My interest in blogging professionally started when I took on an internship during my senior year at BYU. At the time, it just seemed like a sweet opportunity to work from home – because I had a baby, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave him!
I am forever grateful for my mentor! I wrote about EHRs and America’s Got Talent – so nothing to do with what I write now. But it helped me realize the opportunities that existed to work from home.
I had never really thought about interns until earlier this year. I was wishing I could all the money in the world to pay people to do all the menial tasks that distract me from doing the things I actually enjoy with blogging. And then I thought, “Hey, why not get an intern?”
I asked about it in a Facebook group and got mixed feelings on it. Someone suggested a course from another blogger that I respected about working with interns on your blog called “The Intern Strategy Course“. It cost me $200, but I am so grateful I took that course. She gave me step by step information on how to get interns, how to set up training, how to making things run smoothly, etc.
I got my first set of interns this summer. It started out promising but soon flopped – and it’s because I didn’t follow her advice to only take on interns that are getting academic credit.
Things didn’t really work out with any of these interns for various reasons. Originally, they had all said they were doing it for academic credit, but shortly before they started, they informed me they weren’t going to do it for credit anymore, but they still wanted to be interns.
Long story short, that didn’t really happen. Some worked longer than others – and I did get some get work during that time, and I am grateful for that. . But eventually they kind of fizzled out. I was frustrated but not willing to give up, because I really felt like having interns could be a game changer. But I made it an absolute rule that they had to be getting academic credit in order to be an intern for me.
So I tried again for the fall semester. There are still a few months left, but it has gone SO much better. All of my interns are committed, very professional, and are doing this it for academic credit. I am in contact with their professors, and it’s gone really smoothly.
It’s been especially really awesome for my Simply Side Dishes website! I have a few paid writers there as well, but they’ve been great for getting out more content, rather than just the twice a week posting we were doing before.
I have a lot of training videos that I had them watch in the beginning, and now I just assign them tasks in Asana every week. They work quickly and I’ve been so impressed.
I have them do all sorts of things for me, including:
- Writing Posts (especially for my side dish blog and my breastfeeding website)
- Make and schedule pins
- Upload printables to my site and optimize for SEO
- Check for broken links
- Update Alt text (I had all my images that didn’t have alt text run through a program from The Blog Fixer, but I have to approve or change them all. Big task!)
- Make videos on JumpRope
- SEO research
- Schedule out content via MissingLettr
- Writing email sequences
- Making printables
- Orphan Posts
- Making eBooks for me
- Updating old posts
- Updating/Creating Category Posts
- Putting descriptions on Pinterest boards
- Hashtag Research
- Affiliate outreach and research for my courseFacebook group management
I know Christina has used interns for video and I think photography, so those are some options as well if they have that specific skill set (if I ever get someone for those, I would plan to reimburse them for ingredients/materials).
I have plenty of work, and they do great. I try to make sure they are doing things that are actually valuable to them, but they’ve been great.
There are certain conditions you have to meet in order to have an unpaid/credit only intern. The course I took actually didn’t have that up to date, and the old rules were a lot more annoying. You can read them here.
So if you are interested in getting interns, here are a few things I recommend:
- Consider taking Christina’s Course. It is so, so helpful.
- Make sure they are doing it for credit or pay them. If they are doing it for credit and you still want to pay, you may attract a bigger crowd. I haven’t done paid, though. Christina hasn’t either.
- Come up with a list of EVERYTHING you do and see if it would be worth it to you to have someone an intern do those tasks – and worth your time to prepare them!
- Contact local colleges or a college you have a relationship with. I have gotten all mine through my alma mater.
- Make sure you have a very detailed listing – here is mine.
- Conduct an actual interview. I had people that looked great on paper and were much less impressive in an interview and vice versa.
- Expect it to take some time to get up and running. It took me quite some time to get training modules done, and in the beginning,they seem to have more questions.
- Have an internship welcome letter that explains the internship,what they’ll be doing, etc. (here is mine)
- Have a timesheet for them to track their time
- Be patient and understanding of their time. Make sure they are actually learning something!
- I have my interns work on a task-based system. I give them tasks at the beginning of the week, and I have them tell me if they need to meet with me. I try to be available via text or email throughout the day to answer questions. Some of my interns have specific hours they work, so I especially try to be available during those times. It is up to them to let me know if they need more tasks or hours, but this hasn’t been a problem so far.
- Be aware of how many hours they need for their internship before committing
- Assign tasks that you don’t mind having to train someone new in every semester.
- Use a task management program like Asana or Trello
- Use Lastpass for passwords
- Have primary and secondary tasks (primary tasks are things typically assigned weekly, secondary they do either every week on a regular basis OR when they need more work)
- Put in the time to make training modules. I make them really fast using a screen recording software or with my phone’s screen recording.
- I find the easiest content to have them do are things that follow a certain template (like my recipes) or are easy to research. I don’t have them do DIY posts or things that require more hands-on knowledge. I also don’t have them do affiliate heavy posts.
- I found people through the Communications department. Depending on what you need, you could find people through graphic design, video, photography, and business departments as well.
- Write a great listing! Be thorough.
This is not for everyone. It does take some micromanaging. As demonstrated earlier this summer, it doesn’t always go as planned (but there are ways to mitigate this). There is turnover – after the semester is over, they are gone! Factor in the time it takes to interview and train new people.
You could also just have some do writing for you. I have lots of tasks that I need others to do. But you can make it a lot less complicated than me!
I have people I pay to do other work for me – things I don’t want to have to train over and over again for, or that I just trust the way they do them and don’t care to change. I wouldn’t base your entire business on interns.
Obviously, I haven’t done this for a long time yet. It’s been a learning process, and I’m finding what things I like them to do, and what things I prefer to do or like to have one of my paid contractors do. But I’m finding it to work well – especially for my newer sites!