How to Grow Your Blog Without Giving up Your Day Job

    grow your blog

    Are you trying to grow your blog without giving up your day job? Or is blogging the only thing that you do in life? Probably not (according to Technorati up to 64% of bloggers are classified as Hobbyists and another 13% are Part-Timers.) It would be cool if every single blogger could devote 100% of his/her working hours to this fun and exciting activity but realistically not all of us are full-time bloggers.

    Balancing blogging with your day job and your life can be quite difficult. After all we have only 24 hours in each day and we have to spend at least 6 of them sleeping. Considering that there are over 133,000,000 bloggers in the world today (and more popping up every day) I believe that it is time to start talking about blog/life balance as opposed to boring work/life equilibrium.

    If you have a big dream for your blog then you need the time and resources for it. Then you throw your money-making job into this mix, your family, friends, a little bit of exercise, maybe a hobby or two, personal growth … Did I forget anything?(probably, yes.) I think that we definitely need some balance in this cocktail.

    I’ve been running my blog for about 3 years now and only in the last one and a half years I finally made it a priority. With the long-expected growth (I still remember my first milestone of getting the first hundred of readers. WooHoo!) came the realization that blogging was a lot of work. Here are just a few well-known successful blogging tips:

    • Create great content,
    • Optimize for SEO,
    • Write guest posts (on a regular basis),
    • Maintain your Social Media presence,
    • Launch a newsletter,
    • Keep your design modern and uncluttered.

    And then you have all the extras of answering comments and emails, keeping in contact with other bloggers, taking care of an unexpected blog crash (I think every blogger goes through it at least once.) And I am not even mentioning any monetization strategies which become a priority if you want to become a full or even part-time blogger.

    How can you balance it all with your life and still stay sane?

    The whole time that I’ve been running my blog I was also working and taking care of my family (I have toddler-twins so I know everything about staying busy) while still devoting time to my health (exercise and healthy diet). As you can see I know a few things about life balance.
    If you really want your blog to grow but cannot devote 100% of your time to it you can consider these strategies that proved to be helpful and effective for me:

    1. Divide and Conquer. I believe in the importance of breaking down big globes of commitments into simple steps. It means that I have not more than one big project on my blog a month. Instead of running wide open and burning out quickly I choose a slow but steady-growth strategy.In practice you can create a list of projects or blog growth strategies that you are interested in and then put them in your schedule. Whenever you are done with one project you can move on to the next one instead of piling them one on top of the other one.
    2. Learn from the best. My blog finally started growing and I finally realized where to focus my efforts (rather than running in circles like a hamster on a hamster wheel) when I found the best blogging mentors. My blog was a mess and my blog vision simply didn’t exist until I joined the first A-List Blogging Bootcamp. Leo Babauta and Mary Jaksch taught me how to create great articles and choose catchy headlines, they explained the importance of a good blog design and shared numerous tips about promoting my blog content. They helped me understand what my readers wanted and how to give it to them. You can spend weeks, months and even years trying to figure out the best ways to grow your blog. Or you can learn from the experience of A-List Bloggers and use their wisdom to stop spinning your blogging wheels.
    3. Delegate. There are certain things on my blog that I prefer to outsource like graphic design and theme tweaks? Ask yourself what is the most important thing that you have to do on your blog. If you’ve been reading Write To Done at least for a little while then you know that you need to create excellent content. This is the most effective way of spending your time, the rest can be outsourced.
    4. Find help. Just lately I’ve opened up my blog to contributing authors. I think that it is the best thing that I’ve done on my blog in a long time. First of all, my readers benefit from reading a wider range of topics and opinions. Secondly, I am not so pressed to pump out 3-4 articles a week which gives me more time to concentrate on creating more useful articles (here is a benefit for my readers again.)
      If you already have subscribers on your blog then it will be easier for you to attract guest authors. But even if you are just starting out you still can team up with other beginner-bloggers. It is a win-win situation.
    5. Simplify your blog strategy. If you are limited on time you need to choose the most effective growth strategies that work for you. You can try to create a social media following, optimize each one of your articles for SEO, write a few guest posts a week, comment on other blogs and try every new blog trend. But do you really have enough time for it? The truth is that if you do not put enough effort into each of these strategies then they simply won’t work.I might sound like a dinosaur from the Stone Age of blogging but I’ve completely quit my Social Media race. I rarely check my Twitter and Facebook (once a month at the most) and ignore any other social media site except for StumbleUpon (now, I really love this one because it steadily brings me a good amount of traffic and it is effortless.) Instead I focus on guest posts and search engine traffic. How can you simplify your blogging strategy?
    6. Simplify your blog. Another thing that I have recently done on my blog was close my comments. It has tremendously decreased my blog workload without any sacrifices to the traffic. Here are a few reasons why I did it:
      • stop fighting spam comments which eventually penetrate Akismet and any other spam filters,
      • stop wasting my time answering each and every comment (it’s not a secret that most comments are left by other bloggers who just want a little bit of traffic to their own blog),
      • stop worrying about posts that have no or few comments and look very lonely.

      Readers who have questions and who want to share their experience with me send me a personal email. I prefer this personal communication much more. One day I might reopen my blog for comments but for right now I prefer the “silent mode” of my blog.

    7. Carry a notebook with you. Sometimes you can get an idea for an excellent post when you are at work, hanging out with your friends or when you just woke up. While you won’t always have the opportunity to write this post right away you can jot it down in an old-fashioned notebook. When it is time for your next blog posts you will have an excellent idea waiting for you. After all, there is nothing worse than a writer’s block when you are facing a deadline.
    8. Simplify your blog communications. Having an email address that you use only for your blog is a must in my opinion. It helps you to keep your emails organized and separate your personal, business and blog emails from one another. Set aside some time during the day to check your blog email but make sure that you have enough time to answer your emails before you open your inbox. Email can be a huge time trap when you do not use it wisely.You can also write a few guidelines on the contact page of your blog. If you are not interested in product reviews or guest posts – clearly state so on your contact page. It will save you and the person who is sending you an email a lot of time. Possible categories that you might want to mention:
      • Guest posts
      • Product Reviews
      • Use of your content (your copyright)
      • Personal emails and requests
      • Thank you notes
      • Advertising
    9. Enjoy time away from blog. This is probably the most important part. The blogging world can easily consume you making you think about new posts and blog updates every waking hour of your day. No matter how much you and I love blogging it is important to step away from it and spend time with your loved ones, devote some time to your health and spiritual needs. This time away from blog will give you more inspiration to create the most excellent and amazing content.

    It is possible to balance your blog with your day job and essentially your life. Blogging is a fun part of life but it should not take over your life. There is always a way to find more balance in everything you do including blogging.

    About the author

      Anastasiya Goers

      Anastasiya is the author behind the BalanceInMe blog - a place for people interested in practical life balance strategies. She is passionate about helping people find their balance in different areas of life: work, family, health, lifestyle, spirituality and others. She also a runs virtual Life Balance Retreats for people interested in making lasting changes in their lives.

    • Asad Zaman says:

      I loved this! Thank you. I’m going to focus more on subscriber number now, instead of followers and friends. And instead of doing guest posts next month, I’m going to focus on writing great content.

    • Vangile Makwakwa says:

      Thank you for a great article Anastasiya it was very well thought out. I loved what you said about simplifying my blog strategy. When I started out blogging I spent hours trying to be on every social media platform and then got very overwhelmed, but recently I took time out to really just focus on understanding what works for me and what would be the most useful. In the process I learned that I love Linkedin and Facebook but Twitter is going take some getting used to. I also realized that I should be guest blogging more. I think the key to simplicity is understanding yourself and what works for you and then tailoring that to suit you.

    • Enjoyed the article, Anastasiya. You make some very good points about organizing your time. Blogging can easily feel like it is overtaking your life, but with diligence you are able to balance it all, as you set priorities. I agree that the resources that Mary and Leo have created on the A-List Blogging Club are invaluable.

    • Elise says:

      Thanks very much for your article, Anastasiya; it’s very helpful. As a new blogger who will still be working a more-than-fulltime job for another year or so, I can certainly use the advice!

    • Thanks so much for this, it’s an issue on my mind every day, balance and I made so many notes while reading this. Delegation is probably the hardest thing to contemplate and that’s a strong clue to me to explore this. I look forward to reading more here and at your blog.

    • Ozio Media says:

      You made some excellent points and this blog post is sure to help many. I liked the idea of keeping a notebook handy to jot down ideas. Prioritizing and organization is a key to balancing life and blogging which can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. Having a list in front of you of what you need to do that day, i.e. write a new post, check emails, respond to comments and being able to cross things off as you get them done is a stress reliever. As you gain more experience blogging, balancing blogging and life will become easier.

    • Thanks so much for this, it’s an issue on my mind every day, balance and I made so many notes while reading this. Delegation is probably the hardest thing to contemplate and that’s a strong clue to me to explore this. I look forward to reading more here and at your blog.

    • Thank you for this post. There is a lot of valuable info here that I know will help me as my blog continues to grow.

      Your suggestion to delegate certainly struck a chord with me. I have always been the kind of person who likes to do things myself. My approach was no different as I embarked on a redesign of my blog, but weeks later I still find myself working on it. I think it’s time to delegate the task. 🙂

    • Anastasiya says:

      Ollin, you do not have to close your comments if you like interacting with your readers. However, if you want to simplify your blog you can close comments several days a week and open them over the weekend or whenever it is convenient for you.
      A lot of blogs really benefit from the readers’ voice. I had comments open on my blog for over two years and I simply got tired of them. I might reopen them in the future, who knows.
      If you want to make your blog more interactive without comments you can run weekly surveys and polls. A lot of readers really enjoy them and it gives you a new perspective on the demographics of your readers, what they want and what they like. Experiment until you find the most balanced combination for your blog. Good luck!

    • I loved this! Thank you. I’m going to focus more on subscriber number now, instead of followers and friends. And instead of doing guest posts next month, I’m going to focus on writing great content.

      One question though: how do I maintain my strong bond with my loyal fans as my blog starts getting bigger and bigger and I have less time to interact with them outside of the blog?

    • Miss GOP says:

      Great post! As a new blogger, I’m already overwhelmed with how to find balance between my many priorities. I’m used to that, though, because writing always feels like a balancing act. We have to balance so many things in our daily lives, but if writing (or blogging) is a priority, we’ll make time for it.

      I’ve had two dreams about my blog this week so far. I think I’m going to take your advice and enjoy some time away from the computer. =)

      Thanks again!

      • Anastasiya says:

        We all need a little break even from our biggest passions 🙂 I hope you will enjoy yours!

    • Nicola says:

      Anastasiya

      This is a very useful article: thank you. I have probably come across some of the advice you give in various places, including the A-List Blogging site, but the way you bring it together from your own experience is what communicates the information so well.

      Like Sonia, the GutsyWriter, I am not making the most of my A-List membership. I’m wondering whether to postpone and return to it later. It’s not that the advice and inspiration aren’t great – I can see that they are – but my attention is divided by being a member of an online writing course. I’m finding that that course is my current priority.

      To get the most out of anything, we have to participate as much as we can. I’m participating in the course, but not on the A-List forums, which is where so much of the benefit is to be found.

      I hope that’s a useful perspective. Once again, thank you for yours in this excellent piece.

      Nicola

      • Anastasiya says:

        Hi Nicola,

        I have answered Sonia’s comment already with all the tips that I have about A-List Blogging Club. Like I already mentioned in the above comment I treat A List Blogging Club more as an online encyclopedia that can answer all of my blogging questions. Whenever I am working on a new project or have time to improve something on my blog – I find the article in the Club that answers my questions. It is much easier than searching all over the Internet for the answer.

        Depending on your goals with the blog you will have to make a decision whether the Club is something that you need at the moment or not. I completely understand how difficult it can be to balance several projects (or courses) at one time. It all comes down to the question of priorities and your goals.

        I hope you will find my opinion useful 🙂

    • Anastasiya,
      Congratulations on your first write to done guest post.
      I looked at your nice “fresh” clutter free blog and feel tempted to cut comments off mine too, but have developed true friendships with people around our planet.
      Anyway, I wanted to comment on the A-List Blogging which I joined about four or five months ago and have rarely spent time learning from. I have excuses like everyone else, such as focusing on my queries to agents for my non-fiction family’s travel adventure on a tropical island in Belize. I know I need to change to WordPress, I know I need to change my about pages, and would love to get advice from Leo and Mary Tess, and others, but I really don’t know where to start to get them to look at it. Of course I have to interact and learn from the videos first. I signed up for the WDS in Portland Oregon, and look forward to meeting Leo there. Are you going too? How did you navigate A-List Blogging when you started out? What do you recommend doing to get the most from A-List Blogging? What helped you the most? How did you get their help and recommendations? You do seem very wise to have found the life balance and blogging balance in your life. Thanks for your suggestions. Sonia.

      • Hey Sonia, please get in touch with me via the Contact page of A-List Blogging. I’m always happy to lend a hand 🙂

        – Mary

      • Anastasiya says:

        Sonia, your adventures in Belize sound really exciting (it’s my family’s dream to move to the Caribbean one day.) I am not going to Portland because I have really a lot going on here. at home this year :-))

        I joined the very first A-List Blogging Bootcamp and I think it helped me to gradually absorb all the information from Leo and Mary. There is definitely a lot of information to digest and I can see how it can get overwhelming.

        1. I usually have little time to watch videos that is why I work with articles first. When I need help in a particular area (like setting up a membership site, creating videos, coming up with the ideas for great headlines etc.) I find the module that focuses on this topic and study it. To me A-List Blogging Club is like a huge encyclopedia that you open up when you have a question (after all, you won;t be reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover, right?)

        2. Forum can be another great way to get more involved in the A-List Blogging community. I know that right now there is a lot going on over there but there is still a way to build some personal connections with other bloggers. The best way to really get involved is to join one of the “Anatomies” (Anatomy of a launch or Anatomy of a guest post.) That way you can get advice from Mary and sincere feedback from other bloggers.

        3. If you want to get noticed by Leo and Mary I can also suggest to submit your blog for review during one of the Masterclasses with Leo. I did that during the first bootcamp and it completely changed my blogging career. Be prepared for some critique (after all if each of us had perfect blogs we wouldn’t have needed the Club :-)) It’s really the best way to get personal advice about your blog from Leo.

        4. You can always contact Mary with any questions. She is wonderful at helping club members with any problems or questions. She was very kind to me and gave me great advice about the launches that I was running. She is very approachable and extremely helpful.

        5. Build personal connection with other club members. Forum is definitely the best place to do that but you can also contact other bloggers through their blogs. When I first started out a few blog-members created a mini blogging alliance and we were helping each other out with comments, guest posts and just general feedback. It was a lot of fun. I still keep in touch with several of the bloggers (unfortunately a few others stopped blogging.)

        I hope I have answered all your questions, Sonia. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any more questions.

    • Anastasiya,

      I really appreciate how thorough this article is. You really have guts to take some of the steps you’ve taken like letting go of social media to a great degree and turning off comments. All these points have been on my mind as it’s easy to dissipate your time and energy on the less important tasks. I too am looking at how be more effective and helpful with the limited time I have. So I really appreciate all your suggestions.

      • Anastasiya says:

        Sandra, I am glad you enjoyed the post. I think that if you are trying to be more effective with the limited time you need to make choices that you are comfortable with. I am pretty comfortable with the choices that I made but I am absolutely sure that they won’t fit every blogger. There are so many ways to grow our blogs and express our creativity that we just cannot waste our time on things that are not really important to us. Good luck with your choices!

    • While your post mentions some interesting points, I feel like this is more of a sales pitch to sell the A-List Blogging Club. There are lots of other resources out there — many of them free — that you could have included.

      • Anastasiya says:

        Monica,
        I agree that there is a lot of free information out there that can be used to grow your blow. I haven’t mentioned those resources because I do not have time to check them out. I guess the fact that I pay for my Club subscription makes me more diligent at following up all tips and recommendations. I also found personal communication with other A-list bloggers extremely helpful in promoting my retreats and guest posts. It’s just my personal choice in the money vs time equation. The club helped me to get past the 50 RSS subscribers plateau (and move on to over 3000 in less than a year) and monetize my blog. It could have taken me much longer to do it on my own.
        Maybe you can mention some of the free resources that you were talking about in your comment (or a possible guest post.) I think it will only benefit the WriteToDone Community.

    • I can see how turning off comments would save time once your blog gets to a certain point, but in the early stages, I think they’re important. I agree that being able to learn all in one place, like A-List Blogging, is also key. I spent 6 months searching the web trying to teach myself WordPress, etc. and then joined A-List only to find it was all there and I could have learned the same thing in a month!

      Shevonne, nothing really can replace a notebook for writing ideas. I find my smartphone screen keyboard too clunky, and if I record a memo, I never listen to it later.

      As a cubicle bee, I really appreciated this. Thanks, Anastasiya!

      • Anastasiya says:

        It’s nice to see another A-List blogger here, Elle. I am glad that you are as happy about your experience with the Club as I am. Good luck with your blog growth!

    • Anastasiya says:

      Hi Shevonne,

      I believe that each blogger can choose how to simplify their blogs. A lot of what you do depends on your own personality and how you like to communicate. As an introvert I prefer one-on-one communication that is why letting go of comments was an easy step for me to do. I still talk to readers on twitter and I run frequent surveys on my blog to know what exactly my readers are interested in.
      I have launched a membership site on my blog (similar to A-List Blogging Club but for life balance) and I enjoy talking to the members of the club in the Forum and through personal emails.
      The way that any blogger simplifies their blogs depends on goals and of course the format f the blog. There was a time when I enjoyed comments but right now I simply do not have time for them.
      I am glad Shevonne that you love reading and answering your readers’ comments. I think it is great!

      • check twitter once a month
        AND talk to readers on twitter??

        I have never answered all comments – that becomes wooden and spammy. I respond to comments on my blog, as I do to a post on another blog – only when I have something to say, to add. But the email reserved for my blog I only check once a week. The comments are all moderated via email as they come in.

    • Shevonne says:

      I agree with all the points, but closing the comments. Talking to my readers is very important to me, and I can’t do that if they aren’t able to comment after reading my post. People are busy, and I feel like this is similar to web design. Why have someone have to click more times than he/she should to send me a message?

      I need to learn to carry a notebook. Maybe a smartphone app will do the trick? 🙂


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