You’ve been blogging for a while, you know it works as a marketing strategy, but you’re struggling to keep up with it yourself. You know there are gaps in your processes and you could be doing more to optimise your content, and to promote it…
Heck, some weeks it’s a challenge to get anything out at all!
So it’s time to get some help.
- Insource – hire an intern or an experienced content manager, or
- Outsource – find an external service provider.
Insourcing is the ideal, but it’s a big investment. You’ve got to spend time and money finding the right person, then more time and money training them, and then more money employing them on an ongoing basis.
For many small businesses, this just isn’t practical.
When you’re getting started with delegating blog management, what you need is flexibility and cost-effectiveness – outsourcing offers both.
There are two main options when it comes to outsourcing blog management: a virtual assistant or a blog management service.
The question is which is right for you?
As a former virtual assistant who has pivoted into blog management services, I can give you the low-down on both!
Before we start, though, let’s get our definitions straight…
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is an independent professional who provides administrative, technical or creative support to busy entrepreneurs and small businesses remotely via the internet.
For the purposes of this article, I’m talking about onshore virtual assistants; those based in the UK and other Western countries.
What is a blog management service?
A blog management service provides specialist support to entrepreneurs and small businesses to publish and promote their blog content and help them drive measurable business results.
What are the similarities between a VA and a blog management service?
Actually, there are quite a few!
As we have already established, they are both forms of outsourcing. This is often more cost-effective for a small business than recruiting staff and delivering the work in-house, as you are only paying for the exact time consumed by the task or for a fixed deliverable.
Unlike hiring employees, there are no hidden costs to consider, such as holidays, sick leave, insurance and downtime. Both options also provide their services off site, through online methods. This further reduces costs as there is no need for the client to provide workspace, equipment or utilities.
Both virtual assistants and blog management service providers are skilled professionals, so you can expect them to be highly competent at what they do, and for the work to be of good quality.
Depending on your needs, both options can serve as a short to mid-term solution – perhaps as a stop gap until you recruit in-house marketing staff – or as a long-term solution, if outsourcing suits your business model and workflows.
So, as you can see, there are lots of similarities between virtual assistants and blog management services.
Now let’s dig into the juicy stuff and find out what the main differences are!
What are the differences between a VA and a blog management service?
1. Primary objective / purpose
The primary objective of a virtual assistant is to complete the task and to save you time in doing so. If you were to delegate blog publishing and promotion to your VA, your measure of success should be how much time you saved and what you gained by spending that time elsewhere.
With a blog management service, this is certainly one of the objectives, but there is a higher goal: to improve the performance of your blog, and in turn drive business results.
Therefore, success is a more complex measurement which also takes web traffic, social engagement and, of course, leads, enquiries and sales into consideration.
Which option is right for you depends on what your own primary objective is.
2. Service offering – specialist vs. generalist
A virtual assistant usually offers a wide range of services, from personal assistance to administration, marketing support to research. As people, they are often multipotentialities; generalists who can successfully turn their hand to lots of things.
This is ideal if you have a few different tasks that need tending to, beyond blog management, as it’s convenient to have one point of contact for these various projects (and one bill!).
However, as talented as VAs are, having such a breadth of services means that, inevitably, their level of expertise in any one area will be limited.
I know this to be true because I was one!
When you’re delivering such a wide range of projects and tasks, you become a “jack-of-all-trades”. Your available time to spend reading and learning about blogging is restricted because there are so many other areas that require attention too.
When I took the decision to specialise in blog management, I suddenly had much greater capacity to learn and undertake training on this subject. This, in turn, allowed me to develop comprehensive procedures and a tailored system for managing the blog production process.
I became exceptionally good at one thing, as opposed to pretty good at lots of things.
That is not to say that a virtual assistant cannot be a specialist, or that they won’t have sufficient expertise. But a blog management service has the luxury of a singular focus, which means they have a deeper level of knowledge about blogging as a marketing strategy.
3. Training and instruction
As I mentioned earlier, both VAs and blog management services provide a professional service, therefore you should not expect to train either of them from scratch.
Virtual assistants have a good level of competency in administrative and marketing-related tasks and will be comfortable adapting to different systems, even if they’re new to them.
However, because (again) they work with a variety of clients on a wide range of projects, they might not have a standard process to follow. If you’ve been publishing and promoting your blogs yourself until now, you may also have personal preferences about how the task is performed.
With that in mind, it would be advisable to create a full standard operating procedure (SOP) for your blog management process before you delegate it, and even record a screencast video of it being completed in real time, if possible.
This ensures that the task is fully understood by your VA; no assumptions are made about the steps required to publish and promote your blog post, and expectations are clear about how you want it done.
However, with a blog management service, there would be no need to this; you are turning to them as the experts. They will have developed their own systems for managing the blog production process, which are tried and tested, based on their extensive experience. Their procedures should reflect current best practice and include all the steps necessary to maximise the performance of your blog content.
Every business is different, so there will, of course, be opportunities to tailor these procedures to reflect your company’s products/services and target audience. But this is a collaborative process, rather than the directive relationship that you, as a client, may have with a virtual assistant.
4. Cost / package structure
Finally, the most important bit – cost! The main difference between a virtual assistant and a blog management service is the way they are billed.
A virtual assistant generally charges an hourly rate; in the UK this tends to be between £25-35 per hour, for someone with good qualifications and experience. When you assign a VA a task, they will log the time they spend on it and bill you accordingly.
Many VAs will also have “bulk buy” packages, or monthly retainer packages, where you purchase time up front or on a monthly basis. They may apply a small discount to the hourly rate if you choose this option.
Then it’s up to you to plan and communicate the tasks you want your VA to undertake, to publish and promote your blog. Each service will be treated separately, so on your invoice, you may see separate lines for “blog publishing”, “social media updates” and “email newsletters”, for example.
A blog management service, on the other hand, is billed as a fixed monthly package, with set deliverables that cover all the necessary elements for the successful publishing and promotion of your blog posts. It is treated as one end-to-end process, with the sole focus of getting the best results from your content.
At Boost, all our packages include the same deliverables; the only difference is how many blogs you want to publish each week. Other service providers may have packages which increase in price as the features become more comprehensive (e.g. Basic, Standard, Premium).
Blog management packages are priced based on value, as opposed to an hourly rate. However, to give you a point of comparison, we spend up to 4 hours publishing and promoting one blog post. On our smallest package of £495 for 1 blog per week, this works out at just over £30 per hour.
So, a blog management service isn’t necessarily more expensive than a VA, it’s just packaged and billed differently, to reflect the primary objective of improving the performance of your blog.
You should choose a virtual assistant if:
- Your primary objective is to save time
- You have a wide range of tasks to outsource – not just blog management
- You want complete control over the process followed to publish and promote your blogs
- You prefer a package with flexible deliverables and/or billing options
You should choose a blog management service if:
- Your primary objective is to improve the performance of your blog and drive business results
- You want to work with a specialist in blog management
- You want to use a ready-made system which reflects best practice
- You prefer a fixed price package with set deliverables
Got any questions?
Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer!