If you balance blogging with a full time job you’ll know how exhausting it can be. You finish work, maybe work out, see your friends, and, just when you thought your day was over, find yourself hunched over your laptop eating dinner, desperate to finish the blog post you want to publish the next day.
I’ve been running this blog for almost 4 years now and for a lot of that time I’ve had a full time job and I swear, before I started doing some of the things in this list, my default mode was COFFEE I NEED ALL THE COFFEE YOU HAVE PLEASE THANK YOU.
I still drink a lot of coffee (because, duh, show me a twenty-something who balances work with blogging, freelancing, and travel who doesn’t) but I’ve now got a little more time in my life for exciting things like getting into bed at 10pm to read actual books.
I’m serious, I do actually find that exciting.
Anyway, if you’re struggling to manage your blog AND work full time, read on:
Spend 10-15* minutes a week scheduling Facebook posts
We all know how difficult it is to manage all of our social media channels to make sure we’re building relationships with our readers and sharing information that they want to read so, instead of using small pockets of time throughout the week to manage your Facebook page, spend 15 minutes once a week scheduling everything for the next week or two. Make sure to leave gaps if you know you’ve got a blog post going live so you can promote it once it’s live.
In terms of what to share, it can be anything you think will resonate with your audience: photos, links to old blog posts, links to other people’s blog posts, or questions. There’s a brilliant post on Forbes with ideas of what to share on social media.
Use Facebook insights to determine when the people who already like your page are online most and schedule your posts accordingly.
*Or however long it takes you! Just don’t spend too long because that kinda defeats the object of freeing up some of your time. Cool, glad we’re on the same page.
Use Gmail canned responses
As a blogger you probably find yourself writing the same emails over and over again. It can get frustrating, especially if you’re receiving the same kinds of enquires all the time. The best way to get around having to write multiple emails over and over is to used canned responses from Gmail.
Canned responses basically allow you to save an email as a ‘canned response’ and use it over and over again without having to copy and paste the message into a new window every time you want to use it. It’s a huge time saver and one you’ll be thankful for once you’ve set it up.
Use buffer to share articles on Twitter
If you work full time it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sit on Twitter all day chatting with fellow bloggers and sharing blog posts or articles you’ve read (unless you’ve got, like, the coolest boss ever in which case you can probably just skip this). And, even though I would never recommend you set up automatic tweets or DMs (because how annoying are those? Seriously!) it is worth using Buffer to ‘queue up’ things you want to share on Twitter in the future.
Buffer allows you to tweak the time of day (or night) the things you want to share go out and it’s especially useful for bloggers who have international audiences and want to maintain a presence on Twitter even when they can’t be on Twitter.
Schedule your blog posts
Even if you want your blog posts to go live when you’re not at work, it’s still worth scheduling them.
Why? Well I’m assuming you’re a busy blogger who has some kind of a life outside of work and doesn’t want to rush home from the pub to hit publish. Schedule your blog posts ahead of time and you don’t even have to worry about it – have that second G&T, you deserve it!
Take photos on the weekend
Whether you’re a food, fashion, travel, or lifestyle blogger, if you’ve got a full time job the chances are you’re going to be stuck in the office during the day when the light’s best for taking photographs. That’s why I like to venture out on the weekends to take photos.
If you’re a fashion blogger, take a friend with you to shoot some outfit photos. If you’re a food blogger, take advantage of that lovely light streaming into your kitchen. If you’re a travel or lifestyle blogger, get out of the house and take some photos near where you live which you can use on your blog or share on social media.
Use Evernote to draft blog posts and ideas
Before I started using Evernote, I had this awful habit of jotting down ideas for blog posts on scraps on paper or random notebooks only to lose the scraps of paper in the bottom of my bag and leave my notebook at work when I actually needed it at home.
You know how it is, inspiration strikes and all you’ve got to hand is a crumpled receipt and an eyeliner pencil.
You might be wondering why I’m recommending Evernote instead of the ‘notes’ app on your phone. Well, firstly, the notes app is all well and good but you can’t organise them into folders. Secondly, with Evernote, you can jot down an idea using the app on your phone, which will then sync to your desktop version so you can access everything once you’re back at your laptop.
You can also use it to ‘clip’ parts of websites to come back to later. I use it for blogging but also for storing cuttings from websites I’ve found useful and curating recipes.
Think of your blog as a business…
If your boss asked you to have something done by EOD Tuesday you’d do it wouldn’t you? So why is it, when it comes to our blogs, we let deadlines slip? Having a proper blogging schedule sounds like a lot of work (and it is, at first) but once you’ve done it and you know what you’ve got to have written by what date it gives you a whole heap of headspace to use for other things.
A wall-mounted planner like this one works really well. Or you can just use a normal diary, or the diary on your phone.
…but also be realistic
You’re probably putting way too much pressure on yourself if you’re aiming to publish a new blog post every day while you’re working full time. It can totally be done, of course, but sticking to a less-hectic posting schedule of between 1 and 3 new posts a week is much more manageable and won’t have your burning out and having to take a break from blogging. That said, there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of a blogging break if you fancy it. You can still remain active on social media and you might feel a renewed sense of passion for your blog once you return.
Use Trello to organise your to-do list
Isn’t it funny how some people think that all it takes to be a blogger is the ability to rattle off a quick blog post in WordPress, press the ‘publish’ button, and wait for the readers to flock to your site?
Newsflash: there is SO much more to being a blogger than this!
We write blog posts, we take photos, we edit photos, we design graphics to use in our posts and on social media, we manage multiple social media accounts, we pitch ideas to brands, we freelance for brands, we upload our blog posts into WordPress, we promote our blog posts across our social channels, we reply to blog comments, we reply to social media comments, we answer reader questions over email, amongst other things.
To organise the things I need to do before, during, and after publishing a blog post (as well as keeping a writing schedule) I use Trello. I first started using Trello at work. I’d make a column for every week, then add cards to each column to show what I need to get done within that week. Once I’d done it, I’d drag the card to my ‘shipped’ column (you can name yours ‘done’ or whatever you fancy).
You can do the same with the work you do on your blog or dedicate a full column to every blog post with cards to show what you’ve still got to do for each one. Whatever works for you! Totally beats writing a to-do list!
Utilise the times when you feel most productive
If you’re anything like me, I’m my least productive at between about 7 – 9pm. I’ve just got in from the gym or from seeing friends and I need some time to unwind, some time when I can zone out for a bit before doing anything else. After almost 4 years of blogging I’ve realised that I write best late at night, from around 11pm onwards, so the bulk of my writing work (either for my blog or for the brands I freelance for) gets done then.
Sometimes I also feel super productive on weekend mornings so, if the last glass of wine the night before hasn’t rendered me completely useless, I love making myself some coffee, sticking some music on, and either brainstorming blog post ideas, editing photos, reading other blogs, or replying to a backlog of emails.
Figuring out when you’re going to be most productive is key to managing a blog when you work full time because you’ve then got a clear idea of the time you’ve got free to, you know, live your actual life. See your friends, explore the city you live in, call your mum! You might find that you feel most productive in the mornings and can therefore spend a little time before work getting some blog work done. Or, reclaim your lunch break a couple of times a week and spend an hour writing.