How to Blog With Time Constrictions

| Friday, November 16, 2012
Today's Tune: Hold On, Hold On

So here is a thing I'm asked on a semi-regular basis: how do you work full time, write, AND keep up a blog 3x a week?

Here is the answer.

I don't write fiction every day.

I know there are about a bajillion writerly blogs telling you the YOU MUST WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT FAIL if you want to be a really for real really real writer. Well. Maybe if writing is your full-time job, that is accurate. It probably is accurate. Of course you'd write for X hours a day if your job is being a writer. But some of us, myself included, are not at the point in their lives where their full-time job is writing fiction. So I write when I have the brainpower and energy to do so. That usually means a few hours a week sometimes after work, plus weekends. I work in (mostly) creative marketing, which means a lot of my brainpower is dedicated to being creative and writing for clients that are not me throughout the day. When I get home at almost 6PM, my creative mind is pretty fried. So sometimes I just let it rest. That's okay.

Every time I have even a shadow of an idea that might make a good blog post, I write it down.

For a while, I kept getting caught in this place where during my work day, I'd think of something that might be good for my blog, and then I'd go, "Oh, I'll remember it." Nope. I could never remember it. Because, you know, work and life and distractions and stuff. So I got into the habit of writing down a quick note every time I thought of something that might be a good blog idea. I have a document on my desktop and many, many notes on my iPhone. I use an app called Evernote that I like because it lets you add pictures and location and all sorts of stuff to your note. Anyway. WRITE DOWN THOSE IDEAS. They're great when you sit down at your computer to write a post and then just stare at the screen like, "I have no idea what to write about." BAM. LIST OF POTENTIAL POSTS.

Farm your readers for ideas.

It's not something I like to use too often, but it's very handy sometimes. Once in a while, I'll sent out a social media blast (usually on Twitter) asking my readers what they'd like to see on my blog. It's a double-whammy, because people are telling you what content they'd like to see from you (increasing the likelihood of views), and they're giving you blogging ideas. Win-win.

Start a series.

I have a few series that I add to every now and then, and some of them have gained quite a bit of traction and are popular with regular readers and random Googlers alike. They serve multiple purposes. They're something familiar that regular readers recognize and like. They're a ready-made group of posts under the same tag that someone can click and read through in succession. They all have the same format, so they're easy to replicate, and if you choose well, you'll have something with a number of different topics that you can revisit.

Use Google Analytics to see which of your posts are popular AND which searches people are using to stumble on your blog.

This is more of a tactic for gaining clicks and reads, but it's also handy for thinking up content. If you're not already using Google Analytics to track your blog's stats, you should start. The Blogger analytics are okay, but not great. It's a pretty easy process -- sign up, get the analytics code, then insert it into your blog's layout code. You can find instructions for your particular platform through Google. By monitoring which posts are your most popular, it can give you an idea of where to focus. For example, my posts about pop culture and film/television (Doctor Who, Adventure Time, The Fifth Element, etc.) tend to get the most attention. That gives me a direction to aim for. Searches are fun, too. Sometimes people find your blog through very strange means, and sometimes they're looking for something in particular. In the latter case, it might give you an idea that will fill that void.

Don't get too verbose.

I know this is like lololololol coming from me, since I tend to be super verbose. But you don't need to write a super lengthy post every time. Sometimes it's okay to keep it short and sweet. In fact, it's preferable to most readers. Lololololol sorry guys.

Compilation posts, or reposts.

I don't do this often, but it's something I keep in my toolkit. Sometimes you just don't have the bandwidth to write your own new content. In times like these, it's okay to scope out your favorite blogs and write up a "best of" post linking to their much more interesting and creative content for the week. It's also okay to dig up an old post of yours and post in again (just let people know it's a repost). If it's been long enough, you likely have new readers who haven't seen it before.

Take breaks.

Sometimes you're just tapped the hell out. That's fine. It happens. Life, work, obligations, and all that jazz get in the way of blogging. I go through periods where I just need to get away and deal with other things and recharge my creative batteries. That's cool. Go for it. Your readers will understand.

Keep a schedule.

It helps me, personally, to have a structured schedule to stick to. This may be a personal thing, but I find it's much easier for me to keep up my blog when I pick a schedule (M-W-F) and discipline myself to keep it up.

Pre-write.

Don't wait until the last minute to write your posts. I always write my posts at least a day early. This post? Writing it after work. It eases the stress, pressure, and guilt. Plus I'm on the Pacific coast and I get up like three hours later than the rest of you, so it's nice to be able to pre-schedule my post to go up earlier.

Contests.

When in doubt, throw up a contest. Again, this is something I don't like to use too often, because it's basically cheap one-time hits. People come to get the free stuff, and then they go away. But contests are easy, content-wise. You say "hey I'm having a contest," you show off the prize, you give the rules, then you post.

YEAH. These are my keeping-up-a-blog-even-when-you-have-a-full-time-job tips. That includes mothering. Mothering is serious business. Editorial calendars can help, too. Look them up.

What tips do you recommend for keeping up your blog, guys?
 
 

4 comments:

{ JeffO } at: November 16, 2012 at 7:14 AM said...

Good tips. I violate just about all of them on a regular basis.

Funny thing: the top search term that brings people to my blog is "European hockey jerseys". Maybe I'm after the wrong audience....

{ Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan } at: November 16, 2012 at 8:07 AM said...

EXCELLENT tips. We operate on pretty much the same basis, both individually (well, Kristan blogs on her own) and as a group.

Bonus tip: Solicit guest posts, or find like-minded friends to blog with you. Definitely helps to share the workload.

{ phirephoenix } at: November 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM said...

I was with you until the "Don't get too verbose" part and then I ragequit because MY PRECIOUS WORDS.

(Jokes.)

In all seriousness, yay to everything in this post. I tended to find that writing blog posts exhausts me so much I can't think about writing fiction, which is partially why I stopped blogging regularly, but I pretty much always wrote about political stuff which makes me sad. That said, the most popular posts on my blog of almost 400 posts, most of which are about feminism and politics and social issues, are a post about a really obscure javascript issue I was having, and a ramble about a Chinese proverb. Shows how much people value yet-another-politics-blog...

{ Sarah } at: November 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM said...

I have a pretty new blog, but I've already the experienced the "Oh, I'll remember that." And, fortunately, I'm able to work my 40 hrs/wk in 4 10 segments, which leaves me with long weekends for catching up on writerly things b/c I also cannot write everyday.

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