Blogging & Your Virtual Assistant

Whether it’s a standalone initiative or integrated somehow into your current “money site,” every online entrepreneur should understand how important it is to maintain a dynamic blog. Favoured by the search engines and designed to create a productive insight into your online world, blogs have become a crucial part of business today. However, it’s a serious commitment and will need a lot of time, on a regular basis. Perhaps more than any other area of your online business, this is the place to engage a competent, qualified and enthusiastic virtual assistant in your corner.

1. Why Your Blog Must Be Dynamic – And What You Should Do About It
If you’ve ever tried to generate traffic to one of your websites online you know that it can be quite a difficult proposition sometimes. You may be well aware how important it is to have a blog in order to draw attention to your involvement in your niche, your expertise and your ability to “provide” advice and recommendations to others. If you like, the blog part of your online presence is your proactive and dynamic component. While your website, per se, may be focused on what you do and what you are providing, your blog is your real-time window, to show that you’re alive and kicking.

Look at it another way. The website could be one week old or one year old. Many webmasters may not update their pages for a considerable amount of time and while Google is always telling us that our content should be “fresh,” a regular visitor to your website may not really notice any change since the last time that they visited. However, your blog should be very different. It ought to be updated regularly, at least several times a week. Some bloggers who simply don’t have the time to devote to ongoing maintenance use one of those WordPress add-ons that mask the actual date of the post. In that way, visitors cannot automatically see that you haven’t updated your blog for however long it may be. A neat application this may be, but it masks an underlying problem, doesn’t it?

To be able to advance in terms of your online presence takes time and effort. You have to convince those who are thinking about it, or maybe on the fence, to engage with you. Yes, we all know about those seven individual exposures. Marketing law dictates that people have to be exposed to our products and services on average seven times before they pry open their wallets. What better way to gently remind them of your presence than to update your blog on a regular basis with good, repeat “good” content? If you have persuaded your visitors to sign up for your RSS feed then your name will come up in front of them periodically. If they like what they’re reading and remember that they have a problem to solve, you’re on your way to getting them to return to your site and click on the buy button.

Updating content can be a challenge. You’ve got plenty on your plate just trying to make your business run smoothly, to say nothing of all the other distractions that you have in your regular life. It can certainly be difficult allocating an extra hour or so in the morning to write the content necessary to populate your blog. This is where a virtual assistant can absolutely shine. Not only does the VA know how to write creatively and how to get a particular point across with colour, but they also know how to upload the post, optimise from an SEO perspective and all the other ancillary – and time-consuming – tasks that need to be done as you publish.
2. Why You Shouldn’t Ask Your Mother If Your Blog Looks Nice
It’s a whole lot easier these days to roll up your sleeves and create an online presence yourself. It wasn’t that long ago that we had to rely on a certain amount of dexterity, at least a passing understanding of HTML and have a considerable amount of patience, to boot. There were very few programmes that you could get your hands on which would walk you through the process, but there were some. However, a lot has changed and there are certainly many platforms available now, especially to the ardent blogger.

Everybody knows about WordPress and this solution by itself has come on leaps and bounds in a very short space of time. This undoubtedly shows the strength of the open-source approach to programming and you can also find thousands of individual themes which in turn can be configured to ensure that your blog stands out and doesn’t look the same as the rest.

You may have tried this approach yourself. You might realise how important it is to have a blog, either as part of your website, maybe as a sub domain or as a stand-alone entity. Blogging these days is far more than a pastime for geeks and nerds. It’s a way of showing that you have a clear insight, know what you are talking about and can provide meaningful, educational and informative posts to others, as you seek to attract their loyalty.

Knowing how important blogging may be, perhaps you have purchased one of those WordPress themes and spent many a long hour trying to configure it so that it looks “just right.” Anyone who has been down this road knows that unless you have quite a lot of experience and a track record of configuring blogs this way it can take an inordinate amount of time, despite all that “user-friendliness.”

If you are heavily involved in creating your own masterpiece you should also know that you can easily be sidetracked and lose your overall focus. As an entrepreneur, business owner or anyone who is trying to develop an online presence, you simply cannot afford to lose focus. Your focus should be on what you can do to create a better product or service and should not be centred on all of the peripheral stuff – Web design, content creation, SEO, social media and so on. All of these tasks can be really time-consuming, especially if you don’t have a lot of direct knowledge and understanding.

So, you find that when you do finish your new WordPress based blog masterpiece you turn to an immediate family member, or whoever is closest to you during the wee small hours when you actually complete the marathon. Does it look good to you? Of course they are going to marvel at your handiwork and provide positive feedback, but is it really going to hit all the right notes as far as marketability and visitor interaction?

Remember that a virtual assistant has experience in overall blog design and will be well aware of what’s likely to appeal to your visitors, and what’s not.
3. Do You Have Blogger’s Block?
Okay, so you’re sitting at your laptop with your Word document open in front of you. You may be transfixed by the blinking cursor and find that your eyes are starting to glaze over. It may have been a long day already and you’ve got so many other things on your mind. You’ve got family commitments later; you may have a social engagement to attend. You’ve got to do your monthly accounts at some stage this evening and then you’ve got a full day tomorrow. So much to think about as an entrepreneur and it’s very difficult to clear your mind as it were in order to focus on writing.

However, this is no time for writer’s (or blogger’s) block. You’ve got to come up with content for your blog and it’s been more than a week since you last posted anything on there. Can’t you just use some of that PLR content that you’ve got in a folder somewhere on your hard drive? After all, you spent good money on it and shouldn’t you put it to good use?

Maybe tonight is not a good time to be trying to create content. They have a saying south of the border – manana. I’m sure we can put this off until tomorrow, as maybe we will be more creatively inclined, have more inspiration and be able to type away merrily to create not just one blog post, but two?

I’m sure this sounds familiar to you. Writing can be quite a challenge at the best of times and remember that we are not talking about “any old” writing, either. If you’re going to get anywhere with your blogging you simply have to create good quality content. When we talk about good quality content we don’t just mean that it’s got to be grammatically correct and free of any spelling mistakes or punctuation errors. It’s got to be highly relevant, informative, inspiring and/or thought-provoking. Ideally, it should be all of these rolled into one.

Think about it this way. If your content is not epic, it’s probably not going to stand out above all the other noise that your potential customers come across on a daily basis. It’s no small challenge. However, remember that you are supposed to be an expert in this particular niche. That by itself should be an inspiration to you, but you must nevertheless understand how important it is to provide this epic content often and regularly.

In truth, not all of us are very good when it comes to writing. Some people have more of a flair for it than others. It’s also true to say that time is very difficult to come by, especially if you’re trying to juggle your business time with family and other commitments.

A virtual assistant knows how important it is to create epic content and also knows how crucial it is to do so regularly and with conviction. Maybe you should put this chore into their hands and not have to worry about writer’s block ever again.
4. The Importance Of Persistency And Consistency
Did you know that when Google is trying to decide how individual web pages rank and which ones are more relevant than others, one of the pointers they pay particular attention to is the age of the associated domain? Evidently, domain age is a really significant factor when it comes to just how high up in those search engine result pages your site appears. The older the domain, the more committed you must be.

If your online real estate has been around for a long time then there’s a certain amount of trust associated. No one knows exactly how Google figures this all out and whether or not they look at the dynamic content of your site over that period of time to help them, but it nevertheless points to the fact that in the online world, the longer you’ve been around and the more committed you are the better.

If you’re just starting off with a particular online project then you may feel as if you are at a disadvantage. While domain age is only one of Google’s algorithmic rules, we should be looking at their underlying methodology and trying to determine what Google is truly looking for anyway. Your brand-new domain name may be fresh out of the box and might not be able to stand up against a competitor site that is 10 years old in terms of that individual rule, but understand that very many of your prospective competitors simply don’t “get” what Google is looking for and fail.

Everyone has to start somewhere. The important thing for you to bear in mind is that once you have started you’ve got to continue and have to be consistent and persistent. Consistency and persistency are two of the most under-appreciated words in the online world. You may know how important it is to create a blog as part of your online presence, to show that you’re aware of current trends in your market and able to create an interesting and intelligent position. You may well start off with good intent, but this can’t be just like a New Year’s resolution.

While it may be “okay” to fail at some of your New Year’s resolutions and you may have done so, like many of us, on a regular basis, understand that it’s not “okay” to fail when it comes to consistency and persistency online.

Much of your success when it comes to any Internet endeavour will revolve around your overall ability to be persistent and consistent. Google values fresh content and so will your readers. If you want to rank consistently for your keywords you have got to show that you are here for the long run and are providing good quality and updated content regularly.

This is why it’s such a good idea to engage a virtual assistant right from the outset. You have to be able to establish a schedule for content creation and publication as well as so many other “housekeeping” initiatives. Once you put this in the hands of a virtual assistant you won’t have to worry about those “p” and “c” words anymore.

You’ve got some really smart things to say. You make sure that you understand your niche and keep on top of any developments. You’ve got a position of intelligence whenever a new story breaks related to your niche and people really want to listen to you. Do you like communicating with others? How do you do so – do you pick up the phone, do you send an e-mail or do you understand the value of leveraging? You really have to understand leveraging if you’re going to become successful at any online initiative.

Many people are active online and in truth many people have got some good things to say, but nobody can hear them. You know what they say, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it…

Whenever you create content that is share worthy, how are you going to share it? The success of your article or post will be dictated by how many people get to read it, as this is the only way that you are going to get people to take action in one way or another to your benefit. The Internet is a marvellous place and we know how liberating the social media era has become. People love to share as part of their thirst for information and if they come across something that they really believe in they will go out of their way to make sure that others are made aware of the discovery.

You’ve got to set up your blog correctly. You have to have a way for people to share your content. There’s nothing worse than coming across a great quality article or blog post only to find that there’s no “easy” way to share it. Of course you can cut and paste and then go over to your Facebook account and post it on your wall, for example. Don’t put obstacles in front of people and understand that the easier you make it to share your content, the more likely your content is going to be circulated and could possibly even become viral.

Configuring your blog so that it links to social media outlets that are prominent and correctly positioned is part of the challenge facing any online entrepreneur these days. There are a number of different ways to approach this and a number of ways that you can configure your blog so that it’s automatically linked to your social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Internet is nothing if not social and you simply have to take full advantage of this. There are two fundamental challenges facing you. Firstly, you’ve got to create epic content with flair and secondly you have got to make sure that it’s distributed, is seen by those who matter and becomes part of your overall marketing approach.

A virtual assistant knows exactly how important content sharing should be and can help you to configure your websites and blogs so that your content becomes visible and accessible. Don’t leave it to chance. It would, after all, be a crying shame if your thought-provoking content simply fades away.
6. Why You Should Serialise Your Opinion In Your Blogging  Approach
Are you opinionated? While that word has some negative connotations within society in general, if you’re serious about building an online presence you better had be. However, you not only need to make sure that you have an opinion but it’s got to be thought-provoking and should often be controversial. Look, there’s no point in simply going through the motions whenever you create your blog posts. You’ve got to have a mission and you must understand that you’ve got to be engaging. People must want to listen to you, even though they may not agree with you all the time. It’s this element of controversy and the way that you go about expressing your opinion that is likely to set your initiative apart from the rest.

Opinions count. We all have them and we live in such a great society where you don’t have to conform and people don’t have to agree with each other. It’s what makes the world go-round and it’s definitely what drives the dynamism of the blogosphere. It’s an exciting proposition to many people and for some it’s the very reason why they set out to become an Internet entrepreneur. They feel as if they have expertise in a particular area, can help other people with problems and can make a significant contribution in one way or another.

Now, even though it’s very important to have an opinion and to be somewhat colourful as you create your online persona, you must not do this in isolation. You mustn’t be one of those people who is only really interested in their own opinion, to the exclusion of others. The power of your blog as it grows is going to be in the level of interaction that you have with other people. In short, that area of comments below that blog post is even more important than the blog post itself.

When blog posts are written they have to inspire others to leave a comment or to express their opposition. It’s not good enough to simply assume that this will happen and you must always remember that a well-structured blog post will often ask for input. In other words you might summarise your position at the end of the blog post and then draw attention to another viewpoint, subsequently going on to solicit comments from others who may have an entirely different perspective.

There are many ways to ensure that your blog posts are found and seen by others and that may be beyond the scope of this particular article, but remember that you should write your blog posts with flair, so that people see them as dynamic and are inclined to interact. As you schedule your blog posts on into the future, work with your virtual assistant on a certain approach to their construction. Your VA will be able to put together a series of interrelated blog posts perhaps, which call for ongoing engagement and will be even more likely to ensure that people come back to read subsequent instalments.
7. Strategic Ways To Establish Your Blogging Credibility
Why is it that in a world which is absolutely jam-packed with news, information and data that we often struggle to come up with content to place on our blogs these days? It can’t simply be the old excuse that we have writer’s block, but it may be a symptom of a problem that is inherent in the blogosphere. Many people believe that the content that they use in their blogs has to be original and exclusive and that woe betide them should they make reference to anybody else’s products, information, opinions or even blog posts!

Let’s think about latest developments in the online world for a minute or two. A lot of publicity has been given to Google’s latest algorithmic changes, where websites that had previously been seen as dominant in their respective niches suddenly fell into obscurity. Experts in the world of search engine optimisation reckon that Google is now putting even more focus on pages that are “with it.” In other words, content has to be not only relevant, but up-to-date, current and in touch with trends and cultures.

Think about the niche that you’re in. If you’ve done any research whatsoever you should have a good idea of who your competitors are and how good they are at publicising themselves online. You should have a plan. This plan should be to ensure that you are seen as the expert in this niche, even though you understand that this is not likely to happen overnight. Now, how are you going to become an expert in that niche? Quite simply, you need to make sure that you keep on top of all developments, no matter how they effect your solutions, products, services or the people who you are trying to attract as customers.

In order to keep on top of all these developments and to have a good source for content creation in the future, you may want to subscribe to as many RSS feeds related to those who are movers and shakers in your niche as possible. Keep on top of the news, as soon as it breaks. Be ready to take action to formulate and promote your own position in relation to any news or pertinent information.

You may find that it’s a good idea to focus on blog posts that are not necessarily representative of original thought processes. Short blog posts could reference a breaking news story with your own considered opinion or advice.

Work with your virtual assistant to develop streams of information and breaking news related to all your various keywords. Your virtual assistant will be able to come up with a master plan to create your position and to publicise it as part of your overall plan to become recognised as the ultimate expert in your niche.

Never leave any of this to chance and make sure that you consistently follow your plan which you and your virtual assistant have set up. Remember, this is not something that can happen overnight, but is something that can develop increasing momentum to eventually give you a massive amount of credibility.
8. Creative Planning For Your Blog Posts
If you have an extrovert personality and are one of those people who likes to be in the limelight, then you may have a head start on others who may not be quite the life and soul of the party, when it comes to blogging. You see, you’ve simply got to be able to stand out from the pack and know how to develop a unique twist on any particular story. People who are very good at this can make even the most mundane of topics sparkle. However, it’s important to realise that you have to be informative as well and even though you may come up with a post which is designed to be nothing other than comical from time to time, unless your business is trying to sell comedy-related products, solutions or shows, you’ve got to be able to focus on business angles, as well.

Remember that blogging is a way of helping you to sell your solution. It isn’t simply a vehicle for your extrovert personality and you should always have an underlying objective in mind.

What kind of format should you use for a blog post? While some people tend to think that an informative article should be in the range of about 500 words on average, you don’t have to stick to this as a hard and fast rule. Many experts advocate a blog content piece in the range of about 400 words, but it’s also a good idea to format the post in such a way as to make it an easier read for your visitors.

Remember that people tend to scan any content online today and if they see a big chunk of text without any graphics, pictures or subheadings they may not actually read it all and be tempted to go elsewhere. It’s difficult to know what drives people when they visit a webpage after all, but if it is possible for you to allocate subheadings then do so, and proportion your post into readable chunks as well.

You may also like to create some posts that are based on lists, i.e. the top 10 of this or five things you should know about that. People love lists and they are likely to absorb the material therein. Another great way to structure a blog post could be a “how-to” tutorial; statistics show that this kind of post tends to get a lot more readership and is likely to be shared much more creatively by your visitors. People often wonder whether they have a sufficient amount of material to create these “how-to” posts. Remember that this type of post can be created around any subject whatsoever and you’re almost certain to have enough material, being an expert in your niche, to be able to provide ample content.

Engage your virtual assistant to come up with a broad selection of topics and themes for upcoming posts. Remember that the VA knows how to creatively construct blog posts and also how to focus on the raw material that you need to talk about as you build your level of overall expertise in the online community. The right VA also knows how to create content that has a truly profound ‘hook.’
9. What Happens When You Finally Realise That Delegation Is Not An Option
How much is your time worth? This is a question that every entrepreneur and online business owner should ask themselves from time to time. There’s only so much time available in any given day and much less than you might imagine, if you’re realistic about it. When we work for others we tend to think of eight hour blocks of time, typically between nine and five for an office environment for example. We may get paid by the hour, but even the most dedicated employees very rarely produce fully creative work during each of those eight hour shifts.

When you’re working for yourself it becomes critical to determine just how many hours you’re able to devote to creative work and how many hours are taken up by non-creative tasks, or have simply nothing to do with the business at all. Keep a running diary for the next week and be very conscientious about this. Don’t try and “wing it,” either, because you’re going to use the results of this survey to help you make some really important decisions in the near future.

As an entrepreneur you must, of course, have a goal. If you’re going to be sufficiently motivated as time goes by then you have to have a target and you have to ensure that it’s realistic. Divide your monthly target by the realistic number of hours that you are able to devote to your work and you will see just how much each hour of your time is worth.

For many people these results can be eye-opening. They wonder how they can cut down on the number of hours that they devote to all those administrative tasks and jobs which, quite honestly, somebody else could do.

Let’s look at blogging, for example. You know that this is a very important element of your marketing initiative, but you have to keep up with creation and management. Are you making the most of your available time if you devote a lot of it to this blog maintenance? Surely, it would be better to engage a talented virtual assistant, from many different perspectives. Not only will you know that your blog is being tended to regularly and without distraction, but you will almost invariably find that your time is worth far more than the amount that you would pay your virtual assistant to look after your blog, for you.

Virtual assistants who specialise in blogs know all the ins and outs, as well. You won’t have to devote even more of your valuable time to keeping up with the latest tips and tricks, looking for those special plug-ins, upgrading platform software and so on. It’s all of these little jobs which eat into your available time and may well be stopping you from expanding as much as you would like.

Outsourcing makes sense for each and every entrepreneur, bar none. It’s also a perfect solution for your ongoing blog work. Delegate the content creation, scheduling and ongoing maintenance to a virtual assistant as soon as you can.
10. Why You Should Get Others To Help You Navigate Through The SEO Maze
Most online entrepreneurs are looking for a little bit of love from the search engines, in particular Google. While you may have many different marketing initiatives and feel that you are able to contact some of your potential clients by direct marketing methodology and through other pathways, for most people who are trying to expand online, the sky really can be the limit when it comes to your search engine exposure. This is why you simply have to make sure that your on-site and off-site search engine optimisation is up to par.

SEO can take a lot of time, can be somewhat complex especially for the uninitiated and can be fraught with danger, too. For those who are trying to learn about it all you can get a lot of advice, good and bad on the Internet. There are many who advocate taking shortcuts and adopting strategies that the search engines themselves simply frown upon. You may well achieve a short-term gain by going down this road, but be very careful as you may find that all of a sudden your site is nowhere to be found in the rankings, especially when new algorithms are released.

As your blog is a really important part of your overall marketing initiative, make sure that it’s adequately optimised. When it comes to establishing connections with other authority websites in your niche, the tried and tested method of actually reaching out to those webmasters is the way to go. If you’re making sure that the content on your blog is first-class, informative, educational and inspiring, then the chances are that owners of those established blogs in your niche will be interested in providing a link back directly to your content. In an ideal world, if this link can be optimised with “anchor text,” – in other words using your keywords as the physical link on that remote page – you’re on course.

Be wary about too much “unnatural” link building. Membership in link farms, purchase of inbound links, reciprocal link building – all these should be approached with caution. If you invest a lot of money in purchasing links over a short space of time, it’s very likely that your site could be penalised by Google.

We know that on page SEO can be very important as well. As you have full control over this, of course, you can use those anchor text keywords as links from one part of your site to another. Make sure that your linking is logical and never focus simply on SEO alone, but do ensure that your page is navigable and is presented very well for your human visitors, too.

As SEO can be so complicated and time-consuming for the uninitiated, you’re highly advised to put it all in the hands of your trusted virtual assistant. The VA keeps on top of all developments and trends and is fully aware of best practices. A blog can be a commitment and should be regularly updated, so it makes perfect sense for you to outsource this entire programme to a virtual assistant.

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