Whether blogging is your side hustle or a full time job, I think all of us have one thing in common: there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to do everything we want to do.
I could work 24/7 with no sleeping or eating and still want to do more!
Over the years, I’ve figured out how to stretch my time, so I can do more in fewer hours. Really, there are three MAJOR things that have changed my life when it comes to getting stuff done, and I’m going to share them with you at the end of this post.
When I say “changed my life,” I’m not exaggerating. As recently as a few years ago, I really struggled with managing my time. Then I got a job as a blog manager for a manger company and suddenly had 30+ people working under me and a to-do list a mile long. I had to get good at it!
But before I give you my three mega-major-mondo tips…
Let me start by giving you a bunch of little hacks that are going to add up to save you a ton of time as you’re blogging. You’re seriously going to kick yourself for not doing these things sooner.
Okay, on to the hacks…
1. Create a spreadsheet with your top posts for easy access.
If you don’t already know which posts are your most popular, take a moment to dig into Google Analytics and figure it out. Create a spreadsheet of the most popular posts on your blog from the past year, excluding anything that is time-sensitive, like a giveaway.
I like to keep about 20 posts on this spreadsheet, but I recommend anywhere from 10 to 50, depending on how prolific you are as a blogger. Usually, when you are looking at your stats, you’ll see 10% to 20% of your posts are pretty popular and it drops off after that.
Now, what is the purpose of this spreadsheet?
First, it’s going to help you have quick access for social sharing when you want to throw up a quick Facebook post or tweet.
Second, you have these links handy when someone asks a question and you’ve written a post that answers it. I’m a member of a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers and business owners, and I love it when I have the opportunity to share one of my links to answer a question. It’s a way to get traffic while being helpful instead of spammy.
Third, this is going to be a gold mine for new content ideas. Instead of thinking “what should I write,” you can look at your most popular posts and write companion posts, follow ups, etc.
Fourth, you can quickly find these links when you want to link internally (i.e., within your blog posts), which I recommend doing at least a few times in every post.
Seriously, take 10-15 minutes and make this spreadsheet right now, then update it 2 or 3 times per year. You will not regret it. Having those links handy saves a ton of time that you probably didn’t even realize you were spending searching for links!
2. Outline your blog posts before you start writing.
If blog posts don’t flow from your fingers naturally, don’t worry. Many successful bloggers do not consider themselves to be “natural writers”!
Instead of staring at a blank page and agonizing over every sentence, do a quick outline first. Most people are resistant to doing this because they think it will hurt their flow. But I promise you, if you give it a try, you’re going to find it very helpful, especially when you’re feeling uninspired!
Here’s how to do it.
I start by coming up with your main blog post idea. If you’re having trouble doing this, here’s a post I recommend all about how to use a free tool to find blog post ideas, which I wrote as a guest post for Miranda Nahmias.
Then, I write down 3-5 points I want to cover in this post. These will be my headers. You don’t have to worry about getting the wording perfect to start; just get those ideas written and organize them in a way that makes sense. For example, in this post that you’re reading, I wrote out all the numbered tips first, then I wrote the paragraphs.
All you have to do to write the introduction, and fill out the post with information beneath every header you wrote. Don’t be super rigid. You can delete headers that aren’t working or add more if your post goes in a different direction. But start with a plan. You’re going to get posts done a lot more quickly that way, so you can post more often.
And that’s going to help you bring in a ton more traffic!
3. Automate your emails.
Building an email list is going to help you monetize your blog. When someone follows you on social media, they may or may not see your posts. You don’t get to connect with every follower. An email list guarantees that you can at least get a subject line in front of people. Not everyone will open your email or read your email, but at least you know that the person’s inbox is showing it to them, unlike your Facebook post, for example, which may only be shown to a handful of your followers.
Okay, so email is cool… but time-consuming. I used to send out an email newsletter every week, and it felt like sooooo much work. I honestly dreaded it! And I never, ever want to hate my job. That’s why I work for myself… so I don’t dread my job!
Then, I figured out that I can automate my emails (at least somewhat) to save time!
Instead of writing emails in real time, I created an email “sequence” using Convert Kit. I wrote a bunch of emails all at once when I was in a writing mood, and put them into the sequence, save to send out at intervals so that my subscribers get 1-2 per week.
When someone signs up, they start at the beginning of the sequence and work through it. Every so often, I add more emails to the end of the sequence. The cool thing is, once I have around 100 emails in there, I’m going to automate the system so that people start over again at the beginning. Most people don’t open every email, and 100 emails is well over a year of content, so even if they did open the email originally, it doesn’t hurt to remind them about the contents again.
I still write “live” emails occasionally when I have an announcement, but 90% of my emails are now sent automatically.
This does work for me because of my specific blogging niches. On my food blog, I share recipes in my email, so they are completely evergreen. I can share them again and again. On this blog about building a better blog, it is a little trickier. My emails contain tips, but I am careful to avoid subjects that quickly change, such as Facebook Ads. I don’t want my automated emails to be outdated. If I have a timely topic, I just create a one-time email for it, easy-peasy.
I also stick to the same template with all of my emails. This is a huge time-saver, because I don’t have to worry about making it look good every week. Speaking of templates…
4. Create a template for your blog post images and stick to it.
Your blog posts need beautiful images. When I started adding better images, my traffic skyrocketed! People share blog posts more readily if there is a beautiful image to share, and people click on shared blog posts more readily if they are shared with a beautiful image.
But… images take time, especially if you’re anything like me. I am definitely not a graphic designer (understatement of the year!) and I used to spend waaaay too long making the “title” graphics (i.e. the graphics that have the blog post title on them, which are perfect for sharing on Pinterest and Facebook). And they didn’t even look good!
So, the first thing I did to solve this problem was sign up for Haute Chocolate. Seriously, it has been one of my best bloggy business investments of all time. As soon as you sign up, you get access to thousands of beautiful images, plus you get new image packs every month. Yay!
Then, I made a simple template that would work for every single blog post. Actually, I made two – one that is sized to work on Facebook (horizontal aka landscape) and one that is sized to work on Pinterest (vertical aka portrait). All I have to do is pop in my text and a background image. It takes me less than 5 minutes to make them using PicMonkey. It used to take over 30 minutes!
5. Use Tailwind to tackle Pinterest.
I absolutely love Pinterest for promoting my blog. It works well for just about every niche out there, as long as you have beautiful photos – which Haute Chocolate and PicMonkey will help you achieve, go back to the previous tip if you skimmed over it!
Pinterest can be time-consuming if you do all of your pinning manually, but luckily their are several programs that help you automate the pinning process. My favorite is Tailwind.
Not only can you create a queue and schedule your pins with Tailwind, but you can also join “tribes” on this platform. The tribes feature allows you to connect with other bloggers in your niche so you can repin one another’s content. This feature has made my Pinterest traffic explode! And, since I started using Pinterest, I’ve severely cut down on the time I spend pinning. Like, by 90% (at least!).
6. Create a resource page.
I always recommend that bloggers have a resource page to tell their readers about products they love. It’s a great way to boost your blogging income as well, since you can use your affiliate links on this page as is relevant.
But did you know that an up-to-date resource page can also save you a ton of time? I like to pepper my post with resource links to help my readers learn more about the products I use. It can be annoying to hunt down the links you need when writing a post. If you have a resource page, you have a one-stop-shop for the links you use the most.
I don’t just have products on my resource page. I also link to blog posts that cover topics really, really well. Obviously, if I’ve written on the topic, I want to link to my own posts, but sometimes I haven’t covered a topic in great detail yet, or I don’t have the expertise. So, my resource page also contains posts from other bloggers, which I also promote in my blog posts. So, my resource page is a great place to collect these blog posts as well, to easily find when I need them.
Keep your resource page super up to date. Add new resources as you discover them, and make sure all the links are working. I visit and update my resource page at least once per month.
7. Add a list of FAQs to your contact page.
You probably get asked the same questions over and over again. I know I do!
So, instead of repeating yourself every time someone emails you, add a brief answer to the question on your contact page. I have a list of frequently asked questions on my contact page, so I don’t receive quite as many emails as I did in the past.
If you’re getting asked a specific question about topics in your niche (as opposed to questions like “do you accept guest posts?” and “can we trade links?”), you can even turn your commonly-asked questions into blog posts. I estimate that a good 25% of my blog posts (maybe more) originate from a question I’ve been asked directly from a reader, and another 25% – 50% of my blog posts come from questions I see bloggers asking on social media. It saves time, plus gives my readers the exact content they need to help them.
8. Say no… without saying no.
Great opportunities come along every single day, if you are open to them. One of the best pieces of advice I received from a blogging friend was that it is okay to say no. Sometimes, a project just isn’t the right fit for you. You only get 24 hours in a day, and it makes you a more effective blogger if you spend at least some of those hours sleeping! (Read other tips on being more effective here.)
I started saying no and immediately found that I had more time for tasks that really made sense for my business.
I have major FOMO (fear of missing out).
And I think at least some of that fear is well founded. I constantly found myself wishing that I had said yes, even to requests that I knew weren’t the best ways for me to prioritize my time.
So, I started saying no in a completely different way…
Instead of giving someone the flat-out answer no and closing the door, I started saying, “No, but…” and proposing something that would fit into my schedule.
For example, recently someone asked me if I would be willing to review their website and give them some tips. Normally, I would say no to this kind of request, unless the person chose to hire me for coaching, and they made it clear in their initial email to me that they did not have the money to hire me. Instead of saying no, however, I replied, “Unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do a full blog review for every reader. However, if you send me your biggest question or problem about blogging, I will write an in-depth answer for you and post it on my blog.”
I knew that whatever question they asked would be great for a blog post, and I was right! Plus, I now have a long-term reader and fan, instead of someone who was simply disappointed that I said no.
Another time, a fellow blogger asked me if I would join her at a conference and speak on a panel she was moderating. Normally, I would jump at the chance to speak, but this conference didn’t make sense for my niche, it was on the other side of the country, they didn’t offer payment or even travel expenses for bloggers, and it was during one of my busiest times of years. I knew it just wasn’t in the cards.
But instead of just saying no, I thought about how I can bring my expertise to this blogger’s audience, and I offered to write a guest post for her instead, which she could publish while traveling for the conference herself. It was a great choice. I helped her and avoided “missing out,” but I didn’t say yes to a project that I knew would overwhelm me.
The point is… instead of just saying no, think of a “step down” option that takes less time, but still allows you to connect with others and be part of the conversation.
No more FOMO!
9. Find “time pockets” in your day and make the most of them.
Sometimes, it isn’t about doing more in less time. Sometimes, it is about doing more by finding time you didn’t know existed!
“Time pockets” are small amounts of time each day that are generally wasted. We all have time pockets in our schedule. It’s the time you stand at the kitchen counter in the morning, waiting for your eggs to scramble or your bread to become toast. It’s the time you spend waiting for your kids’ practice to finish so you can drive home. It’s the time you spend waiting on hold with tech support.
Identify the time pockets in your days and figure out ways to optimize them. I actually keep a little list on my phone of tasks that I can do (from my phone) that only take 5 minutes. Stuff like…
- Add a photo to Instagram promoting my latest blog post
- Brainstorm blog post ideas
- Read the latest post from one of my fellow bloggers and leave a comment
- Answer a question in one of the Facebook groups where I’m a member
- Read and answer 1 email
- Moderate some comments
- Schedule pins from my tribes on Tailwind
- Browse hashtags on Twitter and engage with some tweets
I also noticed that my schedule is filled with time to listen to podcasts. I listen to podcasts while showering, while driving, while shopping, while exercising, etc.
And now, here are my three biggest tips for making sure you get more done in less time:
10. Set time limits for yourself by scheduling the tasks you need to get done.
I have always been an organized person, but when I first started blogging, I didn’t really organize my time well. I would always think, “Oh, I’ll work on that later.”
But here’s the truth…
If you don’t schedule your tasks and give yourself deadlines, you will never finish your most important projects. You’ll just be haphazardly publishing posts and promoting them “when you have time.”
You need to have a plan if you want to grow. You need to crack the whip and be your own taskmaster.
I actually prefer to write down tasks in a notebook/planner, so I have a physical copy of my daily schedule in front of me that I carry with me at all times. But you can also use a project management tool such as Asana, an app like Evernote, or a spreadsheet on Google Drive. Do what works for you.
Stop floundering. Stop waking up every morning and doing a bunch of random tasks.
11. “Chunk” your time.
The second MAJOR time-saving time I have is to “chunk” your time. Since I started doing this, I am able get at least 25% – 50% more done every week.
Time chunking means that you look at your weekly or even monthly tasks and group tasks together based on how alike they are. Then, you do these tasks in “chunks” so that you are completing similar tasks in the same chunk.
For example, do all of your blog post writing on Monday, do all of your social media scheduling on Tuesday, do all of your graphic creation on Wednesday, etc.
You can also break this down by day, since you probably have some tasks that have to be done every day (i.e., they can’t wait until a single day during the week). So, for example, you might start the day by answering all your emails, then you might do one hour of social media interaction, then you do 1 hour of commenting on other blogs, etc.
The point it… you group like tasks together instead of haphazardly completing tasks, and you finish all of the similar tasks before you move on to the next group of tasks.
You will be amazed at how much more you are able to get done this way!
When you have a more haphazard schedule where you complete tasks with no plan, everything takes longer because your brain has to switch between tasks. When you spend 5 minutes answering 1 email then 30 minutes working on a blog post, then 15 minutes posting on Facebook, then 5 minutes answering another email, etc… (you get the picture)… you never get “in the zone.” Plus, you have to physically move between tasks, which means waiting for pages to load and taking time to find the info you need. Sure, it minute only take a few seconds, but all of those seconds add up to minutes, which add up to hours, which add up to DAYS of extra time.
12. Don’t let yourself fall into the “writer’s block” trap.
Finally… this is a doozy…
And a little tough love.
But I promise… you need to hear it!
As a blogger, one of your main tasks is to write. You’ll write blog posts, you’ll write emails, you’ll write ebooks, you’ll write social media posts.
You’ll write and write and write and write until it becomes embarrassing when you realize just how many words you’ve written over the course of your career so far! 🙂 About three years ago, I had done a rough estimate, and figured out that in blog posts alone I had written 150,000 words over the course of my career. And yeah, that was three years ago.
Anyway, what sets apart the so-so bloggers and the truly great bloggers is the ability to push through writer’s blocks.
Basically, you have to show up.
I don’t care if you don’t feel like writing.
I don’t care if you don’t know what to write.
I don’t care if you think everything that flows from your fingers today is crap.
It is not a waste of time, even if you end up deleting every single word you write. You have to sit down and write, even when it feels like a useless endeavor, because you are training yourself to be a writer.
It is like training in the gym. When you first start, it might seem horrible, and that you can’t do anything. You’re winded walking up the stairs from the locker room to the cardio room, and you can’t keep up with anyone in spin class. But if you keep at it, even if it doesn’t really seem like you’re making much progress, suddenly you realize that you just ran three miles on the treadmill without stopping or even thinking about stopping – something you never could have done the month before.
Writing is the same way.
If you want to be a truly great blogger, you have to work on your writing skills. On days that you feel unmotivated, you have to push yourself to write anyway. Slowly, you are going to improve until one day you write a post that resonates with so many people that it goes viral, with people emailing you telling you how awesome you are and how your post made them cry.
Writing takes a lot of time, even for someone like me. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to learn how to spell my name, and I’ve been writing professionally since 2005. It still takes up most of my time.
But because I constantly flex my writing muscles and push through the days that I don’t feel like writing, it gets done. So, if you want to save time, you have to make yourself write.
Okay, so those are my 12 best time-saving tips for bloggers. What are you best tips for bloggers who are struggling to get everything done? Leave a comment with your tip!
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