I get so many questions about how to build a blog while holding a full time job. While it is certainly a difficult balance, there are a lot of benefits to having a full time job while growing your blog, and this post breaks it down!
I get it about once a week: someone heard me on a podcast, or read one of my business posts, or saw me talk about my day job on Instagram and sends me a message that is some variation on either:
“I am so frustrated. I feel like my day job is preventing me from having the time and energy that I need to grow my blog”
“I am struggling to balance it all, but I hope I can get to where you are with your blog and day job some day”.
Although I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on balance – who is?! – I’ve found that when people ask me how I do it all, my only response is that I can’t not do it all.
Here’s the secret: it’s always hard, but I can’t not do both! Most bloggers will tell you that their blog started as an outlet for the creativity that their day job wasn’t helping them express, but the secret is that, in many ways, my day job actually helps me blog. That’s why, even though I think I must be crazy sometimes, I continue to do it all.
Is it hard? Absolutely.
Am I exhausted? Absolutely.
I get those follow-up questions all the time, too.
But the question no one things to ask is how I benefit from having two jobs. The truth is that I do, a lot. And part of continuing to do both jobs, and do them well, is to understand and celebrate how having a day job can actually benefit your side hustle, not hold it back.
A Day Job Removes the Financial Risk
If you’re a full time blogger, that means you are going to have to hustle for every single penny in your bank account. When you’re just starting out – and sometimes for the first several years – paid jobs are few and far between. And to be honest, they’re harder and harder to find in recent years, even if you’re already established.
This can lead to you feeling pressured to take any freelance job or sponsored post that will pay, to the detriment of your brand consistency and authenticity with your readers, your time to work on the passion content that made you want to start blogging in the first place, and your sanity (I speak from experience.).
I recently read a book that analyzed the career paths and risk tolerance of entrepreneurs like Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates and Nike’s founder Phil Knight. The media makes them out to be mavericks who threw caution to the wind and started innovative companies that changed the world, because they somehow “knew” they’d be a huge success.
But that’s not true: most successful entrepreneurs are actually very risk averse, and take steps in the rest of their lives to mitigate the massive risk of starting companies by, for example, taking a leave of absence from college, rather than quitting outright (Gates), or continuing to work their day job for a few years, until their company fully gets off the ground (Knight).
The simple application of this risk balancing theory, for bloggers, is: when you have a day job, you’re not distracted by concerns about where your next paycheck is coming from. Instead, you can focus on the long-term value of the work you’re doing, and creating the best content for your audience. And that’s how you build a stable, healthy brand.
Hey, no one said blogging was easy money. ?♀️
It Promotes Focus and Efficiency
If you’re trying to balance full time work and blogging – let alone family, life, etc. – you either develop really good time management skills or you quit blogging.
If you’re blogging full time, sure, you need great time management skills. But if you’re running your blog in the margins of your life, you will have set amounts of time to get things done, or you won’t get them done.
For example, I will earmark a 45-minute break between meetings to write up a post while I eat lunch. If I don’t get it done in that 45-minute period, there is no other time in my day to devote to it. I can’t push a meeting back, and being late is not an option. So, I just have to get the post done and published.
There are lots of studies that show that working less allows you to be more productive than obsessing for hours over the same task. For many people, the mild time pressure of an impending deadline energizes them in ways that a luxurious timeline never could.
It Teaches you Important Blogging Skills
“But Nora”, you exclaim, “you work in marketing and content production! You have an unfair advantage!” But that’s not true.
We’re all facing the nearly-impossible demands of entrepreneurship together, and we all bring a unique package of experience, expertise, and talent to the job.
Even if you think your day job isn’t relevant to blogging, think carefully about the core skills you are honing all day. I’ll bet many of them translate well.
Let’s say you’re a physical therapist. (I was just texting with one of my best friends, who is a PT, so that was top of mind! Let’s go with it!) At first glance, working in a physical therapy clinic might not have the first thing to do with blogging.
But, you’re actually honing your skills in:
- Project management: devising a treatment plan, and working step by step toward the patient’s goal. This is the #1 skill you need to blog successfully.
- Organization, reporting, tracking, and documentation: keeping patient files up to date, and not mixing up any of the patient’s information. This will be really helpful when you’re juggling multiple posts, some for clients, in different stages of development at any given time.
- Client management: knowing how to communicate with patients, set and meet expectations, and stay positive and professional at all times is fundamental to establishing and maintaining solid brand and reader relationships.
And probably much more! I have never been a physical therapist, so I’m not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the job. But do you see my point? Almost any day job provides practice for running your own blogging business in some way, shape, or form.
It Feeds Your Creativity
One of the realizations about blogging full time that shocked me the most was how much I needed a day job to counterbalance me. I found that when I was focused on blogging 100% of the time, I no longer left room for the spontaneous ideas and problem solving that have been essential to my experience of blogging.
My current job, as well as my previous full-time job, have both been highly analytical. In my last job, I crunched numbers to look for patterns in HUGE datasets of 10,000-2,000,000 data points. By the end of the day, my analytical left brain was exhausted.
But guess what had been resting most of the day and was raring to go? That’s right: my creative right brain.
My current job is not as quantitatively strenuous, but it still skews strongly toward the analytical. I spend a lot of my day managing people, solving problems, and examining spreadsheets.
By pairing my day job with blogging, I’m able to balance and stimulate my whole brain evenly. This may not apply to everyone in the general population, but I think many bloggers can relate to this.
It Keeps You Connected
Blogging is lonely. You are home all day, working alone (or mostly alone). You don’t have colleagues to give you encouragement, managers to give you direction or support, or anyone to turn to for collaboration, support, or a sanity-check when things get rough.
I’m a certified introvert, but even I found it crushingly isolating. You can’t be creative if you start to get isolated or depressed, and a huge contributor to avoiding that spiral is conversation and connection. I’m 100% convinced that that’s half of the reason why successful bloggers hire assistants or bring their partners into the businesses at the first possible opportunity (in addition to understandably needing help with the volume of work!).
Going to work every day allows you to get regular doses of the connection that stimulates your brain in a way that allows room for creativity. If you’re alone, head-down at the computer or stove, all day long, your creativity and motivation will almost certainly dwindle to nothing.
It Offers Built-In Taste Testers
Have you ever stared down the leftovers of 18 test batches of cake?
I’m not kidding.
I work remotely now, and one of side benefits of working in an office that I miss the most is a place to bring my test batches – both to get honest feedback from a captive focus group, and to get rid of more leftovers than I could eat in 10 lifetimes.
What did I miss?
I would love to hear from you about some of the benefits you’ve experienced from holding down a day job while running a blog. Leave me a comment below!