Mar 19, 2018

Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Juggling Life and Blog

"The idea behind Bloggiesta is to spend four days working on perfecting your blog and connecting with other bloggers who are doing the same thing. Spread the word and get all your friends to come and fiesta with us!"
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Bloggiesta Spring 2018  Officially Starts  (TODAY) March 19 and runs until March 25!

- Mini Challenge - 
Juggling Life and a Blog

I have been blogging for about 6 years now and some things have changed in that time, like, I have gone through a few jobs and I have moved to a new state. 

When I started blogging it was because I was done with college and graduate school and after those things I had all this time on my hands and needed something to do. I was a reader so blogging about the books I was reading seemed like an easy solution... 

Let's just put this out there now - the idea of blogging is easy, sometimes the content comes easily, but if this is your hobby, you know that it really is far from it - and why is that? Because Life Happens... that's why. So lets take some time to talk about some techniques I have learned over the years that may help you juggle your gorgeous blog and your wonderfully-event filled life.


Background: I am a blogger who also works 40+ hours a week. I don't have kids but I am married and have a few pets to take care of as well.

Some quick rules that I try to hold to - 

First things first - Prioritize! Your blog is probably your hobby if you have a day job or if you are going to school, so if it falls out of sync for a bit - THAT IS OK!  Acceptance is key here (I still work on this sometimes). If you have a following they won't completely forget about you if you take some time off. Do what you need to do, then jump back in.

Organization is key when you are juggling life or a blog. You would do the same thing at your job, with school work, or if you have a family. Staying organized just makes things run smoother. That way when sh** hits the fan , you will still be ok. BUT - plan YOUR way, my methods might not be for you, so play around with a few to see what's right.

Do things on Your Time - if you don't feel up to blogging, don't. If you force yourself to do ALL THE THINGS - especially a hobby, when you don't want to or aren't feeling it you could get burnt out really quick. And then we (the blogging community) would miss you.

On to the helpers...

Easy Projects to Get Organized
Here are a few things that I do to help me stay focused when I need to blog.

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Keep that inbox clean - or as clean as you can. This seems so simple, but it is SO HARD! I am not even a popular blogger and I get so many emails. I have started using the Gmail's multiple inbox feature. If you aren't, I highly recommend it. I have the following categories - Pending Review, Awaiting Info, and Review Requests.   

  • Pending Review is exactly that, anything I have agreed to review on a timeline. 
  • Awaiting Info is for anything that I need more input from the sender on - so if I am part of a blog tour and need the materials or if I said I couldn't review but would be willing to promo for an author and need that info.
  • Review Requests is unsolicited requests to read that have included the ebook in the initial emails OR ones that I have agreed to review but on my own time versus on a schedule. 
  • Then only the Main Inbox and Archiving is what is left. I archive things as I need to, for example - if I finished a tour or book review. then anything in my main inbox is only new stuff that I have not responded to or need to do. This way I can find things easily and see what needs to be done quickly.

Calendars - How do you schedule your time? Do you think a calendar will work for you? 

As a blogger we do a lot of things: reviews, discussions, promo spots, blog tours. There is a lot going on. So for me- I need a calendar. I use the google calendar linked to my gmail. I have also tried a paper calendar and planner, but the online version is what worked best for me. That way I can click it open while I am in my email and see what is on the schedule and it is less that I have to keep in my brain (things tend to get lost in there).  This also helps if you do things like Waiting on Wednesday which are reoccurring but you might not do it every week.

Scheduling and Autoposting -  more on this below, but it is so important I am going to note it a few times. Like using the calendar above, I adore scheduling.
The best feature that Blogger and other platforms have is the scheduled post. You can write your review in January and in March your review can magically appear on a day and time of your choice... tada!!!! That way you can read to your hearts content and still have media later on the blog closer to release dates. Don't get me wrong, I still fly by the seat of my pants on a lot of posts (ahem- this one) and post pretty much the same day, just depends on how much I feel like procrastinating. 

So those are my recommendations for easy-ish things that can help you out. But what about other stuff? There is so much more that goes into blogging than keeping your inbox clean, right?!  And organization can only get you so far!

Of course - in the long-term you need some more concrete plans. So what do I use you might ask?.. Keep on reading...

Long-Term Helpers
There are the things I almost ALWAYS do to keep my blog running.

Bloggiesta - you read that correctly - THIS EVENT! It is my happy place. It MAKES me remember to do all of the above plus a few other things that I always put off. Bloggiesta is the best blog-maintenance time. If anything is broken, links etc - now is the time to fix them. Have you been cross-posting reviews? No, now's the time for that too, and you have the support of all the other people participating too. It is like peer-pressure in the best way. 

I blog when I can. Like I mentioned before, I work quite a bit, but a lot of that work can be waiting for responses to emails so that I can progress in my day - during that time I can cross-post some reviews and back up the blog. I know not all jobs have this down time, but if you can work it in, it helps a lot! 

Also - being married, I love having events like this. I can say "Hubs - this week is Bloggiesta, and I need to do it" and he actually knows what that means and will encourage me to sit down and work at it. It is a set of dates that I cannot break away from if I really want to participate. (the Hubs is also very supportive of the blog and does try to leave me alone to blog when I need to).

'Blog Sprints' or Blog Ahead - Ahead is a challenge I like to participate in, there are month long versions and some shorter ones as well. It is run by The Herd Presents:
"This challenge is all about getting a jump on your blog posts and building up the number of completed and scheduled posts you have ready to go. It's a lifesaver for trips, emergencies, blogging slumps. Absolutely what keeps my blog going year round. " 

Or you can just "Blog Sprint" - Like I am doing today. I have to finish this post, then write my reviews for the week - there are 2 and I would like to prep one to go live later. I have set aside the morning to get it all done. I have a list and coffee (and sugar) to keep me moving along. 

Book Blogger? 

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Bringing a book EVERYWHERE - as a reader, this always happens for me anyway, but as a blogger too it is much more important now. If you have the time to read a few lines or paragraphs - do it! Keep an ebook on your phone - they are great for bus rides and audiobooks are great while at work if you are allowed or while you are doing chores at home. Sitting down with a physical book isn't your only option and none of the above is 'cheating'... and, BONUS!, you get more reading done to help prep content on your blog.
A running TBR list - With physical books you can have a pile on your shelf or nightstand that you need to read ASAP, but with ebooks and audiobooks added into the mix keeping everything straight can be difficult. Since I love lists - I have a giant spreadsheet and it has SO much info in it. It has the book, author, release date, when I need to review, who sent it to me, where I have to load the review (ex. Netgalley) plus a bunch more. It is organized by month so I can see how many books I need to read and when to should start reading them. You might have another system but this works for me. And now that I am thinking about it I should save it as a Google Drive document so I can access it all the time versus just on my home computer. (I need to add this to my Bloggiesta to do list).


Now for some application and a GIVEAWAY!
Do you use any of these methods? Do you have some to share with me? How do you juggle everything?

RULES to Enter: 
Must be participating in Bloggiesta this round.
Must be 13 with parent permission or older.
Must complete all Mandatory entries.
US Only - (Sorry, shipping can get $$)

Goodies from the shelf may be a book or two, excerpt packets, bookmarks, pens etc. 
We will see..... don't you love a surprise.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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