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When Life Gets in the Way: Finding Time to Blog

When you begin blogging, losing an hour of sleep to perfect a post or skipping lunch to spend time commenting…

When you begin blogging, losing an hour of sleep to perfect a post or skipping lunch to spend time commenting is a pleasure. Post ideas come thick and fast. And more published posts mean pageviews and readers, so publishing more is better, right?

Sure… until it’s not. Until work starts piling up. Or you get sick. Or a friend is in from out of town. Or you have to bake three dozen cupcakes for Sally’s class — by tomorrow. Sometimes, we all get trapped under a beam in the burning barn (metaphorically) and can’t get to the computer. When that happens, how do you find time to blog without turning your creative outlet into just another obligation?

The barn thing was figurative. If this is a reality for you, we respectfully suggest that  you have bigger fish to fry, and it's totally fine to take blog break. Also, please call 911.

The barn thing was figurative. If your barn IS on fire, it’s totally fine to take a blog break. Also, please call 911.

One: cut yourself some slack

Feeling guilty about blogging never helped anyone write a compelling post. If it’s getting tough to fit your ideal blogging schedule into a newly busy life, go easy on yourself; we all have ebbs and flows.

You can take a break without starting from scratch upon your return. Give your readers a heads-up, and give yourself permission to take time off before your blog becomes another stressor. Turning your blog into an obligation puts you on the fast track to killing the fun.

Two: manage your expectations

When you started blogging, your personal goal was two long, substantive posts a week. But you didn’t realize how much fun interacting with other bloggers would be. You got infatuated with CSS tinkering. Life dropped another project in your lap. Whatever the reason, those two posts aren’t happening.

And you know what? That’s fine. While it’s true that regular publishing helps establish a blog and retain a readership, “regular” can mean lots of things: daily, weekly, monthly, whatever. Trying to enforce a publishing frequency that doesn’t fit your life leads to a tumbleweed-strewn blog. Take a realistic look at the time you can devote to blogging, and use that to set your expectations. Don’t set yourself up to fail! You wouldn’t do that to kids or dogs, so don’t do it to yourself.

Three: think about features

A little structure can help make blogging more manageable.  Combining a regular feature with other posts takes some of the publishing pressure off — especially if the feature is less time-intensive, like a photo post or link roundup.

Plus, regularly scheduled features are great for keeping readers coming back again and again, and no blogger ever turned down repeat visitors!

Four: create an editorial calendar

Even if you don’t want to run regular features, an editorial calendar allows you to take control of your publishing schedule and time — and luckily for you, we just told you all about them! Since you create the calendar, it can be as flexible as it needs to be. Take your schedule into account and plan quicker, less intense posts for busy weeks.

Five: schedule time

We put out a call on Twitter asking how you find time to blog, and this was the first response:

Adding “blog time” to your calendar is a simple way to carve out space for blogging, as long as you honor that time — otherwise, re-scheduling your missed blog appointment just becomes another source of stress.

Blog time needn’t be a big chunk of your free time; ten or fifteen minutes is a great, doable place to start. As our erstwhile commenter put it:

Six: go mobile and/or write offline

You don’t have to be at your computer or connected to the internet to blog. Keep a sticky note open on your computer desktop while at work or doing other things, and sock away a few sentences or post ideas when the mood strikes. Download the WordPress mobile app and draft posts while you’re on the subway or in line at the post office (or publish short posts or photos while you’re out and about).

Heck, go totally analog and keep an actual sticky note on your desk to jot down ideas — anything that helps the words flow once you have an internet connection.

Seven: take advantage of drafts

You don’t have to pen a perfectly publishable post every time you sit down at the computer, and you shouldn’t let that fallacy —  “Oh, I don’t have time to finish a post now, so I’ll just wait until later” — keep you away from the keyboard. Drafts and posts-in-progress are your friends.

At a conference several years ago, popular food blogger David Lebovitz admitted that he had 40 active drafts sitting in his dashboard at any given time. You don’t have to be an overachiever like David, but drafts are a useful tool. Have an idea but no time to write? Start a draft. Have another one? Start another draft. You can either take your daily blogging time to work on them until you’re ready to publish, or use them as a head start when you have a bigger block of time for writing (plus, you’ll have a variety of topics to choose from, and can pick the one that moves you).

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Not this easy. Some things are TOO easy.

Eight: give yourself an easy A

If you haven’t been able to post in a while and it’s getting to you, try a lower-effort piece to keep the conversation going and buy yourself some time. Link roundups, reblogs (with your own commentary), or a post highlighting another blogger you love can bridge the gap between other pieces. As long as you’re true to your voice and point of view and offer your own take, these can be just as substantive as wholly original content.

Anyone who tries to use blogging as a get-rich-quick scheme will be sorely disappointed: building a good blog and attracting a community takes consistent time and effort, and there’s no magic formula where publishing every day leads to overnight success.

While viral lightening does sometimes strike, blogging truly is a “slow and steady wins the race” endeavor. Use these tricks to find the balance between carving out time to create and turning your blog into a job, and set yourself up for success in the long haul.

If you’ve got any tricks for making time to blog, we’d all love to hear ‘em!

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  1. I foolishly set myself a challenge this month of testing 30 fitness apps in 30 days – the researching, testing and then having to write them up as well has started to turn into a chore. I’m having to take breaks now and again from posting that days test and go off topic instead so I don’t spend each post whining (especially as so many go wrong). Writing whatever I do choose to post is the highlight of my day though. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

      1. Agreed, Its an outlet letting everyone know how “your” day went. I am new to this whole “blogging” but it really is something that i’ve been wanting to do for some time now.

    1. So not alone! I don’t think there’s any blogger out there who hasn’t felt, even for a brief moment, that their blog was a chore.

      Your comment also helped me to think of a number 9: consider a guest blogger or two to get you over a particularly busy/stressful time!

  2. LMAO!!! THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN TO READ! I encountered this issue in terms of the opposite, where i had to find time to do things to work around my blogging addiction. But I have since worked out a balance; the tips here are great. Thanks Michelle!

  3. Wonderful post. I just started blogging a few days ago and I am enjoying it very much. Right off the bat, I created a calendar for myself and took advantage of the schedule a post feature. I may not have any regulars yet, but I am happy when I see that people from different countries have visited my blog. I will continue to stick to a schedule that is comfortable for my lifestyle (Posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with an extra post in between if anything substantial happens) and I will make sure that I continue to write offline everyday.

  4. And it all goes swimmingly along … until one day … you can’t. You get unexpectedly sick. Or your computer does. Or the server has an issue and you’re locked out. Something weird happens — you cannot get to your site. You have an epiphany: when there’s nothing left to do … relax. When you are back, presumably your followers will be there.

    No matter how carefully you plan and schedule, sometimes, it doesn’t work out. I just had it happen. I had pieces scheduled to run, written — insurance against what I presumed was my worst-case scenario. It turned out to be worse than my worst-case. There was nothing I could do except unplug, relax and wait.

    It got fixed. The world didn’t end. That’s the MOST important thing to know. The world will NOT end, even if you don’t get it done. No one will die because your post didn’t get published. Even if your stats take a temporary dive, if you’ve got the audience and followers, it’ll come back up when you are able to start posting again.

    Been there. Survived. Do NOT forget to breathe.

    1. Very true. And if you don’t have an audience or followers (or you lose them all), then you’ll just start writing again, and you’ll build them anew. Even if your blog is your life, it’s not life and death.

  5. Thank you. I jumped with both feet into the blogging world and, now that I am in the rhythm of the blogsphere and understand the lingo, I feel I can take a step back and learn new ways to manage our blog.

  6. This looks like really good advice. I’m new to blogging and it’s fun, I want it to continue to be fun. I really want to thank you for the daily prompts and the weekly phot challenges as it has really help me get up and running. Thanks Daily Post.

  7. Be careful with your drafts! Last time I posted, it showed up on line as being published three days BEFORE the actual date I hit the Publish button. Support said it used the date I started DRAFTING the post Instead of the Publish date. Still not sure why, it never happened before….

    1. To be 100% safe, I change the date of any post I’m working on to the year 2020. That way, even if I accidentally hit “publish” or something goes a bit wonky, the post merely gets scheduled for the future and doesn’t actually appear on the site.

      1. I do it to be safe from myself — I’ve been known to hit “publish” rather than “save draft” when a post isn’t ready to go yet, so this way, I don’t have to worry about my own slip-ups. Then, when the post is done, I change the date to the present and publish.

  8. Hey look, it’s me! Glad my Twitter comments were helpful. I needed this advice today (“One: cut yourself some slack”) as I don’t have anything ready for my Monday post. Maybe I’ll get to it between soccer games, family time, and swim meets this weekend, but it’s unlikely. Thanks for letting me off the hook in case I don’t post til Tuesday.

  9. I’m still new at blogging and I have all these ideas bouncing round in my head. But already, I barely have time to sit and write them down. Or time to get a hang of linking posts to my widgets (I’m still stuck on that :( ).

    These tips are great. Thanks!

    Thanks too, Teepee. You spoke to me

  10. Thank you for a great post! There is good common sense stuff here and reaffirms what I’ve been doing. I really like that I, too, keep a few dozen drafts of possible posts on my iPad notebook, many written before I jump out of bed in the morning.

  11. These are great ideas, as usual! I try to take a few minutes at work to jot down ideas for something I may have found interesting but trying to find the time to write something substantive is when I break down

  12. I’ve been feeling this way a lot. Exhausted and irritated with my inability to post and then like an angry, bitter child, I toss my blog to the side and glare at it until I forget it exists sometimes. Good to feel I’m not alone and I’ll be taking your advice.

  13. Really, really needed this post today. Lately, blogging has felt more like a chore than a joy for me, so it’s great to be reminded that the world will not implode if I post less frequently or spend more time on posts that mean something to me but maybe won’t be that interesting to other people. Blogs only remain healthy when they supplement our lives, not dominate them.

  14. So relatable! I am not, what one would call, a true “blogger”. Rather, I am a rookie at this, I enjoy writing and reading, and hope to be a writer someday; I figured blogging was a good way to start and keep up with my literary hobby. So far, I find it quite difficult to make time for it, or rather to find a balance, since I can get so consumed with writing. Thank you for sharing these tips, they do seem quite useful; and for the CCS feature, which honestly, I had no idea about :S

  15. These tips are really nice. I have such problems having time to blog, being a full-time student, part-time salaried tutor, and writing a novel. But implementing these will probably help exceedingly. Thanks!

  16. That’s a great post! I can related when I first started blogging long time ago. There are times that I want to write, but then I got no time to do so. So I would write down that I want to say in a blog, but I think this post helps if you want to post, but have no time to do so. Jot down some ideas and when you do get that chance, let the creative juices flow.

  17. The tips are great (and addiction can be such a correct word to use!) but the comments and follow up conversations are also useful to me: this is good, almost cooperative blogging and I have learned a lot about the art and craft of what we are all doing while reading and getting my head around these pots.
    Thank you all.

  18. I post M, W, and F on my main blog, monthly on my secondary, and weekly on another blog to which I contribute. My main blog sometimes runs out of steam. When that happens, I take a favorite photo, share it, and write exactly two short paragraphs about it. I write anything, as long as it relates to the photo. I find that these are great stopgap posts, and they also really help me when I feel like I don’t have something to say.

    1. Do you have a phone on you@itchyfeetx ? Quickly punch it into your phone’s notepad app or carry post-its and pen with you always. I usually do that and come back home peel the post it into my blogging notebook :)

  19. I finally managed to schedule my posts – new post at noon every Monday – and it helps me feel satisfied as a blogger and I hope it has made my readers feel more fulfilled too.

  20. Whenever you feel the urge, grab it like a Portkey before it disappears. Our lives are so busy and addled, you have to squeeze it in whenever you can. I force myself to sit down and at least try it every morning at the same time, but sometimes it doesn’t work. This week, I had the house to myself for a half an hour and wrote at a different time than I normally do, and managed to eke another one out. This is a great topic, thanks for posting it.

  21. You really resonated with everyone – myself included. As a new blogger who got inspired by Blonde on a Budget it is great to ear your advice. Our chronically busy lives are always a challenge no matter what we choose to focus on.

  22. My tip for finding time to blog (or finding time for any other task, really) is to unplug the TV. Literally. It’s amazing what can get done when that box goes dark!

  23. This is so true the other night I stayed up till 2am finishing a post despite the fact I was up at 6 at work. I guess I felt that as a new blogger I better prove my dedication I shall definetly be easing off the keyboard a little bit from now on

    1. I love the occasional 2AM writing binge, when the words are really flowing — but if your blog requires nightly sleep deprivation, you’re not going to be able to keep it up for long!

  24. Perfect thing for me to read now as I’m recommitting to my blog (for the umpteenth time). I usually get overly ambitious (“Hey! I haven’t posted in eighteen months and have no good ideas… I’m going to post something new every day! Yeah!”) and crash and burn as a result.

    1. It’s definitely a challenge to manage your own expectations, especially once people start reading and responding and you’ve got a positive feedback loop — I struggled with that on my last personal blog. Balance is key!