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Advice For Part Time Bloggers Juggling Blogging with Work, Family and Other Commitments

Over on Twitter recently @jimlavin asked if I had any ‘ideas how someone with a normal day job can schedule time to blog on a regular basis?

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Image by Helico

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 can not and blog ‘on the side’ before, after (and I’m sure for some ‘during’) other work or life commitments.

This is how I started out. When I started blogging entrepreneurially I was working 3 part time jobs and studying part time (in addition to other ‘normal’ life stuff like being a husband. You can read more of how I progressed from a part time blogger to a full time blogger here.

Following are a few lessons that I learned through that process. It doesn’t just focus upon the topic of scheduling posts (although does give a few tips on that) – but rather probably gives more general advice for those juggling 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.

Priorities

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 (or ‘we’ as I always involved my wife in the decisions) had to make a decision as to whether I was seriously going to pursue it 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.

In actual fact for me there were 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 we thought long and hard about and was effectively a stepping stone towards going full time.

Set Aside Regular Times

This might vary a little depending upon your situation and 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 time aside to blog (and to effectively diarize it) that I simply didn’t do it (or struggled to). For me it was a little like exercise – if I don’t set aside the time it doesn’t happen.

Boundaries are Important

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.

Batch Blogging

One practical tip that I would give those juggling numerous hats is to learn about Batch Processing. I’ve written about how batch processing made me more productive but in short 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 church 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 Increase Time Invested into Blogging

If you read my story you’ll see that ‘going pro’ as a blogger was a fairly gradual process which effectively involved me decreasing the time I put into other work to increase the time I put into blogging.

While this is not the only way to do it (I know 1-2 bloggers who just decided to go full time and live off savings) 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 mean time you’re cutting off the income stream that will sustain you while your blog grows.

Bring Those Around You On the Journey

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. For me it was something that impacted ‘V’ (my wife) more than anyone else.

‘Honey, I’m going to be a full time blogger’ is a statement that you might want to think twice about saying over breakfast one morning (or at least wait until her mouth isn’t full).

‘V’ was incredibly supportive of my vision to grow blogging into an income stream but it was a process for her as much as it was for me. It meant that we were giving up other income in order for me to concentrate my time upon blogging for starters.

One of the sad things that I’ve seen happen a couple of times over the last few years is bloggers forging ahead with their vision to ‘go Pro’ without bringing along their partners. Blogging is great, but it’s not that great!

Daily Posting isn’t Essential

When you’re starting out the pressure to post every day on your blog is great. 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.

Here’s the thing – daily posting is not essential to grow a successful blog.

For example – when I while Digital Photography School has two new posts go up each day these days – when I started I posted just 3 times a week to it. My goal was to write 3 high quality, helpful, unique, engaging feature length posts each week for the first month or so and then as the blog grew to increase that frequency. I worked toward producing 4 a week, then 5, then 6….. and beyond. It took me over a year to get it to daily posting even though I was working full time as a blogger.

Daily posting is great, but don’t stretch yourself too thin early on. 2 quality posts a week is better than 7 average ones.

Editorial Calendars

To help with the posting frequency it can be well worth thinking about developing an editorial calendar. For me at different times 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 (ie 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 didn’t do this allocating of topics for days type editorial calendar (at least I never did it for long) but 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 that I was much more productive than if I just got up each morning and sat down to write with a blank mind.

Further Reading on Editorial CalendarsEditorial Calendars and Professional Blogging and 7 Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing on Your Blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Vikram says:
  2. Anja Merret says:

    Time and exhaustion is the biggest issue I think for part time bloggers. Spreading yourself too thinly can be very debilitating. But if you are passionate, you make time.

  3. Great post. There is no way in the world I would ever be able to blog if I did not set aside time. I discipline myself to batch blog posts during this time because I will not allow distractions to get in the way during this time period. Everyone knows not to disturb me during my bloggling time!

  4. Great post! As I begin to invest more and more of myself into my blog I’m also beginning to look for ways to do it smart. This post gives me some great ideas to go off!

  5. Anders Holm says:

    I’m finding that I’m having some trouble with this. Just tonight my wife asked me to start about an hour later. I agreed, no questions asked. I have an amazing family and they are my top priority. I guess I’ll just have to wake up an hour earlier to cover the evening loss.
    Anders

  6. As….always great post…Darren….I know it’s a weak reply but you always throw down good stuff. Juggling is tough…but man does it pay off if you are persistent. $$$$$$$$

  7. R Kumar says:

    An interesting topic for sure. I am one of those bloggers who are juggling work and blogging. Initially it was very difficult to manage both and I would not post for days together. But after some time, I decided that enough was enough and set-up a stringent routine around blogging. If you start considering blogging as you business and go about it by following a calendarized schedule you would slowly and steadily fall into a routine where you will have time for your family, for blogging, and for your work, of course.

  8. marl says:

    Great advice to new bloggers like me. setting up your priorities is really essential.

  9. vamsi says:

    Great tips..
    I am thinking about increasing the amount of time to spend for blogging.

  10. Shane Hudson says:

    Everyone says to blog every day, and I think that is where I have been going wrong! It is really starting to get to my stress levels, with school added.

  11. I like the idea of power blogging several blogs at once. Another idea would be to carry paper or a tape recorder.. I get the best ideas when I am empty handed!

  12. Tiggy says:

    I found the best way to write posts is offline. Otherwise my attention wanders and the temptation to check FaceBook and Twitter becomes irresistible!

  13. Alper says:

    “2 quality posts a week is better than 7 average ones.”You true,a skilled post is better than others…
    I think,a blogger must write long and quality posts(I am trying to it :) )Great tips,thanks a lot.

  14. PMF says:

    This does fit me quite perfectly. But i am struggling to find things to write about. My mind is blank.. What do you do to find inspiration for post writing?

  15. Greg Katz says:

    Regularity is key. I recently looked at the dashboard of my blog and noticed that all the blog post times were within 10 minutes of one another on any given day. It helps keep me in the groove. I also have a notebook where I keep quotes, ideas and I stuff articles I’ve ripped out of magazines. Having a steady stream of inspiration keeps the pump primed.

  16. John says:

    I just wanted to say that as a newbie, you really gave some good ideas about blogging and how to get it done. It sure is beneficial to read from someone who has been through it and knows what they are talking about.

    Thanks,

    John

  17. I make use of my iPhone and jot down headlines or topics that I come across in my non-blog activities throughout the day. When it’s time to write a post, I have a little host of topics to consider.

    I think planning out blogs in advance (like the 31 Day idea) is also good for keeping you focused on writing regular content. Even if you’re busy you can knock out a few blogs at a time and schedule them to post later.

  18. Bethany says:

    This is such a timely read for me! I go back to work full time next week (after being laid off for four months) and I’m nervous about incorporating blogging into my new schedule. My blog is only a few weeks old but it’s already doing so well and there’s no way I’m going to let it go by the wayside! I’ve already been doing some “batch blogging,” and I have a very small laptop so I can blog when I’m commuting to work (I’m in NYC).

  19. actually bloggers with other commitment should not be an issue because blogging should be just like a hobby so whenever you have the time to blog you blog and when you don’t wait until you have the time to blog to do it, it doesn’t have to be a requirement to do unless you make it as your main source of income then you’ll have the requirement to do it everytime but in that case you’ll have no other commitment since that is your job right, in my position I make blogging as one of my hobbies so this is always my second priority

  20. Tim Scullin says:

    Great Post, I especially love the idea of batch posting. I personally am happy to spend a lot of time on my blog at the moment and batch writing my posts especially if they are on the same topic will really save me time. Especially when researching things because quite often you stumble across valuable information that you should save for another post.

  21. elmot says:

    very helpful tips. just as i needed being a newbie blogger and just starting to have my own blog be known in the blogosphere.

    im certainly getting overwhelmed with pressure on posting deadlines and at the same how to make my blog be known and widely-read.

    what i am doing is trying to build relationships with other bloggers so as when i get overwhelmed and pressured i have great people to fall back on and cheer me up…and help keep going my blog.

    great, engaging, quality contents are indeed far much better than having daily posts… having some intervals also between posts i think makes readers have some focus and have a deeper engagement on the posted topic on a blog.

  22. Ryan McLean says:

    I always wanted to read this post because I am personally a part time blogger.
    I finally read it and I love what I read
    Really inspiring and really well thought out
    Thank you

  23. beamer says:

    What a great post!

    I’m new to blogging, too, and I also work a full-time job so this post really strikes home.

    I should try the idea of carrying a notebook idea that I see everyone talking about. Right now I just have little scraps of paper tucked into my uniform pocket at the end of the day, and lots of junk mail envelopes laying around my car! LOL

    I especially like the power posting idea and the scheduling tips. I have few days off from work over the next week and I think, instead of blindly working up posts I’ll use the time to get organized.

    Thanks so much!

  24. What really matters is motivate yourselves, and push it to the limit.To succeed you have to crush it

  25. information says:

    Time management and Dedication is really important for this problem.

    Time is gold and Gold isn’t cheap. Use it well.

  26. Great tips!

    I set give myself an hour a day to read blogs and comment on them. I usually do this during my lunch hour and I have found it’s given be a great online presence in the blogging community.

    I do have to cut myself off at the hour otherwise I think I would just keep blogging all day :)

  27. I do promo my blog and work on SEO, 6 to 8 hours a day.I think I need more time, since blogging is very competitive.Thanks folks