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.
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.
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…
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.
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.