When you decided to start taking blogging seriously, you figured you would be spending the majority of your time…well, blogging, right?
Instead, a myriad of other tasks have showed up to the party, taking more time than you ever expected. Before you know it, writing became a smaller and smaller slice of your blogging-activity pie chart. Trust me, you’re not alone.
Tasks like promotion, emailing, optimizing, designing, and socializing can be major time-eaters, and before you know it, the sun has set with that brilliant article still residing in your noggin.
The most rewarding (and effective) task of blogging is to build and connect with an online community. If everyday tasks are keeping you from engaging with your readers through writing and responding, your blog will begin to suffer — and you will likely get burned out.
Outsourcing tasks to other trusted professionals — whether they are freelancers, agencies, or even virtual personal assistants — can free you up to do the things only you can do. It’s your job to keep things running smoothly, and part of being in charge is delegating when necessary.
Money is certainly a factor, but not a roadblock. Perhaps the return on investment (in both time and money) will make it worth your while; consider the growth your blog would see if you could do all of the important things without letting other areas suffer. If you have a challenge to overcome, outsourcing may be your answer:
Challenge 1: You want to increase traffic from search engines
Organic search traffic is a valuable source of new visitors to your blog. Organic means the unpaid website links that naturally appear after a user searches specific keywords or phrases. What you may not realize is that simple wording changes can have a big impact on your ability to get organic search traffic.
For example, if you have a blog about health and fitness, you might consider putting “eating healthy foods” in your site title or articles. After a keyword analysis, you might change your mind about that.
It turns out, the term “eating healthy foods” has medium competition and 368,000 monthly searches, while a similar term, “how to be healthy” has low competition and over 16.5 million monthly searches. Assuming the two phrases are interchangeable to your audience, It’s easy to see which phrase might attract more traffic.
If the idea of increased traffic excites you, but the idea of maintaining an effective SEO plan drains you, consider outsourcing to an SEO specialist. If your goal is to increase momentum, a consultation and detailed strategy may be all you need to do it on your own. But if your blog is large enough, the money spent on letting the pros do all the backend work might be worthwhile.
Challenge 2: You want to keep communication a priority (without spending hours in your email each day!)
Email is the interstate of communication in the online world, and it’s understandably a priority for many bloggers. Unfortunately, we can become victims of our own success, and spend hours of vital writing and connecting time answering a flood of emails that could be delegated elsewhere.
I can already hear the tires screeching in your brain — the idea of letting someone else handle your email can feel a little uncomfortable at first. Tim Ferriss of the Four Hour Workweek observed, “E-mail is the last thing people let go of. Fortune 500 CEOs, bestselling authors, celebrities — I know dozens of top performers who delegate everything but e-mail, which they latch onto as something only they can do.”
I’m not suggesting that someone else answer all of your email — it’s a good thing to be personal with your readers. Just take a step back and consider a few tasks that take up time, but don’t require your personal touch. Examples include communicating with guest bloggers, sending frequently-requested information, answering frequently-asked questions, and assisting with technical problems (like downloading an e-book).
Some issues can be dealt with auto-responders and email software, but if you’re still spending several hours a day on email, you should consider outsourcing that task to an assistant — so you can spend your valuable time on the things that earn the big bucks. A virtual assistant can filter out and take care of emails that don’t require your personal attention, so you only worry about the few items that do.
Challenge 3: You want to spend time writing rich, in-depth articles, without compromising the frequency of postings
Cue the guest bloggers! A proven method of attaining links, increasing online authority, and getting brand exposure is having guest articles posted on reputable blogs. With all of those businesses and bloggers out there looking to guest-post, why not open open your blog to it?
Even if your blog is highly personal, a guest post on a relevant topic can add a fresh voice and perspective and fill in between your blog posts. Having a supply of guest posts can especially handy for when you’re away for vacation or even longer. Kat Griffin’s recent Problogger article explained how she used guest posts to take a ten-week maternity leave from blogging.
With a supply of guest blog posts to beef up your schedule, you’ll have more time to focus on longer, richer articles while maintaining a suitable posting frequency. If you intend on posting guest articles more than just occasionally, you may benefit from outsourcing guest blogger communication and even editing to a virtual assistant.
Challenge 4: You want to maintain an active community on several social media pages
Outsourcing social media isn’t for everyone, but it can have some major benefits. A good social media manager will know the ins-and-outs of social media, and can help you set realistic, attainable goals. They can take the burden of frequent postings off of you, so you can enjoy posting again without feeling obligated to say something just for the sake of it.
Not only will social media managers send out messages, they will be able to handle incoming messages and comments. In the fast-paced online world, social profiles can turn into customer service centers, and your ability handle issues and complaints quickly will make a big impression on your audience.
If your blog is primarily a brand — like SitePoint — and not a personal name, there’s no reason why someone else can’t be the “man behind the curtain,” as long as they get to know the ins-and-outs of your brand.
One of the most important considerations, of course, is trust — so if you don’t have a personal relationship with this person/company, be sure to check their references and see for yourself what their work looks like in action.
Challenge 5: You want to run giveaways and other promotions
Giveaways: all the cool kids are doing it. They may be effective at gaining spurts of short-term “buzz”, but you should really consider whether the time and money running them are producing lasting results. Other questions you should be able to answer:
- Do I have any legal considerations?
- Do I have a dedicated page for giveaway rules and disclaimers?
- Should there be any requirements from the entrants, like location or age?
- Am I offering the right prizes for my audience?
- Should I seek out sponsors or just purchase the prizes on my own?
- How will I promote my giveaway to get the most bang for my buck?
If you are unsure about some of those answers, it would be a good idea to at least consult with a public relations or marketing expert. Once you have the structure down for one giveaway, you might be able to achieve the rest on your own, or with the help of a virtual assistant. If your promotions are large and/or frequent (think expensive items), an experienced promotions agency could streamline and manage the process well enough to make it worth outsourcing.
Share your two cents
Have you successfully outsourced blog work? What can you share about your experiences?
This post was written by Willie Deutsch, who is a blogger that works with Belatrix Software Factory.