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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?

juggling.png
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.
Comments
  1. Great advice coming straight from the Pro.
    Thanks for sharing.

    http://health.okguru.com

  2. That’s a great article. It’s true that maintaining a quality blog takes a lot of time, and most of us will find free time to be at a premium, but as with everything, you get what you put into it.

  3. This post will help so many who struggle with life balance while working to build an online blogging business. While regular posting is very important especially early on, if you must take a break for personal reasons later you may be surprised at your readers’ reaction.

    One of my friends and favorite blogs (DerekSemmlerdotcom) is temporarily taking a break from blogging to focus on his family. Because he has built such a caring blog community his traffic is not declining.

    Another blogger is doing guest posts for him and his regular readers are still coming by, leaving comments, and expressing their support of his decision.

    One way bloggers can apply your advice to “bring those around you on the journey would be to encourage their families to write guest posts so they’ll be very involved and supportive.

    Those who blog part time might be interested to know that even those of us who do it full time still feel we never get enough done because there is always more to do.

    This is especially true if you spend a lot of time on Social Networking sites sharing the content of other bloggers which I do. If anyone has blogs or businesses and would like more visibility and free assistance getting their posts spread contact me through my blog or @ or DM @GrowMap at Twitter.

  4. Thanks for your insight on blogging especially your emphasis on the frequencey of postings. I started blogging last year just to share my thoughts with people who were willing to read them and posted 1x/week. I did find that positng 1x a week made it very easy to stop altogether, which is exactly what I did. I recently started posting again and I have committed myself to a minimum of 2 postings per week. I am definetely going to try batch blogging, seems like this would help with organizing my time, maintaing my commitment to my blog and eventually increase my frequency.

  5. This is a great discussion, and one I have struggled with over the past few months. I’m a father of 3 kiddos, so I don’t find myself with too much ‘blog time’ throughout the week.

    You’ve touched on a number of things I’ve integrated in an effort to ‘build a better blog’. The big additions that have helped me are:
    – Build up a ‘Drafts’ folder…(similar to your Batch Blogging)
    – Set up a calendar detailing what I want to write about and when.

    (sadly – I can’t get any of my visitors to leave comments – but at least they have new content! :) )

    Thanks,
    Matt
    http://oldweiler.com

  6. Blogging must be like a daily job, nothing other. So, planing exact time and go forward :)

  7. Darren —

    I get up 3 hours before work every day and spend my time blogging and studying graphic design and web design. Going to school full time to get a degree while also working full time and recording an album taught me how to utilize my time.

    I find that consistently taking steps towards my goals, on a daily basis, inevitably leads to success.

    I find is reassuring that I’m taking the right steps when I discover that someone of your stature in the blogging world did some of the things that I am currently doing.

    Thanks Darren!

    P.S. Your book is awesome! It is clearly written and provides a good balance of information and personal examples.

  8. wow i’m a gree with Phillip Gibb “I think that my wife is happy now that I have decided to go easy on the blogging thing and not keep pushing out more or more posts a day.”

    i think he is right ;)

  9. Great article – as a completely new blogger I think I just learned in 10 minutes what would have taken me months to learn realise myself.

    Thanks!

    Best wishes,

    Jeff

  10. A blog can only become successful if it is updated with good content regularly.I have a simple schedule that I follow and it works really well.

  11. Great article! This is the type of thing many bloggers need to hear. I just linked to it on my Friday marketing tips around the net post.

  12. It is def. a challenge when you first start out blogging or really doing any sort of online project whether it be a blog or just a small online business. The challenge is to create time to do everything and also do it well. If you do plan on doing something online prepare to sleep a lot less.

  13. Darren,

    Once again, great job establishing that you can balance your work / blogging life with family and other commitments. We talk about the same avenue of problems over on our blog, and this post in particular spoke to me. Everything is great, in moderation.

    -R

  14. I tend to do more batch blogging than anything else. I like to set a day to pump out a few blogs and pre-set them for the week. I have to make sure that I get some sunshine though because at times I’m too glued to the PC! :)

  15. Great article about putting things in perspective. Family always comes first in my life, but I put as much time as I can into fresh daily posts to my site. Thanks.

  16. I totally agree with the daily posting is not required, I don’t know what the obsession is with posting every day, it is not necessary and sometimes can be a hindrance because people have other things to do!

  17. It is nice article about blogging and full time or part time. I also believe write little but write good, quality is important than quantity. Writing 2 or 3 post a week is good if post is having with good quality.

  18. Nice article. I’ll do my best to juggling.

  19. Very useful advice. Thanks

  20. Whew. This post helped take a lot of pressure and burdens off my shoulders. I’m trying not to stretch myself too thin and keeping my family as top priority. My main goal now is to set aside a certain time of day for blogging. After that time, I’ll put it away, go outside, and breath some fresh air!

  21. Great post! I try to maintain my blog along side a hectic school schedule, and if time is of the essence, I try to include a small video or two in order to keep the interest. There are always tweeks and perks out there which can help you maintain your following!

  22. Even I’m a newbie, sometimes I feel guilty if I don’t write something in my blog every days. Thanks for the advice, I will try to increase the quality than the quantity of my post.

  23. Good Post Darren!

    I like the idea of batching my posts together on the weekend or when I have time. A problem arises then because many times the 1st post I write is much better than the last.

    People should be forced to read this post before they start their 1st blog. Thanks for the info.

  24. We post every day on our blog, but the weight is divided between the members of our little group. And sometimes it is still hard to post … writing can be funny that way. I like what yo say about the crossover – when to start taking on more blogging over another obligation. I will share this with all the ladies in my group.
    Catherine

  25. Another post, I would like you to write is having a mind set of not quitting.

    Because many people write quality post, but there is no one reading it, they would quit.

  26. You know what I do agree with Darren but with less enthuasm,posting content dairly is really crucial especially if you are a begginer.I will share one trick with you.busting your batt dairly writting new content will drive you crazy,get bored and fail to balance up with life especially if you are still part time blogger.You could avoid this and blog like a pro,by either buying content from content selling sites,or obtain free good quality blogs to post on your blog,this will take you less than five minutes and you good to go!saving you time and steam for more!

    I post an article on myblog frogblogger.com and explaing some key issues to keep you running and balancing up the scale..you might wanna check it up..

  27. Amazing suggestions, but quick questions, how do you start getting readers for the site? I write a lot and have no problems with daily postings but how will I end up getting people to actually read my blog.

  28. Thank you! The advices given were candid, simple, and without fluff. They were what I needed to hear. Starting my own blog has been mind numbing at first and stressful at times. Day to day business dealings begin to feel like reading the Wall Street Business Journal – just a bunch of black letters and numbers against white spaces – that I have often hesitated and wondered what part of what I know could possibly be interesting to anyone else as there are stock piles of knowledge continuously downloaded every second of every day online. Don’t get me wrong, I love real estate…there are aspects of my career I love and others I do it anyway because it is my business. Starting this business has been an uphill climb and adding a blog site has made the mole hill into an Everest…sounded much better than a brick wall. = ) The real Everest will be in planning and hunkering down to a viable schedule as there are lots of business demands that may often distract me. I thank you and hope that you continue to give more of these sensible advices.

  29. Thanks for an excellent post. I struggle finding the time to post as well. I realized it comes down to priorities. I re-evaluated some of my nightly habits and found a way to fit in blogging. I still slip and a post goes unwritten but it has helped tremendously with my posting problem. I have been meaning to try the advanced posting methods of churning out several posts at once but never got around to it. Priorities, right? =)

  30. Excellent post and inspiring. Also loved your book. Keep up the great work!

  31. Darren, Thank you for this wonderful informative article. As a SAHM to 2 in diapers, and as a compulsive perfectionist, it is hard to not simply dive in 110%. I have always found it hard to define a good work-life balance. However, sharing my blogging goals with my husband and asking him for his critique and input, has really helped him not feel put on the sidelines. You certainly are an inspiration to a newbie blogger. I always stop by to get your opinion on what ever topic I am researching! Thanks so much. Abbie

  32. I work a full time job and have to fit blogging around my work. I find that sunday afternoons are my most productive days for writing and drafting posts. I tend to then schedule many of these posts for the coming week, leaving me time to promote them and network. I also send out my weekly newsletter on sundays. If I don’t use this time, I am behind all week and don’t catch up. A routine is key as is using the most productive time of the day and week for you as an individual.

  33. I always believe in quality over quanity. I also believe in working smarter and not harder. Spending most of your day on your blog and posting everyday do not necessarily mean you are getting quality results. Doing the same thing over and over without learning to change or accept feedback, you will get the same results. Most important thing to do is to network with other great bloggers who have been there and done that. They can give you advice on how to cut your time in half and produce three times as much results. Learning to network with other bloggers will definitely help you work smarter without working harder.

  34. Well said Kai Lo +1. When I started blogging I was used to post long useless leeched articles lol. But soon I relalized it is better to post your own articles no matter if they come once or twice in a week ;)

    And the result is in here, I got over 300+ Feed readers and sometimes they get around 400 :D I got many of my articles submitted on different sites by different peoples, bringing heavy traffic to my blog.

    Ermm back to topic hehe Thanks dude, it will surely come in handy to new and old bloggers like me. Keep them coming :D

    Regards
    Tutzone

  35. I totally agree. I’m supposed to be working now but I’m reading about blogging with hopes that it can become a full time job.

  36. Deborah says: 03/27/2009 at 1:15 pm

    Very timely post for me … I’ve started allocating time in the evenings for blogging while working a full-time job. My gut level instinct is to allocate 5-10 hours per week to administration, writing and marketing.

    Fortunately, I don’t have a huge learning curve on the basic WordPress administration end, and I’ve been writing professionally for years, so it’s the marketing/promotional/SEO side I’m learning more about than anything else.

  37. This was an awesome post. Especially today as I’m feeling a tad bit of frustration. I work full time and I’m spending all of my free time trying to balance learning about the technical side of blogging and writing posts. This gives me a little perspective. Thanks.

  38. I think that the question: “What is most important to you?”
    When you are married, like I am, the answer should be simple: “my wife of course”, but even I find myself spending more time on blogging and twitter and reading and commenting and and and

    hmmm

    I think I need to find some balance

    Phill
    [twitter: http://twitter.com/phillipgibb ]
    [blog: http://synapticlight.com/ ]

  39. Thanks, Darren! This was excellent! It reminded me of a few things I have been getting slack on. I need to get more disciplined. And now I will after reading this post.

    krissy knox :)
    visit my main blog: Sometimes I Think
    follow me on twitter:
    http://www.twitter.com/iamkrissy

  40. I am still a (relatively) new blogger and do it primarily for writing whatever I think :) Who knows what direction it takes in future…

    Blog: http://managewell.net
    twitter: tathagatvarma

  41. Thanks for excusing me from crafting daily posts under pressure :D

  42. I am finishing up my degree, working part-time, spending time with my family and preparing for law school. Needless to say I am busy!

    Blogging requires me to usually post in bundles. I write a bunch at a time and then schedule the posts out or some times do a post dump of 2 or 3 new posts!

    Juggling can be really hard. At times I have found myself giving way to much to blogging and then other times I realize it is a great way for me to relieve stress and relax!

  43. This is a very common problem faced by all. I do I know, so i guess ill need to make a schedule.

  44. I think the issue of blogging when you can especially as a part-time blogger is SOOOO important. This is something I did when I started part-time. If you look at creation of ongoing quality content as a process you won’t be tempted to publish crap just to get a post in every day and you won’t suffer blocks when trying to write. You’ll have a long list of things you want to do and you will go at it a bit at a time without worrying about the next step or whether you are posting enough.

  45. Thanks so much for tweeting this. Excellent advice here. Being a lensmaster is much like a blogger. I am RT this, bookmarking it, and I will be back!

    Thanks!
    Teddi

  46. I liked the comment/article about batch processing. Might give it a go. Thanks for the tip.

  47. Very insightful article. Particularly the discussion on “Batch Blogging”. I am now in the process of developing a plan for my own situation. Many kudos and thanks!!!!

  48. The work / family / blog balance can certainly be tough. It’s all about planning your week ( I like google calendar) to make sure you’re devoting the amount of time needed to create a successful blog.

  49. Very good advice and points. Even without working a long hour job, I’m finding that I need to better organizing all the tasks necessary to keep my blog going.
    Not as easy as some think!

  50. Good post! You cannot do everything at once anyway, so you will need some kind of system in place.For me it is to get up an hour before everyone else and this allows me to read my email and do some research for the daily blog post.

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