Being a freelance blog writer is great gig to fill the time if you are in between jobs, or children, or have lots of spare time on your hands. The question is, once your schedule changes and free time becomes a thing of the past, how do you find time to blog? Every blogger needs help improving his or her time management. Rather than abandoning blogging when things get busy or during an emergency, here are some ways that you can create more time for your blog in your hectic schedule.
1. Schedule times to blog and market.
Yes, you need to market your blog, in addition to writing it! For example, I write in the afternoon, edit and set up posts in later afternoon, and market early the next morning. Remember that part of setting up your post includes search engine optimization, customizing images, and making your headline intriguing. In addition, you may need about a half an hour or so to promote your post to your interested audience or blogger groups. Be creative: for example, you don’t always need to use the same title and hashtag for a tweet if it fits diverse readers. You can schedule different days of the week for regular topics, such as giveaways on Mondays or curating news on Friday. “Wordless Wednesdays” has been a popular one for many years, but I would recommend doing something unique to your blog instead.
2. Reduce how often you post – or reduce your post lengths.
Many bloggers believe that to stay visible they need to run content daily. That really depends on your market and what you are posting. If you are running a deal blog, posts must be timely, so you will need to find time to blog and promote daily, but you can help yourself by creating posts that are both concise and search engine friendly. This is the kind of practice that will help you become a more professional writer. Other niches, however, can take more time between postings. The best idea is to determine when your target market is viewing content in your niche (see last week’s discussion) and to use that as to create a schedule.
3. Use your digital calendar program – and any other calendars – to their fullest.
I’m one of those people who needs a lot of reminders, so I always schedule my digital calendar, sync it with my phone, and have a paper calendar on hand to duplicate times. Schedule blocks of time to blog throughout the day, and don't just use your calendar as a reminder, use it as a full-fledged productivity tool by keeping track of when you are most productive. You may need to chart yourself for a while in order to schedule best times and enough minutes to produce quality content. For more tips on writing faster, check out Rachel Aaron's post (and book), “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.”
4. Incorporate great productivity tools.
There are tons of productivity tools available to keep bloggers organized. I recommend sticking to the free ones if you are just starting your own blog. Great apps such as the Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress, PicMonkey for photo editing, Evernote to keep track of notes, ideas, files and more, and Skitch for screenshots will help you manage and create great content quickly. You should also check out the numerous productivity tools for writers, like Write or Die which imposes consequences when you STOP typing, or Omniwriter, which eliminates distractions while you write, and Freedom, which actually blocks time-wasting websites as you write (Pinterest, anyone?)
5. No idea is wasted.
You’re going to need content – lots of content – and not just for your blog. You’ll be more useful to your followers if you use social media for unique content other than blog posts. That means keeping track of sites that speak to your niche using forums and RSS feeds, monitoring the Pinterest boards of leaders in your niche, and using Google alerts to monitor topics on the web. Follow what's trending on Twitter, and relevant hash tags, and keep engaged with your groups on Facebook. Finally, remember to keep eye on the news for hot topics, politics, and current events that affect your blog topic, even if it's rare.
6. Take multiple photos of everything.
Get really comfortable with photography. That means taking out your camera at every opportunity you can. (Note, you may not be allowed to shoot certain things, like a shopping trip or people without permission.) Don’t just take photos; take lots of them! Adjust settings, light, turn flash on and off – see what works and what doesn’t for different pictures. Remember you can’t take too many digital photos, but you can waste time reshooting when the 1 or 2 you took that look crummy. This is especially critical if you are taking product photos or looking for that great shot of your child.
7. Set social media to autopost.
Incorporating social media plugins and tools to automatically update your social media will help keep you be more productive. For Facebook, I recommend the Networked Blogs application. In addition to allowing you to set up feeds to Twitter or Facebook, you can also use this as a blog reader and set targets o follow and read. Use TwitterFeed.com to feed your blog’s RSS to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can select an app in LinkedIn and connect your blog directly. You should also schedule tweets and Facebook posts throughout the week with different titles and hashtags to reach a larger audience.
8. Organize your content so that anyone can reach you easily.
Once your blog starts to grow, organizations are going to want to contact you – and so are the spammers. I recommend putting your email address on your blog, and you can use a plugin like Obfuscate E-mail, making it harder for hackers to scrape. Since there's no way to entirely avoid spam, it's a good idea to set up multiple ways to reach you, in case that critical email lands in spam. Set up a contact form on your blog, and if you have a business, customize the information you want to collect. I recommend the Contact Form Plugin for WordPress. Finally, you can opt to put your phone number on your site, but only if you have a business phone line – don’t publish a private phone. Instead, you can add your Skype phone info, or integrate Skype into your blog via a plugin. Finally, make sure you put all your social media on every blog page as well.
9. Make sure your information on your static pages is clear, correct, and informative.
You should always have an about page that clearly lists who you are, what your blog is about, and who you are trying to reach – and what you DON’T do (run ads, accept guest posts, etc.). As you grow, it’s a good idea to post your blog statistics, using Google Analytics to see how your blog is performing and growing. This will cut down on email from visitors you do not wish to work with. Remember that the more information you post describing your blog’s mission, the more likely the contacts you get will be properly directed.
10. Recruit a regular guest blogger.
Think you can’t find a guest blogger? Think again. Lots of newbie bloggers are eager to promote their blogs to a larger audience. Find out your Google page rank, then find bloggers who have a lower page rank than you or a smaller audience. If you can’t find any, recruit some brand new bloggers. You’ll need to have a relationship with them, so seek out bloggers you already know. If no one you know fits this bill right now, spend some of your marketing time building relationships. Make sure that when you recruit bloggers, their writing fits your blog, and that they know your expectations and guidelines. Also, avoid granting them administrative access to your blog. It’s easy enough to set up users with limited access if you’re using WordPress. This is a great step to further your career as a freelance blog writer, and will give you experience in copyediting and managing a team.
These ideas and productivity tools will help you find time to blog when your time is short or you are unavailable. Set up these practices now, so you can be prepared when you are too busy to blog.
Photo credit: Xenia and Carunan.