Work life balance can be difficult to achieve in any job. As a full-time nurse, I often find myself being at work more than I’m home. Thus, When I am home, I’m often extremely tired from work. It can be easy to let our work life take over. After all, the majority of us have to work to continue living the life we currently love or to create a life we aspire to have. Research and the gurus of self-care suggest that to find a true work-life balance we must exercise ‘work’ that we love. This way, we won’t see going to work as anything other than doing something which we love. I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done right?
Finding a good work-life balance is a technique that can take years to achieve and I know many people who think it’s just about impossible. When I began travelling a year ago I wanted to make a healthy work-life balance the priority. The mission was to experience. I want to live, breathe and enjoy Australia whilst working to make that all possible to fund these some spectacular adventures.
So, what did I do as we set out on our journey down under?
Of course, I decided to start a blog!
Well, that completely threw finding any kind of work-life balance wild. I adore my blog but it is sometimes like work. I love writing, I could sit and write all day every day. The part I don’t enjoy as much is marketing and editing. So, yes I do view some aspects of blogging as work. So with a full-time job, a new country explore how did I manage to find a healthy work-life balance? Not with ease, I assure you that!
It’s taken me almost a year of blogging to get the balance right and that has a lot to do with my mindset and what I want out of my blog. In this post, I share some of the strategies that I’ve adopted which have helped me keep my blog alive whilst balancing a full-time job AND travelling Australia (call me superwoman)!
I thought I’d format this as a list so that I don’t go off babbling on a tangent! I hope you enjoy it and if you have any other tips on how you juggle your full-time job with a blog or other demanding side hustle/hobby – let me know I could always use extra guidance!
Strategies I Use to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
1) One Post at a Time
This is the most valuable lesson I have learnt since founding Alicia Overseas. Prior to Australia, I had travelled to the West Coast of America. So, for some crazy reason in my crazy mind, I’d decided I needed to write about those destinations first. I have no idea how I even came to this conclusion. As a result, I was stuck writing five posts at once in the early days! My energy at that time was all about Australia and I was so excited to write about this new country I was discovering more of each day.
For some bewildering reason, my brain was spoiling all the fun by screaming, STOP! Don’t forget about all that USA content to produce first – crazy I told you! Anyway, it didn’t take me long to shake this habit and it’s one I’ll keep forever. Some people won’t dig it but for me, putting all my focus on one post at a time makes me so much more productive. This way I’m not worried about the 4 other drafts I have saved that I know need finishing.
PS I still haven’t written much about my time in the USA but it’ll come!
2) Plan Posts in Advance
The internet is full of do’s and don’s when it comes to blogging. As beginners, we read every article we can get our grubby hands on. Some blogging queens say that planning is everything and others swear by writing when you feel inspired. When it comes to creating content for your blog the truth is no one can tell you how to do it.
For months I struggled to keep on top of creating content and I really didn’t want a calendar for my blog posts. I wanted to write about what I wanted when I wanted. I managed to create like this for a while but when I started to ‘up my blogging game’ I started publishing twice a week (and found a huge spike in traffic as a result). To find the inspiration to write two blog posts a week and maintain a healthy work-life balance with my full-time job AND travels I realised I needed a schedule.
At the start of every month, I now write out the blogs that I want to publish then spread them out over the course of the month. Sometimes I know specifically what the blog post will be about and other times I simply decide only on the destination that I’ll write about. By using this simple planning technique I’ve managed to spend less time deciding what to write about and just doing it and quite well too. Planning posts in advance is a huge must in my opinion, especially if you’re looking at posting more than once a week. Of course, life often gets in the way and the schedule changes but I’ve learnt that that’s okay too. This simple plan I make is just a guide to refer back to as the month goes on. I hate calling it an editorial calendar as that just sounds WAY too official!
3) Don’t Try to Do Everything
Put your hand up if you’re guilty of this one? If you’re that then I’m not quite sure I totally believe you! We often find ourselves wanting to be the best at everything so. We want to try to do everything and do everything well! In terms of blogging that may come down to a few things. Social media, the actual blogging itself, becoming a blogger, writing a course, starting a facebook group, the possibilities in this blogging world are endless. But if we continue to try to do everything all at once we’ll end up doing nothing and have zero work-life balance.
Take social media. When I first started blogging I opened a social media account for every platform and tried to build an audience on each one. I’m talking, Facebook, a Facebook Group, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and honestly it was damn right exhausting. When I finally decided to take a step back and realise what I was doing wasn’t helping my blog, but hindering it, a lot changed.
I now swear by putting your energy on the platforms you enjoy and bring you the most results. Make sure you only choose a couple at first – this is crucial!
I currently focus mainly on 3 platforms, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. I do have a Facebook page which people can like but I don’t really put too much of my time into it right now. Pinterest brings me the most traffic so obviously, I spend a lot of time with it. I also enjoy Pinterest so that gives me so much more motivation to get stuck into the platform. Twitter is my fave for genuine connections and conversations. I don’t need to put much effort in with Twitter because the community within is already effortless. It’s a place where there is no competition, friendly banter and supportive bloggers.
Instagram, meh I have love and hate relationship with it – who doesn’t! I don’t particularly like the way Instagram works. Personally, I don’t like how it gives most of its credit to influencers that have thousands of followers and feeds full of glossy photographs. I keep my Instagram real with some gorgeous photos of my travels. These photos include Selfies, Landscapes and a whole lot of different colours. If to grow on Instagram I need more than that then I am simply not interested. Honest travel is what I’m about and I think Instagram advertises a lot of ungenuine travel without realising it.
For now, I only focus on these 3 platforms because I’m not 100% there yet when it comes to having a solid marketing strategy. For me, these 3 platforms give me enough work to focus on. Any more time on social media would see me again losing the current work-life balance that I’ve created around my blog.
Top Tip: When launching a blog sign up to all the social media platforms so that nobody else takes the name! Remembering that just because you signed up doesn’t mean you need to use it right away.
4) Schedule as much as possible for more Work-Life Balance!
I talked a lot about scheduling tools in my previous post on resources for travel bloggers so, I’m not going to talk about the actual platforms I use.
What I will say is that scheduling in advance makes a huge difference in achieving work-life balance. As a blogger, I can schedule so so much in advance which is incredible! I try to write my blog posts 1-2 weeks in advance. I sometimes do it a month in advance if I’m feeling like wonder woman, and schedule them for posting. This means if one week I don’t manage to write anything I’ve already got posts ready to go! I also schedule and plan social media.
Each week I set aside some time for scheduling for social media, mainly Pinterest. By creating a pinning schedule each week it means I can spend less time on the platform and more time writing or with my family. I also like to plan Instagram in advance. By that, I mean collecting the photographs I want to share over the next 3 days – 1 week.
When it comes to Twitter and Facebook I usually schedule a couple of posts sharing a blog. I don’t like to schedule too much, especially on Twitter, because I feel like it’s more of a conversational platform. Scheduling for social media doesn’t take long usually one morning or afternoon during the week.
5) Find Work-Life Balance by Deciding what you want from your blog
Deciding what you want from your blog is huge when it comes to finding a work-life balance. Especially, if you’ve still got a full-time job which is most of us! Blogging is a wonderful world and so often when we realise how much income we could make from it, we all decide we want to quit our jobs and live on blogging. Wanting to take a blog full time is a great goal and mass achievement when it happens but to get there, we’ve got to be prepared to do the work. Look at like this, if you worked at your day job for 4 hours a week would you get paid the same? Probably not, I know I wouldn’t. So if you only spend 4 hours a week on your blog how you can expect to see growth and eventual income? You always get out what you put in.
Also, don’t be afraid to want to keep blogging as your side hustle or hobby. So many of us think you need to want to go full time with a blog. This definitely isn’t the case and blogging with a full-time job does have its benefits! Ellie, from The Wandering Quinn, wrote a blog post about this a few years ago and I still refer back to it now. Ellie talks about the positives of being a travel blogger with a full-time job and I must admit I agree with so much of the post! Read the post here!
6) Focus on the right things instead of time-wasting on the wrong
Answer me this. How many of you have sat at your computer and changed your theme 1000 times? In the process spending 12 hours a day getting it right? Or spent hours one end editing photographs for Instagram? These things may be somewhat important for a blog but they are not the be-all and end-all. When I first started blogging I spent hours making it look all pretty wasting valuable time when I could’ve been writing. I used to think to make a website look nice was important for people to take me seriously. But of course, the most important part about blogging is writing.
Procrastination takes form in so many different ways but making changes to your blog, that don’t really need to be made, instead of writing counts! Time is valuable, so spend it on the most important aspects of your blog. After all, if you have great content the rest will follow.
As someone once said to me, if your content is decent then it wouldn’t matter if you had a black and white blog in font New Times Roman – wise words to remember folks.
7) Make sacrifices
Finally, I want to talk about making sacrifices. Running a blog with a full-time job is hard work. There’s no way to sugar coat it so I’m not going to try. All of the above have made a huge difference in finding my a good work-life balance. BUT, the ultimate factor that allows me to spend time on my blog is the sacrifices I make. In order to blog I know, I need to set time aside in my week to do so. I’m lucky in the sense that I work twelve-hour shifts so I work 3-4 days a week nursing and then have at least one full day to blog/do things associated with the blog. This then cuts down my actual days off to even less but I love writing this blog so it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!
This year I’ve turned out nights out and social events so I can blog. I must admit it took me a long time to make these sacrifices. I thought that people would think I was crazy. Why would I not want to enjoy time with friends or family just so I could sit at my computer and write something, that quite possibly, nobody would ever read? Well, the reason is that I enjoy it and it makes me so damn happy! What other reason do I need? I love blogging so I make time for it – simple.
PS People do actually read it too 😉
This list may be short but these seven things have helped me so much when it comes to blogging alongside my full-time job. You have to learn to prioritise. If you really want your blog to work then you need to put in the time. Of course, you can use tactics like scheduling and using time wisely but ultimately it comes down to the same saying we hear again and again. You get in what you get out. Unfortunately, if you do have a full-time job plus a blog then you’ve got your work cut out! Trial different schedules and see what works for you.
Maintaining a great work-life balance is possible but it all depends on you and how you want to spend your time. If blogging is going to take way too much from your social life and you’re not okay with that then maybe rethink what you want from your blog. Is it a hobby? A place you go to unwind and feel connected or somewhere you want to earn a living? Think hard about it because these factors will influence how you manage your time.
Kiki from The Blonde Abroad also has a great blog post on tips she gives on running a blog full time. I also refer to this post time and time again when I lose my way! Read it!
Do you have a travel blog?
Or any other blog for that matter! I’d love to connect and hear how you manage to fit in having a full-time job with a blog! Let me know in the comments below or send me an email at [email protected]!
The End of My Mini-Blogging Series!
As I hit publish on this post I’m aware that this is my final post in this mini-blogging series I’ve been writing! In case you’re new here, Alicia Overseas turned 1 in May! To celebrate, as well as getting a new logo, I decided to write four blog posts on my first year blogging and this is the final one! I’ve actually enjoyed writing about my blogging journey more than I thought I would! But the question I would love you to answer is have you enjoyed it? This won’t be the last ever ‘blogging’ post that I share. But for now, I’ll be focusing solely on travel and a little nursing. So let me know what you’ve thought!
Everybody has to start somewhere. We all come into this world with no idea how it all works. As humans, we learn to evolve and adapt to our environment. Discovering how to walk, talk, eat, read, write, draw even going to the toilet had to be learnt. Learning is a way of life which is why I don’t understand why we think we should be perfect at something before learning about it. I have a feeling everybody reading this is guilty of just wanting to fast track and be good at ‘that thing’ you’ve been working on, right away. The truth is life isn’t like that and it’s something I’m only just grasping myself, especially it when it comes to blogging.
Throughout my first year of blogging, I made mistakes, failed at things and carried on going! This post isn’t a pity party more a reflection of what I’ve learnt after something didn’t quite turn out well.
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. Therefore if you purchase something through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank You 🙂
Rookie Blogging Mistakes I Made in My First Year
If this is your first time here then you may want to check out this page and then my first post in this mini-blogging series. Alicia Overseas turned 1 last week so throughout the whole of May I’m sharing some of my blogging experiences from the last year. My first post in this series talks about What I’ve Learnt after One Year of Travel Blogging, click here to read it first.
Blogging has become a phenomenon over the last few years. People say it’s fading out and being taken over by social media but I have a feeling there will always be room for blogs. Blogs are about the people behind them and the world loves people and their stories. With the digital world ever expanding more and more of us are turning to blogging as a hobby or even a career. With so many of us now writing on the internet, it can be overwhelming as a new blogger. There is just so much information out there! So, after one year I’m reflecting on the blogging mistakes that I hope you won’t make.
Blogging Mistakes I made in my First Year
Taking it back to the start I can see how many blogging mistakes I made before my blog even went live. I was so excited at the prospect of starting my own blog. It had taken years of courage to actually put fingers to keyboard and decide to start Alicia Overseas. So, of course, I just wanted to get started right away, I bought a domain, got all of my social media handles and was ready to go. I chose a free WordPress theme and hit publish…and so it begins.
Not Having Posts Ready for Launch
To most reading this it may seem like such an obvious point not to follow. You read so many blogs on the internet that tell you to have at least some blog posts lined up to post when you first go live. Some say 5 some say 35 or even more! But this I didn’t do. I mean let’s be honest here I had no idea what I was doing. So after creating a semi-cute looking blog I hit publish and realised I hadn’t written anything yet.
It didn’t take me long to start writing, my mum and I had just been to New York so I had all that material to work with. I started writing posts but once you publish one people want to hear more so you have to keep writing. When I first started Alicia Overseas I thought writing posts would be easy. I had no idea that one blog post might take a full day or even a full week sometimes. So at the start, I found myself posting weeks apart, making it really hard to gain a trusting audience from the get-go. I was also moving to Australia the following weeks after starting my blog – Great timing Alicia!
My biggest advice when it comes to launching a new blog would be first to create a website that you like aesthetically. Then have at least 2 months of posts already written that way you can get straight into marketing your blog from the start rather than writing the content. Of course, the content is the most important part of a blog but it actually takes the least amount of time. If nobody knows about the blog you’re writing on then how will they know it exists? That’s where marketing comes in, especially via social media!
Caring What Others Thought of Me – Blogging Mistakes
I briefly touched upon this subject in my previous post but I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who’s done or thought this! When I first began Alicia Overseas I tried with all my power to hide it from my friends. I didn’t mind telling my family and partner because I was sure they would support me. My friends, on the other hand, I wasn’t so sure. I knew which ones would be supportive and which ones would roll their eyes and laugh. Probably says more about them than me.
The truth is it wasn’t just my close circle of friends I was afraid of. It was other people around me, my colleagues, acquaintances and people who I had yet to meet. What would people think when I tell them, I have a travel blog. My fear was that they would laugh and think who does Alicia think she is to have a travel blog and post all about it on social media. So I hid it for as long as possible. This meant not sharing it with the people in my life who love me but strangers behind a screen.
Because of this, I LOVED Twitter in the early days (it’s still my favourite social media platform) none of my pals had Twitter so I knew I could hide safely on there! As a result, I did manage to find a fabulous #traveltribe community who I now see as my friends. But I neglected the other platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. In the long run, I don’t think it did my blog much harm and I now have a well-engaged audience on Instagram and Facebook but it would’ve been better to have started building relationships immediately.
So, did they care?
As for the friends and other random people? Well, my friends have supported me. Sure there are a few who never read my blog but there are the others who read every post and share every post! Your friends and ‘real life’ circle of people are going to be amazing at spreading the word about your blog which we all need in the early stages! It’s blogging mistakes like these that get me the most. Not because I didn’t market my blog right away but because I was hiding something I was proud of!
Be proud of what you are creating and tell the world!
My Top Tips for Social Media in the Beginning
Whilst you’re drafting up your backlog of posts mentioned above start being active on social media. Find where your niche hangs out, get to know other influencers in that area, follow their blogs and start interacting. Tell people what you are creating and when they can expect a live website. It will give people an idea of what to expect from you and probably give your blog a great boost in traffic at the start 🙂
Save this post so you can come back to it some time!
Blogging Mistakes – Getting Stressed About Instagram
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with this platform? As the second biggest social media site in the world and over 1 billion active users every month as bloggers we just can’t ignore (even if it’s all we want to do). Don’t get me wrong I know some bloggers who refuse to use the platform and still do well. But it is a great platform to get exposure on. The key is to not get too immersed in the ‘games’ that people play on Instagram.
When I first started my Instagram account I was able to grow quicker than I ever thought but I was a little obsessed with it. Posting every day, trying to learn about editing tools such as Lightroom and run a new blog. It was honestly exhausting. As soon as I hit 2,000 followers I was stagnant for months. No matter what I did my for every one follower I lost 10. If you have Instagram then you’ll know what I’m talking it, it can feel pretty demoralising.
I stressed about Instagram for months and was putting all my energy into it, neglected my blog. This is probably one of my biggest blogging mistakes I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until I listened to Mollie Bylett, from Where’s Mollie, at the World Travel Market which you can find on YouTube, that my relationship with Instagram and social media changed. Yes, Instagram can be a great way to make money and collaborate with brands BUT what happens one day when Instagram, or any other social media platform, disappears? Like MySpace did? We may have moved on in the digital world since MySpace but It could still happen. Social Media could be there one day and gone the next. And when it does go, what happens to you? I really want you to think about this.
Social Media could be whisked away from beneath our feet your blog can’t. Alicia Overseas is mine and the only person who can take it from me is me. So that is exactly where I put in all my hard work and this is what successful bloggers will tell you. I now put more energy into my blog, SEO and then use social media to market Alicia Overseas. I’m much happier from it and my blog is better than ever! I’ve found that my social media following has increases the more I put into my blog. Don’t let this be your biggest blogging mistake if you have or a starting a blog then focus on the blog the most.
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Blogging Mistakes – Not Learning SEO from the START
Search Engine Optimisation, the single most important thing to getting ranked on Google. I’m going to into the technicalities of SEO because I’m only just grasping them myself. The best kind of traffic you can get to a website or blog is via a Google Search. This is organic traffic. It shows 1 that people are searching for your blog and 2 that you’re answering a question that people are searching for. Making sure that each post is optimised from Google is so important when trying to gain traffic to your blog.
Creating an SEO optimised post involves searching for keywords, looking at other blog posts on that topic, individually naming photographs, back-linking, alt text, meta description, the list goes on. You may find conflicting information about writing for SEO on the internet because some people like to write in a story format. When you are writing for SEO then you want to be informative so Google can see that you’re answering a question that someone needs answering. For example, in terms of SEO, this post probably won’t do that well.
My advice is to learn SEO before writing posts for your blog! There is so much valuable information out there that you can at least start learning the basics before starting to write your posts. If not you may find yourself trudging through old posts to make them more SEO friendly – ME!
These resources have helped me so much when it comes to understanding SEO:
Make Traffic Happen by Gemma and Laura – check out their website for free tips and their eBooks. The Facebook group Make Traffic Happen is also so so valuable when it comes to learning SEO. It’s a real community where people are out to help each other understand SEO. Join Here.
I know that this is one of the biggest blogging mistakes that a lot of bloggers have made at the start of their blogging journey. There is an illusion that you need to have a big following or a lot of traffic to start using affiliate links! You don’t. In case you don’t know an affiliate link is when you link to a product or service, if someone buys through that link then you earn a commission. This could anybody who reads your blog so all you need is readers. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a fast money maker and it takes gaining trust from your audience before bloggers see consistent income from affiliate links. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start linking your favourite services and products from the start – you never know what could happen!
I’m starting to get more and more clicks on my affiliate links the more my traffic at Alicia Overseas improves. I wish I’d learnt and incorporated affiliate links into my posts from the beginning of my blogging journey. To find out if a brand has an affiliate programme just type it into Google. For example, ‘FitBit Affiliate Programme’
Spending Money on Unnecessary ‘Blogging Courses’
Blogging Courses, do you need to take one? Well, that’s up to you. So many bloggers out there who start with no knowledge and build a brilliant empire through self-teaching. YouTube is my number 1 go to when I can’t figure something out on my blog – usually the technical stuff! There is a vast amount of free knowledge on the internet it’s just about filtering through the rubbish. You definitely do not to spend money on a blogging course to start a blog.
I’m not going to go into too much detail but at the start of the blogging journey, I bought a course which promised all the results. They gave a great sales pitch and I bought it. What I later found out what that it was much more of an affiliate marketing programme than a blogging platform. Basically, their claim was that you can blog full time by making money selling their course. Well, I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to learn how to create my own empire not sell someone else’s! Long story short it turned out to be a complete waste of money! I was sworn off blogging ‘courses’ for the seeable future.
But I did end up buying another…
There are so many other courses out there that I’m sure are amazing. Last year I was at a point where I didn’t know whether to continue my blog. I didn’t know if it was growing fast enough, that I’d ever become good enough to grow and inspire people to travel the world. So, I decided to reach out to a well-known blogger in the travel industry, Jessica Festa who runs the blog, Jessie on a Journey. I didn’t know what I was expecting when I reached out but I couldn’t believe it when Jessie personally replied to my email!
The email was heartfelt and so supportive, she knew what I was feeling. She gave some pointers and gave me the option to buy into one of her courses. This email wasn’t a sleazy sales pitch and it wasn’t all she spoke about. It was a simple, hey try this out and see if it could help you. She even offered me a huge discount for the first month of her Travel Blog Prosperity membership course. I wasn’t sure, I’d already lost money before but the more I research and read the reviews Jessie had I decided to go for it. It’s now the only blogging course I’ll ever take. From SEO to working with brands, monthly workbooks, affiliate market training this course has taken my learning to the next level.
You do not need a blogging course but it can be beneficial but I know it has been for me. My biggest advice is to do your research. Ask around, look at reviews and ALWAYS reach out to the creator of the course before opting in. A lot of people are out to help others but a lot are just out for themselves too. So just be careful.
If you’re just starting out in this crazy blogging world then be kind to yourself. I’m talking about these mistakes one whole year on, I’m able to reflect but by making these mistakes doesn’t mean I failed. Enjoy the ride and learn on the way. I thought I’d share one of my favourite quotes before writing off this post:
Share this post to Pinterest so your friends can enjoy it too!
There you have it my 6 biggest blogging mistakes I made in my first year. I hope that this post has inspired you in some way. Either to do some more learning before going in all guns blazing or, if you’re an established blogger maybe a gave you a smile as you thought ‘me too’.
Either way, I would love to know your thoughts about these mistakes and share some of your own if you wish! I’d love to continue this conversation in the comments below or you can always me at [email protected]. If you enjoyed this post then I would love it if you could share it for others to find!
Next week I’ll be talking all about what blogging resources have helped me in my first year of blogging!