Blogging on the side can be an extremely frustrating business.
It feels like you never have enough time to work on your site, with your attention being pulled by your kids, your 9-5 job or other commitments.
So, it’s crucial that you make every blogging minute count.
In this post I’ve collated my best time management tips in the hope it will help others struggling to fit it all in.
I’ve been blogging part-time for a number of years now. I’ve blogged through intense 60 hour work weeks, long-haul traveling and, most recently, maternity leave, and I’ve developed a few tricks to help me maximize my productivity.
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5 Time Management Tips for Side Hustle Bloggers
1. Focus, focus, focus
For side hustle bloggers, our biggest enemy is ‘shiny object syndrome‘. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to do ALL OF THE THINGS and end up doing nothing well.
When you’re just starting out it’s hard to know what to focus on.
One blogger is getting amazing results from Pinterest, another is all about Facebook and yet another warns that you have to get a million backlinks in your first month of blogging if you’re going to succeed.
It’s taken me 3 blogs to truly understand that I make far more progress when I focus on one or two main objectives at a time.
Here’s how I’ve approached this for Blog On The Side:
1. My content focus:
I’ve decided to focus on 3 main content ‘pillars’ for the blog.
- ‘How to’ technical tutorials,
- DIY blog design, and
- Time management.
If a post idea doesn’t fall under one of these 3 banners then I note it down for later, but I don’t get sidetracked.
Of course, these topics will likely change over time as I get more of an idea of what you guys actually want from me. But, for now, I can actually create MORE content as I know what areas I should be writing about.
2. My marketing focus:
I am concentrating my marketing efforts on Pinterest and building my email list.
That means that all the learning and reading I’m doing right now is about Pinterest or email list building.
I’m also present on Facebook, but it’s not my major focus right now, and I did set up a Twitter and Instagram account to make sure I have the blog name (but they’re just sitting there, waiting for me to be ready to pick them up.)
When it comes to time management tips, I definitely notice that I get more done when I keep my focus nice and contained. I’d encourage you to give it a go.
2. NEVER sit down to blog without a To-do list
Does this sound familiar?
You have a spare hour to work on your blog, so you sit down, fire up your laptop and get going…
Firstly you decide to check your emails. Ooh, an interesting email has come in from one of your favourite bloggers advertising her new Facebook course…
Ok, so Facebook isn’t on your ‘focus-on’ list for this month, but you have a quick look anyway. She shares a free tip so you head to your Facebook page to see if you can implement it…
Then, your attention gets caught in your newsfeed, there are tons of new posts from all those Facebook Groups you’re in.
You see a post from a blogger who seems to be doing waaaay better than you and she’s killing it on Instagram. You head over to Instagram and get a severe case of jealousy staring at her follower numbers and post engagement…
Before you know it, your TIME IS UP! That’s it, you’ve wasted the whole hour and have absolutely nothing to show for it.
This has happened to me far more times than I’d like to admit. It’s incredibly frustrating!
So, I implemented a rule…
I am not allowed to open my laptop unless I have a concrete ‘To-do’ list written down and I know what I’m going to achieve from my blogging session.
For example, get a blog post written, create social media images, do some blogger outreach.
NOT scrolling aimlessly through Facebook or Pinterest.
I was recently featured in a round-up post about what I wish I knew about blogging before I got started. For me, it was definitely time management – making sure I’m prioritizing the kind of tasks that will help my business grow.
I’ve found a post by Suzi over on Start a Mom Blog which shows you how to ensure you’re working on the most urgent tasks at any one time.
Implementing this has definitely helped me to identify the ‘busy’ work that takes a ton of time but doesn’t actually move my business forward at all (Pinterest board covers anyone?!).
3. Find a system that works for you to capture ideas and inspiration
How can you avoid a situation like above, where you get sidetracked by an offer or idea in your inbox or social media?
For me, the key has been to develop a system for ‘filing’ ideas and inspiration for later.
My system relies largely on 2 things… the ‘Save’ function on Facebook, along with Evernote.
Here’s how I work it:
1. Save interesting posts and conversations on Facebook using the ‘save post’ function
If a helpful post or discussion on my Facebook groups aligns with my focus for that month then I take a look immediately. If it’s useful but not something I’m currently focusing on then I use the ‘save post’ function.
Just head to the ‘three dots’ at the top right-hand side of the post and choose the first option.
Now there’s no point saving a load of stuff if you never look at it.
You can find your saved items on your Facebook homepage, in the ‘Explore’ menu on the left hand side:
(Oh, by the way, notice that my Facebook newsfeed looks a bit odd in the image above? That’s because I use the News Feed Eradicator Chrome web extension. This is another productivity tip – it hides the newsfeed so I can’t get sidetracked when I’m networking in my Groups on my laptop. It’s definitely worth checking out!)
Once a week, I go through my saved posts and transfer anything that I want to follow up to Evernote.
Which leads me on to…
2. Use Evernote to manage all ideas, inspiration and to-do lists in one place
I’ve always loved to write lists. I am, at heart, a pen and paper kinda gal. But, I just end up with scraps of paper everywhere or notebooks with endless lists that aren’t getting actioned.
Until I found Evernote.
Evernote is a really powerful organization tool. You can create virtual notebooks where you can write notes, save web pages (or screenshots), recipes, PDFs, voice files and much more.
Nothing has worked as well as Evernote for me to keep me productive.
It has especially helped in organizing my ideas, plans, and all those training eBooks and lead magnets that I’ve downloaded over the years.
I’m a total sucker for useful opt-ins and downloads. I used to download them and then get waylaid reading stuff that I really didn’t need to be concentrating on at that time.
Now, when I find a resource that I know will help me at some stage, I download it and immediately file it to Evernote. Then when it’s time to focus on, for example, building my email list, I head straight to my Email List Building notebook and get learning.
I do the same for blog post ideas and training that I want to check out when the time is right.
Evernote is also perfect for capturing my To-do list on the go. I can access it on my laptop, iPad and phone so no matter where I am I can check things off my list.
I’d encourage you to give Evernote a try – it’s changed my (blogging) life!
4. Use ‘canned’ emails for any email that you send more than once
How much time do you spend sending multiple emails to join Pinterest group boards or seeking permission to use images for a round-up post?
Typing out the same thing over and over again is such a waste of time. Using ‘canned’ email templates is the answer.
Here’s how to set it up in Gmail…
- Head to the ‘Settings’ menu in the gear icon on the top right-hand corner of the Gmail screen;
- Choose the ‘Labs’ option in the top menu;
- Ensure the ‘Canned responses’ option is enabled.
5. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on social media
I know this is one of those time management tips you see everywhere, but this really is my major downfall. I can spend HOURS scrolling the Facebook newsfeed.
So, I’ve had to get super strict with myself and schedule the time that I spend in Pinterest and Facebook.
I was finding that the biggest time suck for me is keeping up with all the Facebook Groups I’m a member of.
(I wrote last week about the steps I’ve taken to reduce the Facebook Group time suck if you want to check that out.)
I’ve even created a spreadsheet to help me plan what I will share in each Facebook Group every week to make the most of promotional opportunities (without wasting a ton of time or spamming the Groups!).
I like to share so you can grab your own copy below…
FACEBOOK GROUP MANAGER SPREADSHEET
Take the stress out of managing the promotional opportunities on all those Facebook Groups you’re on…
Grab my easy-to-use spreadsheet to track what to share to each Group every week. Waste less time and grow your blog the smart way!
Already a Blog On The Side subscriber? No need to sign up again – just head to the Subscriber Vault and enter the password I sent in your last email to access all your freebies in one place 🙂
Phew, I didn’t mean to write such a long post!
But, I hope my time management tips will help you figure out what your focus and priorities are for your side hustle blog.
I’d love to hear your best time management tips – hit me up in the comments!