How To Build A Successful Blog With A Full Time Job

March 12, 2014

Working full-time but love blogging? Here are my best tips on growing a successful blog alongside a full-time job! I love reader emails, every time I get one it makes all the hard work worth it!  Lately, I’ve gotten a few reader emails asking me for advice about blogging and I knew it was about due time I wrote another post around blogging.

I started building my blog in 2011 when I was a full time grad student and was working part time in market research in downtown Chicago. At the time, blogging helped supplement my measly take home pay and really gave me a crash course in what would become a full time career in social media marketing.  Fast forward, I now work full time in a related field, but it can be a struggle to keep growing my blog and building it to the next level with other demands on my time.

Needless to say, this little blog has opened so many doors for me, and the people I’ve met because of it have done nothing short but change my life. I sincerely hope your blog changes your life. Whether you treat it as a hobby or dream for it to become a full time gig, your blog is just another tool to become connected with the world in a powerful new way.

 

How To Build A Successful Blog With A Full Time Job

 

Strategize.

Obviously right?  But honestly, do you have a strategy for your blog?  What social channels are you going to use to grow your blog, do you track growth and engagement on those channels?  Do you have Google Analytics installed?  Do you have goals for traffic, sponsorships or media features?

Honestly, some social media sites are a waste of time for your goals especially if your ideal audience isn’t there…some will fit your goals better than others, while others won’t do much for your blog at all (Ahem, I’m lookin’ at you Facebook!)  If you have limited time, what channels will you *focus* on to truly shine?  Take stock of what channels you want to grow on, so you can focus building subscribers there.

Set a plan for how often you want to post, what social media channels you focus your time on (hint, you can’t do it all, all the time!), and plan both your content and when (nights? weekends? lunch breaks?) you want to regularly work on your blog.

Monetize.

How is your blog going to make money?  A few ways are ad networks like Google Adsense, GLAM, BlogHer or Burst to name a few.  You could also take on some sponsored posts through Social Fabric, Clever Girls, Style Coalition and additionally, some ad networks also offer paid review/sponsored posts so they provide more ways to monetize.

Additionally, you can offer direct sidebar ads. I use Passionfruit ads, it keeps things simple and I like how I don’t have to track or upload banner ads myself.

Of course, you can always create products- ebooks, online courses, coaching or a supplemental Etsy shop to earn extra cash.   Be cautious though, that with mo’ money comes mo’ problems- you’ll want to track your income for taxes later.  Keep track as you go along, and keep things simple.

 

Schedule.

You can totally build a successful blog while holding down a full time job, but you have to schedule time in for it.  There are times I totally fail at this, but I do have to sit down and schedule time with the blog several times a week since rarely I ever have an entire free day to sit down and do so.

I’ve been known to schedule an hour for blogging in in the evenings, on my lunch break or on a Saturday morning when the fiancé would rather watch cartoons.  Make the most of those free blocks of time, no matter how small, by coming in with a strategy for your session.  I will usually sit down with and idea behind that time- either I sit down with 4 ideas for posts and crank them out, or I’ll go through old posts to tweet the links, or simply clean up spam comments and do some housekeeping on the site (like update affiliate banner codes, update old pages or reviewing the analytics).

You not only need to sit down and schedule time for blogging itself, look over the month ahead and see what kinds of content should be coming through the pipeline. Do you like to blog about seasonal events?  Should you be preparing for a major sponsored post opportunity that needs to be woven into the content schedule?  Don’t get caught off guard by deadlines, you could miss out on a great, shareable post idea or worse, a chance to make some cash!

Automate.

This ties into scheduling-  but when it comes to blogging, while you should be innovative and offer fresh content regularly for your readers, you do not need to reinvent the wheel personally in doing so.  What are you really good at? Focus on those strengths and either delegate or set aside time to get through the tasks you hate quickly.

I’m stupid busy- so I use tools like Dlvr.it and Hootsuite to schedule some of my content to be syndicated when I’m unable to sit behind a computer.  Additionally, I like to queue up a few posts at a time to get a week or two ahead of schedule by drafting and scheduling my posts in WordPress.  Some bloggers have a more rigid content schedule, it’s something I wish I had the brain for- but I can usually get about two weeks ahead before I need to take some time off and get inspired.

An easy way to tackle scheduling and solve for regular content is to create a content series. This year I’m doing a $20k in 2014 series, but I’ve done Week of Gratitude last Thanksgiving.  I’ve seen people do monthly net worth updates or weight loss updates, or a themes that mean they’ll never be out of ideas if they hit a writers blog or honestly, those points when you’re busy and blogging seems totally unfun but needs to get done.

 

Network.

It’s easy to feel locked behind a computer, disconnected from everyone, or what I think can be worse, having a false sense of connection because you tweet with a ton of people all day but don’t have any real blogger friends.  Being connected with other bloggers in your niche is key to growing your blog.  While it’s beneficial to have a ton of surface-level connections with people on Twitter or Instagram, the deeper the friendship and connection, the truly richer the benefit.

There are a few bloggers who I treasure as friends and esteemed colleagues.  Frequently, we’ll take time out of busy lives to connect and brainstorm, or if either of us needs feedback or some extra help launching a big project or product, leaning on another blogger can really help amplify those goals.  Through the years, I’ve also been a part of a few networking and mastermind groups- sometimes meeting for weekly Google hangouts or simply being looped in on weekly accountability emails- these connections have developed me as a professional blogger so powerfully.

How To Build A Successful Blog With A Full Time Job

 

Are you a blogger with a full time job- What is your best piece of advice?

What have you learned about blogging since you started?

19 comments so far.

19 responses to “How To Build A Successful Blog With A Full Time Job”

  1. Emily says:

    I am a new blogger with a full time job who is having trouble sitting down and making time for blogging! This post motivated me to get back into it! Thank you for posting this 🙂

  2. stp says:

    I too am a new blogger with a full-time job. I’m finding the social networking and analytics side of things a bit of a minefield at the moment – when to tweet, when to link, when to post etc etc etc … I’m enjoying the blogging and learning new stuff but there’s such a LOT to learn. Some really good tips in your post about scheduling and having strategies for the things you want to get out there. I hope I can put your suggestions to good use in my own blog. I’d love for this to turn in to something more than just my musings on a screen read by an audience of 1 occasionally!

  3. Alisia says:

    This is definitely something I need to work at. I love blogging because I love to write and I love to share my stories and experiences with people. I also have a full time job and a long distance relationship, therefor making time for my blog is hard at times. I have recently started scheduling posts but my problem is the content, I’m sure people get sick of hearing about my life so I started a series of How To Deal (literately just started it on Sunday). Basically the series is about things that use women (and men) go through and how to deal with some challenging times. I think it fits most of the criteria you have above, minus the making money part (I need a LOT of help there haha).

    • Shannyn says:

      Totally Alisia! I think having a series really helps me get through writer’s block sometimes… it can help you stay accountable for your blogging goals, but also for whatever you’re writing about. I’m doing the $20k in 2014 and knowing I’ll be writing about it soon keeps me on track…somewhat at least!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Well put. I need to do many if not all of these things better. I’m looking forward to your talk at FitBloggin’ (and maybe running together again).

    Nice work Shannyn.

  5. This is such an excellent post! I love that you’re not selfish with your tips on how to become a successful blogger – I totally needed some of these! I would love to jump to blogging FT eventually, and you’re definitely making it seem like this may be a reality 🙂

  6. Miss Thrifty says:

    I managed it fine, but with a baby (now toddler) in the mix it’s been a lot tougher. My time doesn’t come in tracts any more, rather snatched half-hours here and there, which makes it harder to stockpile posts and keep the posting schedule up to snuff. Getting better though…

    • Shannyn says:

      As a mom, I commend you for getting anything done! I have two pugs, which aren’t as time intensive to care for as a baby and seriously…you rock! I still struggle with stock piling posts, I go through spurts where I write a ton and other times I can’t sit down for more than an hour at a time and usually just get a post or two done at a time. Some folks do it all the time, I need to get better!

      Thanks for stopping by darling…also, I was talking to someone about you just the other day..I felt cool name dropping this “awesome frugality blogger in the UK I know” 😉

  7. Mary says:

    Wow, this helped a bunch! As a blogging newbie, there’s a barrage of info and it’s difficult to decipher which would benefit me the most. And since I love your blog and it’s pretty successful, I’ll trust your advice haha Keep it up!

  8. I’m a newer blogger still learning how to best schedule my time. Early mornings and lunch breaks tend to be my most productive times. Thanks for sharing tips to monetize! That’s definitely something I hope to dive into eventually.

  9. Wonderful post! I live by scheduling. Sometimes I have to go to my site to remind myself of what I posted that day because a lot of my posts are scheduled a week+ in advance. Ha-ha!

    I’ve been looking into Hootsuite for helping me manage my blog’s social mediums. How do you feel about it?

    Thanks for all of these tips chica!

    KLP | SavingOurStrands

  10. Great, sensible tips. I’ve been blogging since 2003 and a LOT has changed since then, both personally in my life and in the blogosphere. With a 60+ hour per week job, going back to college, a wonderful husband, plus two chronic illnesses (diabetes and depression) to manage, having a plan is everything. On the weeks I manage to post, it’s because I’ve scheduled in the time to write and then followed through. On the weeks that my blog is a ghost town, the opposite is true.

  11. This is so helpful!! Thank you for putting it together. I am not yet monetizing my blog (I feel like I don’t get enough traffic yet). And I’m scared that I’ll do it wrong or end up spending more than I earn.

    Also, I really haven’t made blogging friends. How would you suggest doing this?

  12. em says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips, I’m back to blogging on my new blog and starting completely from scratch so it’s great to see some hints and tips that might help me start on a better footing this time around 🙂
    I’ve added this post to my favourite links for tomorrows post I hope that’s ok?
    Em
    x

  13. Kate says:

    Fantastic tips! I used to schedule all my posts a week in advance but I have fallen behind a little bit, I should work on this!

  14. Meg says:

    Hi! I’m currently developing my blog and this post was great to read! I currently work full-time – managing my clients, as well as managing the social media content for my division & writing blog based on my blog. It has been a want of mine to start a personal blog about things that I am passionate about, so I’ve just started it! These tips helped to remind me that even though i’m a perfectionist – its okay to be human and forgive yourself 🙂

    Thanks for your advice!

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