How Can I Have a Successful Blog While Raising Little Kids?

How Can I Have a Successful Blog While Raising Little Kids? // jessconnell.com

The question comes from time to time:

How can I have a successful blog while raising little ones?

And here’s my honest answer. It may not be a popular one, but it is my real, honest, from-my-heart answer.

BLOGGING WHEN YOU HAVE LITTLE ONES

When I had all/only littles, I wrote only when I had time for it. If you put your marriage and parenting before blogging, your blog will sometimes suffer.

For me, being a wife and mom were my highest priorities and so I would often take 1-6 month blogging breaks. Throughout my first years of blogging when I had only little children, I often took weeks and months away from writing.

Though I love to write… though words flow from me quickly and easily… when I had:

  • 3 kids four and under,
  • 4 kids six and under,
  • and 5 kids eight and under,

there were many times when the writing got pushed to the side so I could do the essential, daily things:

  • loving my husband,
  • loving my children,
  • learning how to keep my home running well,
  • staying in the Word,
  • and being a part of church when I could.

My goal was not and is not to build a blog kingdom, but to use it as a tool for ministry, growth, and encouragement, AFTER doing the things God has clearly put on my plate.

Put another way, in our home:

Blogging is optional. Parenting & being a wife is not.

If I build a “successful” blog but raise bratty, selfish, electronically-entertained children, or have a crummy marriage where both of our faces are constantly in our devices, I will have failed.

So, with little kids, give yourself grace.

You may not realistically be able to keep up with a rigorous blogging pace.

To be clear, my answer is: 

You MAY NOT be able to have a “successful” blog while intentionally mothering young children. 

You may; you may not. But I am not going to lie to you and tell you that you for sure can. For my part, I found that I could not worry about keeping up with the amazing “Betty Bloggers” of the world who had the same age kids, managed to do it all, AND post better photographs than I ever could.

I’m me. I can only be me. I have to look at what God has given me and steward it well.

"Blogging is optional. Parenting & being a wife is not." // How Can I Have a Successful Blog While Raising Little Kids? // jessconnell.com The God who gave my husband and my children won’t be pleased if I let my marriage, home, and children fall by the wayside but run an amazingly “successful” blog. Even if it has amazing ministry potential, and has been perfectly monetized in a way that financially blesses my family without burdening my readers.

God has given us certain things on our plates, and it is foolish for us to add things to our plates to a degree that the main things (that God has given us) get shoved off for things He has not given us. If you are a wife and a mother, those are the MAIN THINGS on your plate. Do not let blogging shove off those main things.

So for me, here’s where I’ve landed:

If I “do it all,” but lose my family, it will not be worth it to me.

That said, as my kids have grown, I have found (and I have purposefully made) time to write more regularly. A major reason for this is that my husband has affirmed these things in me and invested his time and energy to encourage me in this ministry. Over the years, he has told me I *need* to be writing, and that he believes it is both good for me, and good for others, when I do.

My blogging is a reflection of the nurturing leadership and influence of my husband who has affirmed these spiritual gifts in my life and made an environment where they can flourish.

HOW I BLOG WITH CHILDREN IN THE HOME

Here are some things that have helped me:

1- SCHEDULE POSTS IN ADVANCE

The scheduling feature has become an amazing help to me. Nowadays, I  write articles anywhere from 1-6 weeks in advance and preschedule them so that my life can have its normal ebbs and flows without affecting the pace and quality of my content. But when I was younger, and they were younger, I couldn’t gather enough writing time to get ahead enough to consistently USE the scheduling feature, so it did me little to no good.

But if you are able to use it, scheduling topics in advance is a wonderfully handy tool that can keep the unpredictable things in life as a mom of littles from derailing your blog.

2- PUBLISH AT A SUSTAINABLE PACE 

Don’t try to write 3 times in one week, and then miss a week, and then publish an article, and then skip three weeks, and then write two posts two weeks in a row.

No. Look back at what you’re able to do consistently. Average that out, and reduce it slightly to give yourself margin. Then THAT will be your sustainable publishing pace. If you look back at the last year and you’ve published 15 articles, then just set a goal of once/month. If you look back at the last year and have written 135 articles but they’ve been hit-or-miss, spottily timed, then set a goal of 2 articles a week, and begin pre-scheduling your posts so you are able to sustain your posting schedule and give yourself a little margin as well.

For me, that worked out to (at first) 2 articles each week, and now, because I maintained that throughout 2014 (which was my goal), I’ve recently increased to publishing 3x/week: every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Set your goal as less than you think you can do, and give yourself margin.

3- WRITE WHAT FLOWS EASILY

Write from your “sweet spot.” Don’t take on issues that need deep research and lengthy consideration. I’m a fast writer, and often get articles written in the first draft with little editing needed, but I still have to limit myself to the things that I know well. I can’t consistently blog about topics that are, say, out of my theological reach and do them justice. That level of research and attention to learning all new things is not something I can manage while managing seven children and homeschooling.

So, I write what flows easily and choose to avoid or ignore topics that I can’t invest the time in during this season.

4- MULTI-TASK

We’ve talked before about multi-tasking as a mom. As a blogger, one of the ways I am able to grow is by listening to podcasts (like Michael Hyatt and Problogger) and conference talks about blogging and social media usage, while doing other things:

  • mowing the lawn
  • cooking dinner
  • holding/nursing the baby
  • folding laundry

By using my time carefully, I’m able to thoughtfully consider ways to improve my platform without  going to meetings and conferences away from my young family.

5- USE EVERYTHING YOU WRITE

Do you write book or product reviews for Amazon? Training manuals? Lengthy, helpful comments on other people’s articles? Do you take detailed sermon notes? Or perhaps you participate in an online discussion forum on your topic and have tons of helpful posts there. Turn the things you’ve written elsewhere into quality content for your blog.

I often do this with blog comments. In fact, my most popular article ever (“Why Have More Kids?”) was written as a response to a comment I received on my blog. I’ve also been blessed to do freelance Bible study writing, and my contracts typically have a clause that allows me to use the material after an agreed-upon amount of time has passed. So then I can take the same content, re-work it to fit my readers, and get double use out of it.

Maybe you’re the local expert on pool supplies, breastfeeding, or VW bus repair, and people regularly write you with questions. Save all your answers and format them into “how to” blog posts. Or list posts. Or Q&A posts. Make sure to scrub the questions of any other people’s personal information (or get permission to share), but DO use your own writing. This will maximize your writing time and squeeze every ounce of usability out of the things you’re already writing.

You’re already using your time to answer the questions, so go ahead and make that helpful information accessible to the public.

6- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE TIME

The toddler’s nap time is used VERY carefully around here. Sometimes, as a home educating family, nap time becomes homeschooling time. But at other times, if the kids are clicking along in their work, and we’re managing to get the parts that require my help done in the mornings, I am able to use nap time to write and plan articles.

In extra busy seasons, I may write articles in the evenings after the kids are in bed (although, typically, I try to reserve that time for connecting with Doug). This is typical, now, of the postpartum time. When my days are full, I tend to use evenings to veg out and hammer out random posts and ideas.

In some seasons (not the one we’re currently in, because the baby is still nursing so frequently), my husband will encourage me to go get coffee for 3-4 hours on a Saturday morning, or he’ll take the kids for a walk (or even just to play in the backyard) in the evening. In those times, I may knock out several articles, or pre-plan topics, or feed my soul in ways that will help me to keep growing (and thus, be filled so that I continue to have something to *give*).

Use your natural free time as quick-sprints for writing.

THIS IS WHO I AM, MARRIED TO MY HUSBAND, WITH THESE KIDS

The main thing I want to say to you, young mom who is wondering about blogging, is this: this is who I am. I’m not an organic-only mommy who has to cook a certain way because of children with allergies. I’m not a marathoner. I’m not a garage sale queen. I don’t have a farm to run or an MLM business. I don’t have a child with severe medical or developmental issues with lots of doctors appointments and hospital visits.

When I have time, writing is my thing. That’s what I do with free time. It’s where my thoughts get sorted out, and where my heart seeps out onto the screen in front of me.

My blog writing is also fully submitted to my own husband. This is not something I do on my own… he has loved and supported and encouraged and exhorted and challenged me and sharpened me all along the way. He WANTS me to keep writing, and so I do. He supports it and loves it and does an excellent job helping me think through my priorities.

This is who I am, married to my husband, with the kids I have been given. 

It may or may not work for you. Sort that out with your husband and make sure you’re being purposeful in your roles as wife and mom first.

FOR ME, IT’S NEVER BEEN ABOUT “SUCCESS”

This may not be everyone’s goals, but this is how blogging has gone for me. I stayed home with my kids WITHOUT blogging for 4 years, and then began writing as a way to sort out my thoughts on things like birth control, home education, and childrearing. Some people want to blog for money, or to build a “platform,” but for me, especially with young children in the house, it has been critical that I keep the main things as the main things. 

As people shared my articles, my “platform” has grown bit by bit, but at every point, my blog has come behind the things God has put on my plate (marriage and kids). And at every point, I’ve held it loosely before the Lord.  Even now, my husband and I regularly assess life and make sure that the main things are being done well before I agree to take writing jobs or try new things with the blog.

Galatians 6:9 describes a sowing/reaping mindset and says “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Keep sowing in your family daily, and sowing on your blog as you are able beyond that. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. Honor Christ. Trust God to provide for your family and to use your gifts according to His good plans.

If He means for your blog to be “successful,” it will be. And if He doesn’t, you won’t regret having taken care of your marriage and family first.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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15 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    I appreciate the way you explain that you don’t do it all but that this is what works for you and your family and you don’t put it above your marriage and kids! Excellent advice. I had a blog for a few years when I had 2 kids but had to give it up. For now I’m at peace with that. Health challenges take up our time these days but God has a plan for each person and family and it’s GOOD! Resting in that! :)

  2. Debbie Coleman says:

    I think this is great advice for “anything” that we love doing, apart from our family.
    Great article!!!

  3. Rachel says:

    Good advice. My blog has basically replaced my journal, so is our life chronicle, book reviews (so I can remember what I read later), recipe favorites and ponderings all in one. I write randomly, and don’t expect more than family and friends to be interested. It’s random in subject matter as well as time sequence. And usually when I have *extra* time, I go to bed instead of blog. I write to sort my thoughts more than anything, but also like reading back and seeing where we were and where we are now and where we are going too.

    • Jess Connell says:

      YES!

      I should have clarified that in this article… when one is blogging for their own pleasure, or as a journal, this stuff is all moot.

      The question now comes because so many people are blogging professionally & making careers of it, that I think it’s made this interesting intersection of challenge for mommy bloggers… who used to “just” blog for journaling & chronicling their family’s journey, but now feel challenged to monetize, pursue growth, etc., etc.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Rachel. Your blog is a perfect example of what you’re talking about. Processing what you’re thinking about, sharing about goings on with your crew, occasional exhortations, etc.

  4. Emily Jensen says:

    Thanks for offering your writing wisdom and experience to moms of young children. I always appreciate it when wise women blog about blogging!

    My husband and I were just having this conversation this week, and can I admit I starting crying when he spoke the truth to me in love to me about the place blogging holds on my priority list right now? I became a weepy mess, because in these years with many young children, I’m so tempted to throw myself into something that seems more tangible and offers the satisfaction of more obvious accomplishment. He totally affirms and supports my gifts, but keeps encouraging me to be faithful in these years and not seek to jump ahead to a later season (when I will likely have more free time to write). I’m thankful that he knows my heart and calls me out gently when he sees me wanting to neglect the really important things God has given me to do right now, for something that can have a more glamorous allure.

    So for now, I continue in the same philosophy I’ve had – write when I can, about the things God lays on my heart – and not worry too much about growth and numbers. Focusing on consistently creating quality content, and praying over those words. But I have to ask, how do you balance the desire to do something with excellence with the reality of an inconsistent season and inability to make something a priority? My biggest struggle is feeling like, “If I’m going to have a blog, I want to do it really WELL and not just be sloppy. But on the other hand, I don’t have a ton of time and money to invest in social media strategies, great website design, etc.” I have a hard time doing things halfway :-)

    • Jess Connell says:

      OK, my first thought was… what a great use for the Wayback Time Machine:

      https://web.archive.org/web/20080526224502/http://www.makinghome.blogspot.com/

      That’s what my blog looked like when I had 4 kids 6 & under. Randomly published… the dates are here, there, and everywhere. Definitely not predictable. It was way more “off the cuff” than my blog now. Which, incidentally, some people say they preferred.

      And oh look, here’s a summer sabbatical I took:
      https://web.archive.org/web/20080723173008/http://makinghome.blogspot.com/

      That little look-back reminded me of how blogging background “skins” worked back then. :) They were free & it took just a smidge of time to put them up. Anyway. All that to say, I didn’t worry near as much about graphics and design as I do now. And now I’m thinking, wow I liked that. Maybe I should go back, and quit with all the stress over Pinterest pinning. We’ll see. But I certainly wouldn’t take the extra 10-25 minutes per article finding and creating pinnable images in your season.

      Basically, what I would say to you, is– listen to your husband. He knows you; he sees you. He’s trying to protect you… even (perhaps) from yourself. I would often struggle through blogging in the early days, and some of the measures Doug & I used to evaluate was:

      * how many people are actively being helped by what you’re writing? (how many letters/e-mails have people written and about what? — i.e., should I narrow my writing focus to one particular area where the Body is built up when I write about that particular thing?)
      * how much time is it *really* taking? Don’t underestimate here. Be a wife first. Be a mom first.
      * Is this a hobby for this season? Perhaps it is, but be willing to chop it if not. Hold it loosely and pray through it with your husband. Let him be fully honest without having to tiptoe around your feelings or self-protectiveness. (Sorry if that sentence stings, I’m writing this to me as well as to you… this is how I would counsel my own heart.)
      * Is this an idol? Are you pursuing it to the neglect of what God has given you?

      So then… after that… if you still come up feeling that you should be keeping a blog… then the question you raise– of “excellence” has to be dealt with.

      Here’s what I would say to that:
      * Are you being an excellent wife?
      * Are you being an excellent mother?
      * Are you being an excellent part of the Body in your local church?

      Then… after that, if you’re doing those things well… then pursue “excellence” in blogging. But you don’t, maybe, currently, pursue excellence as a member of your local library. Because that’s not a thing for this season. Or maybe you’re not going to win the “yard of the year” award for your community. That would be because, assuming that’s not you, you don’t see excellence in gardening as essential during this season. You DO have a yard, and yet you’re not pursuing absolute excellence there, right?

      So then I would treat blogging that way. If you feel like you should do it, do it. Do it because it flows from you. Do it because you want to chronicle things for your future daughters in law. Do it because you want to process and solidify what you’re learning. Don’t do it and feel that everytime you do it it has to be with a “pinnable” image and shared on all the “right” social media channels and that you should be pursuing landing an article on the coveted HuffPo, etc. During this season, just blog. Just write. Just let it be like your landscaping outside. Keep it up when you can. But let the things going on INSIDE your home be what’s central, and let blogging be something you treat as OUTSIDE your home, for now.

      That’s my honest advice.

      I do love your writing when I’ve had a chance to peek at it. Keep letting God grow you. He never wastes the things He puts in us, and He has a plan in having you right there in that high-demand season. Lean into the difficulty of it, and release this skill back to Him. Let Him use it according to His ways and in His timing.

      I do feel the sting of it though… and know that my advice conflicts with all of the “best blogging practices” that are out there… which is why I wrote this article. I honestly don’t think the “best blogging practices” out there really apply to mothers of young children. I think if you want to have a godly marriage and faithfully raise children, JUST THAT takes almost all you have to give. Don’t underestimate the value of all those “little” things, day in, day out. Press on, friend!
      ~Jess

      • Emily Jensen says:

        Thank you for taking the time to respond – this was really helpful! I read it to my husband as well, since we’ve been on this topic lately :-). He told me I should re-read it a few times – haha.

        I’m so thankful for your ministry to younger wives and moms who haven’t received a lot of practical training in many different areas. And I’m grateful for your encouragement to persevere in godliness!
        – Emily

  5. I have been struggling with my blog lately, and have begun praying about what to do. Should I continue, or give it up? After eight years and over 1100 posts, giving it up breaks my heart. Your post has given me some ideas for finding a happy medium. Thank you!

  6. shannon bradbury says:

    Some great tips! So encouraged by your writing! I have been blogging for 3 years..When I first started the blog it was very sporadic ,and then last fall I wrote once a month, now I write once a week..but I am still learning and don’t have just a few followers( mostly on Facebook) Its not a payed blog, and my husband encourages me to write. My kids are mostly older (13,12,9,7+ 3).I am giving myself full-time as mommy, homeschooling mom, and wife…so what you said was helpful. Thank you!

  7. Amanda says:

    JESS!!! These are my heart words. Thank you for getting them out there. For months I have been saying all of this to myself. Then, in these past two weeks, I have been ignoring them and beating myself up for NOT doing more on my blog. I needed this so much. Thank you for sharing. Truly, from the depths of my heart, Thank You <3

    • Jess Connell says:

      Awesome. You are exactly the sort of mom I wanted to encourage– to give you freedom and room to BE the wife and mom you need to be without adding the pressure of the unnecessary.

  1. November 30, 2015

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