Arlen Robinson [00:01]
Welcome to the E-commerce Marketing Podcast, everyone. My name is Arlen, and I am your host. Today, we have a very special guest, Brittany Brewer who is an accomplished figure in the freelancing industry, currently serving as the senior account executive at FreeUp. With an impressive track record spanning nearly 5 years, Brittany’s career has encompassed a diverse range of roles, from the freelance sector to client support, and extending to the support of ancillary businesses. Her expertise centers on cultivating enduring partnerships, ensuring client triumphs, and optimizing their FreeUp involvement. Armed with her multifaceted background, Brittany possesses a comprehensive grasp of the freelancing landscape, rendering her an invaluable asset in delivering unparalleled client service. At FreeUp, renowned for housing the top 1% of freelancers, Brittany and her team provide round-the-clock support and seamlessly connect clients with freelancers within a mere 24 hours for their projects. Welcome to the podcast, Brittany.

Brittany Brewer [00:53]
Thank you so much for having me, Arlen. I’m happy to be here.

Arlen Robinson [00:56]
Yes, and thank you for joining us. I’m really excited to talk to you today. Freelancing and utilizing outsourced staff is something that’s really huge these days. People are always surprised when I tell them about our business, OSI Affiliate Software. We’ve been around for over 24 years, starting as a full-service web development agency. When we first started, freelancing and outsourcing weren’t as common. People looked at you a little funny, but nowadays, it’s fully accepted by the global community. That’s really what we’re going to be talking about today: how to free up your time as an entrepreneur, specifically as an e-commerce entrepreneur, using a global team.

Arlen Robinson [01:23]
When we first started, which was around 1999 to 2000, freelancing and outsourcing weren’t as big as they are today. There were different sites where you could find developers overseas, but it wasn’t as common. When we told people we had employees overseas and worked from home offices, they looked at us funny. But nowadays, it’s fully accepted by the global community. That’s what we’ll be discussing today: how to free up your time as an entrepreneur, specifically as an e-commerce entrepreneur, utilizing a global team.

Arlen Robinson [01:53]
I’m really excited to dive into that because it’s your area of expertise. Before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little more about your background and how you got into what you’re doing today.

Brittany Brewer [02:31]
Yeah, for sure. I’ve worked for FreeUp in some capacity for the past five years. FreeUp is a branch of our parent company, NextNet Media, which includes companies like The Hoth and iWriter. Our division at FreeUp is a freelancer hiring platform. I’ve worked as a freelancer for FreeUp in the past, and now I help our clients find success with hiring freelancers. I’ve seen it from both sides of the coin since the beginning.

Arlen Robinson [03:10]
That’s awesome. I know that helps you do your job more effectively because you’ve been on the other side. It’s always good to have that perspective, especially when you’re dealing with other businesses. It’s good to hear. Where I want to start today is, what inspired you and your team to start building a global team to manage business operations? Where did this all begin?

Brittany Brewer [03:51]
The original founders of FreeUp were in e-commerce and struggled to find solutions for help in the e-commerce space. They needed to scale their business and were at the precipice of failing if they didn’t. They couldn’t find freelance support on existing platforms, so they decided to create their own. They wanted to free up their time and offer people in the space a similar solution. They created a platform that housed the top 1% of freelancers, vetted them, ensured their identity matched, and created terms of use and best practices that we still hold today. That’s where FreeUp started, and those are the successes we wanted to see down the line.

Arlen Robinson [05:40]
Great. There’s been so many guests I’ve had on the podcast who started their businesses out of a need they had and couldn’t find anything on the market to meet those needs. They built it themselves and offered it to the global community. That’s usually where it starts. Thank you for sharing that. It sounds like you guys are definitely on track to doing some awesome things. Speaking of working with a global team, if I’m an e-commerce business or there are e-commerce businesses listening out there, we’re in 2024 now. It’s pretty clear that there are many avenues to get employees to work for your company. If we’re looking at e-commerce, it’s common to get a virtual assistant to manage orders, update product descriptions, or add inventory items. Many e-commerce entrepreneurs are already familiar with these tasks. One of the challenges is how to effectively delegate tasks to a global team consistently without being tied up yourself. What’s the best strategy for that?

Brittany Brewer [07:35]
It’s a long answer, but to shorten it, start by getting all the tasks written down. One of the first things we tell our clients is to identify the menial tasks that are stopping their growth. These tasks are easy to outsource because you already know how to do them. You just want to free up more time in your day. Some tasks may require hiring an expert in a certain field. But for the menial tasks, you already know how to do them. You just don’t want to do them anymore. You want to do the bigger picture stuff.

Brittany Brewer [08:54]
So, we have people get those tasks outsourced first. The good thing about having global talent is that you’re not stuck in just your community. You have access to global talent around the world who have worked on roles similar to what you’re looking to fill. They know what they’re doing, have gone through the vetting process, and have the experience to take over your processes. You can monitor their success because you already know how long things should take and what effort is needed. You basically already have a standard operating procedure.

Arlen Robinson [09:57]
Yeah, it’s very true. It also takes a fair amount of trust and letting go of the reins. Many entrepreneurs are hesitant to delegate certain things because they want it done a certain way. They feel only they or long-term team members can do these things. But it’s not necessarily the case. As long as they’re documented and you have a clear standard operating procedure, most people, even through a global team, can manage these items. The beauty today is we have so many forms of media where you can easily record things, screen videos, and screenshots.

Arlen Robinson [10:53]
People can join you on a Zoom call, Google Meet call, you name it. It’s almost like they might as well be right in your office because of all these forms of media. Back when I first started, none of that stuff existed. There was no Zoom. Some larger corporations had video conferencing solutions, but you had to be at that level to access that type of stuff. Back then, we had basic instant messaging and email, and that was pretty much it. Desktop recordings wouldn’t be that easy to do back then.

Brittany Brewer [11:41]
No, definitely not. That’s something we say too. You’ve got it written down. You know you need help with X, Y, and Z. Now you can start finding somebody. Establishing the communication that works best for you from the beginning takes stress off your plate. If you’re onboarding somebody, now isn’t the time to learn a new communication method. If you’re already using Slack, bring your freelancer into your Slack network. Just establish the communication that works best for you.

Arlen Robinson [12:21]
Yes, that’s for sure. Now, having been on both sides of the fence as a freelancer and now working with a firm coordinating freelancers for other businesses, what are some of the common challenges you’ve seen working with a global team, and how did you overcome them?

Brittany Brewer [12:56]
One of the things from a client perspective is understanding that the point of outsourcing is to free up your time for big-picture stuff. Entrepreneurs are hands-on and want to do a lot. When they have free time, they need an action plan for themselves. Another challenge is communication. Freelancers can do anything, but if they don’t have communication from the client, the project will fail. Weekly meetings, especially in the beginning, ensure things are on track. Use a screen recorder like Loom to create an SOP. Take your time to ensure the freelancer has all the resources they need for success.

Arlen Robinson [14:58]
Yes, for sure. You mentioned Loom and other technologies like Slack. Determining the best lines of communication for your business and using what you’re already comfortable with is crucial. There could be challenges with different time zones and cultures. How do you ensure everyone is on the same page when dealing with a global team?

Brittany Brewer [16:03]
What’s cool about working with people internationally is that many freelancers are based in the Philippines, which is 12 hours different for East Coast people. You can delegate tasks, and work is done while you’re sleeping. When you wake up, you can review and delegate more tasks. Many freelancers work in US time because most of their clients are in US time zones. We allow clients to filter freelancers based on availability. Establishing communication protocols upfront ensures success.

Arlen Robinson [17:53]
Yeah, really true. Many freelancers work during the day, and we give them tasks at night, and vice versa. Some entrepreneurs need people to work US hours due to standard business operations. When vetting someone to work your hours, what should you look for?

Brittany Brewer [19:10]
FreeUp has a great team that listens to what clients are looking for and sources freelancers accordingly. From an entrepreneur perspective, an interview is crucial. Ask questions like, “How many clients are you currently working with?” and “What time zone do you normally keep hours in?” Understand their current workload and experience. Culturally, freelancers in the Philippines tend to take on a lot. It’s important to ask acceptable questions to get to know the person you might bring on to scale your business.

Arlen Robinson [20:57]
Good to know. We talked about communication tools like Slack, Loom, Zoom, and Google Meet. Outside of these tools, what other technologies do you recommend for managing a global team efficiently?

Brittany Brewer [21:13]
There are many tools now, especially since COVID. Some we recommend include Time Doctor for managing productivity, a CRM like Close for keeping leads organized, and business security tools like LastPass for sharing encrypted passwords. These tools help with business security and efficient management.

Arlen Robinson [22:57]
Yeah, those are very helpful. Password tools are key for security. As we wrap up, with your experience dealing with entrepreneurs and freelancers, how have you seen having a global team impact productivity and work-life balance?

Brittany Brewer [3:21]
It’s rewarding to see businesses scale effectively with freelancers. Hiring internationally saves money and allows clients to connect with experienced people without breaking the budget. One of our biggest clients came to us overwhelmed, wanting a VA. That VA has scaled with him and is now sitting in on VP calls, running the show. Hiring globally allows you to get connected with incredible people who can bring more to your team than you initially expected.

Arlen Robinson [24:58]
Wow, that’s a great testimonial. There’s so much that comes into play when bringing on freelancers. Even though you hire someone for a specific task, you find they have other skills. Don’t be afraid to challenge them. If they aren’t a fit for a task, you can try someone else.

Brittany Brewer [25:47]
Yeah, show me what you got.

Arlen Robinson [25:57]
That’s the beauty of it. There’s a lot more they can bring to the table than you initially thought. This has been an awesome conversation, very timely, especially after the pandemic. Freelancing was already high before the pandemic, but now it’s on steroids. Many companies are utilizing it, building a global marketplace to tap into. Before we let you go, can you share a fun fact about yourself?

Brittany Brewer [26:54]
Sure. My husband and I converted an old school bus into a tiny home on wheels. While I was getting started in freelancing, we traveled around the United States in our converted school bus.

Arlen Robinson [27:13]
Wow, that’s awesome. Was this a full-size school bus?

Brittany Brewer [27:18]
Yes, a big one, 42 feet. It had a shower, kitchen, the whole nine yards.

Arlen Robinson [27:36]
Do you still have it and use it?

Brittany Brewer [27:39]
Yes, it’s in RV storage. We’re looking for a forever home, so it’s a weekend getaway mobile now, but we still have it.

Arlen Robinson [27:45]
That’s cool. I’m sure you get a lot of attention when you roll that thing out. Thanks for sharing that. Lastly, if people want to reach out to you about freelancing or hire freelancers, what’s the best way to reach you?

Brittany Brewer [28:14]
I’d love for your listeners to head to freeuppod.com. We’ve got $50 in credits for their first hire, which is up to 10 hours of work. If they have more questions and want to talk one-on-one, there’s a link to book a free consultation.

Arlen Robinson [28:31]
That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. We’ll have that link in the show notes. We appreciate the generous offer of the $50 credit. This has been a great conversation, Brittany. We appreciate having you on the E-commerce Marketing Podcast.

Podcast Guest Info

Brittany Brewer
Senior Account Executive at FreeUp