One of my most requested posts from 2019, and I’m finally getting around to writing it, which in itself should give you an idea of how difficult running a blog alongside a full time job can be. It’s hard, and time consuming so if you’re one of the 4000 people a day who google ‘how to start a blog’, please don’t be under any illusion that it’s easy. There’s plenty of posts out there from bloggers telling you how to quit your job and do it professionally, but what if you don’t really want to do that, but still want to run a successful blog in your spare time? This post is for you, how to juggle a blog with a full time job.
Most importantly, you need to be fully committed and in it for the long haul. Your free time is precious when you work full time, so if you aren’t committed it probably isn’t going to work too well. You also need to be passionate about at least one, if not all of these things as well as whatever the topic is that you want to blog about – photography, writing, creativity, attention to detail, and a willingness to learn technical areas of the internet that you might not have previously even heard of. That’s a necessity rather than a passion for me.
If you’re looking at starting a blog purely because you think it will make you some cash on the side, then my advice is not to. It’s way too much investment for that reason alone, and you have to love something that is so personal and unique to you to make it a success.
Most bloggers I know, began for every reason BUT money. They wanted somewhere for creative writing, they wanted to journal an experience, or they wanted somewhere to share their photos or whatever they have to say that’s important to them. It can take years to build a blog from scratch into an income, and that alongside a job can be tough.
I blog as a hobby, and although I’m at a point where I am making money from it, it’s not the purpose of it, it’s just a nice extra on the side and I’m definitely in no position to quit my job. Maybe one day I’ll go full time, but it definitely isn’t the end goal and I f I didn’t enjoy it there’s no way I could do it. There are plenty of things you can do to make blogging and working full time easier.
Scheduling apps and social media tools
Social media promotion is a huge part of blog life, especially for promoting posts and building a relationship with people who follow you and read your blog. Don’t ever just view your social channels as a place to promote. Social media isn’t a dumping ground.
Spend your time on social media engaging with people. Many find that putting posts together, and creating content takes up so much time that they do this rather than actually engaging with people. So scheduling apps and tools should become your best friend to free up your time for more worthwhile tasks.
There are so many free apps out there, so try a few to see which you prefer. Many of them also have additional features that you can subscribe for, but before you commit try out the free versions as not all premiums are worth the money.
For Instagram, take a look at Planoly and Later. My favourite feature these have is the ability to upload photos and play around with them to see how your feed will look, before posting. You can fully draft posts, and then schedule or post from there.
I never schedule instagram content, it’s the only platform I prefer to do manually, and the reason for this is I find that many third party apps don’t have the full features you get on Instagram (geo tagging being the main one). But I do draft posts, especially if I’m going to be busy for a few days and don’t have the time.
Facebook has it’s own scheduler, which is really easy for a Facebook business page, and you can do it through the Pages app on your phone too. It’s exactly the same as what you see on Facebook itself.
For Twitter I’m a big fan of Buffer for sharing blog posts, as the browser extension means you can pull your entire post through into a tweet, and click the images you want to use with just one click.
You don’t have to waste time uploading everything individually within the twitter platform, and as well as the desktop extension there’s a phone app too. Buffer also has a function where it will tell you when the optimal time for you to share is, based on when your followers are most active.
Twitter’s in app insights aren’t that great, so for a general overview of who your audience are and where then use Followerwonk.
For Pinterest there’s no other option than Tailwind in my opinion. The easiest and quickest way to schedule pins, share other bloggers pins and see a steady increase in traffic.
A good phone – with camera
I know there’s a big range of opinion on the best phones out there, with Samsung and Google Pixels becoming a lot more popular, but personally I can’t sway from Apple and iPhones. My laptop at home is a Mac, and I have an iPad so the compatibility for iCloud, airdrop, and sharing images and notes across devices just makes life so much easier and quicker for me.
I have an iPhone 8 Max, and going for the bigger size is a god send for when I’m on the go. The bigger screen makes it a lot easier to do everything I can do on a laptop on my phone, from editing photos, to writing posts and even putting posts together in WordPress. There’s no way I could do it with a normal screen size, and it’s meant I’ve been able to put together whole blog posts on trains, planes and in airports and hotels.
A high quality phone camera is also a real necessity, and although using a proper camera is always preferred for higher quality images, sometimes it’s not always easy to carry it around with you. I take so many pictures quickly using my phone, and with many photo editing programs having apps, it really helps for editing too.
I use a mixture of in phone edits, an app called ‘Image size’ for resizing files, and Lightroom. My ‘how I edit my Instagram photos‘ blog post is now very out of date, but it was once exactly what I did. I’ll do a new one soon as I’ve totally changed how I edit my photos, but some of the key points about phone edits do still apply.
Having a rough idea planned out of what you want to post and when is a good idea. This is especially true if you’re posting about time sensitive events, or have a series of posts on a similar topic that are relevant to each other.
A diary, planner or even the calendar in your phone should work as a content planner, and having a plan will give you some sort of structure, especially as you blog more frequently and know how long it takes you to create posts.
Seeing it written in front of you should make you inspired to do it. I can write blog posts really quickly, but the photo editing/uploading/tagging, and SEO take me a lot longer. If I’ve got a good chunk of time I’ll do those tasks first.
Use notes in your phone
You never know when inspiration might strike, or you might think of blog titles or even paragraphs and need somewhere to jot them down. The notes in my phone are full of blog post ideas, drafts and even full posts that have just sprang to mind.
There’s nothing worse than having ideas and then by the time you sit down to write them properly your mind has gone blank. As well as using them for posts I also write to do lists in there, as there really is a never ending list of tasks when it comes to blog management.
All of the tips and suggestions above fall under the same category, about making tasks quicker, and using your time and tools more efficiently in order to get more done with the reduced time you have.
With that never ending list I just mentioned the quicker you can figure out the way you work, and how you can save time without cutting down on quality the better.
Overcommitting and being able to say no
I’ve been pretty bad at this in the past, but I’m getting a lot better at only committing to events or blog work that I know I can deliver. I don’t ever do anything for the money, so it’s a lot easier to attend events and write about things when you’re genuinely interested in them. No good comes from being burned out.
On the flip side, if there’s things happening that you’re really interested in and want to attend, sometimes you do have to accept that you might be rushing about and not have a moment to yourself. I’ve been known to attend breakfast events really early, then go to work for the day, doing all my social stuff on my lunch break, then going to an event after work and writing it all up the next day.
On those occasions the events were so good that I really didn’t mind, and I actually enjoy feeling like I’ve got my shit together enough to be able to do it all. But then there are weeks where its just not doable, and my full time job will always get priority so blog stuff takes a back seat.
Unfortunately PRs from different companies don’t share schedules and events are often at the same time. Knowing your limits, and being ok with saying no sometimes is one of the biggest things you need to be aware of. More opportunities will always come along, and don’t compare yourself to others.
Set realistic expectations
This kind of sits under the same bracket, but if you know you won’t be able to turn a blog post around in the time frames that a brand is asking for then just be up front.
Likewise don’t sign up to opportunities if you can’t hit the deadline they’ve asked for as its just unprofessional and they won’t work with you again.
Accept it sometimes won’t work and your main job comes first
Your ‘main job’ for want of a better phrase is going to come first, and sometimes you just won’t be able to put the time or effort into your blog as much as you might like. There’s been days where I’ve planned to do some blog stuff after work and when I’ve got in I just couldn’t be bothered, or in my case if I’m travelling with work that can knock you right off course too.
The same goes for events if they’re in work time. I very rarely take annual leave for blog related activities, unless it’s an opportunity that I just can’t miss. So sometimes the balance doesn’t work, and the best thing to do is accept that rather than try force it to.
My work offer flexible working, which drastically improved how I can balance my time and activities for my blog. It was an absolute god send, so a flexible full time job does really help too and I think more companies are coming round to this idea,
Before I had the flexibility, I used any spare time I had to work on something blog related, whether that was writing notes in my phone, doing some photo editing, or social media. Before work, on lunch breaks and in the evenings. It involved a lot of burning the candle at both ends, and there isn’t much scope for getting around that. The best advice I can give you is find good, strong coffee.
Get over you worry of what people will think
One of my biggest regrets when I started out blogging is that I didn’t just do things I knew I needed to do because I was worried what other people would think. It took me months to create a Facebook page, and the benefits when I did far outweighed the worry I had.
Putting yourself out there online opens you up to criticism in so many ways, so you need to be prepared for it but the best way to deal with this is have the attitude that you dont have time to care what people think. That’s a lot easier for strangers on the internet, but people are often more worried what their friends and family will think than complete strangers. What you’ll find is that everyone will be nothing but supportive of you, your friends and family will be your biggest fans and your biggest supporters. And if they aren’t, why are they your friend?
Blogging can affect them too, as you’ll be on your phone and laptop a LOT. While it won’t always go to plan my experience and from speaking to other bloggers is that you just need to be strict with how long you spend on it, but also make sure those closest to you understand what you’re doing. Set aside days or times when they know you’ll be blogging, and it’s just like any other hobby. I know a blogger who locks herself away every Sunday. This is easier said than done in reality, but if the intention is there it helps.
Lastly, in the fast paced world of social media, and blogging things change so quickly, that the sooner you start the more your audience will build, you will get the benefits and you will learn as you go. It’s not a hobby or profession that you can learn and that’s that, you have to constantly adapt and keep up with the changes. You dont have time to care what people think.
Quality over quantity
If your time is limited, choose quality over quantity. Write one blog post a week, a fortnight, or even a month as long as it’s a good one, rather than rushing out mediocre content. You want to retain readers not leave them with the impression that you aren’t that good.
Where possible, consistency is ALWAYS really important, regardless of how frequent your work is. As people become to know when to expect your stuff they will look out for it. Don’t hide what your plan is, tell people what is coming so they know to come back.
I hope this has given some insight into how to try and juggle a blog when you work full time too. The biggest focus should be your own organisation and ways to maximise your time for the best use of it. You don’t have time for procrastination so do everything you can to avoid wasting time, while still getting the most out of the content you create.
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