Sunday, December 5, 2010

Life Balance and Blogging - 10 Tips

In conversations with other bloggers and wannabe's, two questions usually arise:       
  
    * How do you find the time?
             * How do you get readers?

At a high level, I believe that the answer to those questions is the same as everything else in the great juggling act

We need to prioritize and have a plan which includes confidence, effective actions, and support. 

To dig in a little deeper, here are 10 other tips on how to be a successful blogger and also make it work with life balance. 

1. Define "success."  Know why you are blogging and what your goals are, if any.  For me, it's just the joy of writing and getting my message out there to help people.  Therefore, I define success more by readership; by followers and comments rather than "traffic."   If your blog is monetized, you will probably care more about the latter.   (And will likely be disappointed by my lack of focus here on such things as SEO and stat analytics.)

2. Set reasonable expectations for posting frequency.  While research shows that posting on a consistent schedule increases loyal readership, there is no rule that says more often is always better.  Think quality over quantity.  Consistency is more important than frequency.  As a side note, size matters.  For a variety of reasons, posts between 300 - 800 words are ideal.

3. Set aside dedicated writing time.   Since I write on the weekends, this means getting agreement from my family for a couple hours of "quiet time."  It also means dusty baseboards.   I could ask them to pick up the extra cleaning while I write, but I try to quit while I'm ahead.

4. Tell a story.  No matter what the content, make it relatable.  When I first started writing about life balance, I thought my blog had to be a preachy "how to" guide. When I started connecting advice to real experiences, memories and mistakes, it was not only more fun but my follower base jumped 250% and I started getting many more comments.  Apparently misery really does love company.

5. Take notes.  Even if you are not writing every day, you can still be inspired 24/7.  I've done everything from carrying a small notebook to recording voice messages on my phone to sending myself emails.  Whatever works for you, find a method which allows you to capture that inspiration as soon as it comes into your brain and record it for later when you actually have time to use it.   Especially if you are over the age of 40.  Or have given birth.  I fall into both categories and I can tell you, the ol' memory just isn't what it used to be.

6. Find a community that "fits" you.  There are lots of blog forums out there (just Google) but sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the best for you.  Here's a tip:  If you see more than one post on a page titled, "Follow me and I will follow you!"  Don't walk.  Run.  But don't give up.  Finding the one or two communities where you feel really connected and supported is critical to success.

7. Share the love.   Key in both life and blogging is putting out what we want back.  Want people to read, comment and subscribe?  Go forth to read, comment and subscribe.  This is not the same as the cold, obligatory "Follow me and I'll follow back."  This is about sharing genuine interest.  Find other bloggers in your niche and/or to whom you can relate and leave them thoughtful comments. 

8. Be "social" not "soapbox." Many blogging articles will give you lots of advice about ways to use Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to promote your blog.  My added advice is instead of making it all about "Look at me!  Read my blog!" post a status update or tweet to find out who else has a blog.  Take the time to visit them and leave a thoughtful comment.  People are much more likely to travel back up a two-way street. 

9. Multi-task.  Whereas writing takes chunks of dedicated, focused time (for me anyway), the ancillary activities can be done in much smaller doses.   I respond to comments, check-in on my blog community and visit other blogs every day.  Yet, I do these things for only moments at a time - usually while waiting for or doing other things.  That way, it doesn't feel like "work."  I don't watch a lot of TV but when I do, I have my iPad in my hands and am promoting my blog during the commercials.  (Go Top Chef All Stars!)

10. Let go of perfection.  This is especially true if you are one of those type A, "If I can't do it well, I won't do it at all" people.  I say this with love since I am one of you: Get over it.  Overthinking not only wastes time but greatly inhibits creativity.   If you are a newbie and it's the design which is holding you up, just start with one of the many templates out there. I've upgraded my design five times.  Most likely what you start with won't be your final version either.  The content is easily transferable from one design to another.   So, what are you waiting for?

If you have any specific questions about blogging or life balance, I'm happy to help.  Just let me know. 

Happy blogging! 



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30 comments:

Carri said...

Great post! I'm new at this blogging thing and I'm still trying to find my focus/purpose, etc. Blog Frog and visiting other blogs has helped increase my traffic, but for now, I'm happy if I just get one comment. Congrats on 500 followers!

Debbie said...

That balancing act is so tough! I've had less and less time online the last few months and it shows.
Came over from SITS to say hi.

LeeAnn said...

Great post Charlene! I agree with every one of your tips. Quality over quantity is a big one, I think. I don't write stuff just to have a post. I do have a lot of reviews and giveaways lately, but I always find time to post my personal stuff too. But I don't post just to post, that's for sure. If I go a day or two without a "personal" post, that just means I don't really have anything blog-worthy to post about. And I'm always taking notes of topics I want to write about, because if I don't write it down when I think about it, chances are I will totally forget it. #7 is a great one too - if I am visiting someone for the first time after they have visited my blog, I always check out the blog and read a post or two. That said...

Thanks for stopping by last weekend for Relax & Surf Sunday. I'm sorry it took me so long to get over here, but I am now following on GFC. You're a great writer, and I LOVE your blog design. I hope to see you in the surf again this weekend!

Sarah said...

Those are great advices for newbies and oldies alike. I still don't know how to get 500+ followers like you though. I guess I didn't really have any goals when I started, but just enjoy the process of it and let it be. Maybe that's the problem.

Gelovsky said...

Thanks a lot! I'm a newbie in blogging and find your tips very helpful. Have a great day =)

Stef said...

Fantastic tips - not only valid points, but useful as well. Thank you very much for sharing. My blog was hacked over the summer and for the most part it was destroyed. I'm starting over from scratch, which can be a little daunting. It's refreshing to read your tips and remember why I started doing this to begin with. Thank you again and I'll be adding your blog to my "must reads".

sheswrite said...

Such great advice, especially No. 10, as I too am Type A. And of course, I love the Share The Love point. :) Stopping by from SITS.

Audra said...

Love your list! It is hard to find balance (I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old). Great tips - I definitely need to carve out uninterrupted writing time.

Bruce Coltin said...

If this had been a test, I would have flunked big time. You remind me of the smart girl who sat next to me in 6th grade, shaking her head when she would see me write down the wrong answers.

beth said...

Congrats on hitting 500. That's fantastic, and with thoughtful posts like these, I can see why. Great idea to comment during commercials. Thanks for the tips.

Charlene said...

Carri - Thanks for the kind words. I'll be sure to stop by to ensure that you have at least one comment! ;-)

Debbie - those ups and downs are bound to happen (in blogging and in life!) Ya just get gotta get back in there and saddle up!

Leanne - I really appreciate the time you took to write such a thoughtful comment. I think it's great that you are able to balance the "retail" stuff with the "personal" - such an important mix. I'll be sure to stop by the surf!

Sarah - You are an incredible writer. No doubt your time will come in a way which is so much bigger than blogging. Always a pleasure!

Gelovsky - You're welcome and all the best to you!

Stef - Ugh... sorry you went through that nightmare. (Reminding myself to do a full back up.) I'm so glad you found the energy to start again and wish you all the best on your new journey!

Sheswrite - of course that's what SITS is all about, right? Love my SITStahs!!! Thanks for your support!

Audra - Mine are now 5 and 11 so I know what you mean! It really does mean ASKING for the time. I know we sometimes feel as though we shouldnt need to ask (or maybe guilty) but we need to and we're worth it!

Bruce - Hmmm... I thought you looked familiar! (LOL!) You are such a hustler and you know it. Everyone loves your writing; they just want you to do more of it.

Beth - Aw shucks. Thanks and you're welcome!

Carpe diem!
Charlene

Ada said...

Charlene,

These are great tips! I love that these tips come from the heart and aren't the typical blog tips that seem to circulating. Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely be using it and hoping to get to the 500 mark myself.

P.S. Popping over from BlogFrog SITS community.

Heather said...

My goals are to simply write down my life's ups and downs, provide a good read to to others, work on my writing style and occasionally do giveaways on my blog. I spend a lot of time doing bloggy stuff, but I really really enjoy it. Anyway I am a new follower from relax and surf sunday. Would love for you to stop by sometime.


Heather From and Mommy Only Has Two Hands! and Lynhea Designs

onemixedbag.com said...

I stumbled on you from the "Relax and Read Sunday"
As a new blogger, your post was really helpful. I'm always looking for new ways to get followers or do new things. So far my blog is mostly read by friends and family. That was not the purpose, but in time I will get more readers.

Loved the tip about taking notes. I so need to do that. Something amusing happens and I swear I will remember it, but alas, I always forget.

I look forward to following your blog!

Deb said...

This is a fantastic post! I've struggled with the balance of blogging - relating all too much to tip #10! Based on your tips, I'm not doing as poorly as it feels like I am. I can certainly work on improving, of course. Sometimes living life is more important than writing about it and posts have to wait. Slow and steady, right? :-)

Jennifer Bruno said...

I really enjoyed this! I started blogging to record my wedding planning for my family who lives in another state. I enjoyed it so much that I have continued since getting married and am now starting to concentrate on growing my blog and increasing readership. I appreciate the tips and wish you 500 more followers! :-)

CP said...

I am your newest follower and would love a follow back!
http://retailtherapylounge.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/retaillounge
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Retail-Therapy-Lounge/169846749716780

webb said...

Nearly two years and I am still not very focused, but I AM finally writing ideas in the book you suggested I start carrying -- many, many months ago.

More good ideas here. Hope all is well with you.

Charlene said...

Ada - maybe I should have included a byline like "These are not your mother's blogging tips."

Heather - providing a "good read" is a GREAT goal!

Onemixedbag - I have almost the opposite problem... very few of my friends and family ever read my blog (and in fact, only a few even "get" the idea of blogging!")

Deb - make yourself a sticky note with the words, "PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION." :-)

Jennifer - my sister actually got me into blogging when she moved to Ireland and started hers to keep all her loved ones in the States connected with her happenings.

CP - I'll be sure to visit and if it looks like something I'll be interested in reading on a regular basis, happy to follow.

Webb - YAY! I'm always so glad when I suggest something helpful. :-) I'm sure you have WONDERFUL ideas. Thanks so much for your ongoing support - you rock!

LaraAnn said...

These are great tips. I do have a notebook with ideas and notes for posts and it really does help although sometimes I forget to use it. I used to think that my blog should be perfect because I compare myself to ones that I follow and those are better written than mine but now I don't do this as much. Sometimes it does get a little disappointing that I hardly get any comments but I do still enjoy doing my posts and reading and commenting on others.

foxy said...

You know, I used to really care about how many followers I had, but that's really changed lately. Now, I care way more about the quality of communication that I get through my comments. I don't care how many comments I get, as long as I'm really connecting with someone. Which has totally changed blogging as a whole for me. I love it now!

Candace said...

You inspired my post of today! Hubs and I are over two months into the short sale process of buying a home. It is not something I thought would make a good post, but after reading this I began to think- who cares if it isn't perfect? It is a topic that really matters to me at the moment. It is pretty easy to get caught up in writing for followers, but I began blogging to write for me and to feel part of a community.

Tahnie said...

Thanks so much for these wonderful tips. I obsess over every detail of each post because I want it to be perfect. My problem right now isn't lack of inspiration or subjects, but rather time. My little miracle is 10 months and I have difficulty carving out uninterrupted time to just sit and write. I am a fellow SITS gal. I think blogging is hard work but completely worth it if it is in your heart and you absolutely LOVE it.

I hope you are having a fabulous week!

Jamie said...

Great tips. I'm not new to blogging but I'm just getting back into the personal side of it (I've been book blogging) and I found these tips to be very helpful for all of my blogs.

Vivianne's Vista said...

I soooo needed this reminder. I'm not a newbie really, (does 1 year make me a vet?) but that life balancing/blogging/working/raising children thing still eludes me...

Vivianne said...

I soooo needed these tips and reminders. I'm not a newbie really, (does 1 year make me a vet?) but that life balancing/blogging/working/raising
children thing still eludes me...

Juman61 said...

You're Awesome! Glad I "found" you Charlene. Your blogs are truly so relatable & definately makes me smile! Thank you for good posting-take care!

Christie0602 said...

I'm glad you wrote this post!! I just started my blog last night, but thought about forever before that. lol I'm excited but finding other blogs like yours, and making connections seems a little like walking in the dark. :) I'm happy I found yours though!

Empower said...

I love it!!! Thanks for the tips. : )

jason said...

Number 8 is great. So many people have blogs and expect others to comment, but don't make the effort themselves. I have found it very rewarding to just search for random blogs and comment. I know what a great feeling it is when someone takes the time to read my blog and leaves an intelligent comment that I love doing the same.

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