Life is busy. Whether you’re in school, looking for a job, employed, or raising kids, there is just never enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done — let alone what you want to get done. For those who have big dreams of starting their own business while still working at another, finding the time to follow your dream can seem next to impossible. Some “social media experts” have built an entire business around demonstrating how this actually can be done. The reality is, though, you can’t make time that doesn’t exist (though that would solve all of our problems, I am sure.)
Blogging can be a first — and perhaps the most important — step in starting your own business, even if that business is the blog itself. It is very possible to make a living wage with a blog, such as Chris Pirillo has done with LockerGnome (and many others have as well). You may also just want to blog for fun and not make any money — even if your blog incidentally becomes one of the most popular niche blogs about your topic. In my previous 9-5, I taught legal professionals how to find the time to blog despite their 80+ hours a week schedules. Now, as a full-time blogger struggling with time management, I’ve had to take my own advice to keep up the demands of the constantly changing world of tech and social media. On whichever end of the spectrum you fall, knowing how to find time to blog can make a huge difference in the success of not just your blog, but your career, too.
Finding Time to Set Up the Blog
Remember the saying, “Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover?” When it comes to blogs, that saying only holds half true. The design and layout of a blog can drastically have an impact on a visitor’s desire to read a post and navigate through the rest of the blog. Before you worry about how to write or maintain the blog, find an hour to set aside to create the blog and then find a theme that fits with the theme of the content of your blog. If you’re passionate about baseball, a theme that includes princesses and castles likely won’t fit. If you’re so inclined, you can pay for a premium theme, or pay someone else to take their time to design a custom theme and layout for your new blog. If you find yourself stressed out about the theme and design of your blog after more than one hour, you may want to pick a simple theme and decide how much time (and money) this is worth to you later.
Finding Time to Build the Blog
Your blog is much more than the blog posts you will write a few times per week. Most blogs include About pages, Contact pages, a list of press inclusions, and other interesting one-page static sections. You may already have these written elsewhere, or you may need to start from scratch. Consider setting aside an hour for every page you think you want to add to your blog. If you’re very busy, consider setting aside this time as you would a blog post. There’s no rush in getting your blog “ready,” and in fact, the faster you write, there is the potential that your content will be of lesser quality than if you take your time.
At this point, consider using a calendar to see where and when you can set aside time to write. Many bloggers sit down whenever they have a free moment, rather than structuring this free time into their schedule. The latter method can prove more beneficial as you can mentally prepare yourself to write and switch gears. Take a look at your current schedule and find a spot in the week (or if you are ambitious, in the day) where you have a chance for the least disruption. Can you sit down every evening after dinner in your home office to write for an hour? Or are you only free Sunday mornings to get a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and write? Block out those times on your calendar, and then start filling in dates to write at least the previously mentioned pages first.
Finding Time to Write a Blog Post
Inspiration rarely strikes on demand. While I wish I could just sit down and tell myself to write a 1000 word blog about any topic assigned to me, the reality is that most of my blog posts are developed over the span of hours and sometimes days. I jot down notes, and sometimes start outlining ideas in Evernote (or on my bathroom mirror, which actually works quite well.) The time spent thinking about a blog post might amount to 5 or 10 minutes, but allows me to complete blog posts (pre-editing) in under an hour when I sit down to write them as scheduled. Should I start a blog post cold instead, it could take three times or longer. While I still set aside time throughout the day to write, I also allow myself the time throughout the rest of my day to capture ideas so I can better utilize the time I have to write more productively.
Setting aside time to write consistently also provides an added benefit to readers of your blog, as they will begin to expect a blog post from you every Tuesday morning, for example. You can leverage the functions of publishing platforms to schedule posts, so even if you write on Sunday mornings, you can schedule a post for later in the week (such as on Tuesday mornings). Readers who come back to your blog to check for new posts when there aren’t any may not return.
Finding Time to Promote Your Blog
Finding the time to blog isn’t just about writing the blog post itself. It also requires finding time to promote your blog through your social networks. If you don’t share your content, no one will find it — unless you’re exceptionally good with SEO (and then you probably don’t need these tips anyway). Sharing your posts with friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter is a great way to bring others back to your blog, share their thoughts, and even share your blog with their social networks. Also, while you may only set aside an hour a week to writing your blog posts, be sure you at least check for new comments once a day to ensure you reply to any urgent comment as soon as possible. You never know who may read your blog. If you find that you receive several comments per blog post, you may want to set aside an extra half hour when you schedule time to write your blog post to respond to comments from previous blog posts.
Once you have found time to either start, build, write, or promote your blog, be sure you are distraction free. Turning your phone off (or at least silent and placed upside down) can limit outside distractions, as well as limiting notifications from social networks like TweetDeck and Facebook. If you really need to limit distractions, many professional bloggers and writers like to use an app like Darkroom, which provides a fullscreen app to write without distractions. Also, do not allow yourself to be a perfectionist. You should always proofread and spellcheck, but everyone makes mistakes. You can also always go back and edit should someone point out a factual error or a missed point.
If you’re a blogger, how do you find the time to write blog posts and manage your blog? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments.