Remember that scene from Saved by the Bell where Jessie is so overwhelmed with everything going on in her life and takes caffeine pills and then yell-sings to Zack Morris, “I’m so excited!…I’m so…scared.” Of course you do, because who doesn’t? She says something before that infamous breakdown that I always used to associate with blogging: “No time! There’s never any time!”
A few years ago, when I first started blogging more regularly (like, daily), I always felt that I was constantly looking for more time. Time to be on social media, time to create posts, time to network. I think this is the case for all bloggers — new and experienced — because it’s by far one of the questions I’m asked most often: “How do you manage to run your blog, your business, and have a life?” So today, for our first Talking Shop column, I thought I’d discuss my own experiences, insights, and make some recommendations, as well as hear from you guys about how you manage your time when it comes to blogging.
Here are some things you should know first and foremost:
DAILY BLOGGING IS LIKE HAVING A SECOND JOB.
No two ways about it — if you’re publishing posts everyday, it’s going to feel like you work two jobs. Let’s be clear that blogging is a lot of work, especially if you’re creating original content and also trying to grow your presence on social media. So don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to do in the few hours you have to do them outside of your “regular” day job. It’s common! With that in mind, it’s important that you…
DEVELOP SET DAYS AND TIMES THAT YOU’LL WORK ON YOUR BLOG.
If your blog is your second job, then you can approach it like that too. In other words, you know you’re going to be in the office during certain days and at certain times, so determining a similar schedule for your blog can leave you feeling less worried about when you’re going to work on it, and allow you to carve out time for all the other things in your life — you know, errands, social life, personal time.
In my case, once I had decided I wanted to post at least once a day everyday, there was a several month period where Joe wanted to strangle me, because at any given moment, I would run off and want to work on my blog. Things went much smoother when we decided on dedicated days for me to focus on the blog; it helped us both manage expectations of where my time would be spent. In case you’re wondering, for almost a year and a half, I would work on my blog all day on Sundays, Wednesday nights, and sometimes Thursday nights. And on that note…
IF YOU WANT IT, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS “TOO BUSY.”
Blogging can often feel like the last thing on your list of priorities. Which isn’t a bad thing – but you just have to realize that there’s no such thing as putting your blog last and seeing corresponding growth (that’s true of anything in life, right?). And not every blog has to be a business. If you want your blog to be a hobby, there’s no sense in getting really down on yourself if you can’t dedicate hours and hours per week to it. Do what you can, and build from there. If later in the future, you decide you want your blog to become a bigger part of your life or career strategy, you can devote your time to it then. And truthfully, if you’re devoting more time to your blog with a clear vision in mind, you’ll find your time is more productive and focused anyway. When you don’t have a clear vision, you’re more likely to end up spinning your wheels and feeling frustrated that you’re not getting what you want out of blogging (primarily because you don’t even know what you want out of blogging — make sense?).
USE SCHEDULING TOOLS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
One of the things I still struggle with the most is managing all the various aspects of running a blog — from developing and producing the content, the administrative side of things (ohmygodtheemails), networking, social media, etc. I used to drive myself crazy trying to do it all at once, until I realized it’s not possible, unless you’re willing to have NO life and not sleep at all (and I’m not). Social media can be especially hard for me. I sometimes feel like I have enough going on without having to remember to Instagram every second of my day. So I highly recommend scheduling what you can to take some of the pressure off of having to be “on” social media all day. I wrote a post about it here, and The B Bar also offers lots of resources for this.
LOOK FOR INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE, BUT DON’T FORGET TO BOOKMARK IT!
There’s nothing worse than thinking of a great post idea…then forgetting about it when you actually need it. Develop systems that will help you keep track of your ideas for posts, features, content, everything. I like to create secret Pinterest boards that help me quickly save ideas. You can also create Evernote notebooks, save things in your email, put sticky notes all over your desk — whatever will help you catalog inspiration and jump start your creativity. I always try to jot down ideas on a piece of paper, in my planner, or in a text or email to myself. There have been times when I’m out and about and see a store that I think looks interesting, so I’ll snap a photo of it to remind myself to research it later. Sometimes even the smallest idea can turn into a great post, so don’t let go of those little nuggets of inspiration! It can save you hours (seriously!) of trying to brainstorm a great post if you have some quick ideas written down somewhere. I know this feels like an obvious tip, but in practice, it can be hard to remember.
BE ON REPEAT (BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT)
Here’s a big one: Develop columns or series that will allow you to quickly generate a post that fits within a given theme. We talk a lot more about this and editorial calendars in Blogging 101, but I can’t stress this one enough: creating columns that you run weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc can really help you develop editorial ideas, because you’ll give yourself clear parameters to work within. Kinda like an essay prompt, but way more fun. As a very simple (and common!) example, if you have a column that’s based around exploring a particular color, it’ll be easy for you to pick a color you’re loving, then create a round up with items you find in that color. Give it a fun name, and boom, you have a column. This is also a great time saver if it’s midnight and you don’t have anything to post for the next day. You can go straight to a ‘column’ and build a post around that theme — no late night strokes of genius needed.
CALM DOWN AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH
At the end of the day, if you don’t post one day, or don’t tweet on another, the world will keep on turning. I know, it’s hard to believe — and trust me, I’m the worst at this too — but sometimes, you really don’t have enough time. If you have a day where you’re not able to post, it’s okay — just get back on your schedule and back to business. Chances are, a lot of your readers won’t even notice!
What are your best time management tips when it comes to blogging? What do you find has worked well for you?