Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Behind-the-Scenes: Blogging With a Full-Time Job


I used to think that I was anti-social. That I was an introvert.

But actually, I'm, like, really social. I love having people over, hosting dinner parties, going on shopping trips with friends, hanging out at my neighbor's house when I'm feeling a little lonely (no matter that he's 80 and talks through the Great British Bake Off instead of watching it) ... I love the street we live on because it's so social. I love saying "hi" and exchanging pleasantries with at least three different people before I reach my front door. I'll chat the ear off the man who owns the corner shop if I could - mostly because I'm social, but also because I'm American.

However, I'm always a little reluctant - a little whiny, a little stand-offish - when it comes to meeting new people. And it's because of that question. You know the one.

Let me set the scene:

You're at a supperclub in East London, hosted by a friend of a friend. You've arrived a little late, so you hang up your coat and take a seat next to a table that's already boozing and chatting the night away. You're greeted by warm and friendly faces. You're introduced to Mark and Louisa. Mark and Louisa are a couple who live in Bethnal Green. They're architects and they wear matching watches.  They probably own a lot of HAY furniture at home. You're just bonding over your mutual love for House of Cards when Mark turns to you and says, "And what do you do?"
Cue stammering and hesitation; a cop-out: "Well, I do a lot of different things, haha! I mean, we all do, AMIRITE? Haha!"

Then, when pressed for detail: "So, I work in publishing. Book publishing, actually. In Rights. Sort of. Like, Business Affairs. So, negotiating contracts for acquisitions and sales. Of titles. Yeah. And, um, I also write. Kind of. I mean, I have a blog and I freelance for magazines. Sort of."

What I really want to say is, "I have a million and one jobs and I can't quite define all of them but they are equally important and sometimes when I get home, I really just want to jump in the shower and do my nails or cook dinner or something but really I'm on my phone promoting a blog post from the moment I get off the tube to the minute I turn my key in the door and then I have to style a shot for Instagram but I can't right now because it's nearly Daylight Savings Time and it's going to be dark by 4 pm and sunrise isn't until 8 or something so I can only shoot on weekends when I'd much rather be watching House of Cards in bed which then produces a lot of self-loathing because I love to write and take photos but really I just wish there were more hours in a day so I could decompress when I need to instead of finding the next best thing to Instagram."

I've had a full-time job for as long as I've had this blog. Ideally, I'd love to have one or two days per week to devote to the blog, but I just can't tear myself away from my day job, which - while fun and fulfilling - is demanding and requires a lot of focus and concentration.

So, I write after work or on the tube or during my lunchbreak or on the weekend (seriously, the number of times I've groaned on Sunday morning: 'Ugh, I have so much writing to do' without lifting a finger" has outnumbered the times I've Instagrammed a photo of smashed avocado on toast - which is a lot).

But the thing about creativity is ... you can't just switch it on. Ideas come to you (my magic place is the shower, when I'm whistling a bad song on repeat and have one leg propped up against the bath, slathered in shaving cream, razor poised).

Which is why blogging with a full time job is tough. I don't even really mind the crazy schedule; it's just ... the creative process requires me to be out and about. Living life. Observing. Noticing. I don't notice anything when I'm chewing off a fingernail trying to think of a title for my review that was supposed to be published over a week ago, except for the blinking cursor in front of me going, "Come ON. COME ON!".

Also, as I've grown older, my priorities have changed. Honestly? I'm more likely to eschew a fun blogging event for a quiet night in with my husband - a husband who - while completely doting and pretty-much-gosh-darn-perfect - travels a lot and works long hours. I probably do this to the detriment of my blog.

I know.

But spending that time with someone I love and who I don't see as often as I'd like to, is more important to me than an eye-wateringly beautiful five-course meal. Don't get me wrong: I would love to be at that table for that five-course meal. And I spend the next day scrolling through others' social media posts with a serious sense of FOMO.

But I've got to prioritize. I don't have time not to.

I'm also trying to be more compassionate toward myself - something I've been working on all year long, and which I wrote about in this post. So, I've entered into a little contract with myself: a contract that says I won't beat myself up if I don't have a whole slew of posts scheduled and ready for publication Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning. That, if I've had a busy day at work, I'll allow myself the space to veg on the couch watching Luke Cage for half an hour before making dinner and calling it an early night, instead of slavishly sitting front of a blank screen waiting for inspiration to hit me (that only results in stilted copy anyway, I've found). That I'll pay less attention to rankings and stats.

If you blog and work full time, how do you balance it all? Are you happy with that balance? I'd love to know!
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47 comments

  1. Great post! I am in the process of figuring out the work/blog balance - it's tough, but can be super rewarding. There are times when I'm out with friends, who I haven't seen in a while, at a great restaurant and I'd love to snap away and pop it on my blog, but sometimes it's nice to just be in the moment, put the camera down and enjoy nice conversation and company. The blog can always wait another day. xx

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    1. Thanks, Colleen! I totally agree. It's hard writing a lifestyle blog sometimes because this blog is about ... my life. And there's a fine line between "life" and "blog" ... I'd like to separate out the two a bit more but they're firmly intertwined!

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  2. I know how you feel...and trust me when I say that even after moving to blogging full-time, it doesn't get any easier! Whenever anybody asks me what I do and I say I am a blogger, I feel like they look at me thinking "ah that's a fun and easy job" and I wish I could tell them "but actually I do a million other things in addition to writing blog posts!" It's never easy, but it is very rewarding! :)

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    1. Good to know that blogging full time isn't the magic solution, Giulia! Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't fantasize about doing that! I do love blogging but when your schedule is so pushed, it begins to feel like a chore/job and people don't seem to understand that there is a LOT that goes into a blog than just writing a few rambling sentences and snapping a photo here and there!

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  3. Still trying to work out the right work/balance schedule...I have some spare time but I want to volunteer and do other work-related things to further my career so blogging takes a back seat.
    I want to improve my blog schedule but I try not to worry too much about it as that's why previous blogs have failed. I work in the art industry so I'm always surrounded by creativity and inspiration for blogging but my job pays the bills so is my priority!

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    1. It's a tough one, Maya! I used to commit to posting 3-4 times per week, but now I'm down to 2-3. It's not the discipline that's difficult, but I know that I'm an anxious person by nature so I'm trying to look after my mental health by not pushing myself so hard. It's fantastic that you work in the art industry so you're surrounded by inspiration every day!

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  4. great post!I also wonder how other people seem to find time for blogging on top of their job and like normal life:) I publish once, twice a week and I can't anymore:)

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    1. Thanks, Tanja! Yes, it's hard to publish multiple posts per week when you've got a lot on.

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  5. Ah, balance. That most elusive of concepts ;)

    Yeah, I'm not great at it. Better than I used to be, in that I now sometimes take time off, but not as good as I probably should be. Blog-wise, for a while I was doing it in the early mornings before I did anything else, but lately another project's taken up the morning time and the blog is slipping a bit. It's impossible to juggle everything and I can always come back to stuff later, is what I keep telling myself. I just hope it's true...

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    1. I was the same as you ... my husband usually gets up at 5:30 for work, so I used to wake up at the same time and try to write then. I learned pretty quickly that "forcing" my brain to be creative at that hour didn't really work that well for me. My ideal time to write is mid-morning/lunchtime, funnily enough. I think that if I had a full weekday to devote to my blog each week, I'd structure it so that I'd get 3-4 hours of solid writing in, plus time to pitch ideas and proposals for content and to market my blog in the way that I'd like to. I guess I'm frustrated because it's something I love doing but I don't have enough time to actually do.

      But ... also to say that I absolutely love your blog. Each post = quality. I may not always comment, but I often read it because I love your writing and reading about your experiences.

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  6. I really haven't been blogging lately. I don't know, I just stopped feeling like I had anything interesting to say, I guess. But it's interesting not having to fit it in - I'm watching a lot more TV and going out a lot less which isn't necessarily a good thing. Work is always busy, that's media for you, but it was nice to have something non-work to focus on, even though I get to be creative there. I see some soul-searching in my future.

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    1. It can often feel like a hamster wheel. And that's a terrible way to describe something that I love doing; but when the pressure's on, I sometimes just want to get off. And I know that I'm in control of that. But, as I was saying to John the other day, I had always wanted to write and I spent so much time pitching to different publications (I still do, whenever I can) only to have them tell me, "Thanks but no thanks" for my topic, so I thought it was so incredibly liberating to be able to write what I wanted to whenever I wanted to for an audience that could dip in and out when they liked. Even with this post, I love the conversation that's starting and for me, that's one of the most fulfilling aspects.

      I miss reading your blog posts (and you've ALWAYS something interesting to say!) but your "audience" will still be here whenever you decide to start posting again!

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  7. I love the mind spew! Exactly (well sort of) what my brain does when the weekend comes and I have like 101 million chores to do at home but also want to catch up on sleep and make actual decent breakfast and clean AND write and take photos but are they in the right light do I go out to places and take pictures???? It's always tough. I've taken a much more backseat role when it comes blogging these days, and I usually have a backlog of photos to write about (from holidays etc) so I don't have to actually /do/ much on normal working weekends.

    To be completely honest, for the past two weekends, I've barely checked my phone on the weekends and it's actually very satisfying because I cannot bring myself to scroll through an endless feed, feeling like I'm obliged to courtesy-like everyone's photos! (Except yours, cause you have cool stuff ofc haha)

    Right now, for me, writing is a good distraction on the weekend so I don't have to fret about real life adult stuff, if that makes sense!

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    1. OMg thank you for introducing me to the new phrase, "courtesy-like" - SO, SO TRUE. HAHAHA! Also as a disclaimer: I never courtesy-like your photos, I REALLY love them! But isn't it true ... sometimes I automatically like photos without even looking at the photo itself. Out of control.

      Having those weekends "off" is so satisfying. I've done it a couple of times and have luxuriated in the pure ignorance of not knowing what was going on in social media! I think I need to try it more ...

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  8. I am sure you are not alone Jamie and there are a lot of bloggers who can resonate with this issue. As much as I'd want to be out and about exploring and getting inspired, or spend hours enhancing my blog's interface and developing my brand, I simply cannot afford to not work, or work part time. So it all comes down to personal time management, which I suck at, btw.

    Ever since I started writing I've been spending less time working out, and practically quit reading books and magazines because I either have to write/promote a post, or read someone else's blog and engage on e-net. It was all great in the beginning, but soon I realized all this was making me exhausted and at some point even nauseous. That's why I decided to take it easy and developed certain rules for myself: I write whenever I can and feel like it, which is typically three times a week, but not on specific days; I usually try to make notes or draft a post during lunch time, and then finish it in the evening; I certainly started putting spending time with my husband first; I usually allow myself to relax on Saturday and write on Sundays; I don't stress about posting during vacation - Instagram and Twitter is enough. This way I feel a bit more in control and relaxed. I still don't have much time left for reading, but that will be my 2017 resolution - to make sure I carve out time for that too.

    For me, it all came down to one thing - blog is my creative corner. It's not paying my bills or bringing me any perks (as much as I'd love it to), I am here to share my experiences so I can do it at my own time and pace. It might not be this easy when you actually work with brands and need to provide reviews, but at the end of the day you are made the right choice - it's ok to relax a little because guess what? Your readers will still be here looking forward to your stories even if they are a day or two late ;)

    xoxo, nano | www.travelwithnanob.com

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    1. EVERYTHING in your second paragraph, Nano. EVERYTHING. That time for YOU is so precious! And that's what I've been working on - prioritizing how I spend my time.

      And your comment is a great reminder that this is my creative corner - that I can do it at my own time and pace. I've found that thinking of the "worst case scenario" has often helped me manage my blog anxiety i.e. "What's the worst thing that could happen if I don't join in the Travel Link-Up this month?" (spoiler alert: absolutely nothing)

      New Year's resolution for sure!

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    2. Ha, I love the tactic of "worst case scenario"! Like you said, it's so hard to MAKE yourself write something when all you want to do is crash on the couch in front of a TV. Those creative juices certainly don't flow on cue, as much as we all wish it wasn't true.

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  9. Your post totally resonates with me. It's that feeling of spinning too many plates and quite often a few will smash. I've have two kids in the mix too, so that vegging on the sofa scenario features rarely in my life.
    I'm very much like you, I love blogging and sharing my experiences, its's just trying to find enough hours in the day to do it!
    Xx

    www.thecuriouspixie.co.uk

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    1. Hi Sima - thanks so much for your comment, and for your tweets about this post too! I can't imagine how you do it with kids in the mix too! Total admiration for you. I think what I've learned is that carving out intentional, purposeful time for myself to write and blog and be creative is fine, but to not put too much pressure on myself when it simply doesn't happen OR if I want to enjoy myself i.e. take a break or hang out with my husband instead. It's difficult to remember that while maintaining a blog can be hard work, it shouldn't take over your life ... it's a fine line, though!

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  10. Such a great conversation starter! I'm just an awkward person so that's mostly why I'm never thrilled to have to meet new people, but I do enjoy actually having friends haha. Blog/Real Life/Work balance is a big one that I'm not great at. Sometimes I'll have a great idea at work and take a few minutes to jot down the idea, or late at night. I reduced my blog down to one or two blog posts a week not to be overwhelmed because it got crazy at some point when I was blogging five times a week and I had no time to go out and see anyone!

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    1. Haha, I'm like you, Camila! But yes, cutting down the number of posts per week has really helped me calm my anxiety.

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  11. My blog has totally suffered since I got a job creating content for other companies, which I ironically got the job because of having my blog. I'm trying to strike a balance but like you said, sometimes I just want to hang with my other half and not deal with computers or phones.

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    1. Ugh, I kind of know how you feel, Dannielle. It must be tough for you! When I freelanced writing content and managing social media for a company, I felt like some of the creativity was being sucked from my own personal avenues for writing. I actually prefer having a day job that has nothing to do with blogging so I can totally switch over to my "creative" brain outside of those working hours.

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  12. Love this. I've had a full time job for the majority of the seven year life of my blog and there are no overlaps between my day job and blogging. It's sometimes hard because there are times I feel out of place in both the blogging and day job worlds but the fact that I'm still typing away at the blog after seven years makes me think that I need to have both in my life to stay sane(-ish)! x

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    1. I have the SAME feeling, Lily ... I always joke that I'm such a bad "publishing" person because I'm so not interested/involved in books outside of my day job! (Which is kind of a lie, in that I love to read, but I'm just not in the publishing "scene", if you know what I mean!) But then I get this imposter syndrome with my blog and it makes me sad and anxious.

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  13. I used to spend way too much time focusing on the blog and it was only when I took a blog break that I really figured out the balance - that the world doesn't end if a post doesn't go up, and that I suddenly have so much more time and much less guilt! I've been much better since then, if posts happen then great, but if it's a busy week then I'm not gonna get worked up over it!

    Jasmin Charlotte

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    1. Man, blog breaks are SO good and healthy. I drove myself to tears one weekend because I hadn't written a post in time for a travel link-up when I said it aloud to myself and realized how ridiculous I sounded. I'm taking up more of the attitude you described above when it comes to blogging regularly!

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  14. When I used to work in Covent Garden, I actually had time to compose blog posts in between client meetings/writing editorials/BD talks/crisis management what-have-you. I was really inspired by the buzz and the atmosphere. But now I've moved jobs - in a company that monitors the pages you visit and has a relatively strict phone-use policy. At first I was "Oh no, but I can't check my IG or my blog or comment on someone else's..." but it's actually a blessing in disguise. I've actually become a bit more relaxed about blogging. I'm not worried whether I've written 6 times a week or so and I've learned to appreciate hanging out with people IRL instead of me just going straight home to type a hell lot of gibberish for the sake of writing something.

    I also get what you mean about finding time with loved ones more important than getting complimentary stuff. I love blogging to bits but actually, it's become a "me before you" type of love now. Besides, it's quality over quantity, non?

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    1. DEFINITELY quality over quantity. Thank you for reminding me of that, love. I needed to hear it! xoxo

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  15. I LOVE this post. You have literally taken every emotion I have been feeling recently and poured it into a post. I cannot stop taking on new projects, but then sometimes I just can't be a**ed to get on with them. I came to the conclusion this week that I think the best way to solve this problem is to have longer days. Simple.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Asma! It is such a tough balance to strike. I LOVE the new opportunities and projects I get involved in, but they've been inciting more panic than usual recently ... for exactly the same reason you've noted above. I think we're conditioned to do TOO MUCH and to expect ourselves to be able to cope with that. But at the end of the day, I realized that I was the only person who was putting those expectations on myself. I'm my own editor and boss. But longer days would OBVIOUSLY be the best solution :)

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  16. Finally got around to reading this post and I love it! I really enjoyed reading how you balance it all - obviously I haven't had my blog for that long yet but I really can relate and found it interesting to see how it is for others.

    This bit especially struck a chord: "The creative process requires me to be out and about. Living life. Observing. Noticing.". I absolutely LOVE exploring London and walking around, but I wish I didn't only have the weekends to do it. I wish I could afford to work part time and that way have time to watch all of those episodes of Gilmore Girls episodes on my freetime without having to feel guilty about not blogging or doing other blog-related activities at all times.

    That said, I LOVE my little hobby and my blog so no matter how stressed it can sometimes make me, it's mostly such a big source of joy and inspiration. :) x

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

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    1. Thank you, Laura! I feel the same way as you do about the perfect trifecta of blog + part-time work + Gilmore Girls. ;) x

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  17. I have a full time job and blog as well....really enjoyed this blog post - it's so true and absolutely hilarious! Lauren - www.theyoproedit.com

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  18. Crikey Jaime, you're making me feel bad about my life now!!! Haha. I deffoes have a full time job and really enjoy blogging but there are weeks when I want to blog and spend all my free time editing photos and weeks where the thought of it fills me with dread and, quite simply, I don't. I have no idea about stats or rankings... I write because I enjoy it and hope it's helpful to someone and because I enjoy connecting with people that enjoy the same things as me, but ultimately you NEED TO GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! The blog is not your job, it's your hobby, so enjoy it and don't stress (though I know that's easier said than done), but FO REAL. Anyway, beautifully and funnily written as always! Love AP xo

    Andrea's Passions

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    1. Totally agree with you Andrea - I keep having to remind myself that it's my hobby and that no one will fire me for missing a self-imposed deadline, haha! Love your blog redesign btw, it's beautiful! Hope you're enjoying your time in Hong Kong x

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  19. I blog and work full time Jaime and sometimes the blog suffers - but you've got to prioritise and do what is best for you.

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    1. Absolutely, Cathy - thanks for your comment!

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  20. This is such a great post and it really does hit home with me! I work a variety of shifts not set to any one pattern. (Nurse life!). Between working nights and days there are times where if it wasn't written I wouldn't remember what day it is!

    When you said that you feel most inspired in the shower! Totally get that and YES blogging totally requires you to be out and about. Somehow though on my days off I much prefer to be in my PJ's chillin out! Bit of a Catch 22 right!

    I use a blog calendar and try to schedule some posts as well as keeping a notebook with me at most times! Great post hun x

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    1. COMPLETELY agree! Keeping a notebook with me and writing down a loose schedule of posts has really helped keep the anxiety at bay. I don't know how you do it as a nurse! Total admiration and respect for you :) x

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  21. Gaahhh! I definitely relate to this post and am still in the process of figuring out to balance everything you listed - a full-time job, going out with friends, maintaining a blog and promoting it... Phew. I'm hoping with more dedication and discipline I can cut down the time it takes to finally get the blog from notepad scribbles to a published article and promote it - but other than that, I'm not sure!

    You're right, though. Being conscious of how you spend your time and prioritizing have to be key!

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    1. You can do it, Alison! So glad you could relate - it's tough having a full-time job, a blog, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life!

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  22. Great post! I just found your blog and I have to say your pictures were the first thing to catch my attention...they're beautiful!

    xoxo Olivia
    www.ourwanderingmind.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Olivia - that's really kind of you to say! Looking forward to reading your blog! xoxo

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  23. I love this post!
    Love the way you write, Jaime! xxx

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