In an awe-inspiring moment of clarity and inspiration, you started a blog. And you were super excited about it for a while, dedicating all your free moments to crafting posts—but now the rest of your life has come calling and somehow what was, for a moment, your creative outlet and very favorite thing, has been pushed to the back burner. You want to be more regular with posting, and maintain that magical feeling that comes along with blogging. But how do you do it while balancing it with the rest of your life (full time job, relationship, kids, social life, etc)? In my experience, there are a few key things that can assist in this balance.
Decide on your purpose. Why do you blog? What do you hope to get out of it? What do you hope your readers will get out of it? Should it drive traffic? Keep distant family and friends updated? Is it just your creative outlet?
Decide how often you'd like to publish. Be realistic about what your schedule will allow. Decide which days you'll post and stick to that. If that means updating one day per week, then work on posting one day per week, on a consistent basis, until you master it. Then perhaps you can graduate to posting two times per week. Some people (and research studies) are also adamant that you publish your posts at the same time daily so that your readers know exactly when they can expect new content. (I have not quite mastered that one yet, but I do study my analytics, and am aware of what times of day my posts generate the most traffic.)
Set attainable goals. Based on your "why" decide what your goals are for each month (or each quarter if that is easier). Then jot down the steps you can take to meet those goals. Check in with yourself periodically and evaluate, at the end of the month, what worked and what didn't. What would you like to do differently for the month ahead? It helps to use a planner for this. I have a monthly desk planner, on which I like to write out my goal at the top of the page where I can constantly see it and remind myself to knock out the tasks that will get it to completion. This has actually helped me to increase my site traffic by $1k views per month over the last 3 months! I also like to keep affirmations and "to do" lists in the margin as reminders.
Keep an editorial calendar. Managing your content on an editorial calendar will give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you will write about in advance of the day you need to post it. This allows you to craft the story, find photos, edit graphics, etc. You can also use this calendar to jot down your ideas as they come to you so that you can potentially use them for the next week or month. I like to plan out themes for each day of the week so that readers have an idea of what they can expect to see on Monday, versus the content I post on a Friday. Independent Fashion Bloggers has a great detailed post that takes a deeper dive into this.
Work ahead. As you’re taking your daily web stroll through Pinterest, or circulating through your favorite blogs and online mags, keep an eye out for photos or graphics styles that you like--that you could potentially use (being sure to attribute them to their source) or replicate on your own--that might work for your upcoming posts. On the writing front, tap out titles, phrases and paragraphs as they come to you creatively--you can always go back and piece things together logically as you edit later. Pre-scheduling posts is also a great way to work ahead. This way you know your content will be released on time, and you’ll feel less pressured about getting something posted when you have busier days.
Figure out what time of day works best for you to blog. I prefer to get up earlier in the morning to do my posts--when the house is quiet and there are no distractions. This is when my mind is fresh, my body is rested and I'm at my most creative. Generally in the evening I'm tired after work, errands, the kid's activities, cooking dinner etc. and I have little energy once all that is done.
Use visual inspiration as posts. You don't always have to write out full essays. Your readers just want know what speaks to you and inspires you, and sometimes all that takes is a photo or two.
Have you tried any of these tips in balancing your blog with your life? How have they worked for you?