August 18, 2016 Blogging TipsHow to balance blogging with a full-time job If you’re part of our Blogging For Keeps email list (side note: if you’re not signed up, click our header above to sign up!), you know that the first email you receive includes a link to take a survey. We do this so we can get an idea of what content you want to see, what your biggest challenges are, and what will be most helpful for you. Well–one of the biggest challenges everyone had in common? How to balance blogging with a full-time job. Sound familiar? “I’m struggling with balancing working full time at a stressful job, and blogging on the side. By the time I get home at night, I don’t want to do anything but watch Netflix and eat snacks!” “I just have a hard time finding time to do anything when I have a full-time job and life” “My biggest challenge is juggling my blog with a full-time job. And it’s not only the time issue but also feeling motivated to blog after a long day at work which is mainly spent writing articles.” “How can I grow my blog when I have a “more than full-time job” and travel for work a lot? e.g., How do I efficiently grow my blog when I don’t have a lot of time, and not waste time running down all the unproductive Internet rabbit holes?” Well, we get it. Blair and I have been there too! When I started my blog, I was juggling a demanding corporate work-week schedule at an face-paced advertising firm, trying to be a good girlfriend, friend, roommate, AND grow my blog at the same time–believe me, it took a long time to fall into a groove! So today, I’m sharing six pieces of honest advice that will help you find your best work-life-blog balance, get more done, and get on the fast track to success with your blog! Map out a “blogging” schedule We’ve all heard that, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” saying, right? Well, it couldn’t be more true for blogging. If you don’t create a schedule for yourself and designate specific times to work on your blog, you’ll never get anything done. One of the most common complaints we hear on the reg? “I just don’t have enough time.” Let me assure you this: Actually, you do have enough time, you likely just aren’t managing it correctly. There are always hours to be found in the day. First, to determine how much time you need for blogging, ask yourself how many times per week you’d like to post. Then, multiply that by how many hours it takes you to complete each blog post on average (include everything from shooting, photo editing and writing.) Then, buffer that with a couple extra hours. Thats the minimum amount of time you’ll need to find in your schedule each week for blogging. So, with that number in mind, at the beginning of each week, sit down, open your calendar, and figure out when you’re going to find those hours. But how do you find hours exactly? Consider the following–before work, your lunch hour, after work, and weekends. Can you get up an hour earlier Monday through Friday? Bam. That’s 5 hours right there. Can you spend your daily lunch break on your blog instead of with your coworkers? That’s another 5 hours per week. How about just 2 hours on both Saturday and Sunday mornings? That’s 14 hours right there, and that is barely asking you to sacrifice anything. Don’t you think that’s a pretty good start? Now that you’ve figured out where those hours are coming from–write them into your calendar, and stick to that schedule. If you know ahead of time every week that you’re going to be spending your Tuesday and Wednesday nights working on your blog, it will be a lot easier to say “no” to those spontaneous after work drinks with co-workers. Eliminate distractions If you come home from work, put on your pajamas, and immediately turn on Netflix and lay on the couch, do you really think you’re going to shut it off after 30 minutes and get to work? Not likely. If your roommates are watching the Bachelorette and drinking wine, do you seriously think you’ll want to shut yourself in your room and be productive? Of course not! Or–how about when you DO open your computer to get to work, but you get caught in all those internet rabbit holes, like Facebook, Pinterest, and the like? (UGH!) Makes sense, right? If you’re trying to make the most of your precious blogging time, it’s important to eliminate distractions. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to choose anything other than blogging. Avoid reaching for the remote or sinking into your comfy couch. (Hello? You’ll be asleep in minutes!) Instead, set up shop at your kitchen table (no risk of getting sleepy there!) or if you know roommates or your SO will be home to distract you, head to Starbucks after work instead. If you’re working on writing for your posts–don’t even OPEN your internet browser–do your drafts in Microsoft Word instead. (That way, you won’t be tempted to take a “Pinterest break.”) Switch up your scenery On that note, I often find it hard to get motivated when I’ve been sitting in one place for too long. Instead of staying at the office late to work on your blog, try going to a coffee shop instead. Or if you typically work in your home office, get up and move to your kitchen. Sometimes, all you need is a little scenery switch to get motivated. Find a support system Blogging can be really lonely if you don’t have any friends who know what you’re going through, or know how much work it is to run a blog! For Blair and I, our support system is everything! We met some of our best friends through blogging–and being able to go to them for guidance, bounce around new ideas, etc, always keeps us going and motivated to continue working hard, and never lose sight of our goals. To do this, do a quick google search for “blogging networks” or “blog collectives” in your area. If that doesn’t work, search for individual bloggers on google or on Instagram–often, you can easily find new people with a local hashtag, like #ChicagoBloggers or #AtlantaBlogger. Identify a couple people who have a lot in common with you, are similar in audience size, and reach out! Batch your blogging tasks If you read this post all about brainstorming, you’ll know that “batching” is a blogger’s best friend. What is batching? Essentially, it’s focusing on one task until you’re finished, and only then do you move on to the other. For example, say you’re a fashion blogger. Your typical process would go something like the following, right? You come up with an idea for a blog post, then figure out what outfit you’ll wear, shoot the outfit, then edit the photos, and end with writing the copy and posting. Repeat for each post. Sound familiar? It takes a lot of time, doesn’t it? But, what if you did it this way? Set aside 1-2 hours to brainstorm content for the next two weeks to a month. (Depending on how often you post.) Schedule these posts in your calendar–this would include what items you’ll be styling in each post. Now that you know your post topics, write all of your copy for them at once. (You don’t need to have the pictures shot in order to write the copy and drop in your outfit links!) Then, schedule one day to knock out all of your shooting. If you have 5 outfit posts you’d like to go up in the next couple of weeks, plan ahead, and shoot them all at once. Then, batch edit all of your photos for those 5 shoots, and drop them into the 5 posts. You’re done! How much more efficient was that?! Perfect this method, and I promise, it will save you SO. MUCH. TIME. Be OK with sacrifices Achieving blogging success is not without it’s sacrifices. Sometimes finding enough hours in the week to dedicate to your blog means skipping out on a lot of other things, like girls’ dinners, long, leisurely brunches, watching your favorite TV shows, quality time with your family and of course–sleep. But it all boils down to one question. How bad do you want this? If you don’t want it bad enough to miss out on your Netflix shows–that’s okay! If you don’t want it bad enough to skip your workout because you need to get a post up the next morning–totally fine. If sacrificing sleeping in isn’t worth it to you–by all means, continue sleeping in! It’s your life, and only you should decide how you should live it. Am I saying you should ignore your friends, family, significant other and focus every moment of free time that you have to dedicate to your blog? Of COURSE not. You are lucky enough to have a life, so you should enjoy it, after all! But know this–any kind of success comes with sacrifice. Personally, I just started working out again this past year–after a three year hiatus–because working out was something I cut out of my life in order to make more time for blogging. Was that the healthiest decision? Probably not. But it was more important for me to build my blog and follow my passion than it was to have a toned butt. And while, from the outside looking in, it may have looked like I had a fancy and fun life “blogger” life on Instagram, in reality–I was eating a LOT of 30 cent ramen and starting cutting back on those expensive daily Starbucks lattes. I started walking more places and taking more public transportation. I cut costs everywhere I could–including missing out on a lot of dinners with friends and trying out new trendy restaurants because I was strapped for cash and for time. But these sacrifices were necessary so I could do things like buy a better camera, upgrade my lens, get a better website, and invest in training that I knew I needed to grow my blog. And guess what? It worked. So, I’m going to be a little brutally honest here. If you want a successful blog, but aren’t willing to put in the time, the money, and the sacrifices that everyone else before you has done to get there–then you probably don’t want it that badly. (And that’s okay, too!) Action Steps: So–how to bring this all together? Get to work on your action plan! First, create your blogging schedule by following the steps in the first section above. Second, determine what “batching” steps are going to occur when, and schedule those into your calendar for the next month–i.e. “Tuesday nights are reserved for writing” or “Thursday nights are reserved for photo editing.” Third–and potentially the hardest step–stick to it! I promise, you’ll see results immediately. How do you balance your blog and full-time job? What tips have worked for you?