Blog Title: Slow The Cook Down
About Betty: Betty started her food blog, Slow The Cook Down, as a hobby 3 1/2 years ago, fitting it in hours between busy days (and evenings!) in her career as a TV Producer in London. A move across the Atlantic to Toronto made betty re-evaluate her TV career and pursue a better work life balance. She started VAing for other food bloggers as some extra income between TV contracts, but was quickly inundated with requests and after some (not so tough) decisions now works full time working with food bloggers of all shapes and sizes on various tasks and projects.
Notes from Episode #007: CREATE more by hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA)
Betty had been working in a busy career that she had fallen out of love with in London, UK and had a crazy idea of being a full time food blogger. When she moved to Toronto, it helped her re-evaluate priorities. She became a VA so she could pick up some extra income after the move.
Betty quickly picked up a couple of jobs with some big bloggers while still doing some TV work, then realized she did not want to do the TV work. Betty was able to turn being a VA into a full time job. Her big break was connecting with Casey Markee who now recommends her as a VA after he completes SEO audits.
Every food blogger has different needs. To be effective as a team, it’s important to communicate and work through questions and needs so that the food blogger and VA know what to expect and what they are getting. VAs will make friends with a lot of clients; it really helps them to give tailored support with this relationship that’s more personal.
There are not many jobs where you’re constantly learning so much and then use that knowledge to then implement for other bloggers something that can benefit their blog.
Your VA will have a pocketful of all these different strategies they learn by working with others that they can try out to grow your audience.
HOW TO BEGIN SEARCHING FOR A VA
Decide what you really want in a VA before looking for one: Is it a continuous list or is it a task or two? Get specific about what work you need done. Know what you are looking for, identify the areas you are looking for help with. Do you need an extra pair of hands to complete recipe cards, do you need posts rewriting, do you need re-shoots, do you want to grow a certain media channel?
Some bloggers find it really hard to trust someone with their blog and social media – Betty has her own blog, it’s hard to hand things over – she gets it, it’s your baby!! But by hiring a VA to do a specific task, it allows you to do what you enjoy doing – creating! A VA is an assistant. There are jobs that you can leave them and they’ll get it done. Then there are jobs that you’ll need to be in constant communication about.
When hiring a VA – strive to hire someone you trust and that you have a good rapport with. There are stories where bloggers have hired VAs that don’t understand food blogging and have really messed things up! Your VA doesn’t always need a lot of food blog experience but DO ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to manage your VA – your blog is your business!
Face to face conversations via Skype or phone conversations are great so you can hear the inflections are very important when interviewing and then having communication for work.
SImple contracts or terms are good to have with a VA but it doesn’t need to be complicated.
Start with small tasks with a new VA and see how its working out. You can check their work and know if its going well. Then you can build on that with new responsibilities and more projects.
It’s important to understand that VAs, while having a wide knowledge base may not be experts in certain areas. For example, one person can schedule on Tailwind but that doesn’t make them a Pinterest strategist. It may not be the same person who can handle all of these things – ask questions and ask for references.
Where to being your VA search: On facebook, search in these groups; Food Bloggers Central and Food Bloggers Virtual Assistant group.
If you find a good VA, keep hold of them! Most VAs are really flexible with their hours and understand needs vary. If you have a small budget, communicate it and they can work within that. Taking care of your VA is done with trust and communication – it goes both ways. Be a good person. Buy gifts. Pay on time. Compliments and acknowledging the work being done well are important.
Treat your blog as a business. Don’t be afraid to say what you want. If you aren’t comfortable, walk away from it. Be a CEO. Be a nice person. It’s not that hard people, come on.
Helpful references from the episode:
Casey Markee podcasts
WPRM or Tasty recipe card plugins
Food Bloggers Central facebook group – so much helpful and free info!
Food Bloggers Virtual Assistant facebook group to find VAs