Michelle's quick note: Today, I have a great blog post from Dan on how he finds the time to blog with 3 children 3 and under. Dan Palmer aims to take a wholistic approach to personal finance by blogging about everything from the underlying ‘why' of personal finance, the every-day nitty-gritty hacks of frugal living, and the ‘how' of investing and growing your wealth. Find out more at penniesanddollars.com. Below is his blog post.
Anyone who has taken a serious stab at blogging knows that blogging takes a lot of time. Or at least, blogging well takes a lot of time.
You regularly have to find time to craft quality posts, maintain your site, promote your posts on social media, network with other bloggers, do research for your posts, respond to comments on your posts, and the list could go on.
This is a significant load, especially for the typical blogger that blogs while still working a full time job. On top of that, I have three kids, three years old and under.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy. No one is forcing me to blog. I had a good idea of what I was getting into. And I love the time I spend with my three kids.
But you might still think I’m crazy.
And perhaps I am. Perhaps most bloggers are.
After all, for the first several months, if not years, you can easily put in a thousand hours with little or no financial compensation. You slave away for next to nothing. And yet, every blogger I know will tell you it’s well worth the effort. Otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it.
I’m no different.
If I didn’t think it was worth the time and effort, I would have stopped a long time ago.
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Why I Find Time to Blog
I keep blogging for a number of reasons. I blog about personal finance because I am convinced that by adding my voice, opinion, and experiences to the conversation, I am adding value to the personal finance conversation. I hope my insight will help inform, motivate, and inspire readers to make improvements or hold the course on their personal finances.
I also blog for personal reasons.
I continue to blog because it forces me to exercise my writing. The public nature of the blog keeps me accountable and consistent. I know that there is a possibility people will notice if I stop writing. This keeps me going. Seeing the development I’ve made in my writing also keeps me going. By no means am I a perfect writer. But looking back on my past writing, I see noticeable improvement. I’m outright horrified when I read my first posts. Seeing this progress is encouraging.
Although I blog for others to read, I find my own personal finance benefiting and being challenged as well. As I research for my posts, I learn things I didn’t know before, or am reminded of things that I had forgotten. And when I encourage people to take action on an area of their finances, I rightly feel obligated to ensure that I am also taking similar action. For example, when I’m tempted to finance a new car, I remember how many times I have cautioned readers not to do so, and am snapped back to reality. Or when I think about spending a raise on a new subscription, I remember the post I wrote about lifestyle inflation.
If those reasons are not enough, I also blog for the potential income. True, blogging is no get-rich-quick scheme. But don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a living on blogging. Michelle has more than proved that wrong on this blog, and there are many other bloggers who are making a healthy living off their blogs alone. Can anyone turn a blog into a full time job? I think so. Will everyone succeed? Probably not. But on the days when I don’t feel quite as motivated to keep blogging, and the first two reasons don’t quite cut it, the thought of potentially being able to blog full time down the road keeps me going.
Although I’m sure full-time blogging is not all sunshine and roses, and am well aware that it takes even more work than the part-time blogging I’m currently doing, I hope full-time blogging will give me freedom and flexibility to work the way I want to work. I hope full-time blogging will give me more time with the family. And I hope that growing my blog will help me reach financial independence faster.
How I Find Time to Blog
So my reasons for blogging may be compelling enough. But I still have 3 young kids and a job outside the home. My wife works works outside the home as well.
We don’t send our kids to daycare, so we juggle the multiple work schedules to make sure someone is always at home with the kids. If you have or have had young kids, you know that writing while they are awake is impossible. Those work-from-home ads showing a mom at the computer, talking on the phone, with a baby on her lap are not real life. Or maybe the baby has been sedated (something I would not endorse).
So how do I find the time to blog with young kids and multiple work schedules?
Writing posts is by far the most time intensive part of blogging. At least for me, it requires blocks of time where I’m undisturbed. I’ve found my most productive time is at 4:00 AM before anyone else is awake. Three days of the week, I have to be at work early, so I’m getting up at 4:00 anyway. Obviously, I don’t get any writing done on these mornings. But on the other four days of the week I still get up early and sit down and write until the kids wake up or until I have to go to work later in the morning. I’m able to get most, if not all of my actual post writing done during these times.
The rest of my blogging, although still time intensive, does not require long intervals of undivided attention, so I can squeeze this into little chunks of free time the rest of the week. Often this is the short time between my kids going to sleep for the night and me going to sleep for the night. Or it might be when my youngest is napping, and the other two are playing together. I might be able to spend two minutes scheduling posts on hootsuite, or five minutes commenting on blogs. And often I have to stop in the middle of what I’m doing because somebody fell off a chair, took a toy from their sister, or something else.
Is It Worth It?
So is it easy squeezing out the time to run a blog when I have a young family? Definitely not. There are many times that I’d rather keep sleeping when my 4:00 AM alarm goes off. But I remind myself that I need to get a post done by my self-appointed due dates, and can’t afford to sleep. Even on vacation, I continued to get up at the same time to churn out my posts. Sure, it meant that by the end of the day, I was more than ready for bed, but neither my readers or Google go on vacation with me, so the posts must still be written.
And trying to squeeze all the other blogging into my remaining free time sometimes means that I’m not quite as present with my wife and kids as I should be or want to be. It means that I haven’t read a book or watched a movie for leisure for ages. There’s always something more to be done on the blog, so that’s where I spend any free time I have.
I’m sure many of you are thinking that what I’m doing isn’t worth it. I’m trading my life for this stupid blog. What if it doesn’t end up going anywhere? Wouldn’t that all be a waste? And even if it does take off, is it really worth all the time I’ve put in?
Of course, everyone would answer this differently. It really comes down to your personal priorities. I’ve already talked about a lot of the reasons I blog. And giving up my leisure time doesn’t bother me, because I genuinely enjoy writing. One way or another, I still do find time to spend with my family. I just have to be very intentional sometimes about not picking up my phone and checking my blog email or comments section or reading other blogs. And sometimes I still do.
It definitely helps a lot that my wife is very supportive of this ‘hobby.’ She doesn’t begrudge me for the time I spend on it. In fact, she has carved out her own role in the blog by proofing my posts and helping with social media.
So am I making sacrifices? Yes. Is it hard? Yup. Is it worth it?
But the bottom line is that whatever you set out to do in life is going to run into conflicts with other things in your life. Different projects and people and activities will always be vying for your time and attention. Whether you’re blogging, starting a business, hustling for a big promotion at work, or taking on any other activity, you’ll find yourself having to make sacrifices and determine your priorities.
You may well decide that whatever activity you set out to do isn’t worth it after all, and that’s fine. It’s your life and your decisions. But whatever you do decide to do, do it well. Make the sacrifices necessary and don’t make excuses.
How do you find time in your busy schedule?
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