Today’s post is a bit different. SO many of you are parent’s who are trying to juggle work, home, and the thought of building a business – and that can really daunting. Lindsey Ralston knows this – but she’s been doing it anyway. And today on the blog she is sharing some advice on how she’s found the time to build something for herself in the midst of all her duties raising her family at home.
Take it away, Lindsey!
As a homemaker and a homeschooling mom, finding time in the day to do what I need to do is always a challenge. Normally, I feel like I have only 5 minutes of undivided time to devote to any one task. There’s just a lot to do.
I wear many hats at home. Besides being a homemaker and homeschooling mom to three little ones, I’m a mediocre (but hardworking) gardener, an amateur woodworker, chief weed-eater, a “from scratch” short-order cook, etc. The list goes on but you get the idea.
What I need is a 37.42 hour day. I’m sure many moms can relate.
How many times have I reheated the same cup of morning coffee only to forget it in the microwave each time? I’m serious. While I’m standing in front of the microwave and waiting on my coffee to heat, I start thinking about what I need to be doing and I leave to do it…completely forgetting that I was heating my coffee AGAIN.
Apparently, my memory is less than 30 seconds long. More than once I have found myself wandering around the house looking for my lost cup-o-joe only to find it still in the microwave!
That’s why I knew that when I started my blog, Big House in the Woods, I was going to have to adjust my schedule to MAKE it work.
Downtime wasn’t going to fall into my lap. I was going to have to find it. I WANTED to find it because I had landed on something I greatly enjoyed.
I have discovered that blogging and freelance writing is extremely fulfilling. It’s a huge creative outlet for me and it provides me with some “mad money.”
I know many women in the same position but the thought of adding one more thing to our days seems impossible. I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible. You just have to get creative and organized. I’ve tried many different ways to be more productive and squeeze one more drop of time out of my day. Here is what I’ve learned…
You have to be a better juggler and I’ll tell you how.
Tip #1: Subscribe to a Quality Email List
There are many high-quality articles online that I would like to read that would help me greatly as I am growing my blog. However, I don’t always have time to dig for those articles so having them delivered straight to my inbox is a huge convenience.
When I was starting my blog, I searched the internet for helpful websites and blogs that would point me in the right direction and help me get on my feet.
I quickly found three different websites that I liked and I subscribed to the email lists on all three of those. I’m going to briefly break this down for you because it will help you understand how to sift through and find the real gold.
Email Subscription #1: I really liked this one at first. All of the emails were upbeat and positive. It got me pumped up about this blogging thing and had me almost convinced that I could be a millionaire in about a month. These people were raking in 20k a day…or so they claimed.
However, It doesn’t take long before that kind of talk gets old. That blogger was filling up my inbox faster than I could delete them.
They were trying to sell, sell, sell and I was in no mood to buy, buy, buy what they were offering. Especially since the price was astronomical and they liked to brag about how much money they were making. It didn’t seem real.
I felt like I was just going to be one more person that they could take money from so they could buy another yacht. I am a hardworking wife and mother who does not have time for false promises or to be led down rabbit trails.
Let’s all say this together “UNSUBSCRIBE!”
Email Subscription #2: This one was just ok. That guy didn’t bombard me with emails and I appreciated that. However, I found his emails to be more talk and less action than I needed. I needed someone to say, “Hey! You there in the recliner with your infant at 3 a.m.! Here’s what I did to make blogging and freelance writing work for me. And this is what YOU need to do.”
I needed someone to shake me into consciousness and not just say, “Oh, yeah. Blogging is easy. No big deal. Just throw a few good articles out there and people will come flocking.”
Enter: Location Rebel
I ran across Location Rebel years ago. I have always had a nomadic heart and have frequently searched for articles and posts with the same thoughts…freedom from the grind. Freedom to travel. Single folks, couples, and families who started making money online and flew the coop.
What always interested me about Location Rebel was how all of the articles were genuine and honest. No one was claiming instance success. I always left feeling uplifted knowing that if I put the effort in like Sean, I could also become location independent and successful.
Location Rebel’s email list ended up being the third one I subscribed to and the only one I read today.
Note from Sean: I swear I didn’t tell her to say this!
Here’s the best part about subscribing to a quality email list like Location Rebel’s: helpful articles are delivered straight to your inbox.
This is HUGE for someone who is pressed for time.
I’m looking at my inbox right now and there is an email from Location Rebel called “How to Make Money Content Writing.” Do I want to read that?
Yep. I sure do. And it was basically handed to me. All I have to do is click it, read it, and apply the knowledge.
Location Rebel reminded me that a good blog is about writing high-quality content for real people. A good blogger cares about their audience. It’s not about throwing a few bones out there then sitting back to watch your bank account grow (because that doesn’t happen). It’s also not about writing a few half-rate posts and waiting for the suckers to come read them.
What Location Rebel taught me is that it’s about creating a blog with quality content in a way that would “make your mom proud.” And I learned all that from reading the articles that were delivered to my inbox.
The Take-Away: Subscribing to a worthwhile email list is CRITICAL to busy moms. Sift through the spam and subscribe to email lists that are helpful and written by genuine people.
Action Item: Sign up for Location Rebel’s email list
Tip #2: Print Articles That Are the Most Helpful to You
This might sound very 2005 but, for a busy mom, it’s extremely helpful to have a binder full of awesome articles that you can flip open and read anytime you need to.
I can promise you that I do this all of the time. In fact, I’ve got my binder sitting next to me right now. It has saved me so much time and cut down on my screen time. When I have blogger’s block, I flip open my binder and review all the highlighted parts of my favorite articles.
Then I remember what I’m supposed to be doing:
- Write 5 articles reviewing 5 of the most popular items in your niche.
- Write 3 in-depth tutorials on your niche.
- Write 3 list posts.
Some articles are meant to be read more than once. I realized that as soon as I started reading articles on Location Rebel. Each article is so packed with information that I wanted to read them over and over again. Ok, I didn’t just WANT to read them over and over again…I NEEDED to read them over and over again.
For example, “How to Make +500 a Month in Passive Income with a Niche Site” is not something you can scan and digest quickly.
If you are serious about blogging then you need to soak up that article. You need to print it off and get out your highlighter because that is an article that you will be revisiting many times while you are establishing your blog. It takes you through 14 very detailed steps that outline EXACTLY what you need to do.
I have also printed (and highlighted) other articles that explain how to use other platforms effectively…like Pinterest, for example.
This keeps my bookmarks tab on my computer from running over and it also keeps me from having to be on my phone or computer all of the time just to reread an article.
Action Item: Create a binder of printed articles that are helpful and/or encouraging to you.
Tip #3: Set Aside “Mom is Working” Time
My schedule is full ALL. THE. TIME.
Downtime is not something I know much about. While my husband is at work, the kids and I are constantly busy. Currently, my kids are 8, 4, and 1.5 years old. Between housework, homeschooling, cooking meals, keeping the baby out of everything, teaching chores, reading together, and cooking meals…again, it can be difficult to find time to work on my blog and write articles.
In the beginning, I was getting up in the middle of the night to work. The house was quiet and no one needed anything from me so it was a peaceful and productive time.
However, any homemaker and homeschooling mom knows that a schedule like that can only last for so long. Especially since I was getting up with the baby at random times throughout the night anyway. Adding a work time in the middle of all of that just meant less sleep for me and a not-so-happy Lindsey for everyone else.
That was when I realized things needed to change.
Being on a schedule is not something I am fond of because…well… I’m a rebel. I like to be free and I don’t like being told what to do…not even by a schedule I made myself. HOWEVER, that also means I get frazzled easily. I am very good at getting many irons in the fire at once then I get burned. So, I made a daily schedule for me and the kids and I posted it on the fridge.
It’s a flexible schedule because, let’s face it, we homeschool which means we get out of bed when we’re good and ready. Whether we start our day at 7, 8, or 9 a.m., we can jump right on the schedule and have an awesomely productive day.
Here’s the catch though: my schedule also includes time for me to work on my blog and freelance writing.
I schedule my working time while the baby and my 4-year-old are napping and my 8-year-old is quietly working on her schoolwork or an art project.
At first, this time made me feel guilty. I felt like it wasn’t ok for me to sit down for 45 minutes to do something that was just for me but I’ve since realized that that was just normal “mom guilt” nonsense. No one is a robot and that includes me. I’m not a house-cleaning, homeschooling machine.
Setting aside “mom working time” is perfectly ok.
Like I said before, blogging and freelance writing is a huge creative outlet for me and I like to exercise that part of my brain. You also have to consider your blog to be a business. If you don’t invest the time it in, it will not grow.
Also, if you’re not seeking out and pitching new freelance writing opportunities then you won’t get them. To be successful in your endeavors, you must invest the time.
The Takeaway: Don’t feel guilty about taking time out of your day to devote to blogging or freelance writing. You can only be successful if you see your blog/ freelance writing as a business and devote adequate time to it.
Action Item: Evaluate your schedule and carve out working time for yourself…and don’t feel guilty about it.
Tip #4: Keep a Calendar and a Running Idea List
Without a calendar, I’m a lost duck. I easily forget what day it is and what I should be doing. I keep a family calendar on the front of my fridge that reminds me of family-ish things but I also keep a personal calendar for blog and freelance writing deadlines.
This is where I write down when I pitch to a certain blog or magazine so I can remember to follow-up if need be. I also write down when I publish new articles to Big House in the Woods so I make sure I stay on a relatively consistent schedule.
It is important to separate your family calendar from your work calendar. When I open my “work calendar”, I feel like I’m taking off my “mom hat” and putting on my “executive hat.” It’s a completely different mindset than seeing blog deadlines written next to my dog’s vet appointment.
Plus, it becomes an easy way to keep track of your growth and progress.
I write down how many views my blog is getting, how many Facebook followers Big House in the Woods has, and the number of new email subscribers I’m getting. These things may seem trivial to more established blogs but they are growth markers for me at this point.
Another key time saver for busy moms is to keep a running “idea list.” If you are like me then your mind is always working. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have written in my head while jogging outside and how many blog post ideas I have come up with while cleaning the kitchen.
I have a section in my personal calendar for notes. This is where I keep lists of things I want to write about in new blog posts or ideas I want to add to posts I’m already working on.
If you keep your calendar and running idea list in a handy spot (mine is in a basket on the kitchen counter), then you can jot down anything that comes to mind before it flies out again. You know what I mean?
The Takeaway: Organize. Organize. Organize your time and ideas. Then, after you get organized, plan efficiently.
Action Item: Buy or make a calendar to organize your time, goals, and ideas,
Tip #5: Always Keep Your Eyes Open for Freelance Writing Opportunities
One day I was reading one of my favorite local magazines and a thought hit me. I wanted to write an article for that magazine. So, I used the pitch outline from this guide to guest posting and bam! The editor liked my idea, wanted to publish it AND asked me to write an article for another edition of the magazine.
It was my first time out of the gate, y’all. To say I was pleased is an understatement.
When I pitched my article idea to the editor of the magazine, I told her that my purpose was to provide valuable content to her readers AND to get my name out there as best as I could since I had a fairly new blog. When the article was published, both of those things were accomplished.
The point here is that you always need to keep your eyes open for freelance writing opportunities. What magazines and blogs do you like to read?
Many of us consume information all of the time. The ideas are right there in front of you. You just have to see them in a different light.
Action Item: Write down 5 magazines or blogs that you could pitch an article idea to.
Tip #6: Post Your Goals on the Fridge
Something that made a profound impact on my blogging life was an email I received from Location Rebel right after I launched Big House in the Woods.
It was 3 a.m. and I was up with my infant daughter and reading emails. In that email, Sean challenged everyone to write down their perfect day.
I thought about that for a long time and I came up with this: My perfect day starts in the Smoky Mountains. My family and I drove there in our RV that we will be living in full time. I see myself sitting there, in a lawn chair outside the RV and I’m drinking a cup of coffee during a crisp Fall morning. We are completely location independent and making money online.
Do you think that’s detailed enough?
Sean’s point was that to achieve your goals, you first have to be able to envision them. You have to know what you’re working toward.
That RV moment is what I’M working toward. I want to be earning an income from what I enjoy (which is blogging and freelance writing) and I want to be location independent. After reading that email from Location Rebel at 3 a.m., I decided to write down my goals and post them on the front of my fridge.
Here are my goals:
- Write a blog post a week
- Record at least 10 videos
- Monetize the blog
- Write for a magazine
Everyone’s goals are different.
For me, these are huge goals. I have a house to keep and children to homeschool, after all.
The important part is that you set REALISTIC goals. I tend to set myself up for failure. That is not the point here. You don’t want to do that. Set goals that will push you but that you also have a good chance of meeting.
Here’s the important part…
Post those goals on your fridge.
You know you’re making 47 snacks for your kids during the day anyway. So, you’re going to see those goals multiple times a day. Most of the time, I find myself staring at my goal list while filling my water glass for the 15th time. Each time I see it, I get energized all over again about writing and blogging.
Many times, that’s just what I need to get my mind focused and out of that mom cloud.
You know what I’m talking about. That fuzzy place we tend to live in between morning coffee and flopping into the bed at night.
Action Item: Write down your goals and post them on your fridge.
Advice to Propel You Forward…
After you get organized and you’ve carved out time to work, read “How to Increase Website Traffic: We DOUBLED Our Traffic in 12 Months.”
This post was a game-changer for me. Specifically the section about the “Hub and Spoke SEO Strategy.”
Let me tell you why…
It’s the ultimate guide to organizing your blog. This will keep you from spinning your wheels and wasting your time. Since finding time to write is difficult anyway, you most definitely don’t need to waste it by writing about something that is off-topic and won’t be used to further your success.
I’ve done this a lot. I’ve wasted quite a bit of time writing posts that don’t matter. However, the Hub and Spoke SEO Strategy gave me a specific way to organize my blog. Therefore, I could clearly see the vision for my blog and I could use my writing time wisely.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s time to create some content!
I want you to know that you CAN do this. Not to sound typical but…if I can find time to do it, anyone can. These six principles I have shared with you are what I use daily.
Let’s get started!
To quote a section of How to Make $500+ a Month in Passive Income with a Niche Site, “With every piece of content you create you’re opening up the door for someone for find you. This is not an overnight project – you’re in this for the long haul. That said, if you’re willing to devote some time up front, in the end you’ll be rewarded with a business and an asset that will make you relatively “passive income” for years to come.”
Be sure to check out Lindsey’s site Big House in the Woods if you’re looking for advice on getting out of debt and raising kids!