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(Another) Day in the life of a ProBlogger

Posted By Darren Rowse 10th of February 2006 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

Pro-BloggingSince writing my last day in the life of a ProBlogger post my daily rhythm has changed a bit since I wrote it in November 2004 (and updated it in April 2005). As a result I thought I’d describe my daily workflow again.

It’s worth noting that this is a fairly ‘typical’ day, not so much because I follow this same set routine every day as it’s set out here, but because I generally do most of what I describe here on an average day (in addition to many other things that pop up as I wander through this crazy life of mine).

7.15am – V’s alarm goes off, she gets up and gets ready for work. I fall back to sleep (ok, some things haven’t changed – except that I’ve trained her not to hit snooze. Plus we now have a bigger bathroom so the hairdrying happens there meaning extra sleep for me!).

8.15am – V wakes me up and I drag myself from bed, get dressed and drive her to the train station. On the way home I grab a large takeaway latte from a local cafe.

8.30am – I return home, latte in hand and sit down at my PowerMac to begin my day’s blogging activities (I often grab a bowl of muesli to keep me going also). The morning generally looks like this:

8.31am – Check Email (I use Entourage at present) from the night . There are usually around 300 – 400 emails in my inbox from the previous night, including comments from blogs for moderation and a small handful of spam. The rest are largely emails from readers. I deal with my email in a Triage-like method as outlined here.

9.15am – I’m rarely fully finished checking email by this time (in fact the emails come in all day so it’s a day long task) but sometime towards the end of clearing the inbox I begin the task of seeing what is going on in my virtual world. I look at this process as like doing my rounds and it involves opening my ‘start up Folder’.

Start Up Folder – in Firefox I have a folder of bookmarks called ‘Start Up’ which contains about 40 web pages that give me a very quick overview of how my online business is going at any point in time. I open this folder in tabbed browsing all at once and quickly flick through each page (not spending too long in any one place). My Start Up folder contains:

  • Blog Stats – I have a sitemeter stats package running on each of my blogs – each of which is opened at the summary page in the Start Up folder. This gives me all the vital signs for each blog including it’s total visitors and page views for the day so far and the last hour’s figures. In most blogs that’s all I want to know at this point. I know approximately what is ‘normal’ for each blog so it’s only when I see something abnormal that I investigate further. ie if I see the last hour has seen more than normal activity I’ll check out where the visitors are coming from and what the entry pages are that they are looking for.
  • Earnings Stats – I have quite a few income streams running on my blogs, many of which don’t earn much per day, so I only have the larger income earners in my start up process. These are AdSense, Chitika, Amazon, ClickBank, Fastclick and a couple of other affiliate programs. As with blog stats I know what is ‘normal’ and don’t spend long analyzing these figures unless something it wrong…. or very right.
  • Other Stats – I have an assortment of other metrics programs that I take a glance at in this process. These include a number of watch-lists at Technorati, BlogPulse and MyBlogLog. It also includes Digital Point’s Keyword Tracker, My Feedburner RSS stats and Google Analytics (which is in my start up folder but probably shouldn’t be because I’m not using it much these days as it takes too long to check).
  • b5media – I also have a growing list of b5media links in the start up folder including some stats pages, earnings pages and our internal communications blog.
  • Bloglines – The last thing in my Start Up folder is Bloglines which is not really part of the starting up process but leads onto the next part of my day.

My Start Up Folder process usually takes 15 or so minutes (unless there is something abnormal to follow up on.

10.00am – Most days i pause at this time for a shower, coffee and to check on my vegetable patch.

10.30pm – Now begins a task that lasts most of the rest of the day and which revolves around two tools, Bloglines and ecto. This task is a little thing I like to call ‘Blogging’.

I have my Bloglines arranged into folders that line up pretty closely with my blogs. You’ll see in the screen cap one called ‘photography’ which contains a number of sources that I track daily for my digital camera blog. Under it is my ‘Blogging’ folder which is full of sources for ProBlogger. The ‘A List’ is my Problogging must reads which I have in a separate folder because they reliably break news that I want to be aware of extra quick. My folder lists are about 30 in number and I track just over 500 feeds in total.

These 500+ feeds are on a variety of topics obviously but are also of a variety of types. Most are feeds from blogs, but others are from Google News, Topix, News Papers etc.

I also watch a number of Bloglines keyword searches that correspond with keywords that I want to be aware of others writing on the topic of.

My process for working through Bloglines is pretty simple. I tackle it one folder at a time. I open a folder and then click feeds with unread items one at a time (i.e. some of my folders are watching 100+ feeds so I don’t want to open the whole folder at once – I am for bite sized tasks that I can knock off one at a time).

As I open feeds I scroll through them pretty quickly looking for items that might be useful. If I find one I do one of two things.

  1. If it looks like I can deal with it quickly I open the item in a new tab of firefox.
  2. If it is just a ‘maybe later’ type item I tick the ‘Keep New’ box in Bloglines to remind me of it for later.

In the majority of cases I open items straight away in a new tab.

I generally wait for at least 5 or so tabs to be open (or try to get to the end of a folder if it’s a smaller one) before I begin the process of sorting through them. If it’s an item that I can use I generally blog about it then and there.

My posts are generally fairly short and I can knock them off pretty quickly using ecto which means I don’t actually have to log into the back end of my blogs to post a new story but can post to all of my blogs from the one tool. If the item turns out to be something I can’t use I close the tab.


If the item is something I want to write about but it’s a longer piece that will interrupt my workflow I generally write a few notes in ecto and include a link to the site and post it to my blogs as a draft for me to come to later in the day when I write my longer posts.

Once I’ve dealt with a folder I move onto the next one.

Some folders I work through every day (or several time per day) because they are blogs that I have a higher posting frequency to – whereas other folders I will only clear every day or three (as a result they are less frequently updated blogs).

As I say – this process generally lasts all day (as does that of checking email).

Vanity-1The only folder that I have that is not specifically tied to one of my blogs is my ‘Vanity Folder‘. This folder contains a number feeds that are specifically watching for mentions in blogs and other news sources that use keywords that are pertinent to me. ie if someone is talking about me or one of my blogs/ventures it helps me know about it. These feeds are largely bloglines keyword searches but include a technorati watch-list or two also.

12.30pm – the theory is that at around this time I have lunch. The practice is that you can probably safely assume that most days I don’t notice I’m hungry until 2.30pm.

Usually at about lunch time I’ll open my Instant Messaging clients (Skype and Adium (Adium is a client that manages multiple clients like MSN, AIM, Yahoo and Google Talk). I am not on IM as much these days simply because I found it interrupted my workflow too much. At it’s height I was getting well over 10 IM message conversation initiations per hour (and getting very little done).

1.00pm – The afternoon routine tends to be a mixture of:

  • Email (see above)
  • Bloglines Blogging (see above)
  • b5media – our little blog network now has 80 or so blogs in it. As you would expect – this means a lot of work. While our team of bloggers help out with the load there is a lot of work to be done. I try to review a blog each day and give feedback to bloggers, interact with channel editors and bloggers, help out where I can with admin, add to the conversation on the internal communications blog and interact all day with the other directors.
  • Networking – I attempt to connect with other bloggers each day. This isn’t hard with the levels of bloggers pinging me via IM but I also attempt to seek out other bloggers who I am wanting to develop working relationships with. Some of these I am working on joint projects with, others we have more of an informal/supportive/peer coaching relationship with and others I’m trying to learn as much as I can off. I do a lot of my networking via IM, VOIP (skype) and email. Occasionally it even heads into real life when people are in Melbourne. Every week or so I catch up with other local bloggers for coffee (it’s nice to actually have face to face conversations with people when you do so much in a virtual space).

1.00pm – Alternate 1 – There is another type of afternoon that I do from time to time (often on Mondays when the rest of the world is still having it’s Sunday and there are less emails and IMs). On these days I take my laptop and head to a local cafe to attempt to clear my email inbox or do some writing on projects I’ve been putting off.

I really enjoy these times of being offline (I go to a cafe with no WiFi) and find I am often very productive (it could be the coffee).

1.00pm – Alternate 2 – There is one last type of afternoon that I find myself doing which revolves around consulting. From time to time I am approached by companies or individuals who want to engage my services in some consulting work (generally blogging related). In most cases these are not consulting on specific blogs (I unfortunately have to say no these days to most requests along the lines of ‘can you look over my blog’ due to time constraints) and are more along the lines of helping companies think about strategy as they develop products. These have included some interaction with a few Web 2.0 type companies and others (big and small) who are developing products and services for bloggers. I don’t get into the technical side of consulting but rather it’s more around conceptual/vision/features etc. To this point I’ve not written about these interactions here at ProBlogger due to NDAs. All I will say is that there are some very creative people out there who are developing some great products. I enjoy this work and am finding the requests are coming a little more frequently. It’s definitely another income stream for bloggers who build a profile in their industry.

Sleep3.30pm – Break Time. My worst time of the day for thinking clearly about anything at all is mid afternoon and so unless I’m very busy I tend to take this time off. I put my computer to sleep and generally either have a sleep myself, do some gardening, get out with my camera and do some photography, take a walk or catch up with a friend.

5.00pm – I like at this time to do a bit of a check up on how the blogs are going and generally use my start up folder again. Once again it’s brief.

Also at this time I often do some less hands on work (ie not actual blogging – but planning or reviewing). I often brainstorm new original posts for ProBlogger at this time or look over one or more of my blogs to see how they are going with SEO etc.

6.00pm – V calls to let me know she’s almost at the train station and I need to go pick her up. For the next few hours I rarely blog or am online. Occasionally if we’re just watching TV I’ll pull out my laptop and do a little surfing around at this time of the day, perhaps clear a small bloglines folder or two – but generally this is a time I stay away from blogging.

9.00pm til Late – V generally heads to bed (pregnant women do tend to like to sleep a lot I’m told) and I generally settle in for my ‘night shift’ as I like to think of it.

Night times for me resemble day times in that I do the normal tasks, but they are also a time that I write a lot of my original content, especially for ProBlogger. I like to have a a longer post ready to publish on ProBlogger by the time I head to bed (usually 1am-ish) and it’s usually in the evenings that I put these posts together.

The reason I like to publish this last post for the day is because I like it to to go live on the blog around the time that my North American readers are getting up and to the office. While I don’t generally pander to any one group of readers I do this because North America is where most of my traffic comes from and yet when they are up is when I’m generally asleep. During my day time I generally post throughout the day so to have post set to go off while I sleep makes sense (in my mind at least).

Also in the evenings I often write non blogging material. For instance when I was running the six figure blogging course the evenings were for preparing for this. Other writing can include answering questions for email interviews that people do with me.

Lastly, late at night is also a time when I can connect with other bloggers via IM as they wake up in their part of the world. One has to make the most of those windows of opportunity to connect when we’re all awake.

1.00am – I generally do a last quick check of the stats of my key blogs just to make sure everything is running smoothly and head to bed. Most nights by this stage I’ve cleared the majority of emails and quite a bit of my bloglines. Of course when it all begins again in a few hours time the inbox is full and there are a few thousand unread items in bloglines!

I generally sleep VERY well. I go to bed tired and sleep deeply.

Weekends – these days I blog a lot less than I used to on weekends. I do tend to find an hour or two here and there but it’s mainly monitoring and brief posts.

Occasionally if I find myself with an hour or two to spare on the weekend I like to do some outside the box, creative work (dreaming up a Meme, thinking up a new blog topic etc). I also occasionally get a good idea for a series of posts while I’m out and about on the weekend and generally write it in my notebook (usually with me) to be acted upon later.

A few final reflections:

The above sounds a lot more structured and well thought out than the reality is. While I generally do cover most of the things I’ve mentioned above in a day, the reality is that my days are often very unstructured and somewhat chaotic.

That is partly my personality type (I’m a fairly flexible and relaxed person) but also partly the nature of the job where often stories break unexpectedly or situations arise that need to be dealt with quickly.

The other thing that is worth mentioning is that every day is different from every other day. I’m amazed by the variety of opportunities that arise to break up this routine. For example earlier in the week I was interviewed by a writer (face to face) who is writing a book on media, a couple of weeks ago I took the day off and went to the Australian Open tennis, yesterday I was asked to speak at a conference on blogging and tomorrow I’m helping a friend set up a blog. Sometimes the unexpected happens and other days I go seeking it – attempting to break up the routine (I need variety).

Some of you will have read this and will be going out of your minds with the idea of spending most of the day alone with a computer. I’m very aware that this daily rhythm is not for everyone’s personality type. I have studied personality types quite a bit and know that I’m an introvert (I get energy from being alone). As a result this style of work is ideal for me. I do get time with others (virtual and real) but a lot of my time is alone, working at my own pace. I go out of my way to balance this with as much real life interactions with people as I can outside of blogging hours (weekends and evenings). I’m also involved in the running of a small church which fills in the gaps during the days and evenings and puts me in face to face relationships each day which is great also.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Are you planning to keep that pace up when you have a kid? :p

  • I think you broke the record for the longest post ever. I figured you pretty much stay busy during the days, but now we know how busy.

    By the way, what the hell is muesli? A cereal?


  • Wow. V works late!

  • Well, I think you inadvertently typed out why blogging is very attractive to some of us. I find myself having structure and a good work ethic — it just doesn’t fit in well into a 9 to 5 day. I can/could be much more productive if I were able to work at home, perhaps being on task for 9 to 10 hours a day, as opposed to the 5 or 6 hours I am in an office environment.

  • PS. nice picture of the keys tattooed to the face, you ever woken up with QWERTY on your forehead?

  • Ben

    Yes, muesli is a cereal. It’s a type of oaty, raiseny nutty type. It quite resembles rabbit food but is in fact very nice.

  • It will definitely be interesting to see how your routine evolves once the baby arrives. Personally, I found that it was the interrupted sleep that go to me over the first few months… it’s much worse than lack of sleep, which all of us geeks computer types can handle anyhow.

  • Me:

    7:00 a.m. – Get up and start blogging.
    sometime in between – go to the gym, maybe a store, misc stuff in between writing
    6:00 p.m. – Stop worrying about blogging

  • Hah I have no idea why I sat and read this all. Very interesting schedule, Darren. I aspire to have one similar to it soon (once this ‘school’ thing is out of the way).

  • What? A wife of six figure blogger is still working? Should just stay at home: do some gardening and smell the roses :)

  • Thanks Darren for sharing what you do in a day. It makes it seem a little more “normal”, what we bloggers do during our days/spare time :)


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  • I was going to ask similar question like Peter.
    Darren–I have similar schedule like yours, but when you have a baby, it will change. Not saying that it will affect the whole thing, but will have to readjust.

    I run a website for my country which takes most of my time managing everything, and also work on my blog, watch the baby at home, and also do my profesional work.

    But its also fun to have a baby around when you work. You will not be alone working.

  • Luxuryhousingtrends

    Wow, I don’t work nearly that hard. I spend about an hour a day on my blogs, so I guess I won’t complain that I only make 4-5k a month. :P I suppose I could work more, but what I love about this “job” is that it gives me time to pursue my real dream, which is being a novelist. I’ve written two novels since the beginning of last summer, and I’m working on final drafts now, so I can send them out to agents. I also take karate, ski two-three times a week (midweek–no lines rock!) in the winter, then hike, bike, and inline skate in the summer… among other things. I don’t know too many working folks who have that kind of time. Gotta love it. ;)

  • Yeesh. 1 hour a day for 5k a month – and all the time for life’s finer activities. You’re right, I doubt there are many working folk that have that opportunity, including me. One can dream though…


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  • I think you are all right about the baby changing this. I’ll be interested to see what next year’s ‘a day in the life of a problogger’ looks like :-)

    The advantage we’ve got is that V’s a morning person and that I’m a night person in our routines so we might be able to work that to our advantage a little. Having said that I know my life is about to be turned upside down :-)

  • I like the idea of startup-bookmarks. I will create one for me too. Thanks Darren

  • JLT

    Life will go on. Work is work. Baby or not. We will all still be able to survive because we will be able to read

  • Darren. You are such a geek, look at that photo. LOL!! Just kidding, i’m pretty envious that you get to work like that and i’m struggling to make my web design business work, along with my skating lessons business. I’ll be sitting in a cafe with my laptop blogging like that someday.

  • yes – I’m a complete geek.

    Actually – that photo is a year or so old now (the only thing that ‘s changed though is the computer).

    I do feel very lucky to be able to do what I do. Stick at it Emacle – you’ll get there!

  • Darren, thanks for calming my fears that my blogging efforts were not structured enough – after reading about your common routines, I feel confident that the way I’m doing things is more or less normal. I’m a college student with a wife and baby, and our daily routines often prevent me from being at a computer for more than a couple of hours at a time. So I think about blogging whenever I can and try to maximize my effectiveness when I’m at the computer.

    I learned a lot and took some good notes on this post. Thank you for being an excellent teacher and trailblazer for the rest of us.

  • Why didn’t I think of using startup bookmarks. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

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  • I thought you had a more relaxed life. Anyway its always a pleasure to have a job you enjoy. And the returns are well deserved.

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  • Great post Darren, and it shows just how much effort is involved in getting blogs on track and earning income.

    Like most people have picked up on, the fact that you will have a baby in the house soon will affect the way you work, the impact will have plus points as well as a more negative effect on your scheduling, but I’m sure you will figure it out.

    In the first few months of having a baby in the house, you’ll probably find that you can juggle your blogging with downtime to enjoy with your family. As the baby grows, there are more demands on your time during the day, and assuming you are going to follow a ‘routine-is-best’ type environment then post 7:30pm/8:00pm is when the bulk of your free time arrives. Of course, if ‘V’ is going to be at home looking after baby, that cafe with wi-fi will become attractive at times!! :D

  • I used to have a “vanity” folder too – except nobody was talking about me and it started to get annoying seeing NOTHING every morning .. I wonder if yours gets overloaded at the max 200 posts :)

    It was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing your day. I liked reading your 3:30pm slot – even us non-pro-bloggers working at home, and SOHO types need R&R and it’s not a bad idea to just schedule it and force that! Mine is the noon-2pm slot – at the Y for a swim, treadmill and shoot a few hoops. On Mondays I plan to do that every day during the week, but on Fridays I am just thankful if I make 2 visits a week. It’s my busy season now. Naturally, spouse and pets takes care of the R&R on the weekend.

  • Pretty busy day you have. But no wonder, blogging takes time. I blog as hobby, and it fills out most of my free time. Many poeple believe that blogging is just relexing job for lazy people. they would be suprised!

  • John

    you suck you have told every one everything a now the big sites are moving in kicking the litle guys out of top spots

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  • Joe

    Hey Darren,

    9:30 til 9:48 read Darren’s post on a day in the life of a ProBlogger (including comments)


  • Wow. That looks like a detailed blueprint for success.

    Gave me some good ideas.

  • Actually the idea that you use Darren of having a startup folder is great. I use Maxthon which is an alternate front end for Internet Explorer and this offers tabbed browsing much like Firefox.

    The way that I use the tabbed browsers is that I have a news folder, a blogging folder and internet marketing folder and more like that. So when I get up I just open up Maxthon and open the folder for affiliate marketing and this way I can log onto amazon, Clickbank, Adsense, AdWords and Chitika all in tabs and when done close them all at once.

    The advantage of this system to me is that I can focus on one part of the business at a time and then move on without getting hung up on that topic.

    I have never used bloglines but instead post out of SharpReader or RSS Bandit directly to movable type using the quickpost right click thingy.

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  • I enjoyed this, Darren. It has its good and bad points vs. a regular 9-to-5 job. You have flexibility and are your own boss, but it’s truly a 24-hour job and your worries/work don’t end strictly at 5-6 PM like at a regular job.

    The other thing is while newsfeeds are wonderful, it’s sounding more like a chore than anything. I think we may be unintentionally cluttering up our lives by having so many sources and things to keep track of. At some point, you have to ask if it’s worth the trouble. :) But this is coming from someone with ~70 feeds, a large content site, and forum.

    Do you ever get to a gym or workout? I need to discipline myself more to do that. I find it makes you sleep better and also rejuvenates you for the rest of the day. Also, it can give you time to think about new ideas and can be a crucial moment of thought and reflection. Cheers, Darren.

  • IHi Darren,

    Your day seems to be very well ordered and structured even if you don’t always stick to the plan. Although this may not be recommended for people who are stuck in a 9 to 5 mentality. The life of a pro blogger or full time marketer can be a 20 hour day and one which you hit extreme highs as well as the lowest lows all in a days work.


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  • Suz

    I think it would be great to hear a version of your day now that you have a little one around. Working from home while maintaining a relationship, spouse, kids etc is something I’m sure a lot of people struggle with.

  • Darren,
    My first entry I apologize mis-pronouncing your name Darren and listing it as Darrell. Something I myself dislike very much when it happens to me. I am reading both of your blog entries on the same day so I hope you will forgive me. Congradulations on having a little one around. I think it’s why we do what we do. Family is everything.

    When everything looks the bleakest family can really lift your spirits well worth the effort and time. Being an at home Dad also I would imagine helps V with having to go to work even if she loves her job. It’s nice to have one parent at home. It’s great to hear how successful it is. Just can’t thank enough for all you do with problogger content.

    Thanks again,