Part time blogging
How can someone with a normal, day job manage both his job and part-time blogging?
This is actually a great question and one that I’m sure many others will grapple with. While a handful of bloggers are able to blog full time, the vast majority of bloggers blog ‘on the side’ before, after (and I’m sure for some ‘during’) other work or life commitments.
Following are a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way. They don’t focus just upon the topic of scheduling posts (although I’ve included a few tips on that), but rather give more general advice for those juggling with work and part-time blogging and other priorities such as work, family and other commitments — particularly advice for those wanting to transition from part-time to full time blogging.
The Juggling Act – Advice For Part Time Blogging
Set priorities for part-time blogging
When I first started blogging it was simply a hobby and something I did out of interest. I had no intention of making money from it or growing it into a business. However, when I began to realize that there was potential for this medium to earn an income, I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to pursue it seriously or not.
If you want your blog to grow into a significant income stream or to achieve other serious goals, then you do need to make a decision to invest time, energy and perhaps even a little money into it. Making this decision doesn’t guarantee success by itself, but for me it was important.
Actually, for me, there was probably a series of 4-5 such decisions. Each time I let go of a part-time job to put more time into blogging was a decision that I thought long and hard about, and each decision was effectively a stepping stone towards going full time.
Set aside regular times
This might vary a little depending upon your situation, personality, and style of blogging. But I found that I worked best when I set aside regular times to blog and established a daily pattern of when and where I did it. For me the times that I blogged varied a little at different periods depending upon my other commitments; but I distinctly remember a time where I was getting up an hour earlier than normal to do a solid hour of blogging before going to work. At other times I would set aside time in the evenings (the same time each night) or arranged to have access to a computer over a lunch break at work.
I found that if I didn’t set aside time to blog that I simply didn’t do it (or struggled to do it). For me it was a little like exercise — if I don’t set aside the time, it doesn’t happen.
Set personal boundaries
One of the things that I struggled with particularly in the first year or so of blogging was the setting of boundaries. Working a number of jobs, studying, family life, and blogging all competed for my attention, and at times blogging encroached upon some of these other aspects of my life when it should not have.
My last point of setting aside time to blog was helpful in this, but so was giving those around me permission to tell me when I was getting obsessed with blogging.
Try batch blogging
One practical tip that I would give those juggling numerous hats is to learn about Batch Processing. It is a technique where you set aside concentrated time to do one particular task rather than trying to achieve lots of things all at once.
For me there was a time where I would set aside every Monday morning simply to write posts for my blogs. I’d take my laptop to a local cafe, stay offline, switch off my phone and churn out 5-6 posts in a morning. I’d then schedule these posts for the days ahead and let them publish automatically. I would still do other shorter/newsy type posts during the week, but the posts I wrote on Mondays were my longer, deeper, more feature-length content.
I found this approach to writing suited me and released me during the rest of the week to concentrate on my other jobs as well as other areas of my blogging.
Gradually spend more time for part-time blogging
While this is not the only way to do it, it is the approach I recommend IF you have the goal of going full time (and I say IF because I know many bloggers don’t want to go full time). I recommend this approach mainly because building successful and profitable blogs takes time. Deciding to quit your job and go full time as a blogger is a nice dream; but, in reality, most blogs earning enough to support a full-time blogger take years to build. Unless you’ve got a nice nest egg to live off in the meantime, you’re cutting off the income stream that will sustain you while your blog grows.
Include those around you
If your goal is to go full time (or even to earn a significant part-time income from blogging) it is probably going to impact those around you. Always take this into consideration.
Daily posting isn’t essential
When you’re starting out, the pressure to post every day on your blog is huge. In talking to many new bloggers I find that many struggle with this expectation of daily content. Those who don’t achieve it often feel guilty or as though they’ve failed. Others keep the daily posting level up but as a result, let the quality of their work slip.
Daily posting is great, but don’t stretch yourself too thin early on. Two (2) quality posts a week is better than 7 average ones.
Try editorial calendars
To help with the posting frequency, it can be well worth thinking about developing an editorial calendar. For me, this meant setting time aside to set goals for the types of posts I wanted to write each week.
Some bloggers take this further and allocate a different type of post for each day of a week (i.e., Mondays might be the day for reviewing a product, Tuesdays might be a day to do a ‘how-to’ post, Wednesdays might be a ‘reader discussion’ day…. etc).
I found when I thought ahead about the content that I wanted to produce, identified topics ahead of time and even set myself deadlines for them, I was much more productive than if I just got up each morning and sat down to write with a blank mind.