One of the hottest allures of blogging is how it can free you from the confines of a normal job.
But what if your current job is so demanding that your blog can never take off?
How do you manage both while still earning enough to live?
For many readers – like this one who wrote in last week – this problem is his reality. And it’s dream-crushing.
So in today’s post, I’d like to explain several things I do and DON’T DO to manage a growing blog and a normal job too (I content manage some old-school nyc.gov sites, for those who did not know).
As usual: My ideas are never quite complete, so If you’ve been here too, please help! And check out the conclusion for a sharp little question I’ll ask.
19 realities of the blog life
Here are several DOs and DON’Ts that have allowed me to keep an edge on blogging even as life gets busy. If you have any questions, just reference the # in the comments and we’ll talk through it!
1. DO create a daily routine for weekdays and weekends. Wake up early and don’t force productivity when you should be relaxing. Reserve some outdoors time on your days off, too.
2. DON’T check your email more than 3 times a day. Once in the morning and once after lunch. If you absolutely must, once before bed. You don’t need to exert more effort or waste time deleting and archiving the same crap.
3. DO set monthly goals you know you can complete ahead of schedule. This is one of my favorites. Set a goal of 100 new subscribers, or 100 comments, or $100 deposited in your PayPal you know is going to make you feel good, yet is well within your reach. Once you hit the goal, you’ll feel more relaxed for the rest of the month and get ahead for the next.
4. DON’T measure success by amount of money earned. Danger, danger – tsk tsk tsk. Don’t force yourself to earn money or you’ll squeeze the life out of your content. Almost every established blogger will tell you the money comes in easier when you’re not focusing on it, sending repeated emails to clients, and generally looking at the glass as half empty. Spend this time challenging yourself with new projects that can blossom and bulge your pockets in the next few months.
5. DO outsource, starting now. The days of being a glorious multi-tasker are long gone, and it reality, this kind of do-it-all-myself is what increases stress and leads someone to leave a blog. Things like logo design, SEO maintenance and editorial are all covered at affordable rates by nice people you can find online. Think of yourself, and your creative expertise, as highly valuable and in need of protecting and understand often times someone else can do a job quicker/smarter/better than you.
6. DON’T over-stress your design. I made the massive mistake on my first blog of always changing the design. Whether it was something small like moving a Facebook box to places I thought it’d get clicked more or rolling out new logos and themes, it just never seemed enough and probably confused the heck out of people. The worst part here is, people don’t tell.
7. DO make it all about the content. If you can get past the 14,000 small tasks in blogging and just keep it simple, all about your content, you’ll be able to really produce. But this is tough. What content are we even focusing on? Ideally, this content should be chunks of content your audience needs, which relates to things they’ve liked in the past. Article / video / podcast series that build on one and another are a great go to if you’re out of fresh ideas (or have too many).
8. DON’T over-edit blog posts. Pretty basic. Pump out your ideas, make it pretty, then move on.
9. DO adhere to a blog post style. Another lesson that took me several blogs to learn, a blog post style is a structure you’ve used that can form the skeleton for a new blog post. You don’t want to recreate the wheel.
Joe Lalonde is a blogger who exemplifies this point. Take a look at any two of his blog posts and you will see that he opens his post with an introductory sentence, includes a picture, writes the “meat” of his post, and ends with a strong call to action using an italicized font. He follows this outline each and every time, and his readers know what to expect when they read one of his posts. (Lorraine even wrote a guest post for him last year, Reaching Out To Others: You Have Nothing To Lose & Everything To Gain, and followed this ready-made style when doing so!)
10. DON’T mix work and play. Your blog is play, your work is work, and it’s pretty clear which one pays the rent. Yet, as things get busier, it will be tempting and fun to blend the time you’re spending on each. I would not recommend this. It can actually take away from both activities, generate lots of clutter, and even trick your brain into thinking the blogging part has become work too!
11. DO complete projects before moving on. Otherwise you will eventually feel like you’re drowning.
12. DON’T let useful moments slip away. Mornings, weekends, even just 15 minutes of quiet time here and there can all contribute to making your system work, or fail.
13. DO use your network, regularly. Perhaps the most valuable item here, so I’ll bury it and see if you can find it. If you look at all the bloggers making noise online (not excluding myself) we all have super strong networks. Favors are granted, and returned. Sure, we bloggers are usually geeking-out at the computers alone, but a few friends (and maybe a few enemies) can make blogging to a consistently large audience a whole lot easier.
14. DON’T ever take any single reader for granted. Here’s a short story. When I started blogging I looked at my analytics each day. Picture me starting a Blogger’s traffic stats each morning. The gains were almost always small, if there were gains at all! Thinking blogging was a numbers game, I set up all sorts of Facebook post blasts and Twitter direct messages schemes to get more clicks back to my blog. While the numbers did go up, so did the bounce rate. The moral here is that if you think of blogging as a numbers game instead of a people’s game, you’d be wise to just not blog at all and focus on whatever other work you’ve secured to bring the bills in. People are so smart these days that they can sniff spam a mile away. As I’ve been talking about in the newsletter recently, you want one good follower way more than 100 random ones.
15. DO make use of organic events and time frames to build momentum. Momentum following a successful blog post or guest post or some larger event is often your biggest edge to level-up your work to new heights. Fortuntately, you can keep momentum going by using naturally existence timeframes. People read email newsletters Tuesday morning. They go on Twitter between 6 and 8 p.m. They don’t share much content on Saturdays. They enjoy pictures on Thursdays. And there’s a lot more of this. Taking advantage of naturally occurring time frames where people are willing to read your post will get your work in front of more eyeballs!
16. DON’T misuse social media. It should be fun. The huge mistake many new online blogger and entrepreneurs make is thinking they need to race to 100 or 1000 likes but this is just a waste of time, and can convince you to spend time and money on endeavors like Facebook ads (not a bad thing, but only should be done at a certain point in your career).
17. DO automate whenever possible. Definitely another Dear Blogger favorite, automation is a topic that I’ve talked a bit about already. You might know what it means – but to use it is another question. I tell countless people each week to get their eBook published and loaded it up for delivery. Automation is the act of allowing your business to run without your physical presence, and as you can guess, it frees up lots of time to perform more hands-on jobs or just do something healthy like hit the gym, which can help your work later on in that day.
18. DON’T break self-made deadlines, over promise or otherwise let your reputation slip. I’d be a bold -faced liar if I said I had adhered to (or even remembered) every deadline I had set. But the problem gets more severe when other parties, especially potential network candidates, are involved. Whether you’re freelancing or just blogging or starting a whole company, you’ll be better off surprising people with little rewards than promising ones too large or difficult to deliver.
19. DO invest and reinvest. Do not ever be afraid to invest. If you make $100 this week, set aside 10-20% to invest back in the business. Investing allows your business to grow. Whether it is a new theme, a domain name, an employee, a social media management software or whatever. Every time I have invested, like in hiring my social media manager, the results have been awesome. More traffic, more followers and just a general feeling of excitement that I’m doing something new – and a bit uncomfortable – in the name of the blog makes the investment worth it.
Do you devote enough time and energy to your blog?
I know at least a handful of my readers are juggling a full-time job and a blog and maybe even a family and I have a question for you. Are you doing enough for your blog?
If not, how can we help?
Beware though, once you drop off a comment you may have to tidy things up for the community to come say hello! 😉