How a Virtual Assistant Can Be Your Blogging Savior Comments42 Comments

Check out my new guide for tips on starting a blog to learn how to go about properly creating your own blog.

Well I took a 2 week hiatus from the blogging tips series to focus on moving to a new condo. I figured I should avoid getting too many comments to respond to. Plus the blogging tips post sometimes take me a while to put together.

So I’m not quite done with the blogging tips series. I could use some guest posts for this series though.

If you’re new to this series, check out some of the previous blogging tips posts:

This week’s post is focused on a topic that I get plenty of questions about….virtual assistants.

Hire a Virtual Assistant to Free Up Time and Take Your Blog To The Next Level

With my online businesses I’ve always been big on outsourcing work. Sometimes there’s work that is just beyond your skill set and sometimes it’s just too time consuming. Since running a blog is so time consuming, we could all use a little help. This is where virtual assistants come in.

What Is A Virtual Assistant

While the word ‘virtual’ may confuse people about what a virtual assistant is, their role is actually quite simple. Their job is to basically do any online work that you assign to them. Whatever you need help with, they are there to assist.

The great part about virtual assistants is that most are in foreign countries where US currency goes a lot further. So they are willing to work for much lower wages than someone would accept in a more developed country. It might sound like exploitation but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Really it is opening doors for people in other countries and giving them jobs that they might not have had otherwise. Not only are they earning money, but they are developing valuable experience and sometimes picking up new skills.

What Can a Virtual Assistant Do For My Blog

It is a bit unrealistic to expect a virtual assistant to excel with everything you assign them. You have to remember that they likely have specific skills and experience. So you usually want to hire an assistant with some previous experience in the main areas you want to focus on. If you are able to train them in some areas that experience might not be necessary. Depending on how easily you can train them, this is often the cheaper route. Helping an employee gain new skills might keep them happier too.

Technically you could get virtual assistants to manage every aspect of your blog, but you really should be involved as much as possible. Ideally you are not employing them to free up lots of time to watch tv. If you’re not properly managing them and putting some effort in yourself, you’re likely being a bad boss and your blog won’t be as effective as it could be.

Here are some tasks that you could consider assigning to a VA:

  • Social Media Management
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Post Topic Research
  • E-mail Management
  • Blog Commenting
  • Blog Carnival Submissions
  • Quality Assurance

How Do I Hire a Virtual Assistant for My Blog?

If you do decide you need an assistant to help out, I suggest you try to wait until your blog is making some money. You don’t want to invest much unless you can prove you can make money from your blogging.

There are many different websites that you can use to hire a VA, but for this kind of outsourcing I recommend using oDesk. That site is more focused on foreign workers offering very cheap wages. Because blogging isn’t super profitable early on, you need to get the most bang for your buck. You can try other websites, but this happens to be where I’ve had the best experience with hiring cheap employeees. Other sites tend to be much more expensive or they don’t have sufficient tools to track their time.

Before you sign up for a site like oDesk, take the time to create a list of everything you’d want your VA to handle. Think in terms of which tasks take up too much of your time and which tasks will ultimately help you the most. Explain each task in detail to the level that someone would understand with minimal questions. This will give you a good idea what strengths you should be looking for. Perhaps you need someone concentrating on marketing or social media. Or maybe you do need one that would be a jack of all trades.

Now you should be ready to post your job listing online. I would say explain your requirements in depth, but unfortunately most applicants will not read your entire job posting. To them it is a numbers game of applying to lots of jobs while spending minimal time on each application. It’s not quite the same as applying for a traditional job but don’t hold that against them.

So keep your job description brief and focus on specific tasks and experience you are after. The shorter it is, the more likely you are to get qualified applicants since they are more likely to read it all.

Actually choosing an applicant can be tough. First remove any that are outside your budget. You can always go back to those ones later if someone lower priced doesn’t work out. Next remove any with limited experience or low ratings. Then thoroughly go through the remaining applicants. Pay attention to their previous employers’ comments and the type of work they’ve been doing. Watch for ones that mention the specific type of work you need done.

Once you get the list narrowed down to several potential candidates, send them each a message. Beware that many applicants will just try to say what you want to hear for questions about things like experience. So you might want to quiz them a litte bit or ask for specific examples of experience. If you’re lucky one candidate will stand out as being qualified, motivated and a good communicator. Most importantly, you need to be able to trust them.

Getting Started With Your New Employee

Don’t rush to get them started on all of your tasks at once. Things will go more smoothly if you gradually get them accustomed to your requirements and expectations. While they may have done similar work in the past, it may not have been exactly what you want done. So be patient and try to helpful as they learn the ropes.

I won’t get into how to be a good boss to your virtual assistant, but keep in mind that you might want to consider providing some kind of additional incentive. I’m not the type to rule with an iron fist. I’d much rather work on getting my employee to respect me and like me as a friend. That approach won’t work for everyone though.

You also have to remember that your VA likely has other responsibilities. Unless you can afford to keep him or her working full time, they may have another contract or they might be actively looking for one. So be understanding if they cannot put in as many hours as you may like. If they do good work, think of ways you can encourage them to put in more hours on your project.

If their time really is limited, there is always the possibility of hiring someone more available or taking on a 2nd assistant. I find this is a good way to split up tasks between different skill levels or expertise. That way you can pay less for the really easy work. Ultimately you can get more work done too.

Don’t insist on forcing a situation though. Some employees just don’t work out for one reason or another. Don’t stress out over it. Just move on and find someone else if necessary. I’m not saying you have to give up on them easily, but be realistic when the situation will not work.

Summary

A virtual assistant may be just what you need to better manage your blog and take it to the next level. Just don’t expect any miracles as your success is still up to you. It is your choice what you do with that extra time. It is your choice what you assign your VA to work on.

Do you have a virtual assistant helping you with your blog? If not, it is something you are considering doing? If you do have one where do they focus most of their time?

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This entry was posted in Blogging, and tagged Comments42 Comments
By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 4 Sep 2013
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42 thoughts on “How a Virtual Assistant Can Be Your Blogging Savior

  1. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Good post Jeremy! As you know, I’ve been putting this off for a while and am finally at the place where I am going to start actively work on this. I can see the benefit of starting them out slow and then building up the things you have them do as it could potentially lead to long term success.

    Is there a way on oDesk to ask former or current clients of the prospective VA’s any questions beyond what would be included in the ratings? Or, are the ratings pretty straight forward?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes it definitely makes sense to start them out slow. It also allows you to gradually build trust.

      I don’t think they allow you to see which specific employers someone has worked for on oDesk. The ratings do have individual ratings for different areas and a written review. Do be careful of anyone who has hidden ratings as they are likely hiding something bad.

      Reply
  2. Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com

    This is an interesting article. I’d like to eventually get a VA to post comments around the web so that I can focus more on writing and delivering good content. Hopefully once some money comes in I can give it a try!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It does give you a lot more time to focus on content writing or marketing. Basically you can focus on your strengths while someone else handles the rest.

      Reply
  3. Debt Roundup

    Great post Jeremy. I just hired a writer to help me out on the blog for an article a week, but I am looking into getting a VA to do the other things that I need done, like blog commenting and social media marketing. Great write up.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      A staff writer can be just as valuable. I had planned on going that route but with the amount of guest posts coming my way, I decided to hold off on that expense.

      Reply
  4. Erastus

    I can’t avoid a smile while reading this article. I feel like the article is talking more about me. I am happy working with you Jeremy. I will give 100% of my energy to take your Blog to the next level.

    Reply
  5. Ankit

    I have been contemplating hiring a VA for e-mail management but always hold myself off thinking if they will be able to a good job at it. While most of the time, a canned response can be used there are times when e-mail responses need some personalization.

    Would you be able to add some perspective on how I can estimate the time requirement and also judge the VA’s effort (say x emails in 1 hour)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It’s really hard to estimate something like that as it would depend on the nature of the e-mails, the type of replies necessary and the skills of the VA. I would be wary of giving a VA access to my e-mail account as a first task. I’d much rather build up trust first. If you are comfortable with that, I suggest you make the plunge and give someone a chance. If they don’t meet your expectations you can always cancel the project or hire someone else.

      Reply
  6. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    I JUST started marketing myself as a virtual assistant. The tasks can really run the gamut and being a blogger myself, I know how much time can be freed up by hiring someone. Someday I’ll have to have my own virtual assistant, but in the meantime, contact me if you need anything :)

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      A fellow blogger would make a very qualified virtual assistant. Personally I find it much more feasible to hire overseas where someone is willing to work for lower wages.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Exactly…there are bound to be parts of blogging that you just do not enjoy or that takes up too much time. If your blog is making money, it can allow you to outsource those tasks and speed up the growth of your blog.

      Reply
  7. Hank

    I’ve tried hiring a VA a couple of times. I haven’t quite found one that I’ve liked working with. I have trouble finding enough work for them to do, and then I don’t always like the work that the oDesk VAs have done for me. I tried using them for blog commenting, but then I got emails from people saying that they were spammy. I ended up just giving up.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Blog commenting is a tough area to find someone qualified. They really need to have a soid grasp of the English language and should know the niche well too. You generally have to pay a bit more for someone to handle that kind of stuff. Plus it helps to know which countries tend to have more reliable workers for specific work. So you might be better off finding all kinds of other tasks for them to handle and do the commenting yourself. You don’t have to give them a ton of hours if you don’t have enough to assign them.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It is something that can be very beneficial, but probably shouldn’t be rushed into early. By doing all of the work yourself for a while you can be a much better boss.

      Reply
  8. Brian @ Luke1428

    I can see how this would be beneficial and an incredible time saver. But like you said, have to make some money first on your blog to make this really a viable option. I’m not there yet.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I’m sure you’ll get there soon Luke. An experienced web marketer may be able to hire a VA before their blog is making money. For someone still learning to make money online, they do need to ensure they have figured out what it takes to earn blog income.

      Reply
  9. Tushar @ Everything Finance

    VAs can indeed be very helpful. The only thing is, to make it worth it, you have to ensure that you use the time that the assistant frees up to do things that will better your blog. Many people use it as time off :) Though, time off is good too!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes time off is good, but if you use your VA just to create time off, your blog becomes a lot less profitable. Just because someone is working for you, it doesn’t mean you can put in less effort. I’m trying to find a balance between some time off but also more focus on important areas.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Finding just the right VA can be a challenge, especially if English skills are important. You might just need to be more persistent and give someone a chance from a different country.

      Reply
  10. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    I can see the benefit of having some help, especially with the parts that I don’t particularly enjoy. I’m sure giving up control is a bit hard, but it makes sense when you move up to the next level.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I had no problem giving up some control. Since they still report to you, you really have the final call about the approach they take. You can also assign them tasks that you are comfortable with someone else handing. You can keep doing as much or as little of the routine as you like.

      Reply
  11. Marissa@Financetriggers

    I agree with you completely. I appreciate the benefits of VAs. They can truly help in more ways than one. Finding the perfect match though can be tricky. I feel that offering a trial period of sorts is a good way to test the waters and see if the shoe fits.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yes a trial period is good for hiring any kind of online employee. It can be tough to know if someone is a good fit until they get started. By giving them a small task to start you can get a good vibe about whether it should work out or not.

      Reply
  12. C. the Romanian

    I am considering the idea of getting a virtual assistant for a while now and I see that more and more people use it. Social networking is starting to take up a lot of my time and I am sure that could be well spent. One of the things I’d like to get an VA for and I see it’s not listed there is finding guest posting opportunities.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      For sure, finding guest posting opportunities is a great task for a VA. I had my assistant handle some of that but I may be taking it over since I already know quite a few bloggers.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I agree that in those kinds of situations a VA can be particularly valuable. Most bloggers actually are in that situation and end up getting overwhelmed by all the work required.

      Reply
  13. Jack

    Interesting idea. Enwealthen is a hobby of mine at this point, not a revenue generating exercise, so the thought of spending more money for someone to work on it for me isn’t very appealing at this point.

    That said, maybe I’ll be rolling in the greenbacks in the future, and willing to finance a VA.

    I can see the benefits of doing marketing work for you. But how could a VA handle your email, or replying to comments without your direct supervision. Seems like more work.

    Reply
  14. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living

    Really good post, Jeremy. I’m not at a point yet that I can afford a VA but like you point out, when you can, the time savings can be “reinvested” into the blog, only making it even more profitable. One day soon I hope to be able to hire one.

    Reply
  15. Fig

    Great post! After blogging myself for a few years I’ve started offering virtual assistant services doing blog related tasks. It’s great because I’m passionate about doing the activities and love helping other bloggers succeed!

    Reply

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