Editor’s note: The following is a fabulous guest post by Angelica Perez from New Latina.
Has the enthusiasm for blogging taken over your life? Does your attention drifts towards every email, Twitter or Facebook message that comes your way? Do you frequently track your traffic stats? Do comments left on your blog have the power to suddenly brighten your mood?
If this is you, you are not alone. In fact, this is often the normal course of blogging, especially in the beginning. The reality is that blogging is truly magical. Where else can you so easily express your thoughts, create an immediate response, connect to an audience, and put yourself out there?
But blogging can also quickly take over your life and your time. I know because I’ve been there. So, here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to simplify your blogging, be more productive and stress less:
1. Ask yourself a very important question: “Why do I blog?”
As a blogger, this might be the most crucial question you’ll need to answer for yourself. Notice that your goals might change over time. You may have started blogging for creative reasons or to share your story, but now you might want to monetize your blog. Whatever the reason, your ultimate goal has to be clear, right at this moment. So, why do you blog?
- To share your life and photos with family and friends?
- To self-express? A creative outlet?
- For professional reasons? To build an online portfolio or resume to showcase your unique ideas, vision or creativity?
- To generate an income from blogging? Is blogging a business for you?
- To build a platform for a particular cause or future business?
- To become a thought leader in a specified niche?
2. If your blog is a business, treat it like a business
If your goal is to generate an income, you must conduct your blogging the way you conduct any other business. Set concrete business goals for yourself. For example, ask yourself: “What kind of income do I envision generating within the next year?” If your income goal is XYZ within the next 12 months, you’ll need to figure out what exactly you need to do over the next 12 months to achieve that goal.
Learn some basic business concepts to help you understand how businesses operate. Many of us lack the business knowledge necessary to start a business and to successfully maintain it. Your job, as a business owner is to learn what it to takes to get your business to the next level. I have two resources to recommend. The first is one of the best business books I have ever read. It’s The Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki. I also like reading the The Personal MBA, an excellent blog that helps you master business concepts without having to take business courses.
Conceptualize the time you invest in blogging from an ROI (Return on Investment) perspective. How much return are you getting from the amount of time and effort you are investing on blogging activities? How much return do you get from spending 20 minutes re-tweeting on Twitter vs. writing a good post?
3. Capitalize Your Mornings
If the first thing you do upon waking up is reaching over for your smart phone and checking your email, you’re in trouble my friend. I know because I used to do that, and it got me in trouble.
Let me tell you a secret: Morning time completely defines the rest of your day. What you do in the morning will set the tone for the rest of the day, and will guide how the rest of the day unfolds. Therefore, it is imperative that you calculate and plan well your mornings. Here are some suggestions:
- Plan tomorrow the night before. If planning an entire day overwhelms you, then plan at least your mornings.
- Get up as early in the morning as possible. You’ll be surprised how much more you get done early in the morning.
- Do not check your emails the first 2 hours after waking. Shower, have breakfast, take your vitamins, regroup (mentally), exercise, take care of your kids/family obligations first, and then go to work (i.e., blog).
- Have your morning to do list handy or in your view, to keep you structured.
- If you begin to notice that you’re shifting away from your list of tasks, stop what you’re doing and get back on track.
4. Big Question: Which Blogging Activity is Taking Most of Your Time?
Successful blogging entails spending time doing a lot of activities. Here are some of them:
- Writing or content development
- Search Engine Optimization
- Reading other blogs (and commenting)
- Guest posting
- Learning the latest on blogging, social media, etc.
- Social networking: Facebook, Twitter and others.
- Connecting to other bloggers
- Responding to emails and other messages
- Monetization Projects (depending on your goals: reaching to brands; working on ad campaigns; writing e-books; developing and carrying out teleclasses/coaching programs/twitter parties, etc.)
- Blog design and tools updates
- Attending conferences, workshops, teleclasses/teleseminars, Twitter parties.
Ask yourself these questions: In which activities are you spending most of your blogging time? Which 3 activities are sucking up all of your time?
The one million dollar question (and you ought to answer that honestly to yourself):
Are these activities congruent with your overall blogging goals?
5. Spend at Least 80% of Your Blogging Time on your 3 Most Important Activities
Once your ultimate goal(s) for blogging are clear, choose which activities (above) will give you the best bang for your buck. In the business world, this is referred to as your best ROI (mentioned above). That is, which activity will generate the most outcome for the time you have to invest in it.
For example, if you know that: 1) writing good content; 2) guest posting; and 3) monetization are the 3 most important activities you need to spend time on, in order to achieve your ultimate goals, then you’ll need to spend at least 80% of your time on those activities.
If you have 4 hours per day to dedicate to your blog, at least 80% of that time should be invested on those 3 very important activities. This comes out to be 3 hours per day. The remaining hour can be used for all the other “supporting” activities.
6. Design a Weekly Blogging Calendar and Stick to It
Now that you know where you should invest your time, develop a weekly calendar and stick to you. I actually use a kitchen timer. If I have 45 minutes to work on a blog post, I set the timer and stop when the alarm rings. This does not mean I’m done with the post. It simply means that I’ve invested my time on that task for that day. I can always come back to it tomorrow, during the scheduled time for this activity.
7. Posts, emails, Twitter and Facebook messages can always wait. Important things in life cannot.
Don’t stress yourself because you didn’t post on Monday or Wednesday. Do you really believe your audience is anxiously waiting to see what your next post has to offer? Well, if that’s the case, you’ve done your work, and you have nothing to worry about.
But seriously, our off-line life is precious. Turn off your screen when your kids come over to ask you a question, or when your spouse wants to chat. Don’t obsess about the Tweeter messages you have not re-tweeted, or the Facebook wall messages you have not “liked.” Overall, your audience will love you and feel connected to you just because of who you are and what your blog offers. Teach your audience to respect your time and your life.
8. Save Time: Reach out to other bloggers and invite them to guest post.
I’m always scouting for bloggers that I can invite as guest bloggers. Why? For a whole bunch of reasons. First, I like my content to reflect different voices, stories and experiences. Second, having guest contributors helps develop community and generate traffic. And third, it frees precious time from my schedule. Writing takes a lot of time, so why not use that time on another activity that will give you a better ROI?
Remember: Simplicity, structure and clear goals can take you from being a scattered, stressed-out blogger, to a smooth-cruising, happy and productive one. Start with one step at a time, and don’t mind the turtle steps.