What Should I Blog About as a Virtual Assistant? with Julienne DesJardins
The “What Should I Blog About?” Series gives you examples of what real business owners are blogging about to promote their work in their industry. These interviews will spark new ideas for your own blog and give you encouragement in overcoming your blogging struggles. Check out other posts in the series here.
Today's "What Should I Blog About?" post is an interview with my virtual assistant, Julienne! She saves my business life on a regular basis, and I knew I had to introduce you to her. Virtual assistants are often stumped with figuring out how to blog for their business. Read on to find out how Julienne makes it work!
Julienne DesJardins works with small businesses ready to collaborate with a strategic partner. She is a digital marketing virtual assistant and Certified ConvertKit Expert, who specializes in email and social media marketing. Julienne loves to blog about her favorite business tools and tips for work-at-home parents. If you’re a mom struggling with finding enough time for your biz during your day, you’ll love her free 5-day email course, Balance Biz + Baby. (It’s all about how to recapture your time!) Visit her website or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.
Welcome, Julienne! Tell us about your business and yourself.
My background is in nonprofit administration. It’s where I cut my teeth in marketing. When my job changed, and I was less hands-on with those tasks I loved, I started freelancing. That quickly grew into full-time self-employment, and now I’m a very proud small business owner.
What I’m most proud of, though, is my family. I’m a work-at-home mom to the love of my life, Luke. (He’s one and way into Sesame Street.) My husband is a published composer and music teacher. We actually work together on a Teachers Pay Teachers shop of his, where he offers resources to other teachers. So that’s a lot of fun!
When did you first start blogging for your business? What did you write about as a new blogger?
Like a lot of other bloggers, I’d been doing it for a long time before I launched my biz. (LiveJournal!) But I consider my “first pancake” to be a tech blog I started the summer before I began freelancing.
I knew I wanted to start “consulting” (I was unfamiliar with the term freelancing then), but felt really intimidated and overwhelmed. I decided to just start writing and see what happened. I made some connections through that experience that led me to my first VA client. So the experiment turned out pretty well for me!
What does your blog look like these days?
Lately, my blog feels a little eclectic to me. I don’t accept guest posts, so it’s a total reflection of me and where I am in the moment. I’ve been enjoying diving into more behind-the-scenes, almost theoretical, posts lately. (Like, "What would happen to your business if you died?") It just felt like time to start exploring some deeper concepts. They’re less exciting on the face, but still super crucial to small business owners.
In between those heavier posts, I’m still talking about what I love most: tools and apps, Squarespace, and mompreneurship.
What are some of your most popular posts? Why do you think they resonate with your readers so much?
Overwhelmingly, my posts about Squarespace pro tips are what perform the best. Several of my posts on that are on page 1 in Google’s search results. I get comments and emails every week asking for help.
I think it’s such a popular topic because so many Squarespace users are DIY-ers. They often tell me they love the way I’ve designed my site, so they automatically trusted my advice. It’s a good reminder about how our website is a major player on our marketing “team.”
VA clients often need help with a lot of different things. How did you decide which blog topics would most benefit your readers AND attract the right clients?
I use my blog to answer the questions I’m commonly asked, from current and potential clients, but I focus on “the question before the question.” For instance, I’m hired a lot to set up online booking software for clients. So I have a compare/contrast post on the most popular tools. It’s a very popular post, but it isn’t a tutorial of how to get set up. What it did was solve the initial problem those clients have (“Which scheduling tool is right for me?”). But they’re still hiring me for implementation.
You banked up four months (!!) of blog posts to publish while you were on maternity leave in 2015. What strategies did you use to get so far ahead?
Fear. (Only sort of kidding.) Pregnancy comes with a built-in deadline. And it was very heavily on me, right? I couldn’t outsource it. I couldn’t have a “working lunch.” The birthing time, and maternity, were approaching and I was going to be forced to rest. (Totally new to me, at that time.) I didn’t know what mompreneurship held, but I figured that all the “extras” would fall by the wayside after baby—which ended up being totally true.
My schedule was more predictable then, before baby, so I blocked off Fridays for systems building and content creation. No client calls or work—just Get Ready for Baby days. I keep a running list of all my potential blog post ideas in Google Docs. So I would just sit down, look over the list, and write another one!
On the flip side, your blogging schedule slowed down in 2016 after those banked posts ran out. You have a goal of blogging more in 2017. What steps have you taken to make that happen?
Yep, it’s true! After I ran out of the posts in February 2016 that I banked before maternity, I only blogged three more times in the whole year. I was learning how to run my business with a new baby at home, and that took all of my attention. At least for me, some of that first year felt like survival mode.
But the interesting thing is that all the work I did banking posts with great SEO paid off. That’s when my posts jumped up on Google search, and my unique pageviews doubled in 2016 from 2015—even with hardly any new blogging.
As for reaching my 2017 goal of consistent blogging, I’ve built a recurring checklist in my project management system (Azendoo). Some tasks are assigned to me; some to my assistant. (Actually, admitting that I needed to hire my own VA was step #1.) We’re working together to pump out the posts.
I realized it wasn’t content creation I was struggling with—it was the fifteen other tasks it takes to bring a post from idea to publication. So I had to ask for help. (So far it’s working. I’ve published about 3x as many posts already in 2017 than I did in all of 2016!)
Are there any other tips you'd like to share with other online entrepreneurs who want to blog for their business?
Don’t worry too much about the shoulds. I know a lot of people say a content calendar is the only way to publish consistent, quality content. But that just hasn’t held true for me. I have a general plan of the posts I’d like to create over the next few months, but if another idea strikes, I run with it. I believe it’s more important to be engaging than to be doing everything the way it "should" be done.
Another vote for ignoring the shoulds is this post itself. I absolutely love reading interview posts like this, but they consistently have not connected with my audience. I’ve never declined when I’m asked to be interviewed because I really love them. But I just decided to focus my energy on the content my readers want to consume.
Thanks for joining us, Julienne!
Be sure to follow Julienne's business blog for great tips on Squarespace, mompreneurship, and running your online business.
Have you ever gotten months ahead on your content creation? Tell us how you did it in the comments!