The Number 1 Secret of Successful Travel Bloggers

Jessica Peterson

The Number 1 Secret of Successful Bloggers

Gary Arndt has one. Melyssa Griffin has a couple. The Blonde Abroad has six. Global Girl Travels (ahem, this blog) has two.

So, what is the number one secret of successful travel bloggers? Keep reading.

As many posts as there are about achieving blogosphere stardom, there is one thing left out. This key to success is pretty much the same across blogging genres — fashion, travel, lifestyle. Lest I burry the lede any further, that secret is that successful bloggers employ at least one virtual assistant.

The fact is I couldn’t function without at least one assistant because I’m running two travel blog businesses (see also The Guam Guide), I manage a half-dozen client websites, I am the marketing manager for a non-profit, and I run my own non-profit! I travel full-time and host live events on Facebook every month for Facet where I am a content creator. At the same time, I create travel content and films for virtually every destination I visit, most of which are not sponsored. I’m also married with a cat. Phew! That was a mouthful, but that’s my life.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

Apple keyboard

In case you’re still living like it’s 1999, a VA (virtual assistant) is a remote employee, usually a contractor, who does any of the following for a blogger:

  • Schedule and post to social media accounts
  • Manage sales and merchandise
  • Manage a schedule of events
  • Respond to reader emails
  • Reach out to brands for collaborations and sponsorships
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Graphic design
  • Edit photos and videos
  • Compose and edit blog posts

A virtual assistant is much more than a personal assistant. They are usually a skilled writer, designer, and/or marketing specialist. I’ve hired and trained four entry-level assistants to do all of the things listed above. One of my current assistants is smarter than me about page rank, so we are working together on that goal for Global Girl Travels.

Where to Find a Virtual Assistant

TeaHaus man on laptop computer in Ann Arbor, Michigan

There’s a couple ways to approach hiring a virtual assistant. You can recruit from among your associates (friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers), post a help wanted ad (online, of course), or ask successful bloggers to recommend someone (perhaps their own).

I’ve done it a variety ways. A couple times I hired interns and then groomed them into virtual assistants, teaching them to be mini me’s. This has worked out well for years because I didn’t have a big budget to hire an expensive pro. Only recently have I hired someone with experience whom I didn’t train.

I got an email from another blogger’s assistant months ago, so I asked her if she was available to work for me. She was! She’s a rockstar VA from the Philippines, a country I’ve visited often and a place from where many of my friends originate, so I felt great about hiring her. That’s the beauty about the “virtual” part — your assistant can live or work from anywhere with a good Internet connection.

Another way to source an assistant is through Upwork, where you can search by very specific skills and read contractors’ history with past clients. VAs can also be found by putting a “want ad” on relevant Facebook blogger groups.

How to Interview a Potential Virtual Assistant

Woman in Shanghai, China

If you can’t meet with the person IRL, schedule a Google Hangout or a Skype call. It’s best to talk face-to-face if possible, especially if you’re looking for a long-term assistant. Because your VA will most likely have access to your website, social accounts, and other sensitive info, you want to vet them properly and talking in real-time is a must.

Ask for the interviewee’s portfolio, resume, and case studies, that is success stories from their work with other bloggers. I went a step farther and asked my future VA to tell me what she’d do to improve my traffic and grow my readership. She came back with excellent suggestions that we are implementing now.

How Do I Know If I Really Need a Virtual Assistant?

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

By now, you’re probably salivating at the thought of getting help at blogging. Or perhaps you’re thinking, I don’t have the money to pay a virtual assistant. You may wonder, How do I know the investment is worth the money?

The fact is, blogging of any kind takes a huge investment of money and time, not only in the beginning but all the way through. Blogging as a business is freeing in a lot of ways, but it’s still a business. Most businesses require employees to grow and serve customers’ needs. In the case of blogging, you not only serve readers, but brands and/or clients. It’s a lot to juggle.

Still not sure if you need a virtual assistant? Ask yourself:

  • Have I been blogging for a couple years with little growth in traffic?
  • Do I find it impossible to monetize my blog?
  • Am I always behind on writing, photography, posting, and scheduling social media posts?

If you answered yes to any of the above, consider how a virtual assistant could help you reach your next blogging goal. The great thing about VAs, is you can use them as needed, per project or per month until you get your head above water or reach your next milestone.

I’ve written a Blogging Master Class where I talk about finding your niche, increasing your traffic with Pinterest, and how to brand your blog.

Still have questions about virtual assistants? Ask me anything in the comments below.

If this post was useful, please share!

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Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • Great post – I agree that having a VA can make life so much better as a blogger! I had one temporarily, but it didn’t work out. I decided to double down and learn how to be a better manager first, before hiring someone else 🙂

    • Thanks, Valerie. That’s a great point. Managing a contractor isn’t always easy. Communication and organization are key.

  • Ruthie Ridley

    This was super helpful… the minute I can afford a VA to do more for me I will have that be the case!! It must make life much more manageable!!

  • Extremely useful information. I am actually looking to crack into the virtual assistant realm and it is always nice to know what bloggers other than myself are looking for. This was definitely a gem that I will share among my social media.

  • Great post! I recently just looking into becoming a VA myself, so this is helpful both as a blogger and as someone looking to potentially grow as Virtual Assistant. Thanks for linking up!!

  • Oyinkan Ogunleye

    This was extremely helpful! I’m actually considering getting a VA. It’s just hard entrusting someone else with my blog and believing they will do it well but the help is needed.

    • Hi Oyinkan. Sometimes a VA is just an extension of you, but if you need someone more skilled than you, that’s where the interview process is so important.

  • Harmony at Momma To Go

    I cannot wait till the day I need to hire someone out! Just started my travel, fitness and parenting blog about three weeks ago. Looking forward to reading more on your site, its gorgeous!

  • contented traveller

    VA’s are a very good thing to have. Being able to let go of the controls to trust one enough is something that takes times ..and yes i am speaking from personal experience. I had a VA who was brilliant, posting to one of my social media accounts for me ..and then I realised that I didn’t understand the platform enough myself. So my advice is to know the platform inside out, BEFORE you hand over aspects to a VA. Now I am confident in know knowledge base, and confident enough to employ a VA, and am going to be employing more shortly.

    • I’ve found it to be a mutual learning experience with my new VA, who has experience working for other bloggers. On the flip side, I’ve sometimes hired assistants who I trained from scratch.

  • LydiaCLee

    Great post. I do wonder how people find the time….

    • Thanks, Lydia. I wondered the same thing then I realized that most bloggers just never talk about their VAs.

  • Jim Vail

    Great information. We haven’t quite gotten to that point yet, but it is something we have started thinking about. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

  • I have never even thought about this! I feel like this blog I am building is my baby and I want to make it on my own. If I am in the same spot as now in a year, I will definitely think about getting an assistant to help out. I am actually becoming someones virtual assistant in a week so hopefully I’ll learn some useful tips to use in my own blog too! Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading and congrats on becoming a VA. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot!

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