How Influencers Can Work Full Time & Find Time To Blog Without Losing Their Minds: I’ll tell you!
When I first started blogging, I was working full-time, outside of the house and had a 45-minute commute, each way. I was working in a job that sucked my soul dry. Blogging, or writing of any kind, fed my spirit. Blogging wasn’t really a “thing” back when I was looking for a creative outlet. My research shows the term “web log” was coined in December 1997 and was eventually shortened to “blog.”
I was introduced to blogging when I worked with Tom and Yvonne when they lived in Rochester, New York. They were on the cutting edge with new technologies because they used it to promote their authors (they ran a publishing company). Working there allowed me to learn as they learned, experiment, hone my skills and eventually branch off as a freelancer who worked from home rather than a wanna-be freelancer who worked a full time job, cared for my family and pets and tried to fit blogging into my already full schedule.
How Influencers Can Work Full Time & Find Time To Blog Without Losing Their Minds
If you truly want to be a full time blogger and pursue your passion you need to plan for it. I couldn’t have simply given my two weeks’ notice to my employer, come home and announced to my husband that I was quitting to be a full-time writer and lived happily ever after. I told my family that being a full time writer was my life’s dream and that I was going to pursue that goal until it became a reality. I knew I had to replace my income before I said good-bye to corporate drudgery. I also knew being a freelancer meant I needed to find clients who would pay me for my writing expertise. Building a writing portfolio was also crucial in garnering potential clients.
I had my work cut out for me — literally. Because I was determined, I knew I had to take a good, long look at my calendar and my life and see what changes I could make to help me realize my dream while not jeopardizing my current job (I needed the paycheck) and alienating my family. During this time I became well-versed in time management, task juggling and writing in small pockets of time. It was exhausting, but worth it.
Here are tips you can use to find time to blog while working full time and not lose your mind!
Don’t waste any time. This may seem a no-brainer, but if you look I’ll bet you can find pockets of time you didn’t know you had. For example, waiting at the bus stop, cooking dinner, watching television (I know what a time suck television can be and when I find myself falling behind in my work, I realize it’s because I am watching far too much television), cooling your heels in a doctor’s waiting room or on your lunch hour at work.
Take some time — a few days — and look for pockets of time. Make note of these “downtimes” in a notebook or on your phone’s calendar. You don’t have to begin using those pockets of time right now, but write them down so you have ready access when you’re looking for a 15-minute time slot to get some writing done.
Note: Poking around on Facebook and Pinterest or Instagram instead of writing is not a good use of your time UNLESS you’re legitimately doing research or promoting your work. You will need to budget time to be social, but remember if you spend your lunch hour gabbing on Facebook, you will have lost that hour you could have been used working on a blog post.
Pre-write. What is pre-writing? It’s akin to outlining. Yes, I am going back to this concept of “you need an editorial calendar.” If you only have 15 minutes to write and you don’t know what to write, guess what? You will waste your 15 minutes trying to come up with a blog topic. Even if you don’t want to get “all fancy” with your editorial calendar, make note of blog post ideas about which you could write and start compiling a list.
When I know I am going to write a blog post about, “Halloween safety tips for cat lovers” I have that title in my mind before I sit down and I will roll the topic around in my head, letting it marinate, before I sit down to my pocket of writing time. If you keep a notebook with you or use your smartphone to collect ideas you can jot down ideas you will cover in your “Halloween safety tips for cat lovers” post. You could even compose the opening line in your mind. When you do this, and fill your mind with an upcoming blog topic, your brain will feed that idea, water it and help it spring forth when you put fingers to keyboard.
If you have additional pockets of time (when you’re helping the kids with homework, or walking on the treadmill) jot down a few salient points for the blog post, make note of an expert with whom you could connect. Plan your blog’s call to action. Doing this pre-writing will make your actual writing time more productive.
Give into (your personal) reality. If you’re working full time and tending home, family and pets AND still want to blog you need to give yourself the grace to realize it’s not likely that you will get an uninterrupted eight-hour block of time in which to write your blog post. It would be ideal, but you’re a busy person and chances are it won’t happen. Don’t let this stop you from pursuing your dream.
Work with those pockets of time you uncovered in Item #1. You might not be able to write an entire blog post in a 15-minute pocket, but you could probably compose an opening paragraph, right? You could look for an image to use in your post? You could use your 15-minutes to jot down five bullet points you want to cover. Take 15-minutes and research what’s been written about “Halloween safety tips for cat lovers” and determine how your post will be different.
Your life, is your life, and if you’re working full time and trying to grow your blog you need to do it while keeping sane. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Now get writing!
Everything doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s true! Done is better than perfect. Who will be closer to success? The person who spends months perfecting one blog post before posting it or the person who puts up many, many posts and shares to social media? I’m thinking it’s the person who is actively pursuing the passion of being a full time writer.
Along the lines of perfection, and I speak from experience. I was convinced that I couldn’t write my novel unless I had:
- The perfect opening line
- The ideal notebook in which to write it
- The most glorious pen or pencil to write it with
- Hours of uninterrupted time
- A never-ending supply of Godiva chocolates and Irish breakfast tea
See where I am going here? I was a prima donna, a dilettante. Guess what? While waiting for those five items to fall into alignment in my universe, I never did write that novel. One year I decided, “I’m going to jump into NANO and write a 50,000 word novel (in my non existent spare time!).” Guess what? I wrote my novel. I let go of the idea that everything had to be perfect and I just wrote.
You need to just write. If you only have 15 minutes, then use those 15 minutes to blog or jot down blog ideas. Don’t let good time go to waste because “I don’t have my computer and I can’t compose long-hand.” Guess what? You can.
Think like a writer. Sherlock Holmes felt you should, “notice everything.” You need to notice the world around you. Why? Because it could be fodder for your next blog post. Is there someone at the dog park with an unruly pup? Blog about “dog park etiquette.”
Keep your thoughts open to trending topics, news articles, snippets of conversation overheard in line. “I just can’t get Fluffy to stop peeing on my shoes…” Another potential blog post topic, perhaps? Make sure you write these ideas down or they will float away on the winds when new ideas and conversations pop into your head.
Make your writing a priority. When I told my family I wanted to be a full time writer and work from home I imagine they were thinking, “she wants to stay home in her pajamas, eat candy, watch soap operas and play with the dogs all day.” Well, sure I wanted to do all of those things, but guess what? If I had, I wouldn’t have been able to realize my dream of being a full time writer.
If you take yourself seriously by setting up an office for your writing (even if that “office” is the corner of the kitchen table for now), working to find clients, attending networking events and conferences or taking classes to hone your skills.
If you don’t claim your writing time it will be gone. If your friends call and want you to go out to the movies and you had planned two hours of writing time you need to decide whether your writing is a priority and you need to claim it. I turned down a lot of movies with friends when I was working full time and pursuing my goal of being a full time writer and running my own business. Hopefully your friends will understand and support your dream.
Hang an “I’m Writing” sign on your door. Let your family know, and write it on your calendar, that you will be writing from X to Y time and can’t be disturbed. Claim your time and guard it zealously.
Create systems and streamline your blogging. Your editorial calendar is a system and streamlines your writing (see what I did there!). Creating routines in your life will help free up your time and energy to focus on the tasks you want to (your writing). What can you do to streamline your writing and blog posting? What if you kept a calendar with your social media status updates? That way you’d know when you were going to post on social and what you were going to post about.
If you know you’re going to write three blog posts this week and know what they’re going to be about, look for all of the images you need at one sitting. It will save you time later.
Using scheduling tools like Hootsuite to save social media time and free you up for writing blog posts.
Know when you’re most productive. If you work a traditional 9-5 job and know you are at your mental peak first thing in the morning, set your clock for an hour earlier than usual and get up and get your writing done before you go to work. If you really shine at 9 pm, use that time of day to focus on your blogging and your goal of becoming a blog influencer.
Connect with like-minded influencers. Sure you need to hold tight to your pockets of time and get your writing done, but you need to connect with others who are going through what you are.
Consider a partnership with another influencer to swap guest blogging on each other’s site. If you can find a guest blogger who brings value to your site, you will be offering your readers fresh content… that you don’t have to create! Sure, you will have to write a guest blog post, as well, if that’s the partnership you arrange, but it just might be worth it.
Find an accountability partner who can help keep you motivated, offer you advice and hold you accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself on the path to blog influencer status.
Know what you need to make (financially) in order to quit your full time job. You need to set financial goals as a way to let you know whether you’re reaching milestones. If, for example, you’re toiling away on your blog for months and making no progress on making any money, you need to not only rethink your strategy, but rethink your financial goals. Be specific and say, “I need to replace $20,000 and these are the steps I will take to do that.” Write it down. Work your plan.
Look for places in your life where you could cut expenses. Do you really need that coffee shop latte every day? Believe me, the $2 or $3 or $4 you spend per day on that can add up. Take the money you would normally spend on coffee, for example, and set it aside in a separate bank account or even in a coffee can at home until there is enough to make it worthwhile to deposit. Look for ways you can save money on everyday expenses.
Set aside time to market yourself and your business. Don’t forget to budget your time to include marketing. It’s great that you’re writing blog posts, but you need to:
- Know how your blog is going to earn you income
- Know what goods or services you will provide
- Find your ideal client and market to them
How will you reach your ideal client? Where does he or she interact online? What can you do to set yourself and your business apart from the competition? If you’re looking to make money on your site with ads, you will need to build your traffic to a point where ads bring you income; when doing this you need to know where and how to find that traffic and who your client is.
Celebrate your wins — no matter how small. If your local paper carries your column, that’s a win. If you find a client who wants you to write a press release, mark that as a win. Did your blog reach 100 visitors? Win! Has your Facebook following topped a specific milestone? Celebrate it!
When you’re working full time and trying to launch your blogging or writing career, it can seem daunting… because it is. Celebrating your successes and tooting your own horn will bolster your self esteem and keep you moving forward.
Bottom line. It won’t be easy. You will have to work long hours. You’ll be exhausted. You may have to put in some pre-work before you even begin pursuing your dream of full time blogger. What’s pre-work? Maybe it’s taking a class, learning to build a website, knowing how to write a simple business plan, building a writing portfolio.
If you don’t have a portfolio, your blog is your first, best platform for doing that and establishing your expertise. If, however, you’re looking to bring in some money while building your portfolio, look for guest blogging gigs that pay, query magazines in your area of expertise or niche with article ideas, check with your local newspaper and see if they accept guest pieces or columns (They may not pay, but it will be a way for you to establish expertise and hone your writing chops.
Keep your eye on the prize. When you’re feeling like you can’t move forward, reach out to your accountability partner. Ask for some help in the BlogPaws Community. If you truly want it, work to achieve it!
Where are you in your blog influencer career? Are you working full time? Looking to leave your full time job and become a full time writer/blogger? What steps have you taken? Share your challenges and your celebrations in the comments below!
Robbi Hess is an award-winning author, full-time writer, newspaper columnist, writing coach and time-management guru. She works with bloggers and solopreneurs and blogs at All Words Matter.