So you want to be a full time blogger huh? Yeah me too, I’d love to see income reports like Abby at JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com ($48,000 last month?!) or Regina at ByRegina.com … however for most of us they are pipe dreams and we have a day job that pays the bills. If you are a fellow hobby blogger like me then here are my top tips for combining blogging with a full time profession:
Realise your priorities
Business and leisure do not mix. Period. No buts. Keep. Things. Separate. Your number one day job is the one that pays the bills, got it? You wouldn’t be able to do any other hobby in your work time such as golfing, hiking or playing the x-box. Just because you can control your blog from your smartphone or tablet at your desk, doesn’t mean you should. Work is work and play is play. Use tools such as Crowdfire or Hootsuite to schedule tweets and posts across your platforms throughout the day so you can concentrate on your day job. Keep notifications off and only check them in your lunch break. Until you can make a full time wage from your blog, it is just a hobby that will have to wait. Also, keep it professional. Don’t talk about your employer on your blog in any way that can be misinterpreted or used against you. In fact, unless it is directly related to your blog topic, don’t talk about work at all. Your readers come to your blog for you, not because of your day job.
Find the Time
Take a look at your time commitments for the week or month ahead and plot where you can find time to work on your blog. Then protect it! In addition to working full time I travel most weekends to London to see my other half. If he happens to be working in the day I use it as quality work time, literally the moment he’s gone I grab my macbook from beside the bed and start. When I fancy a change of scenery I head out to a local coffee shop.
Occasionally I will also take an evening a week to head down to local Costa after work, where in two hours I can get far more done than I can at home. If you can’t concentrate over the noise take headphones. I find it less distracting than at home.
Blogging isn’t just about writing, it’s also about reading other blogs and researching. Set up some lists on Bloglovin’ and you can read these in your lunch break. You can save anything you think is interesting or snapshot it on your phone or tablet and send it to an Evernote Notebook.
Evernote? What’s that?
Evernote is my lifesaver. It’s a virtual notebook replacement, best of all you can access it from anywhere. Forgot your tablet? Use your smartphone, connect on your desktop later on and it’s all there. You can search via tags so it makes brainstorming or drafting blog posts a dream. Try the free version and then if you are serious about blogging and you have multiple devices you want to share things across consider going premium.
Plan, plan, plan
Plan your posts in advance, spend an hour or two working on a mind map or bullet journal for your blog. Use it to plan your posts. Think ahead. Some posts I write way ahead of time, others I just write on the hoof but I use my Blog Bullet Journal to keep track of it all. I don’t take it to work with me, if inspiration strikes during my day job I jot the idea on a post it and shove it in my purse for working on at home. I can’t feel guilty about that – I often do the same in reverse for work ideas.
Use a plug in like WordPress Editorial Calendar, it will help you plan posts around events and you can then tie in tweets via Crowdfire or Hootsuite.
Be prepared for anyone reading it
Blogging about the things I do, mainly tea, blogging and the nicer things in life, I don’t have to worry about my mother or grandma reading this. I used to worry more about a co-worker reading it, why? What if they think it sounds dumb? What if they think it has no value? Well, tough! If they don’t like it, they won’t read it again. I nearly had kittens when a student mentioned they had stumbled across this blog – via Pinterest they had searched for tips on how to create a nice work environment. They were nothing but complimentary but it was a reminder to me that literally ANYONE can read a blog. Life is too short to worry about what I cannot change. I love blogging so I will carry on doing it. However, if you blog about something a little controversial, consider anonymity on the blog. If you aren’t happy for your family, friends or boss to read it should they stumble across it, don’t publish it in your name!
Keep track of any income and expenditure.
Yes, you do have to pay tax on any income you earn from your blog. But, in the same way you can claim tax relief against your expenses. Blog hosting fees, domain names, travel for blog related events. Keep all of the receipts and track your expenses v your income. When you start to earn you should register yourself for tax purposes as you will need to declare any earnings.
Check if your workplace has a blogging policy
Nowadays most savvy employers have a social media and acceptable IT usage policy but you should check if these cover blogs. It may be wise to check with your HR dept. For me, it falls into any other business or employment, which means that even if I sold Avon I would have to declare it. It’s often not because your employer has to give permission necessarily, but in order to ensure there are no conflicts of interest or anything that could bring your employer into disrepute, check and check. Often most employers will welcome hobby bloggers as bloggers have lots of skills that are transferable. Social Media Management, SEO, Marketing, Project Management, Budget Management – these are all skills that us bloggers gain and improve constantly through our hobby. Who wouldn’t embrace that in employees? But check, remember the old motto, if in doubt, check it out!
Remember to have fun with it
Blogging isn’t easy, in fact at times it can be quite hard work, challenging and demanding. Keeping up with comments, posts, graphics and the social media engagement can be exhausting, especially when you are fitting it in around a full time job and other commitments. I’ve often got myself in a downward spiral mood wise when things don’t go as I want them as mention in my post Strength and Honour. This month I was ill for two weeks and that meant I didn’t blog for most of the month. I didn’t have the energy and despite a bullet journal crammed with post ideas – I couldn’t be bothered and I wasn’t inspired at all. Remember that it is a hobby. If you don’t feel like doing any today, don’t! Sometimes it does us all good to have a digital detox and unplug.
If you have any other tips to share or want to share your blog, please comment below and I’ll be happy to share appropriate blogs.