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
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
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.
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.
- Reach out to your peers, especially the ones who are currently making an impact in your area of interest.
- 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.
- 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.