How do I find the time to blog?
Part Six in our series on business blogging.
There’s been a pretty common theme of questions coming from those of you following our business blog series. How the heck do I find the time to run my business and get a successful blog going on the side?
Like all things, great blog content takes time and effort to generate, and you’ll need to put some thought into planning to ensure you maintain your post schedule, whatever frequency that might be. Straight from Tim Ferris himself, an uninspiring blog is more of a liability than no blog at all. Think about it from your own perspective – if you were researching a company and found an abandoned blog on their site, it would probably make you question their ability to see a project through to completion, right?
We were lucky enough to have a session dedicated to exactly this at the recent ProBlogger Event. Darren Rowse assembled a panel of some of the most productive and successful bloggers around, Trevor Young from PR Warrior, Chris Hunter from BikeEXIF and Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids. (And if Nicole can do it with five, yes that was five, kids – you’ve got no excuse!)
All three pointed to planning as the most effective way to manage your blog and your business and helped us out with a few little pointers.
Make friends with Google Docs
Nicole is a big fan of planning in Google Docs – saving her work to the cloud as she goes. This means that she can quickly see what’s next, where the gaps are, and knows exactly what should be happening on her blog, no matter where she is. It also allows her to easily share her work if she’s collaborating with others on a blog project.
It’s an easy way to get your plan going. Set up a Google Docs spreadsheet, and list all the dates you plan to post down the side. (For example, if you plan to post every Wednesday, add all the dates down the left hand side of the page) Up the top, include a column for the topic, one for the post name/idea and another for its status (ie. complete, in progress, waiting on external info). I’m also a big fan of creating an additional page with content ideas – so you can keep notes on ideas or great stories you’ve seen elsewhere – a lifesaver when you’re struggling for creative inspiration!
You can also save your ‘posts in progress’ to your Google account – so that you’ve got anywhere, anytime access. Now instead of thumbing through a 6 month old edition of New Idea while you’re waiting for your hair appointment, you can do some quick editing on your smartphone or tablet, saving you time later on.
Write in bulk
While the point of a blog is to share newsworthy content, sometimes you need to be prepared. Nicole will often write all of her posts for the week on a Sunday afternoon, ensuring that no matter what happens she has the week sorted in advance. (this is, of course, made possible thanks to her carefully planned blog calendar!) You can also do the same. Instead of leaving it until the last minute, write up a couple of articles in advance when you have time, and update with breaking news or new info just before you publish.
It can also be handy to write up some emergency content, to ensure that no matter what, you have a post to fill each space. Sometimes situations can arise that require your full attention, and you might not have the ability to also keep updating your blog. Lists or how-to articles are great for this purpose – for example if you run a tax accounting firm, you might have posts such as ‘7 things you can claim on your tax return that you might not know about’ or ‘5 great questions to ask your accountant’ in storage for a rainy day. Basically you want to create easily digestible content that can be quickly uploaded if you’re unable to get your scheduled post up. (Pro Tip: Save even more time by having these already uploaded as a draft in the back end, so that all you have to do is press ‘publish’!)
Track your time
If you’re really struggling to find time to maintain a blog, it can often be worthwhile seeing if you really are using your time as effectively as you think, before you write the idea off altogether (pun intended). Toggl allows you to track and manage your time, so you can get an idea of just how much time you’re spending perusing online shopping sites when you should be doing work! You can also see what tasks are taking you longer than they should, and plan out when you work the most effectively.
And that’s about it from me. Don’t forget to check out the other posts in our series on blogging if you’re just joining us (welcome, by the way!). We’re really lucky to have a special guest rounding out our business blogging series next week – the very talented Annabel Candy from Successful Blogging is going to share her top tips for making money from your blog.
Do you have a business blog? What planning do you undertake to ensure it runs smoothly? Do you have any planning or scheduling tools that your business uses that might also be useful for blog planning?