. TIPS & TRICKS FOR RUNNING A BLOG .
After the unexpected success of my last ‘how to’ blog post (‘how to run a blog; keeping organised and inspired‘ in case you missed it), I thought i’d do another on the topic, this time talking about how to juggle a daily blog (or a blog generally) and a full time career. As many of you who’ve read my blog for a while now (or read my abouts’ page) will know, mediamarmalade.com is actually a hobby of mine (I say hobby, but it’s like running a small business) and that I actually have a full time job which is my career and focus.
Whilst I admire and often dream to be one of those bloggers who takes the leap of faith and quits their job to do blogging full time, i’ve been working on my career for a number of years now and have progressed to a level that I never thought I could for my age and years in the industry. To quit my career now wouldn’t be the best choice for me, given my blog in relative terms is extremely small. Having said that, it by no means means that my blog is not a huge part of my life, a real obsession and a huge passion of mine which i’m extremely dedicated to. Far from it. The fact i’ve blogged daily for almost three years now is a proof of my passion and dedication to my little www dot. If anything I like to think i’m juggling two careers at once …
And if that sounds easy. Bloody hell it’s not. As any of you will know, who work and blog, managing your time to deliver on both work and a blog (plus ensure you have time to actually LIVE your life, see family and friends, go on holiday and spend time having real life fun) is actually an extremely difficult task. Even for the best of us multi-taskers.
This exact point (and the fact I frequently get comments asking how I manage to blog daily & have a successful career) is what spurred on today’s blog post. As with my last ‘how to’ post, this is by no means a dictated way of doing things, it’s simply my tips and tricks for running a blog and working full time. After three years I’ve experienced some seriously challenging times, juggling demanding work hours, business travel & extreme levels of stress, but somehow i’ve managed to never let my blog slip. Here’s how I think I’ve done it …
. MASTER TIME MANAGEMENT .
Time management, one of the hardest skills i’ve had to develop over the last five years, it’s something that takes practice, dedication and patience to achieve. The amount of times I’ve felt like i’m spinning plates and only just keeping my head above water goes well beyond 10 fingers and 10 toes, and time management is a critical key to success. It’s just a shame it’s so hard to do. But through my job i’ve learnt some great tricks & ways to help manage my time & deliverables, they may sound simple, but combined they work.
First of all, write a to-do list. It’s not just for us anal control freaks, to-do lists help – they help get the huge list of things you have to do out of your brain (leaving it clear to focus) and onto a piece of paper (or computer) where you can start to logically work through what needs to be prioritised and delivered and by when.
Prioritisation is key to being able to fit everything in, not just in work but in your life too. Sometimes work will have to take priority, for example if i’m working on a pitch or doing annual planning for clients I may end up working until 11pm at night for 3-4 weeks at a time, during this period work has to take priority, but so long as i’ve planned for it, it shouldn’t affect my blog going live daily as usual (all should hopefully seem consistent and groovy for you guys, even if i’m burning the candle my end).
Secondly use your calendar or diary to pre plan, make sure you keep a note of events you are attending, big projects that have to be delivered, blog posts you want to get live, weekends away with friends – anything and everything. If you have a clear timing plan for everything you have going on, you’ll have a much better idea on what you need to prioritise getting done & when you can block out time to dedicate to writing some blog posts.
Thirdly, focus on one task at a time. Yes us women (and some men) are great at multi-tasking but that doesn’t literally mean doing 4 things at once. You need to keep your focus on one thing at a time, else you’ll end up doing every job by half. In working hours, dedicate your time to your job, during ‘blogging hours’ focus on writing the posts you need to get live in the coming days. Dedicate time out to do this, even if it’s 30 minutes during your commute to draft some editorial in an email.
. USE YOUR TIME WISELY.
Directly linked to time management, is obviously using your time wisely. While life should’t be regimented and organised to the second – spontaneity is the spice of life after all – it’s always good to maximise your hours & really optimise the time you have. For example, if you’re a londoner commuting around the city or travel to work by train, try dedicating your half an hour commute to working on your blog (that’s an hour a day you’d otherwise be sat staring out the window). If you don’t have a commute, then even better you’ve just gained two extra hours to use for whatever you fancy gym, blog, TV etc. For me my commute to and from work is a really key time for me to get my blog ducks in a row and two hours I could otherwise easily waste.Lunch time isn’t just a time to eat lunch, if you’re able to take a moment out at lunch (unfortunately I often don’t get time) then dedicate 30 minutes to prepping a blog post, getting a feature live, or simply sharing your blog on your social media channels.
Spare time is a luxury these days I know, but even if you finish work and get home by 8pm, you’ve still got 3 hours to play with before bed calls. That’s a long time, so use your evenings. I like to spend an hour in the evening catching up on my favourite blogs but most importantly writing my blog posts, but still ensure I have time to have dinner & unwind. For example i’m actually writing this on Wednesday evening whilst dinner is cooking & I am waiting for Jase to get home. Just an hour here or there can really help keep things on track.
As I mentioned in my post last week, using your time wisely also means optimising your opportunity to capture content for your blog. If you’re cooking a great dish, spending the day hanging out with friends, taking some time out to get your home in order … then don’t forget to document it. Keep your camera close and maximise your time by doubling up these occasions with capturing photos for your future posts. Restaurant reviews, a day in the life, outfit of the day, home decor updates or a cheeky little recipe … this is all really engaging content that you can capture for a future post.
. PRE PLAN & SCHEDULE POSTS .
I won’t dwell on this point too much, after all my entire post last saturday was dedicated to just this, pre planning and scheduling features. There are many businesses that have use planning and scheduling to manage a project, I’d like to think that also comes with blogging but on a lesser scale that you would with a business. Quite naturally there will be times when you simply can’t even think about your blog, but so long as you’ve got your plans in place & can prep before hand, this should be no biggy.
I’m forever pre-planning and scheduling features (like I said, i wrote this on Wednesday when I had some time, but its going live today when i’m busy hanging out with my friends) and without this level of organisation I wouldn’t be able to keep blogging. So long as you’re motivated and inspired to develop content, then pre-planning should be no issue.
Make sure you read my post how to run a blog; keeping organised and inspired for more information and tips on this.
. KEEP SOCIAL .
Blogging isn’t just about your daily post on your blog, it’s about chatting with the community on twitter, sharing your day on instagram and posting your favourite things on Facebook. Keeping up your social presence is a key way of keeping your blog ‘out there’. If I have 5 minutes spare whilst walking to a meeting, grabbing a cup of tea or even popping to the loo (I can’t believe i’m admitting that one) then I’ll use it to grab my phone and quickly share my blog feature, instagram a few snaps from my blog or my whereabouts (definitely not the toilet in this instance, i’m talking things like this) or link up a brand or product i’m lusting over on Facebook page. We’re all speedy on our mobiles nowadays, so optimise any free moments in your day to keep yourself social.
. DON’T STRESS, IT’S A HOBBY .
This is probably the most important thing to remember, your blog is a hobby. Something you started because of your passion towards fashion, food, beauty, travel, writing, photography, whatever. Even though sometimes your blog may feel as demanding as a job (trust me, mine frequently does). It’s not. You are your own boss here, it’s your rules and your blog, if you want to skip a week to go on holiday, then do it, if you simply don’t have time, then just don’t worry or if you’re feeling like it’s a chore. Then just take some time out.
If your blog isn’t your full time job, then don’t make it one. It should be fun, enjoyable and you should want to produce content, write features and photograph things, the moment it’s not fun you should just give yourself a break. Take a reality check and come back to it when you’re in a better place.
Well being is of upmost important (you may have already read the feature I wrote about wellbeing here, if not it’s worth checking out), but your happiness, positivity and general wellness should always be priority. Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to juggle too many things, make sure you dedicate time to actually living your life and seeing your loved ones. It’s easy to get wrapped up in work, your blog and for things to become stressful or a worry. But life’s too short for that, I urge you all to keep check off your work-life balance and make sure you’re giving yourself the rest & care you need.
But on this point, work life balance is achievable, your work shouldn’t be left to take over your life (periods of manic-ness is fine, but working until 9pm everyday isn’t healthy) and as long you are keeping this in check, you should always manage to spare an hour in the evening to dedicate to writing something on your wee little www dot.
Today is proof of that, whilst my work schedule and personal life are rather hectic right now, this evening i’ve found a spare hour to dedicate to writing. And look what i’ve achieved in the time that i’d have otherwise spent unenthusiastically biding time watching TV waiting for the cooker to bing & dinner be served. I’ll grab 30 minutes Saturday morning to get my photos & voila. Job done.
So there you go, a second feature in my ‘how to’ series, like I said before, there’s definitely no right or wrong answer, but these 5 little tips are definitely factors which help me manage a full time career & keep up my daily blogging.
I’d love for you to share your tips & tricks for managing a blog and a job? Do you use any of my tips already?