A regular question I’m asked by bloggers at different stages of their blogging is how much time they should allocate to different aspects of blogging.
Should you spend more time writing blog posts, promoting the posts, networking, responding to readers, working on social media etc?
Answer this question is tricky as there are numerous factors to consider including the topic of your blog, the type of content you’re creating, the type of audience you’re wanting to attract, your own passions and style as a blogger and the stage of your blog (i.e. if it is new or more established).
I’ll share some suggested splits of time that I think are good starting points for how to use your time below but before I do I want to share the four main areas that I have allocated time to over the last 11 and a half years of blogging.
I cannot imagine being able to grow my blogs to the point that they are at today without any one of these areas.
Priority One – Creating Content
Without a doubt this has always been my number-one priority.
In the lead-up to launching a new blog this is something that I would often put almost 100% of my time into (although you do need to put some time and resources into getting the blog designed and hosted). Once the blog is launched I decrease this to include some of the other activities below, but later on it would never dip below 40-50% of my time and effort.
Without great content on your blog (whether it be written, video, audio, imagery or something else) you’ll never really be able to grow your blog. While it takes time to create quality content I see this time as an investment that has a long term impact upon my blogs. For example the posts I wrote when I first launched dPS have continued to generate traffic and income for years to come.
My focus over the years has always been upon producing ‘how-to’ style content but of course there are other styles of blogs too (entertainment, opinion, news, personal, etc).
Learn more about Creating Great Blog Content: How to Write Great Blog Content
Three Other Key Priorities
While creating content for my blogs is #1 in my mind in terms of where I allocate my time and resources, there are three other areas that have been absolute priorities for me over the last decade or so.
All are essential to me but depending upon the life stage of my blogs each have grown and shrunk in terms of where I’d rank them in importance (I’ll explain more on this below). So I’ll share them in no particular order and give them equal weight:
Having great content on your blog is great but unless you put effort into promoting that content it can often go unread. While later in the life cycle of a blog your readers can share your content for you in the early days it is largely up to you to grow your traffic – and this takes considerable work.
Once a blog is launched, this area becomes a fairly major focus for me.
For example when I launched Digital Photography School, I’d estimate that I spent about 40% of my time in the first few months promoting my content by engaging in forums, guest posting, networking with and pitching other bloggers, leaving comments on other blogs, engaging on social media and looking for mainstream media coverage.
I also spent a bit of time in this early phase thinking about optimising the site for search engines. I did more ‘on-page optimisation’ than building links – although some of the results of guest posting and networking of course did help with off page techniques too.
Learn More about Growing Traffic: How to Find Readers for Your Blog (recording of a 1.20 hour webinar in which I share everything I know on the topic).
Once traffic begins to grow on my blog, I begin to switch some of my time away from promoting into building community and engagement.
It is all well and good to drive ‘traffic’, but I find that a blog really begins to come alive when you have a more loyal and engaged readership.
I know some bloggers are less worried about this than others but I personally find that it is much more satisfying to have readers that come back again and again than just people who come once and never return. I also find this makes monetizing easier too (see below).
In the very early days of a blog there may not be too many readers to build community with so you might not dedicate too much time to this, but as readers grow there will be opportunity to build engagement. Responding to comments, emailing readers, creating more discussion-related content, engaging on social media, etc all can help in this area.
Learn More about Building Community on blogs:
- 9 Benefits [and 3 Costs] Of Building Community On Your Blog
- The 5 Stages of Building a Culture of Community on a Blog [A Case Study]
- 7 Strategies for Growing Community on Your Blog
Monetization and Business Development
Not all bloggers want to monetize their blogs and so this area may not be a priority for all, but after a year of blogging I realised it was something I had a passion for and needed to be able to monetize in order to be able to sustain.
There are, of course, many ways to monetise a blog (and I won’t go into specifics here), but one thing I have learned over the years is that monetization is not a passive thing when it comes to blogging.
If you want your blog to be profitable, you need to build the foundations mentioned above (content, traffic and community) but you also need to be intentional about building a business model and creating income streams.
You might get lucky and find a lucrative opportunity lands in your lap, but for most full-time bloggers I know, monetization is a long and slow journey that takes work.
When starting a new blog I am generally thinking about monetisation from day one – however, when it comes to where I put my time, it is usually not until I’ve been blogging for a year or two that I put a lot of effort into this area.
So when I started Digital Photography School, I spend the first two years putting 95% of my time into content, traffic and community. While I did have a few low-level ads and did do a few lower-level affiliate promotions in those first two years, it wasn’t my main focus.
Instead, I worked those first two years on building up my archives of content and building up readership and engagement. With that foundation in place I was ready to start monetizing much more effectively firstly by doing some bigger affiliate promotions of other people’s photography eBooks, and then by creating my own.
In 2009 – three years after launching dPS – I launched our first eBook and wrote about how it generated $72,000 in sales in a week. While some people read that post and then wrote about how I made a stack of money overnight, it is important to realise that it only happened based upon the three years of foundations already built.
Learn More about Monetizing Blogs: Recording of ‘Monetizing Blogs’ Webinar (1.2 hours of everything I know on the topic).
A Word About Maintenance/Tech
The area that I’ve not addressed in the above four foundations of profitable blogs is anything about the tech side of things.
Of course blogs need to be hosted, designed, and have their blog platforms maintained. For me, this has always been something that I have outsourced in different ways (with friends initially, later on through contracting the services of others and more recently through developing a team).
So for me this has not been something I’ve allocated a great deal of ‘time’ to – but rather have allocated resources/money to.
Having said that – it is still really important and not to be ignored!
Life Stages of a Blog and How to Spend Your Time
You can already see above how the life stage of your blog helps to determine how much time to spend upon different activities.
While there are other factors at play also in general, here’s what I’d recommend as a starting point (and I’ll talk in percentages rather than hours as I know not everyone is full time and many have limited time to blog):
Pre Launch of a New Blog
- 90% of your time on creating content
- 10% of your time on design, SEO and other technical aspects of getting the blog ready to launch
Of course you’ll probably want to have thought about how you might like to monetize and be thinking about how to build engagement on your blog – but in terms of implementing these there’s not a lot to do in the prelaunch phase.
Launch of a New Blog – 0-3 Months
Depending how much content you have ready to publish from your pre-launch work, you’ll need to keep creating content in the launch phase. It is really important that you have regular and high-quality content going up on your blog.
But at the same time you should be putting considerable time into promoting your posts and blog.
- 50% of your time on creating content
- 40-45% of your time on promoting your blog
- 5-10% of your time on building engagement with the few new readers that might come
This phase will vary a little depending upon how fast your blog grows and the opportunities that arise but in general I would think you’d be allocating more time to engaging with readers as you get more traffic.
You’ll also want to start being more intentional about monetizing (or at least getting ready to monetize) your blog. This might mean starting to reach out to and network with advertisers, or starting to create a product to sell.
- 50% of your time on creating content
- 25-30% of your time on promoting your blog
- 15-20% of your time on building community
- 5-10% of your time on monetization
It is hard to describe this stage, as blogs can look very different from one another in how they become profitable. Also at this point many bloggers begin to build teams or outsource different aspects of their blogging.
For example I now have a team of 5-6 people all working part time on my blogs, and also engage the services of 20 or so writers each month for dPS, so my own time is spent more on management and business development rather than upon the above activities.
Having said that, each of the people that work with me put their focus upon one or more of the above four areas and each is a key priority.