Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to stay on top of your blog. Not literally. That's weird.

With school starting back up again, all Hell is going to break loose for me.  It's easy to blog in the summer.  My days are long and lazy.  In the school year, my days are quick and chaotic- like frenzied outbursts of energy.  Today I did something completely stupid and told my principal that I would teach an extra class.  The money seemed tempting at the time, but now I realize that in one fell swoop I just managed to give away my prep time AND give myself more papers to grade.  Takes some kind of ninja to manage that, I tell you!

All of these things were swarming around in my little head when I read am email from Kathrin wondering how I teach full time, grade papers, commute, and stay on top of blogging.

Good question I thought.

The short answer, if you want to know, is that I don't.  I rarely feel in control and I never feel like I have everything done.  So just know that as you read this post that everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

The long answer, if you want to know, is long.  I've detailed it into 12 steps.  You know, like a 12 step program.  For recovering from blogging.  No?  Too weird?  Okay.  Here goes.

1.  Set time limits.  I only let myself be on the computer for a certain amount of time.  For example, right now it is 6:40 pm.  I am going to finish writing this post and write my post for tomorrow.  I need to do a status on facebook and twitter and respond to a couple of emails.  My goal is to be off by 8:00.  I absolutely will force myself off at 8:30.  No wasting time on facebook or twitter- when I get on those sites it's only to post, not to surf.  Perusing facebook and twitter is for when I have free time, not work time.

2.  Treat your blog like a business.  Now, I know a lot of bloggers out there that will totally disagree with me on this one.  I probably read once a day, "I blog for me.  I only do this because it's fun and I enjoy it.  I never blog because I have to."  I kind of believe that, but I kind of don't.  Anybody who even so much as has a button is in some way promoting their blog, and this means they have some kind of ulterior motive- some reason why they're blogging besides just for kicks and giggles.  And I think this is totally okay.  I will be the first to admit that I have an ulterior motive behind my blog.  I love teaching, but one day I would like to get paid to write full time.  Writing is my passion.  I see blogging as my door into the writing world.  If I look at blogging that way- as something that is taking me to where I want to be in the future, then it's easy to post every day.  If I only blogged because I felt like it, I would find a million excuses not to blog when my life gets stressful and busy.  By treating blogging like a business, I ensure that I do it every day.

3.  Keep organized.  Calendars, to do lists, planners, etc.  I don't know how people keep on top of blogging without them.  Especially when you get to the point where you are accepting guest posts, sending guest posts, looking for sponsors, hosting giveaways, etc.  You need to know when you're starting a giveaway, when you're ending a giveaway.  You need to know which day each of your sponsors are going to be on the blog and you need to let them know as well.

See those names in boxes?  Those are the when and who of my sponsored posts.  Keeps me sane.


4.  Plan sponsor stuff ahead of time.  Whether you are accepting sponsors or sponsoring another blog, you got to have this ready before the day comes.  I try to send out instructions for my sponsors three days before the sponsorship starts.  This usually means I am sending out a mass email on the 27th or 28th of each month.  When I am sponsoring a blog, I try to send my guest post as soon as I have paid for the spot.  That way I don't have to think about it anymore- it's just taken care of.  Staying ahead of the curve on sponsor stuff  makes me feel like I'm ahead of the game on everything.



5.  Memorize this:  "Your problem is not my emergency."  This is a motto I always use in my classroom, but have found that it translates into the blogging world, too.  In my classroom I give my students expectations, deadlines, etc.  My world can't stop when they can't meet those because they are having a problem.  The assignment is still due and I am not required to fix all their little issues.  I'll help when and if it's convenient for me, but I can't let myself get stressed out because of their problems.  The same goes for blogging.  As long as I do my part of the deal, I don't  need to worry about the other bloggers.  This applies especially in sponsoring.  Last month I had a girl who didn't get her blurb to me in time for the guest post.  I had told her two weeks before when I needed it and she didn't get it to me.  So the guest post went up without it.  When she sent me the blurb four hours later and begged me to include it with the rest, I had to say no.  I was watching a movie with Hubs, relaxing and enjoying my evening.  I wasn't going to rush to the computer to fix the post.  It might sound harsh, but I've gotta keep my sanity around here.  Her problem wasn't my emergency.

6.  Do things when you're thinking about them.  If you can't, then write it down.  If at all possible, I try to do something as soon as it pops into my head.  "Oh, I need to send that button."  "Oh, I need to pay that invoice."  "Oh, I need to respond to her email."  If I can't do it at that moment, I write it down in my planner so that I am at least sure that I get to it later.

This is my brainstorming for the post you are reading right this second.  Can you tell I wrote these ideas the second they popped in my head?  They're written on a math worksheet, for crying out loud!

7.  Get people to help you.  This involves other bloggers as well as people in your personal life.  I have no problem asking someone to do a giveaway for me, asking to swap a post with a popular blogger, or asking advice from a blogger I admire.  The way I see it, we're all in this together.  I also make Hubs help.  Hubs understands the greater picture of what I want from my blog, so he's patient when I have to be a recluse for a couple of hours and work on blog stuff.  Sometimes he has to make dinner and sometimes he has to fold the laundry, but shouldn't men do that stuff anyway?

8.  Pick and choose/ Learn to let some things go.  You can't do everything with blogging.  I tried to do a link up once and I didn't love it.  So I quit.  I do giveaways very non consistently- mostly just when an awesome opportunity presents itself.  I rarely link up to others' link up parties just because I don't have the time and honestly the topics usually don't interest me.  I don't think this makes me a bad blogger or a selfish blogger, it just  means that thinking about all that stuff stresses me out.  Just the thought of entering those huge group giveaways with 42 prizes and 119 entries makes me overwhelmed. (seriously.  WHO came up with that idea?!?)  And thinking about hosting one of those and setting the whole giveaway up- well you can just shoot me now.  I just don't have the patience or desire to set one of those up.  I imagine they take hours of organization and focus to set up.  I admire those bloggers who do it, and I recognize that it does leaps and bounds to grow their blog, I've just accepted that it will likely never be me.  The side of blogging that I love the most is the writing, and so I try to focus as much of my time on that as I can.  If I have to cut giveaways and link parties, I can still survive.

9.  Plan ahead/Brainstorm.  I have never once in my life sat down at my computer to type a post and not known what I was going to write.  The very thought of that gives me an ulcer.  I like to feel prepared and ready.  In a way, I suppose I am always blogging, and that is because my mind is constantly brainstorming things to write.  Yesterday as I was leaving my house I thought how beautiful the early mornings are.  BAM!  Blog post.  Today my school pressured  me in to teaching an extra class.  BAM!  Blog post.  Hubs drew an ugly picture of me.  BAM!  Blog post.  Almost always there is something that happens during the day that inspires a post, and if not, I have a list of posts that I could write at any time.  Ideas that are floating up around my little brain that can be morphed into a post whenever wherever.  If I know a post is going to be a list type post (this one, for example, or 21 rules for using the internet) I often brainstorm for several days, writing down different ideas as they come.  Then, when it is time to sit down and write the actual post, the hard part is already done.



10.  Accept imperfections.  I'll be the first to admit I'm a stickler for grammar.  But I've had to learn to let some grammar stuff go on the blog.  An occasional typo isn't going to kill anyone.   In the early days I read every post three times before it was published.  Now I write it and edit it only once.  I know all the big blogging cowgirls say to edit your pictures, but I straight up don't have time to do that.  So I don't.  And the pictures look good enough.  Not amazing, but good enough, and I don't think my readers mind that much.  My blog doesn't focus on photos so why would I focus on making them look perfect?   And let's face it, if I thought people were visiting my blog for the pictures then I'd have an entirely different problem on my hands.

11.  Have goals and rewards.  Anybody who is serious about blogging would like it to turn into something "big".  The problem is a lot of us don't have a clear path or what that "big" thing is or how to get to the big path.  And so we lose focus or motivation when it comes to blogging.  My big picture goal is what keeps me blogging on days when I am dead dired.  Within five years I would like to be able to quit my full time teaching so that I can have kids.  I would like to supplement Hubs' income with earnings from my blog as well as articles that I write for magazines or other internet sites.  I would very much like to be similar to what Nat the Fat Rat is.  In order to do this I have smaller goals constituting how much traffic I am aiming for (1000 hits/day) how many blogs I am going to sponsor (2-3/month), how often I am going to post (5 xs/week), and how many new followers I would like each month (100-150).  My closest "big goal" is the 1000 followers mark- I'm aiming to hit that in September.  You better believe when I hit the one grand I'm making Hubs take me out to dinner.  I've done this goal and reward system throughout my whole blogging journey.  When I hit 100 followers I treated myself to a pedicure.  When I got my first official sponsor I bought myself a necklace because it was a goal I had worked toward for months.  Heck, I even celebrated the first day I got "hate mail".  Even rude comments have a deeper meaning in blog world.

12.  Relax  Sometimes you gotta call it quits for the night.  On these nights, throw up a half put together post with an unedited picture and some nonsensical ramblings and then get yourself into the bathtub.  No one can go full steam forever.  Weekends are sacred to me, and I do little to no blogging or school work on the weekends.  During the weeks the hour of 4-5 pm is my selfish hour- I flirt with Hubs or take a nap or just watch a little Teen Mom with a gallon of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.  I'm afraid of burn out- both with teaching and my blog.  Both things are very important to me, so I have to make sure that in addition to taking care of them, I am taking care of me.  A happy Bon makes for a happy Blog.


Hey, you successful bloggers out there!  Any secrets that I missed?  How do you stay on top of everything?  Do you disagree with anything that I said?  Share your stuff!

P.S.  It's 8:12.  Done 18 minutes early.  Who's awesome?  This girl!

27 comments:

  1. Seriously. We may share the same brain. I think I shouted "Agree!!" after every sentence (and yep...out loud). Love the phrase, 'your problem is not my emergency'...you should sell t-shirts with that on it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your brilliance amazes me. You rock. And I'll remember these suggestions forever. Or at least for a little while.

    But seriously, great list and you have me thinking right now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was such an awesome post! I should really do some of the things you suggest :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I seriously loved this post. I agree with everything you said. I found my best tip has been to write down 'blog post' ideas as soon as they come to your mind- I have a list on my phone which I can refer to when I go to write a blog.

    I have also found it is helpful to sit down during my holidays and churn out a whole bunch of 'generic' blog posts thatcan go up 'whenever'...then each week I will spend an hour or two writing 3-4 'fresh' posts and then schedule the ones I wrote during the holidays to go up. it means I NEVER write those posts that start with "today I didn't know what to write..".

    You say you sponsor 2/3 blogs per month...what have been your best 'value for money'?

    Also- I am a teacher also scared of burn out. I love the limitations you put on school work and blog work. You will never regret spending time with your friends and family over work.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great list and I plan to implement it with my blog (if that's okay!).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just found your blog - I love that you confess to your Kardashian watching. Excellent post here of the secrets of blogging. I learnt a few things here xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. You don't have to treat your blog like a business in order to turn it into a writing career. My blog started out as a creative outlet and remains that. It showed that I was capable of writing on a variety of subjects, which has led to my fledgling free lance career. So far, I've written about wine regularly for one publication, food and gardening for another and am currently working on a rather substantial free lance project with the theme of Green living tying together 20 small vingettes.
    It's not the size of your audience, it's who your audience is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loved this post, thanks for all the tips Bon-bon!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for this! My friend and I just started a blog together so this is helpful. Love reading your blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Super LOVE this!! Balance is totally the key to everything. Thanks for the reminder that it doesn't always have to be perfect. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

    ReplyDelete
  12. These were pretty darn helpful to a newbie like me. I have yet to figure out what my goal with my blog is...the ultimate goal would be to make money from it (even just a little) but I am so clueless on how to do ANYthing at this point that I am just trying to figure things out right now (like how to make a button) and the basics with design and such.

    I DO already write down ideas and blog topics when they pop into my head, though...lol.

    It is great seeing the example of some of you girls that seem to have it all together (in this blog world, anyway)! Love following you, btw! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amazing post. And I'm now a new follower (getting ever closer to your 1000 now!). :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I halfsies agree with Becky. I have a friend who posts one awesome picture of what's going on in her life that day and a clever caption and for cryin' out loud newspapers are calling her up to do stories about her. But I think what you do will work for you too because you seem to be comfortable in your style. Go girl.

    And later on when I get my shiz together I'm going to pick your brain over virtual coffee (I'll have a coffee, you can have whatever you want) because you make this "success in blogging" thing seem so easy...and I want easy!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I like this post!

    And I like that you can be a dedicated blogger without letting it take over your life.. I've noticed a lot of bloggers who can't seem to find a balance. I can't find one in the opposite respect.. I want to be more dedicated, but I have trouble finding the time or topics that others may find interesting. I am so envious of those who can take a random daily happening and turn it into a fabulous post!

    Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for doing this! I have just started blogging in the past year and feel lots of pressure to do a thousand link-ups and networking all day long. Glad to know that there are successful bloggers out there who aren't selling their souls. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for posting this! I tend to get very overwhelmed and totally sucked in to blogland. This will be helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  18. THANK YOU!!! I will email back when I get the chance because there is more I want to say and other quick questions. But Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. THANK YOU!!! I will email back when I get the chance because there is more I want to say and other quick questions. But Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I understand that you are frustrated in you're decision to take on another class. Although while not asking you to remove "retard(ed)" from your vocabulary, I would appreciate it if you would not use the term in derogatory ways. If you're saying that it would delay you in getting things done that's fine way to use it but if you are using it to mean that it was stupid/lame/incapable/failure you did that then that is not the correct way to use the word "retard". The word "retard" isnt the problem, treating the disabled humanly is.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a great list!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love the list. Thank you! I'm a new follower- adding up to 1000...!

    ReplyDelete
  23. As a newbie blogger I LOVE this post!!! Thanks for the tips!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This post is exactly what i needed right now. Struggling to keep going with everything, work, personal life, working out, blogging, everything! Great tips girl!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have to agree with "anonymous". The "r" word is quite offensive. To many it is like using the n-word. This might give you a better understanding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T549VoLca_Q To understand better where I am coming from, I have written a blog post about it: http://nikerunner.blogspot.com/2011/04/spread-word-to-end-word.html

    P.s. Your blog has grown literally HUNDREDS of readers since I first saw it. You are clearly doing something right. :) Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Great post for a new blogger like me! Thanks and I will definitely be using some of these tips.=) I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want on my blog & posts.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I had to cut back on blogging because I got so overwhelmed. I would love to write full time someday, but for now, our life is too up in the air with a recent deployment, trying to enjoy my hubby after not having him for almost a year, and an impending Military move. Great tips that may help me ease back into it, though!

    ReplyDelete