This post is based on episode 118 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Creating and selling products such as ebooks and courses can be a great way to monetize your blog. But where do you find the time to create them?
A lot of bloggers already struggle with finding enough time to write posts, promote them on social media, respond to readers’ comments and emails, and everything else that goes with running a blog. And they often have a full-time job and family commitments as well.
I faced the same dilemma when I wrote the first ProBlogger book. I had numerous blogs at the time, as well as a business. We’d just started a blog network, and I was juggling it all myself. I was also newly married, and I think we’d just had our first baby.
I had no idea how I’d get the book written, and it started keeping me awake at night. (I’d committed to writing the book with the publisher and so I had a contract to get it done.)
And then it dawned on me: my life is completely full. I had no spare time to write the book, and the only way I could get it done was to find time somewhere else.
The good news is I managed to finish the book. And in doing so I learned a few things about creating products for your blog that I want to share with you today.
So here are my tips for finding the time to create a product for your blog.
Tip 1. Don’t abandon your blog while you’re creating your product
Yes, you need to find time to create your product. But you also need to be able to sell it, which means you need to maintain not only the size of your audience, but also the relationship you’ve built with them.
Over the years I’ve seen numerous bloggers abandon their blog while they created their product. Unfortunately, by the time they were ready to launch it their audience had either gone cold or shrunk significantly (if not disappeared completely).
You need to find a way to create your product while keeping your audience engaged and ideally growing and warming up towards you. Otherwise you’ll be a spending a lot of time and effort getting them back.
Tip 2. Scale back some of your blogging activities
While you shouldn’t abandon your blog completely, you don’t need to keep the pedal to the metal either. You can lift your foot a little. You just need to let your audience know why you’re doing it.
When I was struggling to write the ProBlogger book, I pulled back on writing content for my blogs. At the time I was publishing at least one post a day, and so I pulled that back to two or three posts a week. I told my audience there was a book coming, and so I’d be pulling back a little while I was writing it. And while a couple of people pushed back a little and said, “I want your content,” most of my readers understood.
You could also pull back on your social media posts, or how often you respond to readers’ comments and emails.
One advantage of doing this is that it can build the anticipation for your product. When I told my readers I was writing a book that would bring together all of my best advice, it built up a lot of anticipation as to when I’d be launching it.
Tip 3. Do your content creation and other blog activities in batches
Over the years I’ve talked a lot about batching, and how I try to write several posts or record several podcasts at a time. It means I can focus all my time and attention on them, and then forget about them for a couple of days and focus on something else.
By doing this, I didn’t waste any time switching back and forth from a blogging mindset to a podcasting mindset. I could get into the right frame of mind for what I was doing (blogging, podcasting, writing social media posts, etc.) and churn out piece after piece relatively quickly.
You can do the same, and not just for your blog. Batching is also a great way to focus on the product you’re creating and get the most out of your time.
When I was writing the ProBlogger book, I booked a cheap motel for a couple of weekends. And as soon as I arrived I locked myself in my room and spent the entire weekend writing. It really helped me get through the larger chunks of the book.
Tip 4. Use some of the product you’re creating as blog content
This really helped me when I was writing my book. Some of the content I was writing for the book had already been published on ProBlogger. So I’d occasionally take content from the ProBlogger archives, edited and updated it, and put it into the book.
I was also writing about topics for the book that I’d never explored on the blog. And every now and then I’d publish an excerpt from the book as a blog post. This not only kept the blog ticking over with fresh content, but also built anticipation about the book.
Of course, you don’t want your product to be just a rehash of your blog content. It needs to be something that’s fresh and unique. But chances are delving into your archives can save you some time and effort, and make it easier to get your product finished and ready for launch.
Tip 5. Set yourself some deadlines
You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law, which states that, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” And as much as we don’t like to think it’s true, it often is.
If you give yourself a year to complete your product, then chances are it will take you a year to complete it. But if you give yourself a month, there’s a good chance you’ll get it done in a month.
Of course, you need to be realistic. If you give yourself a day to get it done you’re destined for failure. But if you give yourself a tight but realistic deadline then you will push yourself to meet it. Committing to the deadline my publisher set in my book contract really helped me get going.
One problem a lot of bloggers face is they only commit to meeting the deadline with themselves, which means there’s little (if any) accountability. One solution is to make the commitment to a partner, family member, friend or fellow blogger. You could also make the commitment to your readers, or even start taking pre-orders for your product. That will create not only create a moral accountability, but also a legal one.
Tip 6. Create a beta version of your product
If the product you’re creating is a big one, it may take some time to get it finished. But you may be able to make some money before it’s finished by creating a beta version and selling it on your blog.
I remember a conversation I had with a blogger who wanted to create her first course. When she showed me the outline, I could see it was going to be massive. She needed to produce more than 50 hours of video content, as well as create numerous written resources. She was even getting software developed to give away as a bonus. Understandably she felt incredibly overwhelmed by it all, to the point where she felt almost paralyzed.
I said to her, “Why don’t you just break it down and release it as ten modules? And why not start by finishing the first module and releasing it?”
And that’s exactly what she did. She got the first module done and got her mini course out the door. It gave her not only some initial income, but also some really valuable feedback. She discovered her readers didn’t want as much content as she’d created. They wanted something a little lighter. And with that knowledge she managed to roll out several more modules more quickly than shoe could have done with her ‘full’ course.
But what if you’re producing an ebook rather than a course? Well, could you make two ebooks out of your content, and then start selling the first while you’re working on the second? Could you produce one version now, and then update it later? (That’s the great thing about ebooks. You can always add more content later.)
Tip 7. Get some help
If you can’t batch, can’t pull back any further on your blog and still need to find more time, then maybe you need to get some help.
Perhaps someone can help you with your product. That’s what I did with the ProBlogger book. Chris Garett co-authored the book with me because I realized very early on that I couldn’t do everything. He also bought other expertise to the book that I didn’t have. I’ve probably taught a lot of what he wrote about, but I couldn’t have thought about it the way he did.
Maybe you need to get a co-author. Or maybe you need help with something else–design, development, or even setting up a shopping cart. Perhaps you need an editor, proofreader or marketer.
You could also get some help keeping your blog ticking over. Perhaps you could publish a guest post once a week while you’re working on your product, or even hire someone as a regular contributor. Maybe you could free up some time by having someone edit or proofread your blog posts. Or maybe they could take on managing your community or social media posts.
I hope these tips help you free up some time so you can work on your first product for your blog. And once that’s done and selling, you may be able to free up even more time to work on your next one.
Image credit: Kevin Ku