How to Save Time as a Blogger: Hire a Virtual Assistant
Who knew that blogging can take so much time? When I started Frugal Rules about 15 or so months ago, I knew it would be work, but I didn’t realize how much time it takes to build and maintain a growing blog. You have the networking aspect, responding to emails from members of the press and advertisers, and marketing of your blog…oh yeah, and…the business that I run with my wife. After speaking with other bloggers, I knew I was not the only one sitting up at night with my blog, but I still plugged along.
While sometimes I wish that I were, unfortunately I am not a machine and thus need help running the blog, especially if I plan to take it to the next level. This is where hiring a virtual assistant for your blog comes into play.
You Can’t do it All
I had avoided the calls to hire a virtual assistant for some time. Mrs. Frugal Rules was telling me to hire one, and other blogging friends were telling me to hire one. I guess part of it goes back to that I didn’t like the feeling that I was giving up ownership of the blog somehow.
I was looking at it the wrong way. There is only so much time in the day and I can only do so much. This is also not to mention the fact that I don’t know everything – shocker I know. 😉 After giving it some thought I saw the need to hire a virtual assistant, two in fact, to help take some of the weight off my shoulders and ideally to help free up more of my time to do more marketing-related things to grow my site.
What Can you Hire a Virtual Assistant to do?
For those who don’t know, a virtual assistant is basically anyone you can hand off certain tasks to so that you don’t have to do them – speaking simplistically of course. If you’re thinking about trying to hire a virtual assistant for your site but don’t know what to hand off, there are a number of things you can outsource, such as:
- Carnival submissions
- Blog commenting – this is one you need to be very careful with, assuming you want quality of course
- Social media management
- Social bookmarking
- Email management
- Uploading posts and pictures into WordPress
- Work on internal linking for SEO purposes
This is just a simple list of what you can hire a virtual assistant to do and is not meant to be exhaustive. You can go as far or as little as you want, though I’d suggest starting off small as you get used to working together and make sure they can handle the smaller tasks. Assuming they can, then it should be a somewhat natural transition to give or train your virtual assistant additional responsibilities.
I know that I am not unique to the feeling that hiring a virtual assistant for your blog is giving up some ownership of it. Now that I have gone through the process, I see it from another angle in that it can be really beneficial to helping you grow your blog by freeing up your time to handle other higher level things.
Where Do You Start When Hiring a Virtual Assistant?
So, this begs the question of where do you go if you want to hire a virtual assistant? Thankfully, there are a number of companies out there that have virtual assistant candidates to choose from, such as oDesk, Elance and Freelancer.com to name a few.
I can’t really speak to the others, but I went with oDesk as I read some good reviews about them and seemed to be a good place to hire a virtual assistant from. That said, my steps are assuming you’re going with oDesk to hire your virtual assistant and may vary somewhat if you go with a different freelance/contract work service.
Post the Job Ad
The first thing you’ll want to do is post your job ad. My tip is to be specific and clear about what you’re wanting from them. You may want to ask them to type a certain word at the beginning of their response to make sure they’re reading the posting and not just someone trying to get the gig from you. Many will tell you only what they think you want to hear and this tip alone helped me weed out those who obviously did not read the description. In my case, I asked them to type “frugal” at the beginning of their application, those that did not do this automatically got thrown out.
Ignore Their Rates
After you post your job ad, you can then wait for the responses. As we’re personal finance bloggers I know we all want to be wise with our money, but I say ignore the rates in the beginning unless they’re just crazy high. As I’ve learned, many are willing to negotiate. That said, look at their most recent reviews and how they’ve tested on the self-assessment tests. If you’re wanting to hire a blog commenter then you want to make sure they have a good grasp of English.
Get in Touch with the Quality Matches
Once you’ve weeded out those who don’t have good reviews or crazy rates, you’ll want to get in contact with the remaining candidates. What I did was send them a sample test to check for accuracy. My tip is to test them on one of the more simple tasks and ask them to write out how they’d do it. Make it clear and make it simple to understand so you don’t make it more difficult than it has to be.
Interview The Remaining Candidates
Assuming the sample test has worked out well, you’ll want to interview the remaining candidates – which really should only be a small handful at this time. There are a variety of methods to do this, and I went with Skype to interview them. This allows you to ask more in depth questions, clearly communicate what you’re wanting, and discuss pay rates. It’s from this information that you can decide which virtual assistant you want to hire.
As an aside, if you go through oDesk to hire a virtual assistant, they offer a service to help you with much of this for your first hire. Speaking personally, I did not use it, but it looked to be a very helpful service if that is something you feel you’d benefit from.
Get Started With Your New Virtual Assistant
Going back to the point of the post, if you’re looking to hire a virtual assistant then time savings is one of the biggest benefits of doing so. In addition to that, you get the benefit of handing tasks off that you may not be as skilled in as you’d like and ultimately allow you to work on other things you’ve maybe been putting off.
I will give a disclaimer though, have realistic expectations when you hire a virtual assistant. Unless you catch lightning in a bottle, then you likely can’t start off with handing a ton off right away as there will be a learning curve. Start off slowly and allow them to get a grasp of what you expect.
Along with the realistic expectations, realize that they may not have as much time as you would like or not have all the skills you’re looking for. If this is the case, then don’t be opposed to hiring a second virtual assistant to help with those other items and tasks.
Most importantly, it’s key to maintain clear and regular communication with your virtual assistant and treat them how you would want to be treated as no one wants to work for a tyrant. If you manage it wisely, they can become a valuable asset to your team that can help you grow your blog by freeing up your time for other blogging items.
I apologize for the near 1,400 mega post, but wanted to make sure I provided a step by step process by which I was able to find a virtual assistant so you have a framework to follow. That said, if you do have any questions in regards to hiring a virtual assistant, just let me know in the comments or contact me.
Have you ever thought about hiring a virtual assistant for your blog? What would you do for your site if you were given extra time each week?
Photo courtesy of: Alan Clark