A dear reader of mine, Lisa of Cozy Condo Living, emailed me the other day to ask a question. I resisted the urge to respond right away, because I thought the answer deserved some more thought. And the more I thought about it, I thought maybe it deserved it’s own post, because there may be others with the same question. Here is what Lisa wrote:
My jaw dropped when you said that you work full-time. How do manage to post so much and do so many projects? I’m working full-time and have a 4 year old. I’m trying to blog about my DIY projects around the house, but am having trouble finding time (to do both). Do you have any tips you can give me for how you organize your time?
I don’t talk about it often here, but I have mentioned a few times that I work full-time outside the home. As you know, I also post original content on this blog 5 days a week. Most of my posts include a DIY project or a tutorial. I know there are several DIY bloggers who blog full-time as their job. Yes, I am jealous. It is amazing they are able to make a living from what is currently just a creative passion for me. But many of them have been blogging for 4+ years. It took them a while to get to that point where it was a full-time gig.
For me personally, someday I would love to blog full-time and dedicate my working hours to creative endeavors. The reality is right now I make no money from this blog. I could not currently make enough money for it to be anything but a hobby. I may never make enough money blogging and doing related creative activities to replace my current income. At this point it is prudent for me to stay grounded and keep my day job (which I happen to love too). My full-time income helps pay for many of the wonderful projects I showcase here.
So you are probably wondering why I blog? or why do I blog so frequently? First of all, I do want to build this blog into a bigger part of my life. To grow readership most bloggers will tell you takes time, consistency, and originality. I have made a commitment to myself and to my readers to blog regularly, 5 times a week, with all original content.
It is probably helpful to note here, all the projects I do would happen regardless of whether or not I had a blog. Some of my most successful recently posted projects, like the stair tread shelves, I actually did before I even started this blog. I cannot help myself. I am overflowing with creative ideas that I like to bring to reality. It is my hobby. It is the thing I am most passionate about. The only thing as wonderful as completing a great project is being able to share it with others. That is where the blog comes in.
I am not going to lie…it takes time! I don’t keep track and I am sure it varies from week to week, but I know I spend over 10 hours a week combined on DIY projects and blogging. That is on top of working. I am outside the home 10 hours every weekday. When I started this blog my husband was working on his MBA full-time in the evenings in addition to his full-time job. During his classes and when he studied, I would blog. It kept me from being bored without his company. Now that he is done with his MBA (yay!), he still occasionally brings work home or likes to have his own time to pursue hobbies.
Oh and I don’t want you to think I have forgotten about the kids…time with them is not sacrificed for the blog. I have two kids, a four year old and an almost two year old. I don’t blog when they are awake. After bedtime is when I can start blogging. It is also the time I have for crafts and DIY projects. I also try to use nap time on the weekends, where my youngest is asleep and my oldest plays independently or does computer time. My husband is super supportive of my hobby and will help watch the kids if I need to finish up a project. On occasion, my kids get to help out with a project, like the recent DIY terrarium my oldest helped plant.
Are you wondering how I ever do anything besides work or blog? Well, I don’t, that’s my life…just kidding! Seriously, it takes planning and a solid routine to make it all work and still have free time. There are a few nights a week, which vary, where I never open my computer or enter the craft room. If I don’t feel inspired to write or craft, then I don’t. It is not productive to force my time. Other nights I will write multiple posts or complete multiple projects. I can afford schedule flexibility and downtime from blogging by planning ahead.
How I fit in DIY projects and blogging into a little over 10 hours a week:
- Let’s be honest…my house is never clean. We have a clutter-free and neat home always, but I make some trade offs and go longer in-between bathroom cleanings and vacuuming than is ideal.
- I do most projects after bedtime on weekdays, so they are ready for photographing on the weekend. This is imperative in the winter because of limited daylight. I steal a few minutes each weekend day from the family to photograph projects.
- I always have multiple projects going at once. I know that sounds complex, but I always have something about to finish, something in the middle, and new projects starting at any given time. Again, this would be happening whether or not I had a blog. This helps with blogging because I always have a pipeline of post-worthy projects.
- I try to blog ahead one week. That is my target, but sometimes I don’t make it. Ideally by the time I go to bed Sunday night I would have all 5 posts for the coming week drafted and scheduled. That rarely happens. I have found I am sitting pretty good if I have a minimum of 5 photographed projects before the week starts and 2-3 posts pre-written. I can write the remaining posts during the week.
- In the winter especially, if I do not hit my minimum projects photographed, then I am in trouble. But I have a backup plan. Sometimes I do projects around the house and photograph them, but don’t post them right away. Either I am not inspired yet or I already filled my editorial calendar with other ideas. I also have many photographed projects from before I started blogging. So in a pinch I basically have an archive to pull from. This also helps immensely if I am sick, uninspired, or going on vacation.
- I constantly keep track of project and blog post ideas. Usually a project inspires a blog post, but sometimes a blog topic idea will inspire a project.
- I keep all post ideas, project ideas, and drafts in an editorial calendar. I use Editorial Calendar for WordPress and I LOVE IT! I can quickly add a new post directly from the calendar. In an easy to use pop-up I can put the title, start writing the content, and choose the date and time. Once these draft posts are created I can drag and drop them to move them around on the calendar. I use the editorial calendar to plan out my posts, but I also use it to keep ideas. I will create draft posts on the calendar that may only have a title. They are placeholders for projects I want to do or posts I want to write. I like having them in the same calendar, so I never lose sight of my ideas. If I do not get around to them, I can just drag them to a later date on the calendar. Once a post is fully ready and scheduled to post, it shows differently on the calendar to easily see the number of posts ready vs. drafts (or ideas).
- Sometimes I blog backwards. In fact, I am starting to think this might be a better way to do it. By blog backwards I mean I write the blog post before doing the project. I find that writing out the project in advance actually helps with planning how I am going to do it. Then when the project is done my draft post is already written and I just need to add pictures. If I deviate from my original plan or think of a great tip while doing the project, I can just edit the draft post before publishing.
What could make blogging and working full-time easier for me?
- I would love to be able to take more advantage of lunchtime during the work week. I try as much as possible to keep up with the blogs I follow and with comments on my blog during lunch. Doing so is relaxing and enjoyable for me, but it also allows me to keep that precious after-bedtime for my projects and writing.
- Two things which would be amazing:
- Something that records my thoughts and visual imagery and turns it into blog posts. I am seriously writing posts and doing projects in my head all the time.
- Since that first one is kind of unlikely, option 2 would be a way to tape record me saying what I want to write and it magically getting transposed into a full blog post…haha, wordpress voice control!
To end on a serious note, I am able to work full-time and blog original content 5 days a week, because I love what I do. I have turned my passion into my blog. Nothing is forced here…it all flows naturally for me. Sure, there are many days where the last thing I want to do is blog after a long day at work, but that is why I plan ahead. And if I ever doubt that my blog matters to anybody but me, I turn to the amazing comments my readers leave and I look at what readers have been pinning from Teal & Lime. I know I am on the right track.