blogging full time

3 Steps To Balance Your Blog And Your Full Time Job

By Jenna Black

You’re on a mission to become a full time blogger and really turn pro with your blog. With laptop in hand and a huge goal for your blogging career, you know you want to go from blogger to boss as soon as possible, but there’s a catch – you’ve got to somehow manage your day job while blogging at the same time! 

Before panic sets in, let me sooth your inner turmoil by telling you that it’s 100% possible to manage a blog while working full time. I know this because I’ve done it myself and I’ve seen others successfully do the same! 

What’s the secret key to success? It comes down to these three core pillars; savvy strategy planning, smart scheduling and brilliant focus. 

I used these three core pillars while I was working full time, running my blog and freelancing. After 5 months, I quit my full time job to follow my entrepreneurial spirit and start my own business. I used my blog as the platform to get me there, and now I want to show you how you can do the same thing! 

Using these three core pillars and a hefty dose of self-motivation, you can truly run a successful blog and find balance with your day job. Ready to get smart and strategic? Let’s dive in!

1. CREATE A SAVVY STRATEGY PLAN

The first key to finding balance with blogging and your day job is to get seriously savvy with the strategy and direction of your blog. If you don’t have a plan or a roadmap of where you’re going, you’ll likely struggle to turn your blog hobby into a business. Yet, with a plan in hand you’ll be on your way to blog success!

Each blog is unique but when you create your strategy plan, there are a few things to include, to ensure you stay on track and feel balanced.

Set long-term goals for growth

The first place to start in creating your strategy plan is to set some goals around the long-term growth of your blog. Do you want to turn it into a business? What’s the goal for the next 6-12 months of your blog? Get really clear on where you want to take your blog, and from there you can work backwards to achieve your ultimate goals.

Get insights into your target market – clarity is key!

A common mistake I see many bloggers make, is they fail to research and fully understand their core readers and target market from the start. If making money from your blog is a goal of yours, it’s important to get crystal clear on who your target market is, why they are coming to your blog and how you can best serve them with amazing content. 

Start by defining who you target reader is and then develop insights into the specific problems or questions they have that are relevant to your blog. How does your blog help solve these problems or questions for your reader? Dive deep here and really think from the reader’s perspective so you can build a strategy plan around their wants and needs. 

Devise a content plan

Once you’re clear on who your reader is and why they are coming to your blog, it’s time to create a content planner to keep your blog focused and on track for success. Plan ahead of time and prep your blog content ideas for the next 3 to 6 months. Focus your content on your target market’s core problems, questions and concerns and be super specific on how and why you’re creating this content. 

Creating a content plan and knowing where your blog is going is really going to help you create success while juggling your blog and your job. 

Your action step:

Use your long-term goals, target market insights and content ideas and create your own savvy strategy plan. Refer to this when you’re feeling unbalanced or lacking motivation!

2. CREATE A SMART SCHEDULE

One of the biggest challenges as a blogger with a day job is to find the time to actually blog! It can be tricky but there is no better way to stay on track with your blogging goals than with a smart schedule. 

Set a smart (and realistic) schedule

Start by setting your blogging schedule in a realistic way. You know your life best, so find a schedule that is going to work for you. Jot down specific times into your work week and go even more pro by creating themed days. 

For example – Tuesday evenings could be your blog writing time. Thursday mornings could be marketing prep and strategy and Saturday afternoons might be focused on list building and community engagement. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it!

Treat your blog like a business

When I was blogging and working full time, I quickly learnt that I had to treat my blog as a business if I really wanted to quit my job and work for myself. I encourage you to do the same, especially if your goal is to make money and become a full time blogger. It’s so crucial to treat your blog schedule with respect and really show up and do the work. Consistency and a smart schedule are your keys to success!

Your action step:

Create your own weekly blog schedule that works for your lifestyle. Allocate key times to create content, market your blog and build your community and show up at those times with respect, pride and passion!

3. PRACTICE BRILLIANT FOCUS

The final pillar in mastering your blog/work balance is to practice brilliant focus. Having a core focus on the direction of your blog and learning to work smarter, not harder is going to really help you find balance while working your day job. 

Batch your content

One of the biggest mistakes I made when starting my blog was creating content as I needed to. I quickly realized that I not only needed a content plan and strategy, I needed to get savvy with my time restrictions and batch my content.

If you’re seeking that blog/work balance, batching content is your savior. I personally recommend batching a couple of blog posts at a time and then batching social media updates for your next week or fortnight in one go. This simple tip will save you time and make your blogging efforts more productive. 

Eliminate distractions

When you’re feeling a bit burnt out or overwhelmed, go back to basics and focus on your ultimate blogging goals, and from there, focus on the work that’s going to move you closer to those goals in the shortest amount of time time. 

Eliminate any distractions that aren’t actively helping you grow your blog or reach those goals you set in your strategy plan. Getting lost in your Facebook feed? Install a site blocker. Caught up in reading other people’s blogs without doing anything on your own? Turn your wifi off and just write blog content instead. 

It all comes back to eliminating distractions and focusing on the stuff that’s going to move you forward, fast.

Your action step:

Create time in your smart schedule to batch your content or social media. Be aware of any distractions in your life that may hold you back from blog success and find a way to get rid of them to help you stay focused!

Remember, it’s totally possible to run a successful blog and have a full time job. Setting these three core pillars into your routine from the start is going to help give you clarity, purpose and focus to achieve your blogging goals! Keep at it and you’ll be going from blog to boss in no time!

Jenna Black is an online business coach for rising female entrepreneurs and bloggers. With over 8 years experience in online business, Jenna works with women from around the world to help them build their online empire with purpose, strategy and heart.

Top Photo Credit: Death to the stock photo

6 Instagram Photography Tips

By Sally O'Neil

Instagramming is the sole reason I have been able to quit my office job. To follow my passion. To blog full-time AND successfully launch my own line of DIY Protein Balls nationwide. Goodbye boring office meetings, hello freedom and creativity.

But how is that possible? How can a simple set of images snapped on an iPhone launch a blog, let alone a successful business?

The answer is simple: Beautiful pictures. 

…not the answer you were hoping for right? But before you move onto your next impending email, let me tell you with these 6 simple tips, your images will go from zero to hero. 

1. Shoot in natural light

It’s most likely that the perfect picture will come to you at the most inconvenient time #sodslaw. Whether you’re out and about with friends, feeding your children, or shopping for a new dress, it’s guaranteed you won’t have that lovely DSLR strapped around your neck. Without the ability to control ISO and all those other (rather complicated) settings, the best thing you can do for a great image is to shoot in natural light. Your images will sharper and bursting with colour to draw more followers in.

Accounts that do it well: 

@atdusk 

@bianca.virtue 

2. Shoot in ‘square’ mode

Have your pics Instagram-ready by setting your phone camera to ‘square’ mode. That way you can ensure everything you want in the shot is right there, without any post-crop dramas. 

3. Take time to get the best angle

While your pizza may look delicious at eye height on that stand, your phone just won’t do it justice. Try to the capture every beautiful detail. Celebrate those olives and anchovies. Scale the table if you must - it likely everyone around you will be doing the same. 

4. Develop a theme

As creatures of habit, it’s no secret we like consistency. Be it consistency in image colour, content or message, find your theme, and stick to it. Not only will people understand what you are about in just a few short seconds, but they can be assured they’ll be getting more of that same great content when they click the all-important ‘follow’ button.

No dog snaps when you sell jewellery (unless your dog is modelling some, of course) and no baby pics in your food reel. If you just have to share these special moments, set up another account for personal use.

Accounts that do it well: 

@countryroad 

@healthsynergy 

@theassembly.co

5. Get appy

Editing apps are your best friend. They can transform one very average looking photo into a piece of art. I personally love PicTapGo and VSCO cam, as I lean more towards images with minimal shadow and vibrant whites (my theme). Once you find a filter that you love, you can return to it time and time again for consistency. 

6. Consider the bigger picture

Sure, that bright pink smoothie image might look great on it’s own, but how does it look next to that pair of red Nikes you just posted? Your most recent images will be viewed side-by-side, so it’s important to consider the ‘flow’ of images and how they will look to others overall. Try alternating textures and colours to keep it fresh. 

Final note: Optimize

There are lots of websites which look at the vital stats of your posts to Instagram. You might be thinking *arghhh data*, but it’s all laid out in simple infographics that are really user-friendly. Once you have a few images published, have a look at a these sites (I personally like Iconosquare) and use the information to your advantage. Find out when your community is most active, and schedule your images (try the ‘Latergram’ app) to be published at that time. You’ll get much more engagement and visibility.

Meet Sally, a UK born Sydneysider, known in the Insta world as TheFitFoodieBlog. She began a New Years Resolution to clean up her diet in 2013, and has since lost 14 kilos, gained heaps of energy, and never looked back. She began taking snaps of her dinner and recording her recipes on a basic Wordpress site, with no knowledge that it was the humble beginnings of a health blog. Now she’s a freelance food photographer, recipe developer, magazine columnist and full time blogger at the-fit-foodie.com. She is also the proud author of Chocolate Everyday and owner of a popular range of vegan and fructose-free DIY Protein Balls. Check out her out on InstagramFacebook Twitter or Pinterest.

Megan Flynn Peterson of Freckled Italian // Behind The Blog Scene

freckled-italian-interview

I'm a sucker for a good food blog. My love probably stems from the fact I have little talent in the kitchen and my food photography leaves much to be desired but I have a huge amount of respect and love for my fellow bloggers that conquer the foodie world with ease.  One of those beautiful souls is Megan Flynn Peterson, a blogger living in Charlotte, North Carolina and the writer behind Freckled Italian (my new fav food read).

I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Megan while at Alt Summit recently and just had to find out more about how she took on full-time blogging in 2013  and how she balances food, friendship, family, and marriage on her blog. Join me in saying hello and just a hint of warning, looking at her blog my instil strong hunger pangs...

Describe your blog in 3 words
Food, love, stories.
What is your blogging manifesto? 
Sharing the ins and outs of life and connecting with people all over the world on a personal level.
Top 3 blogging essentials? 
My planner, my camera, and a good cup of coffee!
My biggest blogging moment/milestone was....
Definitely making the leap from blogging as a hobby to blogging as a career. I quit my day job in August of 2013 and sometimes it still doesn't feel real; that this is my job and I get to do it every day for a living.
Best piece of advice I've been given? 
Don't worry so much about where you're going to end up. Trust the journey and just work hard every day.
I'm dreaming about traveling to.. 
Ireland, Norway, and Argentina
Best piece of advice to a newbie blogger? 
Be yourself. Write about the things you love and take the time to be genuine and authentic. It can be a challenge, but it is so worth it.
If I wasn't blogging I'd be...
Working in publishing or back in school, studying to be a librarian.
Behind the scenes of my blog looks like...
Organized chaos. Working at home is so fun sometimes but I have the worst time staying organized. I can usually see the big picture, but I tend to get a little lost in the details from time to time.
This year I'm most excited about...
Taking a step back and adopting a "less is more," or "quality over quantity" approach to blogging (and my life in general). 

freckled-italian-interview02
freckled-italian-interview03

Photos by Sarah Gatrell of Photo + Love for Freckled Italian.