One of the biggest challenges for busy bloggers is time management. With no boss hovering over you barking orders and expecting deadlines to be met, you must figure out a way to manage yourself effectively if you have hopes of being a successful blogger.
It's far too easy to get distracted while doing "research" online. How many times have you started off researching an article topic to find yourself two hours later watching a non-related Youtube video?
That happens to me almost daily and I'm attempting to keep to a loose schedule which I'll share in this post. With multiple blogs to maintain, it is essential for me to schedule my daily tasks. Otherwise I'm far less productive.
Allotting time to research, write, edit, post an article with images and share it around is just one aspect of maintaining a blog. Other important tasks include answering emails, dealing with potential advertisers, engaging in social media, phone calls, search engine optimization, technical issues, and so much more.
Make no mistake, blogging for a living is a lot of work, but it's well worth the effort and certainly much more rewarding than trying to please an annoying boss. Yet, you must have enough discipline to be your own whip cracker and stay on task, especially if you work at home with countless other distractions.
If you ask my wife, my schedule isn't nearly strict enough to accommodate my domestic duties. I beg to differ, literally on my hands and knees sometimes.
Time management is a never-ending challenge, but particularly when you're new to setting your own schedule. After six years without a boss, my schedule has become somewhat refined. However, life inevitably happens and things get thrown off track sometimes. So, it's best to prioritize your tasks and to be flexible.
If I have a day where things are out of whack and I only have a few hours to work, there are a few things that still must be done. Although creating new content should be every blogger's primary focus, it is not the priority when you have limited time.
My priorities on days like these are answering email, approving and responding to comments, and checking in with social media. It doesn't sound like much, but emails can get extensive especially for advertisers. Comments for multiple blogs can easily consume an hour, and social media can range from minutes to hours depending on your level of engagement.
In my opinion, these are crucial things that must be done daily (including weekends) in order to maintain your blog. If I have time after these tasks are complete, I usually spend it researching or framing out a new article, or updating my SEO tools.
Not having an alarm clock is one of the best things about being a full-time blogger. Since I wake up when I want to in the morning, my schedule is not clock sensitive. Instead, it's set up in blocks of time that are allotted for certain duties.
Work Hour 1 -- Communication: The first hour of the day is dedicated to answering email and handling any necessary phone calls. Many emails can affect how the rest of your day plays out, therefore I recommend getting to them early and determine which ones need immediate action. For instance, there may be a new advertiser that needs a placement, or a time-sensitive guest post submission that needs formatting, or a phone call that needs to be made to partners or to freelancers.
Work Hour 2 -- Posting and Sharing: Since the morning hours seem to be the most opportune time to post and share new articles, I usually spend an hour or so on this. Although I schedule most of my posts to publish automatically, it's best to handle guest posts and syndicated material at this time. Having your blog automatically syndicate your posts to social media accounts will save time, but I also use this time to share my posts with websites who may re-publish my content.
Work Hours 3, 4, & 5 -- Writing: For me, the morning is my most productive time to be creative. I use this time to write something original everyday and I'll typically spend 2-3 hours writing in the morning. It may be to complete an article I already started or to work on a new one, but I always have something in the works. Sometimes there may be several articles in draft that need to be completed but it helps to focus on one at a time.
Lunch: Many times I have a short working lunch where I eat by my laptop while surfing for article ideas or researching. And sometimes I have really long lunches with my family. Ahh, the joys of working from home.
Work Hour 6 -- SEO and Social Media: I'm always a bit tired after lunch, so I don't like to do anything that requires too much thinking. It's the perfect time to build backlinks to my articles with my SEO tools. I use a social bookmarking tool that only takes a few minutes a day to manage, but the other requires some writing to properly place my backlinks. Social media maintenance typically only requires responding to some comments, sending a few Tweets and posting a thought-provoking quote or question on my Facebook walls. I may also follow some new people or comment on other's walls to spread my reach.
Work Hours 7 & 8 -- Edit and Post: After an afternoon coffee that helps bring about a second wind, I polish and prepare any articles that will be posted the following day. Most will just need a final proofread, some formatting or an image added. If I finish this quickly, I will return to other articles that are in draft and continue to research those topics.
As you can see, it's a relatively uncomplicated schedule, but I'd be lying is I said it ended there. Since I manage several blogs, these tasks are multiplied and it is rare that I work less than 10 hours per day. Sure I can get away with less if I wanted to, but I like to go at my own pace and often get distracted. I also love what I do and time flies when you're having fun.
Leveraging Your Time
I don't know a single successful blogger that does everything alone. One of our blogs has three full-time partners and one full-time employee along with multiple contributors and freelancers that are needed from time to time, and it still feels like we fall behind in what we want to accomplish.
You'll quickly learn your limitations as your blog grows and it's important to learn to leverage your time. Whether it's simply hiring a freelancer to design your logo or to write articles for your blog, or taking on a partner or hiring full-time help, learning to delegate certain tasks will allow you more time to focus on the areas where you excel.
It's helpful to learn enough about each necessary task (which you'll naturally do while building up your blog) to be able to properly delegate it out to others. It will save you money to be as organized as possible in what you require of them.
Make sure any money you invest to free up your time is used grow your blog further, otherwise you may be just trading some of your income for more free time.
Ultimately, bloggers can work as little or as much as they want, but your income will be directly determined by how hard and how smart you work. When you begin to make some money from your blog you'll quickly begin to sense this correlation of effort in versus income out. It is a very motivating feeling which may lead you to work longer hours. But if you are organized with a schedule, you can be productive enough to be a full-time blogger without killing yourself.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
J.P. Hicks is an info-activist, digital nomad, pro blogger, editor of Blog Tips and author of a book about blogging. Follow @ Twitter, or like on Facebook and get the FREE ebook SEO For Bloggers.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It's okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and links remain intact.
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