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How to Leverage the 80/20 Rule for Blogging Success

Posted By Jerry Low 6th of October 2016 Be Productive 0 Comments

This is a guest contribution from ProBlogger expert Jerry Low.

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule – it was recognized as a concept more than a century ago. In modern times, the rule has been used to achieve a broad range of objectives, from economics to business management to better relationships to weight loss. If you apply the principle to blogging, you could improve your efficiency and maximize your efforts.

A Little History

The 80/20 rule is officially known as the Pareto principle.

The Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, identified it near the end of the 19th century. His original observation was that, in his garden, 80% of the peas could be found in 20% of the pods. This seed of a thought grew into a theory he presented while at university: The theory being that 20% of the people in Italy owned 80% of its land. This concept was later dubbed the Pareto Principle by Joesph M. Juran, a management consultant. In terms of business, the principle has long been used to convey the message that 80% of sales typically come from 20% of the customers.

80/20 in Today’s Life

How to leverage the 80/20 rule: ProBlogger

Image credit: Live the 80/20 rule

Microsoft Programming Bugs

In 2002, then-CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer announced that the 80/20 rule was not only applicable to the company’s product features – it applied to bugs, as well. This was in reference to a recent discovery that 80% of crashes and errors in Microsoft software could be attributed to 20% of the detected bugs.

United States Medical Care

The United States integrated the 80/20 rule in its Affordable Care Act that changed the way Americans as a whole accessed health care. In 2011, the U.S. government adopted the 80/20 principle to require health insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the premium dollars collected on medical care to improve the quality of health care. This usage of the rule was called the Medical Loss Ratio.

Nigeria Income Imbalance

Since Pareto introduced it in 1896, the 80/20 rule has historically been applied to describe the average ratio of wealth distribution in any given country – the rule essentially may be used to illustrate how wealth is dispersed across the globe. While the rule is often applied in less than exact terms, it was an entirely accurate description of Nigeria’s income imbalance as recently as June 2016.

Implementing 80/20 principle for success

How to leverage the 80/20 rule for successful blogging | problogger

You will find a slew of success stories online related to the 80/20 rule being applied to fitness by celebrities. Former Spice Girl Mel C. has credited the concept for aiding her in her struggle against bulimia. By finding a healthy balance between paying attention to her food intake during the week and being less rigid about watching it on weekends, she no longer feels enslaved to dieting (and she’s healthier because of it).

Time Management in Business

Entrepreneur contributor Perry Marshall discusses the possibilities afforded by the principle in terms of not wasting time – and he asserts that the rule may be utilized to succeed in all aspects of business. If you are a business owner, for example: Instead of spending countless hours tackling the tedious jobs that consume a huge portion of your time (let’s say, oh, about 80%), you can hire people to perform those tasks for you – leaving your time available for the 20% of the jobs that really need your attention; thus, you would perform more efficiently overall and likely yield more profits for your business.

Applying the 80/20 to Blogging

Can you apply the 80/20 rule to your blogging efforts and become a better blogger?


The principle can easily be adopted as a tool for bloggers and marketers. In fact – if you apply the concept to your blogging and marketing, you may find that you are able to work smarter instead of harder more often.

Fact: Marketing > Content

First things first: What’s the “20%” in blogging?

My answer: Marketing.

Sander Biehn revealed that he spends approximately three hours each week producing new blog content. He spends four times as many hours promoting his content (including both new and old writings). Sujan Patel says “Spend less time creating and more time promoting.”

I agree with both of them. A piece of epic content is worth virtually nothing when no one is reading it. Whatever goal you set for your blog (be it to make more money or to improve the lives of others), your blog needs visitors to thrive.

1. Focus on the 20%

In short, double up on what’s already working well with your blog.

Look into your web analytics. Watch your web traffic closely and focus on the top 20%.

Which sources are the top 20% of traffic on your blog? Can you invest more money and effort into satisfying them? Which posts constitute the top 20% of your best performing content? Can you improve on those and get even more from your content?

Real life example #1: Pat Flynn’s About Page Hack

By looking carefully at his Google Analytics, Pat Flynn noticed that his About Page was one of the most viewed pieces of content on his blog. He added an opt-in form to the page and experienced a 446% increase in opt-in conversion.

Real life example #2: WHSR Blog

When I realized how well merging other topics with the blogging niche works (in late 2014), I quickly aligned my content strategy at WHSR and had my writers create similar articles (merging different topics with blogging and web marketing) at least once per month.

This became one of the main growth factors in our blog section and we see more than 120% y-o-y growth in 2015.

How to leverage the 80/20 rule for successful blogging | problogger

2. Network with the Right People

Find the top 20% of influencers in your industry and the top followers in your social media network.

Are you connecting well with them? If not, here are some quick steps you can take.

  1. Reach out to your peers, especially the ones who are currently making an impact in your area of interest.
  2. Enter keywords related to your field in the search bars of various social media platforms and forums, including YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Quora, and Medium.
  3. See who the influencers are, and make use of tools (such as Kred, PeerIndex, and Klout) that apply metrics to determine top influencers.

How to connect with influencers in your niche?

Once you’ve established who the major influencers are, extend invitations to interview them on your blog. Most people are happy to gain as much exposure for their brand as possible. Blog interviews enable them to discuss the topics their followers want to know about, so don’t be intimidated by the thought of asking them to appear on your blog.

Interview other bloggers and ask them specifically about their experiences. Prompt them to discuss their successes and failures, and raise the topic of the 80/20 rule. Find out whether they’ve tried applying the principle to their blogging and marketing activities, and ask them to explain in detail how that worked (or didn’t work). Invite them to provide actionable tips on how other bloggers might also adopt the principle for success.

Offer to guest blog on other sites, and ask others to write guest posts for your website. This is a great way to apply the 80/20 rule – by allowing others to do some of the writing for your blog, you are freeing yourself to work on the 20% of matters that urgently need your attention.

What About Content?

As I said before, marketing is the most crucial aspect of blogging. Amazing content is not worth much if no one reads it. However, this doesn’t mean we should neglect the quality of our blog content.

Bear in mind that good content is the key for a blog to be successful in long run (to build return visitors and loyal readership). Great content should be part of your marketing game plan.

1. Focus on the Right Audience

Ask yourself who the top 20% of your audience is that you wish to reach.

Build your blog persona to match your audience.

Understand your target audience, and build content that meets their needs.

2. Outsource Your Content When Necessary

If writing isn’t your specialty (or you don’t have time to write the content), you can hire ghostwriters to create it for you.

Using a ghostwriter doesn’t mean that you should ignore the content. It’s always a good practice to work closely with your ghostwriters in order to produce something useful for your audience. It’s your blog, after all – you know your audience better than a ghostwriter will.

I generally have ghostwriters turn my ideas into finished articles for me.

You can also hire professional writers for your blog. Offer them a byline and let them provide links to their sites.

What the Pareto Principle Is Not

Now that you know what the 80/20 rule is and how it may apply to a variety of circumstances, you should also realize that the principle is not something that must be adapted to every scenario.

Once you begin exploring the brilliant simplicity of the Pareto principle, you may find yourself applying it to many aspects of your life. That isn’t a bad idea, but try to keep a broader perspective. If you attempt to make the rule fit every pattern and issue in your personal life and career, you will probably be disappointed. The principle is not an exact science; rather, it is a general rule that can be used as an incredibly helpful tool when rethinking various strategies for success.

Pareto’s principle has always been a solid one, and innumerable people and organizations have adopted it as a tool. As a blogger, you may apply the 80/20 rule to effectively advance your brand. However, you will need to strike an appropriate balance between tailoring your content to interest different people and creating blog posts that resonate with your primary audience (the 20% who are keeping you in business). Always remember to use your discretion when applying the rule to your writings and promotional activities – the concept is a tool, and only you can determine how to use it to your greatest advantage.

About Jerry Low
Jerry Low – geek dad, SEO junkie, founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Connect with him on Twitter or find out more about him at his personal blog The Real Jerry Low.
  1. Hey Jerry,

    Whether you’re running an online business or offline. The 80/20 rule would do the job. In blogging, the promotion of the content is needed than just creating it.

    You can hire someone to take care of your blog but when it comes to connect with bloggers, you have to do it your own.

    I prefer 20% as the creation of the content and rest is the promotion.


  2. Hey,

    The 80/20 rule sounds like a statistic and in some ways it is. Personally I’m a big fan of maths and beyond basic web statistics like pageviews, impressions, unique visitors and when I stretch myself conversion rates and split testing, I try and avoid all complex numbers. I work better with feelings, ideas and concepts.

    The good thing about the 80/20 rule is that you don’t have to understand statistics to be a believer. Yes it has foundations in economics and yes, it was proven using statistical analysis by a man named Pareto, but it is not meant to be understood only by economics professors. Thanks for your support.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  3. Today, I opened pro bloggers with hope. I wasted all my day writing one post & then comes 8020 Pareto rule. I am going t read it again & again.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • Same happens here as well Ritu. Due to my time limitations I publish my article once a week only and slowly promote through comments only during the week.

      I don’t know with this pace where I will be heading. But yes, writing article does take research and time.

      And if you have a lot of time then yes this 80/20 rule can be applied easily.

  4. Great tips. But I will split the product creation into two categories 1. Brainstorming and planning, actual creation. Outsource the actual creation. Of course you have to mange it.

  5. Hey Jerry

    I am grateful for helping me decide for my site because of your column here. I am trying to add a blog page on my website, but a little hesitant in my part due to some areas specially when working out on attracting readers for my blog and my time to update it.

    Thank you so much and I will share this post on my twitter account. Though I am not in product creation but I am into providing services online. I could surely use this how-to guide and maybe add some insights based on my own experience.


  6. Hey Jerry,

    Long are the days when you could publish low quality articles and build a long-term business.

    Content promotion is the new normal as you said. Networking with influencers also make newbies sprout really first.


  7. Thanks for this article on the rule of Vilfredo Pareto.
    I got a few golden nuggets here especially the one about the Flyn Pat example talking about the the about us page and using the stats from google analytics to have more opt-ins.

    One other thing is to only focus on 20% of my market to find the perfect buyer persona and don’t spend money on ads for the rest.


  8. Nice job for sharing this article. I never thought that this principle exist. Whenever I am investing for something I always going all out and not considering another elements. This principle, through this blog, looks interesting and efficient. I will definitely apply this principle.

  9. The good thing about the 80/20 rule is that you don’t have to understand statistics to be a believer. Yes it has foundations in economics and yes, it was proven using statistical analysis by a man named Pareto, but it is not meant to be understood only by economics professors. Thanks for your support.

  10. Jude Crump says: 11/01/2016 at 6:18 am

    It’s interesting that all the responses showing up (in this moment I am reading it) are positive ones from men. I think that men (and most only children) have a leg up on this concept. Perhaps more women should pay attention…as difficult as it is to go against our early programming. We need to spend more time learning how to blow our own horns. (sorry for the cliches.) But if you are saying spend 80% of your time marketing and 20% creating content, that is still a troublesome concept.

  11. I’m new to blogging, in fact i’m still collecting information about do’s and don’ts. Not really sure how i came across this wonderful article , i now have some more insight on what i need to look into. I thought just writing a blog was enough, lol.

  12. Kind of interesting in that I was just having a conversation with one of my company’s vendors about this today. In the same vein, we talked about how 20 percent of our clients will take up 80 percent of our time, and 80 percent of our clients will take up 20 percent of our time. The clients that take up most of our time will usually have the most important tasks that need accomplishing, while the clients that take up the least time only need trivial, quick tasks to be performed on a monthly basis.

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