This is honestly one of my biggest struggles as a blogger.
As a freelance writer with a blog and a day job (plus everything else that goes on in my life), the amount of free time I have becomes a lot smaller. But what’s growing is the list of projects I want to do for my personal brand.
So why do I do it? Why do I run two blogs that I publish content for every week? I don’t monetise them, yet blogging has become such a big part of my life that I spend a huge amount of time committing to it each week.
You might be in a similar position as a blogger.
Maybe it started out as a hobby and you just published a post once every week. Then you realised that the quickest way to grow would be to publish content more frequently. But after that, you learnt that it’s actually more about promoting your content than it is about hitting that publish button.
But you don’t want to cut down the number of times you post on your blog. You love writing and you know it plays a bit part in getting you to where you want to be. So what do you do? How do you manage both? How can you promote yourself online and still have time to write for your blog?
At the moment my time is very limited, so being productive and managing my time well is key. Luckily, I’ve found some strategies (or productivity hacks) that have helped me build my platform as a blogger and freelance writer, whilst still publishing frequent content on my blog.
This is how I do it.
#1 | I WORK QUICKLY
And I mean seriously quickly. As in, I can write 1000+ words in an hour or less.
Last Sunday, I actually wrote 3000 words in an hour and a half. And since I post twice per week on ABOH, I use some time on a Sunday to get those two posts written and scheduled.
If I’m pushed for time, I’ve got my evenings during the week to tidy things up. Then I save my shorter posts for Little Branches and my weekly letter to get done during my lunch break or an evening.
So how can you speed up your typing? It’s all down to practice. You could take a typing test, but I reckon timing yourself is simpler to do.
There are a few things to note when it comes to your typing. Next time you’re sitting down to write a blog post, take a look at these things:
- Are your hands placed properly on your keyboard? Yep, there’s a formula for this, and it doesn’t bode well if you’re just using one finger from each hand.
- Do you look at what you’re typing? If you are - don’t. You’ll type faster if you don’t look at the keyboard as you do it.
- What distractions are nearby? Whatever you note down, make sure you remove them from your space. Put some background music on, light a candle - do whatever it is that gets you focused and ready to work.
Once you’ve done all that, start timing yourself. From my Shorthand days, you want to start off working up to 60wpm (words per minute), and then when you can do that comfortably go up to 90 or 100wpm. Why? Well the faster you are at working, the more work you can get done which means you won’t have to cut your schedule down. Result!
#2 | I’VE CREATED MY OWN PLANNING SYSTEM
I’ve actually talked about this in my daily routine post (where you can also get a free template of my planning spreadsheet). But if you haven’t seen that, I’ll just give you a quick overview of the system I have.
Basically I have one master list and then I break that down into weekly, monthly and daily plans. Some people batch their tasks, but I find prioritising works a whole lot better for me.
So I write everything down on one huge spreadsheet (with deadlines if they’re needed). Then when each new month comes, I mark what tasks I need/want to get done that month. Then I do the same for each week and that’s how I plan my daily to-do list.
If I can get my two blog posts for ABOH researched, written and scheduled by Sunday, that means I can focus on other aspects of my website and online promotion during the week.
Because I’m so limited on time from Monday to Friday I’ve found this has helped me be so much more productive overall.
#3 | MY READERS SHARE MY CONTENT FOR ME
Something has happened over the course of the year that’s new. My readers now see me as a valuable resource. And because of this, my most loyal readers have started sharing my content. Take a look at some of these tweets:
Some people on Twitter aren’t even just sharing my content - they’re telling everyone that they’ve become a part of my community, or simple just saying how much they appreciate my site.
And you know what? This is what happens when you put the effort into creating valuable content. Plus, it means my readers are actually doing part of my promotion for me (thanks guys! 😉 )
But what if people aren’t sharing your content yet? Well, you’ve just got to share it triple than what you normally would.
It took me a while before I started seeing my content be shared multiple times a day by lots of people. But that came from implementing a solid social media strategy that’s helped me get some huge results. That has been key in finding the balance between creation and promotion.
#4 | I HAVE SUPPORT
I couldn’t do this alone, and I’ve written a post in the past about how none of us should do this alone. I’m not ashamed to say I ask for help, and I’m not ashamed to let people know I get it either. To move forward and get to where you want to be, you’re going to have to learn to let people in and ask others to help you.
My biggest help obviously comes from my family. I see this blog as something that Tom runs just as much as me. He has a say in so many things, but more than anything, he helps me plan my time so I actually accomplish everything that I want to. My parents, brother and extended family are all so support in my journey - and they aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m working too hard either!
I don’t make any money from this blog so I’m not at the stage where I’d hire someone to help me. But in the future, I’d love to have an intern who dealt with things like social scheduling, emails and outreach. They’re big things that play a huge part in the growth of my personal brand, but for emails and outreach, I just don’t get the time to focus on them as much as I should.
But that’s what planning for the future is for!
#5 | I HAVE A CREATIVE PROCESS
Do you have a creative process? If you’re a blogger and you don’t, I’d seriously start thinking about one now. Having an editorial process for your own projects can help you focus on exactly what you need to get done and make sure you’re not taking too much time on one task.
I don’t know about you, but some days, I just don’t seem to have the energy to put a blog post together. I’m usually super productive, motivated and great at time management too. But there are some days and you don’t know why, you just hit a brick wall and all you’ve got is the title.
That’s where my creative process comes in. From research to promotion, I have a plan, a process and an action. I don’t waste time and I’ve done it so often that I now know my plan inside out.
This process isn’t a one-size fits all method - you have to develop your own and learn it as a skill. New bloggers might not have even thought about this yet until they’ve got a decent few published posts in their net.
For me, my creative process involves discovering the idea, a research stage, writing, and then editing, delivery and promotion. Knowing these different phases helps me know where I’m up to.
I also rely on Evernote where I store all my blog post ideas, and Google Docs for creating my editorial calendar.
I pull ideas from Evernote into my calendar in terms of what category is being published when. I also have a to-do list for each post, which helps me optimise and promote each one as much as possible.
A FINAL NOTE - BE PATIENT
Don’t be fooled - it’s taken three years to get to this point! I still have so many ideas for the future. But it’s OK that they’re not happening right now.
I have a day job. I have my family. I have other hobbies. I can’t do everything and I don’t have to. A couple of months ago, I felt I was doing too much, and now I’ve cut that down I feel like my schedule is just right. Do I want to do more? Of course! But I know I have to wait until the right time to make another adjustment.
I have this blog, Little Branches, my Blogging Breakthrough community and my client work. If you asked me how many words I write in a week I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But on Sunday, I think it was almost 5000 😉
That’s not to say in any way that you should be aiming for that. But that’s exactly what I mean. The whole thing comes down to one person and one person alone.
Now it’s your turn - how do you manage writing content for your blog and promoting yourself online too? I’d love to know your tips!