I always describe blogging while working full-time as a rollercoaster. When it’s good, I feel like superwoman for bossing my day job while pursuing my passion. But when it’s bad, I feel overwhelmed and like my side hustle is a burden rather than a passion project that brings me fulfilment.
Last September, I was definitely going through a bad patch. Between launching a global brand during the day and trying to plan for London Fashion Week, writing and shoot blog content during the evenings and weekends, I was utterly exhausted. Nevermind trying to keep in touch with friends, remembering to eat, wanting to exercise and needing to sleep too! I had too many plates spinning in the air and I felt like I wasn’t spinning any of them well.
I tweeted about how I felt and was overwhelmed by the number of people who shared similar experiences. After some reassuring Twitter chats and realising that I was far from alone, I planned to write a blog post about the challenges of working full-time and blogging as a side hustle…but it’s taken a whole year to finally put pen to paper. Ah, the joys of having too much to do and too little time to do it in!
I’ve been working full-time whilst blogging for a decade. There was a time when I used to blog every single day after finishing work, after attending events, after meeting friends for dinner. I was averaging about four hours sleep a night, it was utterly exhausting and not rewarding in the slightest. Sometimes I was simply writing words for the sake of writing words. I was uninspired and grew to resent blogging. The crazy thing is, no one put this pressure on me. I put it on myself.
Kenzie from Lemonade Lies can sympathise with the effect of putting too much pressure on yourself, stating “there are so many ways you can do both [working full-time and blogging] efficiently, just don’t burn the wick at both ends because it can make you resent things. If push came to shove most would give up their blog over employment so make sure you keep your love and passion for it and do what works for you”.
I soon realised blogging daily while working full-time was completely unsustainable and stopped putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Actually, I took the pressure off completely by taking a little haitus from blogging. I felt so demotivated and needed time to figure out whether I still loved blogging and what I was doing it for.
Jazmine from Jazzabelle’s Diary also admitted that motivation is something she struggles with, as she works in social media and marketing for her job, the last thing she wants to do in her downtime is…social media, writing and marketing! She told me “lacking motivation can be frustrating, as I would love to post more, however right now the most important thing in my life is maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and if that means spending less time on my blog, then that’s something I’m happy to do.”.
After taking a little sabbatical, I came to the realisation that I really love blogging – the creativity, writing, connecting with people around the world and sharing my perspective. I just didn’t like putting myself under a ton of pressure and losing my passion and motivation. This was a real lightbulb moment for me. I decided to figure out how to pursue my passion without killing myself in the process.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve reached a happy medium where I aim to blog once a week. If I don’t manage to find the time, I’m ok with that – and hope you are too! Sometimes I still struggle to find a balance but 80% of the time I have it down. The key has been being smart with my time and realistic with what I promise myself I will deliver.
Laura from Lelore also struggles with finding the time to manage working and blogging side-by-side but she maximises her commuting time to “keep on top of emails and social media, and also to schedule tweets. I tend to do the majority of my writing and photo editing at the weekend so that if work gets a bit hectic during the week my content is still ready to go”.
After finding a healthy work/blog balance and renewing my passion for my side hustle, I wanted to share five tips which have really helped me.
1. Create an achievable plan
When I was blogging every day, I had no one to blame but myself. When I took a step back and looked at what I wanted to achieve through blogging, it was storytelling and communicating. My goal was not to be a one-woman content factory! I cut down to blogging once a week as I felt it was achievable but still pushed me to create blog content with a regular schedule. I also set boundaries for Instagram content, aiming to post once a day.
2. Embrace the power of lists
Now that you have a plan, it’s easier to figure out how and when you’re going to create your content. Sarah from Sarah Jayne Potter’s top tip for managing her time efficiently is “a lot of lists!! I also now don’t promise coverage or blogs asap. I set dates and deadlines and give myself enough breathing space to be able to take photos, do the write-up and still manage to have a social life! If I get ideas on the go, I make sure I document it on my phone so I don’t forget.”.
3. Become a time management ninja
With a plan in hand and a list of tasks to whizz through, the next step is finding the time. After working all day, I protect my evenings as my sacred time – to catch up with friends, work out or just potter around my flat. I would rather carve out some time at the weekend to do my blog-work and allow myself some time to decompress in the evenings.
I shoot my blog images once a month, packing a little suitcase of outfits to shoot all in one go rather than trying to shoot weekly. This really helps me plan ahead as my images must have cohesion with my written content. Planning a month in advance helps to capture all of my ideas so that when I sit down to write, I have a rough outline of what I want to cover.
Instagram content is much trickier. I’m just not very interesting Monday-Friday and it’s dark by the time I finish work so I can’t capture any content during the week. To remedy this, I create content during the weekend that I can post throughout the week. In the depths of winter, it’s easier to shoot IG content on Saturday and Sunday morning and write blog content in the evening.
4. Automate as much as possible
I’m a huge advocate of scheduling content. Being a blogger is more than just writing and posting to a blog, you have to think about Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest too. WordPress and Blogger both have in-product scheduling which makes queuing up blog content super easy, though I rarely have more than the next blog post ready to go.
There are a number of different tools available to schedule tweets on Twitter but I prefer Hootsuite. I first started using it years ago when I managed social media for brands so it feels intuitive to use. I use it to schedule tweets promoting my blog posts throughout the day but I prefer using the app to actually use Twitter and engage with my community.
I personally don’t like or trust the in-product scheduling on Instagram. On more than a couple of occasions, I’ve been logged out of the app and all of my scheduled posts have disappeared. I have recently started using Planoly to schedule IG posts. It’s an official Instagram partner and you can add a location and tag accounts in your image. It allows you to save groups of hashtags to upload to your images. You can also drag and drop images to see how your feed looks to make sure you’re happy with your grid.
Now, I know Pinterest is a tricky platform for some bloggers but I really love it both for inspiration and driving traffic to my blog. I only have 3k followers but my monthly views are currently 85k! I’ve achieved this by pinning little and often, that’s the key to seeing growth. I use Tailwind to schedule my Pins however, they have recently launched an in-product scheduler which I’m going to use now.
5. Blog support system
Last but not least, I find it super important to have a blog support system. This is a mixture of blogger and non-blogger friends who I can vent to or turn to for comfort. With all the planning and will in the world, it’s still very difficult to manage to blog alongside a full-time job. Blogging is a graft and a hell of a lot goes on behind the scenes. Make sure you have plenty of people to both cheer you on and pick you up when you’re down. This is true of life as much as it’s true of blogging.
And there you go, my top tips to balance your work/blog/life balance. I’d love to hear your tips so leave a comment below!