As any BlogMutt writer can attest, being a stay-at-home blogger can be a tough job. In an industry where there is no automated income and no paid vacation or sick days, productivity is the key to your success. Time and words are money.
As a freelance writer, you really have to earn every dollar you make. So when your productivity is suffering, there’s no doubt your bank account will be suffering too. While it’s just not possible to sit down at the computer and fire on all cylinders every day, there are lots of small adjustments stay-at-home bloggers can make to increase their productivity and have a more successful blogging career.
Here are seven tips to help you find your rhythm and be more productive as a stay-at-home blogger.
1. Understand why you are doing what you do.
Before you type your first character, think about what you are trying to achieve as a stay-at-home blogger. Maybe you have chosen to become a freelance writer because you want to stay home with your kids or spend more time with an aging parent. Maybe you like the thought of being your own boss, setting your own schedule, and doing a job you are passionate about. Whatever your reasons, reminding yourself why it is you’ve chosen this path will help you stay motivated, even when the words aren’t flowing as well as you’d like.
2. Set a regular schedule and write.
This may seem obvious, but the number one failure of people who want to write for a living is simply not writing. Sure, there are days when you just don’t feel like sitting down at the keyboard. There are days when you are tired or sick and days when the sun is shining and the great outdoors is calling your name.
The hardest part of being a stay-at-home blogger is often the actual writing. Often, people new to the field try to wait for inspiration or look for the perfect topic, and as a result, they spend more time talking about, reading about, and thinking about writing than actually writing.
To avoid this common downfall set a regular time each day for your work. Treat your writing as you would any other job. Wake up in the morning, shower, get dressed, and sit down in front of your computer at the same time each day. Set a schedule for yourself, say from 9 am to 3 pm every day, and stick to it. This will help you stay on track and provide more structure to your days.
3. Set progressive goals.
Another way to keep productivity high as a stay-at-home blogger is to set attainable goals. Establishing goals gives you something to work toward and sets the bar for your own personal achievements. Consider how much you would want to be writing in a perfect world and how much you actually need to be writing. (Likely, your goals will be somewhere in the middle.) Then break those benchmarks down into daily, weekly or monthly goals, and commit to reaching them.
Above all, be realistic. Goals that are set too high can have a demoralizing effect if you’re unable to meet them. On the other hand, goals set too low will fail to provide sufficient motivation. When setting your goals, consider, realistically, what you can do if you push yourself a little. Set that as your immediate goal. Continue to revisit your goals regularly, and adjust them if necessary.
4. Stay away from social media.
Writing well requires focus. Unfortunately, almost everything in your home is designed to distract you, and when your home is also your place of work, those distractions can be a huge productivity killer. To stay focused and avoid the abundance of diversions around you, you’re going to have to be strict with yourself.
Set a firm limit on how much time you will spend each day checking emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other distracting social media channels. If you know you have a social media addiction, indulge it in your non-working hours. You may even want to consider setting a timer for yourself to remind you it’s time to get back to writing. If self-control isn’t your strong suit, there are also programs you can download that are designed to block specific websites for an allotted period of time.
However you decide to limit yourself, try to create a system that works early on. Every minute you’re not updating your Facebook status or getting lost in comment sections is another minute you could spend making money.
5. Re-design your environment.
While it is tempting for a stay-at-home blogger to lie in bed or lounge on the couch with their laptop, that isn’t necessarily the most productive place to blog. Setting up a home office, that actually looks and feels like an office, is a great way to help you stay focused on the job at hand.
Creating a space that is specifically for your writing will enable you to switch into work mode even easier. If possible, set up your office in a room that is quiet and positioned away from the distractions of your television, phone, tablet, and even other members of your family. A clean, distraction-free workspace will, ultimately, contribute to a more productive workflow.
6. Set boundaries with your loved ones.
Working from home may give others the impression that you’re not really working. They may have a tendency to interrupt your work or ask you to run errands, assuming that, because you’re not working a traditional 9-5, you’re free to do what you want, when you want. These sorts of frequent disruptions can hamper your creative energy and make you a less productive writer.
Set clear boundaries with friends and loved ones, indicating when it is and isn’t appropriate to interrupt. A good way to create consistent boundaries is to stick to a regular work schedule. If your loved ones know that every day between 10 am and 4 pm you’ll be working, they’ll know not to disturb you during that time. You may even consider using a sign on the door that lets people know whether or not it’s a good time to talk. Gentle reminders and clearly-defined boundaries go a long way with friends and loved ones and will allow you to work (mostly) without interruption.
7. Take time off.
As a stay-at-home blogger, it’s easy to blur the lines between work time and home time. Surely, you have enough work to keep you writing all hours of the day, but not allowing yourself time to relax and decompress will eventually catch up with your productivity.
It may be tempting to work whenever possible, in order to make that extra dollar. However, overworking yourself can have lots of negative impacts on not only your productivity but on your personal life, as well. Long work hours can disrupt your sleep schedule, keep you from attending social activities, prevent you from eating healthily or getting adequate exercise —all of which contribute to a much less happy person.
Don’t be afraid to take time off. Create a normal work schedule for yourself and only stray from it if you absolutely have to. Sure, there will be times when you need to work late to meet a deadline, but make this the exception, not the norm. Take a lunch break, or just go outside for a walk and some fresh air. Getting your mind off of writing, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, is a great way to refresh and keep productivity high.
Bottom line, blogging is a job. Fortunately, it can be a wonderful, invigorating, and fulfilling job. With the right mix of discipline and creativity, it can feed your soul and feed your family at the same time. So, make a schedule, pull up a chair, and get to writing.