You may not know this about me, but I LOVE STORIES. There are so many incredible people working with teams to grow their businesses, and if I have my way, I’ll be featuring every single one on this blog!
For today, I’d like to an awesome story about my friend Andy Perdue – co founder of Great Northwest Wine, a news site about wine from the Northwest – and how hiring a General Virtual Assistant from the Philippines made a huge difference to his bottom line. Seriously, you’re going to love this!
Two Writers; No PR
Andy Perdue and his business partner Eric are the journalists and masterminds behind Great Northwest Wine. They are experienced wine tasters and very talented writers. Between them, the team has more than 60 years of journalism experience, plus a family of journalists as well. Beyond that, they have volume: they publish four or more articles per day on their site.
If you aren’t clear yet: Andy and Eric can write.
Unfortunately, running a successful news site is only partially about writing – it’s also about getting your work in front of more people through publicizing it. And Andy knew that this is what their team lacked.
“We are really good at writing. But what we’re really not good at is publicizing what we do.” said Andy, “This is something that’s inherent with journalists because we used to write for the newspaper – and we never had to worry about getting people to read our work. But with a news website, that’s very different.”
Andy knew they needed help, but also knew their small team couldn’t afford someone at “USA” rates. So he started thinking outside the US, and came across Chris Ducker’s Virtual Staff Finder service. After a bit more research he was convinced.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. He also had to convince his business partner and both of their wives to go along with this crazy “outsourcing” idea. Andy said this was a bit tricky. “In my mind we didn’t outsource anything – we created a job. The person who qualified just happened to be in the Philippines.”
With a bit more persuasion and quite a bit of research, the wives were on board and Andy got the process started.
Hiring and Onboarding
The hiring process went very smoothly. Andy said that the folks at Virtual Staff Finder were very helpful and walked him through the process of writing out an in-depth job description – forcing him to really think about what his future VA would be doing, and what “backup” tasks she would do if she had extra bandwidth. He created a Google Document with step by step processes for the tasks and really thought through exactly what the process would be.
The process took ten days, and at the end of it Andy had a full-time GVA hired and ready to help Great Northwest Wine grow.
The Publicity Workflow
Their GVA handles posting all of their content across the usual social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, etc. But in addition, she helps Andy and Eric by reaching out directly to the brands that they mention in their content.
Here’s what she does for every article they publish, and for all content they produce for other publications:
- Make a list of any brands of wine which have been mentioned.
- Find the name and email addresses for representatives of each brand
- Send them an email to let them know their brand has been mentioned, include a link, instructions on how to share it and a high resolution photo.
In addition, she will add the contact’s email address and information to a database of all brands they have worked with, which can be leveraged later when the team sends out requests for entries into their wine competitions.
So is it Working?
“In 2014 we ran a wine competition on our site. We charged for entries and received a total of 910 entries. The following year we ran the same competition. We sent out a call for entries after about 9 months of our GVA helping to publicize our work. Despite a price increase, the number of entries went up by 35% and that week we made 50% of our revenue for the entire prior year.”
I’d say that’s a huge “yes!”
Are you a wine lover? Definitely take a gander at Great Northwest Wine or say hello to Andy on Twitter. Thank you Andy for letting me share your amazing story and success, and I will be implementing a similar process shortly for our own site!
Got a great story?
I’d love to hear about how you leverage your tools and teams to see success with your online business! Reply in the comments or let me know here – I would love to share your story!