How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

Posted 18/06/2017 by Dani in Analytics, Blogging, Making Money Online, Marketing, Organisation & Planning, Productivity & Efficiency, Stats and Income, Traffic / 51 Comments

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?

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.

The secret?

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!

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

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.

Plan

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:

Blog Posts/Content

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!!

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

Content Calendars

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.

Scheduling Posts

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.

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full 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?!

Social Media

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.

Wrong!

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.How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Tim

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

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!

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

Instagram

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.

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full TimeBut, 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.

How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

The Ultimate Blog Planner Bundle contains everything you need to plan and run a successful blog. Not only does this bundle contain planners but also sheets to keep track of your income, expenses and marketing campaigns.

Keeping your information in one place and staying organised will help you run a successful blog whilst working full time.

The Ultimate Blog Planner Bundle has over 140 printable pages and 19 digital spreadsheets to help you keep doing what you love and keep your blog on the path to success. It contains everything you need to stay one step ahead of the game and run a successful blog whilst still working full time.

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Wait, before you go...

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...grab yourself a copy of the Ultimate Blogger Resource List (and boost your blog today!)

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51 responses to “How to Run a Successful Blog When You Work Full Time

  1. This is a really thorough, well-written post! I disagree with you on one front, the point you made about not having a niche being a big mistake. A lot of successful bloggers actually don’t have a niche! Some of their posts might be beauty, some might be fashion, some travel, some advice, etc.

    To me, not having a steady *voice* is more of a mistake than not having a niche. If someone tries to fit into a niche just to gain success, that’s a big mistake and it will show in their writing. If someone chooses to write about beauty and cranks out 2 posts a week, they better be passionate about beauty! The worst thing I see is people who try desperately to fit into a niche but grow tired of writing about the same topic once or twice a week; though their quantity will be consistent, their quality will suffer.

    For my personal blog, I’m a lifestyle blogger who writes about whatever I want to write about. I think what makes me stand out is the voice I use in a lot of my posts, the humor I incorporate. Without the passion and excitement of not writing about the same thing every week, I see blogging as an activity I love to do, not a chore I have to do every week. Success is measured in multiple ways!

    • Hey Lexi,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, you don’t HAVE to have a niche but it was a big mistake for me personally not to have one because of the way I work – I need to have a plan in place and I just couldn’t do that.

      Could not agree with you more about being passionate about what you write about too! Blogging shouldn’t be a chore

      Dani x

  2. So thorough and helpful! As a blogger who only just started out I’m still getting the hang of it and this helped for sure! Thanks!

  3. Great tip on scheduling your posts to publish. I didn’t realize you could do that in WordPress. I need to start using the voice memo on my phone more too. Thanks!

    • Thanks Becca. Yea, I absolutely love using the voice memo function on my phone – look a little bit odd walking along talking to myself sometimes, especially if I’m doing a newsletter that starts with “hey guys, how are you? Hope you’re ready for a great Monday”….when it’s actually a Wednesday! I think it sometimes helps with my writing style too because then I write more like I speak.

      Dani x

  4. A lot of great tips here, so many I can’t take it all in with one read. Saved to come back to! A new blog is overwhelming even with good planning, having your Ultimate Planning Bundle will be a huge help.

    • Hi Lisa, thank you for your comment. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when you’re just starting out. Just remember not to try and do everything all at once, take small steps and keep moving forwards.

      If you ever have any questions or just want some feedback/a chat, feel free to drop me an email – contact@flourishingfreelancer.com

      Dani x

  5. Very informative content. It happens to all of us, at some point or another, and at times for very long period of time that we just can’t really create. Your creating content ahead of time is smart and allows for any changes of plans. Good tips! Thanks!

    • Thanks Sylvie, glad you found it useful. You’re right, we always have times where there just are no words! Luckily, if you have a couple of posts already drafted you can still post something without forcing it or feeling overwhelmed.

      Dani x

    • Yes! I actually found it by accident (I can’t even remember how) but I love it. Especially when I’m taking part in promo threads on Facebook and I want to share lots of posts but not all at the same time – makes it really easy to schedule.

      Dani x

  6. Great tips, thanks for sharing. I think for me, the next thing I’ll explore is Board Booster, but I need to create Pinterest-ing graphics for all my posts first. Always something more to do!

    • So true! No matter what you do, there is always something else – it’s actually one of the things I love most about blogging. Always something new to learn and something else to keep you busy!

      Boardbooster took me a little while to set up because I filled my secret boards with loads of posts but I’ve barely had to do anything with it since setting it up about 3 months ago. If you need a hand with it or have any question, let me know!

      Dani x

    • Definitely! And planning in a realistic way – there’s not much point in planning huge amounts of work that you know you don’t have time to do. The last thing you want is for blogging to become boring/not enjoyable.

      Dani x

    • Hi Kristen, thanks for your comment. I really love Hootsuite but I must admit there are some features on Co-Schedule that look amazing (like the looping function). Maybe when I start making more money on the blog, I might be able to invest in Co-Schedule.

      Dani x

  7. This is really helpful, thank you! 🙂 I also work full time, and all I can think about is my blog, so there are some really great time management tips in here! xo

    • Thanks, Lauren. I often find myself just waiting for the working day to pass so I can get back to my laptop and blogging! Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to blog full-time!

      Dani x

  8. Blogging successfully really takes a lot of time, plus the added time to promote it. I recently started a new blog, so I will take your advice and plan it.Thanks for these tips and resources as well.

    • Glad you found it useful Brian. It is time-consuming but all that hard work will pay off – plus, writing about what you love really helps!

      Dani x

    • Thanks Rebekah – I like to be able to help bloggers old and new! Picking a theme for the month really helps me on two fronts. Firstly, by breaking bigger topics into two or three posts so that I don’t end up writing a post the length of an eBook and secondly, helps me stay focused and not run out of ideas.

      Dani x

    • Thanks Abbi, it’s all about the automation!

      Good luck on the Instagram feed – I’ll be keeping my eye on it – sure she’ll do an amazing job 🙂

      Dani xx

  9. Amy

    Thank you for going into so much detail! I run into many of the same problems as you, and I find my number one enemy is patience. I also want to post everything at once, but then I know I would have gaps. And the insights about social media are very, very helpful.

    • Thanks Jennifer, that’s so kind of you to say. Hopefully there were some tips you can take away from this post even though you’re no longer a newbie.

      Dani xx

  10. This is some great advice! I’m fortunate enough to only be juggling my blog at the moment but it can be so difficult trying to do everything at once!

    • There’s just so much to do isn’t there! Even when your “Daily tasks” are complete, you start looking for improvements you can make in other places.

      Dani xx

  11. Totally spot on with your “the harder you push, the less work you actually get done” comment. It’s tempting to spend all your time working but so easy to burn out.

    • So true Kristen, burning yourself out is the worst! You push so hard that you’re either exhausted or start to resent everything blogging related. Blogging and running your business should never feel like a chore so it’s important to take a break long before you get to that point. Easier said than done though!

      Dani xx

  12. Mel

    I really like this post, Dani! Really helpful especially to those who are still transitioning from their full-time 9 to 5 work to freelance/blogging. WIll definitely try some of the tips.

    • Thanks Mel, glad you enjoyed it.

      The transition is so hard, made worse by the fact that it still feels a million miles away for me at the moment! Having good time management and organisational systems in place helps a lot, particularly with the overwhelm.

      Dani xx

  13. acmn1113

    I found your blog post very insightful and I agree with one of the previous posters. Even though my blog has somewhat of a niche, I don’t think you have to have one in order to be successful. I see that advice a lot on instagram accounts as well and I disagree on that one too. I think so long as the topics have some connection, it might work.

    • So happy you found it insightful. Completely agree with you and the previous comment – you don’t HAVE to have a niche to be successful but personally, I did. It’s just the way my brain works, I couldn’t cope without having a fixed direction but I do see a lot of very successful bloggers without a niche or with a loose niche.

      Instagram is a tough one because I am drawn to feeds that follow a particular theme but I also follow tonnes of accounts that don’t. Personally, I just follow whoever shares things that I like and I want to see popping up on my feed!

      Dani xx

  14. Fantastic and informative post. I’ll definitely be trying to plan ahead more and not be too hasty to press the publish button. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Mary,

      Glad you found it useful.

      It’s so tempting to just hit publish as soon as you’ve finished a post isn’t it?! Especially if it’s one you’re super proud of and can’t wait to share with people.

      Dani xx

  15. What a great post, thank you so much!! I haven’t scheduled posts ahead of time yet, but I think I’ll give it a try. Great advice! 🌷

    • Hi Paula,

      Definitely, give it a try, it takes a whole load of pressure off for me. But I understand that not everyone works in the same way – have a play around and find what feels right for you and your site.

      Dani xx

  16. onesharpmamablog

    Tons of great points here. Had to take notes about what I’m doing right and need to work on. I know I need to work on planning out posts. I had them lined up and scheduled ahead of time. Now, I’m struggling to finish up the night before I usually post.

    • Planning posts ahead of time makes such a big difference to me and also my writing style. Sometimes it’s hard though, especially if you’re going through a “Writer’s Block” period – I was the same as you a couple of months ago and couldn’t write anything ahead of time, I even missed a few posts because I just couldn’t finish them on time. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it will pass!

      Dani xx

    • It can be really difficult to find the right balance, and then to maintain it once you do! But, I absolutely love blogging and everything linked to it so it’s worth it!

      Dani x

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