Andrea Vahl Interview
You’ve successfully established yourself as a Social Media and Internet Marketing Expert. What drew you into this area – was this always your interest, or did you find yourself swept up in it?
I started using social media to promote my in-home wine tasting business (that was a dream job right there) and really loved the connections you could make!
But as I was doing that, I didn’t find the types of tutorials I wanted to see – ones that were informative and entertaining. A lot of the tutorials I found skipped steps or used too much jargon and we also boring.
So I decided to use one of my characters, Grandma Mary, to deliver fun tutorials. And as she grew her audience, my business grew.
As an expert, what type of content would you advise blogging newbies to start with?
Blog with the type of content you want to see. If you see something missing, there are probably others who want that type of information. If you find yourself answering the same types of questions from people, put it into a blog post and then just send that link out when you want to answer that question.
Blogging is time-consuming, but it is SO worthwhile. You add value, establish yourself as an expert, and allow people to get to know you. Have a point of view about a new feature or a strategy that people should use.
Which social media channel do you consider to be most important for bloggers? And why?
I think the most important social media channel is the one you like the most and will be active on. I’ve seen every social channel work for people. If you like that channel, you will be more active there. I get most of my traffic from my site from Facebook, but that’s where I hang out the most and put the most effort into.
Which self-hosted blogging tool would you recommend for new bloggers? And which CMS do you use on your personal website?
I am partial to WordPress and use it on my site. I think it’s easy to use and there are so many plugins and themes to help you customize your site. Plus there are a lot of developers who can help you down the road. There are some learning curves to get any site up and running so just be patient if you are starting out!
You facilitate Social Media workshops, Facebook Bootcamps and Facebook webinars, and you’re also a co-author of the Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies book – tell us a bit more about all of this?
I’ve done a bit of everything in terms of social media – author, speaker, consultant, manager, freelancer, hmmm maybe I should narrow things down a little! 🙂
I did start out doing more social media management for companies and also was the Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner for 2 years.
I now mostly do online courses, speaking and run Facebook Ad campaigns. I think it helps to have experience with all types of businesses to be able to teach and write about social media strategy. Social media has different strategies and results for different niches. I really love helping businesses grow online and social media is a great place to do that.
Now, there’s a very interesting section on your website and we have to mention that – Stand Up Comedy. Please tell us more about what is it all about!
Yes, I love comedy! I did improv comedy for 8 years and more recently have taken the plunge into standup. I have 2 kids and work from home, so I have a never-ending supply of material. I produce my own shows in Denver and Boulder and have recently been hired to do some fundraising events so that’s exciting. Comedy and jogging are two things that keep me sane (and wine).
How do you maintain a work/life balance working for yourself, in the 24/7 reality of the internet?
I think it’s very important as entrepreneurs to take breaks. I take a lot of vacations actually and that is the best part of working for yourself. The challenging part is that I do have to check in but I set up systems and plan my schedule so I can really unplug during most of the vacations (some I check in a bit more regularly).
I also don’t answer a lot of email on the weekend. Some weekends I do work a lot but I also remind myself that my week often has fun stuff incorporated like long lunches with friends or time with the kids. And as my business has grown, I’ve been able to have more people on my team who I can outsource work to which really helps.
Working on social media is VERY distracting. So I have systems to help me stay focused like blocking time in my calendar and making sure I’m only going to the places I need to be on social media so I get in, do the activities I need to do, and then get out. Some days I’m more successful at this than others –well, cat videos suck me in.
Ok, so let’s finish up this interview by hearing it a bit from Grandma Mary!
Grandma Mary – Do you have any words of wisdom for people thinking about making an online presence?
While Grandma Mary did “officially” retire, her words of wisdom were always “If Grandma Mary can do it, you can do it, too!”
And she always wanted people to have a little fun. She is proof that you can get a little crazy and still have a good business!
Photos ©: AndreaVahl.com