• Abbie Tibbott

Managing a Website while you’re at University


Through my Instagram space I’ve had lots of messages concerning how I actually find the time to write content for my website, manage my platform as well as live my life. In essence, it’s all down to basic planning and time-blocking, but setting up your own website shouldn’t be a chore. I’ve tried and failed multiple times in setting up a schedule for blog pages, so I here are my top tips for being consistent with your output.

 

1. Create your site outside of term time


I spent multiple hours constructing the bare bones of my website, and that was without writing a single word of content. Getting together a site that looks how you want it to is a large initial commitment, and isn’t something I’d recommend doing while splitting your time between lectures and coursework. It may be a project to dedicate some time to this summer, especially if you want to have everything completely set up before you begin writing.


One of the pitfalls of blogging or creating content is that your site, if unfinished, may be difficult to navigate. There are always tweaks and updates to be done, but getting together a website that is functioning, if a bit small, is always the best way to go.

 

2. Set up a posting schedule


The majority of site-builders have tools within sites that allow you to schedule posting. This feature is useful as it allows you to create content in bulk and post it on time without you having to do anything. Releasing content on an ad-hoc basis isn’t ideal for algorithms, and it might put regularly readers off visiting your site if there are long gaps between content. Having regular posting is a simple way to guarantee your website looks fresh and updated, and it solves problems of you taking breaks away to go on holiday or be away from your computer.


At university, your study comes first, so I’d recommend starting off with the bare minimum, and then increasing your posting frequency when you have more time. Deciding that you’re going to post twice a week may be sustainable while you have the enthusiasm, but might not be so achievable when it’s exam season. Just something to think about.


 

3. Set up a writing schedule


Writing week-by-week is doable, and has the advantages of writing topics that are fresh on your mind and that you’re interested in. In my experience however, it’s really easy to fall behind, and you’ll spend weeks catching up, or ultimately abandoning the site. That’s not ideal, so I’d suggest setting aside time to write content in bulk around your studies. This may be one morning a week, or a passive project that you fit in during breaks between contact hours or meetings as a kind of continuous project. Opening up my laptop and writing a paragraph or two is something that’s easily done and doesn’t take a lot of brainpower; something I’m thankful for after a long day.


Another tactic is to decide how many blogs “in advance” that you’re going to be, and then sit down to write them all in one session. This doesn’t make for the most enjoyable working experience, so I tend to set a target in my diary for when I want all of a month’s content completed and scheduled, and then set aside time in my schedule to accommodate all that writing and editing.

 

4. Plan everything


Writing out the next three month’s content may seem like an actual nightmare, but I’ve found it really effective in deciding the direction of my writing. This helps to make my content more cohesive, as well as identify any current events that may determine what topics I cover.


Planning out the individual content is optional, and I have found it helpful in the past to bullet-point the elements I want to include. I took this approach during the summer as my time was limited due to my part-time job, and my brain was often not willing to do the thinking involved after a shift.


Mind mapping is a great way to get some ideas down, and then you can split them up into bite-sized chunks to write up as content. Blog word counts will vary, but something in the region on 800-1500 words is plenty enough to introduce, state your points, and then close.

 

5. Be accountable


Creating a website has lots of transferable skills, and it’s natural to want to improve your software skillset for employability purposes. As well as this, it can turn into a fantastic online portfolio that you can show to potential employers, so it’s well worth the time and investment while you’re at university. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and you can advertise your website as much or as little as you like.


On the same note, it’s important to be realistic as to whether you can spare the time, the motivation and the brainpower to running a website at university. Don’t commit anything financial to the project before you’ve had six months of building the site and creating consistent content, as lots of projects fail before they even get off the ground.


If you’re struggling to achieve what you intended, I’d suggest:


· Cutting down the frequency of your posting. Getting out content that is well-edited and of a decent length is more important than spamming your website with content to make it look “full”.


· Working on the look and functionality of your website first. Try and get to a place where you feel confident operating the site as a consumer, not a creator, but also commit some time each month to making small tweaks and updates, instead of tackling everything at once.


· Setting out clear aims for your content. I have a post on this issue which I’ll link to this one, but it’s important to have a clear grasp on what your website is for and what you will be discussing.


· Taking a break. If things really aren’t working, stepping away for a while might be your best bet. Trying out a new site to host your domain might make things easier, or deleting the whole thing and trying out new creative outlets are fine too.

 

Ultimately, the time commitment is worth it, and it’s definitely possible to run a website and create content while studying at university. Prior planning is key, but be sure to check out some of my posts that I wrote in the summer of 2021 for how to run a successful site.


Happy studying!