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Finding the time to blog when you’re juggling a laundry list of life priorities can be brutal. It’s probably the #1 complaint I hear when I talk with people about what holds them back from making progress.
Effective time management for bloggers is all about working with a strategy, using a system so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time you sit down to write, and breaking down tasks so they’re easily fit-inable.
- Be clear about the business transformation you want
- Be realistic about how much time you’ll need
- Hack your priorities list
- Get clear about your blogging strategy
- Create a spreadsheet or use a project management tool to stay organized
- Get into a routine so you always know when it’s time to blog
- Plan your headlines in advance & use a headline formula swipe file
- Create a habit stack and write every day
I know you’re probably thinking, “That sounds nice, but do you even have a clue how busy my life is?”
I do. I get it. There are days when I’ve excitedly told my husband, “Babe, I wrote 3,653 words today and my post turned out so great!” and he looks at me like I’m asking to be congratulated for taking out the garbage.
People who don’t blog don’t understand how hard it is or all the steps involved, how much additional brainpower is needed to squeeze a post into a busy day, or how draining it can be to constantly pour your creativity into something without knowing whether those efforts will pay off.
And that’s the rub.
Creating quality blog content is something that takes tremendous dedication, but the potential rewards are way far off in the future and completely uncertain.
It’s easy to let it slide because nothing bad is going to happen if you don’t show up to the old blank page and blinking cursor.
It’s kind of like going on a diet. The gains can feel so minuscule (even unnoticeable) along the way that the end goal — which may be many months in the future — seems too far off to worry today. “I’ll just let it slide for now and try again tomorrow.”
Be clear about the business transformation you want
Last night I watched a YouTube video made by a full-time blogger advising people on how to get started. Sagely, she cautioned people that it doesn’t lead to riches for most people, but then she said something I don’t agree with at all — that you should blog for the pleasure of it, consider the process of creating its own reward.
(And then you won’t be disappointed when it does nothing for you?)
I get where she’s coming from but lifestyle blogs are completely different animals to business blogs. If you’re just doing things for the pleasure of it, that’s a hobby (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but be clear — it’s not a smart business strategy.
You have a finite amount of time in your day and that time is your most valuable business asset. It must count. It must move the needle or it’s just squandering your precious resource.
Know exactly what you expect your blog to do for your business and define clear long-term goals.
Of course, you’ll want to break your goals down into milestones along the way (measuring traffic, engagement, sales, client inquiries, etc.), but you’ll also want a crystal clear vision for how you want your blog to transform your business in the future.
Do you want your blog to help put your kids through college, remodel the house, buy that Tiki hut on the beach, or [insert your dream here]? Remember that.
Think of each blog post you write as a seed. When you know the ‘big reason why’ you’re doing it, it helps give you the motivation to show up and plant them to build the future you want.
Be realistic about how much time you’ll need
These days, it’s not enough to type words and publish frequently. You’re expected to create value and bring your own “special sauciness” to the topics you’ll be blogging about because nobody reads boring, bland, same-old-same-old business blogs twice.
Creating quality content that brings them back for more, gets them sharing it on social media, and that Google will love too? It takes time.
You’ll also need time to promote your content and make sure it’s discoverable (on search engines) because unfortunately, “write it and they will come” isn’t a thing.
I’m not trying to scare you, but rather, prepare you.
There are millions of blogs out there just making noise and that noise does nothing for their bottom line.
The playing field — on social media, in search — is competitive as hell and if you’re just posting blog content to meet some arbitrary posting quota, you’ll just be making more noise that nobody has time for.
The average blog post that ranks on the first page of Google is 1,890 words. There’s no point creating flimsy content if what you want is to attract potential clients and customers.
So the question is, how long will it take you to research a topic your audience wants to read about, write at least 1000-2000k words about it, create graphics for sharing to social media, and to optimize your headlines and descriptions to make them click-worthy?
Only you can answer that. Some people can crank things out and some people need more time.
I’m one of those people who finds it very challenging to write a blog post from start to finish in under 8 hours. Some posts I crank out in an hour or two and some have taken me the better part of a week to write.
The point I’m trying to make is that people tend to be completely unrealistic about the time investment. “A blog post? That should take me an hour or so.” We overestimate how much we can get done in an hour!
If it takes you on average 4, 8, or 12 or more hours to write a blog post — take a good hard look at that and accept it for what it is. If it’s taking you longer than you realized, you can’t manage an ambitious posting schedule and you need to cut yourself a break. Rather than aiming for weekly blog posts, maybe you start with 1-2 per month.
Or maybe you plan one epic blog post for the quarter and break that down into mini-projects, and create more short “answer posts” (1000-1500 words that answer one specific question) so you remain visible with your audience.
Hack your priorities list
If you have an internal struggle over prioritizing blogging when you have billable client work opportunities in front of you, I want you to remind yourself that blogging is an important activity that will help you grow your business in the direction you want it to go.
- Client tasks? Those are urgent.
- Blogging? That’s important.
So put your important tasks first on your list of priorities and trust yourself that the urgent things will get done because, well… they’re urgent.
Get clear about your blogging strategy
Just winging it and hoping it works out is what gets us into trouble. Blogging without a plan makes it very difficult to find the time to do it – nobody likes staring at the screen wondering “what should I write about?”
Pro tip: For a great foundational course that you can complete in an afternoon to help you create your strategy, schedule, editorial calendar and workflow check out Sandra Clayton’s The Blogging Machine.
Sandra teaches deciding on the content “buckets” you’re going to fill — these solve a large, overarching problem for your audience. Then, within each bucket, you’ll help them solve that problem a little bit of the way with the topics you choose for each post.
Combined with a bit of research into topics your audience would be interested in, and pretty soon you’ve got the makings of an editorial calendar.
When you’re following a calendar and you know exactly the job you need to do (because you researched this in advance), it cuts through the crap and makes your job much more efficient and effective too.
Create a spreadsheet or use a project management tool to stay organized
Another thing I learned from Sandra is how to effectively use tools to stay organized. I’m not being dramatic when I say the way she uses Google Sheets to keep things organized changed my life.
I started with the templates she provides her students (which are much more organized) … over time, mine has become really personal to me. I add columns that help me to remember things, keep track of things, swipe things (like headline formulas), etc.
I consider it my “master of the universe” spreadsheet and keep it bookmarked and visible in my browser toolbar (because I open it up every single day). This not only makes things more efficient for me, it helps me blog smarter too… knowing exactly what I need to write about to move the needle on my business.
Some people may prefer to use Trello or Asana, it really doesn’t matter. Just find a tool that allows you to see and grab all the information you need in the way that works best for you, it will make a huge impact.
Get into a routine so you always know when it’s time to blog
I can’t emphasize this enough, especially when you’re starting out: create a routine. As a creative person this one felt sooooo limiting and I used to roll my eyes at people who said this, “I write when inspiration strikes, don’t try to change me, next!“
But actually, having a routine is LIBERATING. It removes the anxiety around making time to blog — it’s just something you do like brushing your teeth or taking out the garbage.
Choose a time (or times if you want to break it up into logical tasks on different days) and put that into your schedule and show up to do this work at the same time every week.
Once it becomes a habit (“It’s Monday morning, time to write a blog post”) your workflow will become more efficient and you’ll get more done in less time.
My friends and colleagues have asked me, “How do you find the time to create all this content when you’re running a business?” and my answer is that I practice the art of “deep work” which means I clear big blocks of time to focus on one task at a time.
During my blogging time block…
- I don’t check social media
- I don’t check email
- I don’t exit the building when the fire alarm sounds (kidding)
If this is a new concept for you, i recommend going through The Time Blocking Success System as a way to set goals and priorities and organize your schedule in a realistic way (so you don’t go crazy adding blogging on top of your already busy schedule).
For an hour or so of your time invested, you’ll learn how to set up your schedule in either Google Sheets or Trello (your choice) so you can create order from the chaos and bring calm, productive, focused energy to your content creation time.
Time blocking is what allowed me to free up two whole days in my schedule free from client work — one day entirely devoted to blogging and another to admin, product creation (which generates consistent passive income to cover the time I spend marketing/creating content), and marketing tasks.
Your schedule may be very different from mine, but time blocking is a game-changer for any small business owner, especially if you find yourself on social media “just doing things” or if you find that lots of time slips through the cracks between tasks.
Recapture that time and you’ll have plenty of time to create killer blog content.
Plan your headlines in advance & use a headline formula swipe file
I’m a bit fan of using proven copywriting formulas for headlines.
There are a plethora of them available to “steal” (ethically) online:
- Crazy Egg’s 15 Proven Headline Formulas
- Buffer’s 27 Copywriting Formulas
- Copybloggers 10 Headline Formulas that work
Collect the ones you like, put them in your spreadsheet or create a swipe file and refer to them when you sit down to write.
Headlines are especially critical — never treat those like an afterthought. They’re what “sells the post” wherever you’re sharing them or wherever they can be discovered (in search).
So much so I recommend writing your headlines before you even put a topic in your editorial calendar. Set aside a couple of hours to research topics and brainstorm possible headlines for each topic. Run them through CoSchedule’s headline analyzer until you’ve got a goodie. When you’ve got a topic you’re pleased with an a headline you’re proud of, THEN put it in your editorial calendar.
No more diving headfirst into writing a post and then figuring out what your headline will be. When you start with your headline, you know EXACTLY what you’ve got to do and you become more excited to do it because you want to deliver on the promise your amazing headline made.
Then, delivering on that promise is just like any other aspect of your job — something you must do because you can see the clear benefit of doing it.
Create a habit stack and write every day
I know I told you that you’re off the hook with writing epic blog posts you can’t realistically manage, but I do encourage you to make writing a habit — even if it’s just 5 minutes per day. And you can easily do this by creating a “habit stack.”
What’s a habit stack? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones describes it as:
One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.
Now, I’m not suggesting you write long-form blog posts every single day, but I am saying to get yourself into a writing habit. When you write often and habitually, writing comes more naturally — it’s less stressful and you can get more writing done faster.
Think about something you do habitually every day — maybe that’s walking the dog or brushing your teeth — start writing for 5-10 minutes before or after that activity. If you do that every day for a week, that’s a 1/2 hour to 1 hour in the can you didn’t have to “make time for.”
In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy gives examples of how small habits can lead to massive results — totally inspiring for anyone who takes the “all or nothing” approach to blogging. If you bank a little bit of time each day, pretty soon you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come!
Finding time to blog is a real challenge, but when you approach it with a strategy, create systems, and mark it “Important” on your list of priorities… it gets easier. And the more you write, the more central blogging will become in your routine and the less anxiety you’ll have around it.
As I always say, build your empire brick by brick!
I hope that was helpful. If I’ve left anything out let’s talk about it in comments! I’d love to hear your strategies for time management as a blogger.
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.