Finding Balance as a Blogger

Tips for Finding Balance as a Blogger

Gather a few bloggers together and the question of finding balance will come up every single time! I am not going to say that I have achieved balance, but I wanted to share a few things I have come up with that have helped.

Never Let Someone Else Dictate your Blogging Schedule

Unless they are really making it worth your time!

Make a rough outline of your blogging plan based on your knowledge of your readers and their interests. And don’t change it to fit into another blogger’s schedule.

Just because a blogger, even a big blogger, declares a “month of decluttering”, a “clear out the pantry month”, or “Julia Child Recipe Round Up” does not mean you need to participate. You can simply say, “that is a lovely idea, but it doesn’t fit in my schedule at this time”.

Remember, those bloggers made their plan a while back based on their blogging goals and their readers interests. They didn’t consider your blog plan, so don’t stress yourself out trying to change your blog plan to participate unless it fits in with your goals and fairly closely matches your plans.

Think Long Range When Scheduling Posts

You don’t have to squish every thought, recipe, and project you have ever had on a particular holiday in to one month of posts. Share what you can reasonably share and still keep your sanity. Then write down the other ideas for the next month or year.

Did you have things you wanted to write about for Christmas, but didn’t have the chance? Don’t fret, but don’t post those posts 2 days before Christmas or worse a week after Christmas!  A post written after the fact is fine, if you are sharing Christmas pictures with Grandma, but it is not useful to readers who are looking for timely resources and tips. Write the post, include the pictures and schedule it for early next December. You will be so relieved next December when you discover those scheduled posts.

I wrote and photographed my Hoppin’ John Recipe on January first two years ago. Since it is a traditional New Year’s Day meal, it wouldn’t have the same impact if I shared it on January 2nd of 2012 as it did when I shared it in late December 2013 shortly before New Year’s Day, right about the time people would be thinking about their New Year’s Day Menu.

Write about what Brings you Joy

I was a contributing editor for a political magazine and yet I choose to write about recipes, gardening, and frugality. Why? Because that is what I enjoy. It is what I do in my spare time. It is what I would choose to do, if I could choose to do anything I wanted. I am very lucky that I get to do what I enjoy and have the luxury to write about it. Writing about what I enjoy makes blogging an extension of a pleasurable activity rather than a chore. If blogging has become a chore, evaluate what you are writing about and see if you can find more ways to write about topics that you love.

Write from Your Life

This tip won’t work for everyone, but it does work for me. I blog from my life; I don’t create content. I don’t buy special ingredients for fancy recipes, I don’t publish difficult recipes, and I don’t create beautiful tablescaped backdrops for my recipes. I admire people who do, but that is not my life. It would be a lot more work and it wouldn’t be authentic. I simply take a few pictures of the food I serve my family and remember to write down the ingredients and steps while I cook. This can be applied to many other projects in your daily life from cleaning, to crafting, to gardening. If you blog about what you are doing, it is easier to create balance. Instead of “working”; I am “documenting” aspects of my life.

Break Up Your Posts into Smaller Posts

Instead of writing a monster long, all-inclusive article, examine whether you can break it into smaller pieces. This achieves a couple of objectives: It allows you to create more content from one topic and it allows you to optimize each of those posts for SEO. For example, I could share every aspect of making lasagna in one lengthy post. Or I could share elements of it in smaller posts working up to the actual recipe, where I link back to the earlier posts. Using the lasagna example, here is how the lengthy post could be broken up into smaller posts, culminating in the actual recipe post:

  • Italian Seasoning Mix Recipe
  • Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
  • How to Make Pasta
  • Frugal Tip: Buy Cheese in Large Blocks and Grate It Yourself
  • Lasagna Recipe

Great content and useful tips are often buried in lengthy posts. By breaking the lasagna recipe into multiple posts, I make it easier for people who are searching on an aspect of one of the steps in creating lasagna to find the information they need when doing a Google search. I also happen to make my life less stressful, because it is easier to write several 300 word posts that it is to write a thesis on lasagna.

Post When You Want

Unless you’ve signed a contract, you can post whenever you want and as little or as much as you want. You don’t have to post every day. In fact, I know very successful bloggers who only post once a week. So don’t beat yourself up, if you don’t have the time, energy or desire to publish a post each day. It is your blog, you are the owner and editor, which means you can set your own schedule. Don’t stress yourself out trying to keep up with someone else’s schedule or trying to follow another blogger’s plan! Only you know  your goals  for your blog and how they fit in with your “big picture”, and you will never reach your goals following someone else’s plan.

How do you find balance as a blogger?

Why You Should Remove Word Verification

The people who are most worried about spam are usually the people who are least likely to receive it. Seriously. Nothing says “I’m a small potatoes blogger, please ignore me” like word verification. And Captcha screams “Go Away!”

If you are new to blogging it can be scary to leave yourself open to the world. And we have all seen the horrible comments left on the news articles and on YouTube. This isn’t CNN or YouTube. Most people are really nice in the foodie world and use the comment section to ask questions or say something lovely about your recipe.

Word verification alienates your readers! A longsuffering, fellow blogger may jump through the hoops to leave you a comment, but Average Jane Reader is going to be intimidated. The harder you make it for her to leave a comment, the less likely she is to do so.

I am not going to lie, there are still spammers. I receive 50 -100 spam comments a day on my main blog. Sometimes more. Am I worried about all that spam? Not at all.  Blogger’s Spam Detection does a great job of catching most spam on blogger blogs and WordPress is great at catching spam.  All you have to do is go in and delete your spam once a day to once a week. You don’t have to wade through  it; just give it a glance, click all, and hit delete.

Increase engagement by making it easier for your readers to comment.

How to Remove Word Verification on Blogger Blogs:

Go to Overview

Click on Settings

Scroll down and click on Post and Comments

Comment Location? Choose what you want. I like popup window, because after the reader is done commenting and they close the window, your post is still open giving them a chance to share it on Facebook or Pinterest.

Who Can Comment? Click on Anyone!

Comment Moderation? I usually click Never because Blogger’s Spam Detection does a great job of catching most of the spam, but if you are worried, click Sometimes and then choose to be notified of comments on posts older than 7 – 14 days. Spammers rarely leave comments on new posts.

Show Word Verification? Click No! Make the world a better place and just say No to Word Verification!

Show Backlinks? I check Show

Comment Form Message? You can write a short message if you want in this space to your readers. If you limit comments or hold them for moderation, this is a good place to explain how and why you do what you do.

Click Save Settings (the orange button) and then apologize profusely to your readers for unnecessarily tormenting them for so long.

Make it Easier for your readers to comment

WordPress Bloggers (Since I am offending people today, I might as well do a thorough job of it):

WordPress doesn’t come with word verification, so please don’t add one! If you are really worried, you can always use the askimet plugin (I am not an affiliate).

There is something you can do to make it easier for your readers to comment.

Go to Settings

Scroll down to Discussion.

Now mouse down to Other Comment Setting and uncheck (make sure the box is blank) 

Scroll down and click on Save Changes.

If you blog on another platform, be thankful that I don’t know enough about the comment setting on your site to harass you. Because if I could, I would! So look at your settings and figure out a way to make it easier on your readers, before I figure out a way to harass you.

If You Ignore My Advice and Use Spam Protection, Be Humane

If you really feel that you must have some form of spam protection, make it obvious from the beginning. If Captcha pops up, after I have hit the submit button, there is a very good chance I will never see it. By the time word verification pops up, I will have moved on, oblivious to the fact that you never got my witty comment.

Amanda at Coping with Frugality asks readers to check a box to prove they are human when they leave a comment. It is obvious, it is easy, and since it does not involve squiggly letters, it is passes the humane test.

Tammy, from Tammy’s Recipes, asks commenters to answer a simple math problem. Again, it is obvious and easy. Not as easy as checking a box, but since the numbers are not camouflaged and the answer never involves more than 2 digits, it is doable even at 2:00 in the morning.

If you verify all comments before publishing, let your commenters know as early in the process as possible. If it isn’t obvious that the comment will not be published until you have approved it, a commenter might think they have made a mistake and leave the comment again, and again, and again. Then after realizing that you’re one of those “comment approvers”, leave you another comment telling you how embarrassed they are and ask you to delete 2 of the 3 comments they left and then they have to add a P.S. telling you not to publish this last comment asking you to delete all the others. And what is not said is that you have just wasted a lot of that reader’s time and they are leaving your blog annoyed.

Pick your poison! Do not use spam guard and comment verification. People are taking time from their busy day to leave you a response, do not make them regret it!

If I have not offended you with this post then you must make it easy for your readers to comment. Leave me a note in the comments, so I can come visit you!