In this episode of the Candid Conversations podcast, your co-hosts Dan and Sagan share a little bit about their new business venture. We also interview Sareeta Lopez of Flight and Scarlet, who shares the inside scoop of what it’s like being a feminist blogger and virtual assistant, and her experiences of juggling that with her work as a substitute teacher.
This episode is proudly sponsored by Small Business Assistant, assisting your small business with QuickBooks consultation, source deductions, payroll and more. Visit SmallBusinessAssistant.ca to learn more.
0:00 Introduction to the podcast
0:35 Introduction to today’s guest, Sareeta Lopez of Flight and Scarlet
0:50 Update on where our business is at: Sagan and Dan start a joint business partnership!
“We have two different skillsets that can really mesh well into a services offering, as well as to do training in person and online.” – Dan
“Combining these skillsets, there are so many exciting things that can come out of it and so many opportunities and different things we’ll be able to do together that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.” – Sagan
“It’s very interesting that you as the listeners get to come in at the literal start of this business partnership.” – Dan
“We want to keep you all updated on how things go with our business partnership and the obstacles that we face and how we overcome those obstacles—it’s going to be interesting.” – Sagan
Discover what it’s like to start a business with a partner… from the very beginning! #candidpodcast #smallbiz
5:00 About Sareeta’s 9 to 5 job and side hustle (and why she started doing it)
“When I first started my blog, I had no intention of turning it into a job. I started my blog in my last year of university for fun; when I started substitute teaching I had so much free time and I wasn’t used to it! I really enjoyed blogging and about 4 months in I realized I could monetize it and started taking it more seriously. I realized I found something else that works for me besides teaching.” – Sareeta
“That’s so cool that you managed to identify early on that blogging was something you wanted to do and could make a living off of.” – Sagan
7:15 How Sareeta was inspired to monetize her blog from the Busy Budgeter’s income reports
7:50 As both an online writer and an offline teacher, are there any distinct differences or similarities as it pertains to feminism and the feminist landscape?
“With my niche (talking about feminism and making it more accessible), I’m helping other people understand what it is—which is basically what teaching is! Blogging lends itself to that: you’re always trying to help your readers solve some kind of problem, so in one way or another you’re always teaching. The difference though is I have no idea when I’m helping someone if they don’t leave a comment or respond to a question! I don’t get that immediate response that I would get in the classroom.” – Sareeta
“With blogging, you help readers solve a problem, so in one way or another you’re always teaching” – @FlightScarlet
8:55 How Sareeta makes feminism more accessible
“To see that you’re able to take that approach and make feminism more accessible, that’s really interesting.” – Dan
“The whole idea as a teacher is to make difficult concepts more accessible; blogging is still about that, which I think is why I enjoy it… As a blogger and as a virtual assistant (VA), I’m sitting at home alone with my cat a lot of the time, not actually interacting with people. But I’m really happy with it because I feel like I’m still helping people at least.” – Sareeta
“The whole idea as a teacher & blogger is to make difficult concepts more accessible” @FlightScarlet #candidpodcast
10:45 Because you have such a hot-button topic, have you seen any issues trying to get advertisers on your blog?
“I feel a lot of pressure to be super meticulous in finding a brand that will fit really good. I can see myself being like, ‘I like this brand,’ and other people saying, “that’s not a feminist brand!” – Sareeta
14:30 Being an online business, what are some of the ways that you’re going about gaining exposure for your blog and your virtual assistant services, especially since you’re fairly new to it?
“The first year, I focused a lot on Pinterest and social media in general… Pinterest doesn’t seem to keep people on the website for very long, so I started focusing more on Facebook. Most of my traffic comes from Pinterest, and most of my engagement is from Facebook. People want to discuss a lot more on Facebook than on Pinterest.” – Sareeta
“Elite Blog Academy was a big learning thing for me; I did a lot of changes on my site in general after that.” – Sareeta
“Designing your website professionally is one of the best things you can do for your blog.” – Sareeta
“Designing your website professionally is one of the best things you can do for your blog” – @FlightScarlet #blogtip
16:40 Can you explain what a virtual assistant (VA) is and why you decided to jump into that in addition to your blog?
“The kind of VA work I do is to help bloggers complete various tasks they don’t have time for or don’t like to do… I became a virtual assistant this past October; I needed a bit of fast money and I’d read that it was something you could do to make money from your blog. I thought it seemed kind of cool, I made a quick website, I just went for it—people needed help, and I was helping them.” – Sareeta
“That’s such an important thing to know about yourself—to know, ‘I love teaching and helping people, so how can I translate that into an online sort of situation?’ That just makes sense to do virtual assistant sort of work.” – Sagan
19:00 Sponsor shoutout
19:30 How long have you been blogging and doing VA work?
“If someone had told me three years ago that I was going to start a business, I would have been like ‘I don’t know!’ That’s the interesting thing about blogging too; I never, ever thought of it as a way to make money. I’ve always liked graphic design and writing and helping other people. My dad’s always told me I should start a business but I didn’t really know what I was good at—this is what I’m good at!” – Sareeta
21:10 What does a typical day look like for you?
“Because I’m a blogger and a VA, my main struggle right now is figuring out how to balance that. Most of my income comes from being a VA; I’ve made some from affiliates and sponsors, but most of the income is from my VA work so I have to be careful about how much time I spend as a VA and how much time I spend blogging, because blogging is more passive.” – Sareeta
“There’s a lot of things to take into consideration, especially when your blog is such an amazing tool as your portfolio and as a platform for marketing your business… Even when your blog isn’t making money immediately, but it’s such an important tool to furthering your business. It’s tricky to balance that.” – Sagan.
“Blogs are amazing tools to use as a portfolio for your freelance business” – @Saganlives #freelancelife #biztip
25:00 You essentially have two side businesses—what are some of the ways you’ve been able to navigate the obstacles you’ve faced to date?
“In the beginning I was awful at balancing it… I was a bit of a workaholic! My work took too much time and I didn’t take time for myself. This year, because I’m thinking of it as more of a business, I don’t use all of my free time. Now I look at my hours and I think, ‘how is this helping me, how is this making me money, and am I being efficient with it?’ It’s hard because I love it so much! Right now the obstacle is my stress about trying to make it work as a full-time job.” – Sareeta
“Mostly my own mental blocks are the obstacles.” – Sareeta
“When it IS your own mental blocks, then you can address that and tackle that kind of obstacle.” – Sagan
Why mindset shift matters: @FlightScarlet talks about looking at her blog as a business, not a hobby #candidpodcast
28:45 The problems around having such a niche topic for a blog
“I find it hard to grow with my kind of niche, especially because it’s so information-based and educating rather than solving a direct immediate need.” – Sareeta
31:10 What is was like doing an affiliate launch for a segment of email subscribers
32:50 Are there any other successes that you’ve had recently that you’re especially proud of?
“Having brands reach out has been really neat, and realizing I can probably make affiliate sales work has been cool.” – Sareeta
“It’s so exciting when your hard work finally pays off!” – Sagan
33:55 How do you want to continue to grow with your business?
“My ultimate goal is to work a lot less as a VA—to do as much VA work as I want to, and not feel like I HAVE to in order to get by, and to make more passive income from the blog. I want to stop teaching and start working from home. I’d like to publish a book about personal experiences about sexual assault. I’d like to be able to use my blog as a way to start spreading ideas more, which I guess is teacher me again! I’d love if my business can be my full-time income, with the freedom to do other things, like teaching sex-ed to kids part-time. I’d love to be able to write about feminism and have that be my career.” – Sareeta
35:35 What are some tips you’ve picked up that would be helpful for other people who want to start blogging or become a VA?
“For a VA business, the first thing you should do is get a website! Create a website and get it up. If you have something there, people will feel better. For bloggers, get a free blog and start writing about whatever you want, and go from there.” – Sareeta
Thinking about starting a virtual assistant business? Get the inside scoop with this episode of #candidpodcast!
37:15 Sagan’s experience of getting a blog in 2008
37:45 Why it’s okay to experiment with your niche as a blogger
“One of the big problems bloggers face is where experts say ‘You need to niche down!’ But if you don’t actually know what you’re genuinely super passionate about, you’re going to have a lot of problems. There’s obviously a lot of benefits to having a niche, but it’s good to experiment with things in the early days and go from there.” – Sagan
38:15 How to learn more about Sareeta
39:20 What kind of VA services do you offer?
“I work with other bloggers and sellers; I can help edit, proofread, and schedule your posts in WordPress; I can schedule social media like Pinterest and TailWind, and I can do graphic design for your blog.” – Sareeta
40:05 Thanks for listening!
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Awesome Resources + People Mentioned In This Episode
- Small Business Assistant
- Flight and Scarlet
- Under the Influence: The Wizarding World of Influencer Marketing
- The Busy Budgeter
- A Guy’s Guide to Feminism
- Elite Blog Academy
- Shopify (affiliate link)
- A Practical Wedding
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Thank you to our sponsor, Small Business Assistant!