working for me, so I was able to bring them to FreeeUp and use them to meet the demand.
Where is the demand in e-commerce freelancing?
13:12 Amazon is the core of e-commerce and it’s how we started, but now these entrepreneurs are driving traffic to their Shopify stores and thinking from a long term mindset. Amazon is still an option but having your own headquarters, outside of Amazon, is more important so you can own your customer data.
If you were going to become a freelancer today, what services would you offer?
15:45 E-commerce isn’t going anywhere. If you can write listing, write SEO, understand PPC, there is a demand. A higher paying job is helping clients with external traffic through Facebook ads, email sequences, etc. Bookkeepers and content writers aren’t going anywhere either.
What shows you that somebody is a Top 1% Freelancer?
17:32 We realized that the skill is only one component of being a freelancer. You’re not actually looking for a 10/10 for every skill.What you’re looking for is skill, communication and attitude.
How do you vet skills?
20:45 I tell my clients that even the best Facebook Ad person can’t sell every single product in the world. With skill, we hired experts that helped us come up with skilled questions.
What are the different project prices for varying projects?
25:50 I stay as far away from the estimates as possible. The freelancers set their estimates and we let them choose their options based off of their price points.
How do you create a great job post?
28:46 First off, titles don’t matter. The details of the job are what actually matters, then the type of freelancer you are looking for and then defining what is successful and what is not successful. This is where a lot of people go wrong and assume that each freelancer or client wants the same results as their previous client or freelancer did. This information about your business and the project is key.
How does a freelancer maximize their chance of winning a project?
30:27 Write an introduction that shows why you are a good fit for that particular project, providing samples and backgrounds that are relevant. Don’t just write your skills and assume the client wants to look through them. Then, make sure that the client is a good fit for you and get information that wasn’t placed on the job posting.
What’s your iteration process to figure out what strategy works best, specifically on LinkedIN?
46:52 I’m not a hardcore data head. We don’t do something for six months and then change it. We usually do week long trials with small amounts of money to test what is working and what is not working. We don’t always know how to calculate the ROI because who knows where that person heard about us or how big the ROI was.
48:00 It’s a lot more of asking for feedback from freelancers, talking with our internal team, looking at requests and response rate. All of this is prioritized over data.
There is a lot going on with Chatbots and messenger right now, have you seen anything on the client/freelancer end that is a big area of opportunity?
38:50 We look at it as fads, not that they are going to end, but what is popular now. For example, when we started FreeeUp, nobody was running Facebook ads. Now, Many chat is taking over. For us, it’s tough to forecast that but we have definitely seen more requests for this type of work and more freelancers with certificates in this industry.
40:37 Non-stop content everyday, every week is the newest trend as well. We see more clients interested in personal brands and curating their own content to increase their social presence.
What funnels are you using on LinkedIN to get clients on to FreeeUp?
42:27 For us, our funnel is to get somebody on the phone with myself or my business partner. We want to get them into our community and become part of our network. So, we’ll have a VA use my LinkedIN to send messages to people and I’ll answer the users who answer that message.Other people hire a content writer to come up with sales pitches or have an entire team of people reaching out to different communities and different networks. There is a creativity and flexibility there. There is no right or wrong.
Is the average value of a client pretty wide?
49:23 It’s very wide because we have million dollar clients and then total startups.
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