This week, one of my clients showed me a spreadsheet of radio stations he wanted to send his album to – more specifically, U.S. stations that have Jazz Programs. He told me that he got the spreadsheet built by someone on Elance. My job was to comb through and pick out the top 50 (there were something like 200 found) so that we could start mailing out his new release.
I was excited to tackle the research he received, but after a few searches, I realized that this spreadsheet was not going to help us at all. Unfortunately, we realized that most of these stations didn’t have Jazz programs, were not even radio stations in the United States or worst case, weren’t even radio stations! On top of It was disappointing to know that my client paid for a service that ultimately will not help us. I’m still combing through as there have been a couple that will be beneficial to reach out, but for the most part, we’re going to have to start from scratch.
I’m not sure what happened or why the results were this horrific, but it got me thinking of ways how this could have been avoided. I understand that it’s not simple to find freelancers or a virtual assistant who understands what you are trying to do as a musician – most of the VA’s are trained as if they were working strictly for small businesses or offices, so understanding that you need a Jazz program with a local radio station is not going to translate when you ask for Top U.S. Jazz Stations. It was clear the freelancer just wanted to send a lot of results to be impressive. A classic quantity versus quality.
So how could my client’s dollar have gone farther to get the results he needed the first time? Here are some ways to give clear direction when asking a freelancer or virtual assistant to complete a research task.
1) Walk them through the steps – yes, this takes time, but it will save you the headache later. Brief them on what your goal is with this task and what you need to make decisions to reach that goal. Either jump on the phone (best) or show a video via Jing, or type up a paragraph explaining it all. For example, “I want to get my album into people’s hands who have a Jazz program on the radio, online and offline. Let’s get the name of the program, website, who runs it and their contact info – phone, address, email.”
2) Ask them if they have any questions – Give them the opportunity to ask questions about the research task. Almost every time I receive a research task, I ask questions or recap to ensure that once I start, I know what I’m looking for.
3) Offer examples if you can – If you have past examples of what you need, it’s always good to share. It’ll be easier and faster for them to deliver the results you want.
4) Ask them to do some of the task for your to review before moving forward – Especially for research on contacts, you can ask them to search for a few and then you review to make sure you have the information you need and that they understand the task. Once you approve, they can take it away and complete the task with confidence.
5) Hold them accountable – If you receive the research and something is incorrect or you wanted it delivered a different way, the first time this happens is the best time to let them know. This way, they can learn what your preferences are and you’re happier with the results.
Thankfully I got a hold of the spreadsheet from my client before he started sending his Jazz album to talk shows or shows in Puerto Rico! We’re taking direction by finding local stations first, and then building a list from there to help get his album into the DJ’s hands.
Have you ever had a horror story with a freelancer? Did you ever have trouble voicing or giving direction on a task you needed done? Did this help? I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.