How to Blog, Freelance and Work a Full-Time Job (All at the Same Time)

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Aug 17, 2020

Aug 17, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

There are alot of bloggers who have multiple gigs — freelance writing and blogging, plus other work on the side. They effectively enter into a “season of hustle” while they’re trying to build their businesses. 

Blogging is a long game, as anyone who’s ever blogged before understands. And unless you have a superhuman capacity to understand the marketing side of things (which I don’t... I’ve got zero marketing common sense!) it’s going to take a long, long time to build it all up. Here are some tips — in no specific order.

1. Write like crazy. All the time.

If you write for your day job, take on freelancing jobs and write for your blog, here’s the no-holds-barred honest truth: You’ve gotta love writing. Like, you have to have an I’ll-cross-a-raging-fire-in-bare-feet love for writing. And you may not even love it all the time (see #2) but in general, you’ve got to want to do it. A lot. 

2. Be okay with sucking — just to get going.

You’re not gonna pen something fit for “The New Yorker” every day. I give myself permission to write horrible English as long as I’ve written 500 words every morning. I tell myself, “Just write 500 words, and so what if they don’t make a lick of sense? You’ve written your 500 words for the day.” I can always go back and edit them later. There’s just something about starting at 7:30 a.m. and writing for an hour before work that gives me a mental “Check!” the minute I complete those 500 words. It’s about discipline.

Plus, it makes my day good.

3. Get ergonomic.

My mom, who’s a nurse, is terribly worried about my wrists and what will happen to them as a result of all that typing. She thinks I’m going to have claws instead of hands in a few years, and she’s probably right. The best I know how to do is to get an ergonomic keyboard (you know, those funky ones where half of the keys point right or left?) and an ergonomic chair and desk. Thanks for the advice, Mom!

4. Diversify.

I liken this part to diversifying your investments. Just like I wouldn’t want to invest in a single stock, I make sure to diversify my freelance offerings. I freelance edit, too, and lessen the strain on my hands — keeping my mom’s advice top of mind. 

I may also offer college advice through courses and personal meetings with families through my blog, College Money Tips, someday. Who knows? The sky’s the limit.

Diversify if you can so you’re not stuck on a gerbil wheel and start to lose your enthusiasm for writing or editing. Keep that candle flickering!

5. Set goals. 

There’s some evidence that certain personality types fit bloggers best. You’ve gotta be a little bit introverted (I am) and goal-driven. 

So many people groan at the idea of slogging through goals, but I actually love it. (I used to be in 4-H, which is all about goal-setting.) My goals look like this each week: 

  • Edit 45 articles for Benzinga
  • Write guest post articles for Benzinga (I list them out)
  • Three blog posts
  • One post update
  • One email to subscribers
  • 14 hours of editing for freelance client X

Those are my weekly goals. (Do I give myself a little wiggle room in case I fall asleep literally ON my laptop one night? Of course!)

Next, I like to set crazy-high goals for myself, even if they don’t seem particularly achievable this year. Because you know what? They might be attainable in the future! (I showed my husband my freelancing goals for 2021 and he snorted, if that gives you any indication.)

Write down all types of goals so you’re not floundering — particularly as your clientele builds.

6. Be okay with giving up a few things.

Fortunately, COVID-19’s keeping us (well, most of us) locked up. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time glued to my computer — even more than PC (pre-coronavirus). But even PC, I spent less time lounging around, shopping or hitting the bars. The lure to blogging and hustling draws me in and keeps me there, so I’m usually okay with missing the Super Bowl and the occasional evening out.

7. Give your job your all during the day. Nights with the hoot owls are meant for writing. (Oh, and so are lunch breaks.)

I use my lunch break to pin to my heart’s content on Pinterest or create new pins in Canva. I might pick up where I left off on a freelance piece during lunch, too. I like to work late at night, and I sometimes get up early in the morning (I’m talking 3 a.m.) to write. You can’t go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. You just can’t.

8. Commiserate. 

It’s a great idea to join a blogger’s group, mainly so you can complain about how hard blogging is. Or join a freelancer’s group, mainly so you can complain about how hard freelancing is. You get the idea. What’s wild about joining these groups is that you quickly realize that these people are more or less trying to hustle just like you are and you get great ideas and inspiration from them. For example, I learned last week what my fellow blogging friend Jonni was experiencing with Pinterest video pins and it blew me away. And Tracey helped me cultivate a different lead magnet on my site. 

My friend Ann gives me great freelancing advice and Daniela and Benny at work cheer me on every day. 

What would I do without these people who know what it’s like to be frustrated with Leadpages? Or Trello? Or editing and writing?

The number one rule if you’re a member of these groups is to give more than you take. It’s like the Golden Rule of blogging groups.

9. Hold to a higher purpose.

Sure, you’ve got to pay bills and eat. But does what you’re writing about and blogging about make your heart happy? Is it what you were meant to do? Do you love helping people and are you passionate about your subject? It’s not the same thing if you’re in it for just the money. You have to want to eat, sleep and breathe it (with healthy breaks, of course)!

10. Figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life.

This is what I’m trying to understand right now. What direction does all this point? Where am I going from here? I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have it all figured out. I love everything I do, but what’s the “spread too thin” point? I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I think I’ll know for sure when I get there.

At that point, I’m hoping I’ll decide which direction I want to go.

Finally...

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. (If you have time to do that!) A cat nap in the middle of your lunch break or a quick game of checkers with your daughter on a Sunday evening can work wonders. 

If you think self-care is for the birds, it’s time to reevaluate those goals. Dog walks are necessary. 

Remember, blogging is a long game. Unlike missing a clear indicator as a day trader, blogging is a little more forgiving. Your blog readers won’t mind if you step away for a day or two.