Guest Post/Round Up By Hélène Tragos Stelian of Next Act For Women
Being a fairly new blogger—I launched Next Act for Women this past January— I find that blogging could be a 24/7 job if I let it, and I often feel quite overwhelmed.
[bctt tweet=”‘Blogging could be a 24/7 job if I let it, and I often feel quite overwhelmed'”]
There are always more posts to write and edit, more submission opportunities to research, more promotion to be done, more blogs to read and comment on, more social media outlets to peruse and share, more blog pages to maintain, more plugins to add or update, more tweets to schedule—and that’s in addition to all or our non-blogging responsibilities!
So I turned to more experienced bloggers and asked them to share their top tips and tools that allow them to manage their time and streamline their tasks. They generously complied…
Carol Cassara provides “daily inspiration for creating our best lives” on Carol Cassara
Find the best time of day to write—for you. As a longtime writer, I once got advice that has worked well for me: Get up, pee, write. If I write anything—a blog post, an essay, when I’m just out of bed—it goes more smoothly. It also helps that I’m an early riser and find the pre-dawn hours the best for my writing.
Blog daily, all year round. There’s too much pressure in trying to come up with a post for the next day, so I write when I feel inspired—several posts at a sitting—and schedule them anywhere from two weeks to a month out.
Cap your hours. Blogging can take over my life if I let it, so I try to walk away after a set number of hours and go about my day. It’s the rest of the day that provides inspiration, anyway, so it all feeds my creativity.
Stephanie D. Lewis blogs on Once Upon Your Prime “where you live happily ever laughter”
Let your subconscious go to work. I do not ever sit down to blog unless the words are easily FLOWING. While I take care of all my other non-blogging responsibilities, I let my subconscious do my writing for me, jotting down key words on my iPhone notepad to re-trigger my thoughts when I’m ready to write. This has saved me hours a day!
Limit time suckers. I set a timer for 30 minutes, during which I’m allowed to submit to other publications. If I don’t do this, my shallow (ego) need for attention and getting noticed overrides my (soul) desire to write and inadvertently I’ll spend all my time recycling my older work to be published, rather than creating new material.
Signal the family. I put a green scarf around my doorknob when it’s okay for my kids to come in. Red scarf means mom is working and they’re only allowed to slide notes under the door in case of an emergency—otherwise, I’d find 13 slips of paper saying, “I’m bored!”
Carol Graham shares “laughter, inspiration, and encouraging stories” on Battered Hope
Streamline your post creation. When I have an idea, I jot it into a blog post title and add notes right into the body of the post as I think of them.
Try blogging challenges. I purposefully have joined monthly blogging challenges to help keep me focused and to engage with bloggers I especially appreciate. One Facebook Group I enjoy is run by Karen Baking In A Tornado: She has four per month, including Use Your Words. Another favorite is Blog A Rhythm A-Z Challenge.
Take breaks—but use them productively. I take a break from the computer every couple of hours to do something physical. It could be housework, cooking, or walking the dogs. It clears my head and gives my eyes a rest from the screen.
Use multiple screens at once. I am the Queen of Multitasking. I have a laptop and two desktops open to different sites at all times, not to mention my tablet and phone. Depending on where I am, I use them all.
Angie Nelson is dedicated to “helping you make money on YOUR terms” via The Work at Home Wife
Always Plan Ahead. I publish new posts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, as these are my most highly trafficked days. I always try to have posts scheduled at least one week in advance; this allows me plenty of time to do the research necessary for a high quality post, but also gives me some flexibility should other things come up.
Try Sprout Social. Sprout Social lets me schedule Facebook updates as I discover helpful content my readers will love. I can also easily respond to all social media comments and messages in one place and at one time. I love that I’m no longer missing follower comments or questions due to the fast pace of these platforms. And the reporting is fantastic. Knowing what your followers want can save you a ton of wasted time.
Find Some Quiet Time. I start my blogging week on Sunday as I find this day is the quietest in terms of emails and social media. I get so much more done without the “normal business hours” distractions. And since I get this head start on the week, I also finish early. Thursday and Friday afternoons are pretty relaxed. I often take them off completely.
[bctt tweet=”‘I start my blogging week on Sunday — the quietest in terms of emails and social media.'”]
Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan blog on Grown and Flown, where “parenting never ends”
Schedule your social media. We plan our Facebook posts weeks in advance by making a schedule of old posts we will put up, posts from other people, and blanks for new posts that will be written. Waking up each morning and deciding what to post is too time consuming and Facebook likes consistent posting. We also schedule tweets a week out on Hootsuite; that way, it’s easy to space a tweet about a post across a couple of days and not forget that you have already posted it twice this week. We have cultivated lists of bloggers we follow on Twitter and can easily scan that once or twice a day to find wonderful tweets from others to retweet.
Use waiting time productively. I (Lisa) often write a post when I am waiting for my kids. I write on my phone, or if I have an iPad, I use that. As a mom, I have found there is a lot of expected and unexpected waiting time so I make sure to use this to write. Sometimes, I just compose the posts as emails to myself and send them. Sometimes I dictate them into my phone and they write themselves!
[bctt tweet=”‘As a mom, I have found there is a lot of waiting time so I use this to write'”]
Use Google Drive to collaborate. We do all of our writing in Google Drive so that we can share it with each other for editing and ideas—and we can easily share it with anyone else from whom we might be hoping to get input. By doing this, we never lose a post and just copy and paste into WordPress when it’s time.
Cynthia Samuels blogs on Don’t Gel Too Soon (There’s always more…)
Make yourself write every day. Consider signing up for a site like NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), which commits you to writing one blog post a day for an entire month. Or create a private Facebook group for support—I have one.
Don’t sweat the details—at first. Don’t get obsessed with layout or graphics until you have the language. And do NOT edit until you have at least four paragraphs—especially if you doubt your capacity. You will obsess on rewriting instead of getting your thoughts down.
Linda Wolff blogs about midlife, motherhood, and the empty nest on Carpool Goddess
Use a note-making app. I use the Notes app on my iPhone to jot down ideas and sometimes even blog posts when I’m not at my desk or don’t have a notebook handy. Of course, most of my ideas come to me when I’m working out on the elliptical or on a walk. It’s a miracle I haven’t fallen on my face.
Set deadlines. I’m most productive when I have a deadline, but the tricky part is not pushing it off when it’s self-imposed. Getting work done before my college kids come home for holiday breaks—so I can focus on them—is always my goal.
Banish perfection. If you’re the perfectionist type (like me) try to let go of wanting your piece to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy, it squelches creativity, fills you with self-doubt, and keeps you from clicking “publish.” Buh bye perfect. Hello good enough.
[bctt tweet=”‘Perfect is the enemy, it squelches creativity, fills you w/self-doubt, keeps you from clicking #publish'”]
Lesly Simmons blogs at Mama’s Guide to help families “discover stroller friendly San Francisco”
Automate social media. I do this as much as possible. For example, I have a few bloggers that always write great content, so I use IFTTT to automatically tweet their posts (using an RSS feed for the blog you want to share from). I use Hootsuite to manage my own social accounts so I can write a tweet and a Facebook post at the same time and schedule them for different days.
Focus on content. Promotion is important but I’ve seen that good content trumps spending all day online. In times when I’ve been less focused on my blog because I’m busy with my family or my day job, I’ve still seen my readership grow because I’ve created a solid library of content that people come back to and share!
Jill Robbins blogs about motherhood, midlife and adoption on Ripped Jeans & Bifocals
Try Google Keep. I use an app called Google Keep to help me keep my writing ideas organized. It’s a collection of electronic sticky notes on my phone, where I can jot down ideas for blog posts as they come to me—in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic. I am ALWAYS thinking of stuff when I am out and about. I also keep draft “listicle” posts in Google Keep as I’m constructing my lists. Once I’m ready to write a new post, or if I need to pitch an idea to an editor, I can usually find what I need by referring to my “stickies,” which are all in one handy place. There are lots of organizational apps out there but Google Keep works for me—and it’s free.
Compartmentalize your time. I separate social media time and administrative time. I set aside specific times to do social media sharing and reading/sharing other bloggers’ posts—usually in the early mornings. I “do email” once a day, usually in the afternoon or whenever I can find a few minutes. I keep my email and social media closed when I am writing. I didn’t always do this and, honestly, it’s sometimes hard not to just “hop on Facebook for a minute” but I use my time more effectively when I consciously focus on one specific thing at a time.
Draft some templates. I have templates for pitching posts or ideas to editors, introducing myself to sponsors I want to work with, and responding to PR people who want to partner with my blog. All of my templates can be personalized but it’s made keeping up with correspondence much easier.
Roxanne Jones takes “a mostly lighthearted look at being a boomer, 17 syllables at a time” on Boomer Haiku
Use an editorial calendar. I always have 5-6 completed blog posts in the can to give myself breathing room and not feel panicked to produce every week. Having an editorial calendar has been essential to stay organized. I created my own spreadsheet, which lists the posts that are ready to go, the dates they’re scheduled to run, and posts that need to be written. If a more timely topic presents itself, I just move things around.
Create a routine. Since my week is full of deadlines for my paying job, I do most of my blog writing on weekends. I try to write at least one post a week to maintain that cushion of ready-to-go blog posts. I schedule posts a couple of weeks out so they automatically go live Monday mornings. I use Mailchimp to send an email alert to my subscribers then too. On Sunday, I compose a Facebook entry along with 6-8 tweets about the next day’s blog post, which streamlines my promotion once the post is live.
Try Pablo. Pablo by Buffer is a free service that lets you put text over images for use on social media. The experts say that images increase engagement, so I put each week’s haiku over an image before posting it and sharing it.
Jennifer Connolly blogs on A Well Styled Life, because “style is more than what you wear, it’s how you life your life”
Set notifications on Twitter. If you have favorite accounts on Twitter that you want to follow, people you like and who promote back, make sure you’re notified when they tweet. Do so by going to their account, pressing the gear wheel, and turning on notifications.
Limit social media time. I spend 20 minutes a day, in one clip, on social media promotion. I tweet, retweet, check my Twitter notifications, comment on blogs, and respond to comments on my own blog. I engage first with blogs that are sending traffic my way—I look at my analytics to see which blogs are referring to mine. I don’t get it all done, so if I find myself waiting at the doctor’s office or such, I’ll plug back in to do a bit more.
Lisa René LeClair is a writer, humorist, social media influencer and mom who works for giggles at Sassypiehole
Create a workspace and work: You will need an office, a real one, preferably one with a door. Treat your office as an office and go to work—on time! Any chores that need to be done should either be handled during a break or after hours, and you should always work like you’re getting paid, even when you’re not. There are a lot of bloggers out there trying to make it, but few succeed, so treat this like the job you’ve always dreamed of —because it is.
Always promote, but not while you’re writing: Unless you have your own publicist or social media director, promoting your blog is on you. Even so, don’t allow it to interfere with your writing by constantly checking emails or other media. Everything can wait when you’re on a roll, even the dishes. Besides, a lot of social media can be done on your phone while watching TV, so make good use of your time. On the other hand, if you are having an unproductive writing day, don’t force it, just switch gears and work on something else: your website, visiting other blogs, or hanging out on social media.
Stick to a schedule: To stay focused, I don’t answer the phone unless I’m expecting a call or it’s urgent. Same goes for texting. Although I do check email and social media throughout the day, the majority is done when I’m not working. And when my OCD is especially active, I will either wear earplugs or listen to the white noise app on my iPhone. Keep in mind that people will crawl out of the woodwork to have lunch with you because they secretly think you’re not working. Don’t go unless it’s on your calendar. By the same token, you can burn out fast if you never take a break, so take one, after you schedule it.
Judy Freedman “shares positive ways to reinvent your mind, body, and spirit during your second act” on A Boomer’s Life After 50
Manage your time. I’m more about quality than quantity. Therefore, I commit to posting once a week, either on Tuesday or Thursday. Some weeks, I may post another day; I don’t freak out about it. I always reply to any comments I receive in a prompt manner. Other days of the week, I leave for social media, to promote my post and read and comment on other blogs. I listen to podcasts and check my emails and social media accounts when I am on my stationary bicycle each morning. This way I get to exercise and also get some social going.
Focus on a few social media outlets. Facebook and Twitter are my main tools to promote my blog and giveaways. Sometimes I do pay to boost a post on Facebook and find that it helps my reach—I never spend more than $15 on a boost. It’s fun to see how far it goes. I think picking a few social media tools is important—choose the ones that are most appropriate for your content (for example, I don’t do Pinterest or Instagram because I’m more about the words than the images).
Clearissa Coward blogs about “organization, redesigning, up cycling, crafting and DIYing—on a budget” on Clearissa Coward’s Command Center
Set a schedule and stick to it. Here’s mine:
Write articles – Sunday evening, Tuesday, Thursday
Distribute articles – Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Write and distribute weekly recap – Friday
Do not go near the computer – Saturday
Try Evernote. Because subject matter can come at any time, I keep a running note on my phone and tablet. The app, Evernote, makes it easy. My notes are up to date on all devices—a wonderful thing!
Leave a comment with your best tip for blog time management in the comments.