Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making Time to Blog: Q&A With Abigail Green

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve had a hard time keeping up with my blog over the last few months. Life, work, and these darn (I mean, darling) kids keep getting in the way. As much as I enjoy blogging, sometimes it’s tough to fit it in alongside my regular work and the piles of dishes and laundry that never seem to go away.

So I thought I’d interview longtime successful blogger Abigail Green of Abby Off The Record to find out how she does it. Over the past 5 years Abby has maintained a remarkably consistent blogging schedule—posting two or three times per week—while working as a freelance writer and raising two small boys. Since many of you are also busy mom bloggers, I hope you get as much out of her advice as I do.

Abby, thanks for being here. I’m eager to pick your brain for tips on balancing blogging and life. Here are my questions:

Blogging is usually a side gig—most home-based bloggers are either raising kids, holding down a job, or both, so there are always other things competing for their time. As a work-at-home mom with two young kids, how do you make time for blogging?

First of all, I love that you asked how do I MAKE time, not FIND time. This is an important distinction. For me, blogging is as important as working out and getting enough sleep. Though it has taken me a while to realize it, blogging is not a hobby for me. I consider it part of my job as a writer. Let me explain.

To be a writer, you have to write, right? (This is not a riddle.) But when you’re a freelancer, you’re usually waiting to get assignments, and only then writing the article that’s assigned. After awhile, I realized I wasn’t actually writing anything except for publication. Which, as you know, is never a sure thing. I also wanted to write about what *I* wanted, not just what an editor wanted. So I started to write more personal essays, but even then, I was waiting around a lot for them to get published.

I started a blog for a few reasons. 1) I like to write, and I wanted my writing to be read, and not just if and when someone decided to publish it, 2) I wanted to record my life while it was happening (specifically, pregnancy and new motherhood), and 3) I wanted to build up my author platform in order to be more attractive to agents and publishers. Basically, no one wants to publish your book unless you already have an established audience. Blogging is a great way to do that, but you’ve got to commit to it.

As for WHEN I blog, I don’t have a set time. Sometimes I write at 7pm with a glass of wine next to me while my husband is giving the kids baths and putting them to bed. Sometimes I write during naptime, or on a weekend morning when I have the house to myself.

There’s no getting around the fact that regular blogging is a big time commitment. But there have to be ways to keep blogging hours under control, right? Do you have any tips for blogging more efficiently? Do you “batch” your blog posts (writing several of them in one sitting)?

I have gotten MUCH faster at writing blog posts over the years. When I started, I’d approach each one like an essay, doing draft after draft, proofreading them and finally publishing them. Now, I do much more off-the-cuff writing, though I still try to structure each post like an essay and proof them as much as possible. I can write, revise, and publish a blog post in about an hour. My experience has been, the more you write, the easier it gets.

I also keep an idea file, either on paper or in a Word doc, so that if I’m ever at a loss for ideas, I can use that as a prompt. It may be as simple as “kid in Starbucks; If I had a nanny; family dinner fails.” If I relied on my memory or inspiration every time I sat down to write a blog post, I’d never write a thing.

Sometimes I will write 2-3 blog posts at one time if I’m feeling particularly inspired, but I’ve never gotten more than a week ahead. I like to write about what’s going on in my life as it’s happening.

I find that I have plenty of ideas of posts and not enough time to write them all. How do you manage your ideas for blog posts? How much time do you spend taking a post from idea to published blog?

As I said above, I keep an idea file. Then you can pick your best ideas or whatever ones strike your fancy at the time, and save the rest for later. Sometimes I start a post and it doesn’t work out the way I thought. I’ll either scrap it or set it aside for later. I try not to spend much more than an hour on any post, a little longer if it includes lots of links or facts.

Sometimes blogging is a pleasure, and other times it feels like a chore (and I already have way too many of those). How do you keep yourself motivated to post regularly? Any tips for keeping blogging fun and interesting?

My readers keep me motivated. Even if it’s just knowing that my mom, my aunt, and my couple of regular commenters are waiting for that post every Mon., Weds., and Fri., that’s enough to keep me writing. I also cut myself some slack, though. If I’m feeling unmotivated or having a super-busy week, I’ll post a photo or my kid’s drawing for Wordless Wednesday or repost something from my archives.

I actually almost always find blogging a pleasure. It’s my fun writing, my outlet for expressing whatever I want, however I want. Reading and responding to other blogs is a great way to stay engaged. While my blog is mostly dedicated to parenting, writing, and finding balance as a work at home mom, I give myself permission to write about celebrity gossip if I want, or post a bunch of funny quotes from my kids. The great thing about blogging is that it can be whatever YOU want it to be, and it can change over time. That’s what’s kept it fun and interesting for me for almost 6 years.


If you want to be inspired to blog more regularly, check out Abby's blog. Right now, she's compiling her considerable blogging experience into a series of helpful posts for bloggers, and posting them at Abby Off The Record each Monday. I can't promise I'll blog 3 times a week, but I'll work on it. Thanks, Abby!


Kimberly said...

Love this post. :) I think I need to find more work at home mom sites to read and be a part of. . .I'm feeling really overwhelmed lately so maybe it will help to hear about other people in my same situation. Thanks Malia!

Malia said...

'Welcome, Kimberly! Work-at-home mamahood can be tough, that's for sure. There are lots of great blogs out there to connect with, including Abby's.