Blogging and working full time is the ultimate juggling act.
And while I don’t claim to have got the balance quite right (remember that 1 year hiatus I took?!) I’ve picked up a lot of tips that have helped me along the way. And I think a number of you who read are either about to join the work place or you’ve just started blogging during lockdown or whatever the case may be, and I’ve had a few people ask me how I do it.
My dad’s a horticulturist (there’s a point to this story, promise), which means he spends all day growing, cutting and bunching fresh flowers and potted plants. And throughout my entire childhood I couldn’t work out why our garden was just grass, bushes and trees. I went to friend’s houses, who’s parents were (I don’t know) lawyers or shop keepers or any job not even remotely related to growing things and their gardens were full of luscious plants and flower beds and they were beautiful.
And the simple matter of it is, if you spend all day growing flowers to pay the bills, probably aren’t going to want to come home and grow flowers in your spare time.
And honestly? I get an element of that. My day job is marketing, which means I spend all day looking at social media analytics and website flows and proofing a million documents as well as you name it. Sometimes I come home look at my blog and think eurgh… but I’ve also found ways to keep it enjoyable and make it work. So, here are my top tips…
It’s OK To Take A Break
Feels like an odd thing to start with considering this is a post sorta about how to not do this while working, but it felt like it flowed from the comments I was making in the intro. I post everyday. And it’s intense. And don’t get me wrong, I love it! But. I’ve learnt the hard way, that when you don’t love something (even if it’s that one moment, day or week) it comes across in your writing, and that’s when you start to burn out.
And while I’d love to proritise my blog over my work. You gotta pay your bills.
So, it’s ok to miss a post. Or take a week off. Or in my case a whole year (give or take). It’s no different than taking your 21 days holiday at work, or a sick day when you’re under the weather. And it may feel like you’re letting yourself down, but I promise you, this community is more understanding than you know.
Scheduling is Your Best Friend
I schedule blooming everything. From blog posts, to social media posts to…. actually I’m not sure what else there is to schedule. And while I don’t suggest you schedule every single one of your tweets for example, sometimes it’s handy to have a gentle stream of content going out even if you’re busy.
I work in the arts and our work life balance can sometimes be a little off. And it’s also a little unpredictable. So I like to work about (or at least) 2 days out. So, if this goes out on a Wednesday, I’m writing it either Sunday or Monday evening. I schedule Facebook and Instagram posts just direct on Facebook Creator Studio and Twitter posts just direct on Twitter. I know there’s a million and one different scheduling tools, and I’ve used a lot of ’em. But it’s just another thing to log into, remember to check in with, and keep on top of.
Plan Plan Plan
This may seem daunting. And I really don’t mean it to. But I’m a real fan of a spreadsheet. And I have a master spreadsheet where I track what blog posts I want to write, whether I’ve taken the pictures for them or written the content. I also schedule in there what Instagram post I want to do, although I don’t tend to stick to them.
It makes it sound like work, but it helps me focus on what it is I need to get done and when, and helps with the next thing…
Do Blog Photo Shoots
I will take around 2 weeks of blog photos in one day. Yes, that may be potentially nuts. But, it’s how I roll. And it’s what I need to do to get shit done. The only days of the week I’m free when it’s light out is the weekend, and so I spend 2-3 hours on a Saturday morning every fortnight shooting a million pictures.
I also have to put together my blogging background (which is basically a fold out table with sticky back marble paper, a pink scarf and some nick knacks) and if I’m going to spend the time putting this together, it’s not going to be for one blooming post!
Apps Apps Apps
While we’re apparently in the habit of saying things three times like a hell Mary prayer, let’s do it with apps. If you’re anything like me, your phone is glued to your hand. And when you’re on the loo (maybe tmi) or waiting for a train or waiting for a meeting to start, if you’ve got the WordPress App you can be replying to comments, or comments on your latest Insta post or potentially even just scrolling aimlessly through Twitter (though maybe the latter isn’t particularly constructive, but you catch my drift). And then, when you’re sat in front of your computer later in the day, it means you’ve got some of the little things out of the way.
Tell Your Significant Other
Be it your flatmate, parents, partner, dog or guy who sleeps outside your house after a night out. Blogging will get so much easier when you’re not trying to fit it round your life as well as hide it. Now I know this is daunting, and I’ve had some people in my life be supportive and some people in my life tell me it’s a waste of time and I should be focusing on my degree (let me know if you want a story time). But either way, boy does it make it easier.
The times I get in ruts with my blog is when I’m in a new relationship, haven’t got the guts to tell them, and because we’re together most weekends (my free time), I can’t get anything done. But actually, the boyfriends I’ve told have all thought it’s pretty cool!
Remember It’s A Hobby
I’m sure there’s other things I do without even thinking… like I speak a blog post as I write it, hoping that this helps with the flow of sentences and making proofing easier. But as much as people say it’s important to post at the same time everyday, or your insta posts should be this, or on Twitter you should do that. If you’re doing this alongside a full time job, then it’s a hobby. And hobbies should be enjoyed. And I honestly think that’s the best piece of advice I could possibly give.
It’s a hobby, it’s for fun, enjoy it.
And there are my words of wisdom…. I feel like I should be an owl with circular glasses sat in a tree hooting or something. Yes, my brain is weird.
In all honesty, I’ve never quite got the balance right, and even now I have days when I struggle, or I realise on the day I’ve actually forgotten to write this day’s blog post and I’m there at seven in the morning banging it out. But these have seriously helped.
What are your top tips?