Are you overwhelmed by the requirements of keeping up your blog?
Feel like you’re missing out on opportunities, since you spend all your time keeping up with marketing? Choosing how much time to spend on your blog versus how much income to spend is a choice all bloggers have to make. Doing everything yourself can take a toll. Is it time to ask for help to get more bang for your buck? Blog agents and VAs can help your blog go much further for a small investment. Let’s look at the pros and cons of hiring extra help so you can earn more, and how to do it yourself easier.
Can a Blog Agent Help Monetize Your Blog?
What is a blog agent?
A blog agent can help connect you to and negotiate with brands and align opportunities for you. She will get to know your brand in order to find the proper brands to pitch. She can also help you negotiate when brands reach out to you. Blog agents are comparable to companies that connect bloggers and brands, like TapInfluence, except that an agent can often you bring a much higher sponsorship rate.
- Often has blogger experience and thus has walked in your shoes
- Usually has connections with brands or knows how to find the appropriate party to contact for your pitch
- Can provide constructive criticism to improve your profile
- Because they work on commission, blog agents help you acquire long-term sponsorships, rather than one-off posts
- Can negotiate a higher rate for you
- Your agent very likely will have tools that are too costly for you yourself as a blogger
- Blog agents can be selective about who they partner with, since it is their reputation on the line. See expert tips on how to make yourself more attractive to brands.
- This is a relatively new area, so it may be difficult to find an agent.
- Very few people need one so it remains to be seen if this market will grow.
- If you are really struggling with your blog overall, you may need a blog coach rather than a blog agent.
The cost varies, but you want to find commission-based blog agents, so that you will only pay once you land the projects. It’s also best to find one who charges a percentage of your asking fee.
This is the part that might be tricky. If you Google “blog agent,” you’re not going to find what you need. It’s best to find one through a blogger network or word of mouth.
Can a VA Improve Your Productivity?
What is a VA?
Short for “Virtual Assistant,” a VA can help reduce your workload. While some of them offer some specialized services (such as accounting), most of them offer practical services that can help bloggers free up time: social media sharing, limited graphic design, blog maintenance, repurposing existing content. Once you find a VA, you should ask for her complete list of services to discover which of those tasks you would rather outsource.
VA services run the gamut. In addition to what I’ve mentioned, a VA can perform online research, manage emails and email marketing, promote your projects, giveaways and broadcasts, manage surveys, and create content.
- Many VAs use professional tools you can’t afford for tasks such as social media sharing, email marketing and accounting.
- Frees up time so you can focus on your most important work
- Handles boring but necessary tasks you’re likely to postpone
- May be willing to promote you on her social media
- Regular expense involved
- You generally need to sign a contract, although terms and negotiability will be up to the VA. Read carefully and make sure you agree with everything. Remember to ask for clarification on the contract or request a change if you feel it’s necessary.
- Misunderstandings and miscommunication of what you need can happen
VAs tend to charge hourly and prices typically start at $15-25 per hour. Often a VA will contract a certain amount of hours for you every week or month (i.e., 3 hours per week).
Lots of bloggers use these services, so your best bet is to ask around for recommendations, particularly if you are seeking expertise in a certain area. Many times, you’ll find that bloggers you already know and trust already offer these services. Keep in mind that trust is very important since your VA will have access to many of your passwords. Additionally, some VAs act more like social media managers, some specialize more in blog services (maintenance, SEO) and others have more administrative skills, such as bookkeeping or document organization. Finding a good fit is up to you.
DIY Blog Business
This is always an option, but there are considerations other than budget:
- Social Media Planning Social media scheduling and tracking services can be costly, anywhere from $10 to $100 per month, even for a single blog. Finding an affordable service that does everything is difficult.
- Email Marketing Even if you have a free email service the routine of email marketing can be time consuming. And as your email list grows, your service may start charging you.
- Accounting This is every blogger’s hated task, but it’s crucial in order to keep your taxes in order. A VA can help organize your income.
- Writing If you are outsourcing writing tasks, can your VA speak in your voice? Does she understand your niche? You might want to find a VA who has experience in this area.
- Marketing It’s said that 80% of your work should be self-promotion, but deeper blog topics and 1500-word posts are lot of work to do on your own. Marketing is a great task to outsource.
- Networking Is it worth it to outsource other tasks to make more time to go to events in person so you can meet brands, vendors and potential clients or readers you can work with?
Pros and Cons of DIY
Obviously, this is a lot of work, particularly if you are a blogger looking for steady full or part-time income. I can tell you that most bloggers I know who are making a full time living invest in VAs or other staff. Rather than a list of pros and cons, what you need to be thinking about is how valuable your time is. Is a few dollars an hour worth hiring a VA? Would paying out a commission to a blog agent to acquire higher income be worth your investment?
Smarter Ways to Do It All Yourself
Here are smarter ways to do it on your own:
Using the Right Tools
Social media sharing tools have pros and cons as well. For example, it’s best to schedule right from Facebook (as of this writing). Make sure you are using free or low cost services that are easy for you. It’s important to understand your medium too, like using 11 or more hashtags for Instagram, but none on Facebook (except when requested by client). Try other tools for free and just select one that fits you best. Repurposing content: Be smart and re-use your best content to save time. Creatively reuse content, like for videos and ebooks.
Networking Is Your Downtime
You have no choice but to network, so enjoy it! Drop the Candy Crush and get back to using social media the way it was meant to be used – by engaging with others when you’re free.
Narrow Your Focus
You don’t need to network with everyone, even within your niche, or use every social media tool. Start with 3-6 people you enjoy and network with them as much as possible. Focus on growing just one social media tool until it becomes second nature. Whether you hire a blog agent, a VA or do it all yourself, it’s up to you to make smart choices to manage your blog as a business and increase your income.