MUST-HAVE TOOLS YOU NEED TO BALANCE YOUR BLOG ALONGSIDE YOUR 9-5
While some of you may dream of one day being a full-time blogger, quitting your day job to pursue this goal isn’t always achievable.
And for those of you who are quite happy running your blog alongside your day job, I completely get how overwhelming it can be.
But just because you’re up to your ears in blog work and haven’t had an evening off during the week in ages, doesn’t mean you should lose hope.
Instead, you should work smarter and use tools that can help you succeed at your day job as you grow your blog, working on your own terms.
A successful blog starts with a really great website. In many cases, this means a place where you can showcase your content, promote yourself and tell people what you have to offer. Plus, it’s good to look attractive and be easy to navigate.
And behind every website is a great platform that keeps everything ticking over and keeps your website ‘live’ so new and current readers can come to your site whenever they want.
I started off on Blogger, but I wish I’d gone right in and started on Squarespace, which is what I use now. With a fantastic support team, customisable templates and monthly fees that cost less than a magazine subscription, you’re getting your worth with Squarespace.
There is also a detailed analytics section that makes it super easy to keep track of your stats on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
As an added bonus, you can also claim your own domain when you set up your Squarespace website. Not only that, but you can even connect your domain to G Suite and get a custom email address for your brand.
Although you have set hours with your day job and a particular place where you need to work, with your blog, you have complete flexibility. You can work where you’re happiest, whether that’s from your desk in the spare room, with your feet up on the sofa or a coffee shop. The point is that you’re choosing to work where you’re most productive.
For me, it’s at home in my new office. And I absolutely love it: coworker pets, managing your own time and being able to do it in your PJs with your favourite music playing are all things I enjoy when I’m working on my blog from home.
But this situation can also cause productivity to become the enemy, when you’ve also got other tasks you need to do (like general chores, making tea, exercising and so on).
To keep on track with your blog, I highly recommend you use some productivity tools. There are so many different apps and programs out there that can really help you make the most of the time you have when you’re working on your blog.
My two favourites are Asana, which acts as my overall online to-do list and Toggl, which tracks my hours. You can tick things off Asana as you complete tasks and track your time in Toggl to see which tasks you spend the longest on. You might be surprised!
When you start a blog - whether you blog about fashion, beauty, interiors, travel, business or anything in between - you’ve got a lot of deadlines that you need to keep track of.
And don’t forget all those Twitter chats you need to take part in, that sponsored post you need to put together and remember that guest post you said you’d write for someone last week? It can be a lot to deal with - so how do you make sure you stay on track?
Calendars of course! By using different calendars, you can keep up to date with your deadlines, the Twitter chats you can take part in weekly and anything else you need to be aware of for your blog. You can even set reminders on your phone to make sure you’re ahead of the game!
Think of your calendar as your best friend. I have three - an editorial calendar in a Google Doc where I keep track of my blog and newsletter content; a written calendar in my bullet journal with everything coming up (that I track monthly and weekly); and finally, my diary and Google Calendar on my phone which both have all the important dates I’ve got coming up.
By having these various systems in place it helps keep different aspects of your online presence separate which will make you more productive when it comes to your blog.
It doesn’t matter what kind of blog you run or how long you’ve been running it for - you’re always wearing multiple hats. And because there’s always so much to do, from writing, to photo taking to promotion, you need a way to manage your tasks so everything gets completed on time.
This is where a project management tool comes in, to make sure all aspects of your online presence are moving in the same direction. As I said earlier, Asana is my favourite. You can organise every single area of your online presence, prioritise tasks and create to-do lists for different projects.
My advice would be to experiment with different ones so you can make sure you pick the one that’s best for you. Once you’ve gotten started with it, put it to good use as you work to grow your online brand.
Let’s be honest - you save so many different files as a blogger. From downloading images to Word documents with your content, your desktop can become cluttered and some items can even go missing (been there!)
Instead of storing everything just on your computer, there are two other things you can do. One is to use a storage system online like Google Drive. You can categorise everything into files and it makes sure that in the event of your laptop burning out, you can still access those files from any other device.
You’ll never lose your work on Google Drive because it’s all safely tucked away in the files that you oh so brilliantly created. Plus, Google Drive has loads of space. I’ve been using it for nearly four years and haven’t yet run out.
You can also get yourself a hard drive, which is especially useful for all you vloggers out there. Video takes up a lot of space, so clear your computer and get it saved on a hard drive so you know you’ve still got access to it.
Average email users receive an average of 88 emails per day. That’s seven days a week. 365 days every year. I don’t know about you but my inbox is my own worst enemy. You’re already balancing your blog alongside your day job and you’ve got to add an inbox on top of that too?
Instead of being fearful of your inbox, make it work in your favour. Don’t think of it as a regular inbox - think of it as a to-do list. There are tools such as Sortd that allow you to turn emails into tasks and categorise them into different lists so you can keep track of them. Plus, you can also make notes on anything you need to action or follow up on (and you can colour code everything!)
If you’re a person who really struggles with their inbox, I wrote a post recently about how you can become the boss of it!
Social media tools are my absolute favourite.
As a blogger, social media is your way of attracting readers to the open door of your blog. But you can also spend a lot of wasted time on social platforms if you aren’t using them effectively. You’re tweeting, posting, snapping and pinning on a daily basis to market yourself - shouldn’t you spend more time actually writing your content and making your site the best it can be?
There are ways to make you spend less time on social media and these come in the form of automation tools. Instead of having to make sure you’re send out five tweets a day about your latest blog post, you can get it boxed off in 15 minutes while you’re having your breakfast before work.
From Buffer to Hootsuite and Tailwind to Planoly - there are a whole host of social media automation tools to choose from. Make sure you’re aware of the platforms you’re using and sign up for tools that match those platforms. Whichever tools you go for, you can be guaranteed that you will spend a lot less time manually updating your social platforms - and growing your online presence more in the process.
If it does get to the point where you’re making a chunk of money from your blog, or your run a business on the side instead, don’t be afraid to outsource! There’s only so much you can do and you might come to a point where you need to enlist some extra help. You can delegate the tasks and decide what you do and don’t want to work on.
There are different websites you can go to to try and hunt for applicants. But my best bet is to start off with who you know. Find someone who knows their stuff and who you trust - it’s your work remember! If you hate scheduling your social media or managing your inbox, hire a VA or Online Business Manager to take those tasks away from you. If you hate writing content as a business owner, enlist a writer to do it for you. That way, you can work IN your online presence doing the tasks and projects that mean the most to you.
The best thing to do now is pick a tool and get started. This is the hardest step, but once you get going, you’ll be much better off. With smart tools in place like the ones listed here, you can manage your online presence with confidence, knowing you’re doing what it takes to get the job done.
So, what are you waiting for? Set a goal, try a tool and get started. Your day job might not be there forever - but your blog will be.
What tools help you when it comes to balancing your blog or biz alongside your 9-5? Share your thoughts in the comments!