Ready to start outsourcing??
Excellent, then welcome to part two of my “How I do it” blog series, where I am sharing the ins and outs of how I run both my blogging businesses.
I can actually remember the first day I got help on my blog. Before that it was just me sitting at my tiny overflowing IKEA desk in an office I shared with some other creative friends.
And then one day an email popped into my inbox.
“Internship Application” it read.
And I almost deleted it.
To be honest I was a bit embarrassed to get an “intern”.
Weren’t they for “real” businesses?
And plus, where in the world would I put her (I briefly considered building a second desk out of make-up samples, but thought better of it).
But I opened the email and read it anyway, and the girl seemed sweet and smart, and better yet her uni required her to go work somewhere (for free!), one day a week for the next few months so I thought… Why not?!
And from the first day she set foot in my office, it was love at first sight.
I mean not so much with her personally (although she did go on to actually be a part of my team for over 4 years), but with the idea of having help.
..It was love at first sight… not so much with her personally… but with the idea of having help!
I started small, getting her to help me find images, or products for blog posts, or scheduling my newsletters (which at the time were daily!).
And then as she got more comfortable with my blog and style, and I got more comfortable with handing things over I slowly gave her more and more.
In the end she became my Beauty Editor (so she did half the content on my blog DDGdaily.com at the time), and also looked after all the social media.
And she freed up so much of my time to be able to do the more important “blog growth” work. Time I’d previously not just spent doing the tasks that she could be doing, but also procrastinating over doing them (because they weren’t really things I loved doing!).
Start outsourcing : Your creative and social media
Like any good addict, I found I started to need more and more help to get my fix. And as I was on the local uni’s radar by that stage, I started taking on interns each semester (and yes, I got my first intern, who was now a paid team member, to look after them too).
And as time went on I found a few other gems that way, and as soon as I could afford to I would offer them a paid position too.
Usually just one day a week each at first, and as a contractor only.
So it was essentially a “try before you buy” system, and it completely removed the risk for me.
And this worked so perfectly for everyone, as they were still at uni anyway so only looking for part-time work. Plus this work was way more fun or interesting than any other part time jobs going around.
Right now DDG has a team of three (not including myself), which is my Deputy Editor (3 days a week), my Beauty & Style editor & Social Media assitant (1.5 days a week), and my graphic design (4 hours per week).
So now you know how I found my physical staff, and how I got started with them, what about finding virtual team members (or more commonly known as VAs or Virtual Assistants).
Start outsourcing : Your virtual team
The next step in my “out-source everything” quest, was to get some virtual help.
And no, this doesn’t mean robots or computers (although I do use a lot of automation stuff too, that’s a whole different blog post). No the next thing I needed was a Virtual Assistant, someone who could do a few hours every day, and who wouldn’t cost me an arm and/or a leg to do it.
You see Australia is a very expensive country to hire even junior level people in. We have one of the highest minimum wages in the world. Even with a rubbish exchange rate it is actually much cheaper to hire someone equally skilled from either the US or UK than to hire locally. And then 10 times cheaper again if you hire from a developing country like Malaysia or the Phillipines.
And when you are running a small business you need to make the most of every dollar, so that’s why I decided to go off shore.
Now for DDG I needed two seperate skill sets.
I needed someone with good grammar and spelling skills (aka a native english speaker), to be our proofreader (previously I had been proof reading every post before it went live each morning, and as we did 5-6 posts a day this was taking up too much of my time… plus it meant I couldn’t take any time off!). And I needed someone who was quick and skilled at data entry and more basic tasks.
So in the end I got two virtual helpers. One a UK based English student (at the time), who would login and proof read our posts over night for us (about 1 hour a day, $22 per hour), and also a Malaysian based Virtual Assistant who was doing roughly 1-2 hours per day for me at $5 per hour.
My Malaysian VA’s main job at first was to monitor and report on all our paid campaigns (she would check the post stats and shares each day and report them to the client, or let me know if they needed any extra love). But as time went on, and again as I learned to trust her and her abilities, I slowly started giving her more and more tasks.
– Checking my emails (deleting any junk, responding to basic questions and highlighting important emails)
– Sharing (and re-sharing) all posts across social media
– Monitoring social media and Facebook groups (deleting any inappropriate comment, and answering and basic questions)
– Scheduling social media
– Formatting and scheduling blog posts & newsletters
– Running competitions (setting them up, drawing and notifying winners etc..)
– Sending daily emails with an overview of the key stats – so most popular posts from the day before etc..
– Monthly stats tracking (number of new followers, traffic growth etc..)
– Customer support (for any paid products, email courses, or even free promotions)
– Advertiser outreach & follow ups
… as you can see, the list can go on, and on (and on!)
And as that list does grow it can actually be really easy to lose track of what is and isn’t being done, which brings me nicely to my next blog post.. How I manage my blogging team (which you’ll find at the same bat time, and same bat station next week!)