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. 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?
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 (check out this article for info about choosing a web host)
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
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
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?
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.
Still have questions about virtual assistants? Ask me anything in the comments below.