How To Run a Blog: From Dusk Till Dawn

I have probably been asked, “how do you run your blog,” over a thousand times now.

After being asked “what’s your favorite restaurant in Toronto,” a bazillion times I was smart enough to create a Toronto’s Top Restaurant List, which I update regularly.

After spending time at home for the holidays and chatting with several family members about “what I do,” I decided it was finally the perfect moment to expose my regimen. It is my hope that aspiring bloggers, intrigued questioners and even my favorite PR peeps get a better understanding of the rather strict routine I stick to in order to operate dobbernationLOVES.

I started my blog as a hobby (as the majority of us do), a way to share my life as a diary, pursuing my passion for food, travel and everything in between. Like most newbie bloggers, my first few months were hesitant and recreational, a few posts a month. Once I got more comfortable working with WordPress, developed my own writing style (the rhythm and structure of each post) I began to post more frequently. On my one year blog anniversary I was posting three or four days a week.


After a year of writing under my belt I had developed an eager audience who appreciated my storytelling and shared their feedback via comments on Twitter and Facebook. PR agencies and restaurants started to shoot me emails regularly looking to pitch their products and services. By the end of my second year I was working a full time job on top of my blog responsibilities. I would check my unattended weekday emails during my lunch break and to and fro on the streetcar. One day I just got so exhausted and had to have a “big think,” on where I wanted to take my career long term.

In April of 2012 I officially left the life of full time work and dedicated myself to pursuing my passion through storytelling on dobbernationLOVES. What a breath of fresh air to not have to run to a full time job and actually answer my emails as they came in each day! I had plenty of time to now focus on how I wanted to develop my brand, diversify my content and schedule my editorial throughout the year. The majority of bloggers rarely get the time to focus on these crucial questions as they simply don’t have the time to juggle a full time job, social life and the attention required to create “long term blog branding strategy and business development.” Taking the jump was the best thing I ever did.

So what does a day in the life of @dobbernation look like? You’ll see below that a loose routine is essential to keeping on track and ahead of schedule. For the last 12 months I have had all of my blog posts scheduled two months in advance. I typically have 30-60 finished blog posts sitting in draft box waiting to be shared. By having a swath of content in my back pocket I allow myself the freedom to go on lengthy 5-6 week international press trips and never have to worry about scrambling to find a story if I ever get sick.

The “blog regiment” I have listed below is my typical run of the mill week day in Toronto. I’d like to point out that on Saturday and Sunday’s I sleep in until 7:30am (I know you are all rolling your eyes right now). Also important to note that this schedule is in no way indicative of the schedule of a press trip. Those are an entirely different beast! More on that later…

I rarely ever take a day off, and if I do I’m typically crippled with fever in bed. Running a daily blog is a full time job. I’m now an entrepreneur and make 100% of my income from blog related activities. There’s no time to sleep! Thankfully I write about all of the activities people like to enjoy in their free time: dinner with friends, a night at the Opera, favorite new fashions, an exotic holiday getaway and a fine glass of wine at the next gallery opening. I’ve turned my passion into work, and while yes this can be draining its all worth it at the end of the day. Doing what you love every second…repeat the mantra with me.


The Morning

5:30am Wake Up Call

Immediately make breakfast. Typically enjoy a cup of hot tea or espresso over ice and a bowl of greek yogurt covered in dried fruit, sliced pear, granola and clover honey.

6:00am Tapping into the News

Whilst enjoying breakfast I hop on twitter and follow up with any tweets received over night. I then spend an hour reading my favorite online newspapers, magazines and blogs for top news of the day.

7:00am Blog Sharing

I manually post my blog of the day. I then share this via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I schedule unique tweets about my daily blog feature throughout the day during high traffic periods. I email any PR/owners/managers of businesses or brand that are featured in the daily post to let them know their coverage is now live.

8:00am Tackling Emails and Writing Drafts

I spend the entire morning managing my email inbox and writing blog drafts. Monday-Friday my emails can sometimes get so exhaustive (I now get anywhere from 50-100 press releases or story pitches a day) that I actually have no time to write. I typically spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings writing 5-10 blogs a day as my inbox traffic is rather dormant.

11:30am Nap Time

Taking a mid day nap is crucial to surviving a long day. Especially since you will note that I typically only sleep 5 or 6 hours a night. A quick nap before lunch lets the mind rest and body relax giving me the strength to take on the evening.

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The Afternoon

12 noon Light Lunch

Each Sunday afternoon I prepare a soup or ready-prepared meals for the upcoming week. I’m doing a great job these days at coming up with affordable and healthy dishes that are easy to take out of the fridge and whip together quickly.

12:30-1:30pm Swim Time

Six days a week I march over to the YMCA and enjoy a 45 minute swim. Healthy active routine helps me keep my mind sharp, creative juices flowing and low and behold I’ve lost over 10 pounds in the last 4 months by doing so!

1:30pm Mixed Bag

My afternoons are open for: gallery press tours, client meetings, advertorial creative, media events, matinees, more writing, pitching stories…

The Evening

5:00pm I book all of my evening restaurant reviews for just after 5pm so that my dinner review showcases both the restaurants exterior and interior in daylight and a candle lit ambiance. It’s also great to arrive just as a restaurant opens for service to say hello to the chef/manager/owner as they typically have time to chat before the rush comes in.

7:00pm On a night when I am doing a theatre review I arrive just before the show starts to get pictures of the crowds before the curtain pulls itself away from the stage.

Late Night

I am up late into the evening regardless of if I have spent the night reviewing a restaurant, theatre premiere or media event. For example, I often get back home from the Opera after 11pm. Once in the door I edit the pictures I have taken that evening and sort them with a mix of production stills provided in the COC’s media kit. I then spend the next few hours writing my review of that nights performance, so its fresh in my mind and spilling from my fingertips across my keyboard. It isn’t uncommon for me to stay up until 1am finalizing a theatre review (or late night restaurant opening post) in order to have it ready to be published the following morning.


I grab as much of that as I can get. What’s great is I never have an issue falling asleep. My head hits the pillow and zoom, in comes dreamland.

Leave a reply


  1. What a great insight into your typical day Andrew. I had the pleasure of sharing part of your blogging life when I came to Toronto in march this year. Keep up the food work and one day I hope my food blogging will allow me to lead a life like yours where I can do it full time. Keep up the good work. Helen x

    1. Thanks so much for your warm words Helen! You are on my blog via our adventures in Spain and Scotland too! Don’t forget that haha!

  2. Sounds like a pretty great life! I had the pleasure of only working on my blog (and traveling) for all of last year; I took a year off from my teaching job. It really became a full time job–and now that I’m back at work, I’m KILLING myself trying to do both. I hope to some day find balance–but for now people keep telling me to ‘just give up the blogging’.

    Because they think that’s an option.

    1. Ha thanks Tracy love your feedback! Blogging is a way of life isn’t it? Keep up the good work and hope you find that “balance.”

    1. Thanks for your feedback Jasmin! As mentioned in the post this is pretty much my schedule 7 days a week. As mentioned I sleep in a bit on Saturdays and Sundays but still work those days doing restaurants reviews, writing and theatre reviews. Schedule is a bit different when I am traveling on a press trip, and will actually be posting a helpful “How to” on organizing press trips next week so stay tuned! Cheers! AJVD

  3. I’ve often thought of getting up at 5;30 to start my day – most successful bloggers do…

    1. You are always on facebook chat when I am posting my blog of the day love that you are an early riser too!

  4. Andrew, thanks for sharing the secrets of your success. As Andrea Toole said of Facebook, every blogger is different. However, the bottom line is the same — being a successful blogger takes discipline and hard work. Glad you found something you love and have been able to turn your passion into your living.

    Do you ever decide to change your editorial line up and write timely posts as the mood strikes or to complement real-time events?

    1. Thanks for your comments Eden. Some of my posts are definitely written and published with time on my mind. My example of going to the Opera and staying up all night to post it the next morning is what is the norm with all theatre reviews as they have a short run. Most of my writing is scheduled in advance so I can work with themes and have a content strategy that people can follow and become familiar with. When I did a press trip of europe this past summer for example I let people know that for 2 months i’d be posting my content from that adventure. Any local businesses I was visiting when I got home were told that their content would not appear for some time. If I am working with a client they have the opportunity to select the date they would like their content to appear. Hope that helps! Cheers! ajvd

      1. Andrew, and all the thought and effort you’ve put into turning your blogging into a full-time job will demonstrate to others why some are successful making money blogging and others aren’t. You’ve more than answered my question. Keep up the great work!

    2. I just saw this comment when I came back here to grab the post for my weekly (not really) roundup of blog posts on my non-food blog (I linked my name to it). Thanks for the mention. A few days after I read Andrew’s post I read another “day in the life” post, which is also in the roundup. Check my blog later for it. I’m now going through 3 weeks of flagged articles for curating, adding and commenting.

  5. Great insight info the day in the life of a blogger! Some similarities, some differences with me. 🙂
    However, I always have a hard time falling asleep! I hate sleeping. Mostly. 😉
    I always find myself with post ideas at midnight.

    1. Ha I totally agree Loukia! That’s why I have a pad of paper and pen on my nightstand so I can scribble down my late night thought processes! Good luck with your blogging!

  6. I just ran across your blog, as I work for Urbanspoon, and am currently working on a blogger event in the Toronto area in the next few months. You will most certainly be invited to said event, but this is actually on a personal note. I JUST (3 weeks ago) started a blog that I have been “writing in my head” for years. Although the topic is extremely different (mine has to due with my medical condition and life because of it) but I wanted to send a thank you, for the clear picture of what it is like and what it takes to really make it as a blogger. I found it very helpful. Thank you.