How I Balanced Blogging at University
Today's post is very different to my usual content but as I sit on one of my last train journeys from home back to Birmingham for my final month of University before graduation, I feel inspired to write down my thoughts around this topic and share my blogging/uni journey with you. As some of you may know, I started this blog as 'jasminehardingmakeup.com' back in 2014 after finishing my first term of University. It was somewhere I could dump my ideas, channel my creativity and have somewhere to go to create content and engage with like-minded individuals. At the time, I wasn't enjoying University much; home sick and the thought of dropping out was more appealing than going back for my second term of Year 1. Fast forward in time and I'm about to finish my final year and continued to grow this blog along the way.
In this post I wanted to sit down and discuss how I've balanced running my blog alongside my studies. As I said, I'm now in my fourth and final year at University which marks four years of this blog (despite feeling like I've had it forever). To be honest, in my first year of uni and having this blog, I found balancing the two relatively straight forward; I blogged daily for almost a year and worked really hard on growth and putting content out there. That being said, first year of uni is when you have spare time; deadlines aren't as important nor as challenging which meant I had more time to put effort in and spend late nights (alongside the emotional rollercoaster that was One Tree Hill) into making my blog work, all the while maintaining good grades.
Second year was a little harder but I still stuck at it and dedicated endless long days and nights to content creation; writing, shooting for photos, editing and engaging on Instagram and Twitter. When it came to deadlines actually meaning something and grades counting towards my final year mark, I realised it was time to step away from blogging so often, despite being desperate to spend all my time writing content, I knew my university studies were more important at the time and were what needed to be done.
Once I'd finished second year I was off on placement; uni ended towards the end of May and a week later I'd packed up my uni room and home bedroom and was moving to London to work for a beauty PR agency. Running my blog alongside working as little different for me, I didn't stick to a schedule and would simply write and post whenever I had time or felt inspired. I think working in the beauty industry and working with bloggers and planning blogger events on a daily basis alongside running the PR's social media and multiple client accounts affected the way I viewed my blog. After working long days of running social media, writing press releases and planning blogger work, I didn't have such a desire to spend my spare time creating my own content and doing social media all over again. This resulted in less posting on here and Instagram but after taking a bit of a step back, come June 2017, I had moved out of London, living at home and felt inspired and ready to get back into things. Then came 6 weeks in Croatia and I was sharing daily content on Instagram and Island Guides on here. I was back.
I'm now in my fourth and final year of University, just 5 weeks to go and it's all over; time to start saving for the next big trip and make this blog the best it's been. The hardest part of blogging at uni is keeping it up alongside writing your dissertation and getting the content written. My dissertation was based around the beauty media industry including the Blogosphere however this time, I felt it kept me inspired to keep going and find time to write and engage with other bloggers and my followers. I used my blog as an escape when I was writing my dissertation and times when I needed a break from research theory or data trend analysis', I'd start writing lists of blog post ideas, photos I wanted to shoot and products to feature.
As I've come to the end of my degree, I wanted to share some tips from my own personal experience on maintaining an updated blog whilst at University work. Some do's and don'ts (purely based on my experience) that I would have found helpful from the start and what I discovered along the way.
1. Don't feel guilty about not posting.
It's not worth it. I spent my first year of blogging posting daily and put so much pressure on myself for making sure I got the posts done in time and if I didn't, a huge wave of guilt would come over me as if the internet couldn't survive without my new makeup post (they most definitely could, those photos were not ideal). I remember this one occasion in first year, I'd gone out with my friends and came back around 2am and sat up writing a blog post until it was ready to go live that morning. Bit much. The guilt just isn't worth fussing over, post whenever you can and proud of the content instead of churning it out. If you aren't in the mind set to write a blog post after writing a 3,000 report then leave it for another day.
2. Don't create extra pressure by giving yourself a strict posting schedule.
After about a year, I realised this daily posting schedule wasn't working for me anymore. I'd often be tired and find it hard to get stuck into uni work the next day and when I was doing work, I'd be thinking how I'd rather be writing a blog post now and choosing topics in my head. Setting a schedule that is realistic and achievable will drive much more motivation and inspiration, I'd spend longer formatting the posts, working out how to display the images, editing in a certain style and generally finessing the small details in each. Posting daily worked well for my first year and definitely helped me grow and develop an audience but as my blog and I have grown, I've realised the most important thing is quality over quantity. Besides, third year uni life is very intense work load wise and juggling a dissertation can put a hold on other things; after writing 2-3,000 words a day, my evenings were spent watching Friends or reading blogs and there were times when I did want to write blog posts and found the brain power but usually, free time was spent watching Friends.
3. Do shoot, edit and write in bulk
For me, this was and is essential. With the rare light days in England, I make sure whenever the sun is out or it is bright enough to shoot, I will plan and take photos for around 4 posts to help in the long run when it comes to writing. Having the photos ready means no mad last minute rush to find a corner of light or be stuck editing grey photos. I take the majority of my photos on my iPhone so when it does come to editing, I import them all into VSCO Cam and start with the brightness, sharpness, saturation and temperature before sticking a filter on, on a low intensity if needed. Once my photos are ready I sometimes leave it there until it comes to writing but usually I'll add them into the post so all I need to do is write and post it live.
4. Don't compare to those who are in this full-time.
Something we all know and tell each other not to do but something we all do. This one is easier said than done but running a blog alongside uni or work is so very different to having it full time. Essentially, you've got less time to get things done; shoot, edit, write, create videos, post on Instagram regularly, engage and mainly ensuring that you always have a photo to post. Something I struggle with is not being able to spend multiple days shooting and getting better quality photos. I'll look at other bloggers who have professional photographers or someone behind the camera shooting for them and just wish my photos looked that clean and effortless. All it takes is a moment of realisation and to remind myself that I don't work with photographers or have someone to take my photos and this is wonderful industry is these amazing ladies full time job so of course their content is going to be top notch and full of beautifully shot professional photos. Bring on Summer and having Kai follow me around with a camera again. More on this in my 'New Blog' article.
I'll sum this post up by saying you do you and you'll be fine. Don't pile pressure on yourself, you've got enough uni deadlines to manage. Get organised, post when you feel inspired, be proud of what you post and don't forget about your blog in the midst of writing a dissertation and endless reports; it can be the perfect place to go to for inspiration, motivation and a spark of creativity.
I hope this was a helpful read for those studying or going to study. I'd love to hear your thoughts or tips on balancing a blog whilst working or at university!