Thursday, March 17, 2016

Balancing Blogging + Working

Hi everyone!  I have an exciting post lined up for today.  A topic that's been on my mind a lot lately has been balance.  Life lately has been really busy and hectic, and balancing my full time job with blogging has been a challenge!



I've been talking about this with some of my blogging friends as well, and it seems to be a pretty universal issue.  I wanted to get some tips and tricks from other bloggers who balance a full time job as well to see how they do it all. To be completely honest, all of the ladies that I asked for advice I originally thought were full-time bloggers.  They consistently produce such high-quality content that I figured it was impossible to do that in addition to working!  I had to learn their secrets to success, and share it with you all.  I hope you'll find these tips helpful, and make sure you stop by and visit all of these amazing blogs.

Alexa is a local Pittsburgh blogger who shares healthy versions of classic recipes at fooduzzi.com.  I'm absolutely drooling over her recipe for Whole Food Peanut Butter Eggs- just in time for Easter!

Tip #1 - Be Serious

I treat my blog as a “job” just as much as I do my full-time job. Just like my full-time job, I consciously set aside time every single day to work on Fooduzzi. I treat my blog as a business; businesses need a ton of time, effort, and, most importantly, dedication in order to thrive. I hold myself and my blog to that same standard. By treating my photography, writing, and development as a second job, it’s much easier to make blogging a priority every single day.




Bridget and Casey are two best friends who blog together over at the DIY Playbook.  I've been obsessed with their blog ever since I found it, and I know I'll be trying lots of their tutorials when I move, like this mason jar organizer!

Tip # 2 - Stay Organized

We both have pretty extreme Type-A personalities and are addicted to to-do lists. Thankfully this personality quirk comes in handy when it comes to juggling our blog, jobs, and personal lives. In terms of the blog, we plan our content well in advance. In fact, we fill up our editorial calendar about 2-3 months in advance (we know we're crazy!), so we're always prepared for what's ahead. This works for us because we can divide tasks, plan photo shoots, and schedule large DIY projects weeks ahead of time. It especially gives us plenty of time to take photos during the day (usually on weekends when we're not at work), edit photos, and get posts written without a pressure of a tight deadline.  Planning ahead also comes in handy when we want to get things done around the house. We'll often put a "home to-do" on the editorial calendar and then we're forced to make it happen for the blog. To keep our blog content straight, we rely on our google calendar. Seeing your entire month at a glance makes it easy to plan ahead and see what's next on the list. 

Tip #3 - Have a Support System

We often get asked how we "do it all," and the honest answer is...we don't! We rely heavily on our husbands and family members when things get extra crazy. Our husbands are our biggest cheerleaders and are always willing to pick up the slack around the house when things get busy. They both also do all of the cooking (amazing, right?!), so they keep us fueled up for projects or even when we're logging hours on the computer. Our moms are also always there to help out! Bridget's mom once cleaned her entire house before we had a film crew over, and Casey's mom wrapped 20 gorgeous (empty!) gifts for a Christmas tree photo shoot. So our support system definitely helps keep us sane!

Margaret was my partner in crime during my Whole30 experience, and has become a close friend and mentor in the blogging world.  Her posts on Young and Rungry are so informative and helpful, like this post on building a weekly training plan.


Tip #4 - Find an Authentic Balance

I know we hear it all the time, but I think authentic work/life balance is vital. I say “authentic” in the sense that you have to be very honest with yourself because only you know what that balance looks like. When I first started blogging, I was incredibly off kilter and I saw that in my lack of sleep, irritability, and in the fact that I was paying less attention to my relationships and other things that I usually love. I think my biggest time suck and point of stress in blogging was caring too much. I spent too much time checking daily analytics, repin numbers, likes, comments, and even ad revenue. Not only did it very inconveniently break up my day, but even when I wasn’t physically checking it, I was thinking about it. 

It could be something that every new blogger eventually grows out of, but I had to take a break from blogging to remember who I am and what I’m all about. After my blogging break, I didn’t become any less hard working, but I was able to take the stress and the worry out of it and make it fun again. That way when I come home from work and write, it’s a hobby that I enjoy in moderation and I feel rejuvenated through it instead of beaten down. I know many people start blogging either because their work isn’t fulfilling or because they’d like to transition into it full time, but I never want to lose passion for what I went to school for and what I do. I love working with people with disabilities and never want to leave it so it’s really important for me not to lose sight of that passion either, which takes a tremendous amount of authentic balance. 

Tip #5 - Break the Blogging Rules

Listen to any podcast or read any article on “How to be a Successful Blogger” and it’ll tell you that you have to have a set schedule, stick to it, post x amount of times each week, have your editorial calendar, etc. I think that’s awesome, but for me some weeks when I’m really busy at work or with my social life it’s just not realistic and success may be getting one recipe posted by Friday. That’s to say that there are different measures of success so you have to figure out what yours looks like and reach for that instead. If you’re trying to be the perfect blogger and that lifestyle isn’t sustainable with your job and other things that are important to you, find something that’s going to work long term. 



Jess is an absolute yoga goddess who is incredibly inspirational to me!  She's a personal trainer who shares exercises and healthy recipes on her blog Hello to Fit, like this mouth-watering slow cooker Vietnamese soup.  Yum!


Tip #6 - PLAN!

Although most days I don't feel like I balance working a full-time job and blogging, there is always a plan. That is probably one of the most important things for me. When I first started blogging almost three years ago, I would sit down at my computer and try and write from scratch, without any sort of idea or topic to write about. Posts would take me hours to complete, and it was an exhausting ordeal.
Now, when you look at my month-to-month planner, you'll see that the whole month is sketched out with post ideas. Is it set in stone? Nope. But I can look at the next 30 days and see what I COULD write about, if I can make time for it. If you want to be able to post ahead of time, be efficient, and maximize what you put out through your blog, I highly recommend using some sort of organizational tool. That can be in the form of a tangible planner, or an online scheduler.

Tip #7 - Know Your Priorities

Since Hello to Fit is not a primary - or even secondary - source of income, I've learned to keep my full-time job a priority. I used to stay up late blogging, and my work life would suffer. So, while I will attempt to plan out my months of blogging, as well as adhere to the schedule, it's been a process to be comfortable with missing a post throughout the week. How exactly does that keep me "balanced"? It puts things into perspective. I love my readers and my blogging communities, but at the end of the day, this hobby does not produce a lot of money for me right now. My full time job puts food on the table AND allows me to progress the blog the way I want it to. I feel more balanced when I can remember this, because now, more often than not, I won't feel guilty about waiting until the weekend to read a friend's blog post, or if I only get to put out one post in a week.



I'd like to thank everyone for taking time from their (already) busy schedules to contribute to this post.  Make sure you show these ladies some love by visiting their blogs!


What are your tips for finding balance?
Fellow bloggers- what is your biggest struggle right now?
linking up with Amanda

59 comments:

  1. I think you have to prioritize, be organized, and evolve. If you are a write-before-the-day-you-post blogger (like me), sometimes, you will just not have anything to write! So you might have to learn to prep some content earlier, but then still have your improv days.

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    1. I agree with the need to evolve. Excellent point Susie! People constantly change so I feel like your blog needs to change with you or it stops feeling authentic.

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  2. Thank you so much for including me, Gretchen and for your kind words! I am so thankful for your friendship! Blogging and working aint easy and I love all of these tips! I especially resinate with Jess's words about being okay with missing a post throughout the week! Sometimes you have to just think long term on both ventures so one weekly setback is nothing in the span of 5 years!

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    1. I'm so, so glad that you helped me with this post! You seriously inspire me with your blog and I am really appreciative for all your support <3

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  3. My biggest struggle during the winter months is photographing food- my weekends get so busy and taking food pics after work during the week have terrible lighting. I'm in the process of taking my blog from hobby, to a more secondary form of income- I just became self hosted and now I'm hiring someone for a new design. I think setting a goal for the blog every month is a good way to stay on track with growing your blog.

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    1. That's my struggle year round haha! Good luck with monetizing your blog!

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  4. I've been soo busy this week and have been struggling to find balance. Glad to hear I'm not the only one! Thanks for sharing these tips!

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    1. Good luck with finding that balance Michelle!

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  5. WOW, I love that you shared this post. I can't wait to read all of it later today!

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  6. For me, balance looks different depending on the season I'm in. I used to think that my blog could run like a well-oiled machine 24/7, but life happens! I am much more okay with letting things slide because I realize I can only have so much on my plate at once. Some seasons of blogging will be fruitful and others just won't. Learning to be okay with that has been key to not going mad about blogging!

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    1. Absolutely true- there are so many seasons of life and you can't do everything all the time. Great point Melissa!

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  7. This is so awesome, Gretch! I love that you pulled together advice from such a diverse group of bloggers and that they had such amazing, helpful things to say about balance. I'll definitely be making note of some of these tips and tricks!

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    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful Emma!

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  8. What a great post, Gretchen! I really enjoyed reading what each of these ladies had to say and definitely agree with Margaret about "breaking the blogging rules." Deciding on my OWN definition of success and consistency (regardless of what any articles/experts say) has been key for me in maintaining balance. :)
    Gina || On the Daily Express

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    1. YES! Such a great point. The good thing about blogging is being your own boss which means you make the rules :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing! I'm a new blogger and also work full time so it's great to get this advice! It also puts it into perspective that some of the blogs I read are from people who blog full-time and for me to try and mimic that is not achievable. It's so easy to get wrapped up in posting, sharing, commenting, creating visuals, etc. and lose site of balance.

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    1. I hope that this is helpful for you Katie! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  10. This is such an awesome post-- I think almost every blogger I know struggles with finding a balance. Blogging is wonderful, but hard because it can easily overtake every part of your life, so I love what Jenn said about knowing how to keep your priorities in order.

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    1. I absolutely agree with you. The good thing is the power is in our hands to pull back or put in as much as we want.

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  11. Great tips!! I don't have a regular full time job, but I am a mama to a busy toddler and I teach 3 or 4 BODYPUMP classes a week. Organization is everything. If I don't have a plan, nothing will get written.

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    1. Umm that sounds like two full time jobs haha! Sounds like you are super busy so I bet that organization is key for you!

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  12. Funny you should post this as I am struggling to stay on top of everything! I did cut back to 3 days/week of posting, and if anything, my page views have increased! I think less posting has enabled me to put out more quality posts. But it's still a challenge, time-wise!

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    1. Wow that's awesome and inspiring Wendy! I'm glad you've found a good balance!

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  13. So I'm more in the figure out what I want to blog about (since apparently everything is not the best idea) & generating ideas ahead of time & even a post skeleton. I'll get there, but I'm definitely not balanced yet.

    Loved reading this!

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    1. It takes some time but I'm sure you'll get there Jessie! Good luck :)

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  14. What a great post! So many good tips. This was good for me to read and I'll probably come back and re-read it later. (ha ha I sound like one of those spammers but I'm serious!!!)

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  15. Great tips!!! I do "schedule" in my blog time so I make sure to make it a priority instead of throwing something together last minute.

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    1. Scheduling is absolutely vital for me as well!

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  16. I love this post so much! It's refreshing to see some of my favorite, and what I consider successful, bloggers saying it's important to have your priorities straight because I fully agree! Also agree with the planning aspect.. something I still need to improve on! Thanks for sharing this Gretchen:)

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  17. Great tips! I especially like the one about breaking the blogger rules. I do what I can... that's all I can do. It's really hard to balance it all, though. It's hard to see other bloggers who have successfully transitioned to blogging full-time and are killing it, because I don't know how I'll get there by working FT and blogging. Like some of your interviewees said, you just have to do it to fulfill yourself and be happy with the content you put out.

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    1. Exactly. You can only be happy with yourself and do the best you can!

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  18. Great post! Balance really is everything. A lot of my work bleeds into my blog since the blog is a sort of marketing tool for coaching business and freelance writing, but it definitely helps to be organized and have priorities.

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    1. I can definitely see how having a blog would help your full time job! They seem to go hand in hand which hopefully makes it less stressful for you!

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  19. I always dedicate time on the weekends to create content. There is no way I could work my 8-6 schedule, workout, blog, spend time with friends/family during the week.

    Love these tips :)

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    1. I need to start spending more time blogging and planning on weekends! Right now I dedicate that time to hanging out with Dan since I don't see him a lot during the week. Finding time for everything is so hard!

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  20. I love all of these bloggers! Great tips! I have been following DIY Playbook for years and wish they'd come decorate my house :)

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  21. I am struggling with this same thing right now.

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    1. I hope you can find some balance soon :)

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  22. This is such a great post with so many great tips! I own my own business as well as do quite a lot of volunteering so I definitely have a fine balance going on between blog/work/life. I find that I need to schedule my time and know exactly what I need to have done in a week so I can see when I have time to test recipes/work on blog things etc.

    On the weekends I don't touch the computer (so I can spend time with Jesse!) so I get it all done during the week!

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  23. This is awesome!! Such a great post filled with great advice! Balance is most definitely key to not getting burned out! Thanks for the tips love!
    xoxo Cailee!!

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    1. I'm so glad you found this helpful Cailee :)

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  24. Such great tips from such lovely bloggers! When I was working full-time with the blog, it definitely didn't get the attention it gets now but I found making a schedule and keeping to it helped. I also tried to set realistic expectations. I could only post 2 or 3 times a week then.

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  25. Such great tips from such lovely bloggers! When I was working full-time with the blog, it definitely didn't get the attention it gets now but I found making a schedule and keeping to it helped. I also tried to set realistic expectations. I could only post 2 or 3 times a week then.

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  26. I think staying organized is important for anyone. The more organized you are, the easier it is to get anything accomplished.

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  27. Love and agree with all of these tips! I always joke that my blog is another part-time job on top of my full-time job, but it really is! I spend my day at my job. Then I come home and work on my blog until I go to bed. I use the weekends to do recipe creation and take photos, but I try to take Saturdays off from both my job job and the blog job. It's all about balance! Since the New Year, I also cut back from 5 posts a week to 3 and have started planning my posts further in advance. I'm creating better, higher quality content and have seen an increase in traffic because of it!

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    1. I agree...I almost spend more time on my blog since I work on it at night and on weekends!

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  28. I'm all about that first rule: put the time into your blog that you want others to spend reading and definitely take it serious!

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  29. love this post, and loved reading about what other bloggers do to find that balance. the breaking the blogging rules is spot on. i personally don't treat my blog like a job, it's a hobby of mine, and as soon as it starts to feel like a chore or job, i take a break. that normally happens when life gets hectic!

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    1. Exactly my philosophy on blogging. You nailed it!

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  30. Thank you SO much for having me as one of the guests for this post, Gretchen! It was nice to read what others had to say about work and blog balance. XOXO

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