The life of a blogger is not an easy one. There’s little glamor in sitting in front of a computer screen in your pajamas drafting an article all day. While there are Urban Legends about the blogger who finds the gold at the end of the rainbow and now earns millions in passive income with little or no work, the reality is that blogging is a full time job. And like anything else in life, the rewards are proportional to the amount of work you put into the job. To top it off, it takes months, sometimes years for a blog to become recognized as an authority in the field. Many people arrive at blogging as a hobby or a second source of income. I am one of those people.
I hold a full time job, I have a child and a home to maintain. At 8 am I go to my day job, at 5 pm, I come home, sometimes I stay late to make sure my work is done right. At home, I spend time with my wife and 2 year old son. Quality time with my family holds a high priority in my life. To top it off, I have no technical background and training, I am learning wordpress and html as I go. How do I balance keeping my blog going with the other responsibilities in my life? If this sounds like you, then you may want to read on about how I keep going.
This is the first key to your success. The reality is that you need to enjoy what you are doing or it will seem like a chore to you. This applies not just to your blog, but to your other areas in your life. If you are going to be able to properly balance your life, you must enjoy what you are doing. This is the only way that you will be able to focus and put your full effort into what you are doing. If you hate your job and it’s an effort just to get out of bed and get dressed in the morning, you’ll come home feeling drained and tired, it’ll be hard for you to get on that computer and write a blog post, or you just won’t feel up to leaving a quality comment for someone else. Find a way to get that balance in other areas of your life, so you can focus on enjoying your blog.
As it applies to your blog, find a niche you really enjoy. When I got into blogging, I was really looking to expand my horizons on making some extra money and learning a new skill while I was doing it. With the economy the way it is, money is on everyone’s mind. I actually find it therapeutic to be learning a skill and writing about a new way to make a second source of income. As it turns out, I stumbled on the most competitive niche in the market, but I am also the type of personality that thrives on the competition. The reality is, I could likely find a money making niche in a less competitive field, but I really enjoy learning about SEO and affiliate marketing. If you’re having fun, then it just doesn’t seem like work, right?
Research Your Niche
This is really the first step in blogging in general. But it’s all the more important when you are on a time constraint. Why is that? You need to stay focused on your niche and what your blog has to offer. It’s very easy to get off topic in blogging. You may start writing about a general topic and realize that there’s about 20 different sub-topics to that post. But going off on all those tangents is not only time consuming, but it may dilute the focus of your blog. When you find a general niche that you want to blog about, take some time to jot down a mission statement. What is the topic of your blog and what does it give back to others?
Spend some time reading up on the subject so you have a clear understanding about the nuances in your niche. The time that you spend up front doing this research will pay off dividends later on. Spend some time visiting other blogs. join some newsletters. Believe it or not, newsletters are not just sales pitches. Many of them give you a lot of free information about your niche. This way, you don’t have to go out and hunt for information, it’s sent right to you.
The better you know your niche, the more time it will save you in the long run.
Budgeting your Expenses
If blogging is just a hobby, then you could probably go with one of the free platforms out there. But at some point in time, you’re hoping that it becomes a solid source of income, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my blog, right? If that’s the case, then you must invest in your blog. At a minimum, you’ll need to host your own domain. Don’t worry there are a number of low cost options out there. I discuss a couple in my other article on hosting options. But you’ll have to decide what is an acceptable budget that you would want to spend on your blog aside from just the hosting.
You may not plan on spending money on your blog in the beginning, but at some point you’ll realize that some products can be extremely helpful to your blog’s success. I’m going to come out and say it right now: Money is not going to buy you success in blogging, it can only buy you efficiency. There are products out there that can save you days of time and effort. At some point, you may realize that you’ll have to make some purchases.
But you don’t want to over spend on your blog either. Come up with a rule. It can be as simple as agreeing not to spend any money until you’ve made a profit. Or you can budget $20 a month on your blog. Whatever it is, this will keep you from making spur of the moment purchases on over-hyped products. If you have a budget, you’ll tend to read up more and research your products more before hitting that buy button. Also, it will help if you promote a product for you to be able to discuss it in depth and say to others that this is a product that you personally use.
Managing Your Time
The key to your continued success is time management. How do I balance my other responsibilities with running a blog? It all comes down to time management and multi-tasking. I blog in the car, I blog in the shower, I blog on my lunch breaks. What do I mean by this? Blogging is not just the process of sitting down and writing up some posts. You actually spend a lot of time thinking. If I waited until actually sitting down at the computer to think about what to write, it would add hours to my project.
Instead, I think about my upcoming posts when I’m doing other things. On my commute to work or when I’m in the shower, while I do the dishes, I’ll think up my next topic. Or better yet, I’ll think up several topics. Keep a way to take quick notes. I will sometimes take out my phone and leave myself a voice memo if I come up with an idea. If I didn’t I would forget about my topic or lose track. One benefit to thinking up several posts at once is that you can have some flow to your topics. I can plan several related topics at once. When I think on my topics like this, many times I’ll come up with a post title and even a basic outline of what I want the article to say before I ever put pen to paper.
So when do I actually work on my blog? Well, during the weekdays, I tend to spend more than one session working on my posts. Often times, I find that I can get a good flow early in the morning on a topic that I’ve slept on the night before. I’ll start and spend 30 minutes before everyone wakes up to write a paragraph or two. Then I may take my laptop out during my lunch break and finish off my post. In the evenings, after work is when I tend to do my blog surfing and commenting. Generally all the off page SEO.
I’ll save the really big projects for the weekends. A particularly lengthy article I plan to write, or working on my theme. I will try to take a day on a weekend to take care of the projects I know will take more than a couple of hours.
As you can see, I try to take advantage of all my spare time, but I also work out ways to do things in an efficient manner on my blog. I research various programs and plugins that can help me save time. I’ve spent time looking for an SEO optimized theme, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time working on the meta data in my site. I’ve found a service that helps me out with guest posting. I have a plugin that helps me post product descriptions on occasion. I believe I’ve found some of the best solutions out there to help me run my blog in an efficient manner.
Make sure you have an SEO Optimized theme. I use a free premium wordpress them called Hybrid News. Before I changed to this them, I was a month into my bog without getting fully indexed. Once I changed to this theme, I was fully indexed within a few days and I started seeing organic traffic from search results. This is a real life example of how something as simple as a good theme can really make a huge difference in the money making potential of your blog. You really don’t want to spend hours plugging in meta data. A good theme will optimize this task for you.
One of the most helpful services I found was the Free Traffic System. This is basically a post exchange service. It allows me to write an article with a backlink to my site and then select from a number of their subscribed blogs to publish my article. Their free service allows me to publish to 30 blogs, while their paid service allows 40 blogs, as well as allowing you to plug in more links into your articles. Depending on your needs the service is an excellent way to start building some backlinks in an efficient manner. However, the second part of their service has been a great boon to me as well. They allow you to submit your blog so that other authors can submit their posts directly to your blog. These are actual human beings writing original content. While I do read through and reject the articles that are poorly written or are simply product pitches, I’ve gotten some decent content from this service. I would say the only downside, is that sometimes I get multiple posts coming in within a couple hours time span. But given the amount of time this service saves me overall, having content come in too quickly is a small sacrifice. I’m not a big fan of autopsying actual content. I don’t want to plagiarize from others, and I don’t like the idea of unoriginal content. The Free Traffic System has really allowed me to automatically publish original content with a human touch behind it when I am strapped for time.
While, I don’t use autoblogging software for actual content, I do find that it’s helpful if you want to post a product description every once in a while. A product description isn’t as detailed as a personal written review, but it’s good for introducing a book or a piece of software and I still get clickthroughs and affiliate salves from them. For that, I use WP Robot. WP Robot has a number of modules if you do want to pull other content. If you don’t want to pull other content, you don’t have to purchase their full package. I have the basic package, which is free, and just got the Amazon module, which is $40. This allows me to plug in a search term, which will automatically pull matching Amazon products and create posts using the product description and my affiliate link. WP Robot is a real time saver for promoting Amazon products.
I also use several of MaxBlogPress Plugins. Their ping optimizer is great for ensuring that I ping all the major directories with every post, the strip ad at the top allows me to plug in several affiliate links that it will show randomly. Their NinjaAffiliate Link Plugin allows me to preset keywords to certain affiliate links, which will then automatically propagate in my posts. If you’ve ever had to go through your posts and manually create your affiliate links, you’ll know how much of time this plugin saves. Several of their plugins are free, so if you have a limited budget, you can stick with their free plugins, which still provide great features.
Finally, if you are getting enough traffic, you’ll want to get some ad management software. This way, you can automate the buying and selling of the ad space on your blog. Any process that you can automate is really going to help you become successful in blogging. For this, you’ll want to look into OIO Publisher Direct. This is the most popular and effective plugin for automating your ad space. This is a $47 plugin, but you can get $10 off with our coupon code: WINDFALL-JOURNEY.
These are just a few services and plugins that are useful in helping you become more efficient with your time. You can take a look at my other post, Themes, Plugins, and Widgets Oh My to see a complete list of plugins that I use on this blog. The reality is that you don’t need to spend any money on premium services and plugins. You can duplicate almost all this functionality, however it will take you time and effort to do so. As a part time blogger, being efficient with my time is a key ingredient to becoming successful. These are just a few things to help you save time on your path as a blogger.
As a part time blogger, I make an effort to find a balance between all the different responsibilities that I have. The key is being efficient with your time and really enjoy what you do. If at some point, you feel like your blog is a grind and it’s more of a job or a chore than you realized, then put it down and take a break from it. Come back to it when you feel like you can really enjoy it. This is the only way to create good value for yourself and for your community.