I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this question every week.
How do you do it, Kirsten? Is balancing a blog with being in school full time difficult?
It’s not easy. In fact, if you’re thinking about starting a blog but you’re not passionate about writing or content creation – don’t do it. You will dread writing posts or coming up with ideas to share with your readers and you definitely don’t want to be producing forced, uninteresting content.
Only start a blog if you 100% love what you’re writing about.
Alternatively, if this is your side hustle, only do it if you’re 100% passionate about it. I started a blog because I needed a creative outlet. I studied accounting in college, so it was 100% necessary to sometimes retreat back to a safe space. As I started writing, some people started reading my posts and that was really cool. Soon, I realized that I loved writing. I didn’t just like it; I lived for it. That much was pretty much obvious since I finished writing my seventh journal but I always wanted to be able to share my thoughts with the world. I had a strong voice and I wanted to use it.
At first, I started writing about what I knew. I wrote about sorority recruitment, I wrote about recipes I made in the dorms, I wrote about college life, and sometimes I just wrote life updates. I certainly didn’t have a brand, but at the time, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to write.
Make it a priority.
That’s going to sound obvious to a lot of people, but it’s not as plain and simple as it sounds. I didn’t really take my blog seriously until 2016. That’s right. In June of 2016, I sat back and look at what I created. It was good, but it wasn’t great yet.
Now, to be fair with myself, I didn’t ever think anything would come of my blog. I just started it one day. I changed my blog name three times and never even worried about “creating a brand” or even sharing my content.
So what changed?
Well, I joined the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program and that’s when everything changed. I realized that I really had something here with this blog and I began to put together a content creation schedule. Before, I posted sporadically and not often. I just posted when I had something to say. Maybe my content creation schedule wasn’t perfect, but I was still consistently putting out content. If you don’t believe me, take a look at my archives and just look at how much more frequent my blog posts became around June 2016.
I made blogging a priority. I stopped being so actively involved in a lot of other commitments – like my sorority and a few various clubs – and began putting effort into creating posts. I even hired a photographer (even though I take my own photos now). I also joined the fashion club around the same time because it became very apparent that it was one of my true passions.
Don’t go into it thinking it will be easy.
You know the phrase “nothing good comes easy?” Well, the same is true with blogging. I didn’t grow my following overnight. I didn’t build a brand in a day. No one did.
In fact, it’s an ongoing project. I consistently read articles on how to make my blog even better. I’m constantly checking to make sure my brand is portraying what I want it to portray. It’s hard work and it doesn’t always pay off.
If you go in knowing that, high expectations won’t ruin your opinion of your own blog. While I think the hard work is definitely worth it, just remember that it is all hard work – not just getting free stuff and taking photos.
Know when to say no.
If you want to stay sane while blogging on the side, don’t you dare take on more than you can handle. I did that and it drove me insane.
If a collaboration doesn’t line up with your values, say no.
If the brand is requiring too much of you without adequate payment, say no.
You don’t have to accept all work that comes your way. In fact, you shouldn’t. I know it’s difficult, especially when you’re starting out, to say no to free clothing in exchange for a post. But remember, each post you take on is one you can’t take on so ask yourself first if you really want to do it.
Ask yourself what is going to push your blog forward. Maybe a collaboration with a big brand is the perfect way to add sponsored work to your resume. Maybe working with another blogger will be the perfect way to introduce yourself to her audience. Whatever you’re doing, make sure it helps contribute to your end goal.
Get good at scheduling.
Time management: the key not only to success in managing your blog but success in college as well. Learning the skills of time management is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in college.
In order to maintain new content on the blog, refreshing older content, marketing that content, and staying on top of my school work, I have to have a good schedule. The real secret to my workflow is batch working. I allocate time to work on homework, write blog posts, and more. When I can, I schedule many of my posts in advance so that all I have to do is check to make sure it published.
Although batch working works for me, you may find something that works better for you. You can always check out my post on How to be the Do-It-All Girl in College if you want more tips on how to stay on top of things and get a good schedule going!
Don’t dwell on your failures.
Last but certainly not least, don’t spend time dwelling on your failures. Instead, spend time trying to get better.
I write a lot of posts that don’t quite live up to my expectations or that don’t perform as well as I’d hoped. Sometimes, Instagram posts don’t perform as well as I’d like them too. My social accounts don’t grow as fast as I thought they would. However, instead of trying to fix what’s already done, I spend more time brainstorming new content that might hit home with my audience.
If you want to start a blog in college, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve met amazing people, built a supportive online community, and had a creative outlet all throughout my four years. It’s a lot of work but totally worth it. There will be failures and there will be such fun successes that outweigh them. Remember that while consistency is key, your readers will understand if you have to take time off from a blog to focus on your schoolwork.
Best of luck!