One of the biggest questions out there is how to run a successful blog when you work full time.
For most of us – whether we plan to blog full-time or not – we start out blogging around our 9-5 jobs. Some people start blogging alongside studying and others start blogging when they have children to allow them to stay at home.
Anyway, my point is, at some stage of your journey, blogging will not be the only thing you do with your time. Whilst this post is aimed at those who work full time, the tips can be applied to pretty much any situation.
If you want to turn your blog into a business, your will have to make various sacrifices at different stages of your journey. At the beginning, the biggest sacrifice you’ll need to make is probably time. Which is difficult when you don’t have much time to start with.
The truth of the matter is that the more time you dedicate to your blog, the more likely you are to be successful. There are, of course, caveats to this! For example, if you’re spending 4 hours a day making pretty images but your content isn’t up to scratch, you’re not going to be as successful as someone with amazing, high-quality content (generally speaking anyway).
So, how do you run a successful blog when you work full time?
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Make the Most of Your Time
Before we go into any more detail, this is the most important lesson I have learnt from building a blogging business whilst working full time.
Like most people, I work an average of 8 hours a day, commute for 4 hours, work out, eat, shower… Occasionally I do some laundry and cleaning too. On an average day, I’m busy for about 14-15 hours.
In addition, I post once a week, send a weekly newsletter, post on social media, engage with my audience online and work on new course material.
I don’t sleep!
…I’m joking! DO NOT DO THAT!
The real secret?
I make the most of my time.
My commute is split into two sections. I use the first hour in the morning to think. Sounds a bit odd I know, but having time dedicated to “thinking” really helps me. Sometimes I just brainstorm ideas, other times I mull over comments I’ve had on my blog.
Then I walk for an hour. This time is either spent recording my ideas from my thinking time or making a start on a new blog post or newsletter. I use voice clips on my phone for this. It’s amazing how much you can talk into your phone in an hour!
If I’m struggling with creativity (let’s face it, who isn’t at 7 am?!), I listen to podcasts to get my creative juices flowing. Sometimes I listen to business podcasts, other times I listen to motivational speeches from my good friend Carl at 2-3 Degrees. Whatever it is that I listen to, I make sure that I’m getting something out of it.
I use the rest of my day in a similar way. I post in Facebook Groups and reply to comments on my lunch break and when I’m cooking dinner.
Wherever you can, use your time wisely and make the most of it!
Know When to Stop
In the complete opposite direction of what I just said, it’s important to know when to stop.
This might sound contradictory – how can you be successful by not working?
When you’re insanely passionate about something it’s easy to push yourself. To make yourself stay awake late just to get that post finished or get up early to check your emails. It’s easy to start sacrificing things like your workouts and home cooked meals.
There comes a point where the harder you push, the less work you actually get done. It becomes a vicious cycle. You work hard, you get tired, then you continue to work hard rather than resting so you get even more tired. The more tired you become, the less you concentrate. It, therefore, takes you two, three, four times longer to complete each task meaning you have even less time to yourself to rest.
I guess this point is about making the most of your time but also about recognising that sometimes the best use of that time is to rest. In order to run a successful blog when you work full time, you need to work hard but also listen to your gut.
Planning is the best way to ensure that your blog is successful when you work full time. Planning and creating content ahead of time ensures that you’ll never feel overwhelmed or fall behind on content.
The good news is that there’s a way to plan each and every element of your blogging business. You’ll need to invest a little time (and maybe money) to set up the relevant systems but once you’re set up, you’re good to go and will save loads of time.
There are lots of different elements to planning so I’ll break them all down here:
When I started my very first blog I didn’t have a niche (which was a problem in itself!) Because I didn’t have a niche, I wrote about whatever popped into my head whenever it popped into my head. I had no structure and, because I was new to blogging and super excited each time I created a new post, I hit publish right away. Sometimes I posted twice in one day, other times it was weeks or even months before I published a new post.
And, you know what? It didn’t really work.
I got traffic when I posted sometimes but there was radio silence in between. Nothing.
Without any kind of plan, people didn’t know what to expect from me or when. After a little while, I decided to try and post three times per week. Sometimes that meant controlling the excitement and hitting “schedule” instead of “publish”. I started to see an improvement in my traffic but I also started to feel a lot more pressure.
It would get to the day that I was supposed to be publishing something and I’d be using my lunch break to throw something together. Other times, I just wouldn’t publish anything at all.
So then…you guessed it…I started to plan ahead.
Fast forward 5 years and I have no idea how I would be able to run this site and work full time without a content calendar!!
There are a couple of ways that you can create your content calendar. The trick is to find one that really works for you.
Initially, I got really excited at the thought of being organised and tried to plan my content for a whole year. Yep. A whole year. I gave up on that pretty quickly!
Now I plan a month at a time, either one to two months in advance. So, right now (June) I’m planning my content for August. In July, I’ll be planning for September. I like to have that buffer because life happens. Sometimes we get ill, sometimes we just need a break! Being 1-2 months ahead means that if I do take a couple of weekends off, I still have content ready to go and I’m not scrapping around looking for ideas.
Generally speaking, I pick a topic for the month and then think of 4 or 5 post ideas that fit into that overarching topic. I also draw inspiration from topics that are being discussed in Facebook Groups and ideas that other bloggers in my niche are writing about. If other people are discussing or asking questions about a certain topic it means that there could be a gap in the information out there that you could fill.
Knowing what to write about in advance means that you can start writing the posts in advance too. And that’s one of the biggest reasons that I’m able to run a successful blog whilst working full-time. It means that when I have a few hours spare – whether in an evening or at the weekend – I can sit down with my laptop, content calendar and just write a blog post or two and schedule it ahead of time.
This follows on from planning ahead with your content calendar. Knowing what date that you want to publish your post means that you can use WordPress to schedule it.
This might seem like something really simple that doesn’t really make a difference but it really, really does!
Imagine that you’ve been really organised, have a great content calendar and you’ve worked really hard on creating an amazing blog post. You plan to publish on your site at 7 pm every Tuesday and Thursday. Thursday comes round, you get caught in a late meeting, your train gets delayed, you go out for a quick drink or 4 after work….whatever it is, something happens. You get home, fall into bed and then it hits you. You forget to publish that post.
Now it’s not the end of the world if this happens, but part of building a loyal audience and driving traffic to your site is a consistency in your publishing. But, more than anything, it’s about making you feel in control.
There’s nothing worse for your business than self-criticism!
So, once you’ve finished a post, use the box in the top right-hand corner of your WordPress screen to schedule it ahead of time.
In the “Publish” box, click on the “edit” button next to “Publish”. Here you can put in any time or date. Once you’ve done that, scroll down and hit the “Schedule” button.
Once your post is scheduled, you can start scheduling promotional social media updates before the post is even live! How organised is that?!
General time management aside, the most difficult part of running a blog whilst working full time, is being present on Social Media. We all know that one of the key ways to get traffic to your blog is to engage with your audience online and promote your content on social media.
But the question is, how do you appear to be online all day every day when you’re at work.
HINT: the answer is not to just be on social media whilst you’re at work!
There are different ways you can manage your varying social media accounts whilst still working full time so I’ll break them down.
Twitter and Facebook
The key to keeping on top of your Twitter and Facebook accounts is by scheduling.
I use and absolutely adore Hootsuite.
With Hootsuite, you can keep your social presence active 24/7 by automatically scheduling posts to fill the gaps in your scheduled content. As with most social media schedulers, you still need to find the time to log in and curate each update.
With the pro version of Hootsuite, you can save time and effort by uploading, editing, and scheduling hundreds of social media posts at once, in CSV format.
The bulk uploader allows me to schedule a whole heap of updates in a really short time, meaning that it can be done around my full time working hours. Once the updates are all uploaded, I can be “present” on social media even when I’m at work.
One of my favourite time-saving features on Hootsuite is the Hootlet Extension. I spend a lot of my blogging time interacting with, reading and commenting on other blogs. I also love to share other people’s content. Not only is it a great way to support fellow bloggers but it’s also a perfect way to break up the content you’re sharing. No one wants to follow a social media account that simply promotes your own work and nothing else.
The Hootlet Chrome Extension allows you to schedule sharing whatever it is that you’re reading at the click of a button, without having to leave the site that you’re on.
Pinterest is a big deal for bloggers. It’s also extremely time-consuming.
The recommended number of pins per day is between 40 and 50. And you want to be pinning during times that your audience is most active. However, you don’t want to be pinning all 50 at the same time.
Boardbooster is a fantastic tool that can be used to schedule your pins at times chosen by you or, at optimum times determined by Boardbooster based on when your audience is most active. You can find out how to make the most of Pinterest using Boardbooster here.
By scheduling your pins, you can be signposting readers and be driving traffic to your site when you’re at work!
I’ll keep things on Instagram brief as it only takes a couple of seconds to post on Instagram. This means that, for a lot of people, Instagram is one of the more easily manageable platforms.
But, when you want to run a successful blog whilst working full-time, you want to save as much time as possible!
I schedule my Instagram posts for the month ahead (usually on a Sunday afternoon). The first step in this process is for me to find some stock images that fit my theme. At the moment, I’m loving Color U Bold and Ivory Mix but you can find a longer list here.
I then use Canva to crop them and, where I want to, add text over the images.
Next, I schedule them out, one photo each day for the whole month using Later. Later is an amazing little app that allows you to schedule your posts in advance. Later also gives you a 9 square grid view to ensure that your feed looks exactly how you want it. You can then drag your scheduled posts around to an order that you’re happy with.
Social Media Content Calendar
Trying to run a successful blog when you work full time requires a huge amount of planning.
So, it probably comes as no surprise that a social media content calendar features here.
You might think that this is a waste of time if you’re planning your social media updates on tools such as Hootsuite, Boardbooster and Later already. I promise you it’s not!
Having an overarching social media content calendar means that you can keep your accounts aligned. You can also use it to plan out big “events” such as a product launch or maybe just a series of updates around a public event/holiday like Mother’s Day.
Being able to come home after work and know exactly what type of content you need to schedule not only makes the task easier but also takes away the stress.
Other Time Savers
The single biggest hurdle I face in running a successful blog and working full time is being overwhelmed. I have wasted hours of blogging time staring at my screen, freaking out, not knowing where to start.
There is, of course, a very simple way to avoid this (most of the time)! And that is to create a planning and recording system for every element of your blog.
This is where I can help you.
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Keeping your information in one place and staying organised will help you run a successful blog whilst working full time.
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