Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Guest Post: Balancing Blogging with a Full Time Job and Other Obligations

It's been awhile since I've been able to post. I do have some event announcements, recaps, and other assorted things that'll go up in the (hopefully) near future, but in the meantime, I've received a few awesome guest posts from other BFBers. (Would you like to write a guest post about anything having to do with being a food blogger? Shoot me an email!) Today's post is by Bianca Garcia, who writes the deliciously sweet blog Confessions of a Chocoholic. You can also find her on Twitter. She writes about a topic near and dear to my heart - balancing blogging with the rest of the stuff you have to do! Without further ado, here's Bianca!

Hi, everyone! I’m Bianca of Confessions of a Chocoholic. My food blog – and my life, in general – is about finding the sweet spot in everyday life. I have an affinity for rich, indulgent foods, but I keep everything in moderation. So I enjoy a balanced life filled with good food, Bikram yoga, running, and chocolate. Always chocolate.

Between blogging, my full time job as a media supervisor for an ad agency, being a grad student, training for half-marathons, hosting events, and maintaining an active social life, I feel like I'm doing a pretty decent job of managing my time. So if, like me, you’re also balancing blogging with a lot of other things, then read on for some of my tips. Here are five simple tips on finding a good blog-life balance:

1. Write posts ahead of time.
This is THE MOST important and useful tip I can give you. Because let’s get something straight. It really all comes down to one thing: time management. I try to schedule my blog posts in advance, and I always carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas on future blog posts. When I have some down time, and I already know what I want to write about, I make drafts and save them, then just polish it before publishing. When I know I’m going to have an extremely busy week ahead, I try to cook a lot during the weekends and document it, writing several blog posts in one sitting, then scheduling them out over the following days/weeks.

There’s an added benefit too to writing a post a few days before publishing it – it gives you the chance to rethink it and look at it with a fresher perspective right before you click “publish”. So if you can, try to plan ahead and schedule your blog posts, then write them ahead of time. For instance, I knew I wanted to write a Father’s Day post so I thought about it in advance and made this dessert a few days beforehand:

Nutella Banana Pudding

2. Schedule your events.
As a food blogger, you probably have a lot of food-related events to attend: new restaurant openings, blogger meet-ups, brunch, etc. Have your calendar with you all the time, so you don’t overbook yourself. At first it seems tempting to attend as many events as possible, but in the long run, it’s better to spread it out so that your life won’t revolve around food events.

I am one of those old school people who carry around a small leather pocket journal/calendar but you can definitely use something else: your phone, Google calendar, even post-its if that works for you. If you know you’re going to attend a scheduled event (like Mystery Meet, for example, which happens every second Tuesday of the month) then mark it in your calendar already. This sounds very simple but you’ll be surprised at how many people forget and end up either overbooking themselves or not attending at all.

Pizza at Posto (Mystery Meet) - Photo by Dave Kaveler

3. Write about things you love.
How does this fall under “tips on how to balance blogging and a full time job?” Well, you know the saying time flies when you’re having fun? When you’re writing about something you’re passionate about, then blogging doesn’t feel like work. My blog is a food blog – food is definitely one of my passions – but every now and then I’ll write about running and bikram yoga. I also weave in a lot of stories about my family and my friends because for me, food and memories are intertwined.

If you don’t like writing restaurant reviews, don’t. Or if you just want to write about one dish, do. When you write about the things that make you happy, it’ll seem as if blogging is actually easier.

I love pasta and Italian food so I write about those often ;)

Spaghetti with Truffle Butter and Mushrooms

4. Make sure you have some “me” time.
You don’t want to be burned out. Sometimes, my "me" time is my Saturday mornings runs. Sometimes, my "me" time is my Monday night yoga classes. And other times, my "me" time is those nights when I catch up with my DVR.

We all have a lot of obligations, but you can avoid having a too-busy, frazzled, and stressful life if you only take a few minutes to calm yourself down and allow yourself to relax. Having some "me" time will re-energize you and give you some zest to tackle the rest of your responsibilities.

If your "me" time involves a nice cup of coffee and some pastries at a cozy little café, then by all means, indulge. If your "me" time involves losing yourself in a good book, read away. If your "me" time somehow involves Eric Northman, way to go.

Eric Northman (actor Alexander Skarsgard) on HBO's True Blood - Photo from HBO website

5. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Or: Learn to loosen up!

Don’t get too caught up posting so regularly that you become a robot. Don’t get too caught up on your page views that you’re writing just for the sake of posting something. And please, please don’t ever get too caught up taking pictures of your food that you forget to enjoy the company you’re with, that you don’t get to appreciate the tastes and the textures, that you forget that food is meant to be enjoyed and savored – not necessarily chronicled and dissected.

Sure, I asked you to write your blog posts in advance. But if you miss a few days, no problem, it’s not the end of the world. If you forget to bring your camera with you when you’re at a new restaurant, no biggie, you don’t have to be food paparazzi all the time. If you mess up in the kitchen, relax, maybe you can write a funny kitchen fail post instead. And if you didn’t get an invitation to the latest event, remember that there will always be more.

If there’s one thing you can call completely yours, it is your blog. It’s all you, your efforts, your time. So remember that your blog is yours – not your readers’, not your ad sponsor’s. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things get a little shaky.

Enjoy yourself, and enjoy your blog.

Baby Guinness Shots

--Bianca Garcia, Confessions of a Chocoholic

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