A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life – I’m sharing a ‘Day in the Life’ of what I do running 2 blogs, LifesLittleSweets.com and SaraManiez.com, while being a work-at-home mom.

A Day in The Life

Disclosure:  Some links in this post are affiliate links which means I earn a commission if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you.  I only recommend brands/products/companies that I 100% like and enjoy using.  Thank you in advance for your support!   

A Day in the Life

Hey Everyone, I thought it would be helpful to give you a day in the life of food (& lifestyle) blogging. No two days are alike with this business, especially if you are a “soloprenuer”. {I hate that word, it sounds so lonely.} In truth, there are a lot of people involved in getting to where I am and the blogs are today, from supportive friends and family to other blogs/influencers that I follow and have inspired me, to the many brands that I’ve worked with over the years, the graphic designers (I recommend Autumn Lane Paperie/VA (I recommend Meaghan)/developer (I love Once Coupled)  that I’ve hired, my ad publisher Mediavine, my web host and tech help WPopt, the courses (like The Blog Village) that I’ve done and the communities that I am apart of. Most of my work is on LLS because at the time of my writing this, I don’t post as often on SaraManiez.com, I am gradually trying to change that. I love being able to document the process of something, it helps me make sense of everything and if I can help or inspire someone else in the process, that’s all the more wonderful.
WPopt - Optimize your {digital} life
The Multitasking Mom – We all know that multitasking is a myth at this point but sometimes I really have to – out of necessity. All the while I am working, I am taking care of one or both of my young children, at any given time. I try to fit in my tasks in the margins of my day (before they wake up or after they go to bed) while one is at school. If I have them both all day with me during the week, I have any number of activities they can do, if I have to focus on a task. Sometimes, I have to get creative to get things done! (it’s no wonder that I have several DIY projects and activities on LLS) Sometimes, if it’s cooking an easier recipe, I can have my oldest child help me in the kitchen which is great. Sometimes, it can be super hard taking care of my children while I work, so I will constantly change things up, stop and do something else – I think that’s the hard part. I realize that while the children are young, this is a temporary part of life, so I just try to be mindful and always be creative with every situation.

I have learned to practice “time blocking.” Some days are photography or video shoot days, some days are computer days (more often than not, lately). If I am not feeling creative about the work I am doing, I will switch task and come back to it. The idea is to keep moving forward. Of course, there are some things that I have to work on that are non-negotiable like tax prep or lately, auditing my SEO (which seems never-ending). When I have a task that I really need to deal with, I will bite off small amounts at a time and try to get it done over the course of a few days, so that it feels more doable.

A Day in The Life

My daughter did all the emoticons on the bottom of the letterboard; like my letterboard in the photo above? Get yours here:

Morning 7 am – 12 pm

*coffee & breakfast*

A Day in The Life

Walk the dog – This is one of the first things I do in the morning, usually while my daughter has breakfast and while my son is still sleeping, I take the dog on a quick walk in the yard. She usually naps the rest of the day after until it’s time for her to eat. #seniordog

I am usually listening to a podcast or NPR radio while I am working so that I can stay informed and learn new things while I work. Sometimes it helps productivity, sometimes not. When I am writing a post, I usually turn off any other distractions so that I can focus on the words. For photography, I find that listening to music, helps me get in the groove to get the right shot. I tend not to watch TV while I work because I find it way too distracting. I will save TV for after the kids are gone to bed so I can actually focus enjoy a show.

A Day in The Life

Tailwind Tribes – I’ve been trying out just pinning for the next few days, instead of filling up the TW schedule 1 month ahead. This allows me to add new content and my own content when I am ready. Before I would just fill up the TW queue and forget it for a month or so and it would be much harder for me to sit down and work on it if I hadn’t for awhile. I am always trying to change up my schedule so I can try something that might work better.

Updated Favicons in on my main site LifesLittleSweets.com and my 2nd site SaraManiez.com with new(er) logos from Autumn Lane Paperie. (In case you don’t know, a favicon that tiny little icon in the tab of your browser, a key detail for branding) This is something that had been on my list for a little while since I got the new logos in December 2017. With the latest version of WordPress, it’s actually pretty easy to update the favicon versus previous versions. I just go it in Appearance →Customize. I think having the details of one’s site design is really important for a cohesive look. These are things that I notice when I go on other people’s/brands sites. FYI – I love doing my own graphic design, in fact in my first year of Architecture School, I seriously thought about switching majors to graphic design but didn’t – and I always did my own up until I hired Autumn Lane Paperie but you can’t just do everything you know? You know what? I also love supporting great businesses 😉

Instagram Stories – I try to do a IG Stories update in the morning, and it’s usually about the weather, a photo of how I did my coffee or what kind of coffee I am drinking. If there’s a new post, I will mention that. I love IG stories because it’s real-time and authentic. I used to be on Snapchat a lot but I found that I have more of a following on IG, so when IG Stories came out, I eventually went over to there to use that feature more. I resisted at first because it was so similar to Snapchat but in the end, it just made sense. Once in awhile, I will go back on Snapchat but just like any social media, you have to do it everyday or at least regularly to maintain the account. (You can check out my IG account, here.)

Right now, I am maintaining all of my social accounts myself. If I have a big reorganization project (like setting/cleaning up my Pinterest board, Meaghan Lamm helped me with that and did a great job), I will bring in a VA but other than that it’s important to be to find a sustainable method that I can handle on my own. I use Boardbooster & Tailwind; I was using Buffer for a couple years, but feel like I no longer need it and try to use Facebook’s native scheduling tool. Recently, for slideshow videos to promote posts on IG and FB, I have been using an app called Ripl. Videos, even slideshow ones, get seen more on social media and I’ve seen more engagement with them. I don’t like to only do videos because I like still photos but I think it’s good to have a variety and change things up so nothing feels stagnant.

Check E-mail and Social Media – If I don’t check, this in the morning, things really add up by later in the day and I never want to miss anything important. I get rid of spam, delete whatever I can, respond to messages (including direct messages on IG).

Check Site Stats – I check where I ended up for the previous day and check referring traffic and I also check where I am so far in the day. I am also monitoring against where I promote posts in social media or after I do SEO work to check for improvements.

Cleaning Up – I put this in because at any given time, I am putting away dishes, wiping down the counter from the previous day or cleaning dishes after a meal or recipe shoot. I try to clean as I go, so that things don’t add up and become overwhelming. It’s like constant maintenance. I also feel more focused, calm and productive when things are tidy and put away.

“Momming” it – At any given time during the day, I could be changing diapers, feeding the children, dressing them, helping to clean them, driving them somewhere, setting up a craft for my daughter to work on, cleaning up kids toys -anything related to caring for them, in between my work-related tasks. For example, as I write this, my daughter is working on a watercolor painting, my son’s in his bouncer and there’s a train set on the living room floor that I will probably have to help my daughter pick up at some point later.

SEO Audit – I have an SEO (search engine optimization) Audit scheduled soon and I am preparing for that by going through as many posts as I can on any given day. If I don’t bite off big chunks regularly, the posts will never get updated. I would love to hire someone for this but at this point, I am trying to work on it myself. This is an ongoing maintenance issue and there’s a lot of work right now on this task. I keep record of all of my progress in a spreadsheet so I can track this task. I try to update a few posts early in the day or sometimes I will end my day with doing several after I’ve done new posts or other tasks. Today, I was updating my very first post on LLS, Gluten-Free Mocha Cake. Really, my process is that I go over things, again and again, a refining process. I have to redo the recipe and photos for that post which I plan to in the next couple weeks but for now, the SEO is updated.

Social Media Threads & Updating Old Posts – I have daily and weekly social media thread that I participate in to promote recipes/posts in Facebook food blogging groups. I keep an “open” folder in my browser where all the links of the threads are that I need to do. There are usually 3 or so to so at any given time. I usually catch up on these in the morning and drop new links. I work doing these social media threads into my daily or weekly routine at an amount that I can handle. Sometimes I just do a weekly thread or if I have a lot of work to do on something that I need to focus on, I might take a week off. Doing this kind of work allows me to check out other bloggers work which is nice. I mostly participate in Pinterest threads because that’s usually my top referrer for website traffic. After I publish each post, it needs to be promoted in some way, across all my social platforms. Since January 2017, I’ve been trying to regularly promote old posts too either with a new slideshow video or just updating the post and sharing it on Google +, FB or Twitter. Depending on the post, there could be any variety of work that needs to be done, for example, re-shooting the whole recipe because the photos a old (that’s the most work), making a new pin (something I should be doing more), making a video, doing a FB Live of the recipe, going over the post and optimizing it for SEO or just re-sharing it (although, I am usually updating something in the post).

3rd year anniversary on LLS – I am coming up on my 3rd year anniversary or as some people say ‘blogiversary’ (sp??) It feels like it’s been 10 or 12 years with all the work I’ve done to build that blog up from nothing, doing most of the work myself, learning so many skills along the way, trying to master those skills…I am going over old posts with a fine-toothed comb with my SEO updating and I have come SO far in terms of learning how to photography & establishing a photography style and establishing a standard post template…in those beginning days I was all over the place in terms of the template of a post. I had no standard because it was ALL new. I was just feeling and finding my way in the dark, at least it felt that way. It was hard because I have taste standards, coming from a design background and it was hard putting something totally new out there, in a new-to-me industry, wanting it to be so perfect and know it’s so not. I want to be able to look back at those old posts and see how far I’ve come. 3 years is not a long time in the long view but when you are learning new things it can seem like forever. I am glad to be at least at a point where I have confidence in my abilities, clarity about what I want to do now, know that I am still learning and will always be still learning and know where I want to go and be able to look back and make sense of those early posts. I see a lot of experimentation, reaching and thinking. I did not post that often in the beginning because there was so much that I was trying to learn and figure out. Partly, I am glad for that because there’s less to update, partly I wish I had posted more recipes because I could be benefiting from the traffic now (potentially). The good thing is I can fix things now and have this knowledge, moving forward.

Freelance Recipe Revamps – I recently started offering re-shoots of other bloggers old recipes. This came about organically from doing guest posting which has always been something that I like doing. Today, I did an e-mail touch base with my client to clarify the specific types of ingredients before I shoot the recipe soon, before the end of the month. There’s always a lot of planning involved with setting up shoots to make sure they go smoothly.

*lunch break* at 11:30-12 pm (usually) – I wake up when my kids wake up which is usually early, so I start getting hungry in the late morning. I will usually make something quick, have leftovers or if I’m already out, I’ll have a sandwich.

Errands (12:15 pm -3 pm) – On any given day, I may have errands to do, at the time of writing this post, for example, I had to go to the bank, I have to go to Rite Aid, the grocery store to get ingredients for a recipe revamp and a sponsored post, some days I have to drop off/pick up my daughter at preschool. If I have one or both kids with me, they come along too for the errands and sometimes that can limit what I can accomplish, so I have to be flexible and/or just plan out things ahead of time. Some days, it’s easier to get any errands done earlier in the day; it just depends on the weather and my/our family’s schedule for the week.

Ingredient Preparation – I mentioned above that I needed to go to the grocery store to get ingredients for a recipe revamp and a sponsored post (due this week). Tomorrow will be a shoot day where I will spend part or most of the day making recipes (I’m planning for 2-3) and maybe a Facebook Live video. I like to prepare ahead of time which might involve making the whole recipe or just getting the recipe ingredients so that they are ready to go when I need them.

The rest of the afternoon – 3 pm until dinner

Work on a recipe – after doing some checking in with my computer and replying to e-mails, I decided to get a head start on the recipe for the sponsored post that I have due. This is a recipe that I know and I don’t need to test it because I’ve made it before, so all I have to do is make it for the shoot. I want to make it so that all I have to do tomorrow is shoot the recipe in the beautiful daylight light. I can always use artificial light but I prefer to use artificial light, if I can. (You can the finished recipe, Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs)

Afternoon e-mail check-in – I had to check in with my CL from an influencer network (Collective Bias) for a sponsored post.

Cleaning up the kitchen & the house – I spent a half hour tidying up, washing dishes from the day, putting away toys. I try to do this throughout the day so that the house isn’t wrecked by the end of the day. I will also block off days for cleaning if I feel like I need to catch up or deep clean areas of the house. On this day, I did spend 1/2 hour to 45 mins cleaning up dried play dough and paint off the kids table after dinner (oh man, that was awful).

Dinner – We usually eat dinner anywhere between 5 and 7, it really varies depending on the day’s activities. We try not to have dinner too late so that we can put the kids to bed on time. On this day we had a chopped chicken salad over 2 kinds of lettuce with asparagus, green olives. Yesterday, I prepped the chicken in my Instant Pot, Eric made the homemade dressing and we already chopped the lettuce and this evening I just chopped some onions and celery to add to it – so it was fast to put together.

After the kids are in bed, I do a check on social and e-mail and finish up any social media threads that may be left to do and then we usually watch a show and then bed!

Well that’s it! That’s my day in the life, 3,168 words later!

Thank you for reading along, if you are a blogger how do you portion/schedule your time? Best Wishes, ~Sara

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