This is a guest contribution from Larry Alton.
Blogging is something that we all know we need to do. But as a busy professional with a weekly schedule consisting of non-stop meetings, conference calls, project deadlines, and personal responsibilities, actually making time for blogging can seem impossible.
The good news is that it’s possible to blog without inconveniencing your schedule too much.
Time: The Single Biggest Blogging Challenge
A few years ago, Darren sent out a tweet asking readers of ProBlogger to share the biggest challenges that they face. He got more than 50 replies and many of these responses had to do with time.
- “Time. It’s hard to carve out productive hours while homeschooling a 6, 4, and 2 year old,” Amanda Espinoza wrote. “Night hours are best right now.”
- “Finding/creating time to write amongst day-to-day client work, paid work, unpaid biz dev work…,” said Simon Mossman.
- “Time. There just isn’t enough time,” Tamara Watson emphatically wrote.
If you were to think about the biggest challenge you face today, wouldn’t time be near the top of the list? While a lot about the blogging industry has changed since 2013, the truth remains that time is still the single biggest blogging pain point.
“Finding time to blog is something that all bloggers struggle with,” Darren said at the time. “Whether you are just starting out and blogging as a hobby, blogging as a part time job while juggling work, home, and a social life or even blogging as a full time business amidst other demands such as up-keeping of social media accounts, responding to comments and emails etc. – finding time to write is a consistent challenge.”
What Does Your Lunch Break Consist of?
Now let’s diverge from the topic of blogging for a moment and ask a simple question: What does your average lunch break consist of? While some people power through and don’t take a lunch break at all (not a very good idea), the majority of us do take some time during the middle of the day.
According to a survey from OfficeTeam, 48 percent of workers say their typical lunch break lasts for 30 minutes or less, while 49 percent report taking 31 to 60 minutes (or more). So, for the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that most people take a half-hour to one-hour lunch break.
But what are people doing during their lunch breaks? Approximately 42 percent of survey respondents report socializing with workers, 29 percent spend time working, 27 percent surf the internet or spend time on social media, 25 percent catch up on personal phone calls and emails, 25 percent run errands, and 18 percent exercise or take a walk. (A small percentage read or do nothing other than eat.)
What are you doing with this time? While there’s something to be said for stepping away from work and socializing or exercising, this isn’t always the best use of your time. You can do that before and after work. When you’re in the throes of the workday, you should be focused on productivity.
There is, however, something to be said for stepping away from meetings, conference calls, and other monotonous tasks and instead focusing on something creative and hands-on.
You already know where we’re going with this. If time is your biggest blogging challenge – and you can’t seem to find room for it in your daily schedule – then why not try to fit it in during your lunch break? This 30-minute to one-hour stretch of time is already set aside. Make the most out of it!
6 Tips for Efficient Blogging During Your Lunch Hour
What would happen if you suddenly spent your lunch break blogging? At the end of the month, you would have roughly 20 blog posts written. At the end of the quarter, you’d have more than 60 posts to your name. By the end of the year, you’d have somewhere in excess of 240 posts. Imagine the size of the audience you could build with this sort of volume and consistency – not to mention the personal branding and SEO benefits that come along with regular blogging.
But how? How can you realistically blog during a lunch break that only lasts for 30-60 minutes? Well, you need an efficient plan – and we’re going to help you develop one. Just read through the following tips and you’ll get a better idea of how it works.
1. Conduct a Monthly Brainstorming Session
The key to blogging during your lunch hour is to spend the entire time writing. You only have a few precious minutes, so you can’t afford to spend this time thinking about topics, researching them, copyediting, and publishing. That’s why you have to begin by conducting a monthly brainstorming session.
Set aside one hour near the end of each month – perhaps on the 30th of every month – and use this time as a brainstorming session for the next month. (Note: This is the only hour all month that you’ll have to spend on blogging outside of your lunch break.) During this hour, you will come up with a list of 20-25 different topic ideas.
Neil Patel, a successful entrepreneur who has written thousands of blog posts over the past few years, has developed an efficient method for zeroing in on topics and it should work well for you, too. He starts by asking five questions and then jots down a few ideas for each.
- “What excites, intrigues or stirs passion in my readers?”
- “What are common challenges my readers go through?”
- “What character traits do my readers possess?”
- “What do your readers love about your niche?”
- “What do your readers hate about your niche?”
If you can come up with four or five different answers to each question, then you should be able to develop some blog post ideas. Create a catchy headline for each post and develop a spreadsheet. Next, take these ideas and do some research. Look for a handful of other blog posts, articles, and interviews that you’ll use for supporting information. Toss these links into the spreadsheet and jot down a few notes about the direction you’ll take.
Finally, map out which post will be written on which day – as well as when it’ll be published and shared on social media. Bam! In just an hour, you have a content calendar for an entire month.
2. Put Blogging Into Your Schedule
The next step is to actually put blogging into your schedule. This is partly to keep you honest, but also tells other people to leave you alone. If you have a schedule that’s shared by others, make sure they know you’ll be spending your lunch hour writing.
Reference your content calendar and write the topic that you’ll be blogging about into your daily schedule. This simple exercise allows you to see the topic first thing in the morning, which will have you subconsciously thinking about it in the hours leading up to lunch. Thus, when your break arrives, you’re already teeming with ideas.
3. Turn Off All Notifications and Shut Your Door
If you’ve done everything suggested up until this point, then you’re ready to blog. The only thing that can knock you off track is unforeseen distractions. Want to avoid them? Start by turning off your notifications.
Exit out of your email application, silence your phone, and close your door. You can even leave a note on your door that says something along the lines of “do not disturb.” This will keep outside distractions to a minimum and will allow you to make better use of your time.
4. Don’t Forget About Lunch
You have to remember that this is your lunch break – so food has to be present in this equation. You obviously can’t afford to go out and grab something to eat or even join your coworkers in the cafeteria, though. You need something quick and easy to eat.
This will require a bit of planning on your part. You’ll need to make your lunch the night before. If you work in an office, this will mean packing it and putting it in the break room refrigerator. If you work from home, you should still have everything ready to go.
Make things that are easy to eat while working. This means sandwiches, wraps, and other finger foods. The last thing you want is to be eating something messy. You’ll spend too much time eating, wiping your fingers off, typing, and repeating.
5. Use a Blog Template
While blogging is very much a creative pursuit, you’ll have to develop some formulas in order to consistently produce high-quality work within such a limited time frame. Some of the more successful bloggers actually use templates.
Take successful entrepreneur Michael Hyatt, for example. Hyatt has a template that consists of six components: compelling title, lead paragraph, relevant image, personal experience, main body, and discussion question. He also has a set of rules he abides by: make the posts short, use short paragraphs, keep sentence short, use simple words, and provide external links.
Hyatt’s template provides just enough structure to keep him on track while allowing for plenty of creativity. Over time, you should be able to develop your own template based on insights you’ve gathered from previous posts.
6. Pay Someone to Edit and Publish
Since you only have a limited amount of time for blogging, you have to dedicate as much time as possible to writing. What about editing, formatting, and publishing, you may ask? Well, this is one area where it’s almost always cost-effective to hire someone.
For just a few dollars per post, you can have a professional copywriter deal with all of these time-consuming tasks. While you may be reluctant to spend money, remember that there’s an opportunity cost associated with editing and publishing. Sure, you could do it on your own, but you’d be forced to cut into your writing time or do it after work.
Piecing it All Together
Everyone’s lunch break looks different. Some of us are self-employed and work from home, while others spend time in a traditional office working in a cubicle alongside 50 co-workers. This means you’ll have to develop a plan that works for you. However, the point of this article is that anyone can make time for blogging by consistently utilizing their lunch break, which is already set aside for doing something other than normal work tasks and responsibilities.
Try it out for a month and see what you think. You’ll like the results!