Last week I asked everyone about the biggest blogging battles that they face. It turns out that time management is a huge issue – many people want to blog but just can’t find the time.
This is a pretty big problem.
If you want to run a successful blog but can’t find the time to do any work you’re setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun.
Today I’m going to share some strategies that have worked for me over the years in the hope that they give you something to work with.
My own quest to make time for blogging
This is an issue that I’ve faced a lot in my career.
When I first started blogging seriously I was in University studying a business degree and spending most of my time in the computer labs working on blogs instead of assignments. Eventually I sold a blog for $20,000 and dropped out in order to do more blogging.
But then the bills started to pile up and I realised that I needed something to supplement the income that I was making. I then set up a web design agency and used the money I made to fund blogging projects. When that was first gearing up I even worked as a cleaner in the morning just so I had time in the afternoon for my own work.
Over time I started to spend all of my energy working on clients’ projects instead of my own. By the end of the day I didn’t have anything left and as such my own businesses really started to fade.
Something had to change.
It wasn’t until I made the terrifying decision to get rid of all of my clients that my blogging business really started to flourish. It freed up 100% of my time to work on the things that I was passionate about, growing a business that was my own and that I genuinely cared about.
Throughout all of that I’ve picked up a few tips that I think might be useful to some bloggers struggling with similar issues.
Let’s take a look.
How to find more time for blogging
As always, these tips are based on my own experience and so might not work equally as well for you.
It’s very important to weigh up the pros and cons of these types of things to ensure that whatever decision you do make it right for your particular circumstances.
1. Make it a priority
One of the main themes of my little story above was that it didn’t really start to happen for me in a sustainable, well-earning way until I made it a priority.
Yes, it’s going to be scary.
No, you’re not always going to have the support of people who favor traditional jobs.
But if you really want to do it and you are sure it’s a sensible decision (like, don’t quit a job if you have a huge debt and kids to support…) then you need to make a decision about where you want to focus your time.
One of the best examples of this attitude that I’ve seen during my time as a blogger is Joan and Courtney from Man vs Debt. This was not so much a commitment to being a blogger as it was to an ideal that they believed in – being debt free to live a happier life.
By focusing on that purely, they helped a lot of people while getting the attention of some really big names. Man vs Debt is a blog that almost everyone has heard of and even though Joan is retired the website continues to do well.
It all happened by making their goal a priority.
2. Set some concrete timelines
Goals and ambitions are nice but it’s not until you actually put them to a timeframe that you start to see results.
This also helps to relieve some of the anxiety that pops up when you feel guilty about not blogging as much as you “should” be. If it falls within your timeline you can relax and not worry about it too much.
Try setting certain targets that are definitive in nature. For example: I want to reach 1,000 email subscribers by the 30th of June using weekly guest posts and forum promotion.
If you have something measurable you can start to work backwards from where you want to be at the end.
3. Get help for the cheap and time consuming stuff
When I talk to new bloggers one of the things that I notice is that they try to do everything themselves.
The problem with this approach is that 95% of the things they spend time on really don’t add any value to their blog at all. It’s sweating the small stuff.
Try to remember that you aren’t getting into blogging so that you can learn coding, graphic design, web design and so on. Yes, these things are really important but it might be more important to spend your time on strategy, content creation and networking.
So what do you do?
Head over to a website like Freelancer and spend some time learning how to use the site to find workers.
Instead of spending 15 hours tweaking your WordPress theme and changing your fonts just write it all out in a big list, post it as a job and get it done for a few bucks.
Your time is worth a lot more than that.
4. Figure out where and how you work best
Something that has taken me a long time to figure out is that way in which I work most efficiently.
For example, some people love being in a noisy cafe with lots of hustle and bustle around them.
Others prefer to be locked away from the world for hours at a time.
Some people are able to be efficient working in block of 4+ hours while others need to use a Pomodoro-style setup where you work only for short bursts at a time.
That is a really big question to ask, and it’s very important to find the answer. It really can only be solved by observing your routine and seeing where you can make improvements in terms of allocating time or making better use of what you already have.
The Harvard Business Review has some interesting articles on this topic.
Close the Reddit tab.
5. Use intensive bursts and then automated schedules
I remember once hearing Darren Rowse say that he was preparing for a holiday and as such had written several weeks worth of material so that the site could work on “autopilot” while he was away.
This is a highly disciplined act, but also a very good idea for people who are short on time and need to figure out how to produce more material with limit hours in the day.
For example, let’s say you are blogging while trying to raise kids – perhaps organize for some family members to look after them for a weekend and just spent the whole time quickly writing and preparing content that you can use over the next coming weeks.
You can easily schedule posts in platforms like WordPress or AWeber and only need to logon to make sure it’s gone out successfully.
This might be a little bit unrealistic (and maybe even insulting coming from someone with no kids…) but the idea is just to find blocks of time to create and then automate as much of the process as possible.
What works for you?
Are you someone who struggles to find time to blog? I’d be really interested to know what holds you back and whether or not you’ve come up with any temporary or permanent solutions. Please leave a comment below and let us know, it might really help someone out!
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Totally agree with making it a priority – sounds simple, but it’s like fitness – if you don’t put it first, it will always come last.
My last post took me 3 weeks, and I doubt many people will even read it, but it was worth it to me just to be able to hit publish at the end 🙂
Yeah it’s a hard one. Takes lots of practice. I still struggle.
Time management is definitely one of the subjects my blog readers bring up over and over. Your idea about writing on the weekend then scheduling posts out is exactly what a lot of mom bloggers I know do … whatever works!
Oh I’m glad to hear that. I think it’s a pretty common scenario these days for people with other jobs or kids.
Hi Ramsay, one of my biggest problems is the technical stuff. I love writing on my blog, but when I start struggling with one thing, before I know it the entire day was wasted on that small thing. I’m one of those people who are trying to do everything myself, but really think I must follow your advice and go to Freelancer, because I sometimes change things on my site and then make more of a mess than helping it.
I like the advice of Jon Morrow, if you are not serious about your job as a writer/blogger, then you must decide whether you really want to do it and make it your job, meaning you have to give it your all or let it go.
PS: I finally changed my Gravitar.
‘Till next time….
I think once you get help and see how easy, cheap and efficient it is you’ll kick yourself for not doing it earlier.
I’ve done a bit of research into this and found that productivity in general is quite a large pain point for internet marketers. I believe this is because we’ve got to try and do so many jobs and being on the internet all day is very distracting.
Because it was such a large pain point I did a lot of research on the topic (I even looked back through my psychology notes from Uni) and gathered it all together into a free 17’000 word guide you can access here (kaizen-creative.com).
But here’s one quick tip for whoever’s reading this comment now.
When you finish work this afternoon I want you to list the 6 most important things you need to do tomorrow.
Then go home and enjoy your time off without thinking about work. Read a book, spend time with your partner, go out to dinner, just do something you enjoy!
Then when you begin work again tomorrow morning start with the 1st thing on your list and work your way down it. You might get interrupted but return back to your list as quickly as possible. It helps to keep you focused on your most important tasks and not get lost doing other ‘seemingly’ important tasks.
This is a time old strategy that simply works, yet many people just don’t do it. So try it out and let me know what you think!
Awesome advice! I struggle with those damn lists but my better half does them well and is always more productive.
I second this advice, it works like a charm for me as well. I am even at the point when I plan my days on a weekly basis – but for that to work, one should have reached the point of estimating very well how much time a task takes. It congress with practice.
If I may add a tip – I have found that rituals help. A ritual can be taking a shower in the morning to get you in writing mood; or scribbling post ideas while having your morning coffee on the terrace with pen and paper; or listening to a set of songs before you head out to the gym… Rituals help to put you in the mood of whatever you want to do.
Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for the advise, for me sitting down and blogging is much like going to the gym.
…The hardest part of going to the gym has always been actually going. The act of physically moving myself in the direction of that building to do gym things.
And actually sitting down to do nothing but write is something I like but lately it seems like I’ll look for any excuse to do anything else for no apparent reason.
That’s interesting. I wonder what the cause is?
Ha, ha! Good old fashioned procrastination… I actually have a lot of posts hand written and just need to type it all out and start posting what I’ve got.
I find myself obsessing over hitting all the green lights on SEO Yoast, lately but it could be a good thing since it forces me to learn.
[ Smiles ] Nice pointers, Ramsay.
In my case, I write whenever I am inspired and I schedule lots of my posts in advance.
Yeah I often work like that. Writing when you aren’t inspired is really hard.
Loving your blog topic really helps. It makes lying in bed writing on a Sunday morning just about tolerable. Because consistency is so important – your subscribers are expecting a post from you once or twice a week and, if they don’t get it, you go off their radar. We often have clients who express a desire to have a blog. But, after we’ve explained the commitment and resources necessary they often demur. In fact, we tell them that unless they’re willing to commit all the necessary time and resources, there’s no point starting a blog in the first place – it’s all or nothing! This is where loving your topic comes in handy.
Love yours by the way
Thanks for the kind words. Have you experimented with less frequent posts of greater length?
My main problem is with the promotion part. I always publish post with only one aim in my mind: Provide valuable information to the readers. Most of the time, I am engaged in finding new ways to present my article. These days, I am focusing my time on the visual content. It’s very hard for me to invest in acquiring people for infographics post. So, I am forced to devote time on this issue. Being a non-designer, it is consuming lot of time. I have done some changes. If you have the time to visit the blog once again, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
So do you just cold email people?
Can you please elaborate your point?
Few months back, I came up with an idea of an expert round-up post in my niche. I emailed lots of people. I got the response from some big people. When the post was live, I shared the link with those people. Only some of them shared the content with their readers. I didn’t get the expected results from the promotion.
Apart from this, I focus heavily on guest posting. Again, the response was not great. Can you tell some other engaging techniques for promotion?
This approach started working for me, Keeping targets which can be split into week wise targets worked for me.
Executing your plan with discipline is keyword to success
Congrats on the successful routine!
Great post once again.
Making blogging a priority is definitely important if you want to become, ya know…a full-time blogger!
I do not have a concrete deadline for myself, however i do commit to writing at least 500 (blog) words a day.
Outsourcing design etc. is a great idea. I had a Kindle book cover made for $10 and believe it or not – it looks great! Knowing what you want and giving clear directions helps a lot with these things.
Personally i just say to myself that i should be able to work anywhere. Airports, coffeeshops, office environments etc. it shouldnt matter. Secretly i work best when i am alone in quiet though..
How do you work best?
The “Darren Rowse vacation preparation” is pretty hardcore. I’m not going on vacation, but now i might trick my mind into it so i can boost the productivity machine 😉
I seem to work best in really busy environments. I like having people around me.
In your last post I had asked this thing how to make it as a priority and so I’m trying out this idea to make blogging as my priority –
I started keeping a small piece of paper in my wallet stating –
DO IT NOW !
That is kept in a transparent case on the front side of my wallet – so whenever I open my wallet for one or the other reason – the only thing that I see is
DO IT NOW !
( one can have an image on mobile and can keep it as a wallpaper , well I’m doing that too. )
Whenever I’m down or overwhelmed with other work or surrounded by people and number of things are mingling in mind , except the things, I really want to do ! This comes out as my rescuer and work as power booster , at least so far.
whenever I feel something is hindering my work – you guessed it right, I simply open up my wallet !
Yes, and I’m writing loads of post before hand and have scheduled it !
Thanks Ramsay for this post
Wow what a cool idea. Glad it’s working for you.
Hi there Ramsay and co.! This is mainly (together with budget issues) my biggest problem when it comes to blogging, and it has increased during the summer. I had achieved good rates during the year and it has all decreased since the summer came, and it’s because I’m prioritizing my real work and going to the beach instead of blogging.
However, I have a good plan, with real dates and objectives from september on… I agree specially on the 2nd and 3rd points, a Calendar and help are key to optimize your blog.
Sounds like you’re getting it together nicely! Thanks for sharing.
I like your point about having time vs using time efficiently.
I’m so glad you talked about different time styles. So many time management gurus tell us we have to do things one way – usually with spending a big block of time on one project. I tend to use what you call the Pomodoro method – (I call it the Swiss cheese method, after Alan Lakein’s classic “How To Get Control Of Your Time And Your Life”).
I have to admit, I enjoy playing with Photoshop! With Canva it can be faster to execute a design than to explain a concept to a Fiverr person. But I appreciate the reminder: it’s often a time sink with zero payback.
I agree with that. Sometimes I like tinkering around with things because it’s not very stressful and makes me feel like I’m working. But usually at the end of the day I feel like I haven’t got much done.
Thank you for the lead on having someone else set up my blog the way I want it to look. I have been pulling out my hair trying to get the look I want and the bald patches are starting to show.
Ha ha. That’s not good! Please let me know how you go.
Thank you for addressing this. It may be the one topic I never tire of reading about because it’s an ongoing effort.
I think items 2-5 are all good techniques but none of them will matter much without number 1. To wit: I have the perfect weekly housecleaning schedule taped to my refrigerator for two years but I stopped using after two weeks because keeping it was never a priority. (I do clean my apartment, however, just not on that schedule.) By contrast, I don’t needs reminders or schedules to get me to yoga class because I know how much good it does me, and so it practically prioritizes itself because the payoff is so clear.
I try to focus on a similar satisfaction with blogging to get myself into that kind of mindset. I let myself feel how all the pain of editing (= holding downward dog for a long time) is worth the payoff. I try to relax into the writing/yoga pose with whatever I can bring to my laptop/mat that day, rather than straining to reach some elusive “perfect” form.
I have good and bad days with this, but generally it’s an upward curve. And I’m trying to establish a regular blogging schedule nonetheless, because making it a habit makes it easier to do this over time.
In many areas of life, people wait until they feel “in the mood” so they can take action; the open secret is that taking action, even when you don’t feel like it, is what puts you in the mood best and fastest.
Upward curve is all you want. It’s not supposed to be stressful and awful. Sometimes I think we all push too hard.
Thank you, Ramsay, for providing those of us who have been dragging our feet with some concrete action plans!
Hope it helps!
This is a great post! I am like Linda… I struggle with the techy stuff. Paying do have it all done is not always an option. I feel like the techy stuff holds me back from blogging as frequently as I would like. Most posts take me 4 hours , because of photo editing, etc and trying to come up with an eye catching title ..Is the WORST! If I were faster on the techy stuff I feel like my blog would take off way faster than it has :/. Thanks for sharing…good thoughts!
Let me know how you go. I hope you’re still enjoying the process.
This is a major struggle for me. As a student trying to balance assignments and blog posts could prove so difficult and strenous, i think your methods would work for me. Thank you ramsay..
Great post here my friend. I can definitely relate, especially to raising kids and trying to blog. I only have one – 16 month old son, but it definitely makes it challenging to blog. How do I do it?
I post once a week on Fridays and I typically get up at 4:00 a.m. during the week and blog before the little rascal wakes up. This is how I keep blogging a priority for me. My attitude is if you want something bad enough you’ll find a way to make it happen! I appreciate you sharing this info Ramsay.
It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this piece of writing as well as from our dialogue made here. What’s up to every , because I am really eager of reading this web site’s post to be updated daily.
It contains good stuff.
Thanks Ramsay – very well summarized list!
I found my hand shivering when sending my Cpanel logins to a freelancer on Fiverr. How can you be sure nothing bad will happen? I ended up finding a more 1:1 freelancer that did work and it was fine, but it cost me more.
I find the biggest time consuming activity being the social media stuff. I mean, creating boards on Pinterest, tagging photos etc.
I also totally agree with setting timelines. I’ve found that I developed this ‘honor system’ with myself: I made a deal with myself to tale a break for 1 month but then to spend 1 month clearing the backlog. It seems to be working so far 🙂
I am having some summer vactions, so I have got loads of time to spend on my blog.
However, whenever I try to do so, things start to distract me up. Like, the color scheme should be something else, or hey! I saw a cool plugin yesterday, let’s add it in my blog.
I am having a very difficult time focusing on what really matters…
(blinks) Hey, Ramsay! How about writing a post mentioning things you really should focus in your blog?
Great post Ramsey and some useful actionable advice. For me, it all comes down to dedication and motivation which ties in with your first two points. If you are truly dedicated to making your blogging a success you should treat blogging as a serious job, as something that you have to commit to. I have experienced myself that half-baked posts published irregularly on your website is (almost) the same as not posting anything at all. Once you commit and you reach a pattern and schedule that works for you is so motivating and now I actually look forward to finalizing my next post!
I agree on your point that we should outsource more. I have spent countless hours on trying to tweak this little part of my website, time that I should have used to write valuable content. I also think that in the beginning we tend to overvalue the importance of a perfect design and we spend too much time find the perfect theme etc. Sure a nice looking website is important, but I believe that no matter what, content is king.
Thanks for sharing and keep up your inspiring work!
The biggest problem is in the writing: after spending days and even weeks or months writing and editing in someone else’s voice, I have nothing left for myself.
Solution 1: Keeping someone else’s voice is a gift … [finding something positive in this]
Solution 2: Wait for breaks between contracts or periods of low work.
This your blog post is very detail and inspirational to young bloggers that intend to make living from blogging
This is definitely helpful right now. I can never seem to find the time to write. Thanks for the tips!
Being student and less on pocket money i can’t hire other’s ! instead i need to design maintain and write for my own blog. In the end it all boils down to priority 🙂