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 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?
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:
@postaday schedule time to write (every morning) and commit to the days I want to post (M & Th)—
Andrea Badgley (@andreabadgley) October 14, 2013
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:
Don't wait to find time - make time. RT @postaday: Calling all bloggers — what are your tricks for finding the time to blog? Tweet us tips!—
Andrea Badgley (@andreabadgley) October 14, 2013
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).
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!
Enjoyed this? You might also like:
- Quick Tip: Stay Regular
- It’s About Time: On Editorial Calendars (and Why You Might Need One)
- Going Serial: The Power of Intervals
- The Ghosts in Your Dashboard