I’ve discovered one reason freelance writers fail to establish successful blogs. Do you want to know what it is?
Because when you have a blog, you have to write posts to put on it.
I know that sounds super obvious and perhaps even absurd to mention. But, I also know a lot of people don’t think about what that really means.
I’m a perfect example.
Writing For A Living and Blogging
When I launched KnowGoodWords, I had stacked up enough money to take a break from freelancing jobs. That allowed me to work on my site every day as much as I wanted. So, seven days a week, I did something involving this site.
Eventually, I had to go back to writing for money. And that’s when reality bitch-slapped me.
Also Read: Writers Are Sick of Hearing We Have It Easy
In all my months of hard work, despite all my planning, I hadn’t considered a very important calculation:
Time for client jobs + Time for my blog + Time to feed and rest my brain =
My plan [I’m still laughing at my stupidity.] was to devote the time needed where it was needed. I was prepared to work long days for myself and my clients. Whatever it took, I planned to get it all done.
Brain drain wasn’t on my mind. I thought all I needed was dedication. I thought I was going to be able to work like that six or seven days a week until things took off. In my mind, that would be at least 18 months.
No problem. I’d take a long weekend here and there to refresh. Otherwise, I’d be fine.
There wasn’t anything realistic about the thoughts that went through my head back then. In those early months, I was at my desk at about sunrise, sometimes before, and I was there until late at night. We’re talking 15- and 16-hour days.
That schedule wasn’t sustainable.
We’ve all heard about highly successful people who built empires on schedules like that. So why couldn’t I do it too?
Because what is required in other professions and what is required for writers is a lot different.
The singer does not sing 12 hours a day. The boxer doesn’t box for 12 hours. Writers, even the very best ones, have their limits too.
Writers like me often fail to realize that. We tend to overestimate our ability, thinking that as long as there’s time in the day we can squeeze in another writing task if it needs to be done.
It’s not that simple.
Don’t Overestimate, Calculate
If you’re already writing eight to 10 hours a day to pay the bills, adding another three to six hours for your blog is a lot easier than it sounds.
Spending that much time processing and producing information– usually in front of screen– is not something your mind will be eager to do for long. Once you’re spending over 10 hours a day on a computer, it gets harder to write for work or for personal gain.
Your mind gets exhausted and slows down. The quality of your writing declines. Your creativity fizzles. Days get bleak. And things that you don’t have to do, like write blog posts, don’t get done.
That’s called burnout. It’s real. I’ve experienced it, several times. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t see it coming this time. I think I was blinded by excitement about this site.
I’m not saying this to discourage freelance writers from starting blogs. A lot of us have done it and more will do it. Just don’t go into it as naively as I did.
Figure out how much you need to work for your clients to cover your cost of living . I’m talking the bare minimum you need to get by. Let’s say that’s six hours, five days a week.
Then, figure out how much you’ll need to work to cover your extras, since you probably don’t actually want to live on the bare minimum. So, let’s say that’s another three hours a day, five days a week.
So far, you’ve devoted nine hours a day to your clients, with two days off.
Now, estimate the time you’ll need for your blog. Expect to spend at least one to two hours writing each post, and at least another hour or two for everything that’s required for a successful blog besides writing.
Whatever the total number of hours, whatever the total number of days you ultimately calculate:
- Keep in mind that your estimate may be off, and more time may be required.
- Be realistic about whether it’s sustainable long-term.