A Kinder, Smarter, Better Way To Think About Blogging

a better way to think about blogging
Here’s a great way to feel terrible about yourself and doubt your internet abilities:

Google ‘rewardstyle highest earner.’

(Don’t do it! Did you do it? Gah! Dooooon’t!)

If you do that (which you shouldn’t) you’ll find all sorts of information about fashion bloggers who earn multiple six-figures by posting gorgeous, professional-level photos of their cleverly assembled outfits.

And then, if you’re human, you might decide
a) you should start a blog and make a bunch of money
b) that the blog you already have clearly sucks because you’re not earning six-figures on affiliate links for skorts

I say this because I’ve done it. The self-doubt part. The why-am-I-not-making-more-money part.

I’ve glared at my sweet little blog and cursed my own inclination for posts that can’t really be monetized and aren’t ‘Pinterest-friendly.’ I’ve wondered if I should start posting about makeup and clothes even though I have a three-product makeup bag and just rotate through three sundresses from Target.

This mindset is completely unfair. It’s disrespectful to my own hard work, to my blog, and even to my readers. While Yes & Yes hasn’t brought me zillions of dollars, it brought me experiences and opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

It introduced me to some of my closest friends and helped me meet amazing people while I traveled. It found me on-camera gigs, writing jobs, a literary agent, and an app developer. It gave me (another) reason to try new things and a place to share them. It gave me a space to share important stories and connect like-minded people.

And I think that’s the reality of blogging in 2015. Sure, it’s possible to earn a living from ad space and affiliate links. It’s also possible to earn a living as a professional athlete or an astronaut.

You’ll like blogging more if you view it as an opportunity maker rather than a money maker.

We’ll all enjoy our blogs more if we see them as a means to an end. Luckily, we get to choose what that ‘end’ looks like. Maybe it’s establishing yourself as an expert so you can book more clients. Maybe you’re uniting people around a common cause or starting an important conversation. Maybe you’re developing your photography portfolio or interviewing your professional idols. For nearly every opportunity, there’s an online instigator.

Give your online space the credit and love it deserves. (We all know that life experiences are worth more than skorts, right?)

How has blogging affected your life? What opportunities has it presented? Do you ever get hung up on how much money you’re making directly from your blog?

photo by  // cc

Hurry! Or these 9 helpful blog posts will get cold!

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Isn’t this cute? Download it here

It’s the end of the month! I’ve been stockpiling great links for you!

If you’re suffering from blogger’s block, Jess has six great places you can find content ideas.

If you can only spend a limited amount of time on social media, how should you spend it?

I loved Michelle’s post about how freelancers need to stop giving each other limiting advice.
Every time I’ve asked for help in replying to a terrible email, when I thought it has been clear that my main issue is in composing a break-up reply that does not turn into just one big long blue streak of swear words, I’ve had people respond suggesting ways I can salvage the project and keep working with the client.

Ooooh! 10 interesting ways to use Instagram!

Want to make your life better? (Dur, we all do.) Five simple emails you can send that will do just that.

What’s the daily habit that contributed to Steve Jobs success? (It’s not what you’d expect.)
Think about work/life integration, not balance. “Balance” suggests that the two are opposite and have nothing in common. But that’s not true. If you keep them separate, you don’t learn to transfer what you do successfully in one domain to the other. When we’re mindful, we realize that categories are person-constructed and don’t limit us.

Food bloggers! Or anybody who photographs things inside! This is for you! 5 ways to improve your photography with artificial light.

Co-signed on this: the biggest mistake I made starting my freelance business.

Also: Email guidelines for the world.

And a few posts you might have missed: 2 Lazy Things I’m Doing To Improve My Writing + Business By Osmosis and How To Win Friends + Influence Buyers On Instagram

How To Write 2,732 Blog Posts Without Losing Your Damn Mind

write blog posts
In internet years, I am a stegosaurus.
I am a pterodactyl circling the tar pit.
I am a wooly mammoth, nibbling a bit of lichen.

All of this is to say – I’ve been blogging for a long, long time.

As I type this, there are 2,732 posts in my archive. Two thousand seven hundred thirty-two! Since the summer of 2008 I’ve been posting between five and seven times a week. I posted while I was working full time, I posted while I was working full time and tutoring on the side, I posted while I was backpacking around India, Asia, and the Antipodes for 10 months.

I will be the first to acknowledge this is ridiculous. Really and truly, you don’t need to post this frequently. I am a Virgo, eldest child of Germanic heritage; my insane work ethic is something I come by honestly but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. If I could turn it off, I would!

With that said, I know that many people struggle to post regularly or to develop an editorial calendar that works for them. If you’ve been blogging for a long time and you feel like you’re burning out or if you’re just starting and struggling to find your footing these tips might help.

1. Create post series
It’s a million times easier to come up with ideas when you’re thinking within an established framework. I have six post series; each of them ties into different offerings, different types of readers, and different potential sponsors. Mini Travel Guides tie into my travel ebooks, Real Life Style Icon interviews help me reach new readers (and introduce my readers to new blogs), the Kitchen Globetrotter series is Pinterest catnip.

It’s so much easier to plan out my month when I’m thinking “What type of food should we write about for Kitchen Globetrotter this month?” rather than “What in the world should I write about?”

2. Write things that are directly related to your services and offerings
When you’re stuck for an idea, just have a look through your sales pages. What problems are your products solving? Write content that relates to those problems.

Problem solved by your product: decluttering your house
You write a post about: organizational tools that will help you declutter

Problem solved by your product
: long-term solo travel
You write a post about: how to take a sabbatical from work

3. Bring on contributors
Contributors will make your blogging life so much easier! I have two contributors who write about topics I don’t know about (vegan cooking and DIYs) and their posts get favorited and shared all over Pinterest. Contributors can lighten your writing load, attract new readers, and share expertise in areas you don’t know about.

4. Take time to refill your creativity/inspiration bucket
You know where I get my best ideas? Sitting in my office, in my yoga pants, with a cold cup of coffee. Juuuuuust kidddding! I get my best ideas when I’m out and about – walking around my neighborhood, road tripping, taking a dance class, or chatting with friends at a new restaurant. If you’re looking to get new ideas, you’ll probably have to get at least slightly outside your comfort zone.

5. Stop posting so damn much
This is just as much of a note-to-self as a note-to-you. About a year and a half ago I stopped posting on Fridays; I post four times a month here and one of those posts is a link round up and one is a guest post. It’s important that you post regularly, but it’s also important that you don’t burn out and hate your life.

If you’re a blogger who writes a ton – how do you do it? Share your tips in the comments!

P.S. A version of this post appeared on Evolve + Succeed, but I was so happy with it I wanted to re-post it and share it with you guys!

photo by Laineys Repertoire // cc

How To Add Fascinating, Engaging Personality To Your Blog

add personality to your blog

Now, a giant disclaimer to start this post.  I don’t think I’m particularly fascinating. I do, however, think you are fascinating and when I can see your personality in your writing? I think that’s pretty dang engaging.

With that said, one of the sweetest things I hear about my writing is “I feel like I know you!” or “I feel like you’re just talking to me – it doesn’t feel like reading!”

(I think that says more about my propensity for parenthesis and usage of the word “like,” but I’m choosing to view it as a compliment.) 

In fact, people often hire me to ghostwrite because they feel their writing is a bit, well, drier than they’d like. It can be especially hard to work personality into posts about things like marketing methods or photo formatting.

So if you find yourself asking “How can I communicate my amazing sense of humor and love of cat videos into this post about a/b split testing?!” this post is for you.

Here are four ways you can add more you to your writing – regardless of the topic.

1. Start with a personal anecdote
Just about everything I write starts with a short story about how I came to write about this topic – I was writing for a magazine in Malaysia and didn’t have time to blog, my friend described me as “the one with boundaries,” Amber told me that the Griffith Observatory was her “church.” These are all true (with occasional editing to protect my more private friends) but this peek into my life helps me connect with my readers.

2. Write like you talk

I know a Ph.D. candidate who really does pepper his language with polysyllabic adjectives and references to classic literature. Everybody else I know jokes, asks questions to make a point, or uses the word ‘like’ way too much (myself very much included.)

If you’re struggling to write in a more personal style, try improvisational dictating. Use the voice recorder on your phone and spend a few minutes talking – using your normal, everyday speech patterns – about a topic you’d like to write about. Transcribe and lightly edit the results – are they more ‘friendly’ or engaging than what you’d usually write?

3. Reference movies/books/music/internet cats that are important to you
When I reference Leslie Knope, you know I watch Parks and Rec. When I name drop Grumpy Cat or Sufjan Stevens or the Greek myth of Sisyphus, you immediately know more about my life and personality than if I’d spent a paragraph spelling out my appreciation for cats and moving, story-based folk music.

If you’re a committed Game of Thrones fan, reference that. If you love Beyoncé and her marketing methods have inspired you – write about it. It’s an easy way for us to get to know you and connect with you!

4. Use your own photos
A straight forward post about Instagram filters instantly becomes more engaging when you share examples of your own photos. If you’re writing about how to refinish a floor, include photos of your dining room before-and-after (bonus points if you include a photo of you working the sander.) Some of my most popular, most commented on posts have included photos of me – even horribly awkward teenage photos! When we use personal photos we’re taking a visible, tangible step to connect with our readers. They appreciate it!

A note about professionalism: there are certain topic areas and certain audiences that are less likely to appreciate personality-filled writing. Finance and health care immediately come to mind.

But that doesn’t mean your writing needs to be complicated or boring. It’s common practice – across platforms and topics – to open a piece with a real life example. Is it a trope? Yes. Is it effective? Super yes. You can make just about any piece a better, more engaging read by keeping your sentences crisp and clean and avoiding the proverbial ‘five-dollar words.‘ Nobody wants to encounter those over their morning coffee.

Do you struggle to add personality to your writing? If you’re good at it, how do you communicate who you are through your articles and blog posts? Tell me all about it in the comments!

P.S. If you need help writing blog posts, I can do it for you.  Like, you spend the day at the beach and when you come back, you have a month of blog posts in your inbox. MAGIC.

pizza and cheersing photo by Meredith Westin. You should hire her!

How To DIY A Super Cheap, Super Effective Writing Retreat

DIY writing retreat
When my friend Natalie first told me what she does each month for her business, my thought process went like this
:

“Ohhh, that’s a good idea.”
“Ohhh, that feels too frivolous and indulgent for me. Good for her, not for me.”

But you should know I often have to be tricked into spending money. Like, I mentally compile a cost/benefits analysis for just about any purchase over $20. So when Natalie told me that every month she checks into a hotel for a two day writing and work retreat I was simultaneously intrigued and put off.

But then I had a free Sunday night.
And then I checked out Hotwire and found a ton of $40 hotels within a few hours of my apartment. I booked myself for just one night to see how things would go.

You guys? I’m going to do this at least once a quarter for the rest of my self-employed life.

In a 36-hour period, I wrote two months of blog posts. I analyzed my revenue streams. I got clear on which tasks, habits, and post series I should drop and which ones I should bolster and improve. I created an incredible amount of psychological and editorial breathing room for myself.

And I did it all for $40 (plus tax).

Want a DIY retreat for yourself? It’s pretty self-explanatory, but here are a few tips that made mine more productive and more fun. 

1. Print out everything you need or save it to your desktop
You don’t want to waste time and energy searching for a Kinkos in a strange town or fussing with corrupted files. I think this bit of preparation also helps you take your retreat more seriously.

A few (free) planners and workbooks that might help: Kyla Roma’s Website Clarity Workbook, Maria Ross’s 9 Days To A Better, Tighter, More Lucrative Brand Plan, Shareaholic’s downloadable editorial calendar template.

2. Gather all your notes and inspiration
I have a physical folder (how retro!) of magazine clippings that inspire me or images that light me up. Get all your inspiration in one neatly organized place so you don’t waste time hunting down That One Article From Real Simple or that very important post-it note.

3. Create draft versions for everything you want to write
Use Word or Google Docs to create a draft of every single document you want to write. This could be a super rough outline or just a title and an empty document. Either way, it will help you stay on task and remind you of what you wanted to be working on.

4. Book yourself a night or two in a hotel at least an hour away
This seems like a weird detail, but I find that it’s important to leave the city and be in the car for a significant amount of time. It really helps me extract myself from my day-to-day mindset. I make it into a mini road trip with gas station coffee, car snacks, and podcasts.

5. Tell your nearest and dearest you’ll be (mostly) unreachable and turn on your Out Of Office email reply
You don’t want to be distracted by brunch invitations or client emails during your allotted writing time. When I’m tucked away and writing, my dude and I forego our nightly check-in calls and everyone who emails me receives a polite “I’ll get back to you soon” auto responder.

6. Don’t ask for the wifi password when you check in
If you can resist the siren song of Facebook, you are a stronger human than I. I do my best, fastest writing when there are no distractions, so I don’t even ask the front desk for the wifi login.  If you’re super, duper serious you can even leave your phone in the glove compartment of your locked car so you won’t be tempted to fall down a social media hole.

7. Now write

No editing. No photo sourcing. No headline analyzing or a/b split testing. I like to use this time to bang out rough drafts filled with typos and questionable introductions. My edits are better when my first drafts have had a chance to age and cure; it’s freeing to write without too much concern about sentence structure.

8. Take breaks when you’re feeling burnt out
I like to treat myself to a nice dinner, work through a bit of yoga, or experience that hotel water pressure that’s a million times better than my apartment’s. What you probably shouldn’t do on your break: check your phone or watch three hours of tv.

I emerged from my retreat pretty exhausted, but proud of myself. I honestly can’t put a price on the peace of mind that comes with two months of scheduled posts.

Have you ever been part of a retreat – DIY or otherwise? Do you think you’d be willing to splash out? If you know of any other free/cheap resources that would be useful a retreat, leave links in the comments!

P.S. Did you know that when you sign up for my small business newsletter I’ll give your site a once over and send you 3 suggestions? FOR $0? It’s true. Sign up here!

P.P.S.  This is not a sponsored post, I’ve just found that Hotwire always has the best hotel prices! Let me know if you use other sites to find cheap hotels!

photo by Aleks Dorohovich // cc

How To Get Your Partner On Board With Your Business

This post comes to us via Katie Lee, a lifestyle designer and relationship expert who teaches small changes to help people go from daily grind to daily gratitude. She recently released a free ebook homeHAPPYhour so you can start your own ritual for better communication and deeper connection. Want to see how she does it daily? Follow along on Instagram.

get husband on board with business
So you’ve decided to finally start that business, write that book, take that next step you’ve been daydreaming about for years. You know it will be a little scary, a lot time consuming and probably crazy hard. You can’t enter this journey alone. In fact, the only way you’ll make it through – or even start – is if you have the support of your partner.

They have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention SEO, virtual assistants or guest posting so getting their full buy-in seems impossible.

Well, it’s not. Here are four steps you can take to ensure your partner supports you and is happy to do it. It involves some show & tell.

Tell first.

Tell them your why.
Are you creating a business so you can donate part of the proceeds to a cause that means something to you? Are you coaching others because it’s your natural gift? Do you eventually want to do something way bigger and this is a stepping stone?

Tell them that. Tell them your why so they can see that your side hustle isn’t just a “cute little hobby.” They’ll remember the powerful reason you’re doing what you’re doing and it will help them to support the long hours and singular focus.

Tell them how.
You’ve heard this before, but it’s definitely worth repeating “people aren’t mind readers” or “we teach people how to treat us.” Support is a really vague term and it means different things to different people. Saying “I need your support” is not enough. S-P-E-L-L it out.

“I need you to give me three hugs a day.”
“I need you to do the laundry during launch week.”
“I need you to turn the TV down on nights when I’m writing.”
“I need you to tell me I’m smart and awesome on a regular basis.”
“I need Oreos on-hand at all times.”

Whatever you need to succeed is valid, you just need to tell them what it is and how they can help.

Show them you’re serious.
It’s hard to support some one who is all talk and no action. Start taking steps towards your new goal so they can see you mean business. Most people have big dreams, but few follow through. You know that doesn’t describe you, but your partner may not. Start walking your talk on a regular basis, start by taking one big step forward. It will become easy to jump on your train when you’re moving full steam ahead.

Show them the path.
This is THE most important step, because this is where it clicks for them (and you!) Keep them posted both on your results and on the effectiveness of the support they’ve offered so far.

Show them the results of the steps you’ve taken. When your guest post gets published send them the link. When you get new subscribers or followers share that news with them. When you land your first big client share your excitement and the details with them.

Then – and this is key – show them the path of their support.
Thank them for their support (in a memorable way ;)) Then fine tune it for the future.

“This is one of those moments where I need a hug.”
“I need you to be really excited for this!”
“I need you to remind me why I’m doing this.”

Once they understand exactly how to support you, what happens when they do and the results of your work it becomes effortless to keep doing it.

Is your partner on board with your business? If they weren’t at first – how did you get them to take it seriously? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Photo by  // cc

8 blogger approved + endorsed articles just for you

internet
When I searched Etsy for internet-related items, the above print showed up, which I think is apropos.

Links I rounded up for you!

I haven’t used it myself, but I’ve been hearing great things about Asana “teamwork without email.” SIGN ME UP.

Should you repost your content on other sites? Could that hurt your SEO?

Real talk: there are very few short cuts to becoming successful, online or off. Stop asking me about your brand and start doing some work.
So this new quick hack of using social media and modern tech to build up your brand isn’t enough. It just isn’t. There is no substitute for honest hard work. You have to earn the privilege of building a “personal brand”, and the only way to do that is to actually execute.

Do you have a strategy for Pinterest? I super don’t. If you don’t either, let’s both read this.

I pay thousands every year in Paypal fees. Did you know if you switch to Paypal Business Payments you pay FIFTY CENT PER TRANSACTION? You could save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year!

Yup! An open letter to the lady who told me to look more “presentable”
Your worth, your expertise, your ability to succeed in LIFE and BUSINESS is not directly related to how pretty you are, where you live, how old you are, how much money you have, what your hair looks like, how many zits you have or how much you weigh.

It IS, however, DIRECTLY RELATED TO HOW MUCH OF A DAMN YOU GIVE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.

If you’ve ever equated your job to your value as a human, my friend Megan’s story will resonate with you. What happens after you get laid off from your dream job?

Do you have fake followers on Twitter and Instagram? (It’s okay – everyone does!) Get rid of ’em.

And a few of my posts you might have missed: How to get more blog advertisers + 5 things to do before you launch your blog.

Have you read or written anything particularly great lately? Leave links in the comments!

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6 colorful, competitive blog post ideas to try now

blog post ideas
Oh, but it can be hard to come up with content day after day, year after year.

We can, of course, rely on the old standbys The Listicle and The How To. Goodness knows I do. Every once in a while it’s nice to try something completely new and different, but how does one even do that? Is there anything new on the internet?

I’d like to think so. In fact, I even have a feedly folder called “non-boring post inspiration.” Last summer I shared seven of my favorites and I’ve been squirreling away even more. Take a look!

1. Inspirational saying visual roundup

blog post ideas 1
Posted by: A little opulent
Why it works: We all love visuals and we love inspiring visuals even more. Each of these images is pin-able so this post is Pinterest catnip for well, just about everyone. If she wanted to be super strategic, Jen would also @mention the original creators on social media, so they could retweet the post if they wanted to.

Your spin on it: Could you collect inspiring quotes that relate to your topic? Quotes about business? Or travel? Or style? Or wellness? Make sure that you credit the original poster and add title tags to each image. (I actually used this idea last week!)

2. Imaginary conversations

blog post ideas 2
Posted by: Man repeller
Why it works: Imagined conversations and assigning human characteristics to non-human things are hilllllarious. In this case, Leandra imagines February is her totally annoying, unditchable friend. A funny, relatable blog post ensues.

Your spin on it: What conversations do you wish you could have? What would the inanimate objects in your field of expertise say? How would a conversation with your camera go? Your iphone? Your accounting software? Your WordPress site?

3. One room, three ways

blog post ideas 3

Posted by: Checks and spots
Why it works: We all love a good side by side comparison and each of these looks will appeal to a different reader. This was actually a sponsored post and I think Clare did a great job creating pretty, engaging, helpful content that worked for both readers and sponsor.

Your spin on it: What can you compare and contrast in your business? Two blog designs that are identical other than the colors? Two outfits that are similar except for the accessories? Several photographs with different filters?

4. Most memorable moments

blog post ideas

Posted by: Elise Joy
Why it works: It gives us insight into Elise’s day to day, something most blog readers love – at least I do! I  also like that Elise’s favorite moments are a mix of things we can all relate to (the extra hour of daylight savings), big, exciting moments (speaking in front of thousands), and stories she told in other blog posts (so she can link to them).

Your spin on it: Just write your own version! Of course, you could write it with a more business-related angle, but I bet your readers would like to learn a bit more about you as a human.

5. Goal-related link round up

blog post ideas 4

 

Posted by: Food 52
Why it works: Food 52 published this post on January 2nd, when we were all in the throes of resolution-making. They (very wisely) paired a fun, doable resolution to cook more and better with 20 archived posts. Smart, eh?

Your spin on it: Could you create a post that ties into common resolutions in your professional field? 10 social media resolutions + 10 of your archived posts that would be helpful. 10 style resolutions + 15 of your older posts that would help readers keep those resolutions. You get the idea!

 6. What’s in season? 

blog post ideas 6

 

Posted by: Cookie + Kate
Why it works: Kate’s post is super helpful for people (like me) who want to eat seasonally but will forget themselves and eat strawberries all year long. It’s also an opportunity to link to other bloggers’ related recipes and promote some of her own archived content.

Your spin on it: What’s seasonal in your business? Could you write a post highlighting the styles and trends that work in the spring? The cheapest travel destinations? Home improvement projects?

Have you seen (or written!) any particularly interesting blog posts? I’d love to see them! Share links in the comments.

photo by death to stock photo // cc

9 powerful, promising quotes your business will love

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re feeling all ‘should-y’ about your business or beleaguered by trolls or overwhelmed by juggling your day job + side hustle. So you talk (and talk and talk) with your friends and mentors about it and you feel somewhat better.

But not completely.

And then you see an inspirational quote on Twitter or a bumper sticker and allofasudden everything just slides into place and all is right with the world.

Yeah, that’s happened to me, too.

Why do those short, pithy quotes have such power over us? Why are they sometimes more effective than in-depth conversations? And where can I get a print of that quote to hang above my desk?

With that in mind, here are nine clever, succinct quotes that are helping me while I redesign Yes & Yes, plan a six-week road trip, and ghostwrite a book for a major publisher. And try to not lose my mind in the process.

(you can click on each of these and pin them if you have an inspiration board!)

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1c15cb2a5bc6374d61efcfd5333e777ac570159287276f88c7fbba5621dd9706fe21abb68f3727890143ded47953fc210c3f907116426742e593abd28e386b2ddreams
ca9a8de3270bc09c21daf38758eefce40937b38505e73d7fbba4cf08eba0445d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your go-to quotes in times of stress? I’d love to hear them – leave them in the comments!

sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /

3 Things Clients Want In Their Dream VA

Susan Drumm spent over a decade teaching companies like L’Oreal, Viacom and Conde Nast how to lead their teams towards multi-million dollar growth. Now she uses those same skills to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses to seven figure success. Your success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to hire, inspire and lead team. Get her free ebook on hiring your dream VA here

hire right

So you finally (finally!) feel like you’re getting this whole ‘self employment’ thing figured out. You can attend holiday dinners and discuss work with Nosy Aunt Ellen … and she might even understand what you do! You’ve got a nice roster of clients, a healthy profit margin, you’re even booked out a few months into the future. This is me, raising my glass to you.

What you don’t have a lot of?
Time.
Breathing space.
Wonderfully unscheduled afternoons for spontaneous coffee dates and reading in the park.

You need a virtual assistant.

I’ve helped hundreds of executives build sales-making, profit-multiplying, freetime-increasing teams, so I know a thing or three about hiring right.

If you’re ready to hire your first assistant – this post is for you.
If you’re interested in becoming a VA – this post is also for you!

Of course, every client and every job is different, but here are three things that will keep just about any client happy and just about any VA steadily booked.

1. Timely and honest communication

For clients
When you send your VA an email filled with instructions and tasks and a huge attachment, you want to make sure they actually, you know, received that email. You also want to know if they understood your request, have any follow up questions, or hit a snag.

When you’re interviewing candidates, rather than asking them how long it usually takes to respond to emails, ask them a more open ended question, like “what do you do when you receive an assignment?” and see what answer they volunteer. Do they mention that they confirm receipt and ask questions within 12 – 24 hours? You’ll get a more honest answer because they don’t know specifically what you are looking for and are more likely to tell you their true process/behavior. Follow up by asking them  what they’d do if a project was taking longer than they expected.

For VAs
Most clients will expect you to respond to their emails on the same day they send them (unless they send it after business hours.) Some clients don’t care – make sure you figure out which type your client is. If nothing else, most clients appreciate a “got it!” email with follow up questions in the next day or two.

Similarly, some clients would prefer that you spend an hour Googling a solution rather than asking them for help. Some want to know the minute you have a question. During your interview, ask your potential client about their communication ‘pet peeves.’

2. A basic grasp of 2-3 social media platforms and scheduling tools

For clients
Unless your business is completely offline, you’re probably on social media and you’re probably sick of spending hours writing tweets. You probably won’t find a VA who’s a bona fide expert in Facebook AND Twitter AND Pinterest AND Instagram AND Youtube (and if you do, they’ll probably be really expensive). It is, however, reasonable to expect your VA to have a good working knowledge of two or three platforms. They should understand how to schedule updates on those platforms and know some best practices associated with them.

For VAs
If you’re only proficient in Facebook, take some time to learn at least one other platform and definitely learn Hootsuite, Buffer, or Tweetdeck. If you’ve done social media work in the past, pull your analytics (average clicks per tweet, how much you grew a client’s profile, etc) and include that information in your resume.

3. A willingness to learn (like, really)

For clients
We all say we want to hire people who express a “willingness to learn” but when you’re working online it’s particularly important. Five years ago, Instagram wasn’t even a thing and seven years ago, blogging was a totally different animal. You’ll probably need your VA to learn new platforms and acquire skills that don’t even exist right now! When you’re interviewing VAs, ask them about the skills that they’ve learned in the last six months and what skills they plan to develop over the next six months? This way you’ll get a specific answer and get a good idea of where they’re all with these newly-acquired skills.

For VAs
Show potential clients that you’re serious about learning and improving; take classes, read trade journals and websites. Find a way to work this information about yourself into your interview!

The right VA (or the right client) can totally change your career. Hopefully, these tips will help you get a bit closer to finding one!

Have your ever hired a VA? Or worked as one? In the comments, I’d love to hear how you found your VA or your client!

Edited to add: this post was originally titled ‘3 things bosses look for in their dream VA’ but as many commenters validly pointed out, the relationship is much more client/vendor than boss/employee. Susan and I apologize for the ruffled feathers!

photo by jeff sheldon // via unsplash // cc