7 OF THE BEST WAYS TO MAXIMISE YOUR TIME AS A BLOGGER
So many people ask me the same question all the time:
How the heck do you find the time to manage your blog, create a monthly magazine and interact on social media, whilst having a full-time job and a home to run?
Do I even have a life at all?
I’ve been blogging for over three years now and working full-time for two, and recently, I had a massive breakdown when it came to my workload and had to make some changes. So while I still put a lot of effort into blogging and getting the best results I can, I also still get to exercise regularly, watch TV shows with Tom and go to wedding fairs with my mum – whoop whoop!
Now, I’m not blowing my own trumpet here. But I do want to let you know that it’s definitely possible for you – with a full-time job and all this other baggage – to get a real breakthrough with your blog and start getting the results you deserve.
I won’t lie, it’s no walk in the park and as I discovered recently, it can take up way too much of your time if you don’t manage everything properly. And as I was looking at my overall strategy, it made me realise that there’s a lot of things I do wrong, but there’s also a lot of things I do right. So today, I wanted to share with you some ways that you can maximise your time so you’re actually working smarter, not harder.
There’s something I have to tell you…
This is not anything new. I know I’m a naturally organised person and time management is one of the things I can advise people about for ages. But recently, I’ve been really struggling.
Juggling everything during this first month of 2017 has been a really challenge and I’ve really been struggling with feeling guilty and not knowing how to prioritise parts of my life. For instance, my mum made me jot down everything I needed to do for my blog this week in terms of hours, and it totted up to more than a regular work day.
That means that I’d either have to give up one full day at the weekend completely, or at least two hours every weeknight – which I should be spending with my family - to get everything done.
So, I went back to my old organisational strategies and over the past week I’ve found that I’m still able to get my work done and be productive even though I might be on limited time. The trick is to know what works best for you.
Remember: time = results.
If you don’t schedule tweets on the day your new post goes live, no one reads it. I mean, it’s a given when you create a great piece of content but don’t promote it enough.
Because you’re in charge of your blog and you can decide what work you do when, it means that when you don’t devote your time to doing certain things, you miss out on results.
But it doesn’t have to be this way – you also have the power to maximise the time you’ve got right now. So let’s get into it.
#1 | CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
For new bloggers, you should spend a big chunk of your time creating content. Why? Because that is what is going to make readers want to come back to your blog.
But having to come up with a new idea each time you go to create a piece of content is time being wasted. One thing you can do to save yourself a lot of time and energy is to create a template editorial calendar that you can use throughout the year.
I keep a list of ideas in Evernote and then fill in my calendar in Google Docs.
Whenever it comes to a new month and you need to plan content, just copy your calendar template and paste it in a new document. Make sure to remember any important holidays or posting dates and go through your list of ideas to fill in the gaps to make sure each piece of content flows into the next.
My calendar is accessible on my laptop, phone and iPad. So whenever I need to check something or it’s time to create a new piece of content, all I have to do is go to Google Docs and it’s right there waiting for me.
#2 | FIND KEY PEOPLE YOU CAN GET IDEAS FROM
Alright, I know as a blogger, networking is probably one of the most nerve-wracking things about the job. You’re already doing so much when it comes to creating content, you don’t want to have this added pressure too, right?
Actually, one of the ways that has helped me free up my time as well as maximise it is this: instead of listening to anyone and everyone, I focus my attention on a few key people.
Personally, I love Zoe, Regina and the ProBlogger blog. And they all bring something different to the table. Zoe is all about sharing her tricks and tips as she goes through starting her own business. Regina is all about helping you build that business. And ProBlogger is like a one-stop shop for everything I need.
Imagine the time it takes to go through every single blog post you’ve got to read, try out all the different tips that people tell you about AND put them into practice so you can evaluate what did and didn’t work?
Pick key influencers to get ideas from and you’ll get to try out more new things than you ever did before. Whilst I don’t read articles from these blogs every day, I always keep them on stand-by, ready to put a new strategy into practice. Next up is Zoe’s idea about gamifying your email list.
If there are key blogs that you visit every single day and devour all their posts, I’d love to know – leave your favourites in the comments!
#3 | CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA POSTING SCHEDULE
In my Blogging Breakthrough challenge, there’s a few tasks in there that will really help boost your social media presence. I truly believe that my efforts with social media have helped me grow a loyal community, land more and more readers and raised my level of influence as a blogger and digital marketer.
But posting to all your social media platforms can take SO much time. And here’s the thing…
It’s one of the biggest time wasters of all.
You go there to pin your latest blog post and half an hour later, you’ve created a brand new board with loads of new recipes you want try.
So, if I haven’t drummed it into you enough already, get yourself signed up to a free tool and start scheduling. Here are the three ones I use:
Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that automatically shares the updates you create to specific platforms – I mainly use this for Twitter.
It’s SO easy to use. Scheduling your tweets is just one click away with Buffer.
Set up your optimal posting times – more on that a little bit further down 😉 – compose your update, and with one click, you can schedule your tweets to go out at those specific times.
I schedule ten tweets per day during the week and five on a Saturday and Sunday. Usually, I get them all boxed off over breakfast.
I have been LOVING posting to Instagram lately, but you know what?
Because I’ve just been planning when and what to post as and when in my head, I usually forget. So there can be a couple of days that go by when I don’t upload a picture, purely because I’ve forgotten what time I’m supposed to post it at.
I know, there should be an easier way to do this, right? I used to set an alarm on my phone five to ten minutes before, but even then if I’m in the middle of something else I’ll forget!
Luckily, as I wanted to up my Instagram game this year and because of this, I knew I needed a better system.
Later lets you schedule all your Instagram posts AND set times for when you want them to be posted.
Then all you have to do is open it in the Instagram app, hit publish, add your hashtags and DONE.
I know. It’s great and even better, it’s free. You just add your image, create your caption and schedule it for whatever time you want.
Now I post to Instagram twice a day, Later makes this even easier to do.
Followerwonk is a free tool that analyses the activity of your Twitter followers to find out when they’re most likely to be online. It gives you a graph of optimal times that you can then sync to your Buffer account so you’ve got your own unique schedule.
Right now, I do this every Monday morning to make sure I’m staying up to date with the habits of my followers.
This has seriously helped me gain more followers, generate much more interaction and my content is shared more on Twitter too.
Although you do have to spend a bit of time getting all your updates ready for your schedule, this is one of the biggest time savers you can make.
#4 | WORK IN ORDER OF PRIORITY
My mum is SO good at helping me prioritise.
Prioritising your blog work means that instead of just working on what you feel like, you’ve got a set plan so you know exactly what task you’re working on and what’s coming up next. So instead of thinking, oh I’m really looking forward to taking images for X post – but it’s only going live in a week – you work based on what’s going live next.
I tried batching tasks but it never worked for me. Prioritising is the way to go.
So for me, my usual priority list for a blog week will be:
- Come up with headline for Tues post
- Create outline
- Write post
- Create image
- Edit and format post
- Come up with headline for Thurs post
- Create outline
- Write post
- Create image
- Edit and format post
- Write and schedule Thurs newsletter
Even though this list is usually the same every week, sometimes I might have more tasks to do than normal. For instance, last week, as it was the last week of the month, I had the Blogging Breakthrough magazine to get ready to send to subscribers on Thursday. This was an extra task, but I still did it in order of priority and got everything else done so there was only this to focus on.
#5 | PLAN YOUR TIME
Do you have a plan in place for when you’re not at work and it’s time to work on your blog?
This is SO important, because it can be so easy to get in from work and feel like you don’t want to do anything. You need the motivation to get things done and that comes from having a plan.
Setting yourself a schedule can give you some real purpose with your work and make sure you’re focused on the task in hand. I make a cup of tea before work every morning at around 7am and that’s when I schedule my tweets for the day.
I upload my first photo to Instagram about five to eight, just before I’m about to leave for work. Then I’m in day job mode.
At lunch, I get 40 minutes. Here, I always check social media and do any little tasks that I’ve yet to get done, like finish off a blog post or format one.
When I get in from work, I exercise, shower, make tea with Tom, clear up and then I’ve got time to work on my blog before Tom and I spend some time together.
It’s during this time that I refer to my weekly plan, and obviously every day will differ. Some nights I might have more jobs to do, some nights we might need to nip and get some food and other nights I might be working late.
It’s important for me to make sure that I plan my time around how much of it I actually have available – and it works.
So if you’re struggling to get tasks done when you get in from work, get yourself a weekly planner, look at how much time you’ve got available and set tasks accordingly. Only you know the amount of time it’ll take to do something.
#6 | USE A MOTIVATOR
Did you know that when you use a motivator while you work, you’ll actually work harder? I had no idea how important this would be to my productivity.
For me, it’s listening to music and that’s for two reasons: one, I’ve always been musical and two, I can’t work in silence.
So I started listening to music while I work. But it won’t be really loud drum and bass or anything like that. It’s calm, soothing music from different playlists I find on Spotify.
Sure, it’s not for everyone, but for me, there’s nothing that increases my focus like the repetitive feel of a song.
I can concentrate more and it makes me more productive. Result!
#7 | ASK FOR HELP
There’s no way I could run my blog, my house and my own life by myself, especially when the list of things involved for each is so long. I have to ask for a lot of help from my mum and Tom. Without them, I wouldn’t be blogging. My mum takes a lot off my plate and is always there to organise and support me. Tom is there to help me make decisions and to remind me why I’m doing this. They’re two great people to have by my side, especially when it comes to my frustrations!
I also ask for help when I’m going on holiday. Last year, I had guest posters for about four weeks throughout the summer and it saved me so much time and stress.
I’m going on holiday again this year and planning to reach out again to see if people want to guest post, and I can’t wait to see some of the ideas that come my way.
I also want to start doing this with the Blogging Breakthrough magazine and have other bloggers create exclusive articles for it, so it’s a purely user-generated piece of content and I’m the one that puts it altogether.
If you want to grow with your blog, the next step for you is to ask for help. Consider giving yourself a break and seeing how other people can support you.
IT’S NOT ABOUT BEING BUSY – IT’S ABOUT BEING PRODUCTIVE
Being busy isn’t necessarily a good thing – that doesn’t mean you’re getting the most work done in the time you have.
You are the boss of your blog – yes, you are! Which means that you have even extra work to do on top of your day job.
But you know what? That’s not a bad thing. If you manage it in the right way, you’ll be taking steps every day towards improving your blog.
I know it can be tough. But whatever hurdles you come up against, come back to these seven ways to maximise your time and not only will your productivity increase, but you’ll get more results too!
Now it’s your turn – how do you find extra time or save time as a blogger with a day job?