Author Blogging 101: Finding Time for Blogging

by Joel Friedlander on May 7, 2012 · 32 comments

Post image for Author Blogging 101: Finding Time for Blogging

The faces looking at me were excited but a little concerned.

I had just finished a presentation on how blogging can be an amazing weapon in your book marketing arsenal, the remarkable effects you can achieve by just investing your time and almost no money.

It was question-and-answer time, and the first question showed where that concern was coming from:

“But Joel, how do you find the time to do all that blogging, commenting, networking and all the other stuff you just told us about?”

Good question. And one we all need to find an answer for.

Let’s break it down.

Tips for Not Going Insane Keeping Up With Your Blog

Keep in mind that you might be hearing about or reading about a lot of these tasks at once, but you don’t have to do them all at once.

If we list all the things we do in a day, it can quickly become pretty overwhelming, even to us!

But realistically, many of these tasks take very little time in themselves.

For instance, checking out a couple of forums to see if there are any posts or questions relating to your topic of interest only takes a few minutes, and leaving a comment only a few more.

You can easily do this task in about 10 minutes a day, and if that’s too much time, you can do it every other day.

The key is how you organize it, just like with your other work. Try this approach to control how much time this takes:

  1. Identify the discussion threads within the forum that are most appropriate.
  2. Create a shortcut or link to those specific discussion threads and bypass the others.
  3. Learn how to “scan” the posts to see if there’s anything relevant. Scanning takes seconds. Reading through the posts and all the replies can drop you down the rabbit hole, and you might not reappear for half an hour or more.

These same tips apply to blog commenting, which can take up a huge amount of time if you’re not careful. Just reading through the responses on some popular blogs can take quite a long time.

In fact, if you run into blog posts with dozens (or hundreds) of comments, you might want to just skip them. Here’s why: The idea behind blog commenting as a marketing tool for your own blog is to

  1. Find other readers interested in your topic and,
  2. Get on the radar of the blogger.

Both of these goals are a lot harder to achieve if you’re competing with 50 or 100 other commenters. Wait for an article with fewer comments, or where you can be one of the first 10 or 12 commenters and you’ll be using your time more wisely.

Blogger, Is Thy Name Multitasker?

I’m not a big fan of multitasking, since I find that trying to do more than one thing at a time results in confusion and lowers the quality of whatever I’m doing.

This may not be true for you, but we each have to find the work style that works best for us. In my studio that means that I assign times to work on one specific task, and I try very hard to make sure that time isn’t interrupted by other tasks, phone calls, or my own imagination.

I’ve also gotten better results when I have a specific goal for that work. For instance, if I’m laying out a book, I might assign time to create all the master pages and styles. Then I’m going to stay with that task until it’s completely finished. This one practice has made me much more productive.

The Content Chop Shop

Here’s another tip that will help you handle the writing for your blog.

Set aside some time, like on a weekend, when you can explore a subject more fully.

Pick a subject that’s got a lot of elements or connections to it. For instance, an overview of a process works well because most processes link to other processes, making the subject easy to expand.

The idea here is to have the time to really explore many facets of a subject. Just keep writing and don’t worry about how long it is. Go down every path that has something to offer.

When you’re finally finished, make the resulting piece into a series of two, three or more blog posts. Add an introduction and schedule the posts for the coming weeks.

If you blog once a week, you can write and schedule a whole month’s worth of content in a weekend. Now that’s efficient.

The Tyranny of “OPA”

There’s nothing that kills my productivity more than “OPA,” nothing that defeats my aims or causes more interruption in my day.

What’s “OPA”? Other People’s Agendas.

Yep, it’s all that stuff you do for other people, and it can be one of the toughest things to overcome. But I promise you this: if you can rid yourself of the OPA virus, you will get to your goals a whole lot faster.

Here’s what I mean: Take a look at your inbox. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

Back? What did you see? I’ll tell you what I see in my inbox, it’s probably not too different from yours:

  • Newsletters that I subscribe to
  • Product offers
  • Friend requests of various kinds
  • Invitations to pay attention to something

Any time spent on most of these messages represents an investment in someone else’s agenda.

Hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I look forward to articles and offers from some of my favorite bloggers and teachers, because I’ve gained so much from them in the past.

But the overwhelming fact is that the more time you spend responding and reacting and friending, pinning, liking and all the other activities you’re being asked to do, you’ll end up helping everyone, except yourself.

That’s not a good outcome, is it? The point here is to learn to look at your inbox—and all the other requests for your time and attention—from the point of view of your own agenda.

Blogging can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity that supports the whole framework of your social media marketing. Or it can be a drag, sucking up your time and talent without giving you anything in return.

Managing your time well and finding efficient ways to handle the activities around blogging will go a long way to keeping it fun and profitable.

How About You?

I bet you’ve got strategies for managing your blogging and social media marketing efforts. How do you fit it all in? Do you have special disciplines or tricks? Put them in the comments and I bet we can all pick up a few tips.

For more in the Author Blogging 101 series of articles, click here.
Next up: Using mind maps to chart articles and series of articles.
Photo by zoutedrop

Be Sociable, Share!

    { 27 comments… read them below or add one }

    Joanne Wiklund May 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Joel: Morning pages have been working for me. I’ve been blogging since Dec. 31 and write every other day, posting on even numbered days. Helps me remember to do it. Facing the screen when I have most of my faculties about me is best and it doesn’t keep me awake at night.

    Great job of helping others, and I loved the comments.

    Reply

    Peter DeHaan May 9, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I found more time for these things by watching less TV. Nothing was lost and much was gained.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 10, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Peter, that’s almost word for word what I said to the person who asked the question at the beginning of this article.

    Reply

    Sebastian Clouth May 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Hi!

    I am the Books editor at Before It’s News (beforeitsnews.com). Our site is a rapidly growing people-powered news platform currently serving over 3 million visits a month. We like to call ourselves the “YouTube of news.”

    We would like to republish your RSS Feed on our new Books section. Our visitors would love to read tour content and find out more about you!

    You could also publish excerpts of your books if you’d like :).

    It’s a great opportunity to spread the word about your work and reach new readers.

    We will be featuring and promoting books, excerpts, posts, and reviews on our homepage, on Twitter, Facebook, in our newsletter, and more.

    Also, if you want to receive a weekly email of the top 5 posts of our Books section, let me know.

    We don’t censor or edit work.

    Thanks!
    Sebastian Clouth
    Sclouth@beforeitsnews.com

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Sebastian,

    Your site sounds interesting. The RSS feed from the blog is available through normal channels.

    However, I only allow the republication of my blog as “excerpts” which gives people enough information to see if the article is of interest, but directs them to the original post if they want to read the whole thing.

    Reply

    Jennette Marie Powel May 8, 2012 at 11:42 am

    OPA is a HUGE one for me! I belong to several networking groups, and it’s a challenge to separate out this stuff, because the Other People whose Agendas I’m spending time on, are also others who will (I hope) help when I need it. So the trick is to spend my time on helping those I genuinely like and those who’ve helped me (or who will help me), and to let slide the requests of those who pretty much ignore me. Great post!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Really need to walk the tightrope there, I know how difficult it can be. Especially for those of us whose impulse is to help, because we can. Thanks for the input.

    Reply

    Wendy A.M. Prosser May 8, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Once you try it, it’s surprising how much can you can get done in a short time. It’s largely a matter of staying organized and focused. I dedicate half an hour each morning – at the same time every day – to reading and commenting on the blogs I follow, and don’t let myself be sidetracked by any other task. Seems to work for me!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Wendy, that’s a great strategy. I’ve also started reserving my mornings for writing, and setting aside the same time each morning has really helped me be more productive.

    Reply

    Carol Brill May 7, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Maybe I am spreading myself too thin. I follow a few blogs and write my own and cannot seem to get it done in less than 30-40 minutes a day . . . A big dent in my writing/reading time. And that does not count Facebook or linkedin. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Carol, if you are writing a blog post and following other blogs, all in 30-40 minutes, I’d say you are doing something right!

    Reply

    Ninette May 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    This is a great start. I’m a new author with a new blog and it’s daunting!

    Reply

    Natasha McNeely May 7, 2012 at 9:32 am

    This is a very useful post; thank you!

    One problem I’ve found many writers have is with social media, like you’ve mentioned. How to fit it in their busy schedules of writing, blogging, life, and all these other things they do. Writing in particular is a tricky one. I used to always lose time because I’d think, “Okay, let me check my email real quick.” I would do that and end up spending an hour not doing anything productive.

    A method that now works for me is to work on my stories for half an hour, uninterrupted. Then I give myself five, maybe ten minutes, to look into my email and social media. Once the time is up, I write for another hour. I’ve found this helps me concentrate and write more efficiently.

    I’m not sure if it will work for others, but I would recommend trying it out!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    “I would do that and end up spending an hour not doing anything productive.” Yep, that’s what I call falling down the rabbit hole, and it’s really one of the biggest things I need to watch out for.

    You have a great idea, with your timed sequences. I could do that using the alarm on my phone, I think I’ll try it.

    Reply

    Annabel Smith May 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    This is a great idea. I definitely get sucked in by a multitude of other things that take me away from the real work of creating. But i still want to stay on top of social media and reading – this sounds like a good balance.

    Reply

    Jim Self May 7, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for this post, Joel. Some people are a lot harder to set aside than others, but they present no less of a drain on your time and work quality. It helps to have good clear rules and a dedicated workspace.

    Reply

    Matt May 7, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Good ideas for setting up links to some forums for a quick checkup on different discussions, will be adding to the list, start integrating in daily activities.

    For blog writing, I try to schedule 2 hours a day to be able to create something somewhat substantial, which is usually enough time, sometimes it’s done in an hour, sometimes +3 for a bit longer ones. Occasionally I’ve tried planning it out more, ie Mon is this, Tue is that, but I’ve found that can ruin, bury, or close off the opportunity for new ideas, which are usually the funnest blogs to write, so need to keep that door wide open.

    For new ideas, besides new information about one’s own product or service, I follow a couple hundred feeds of areas of interest, spend about an hour going through them, scanning headlines for something to stand out, reading about 5-15 articles (watching out for that black hole time sink!), maybe a few comments if appropriate. Sort of like my morning newspaper with a coffee.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Matt, I’ve been advised numerous times to assign different subjects to different days of the week, like typography Tuesday, interviews on Friday, etc. I realize this works well for lots of people but I’ve never been able to make it work for me.

    It seems like a lot of us depend on feed readers, probably see a post on that coming up. Thanks for the input.

    Reply

    Roger C. Parker May 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Excellent, useful advice for all from an experienced perspective.
    Roger

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks, Roger.

    Reply

    Michael March 27, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Isn’t it remarkable how poefwrul placebo effects are? We are in an age of biological and neurochemical reductionism. And yet belief is as poefwrul as chemical agents. Interesting to say the least. And idiots proclaim that the mind-body dualism has been conquered by neuroscience. I think not.

    Reply

    Efioanwan May 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Phew, that read took almost 20 minutes of my blogging time, and commenting took another 2 … but since I made it to the top 3 of the comment post, I think I am on my way. Informative read.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Hope it works out for you Efioanwan.

    Reply

    Efioanwan May 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Lol, thanks. On a serious note, this is what I would do if I was required to write blog posts on a weekly basis (I have a blog that lists New Nigerian Writings):

    I would select a subject matter, and spend the next 5 days of the week chewing on it, picking up bits of information and materials at random – like online while doing other things, or offline – and then on the 6th day, I would write something down and on the 7th I’d polish and publish it.

    Reply

    Marina Sofia May 7, 2012 at 4:08 am

    Some very good tips here – I never thought, for instance, that your comment can get lost in the multitude. (I still think I will reserve my comments for things I feel strongly about rather than just for getting an audience, but I can see what you mean).

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus May 7, 2012 at 2:38 am

    “How do you fit it all in? Do you have special disciplines or tricks?”

    (1) I start writing at 3:30 most mornings. Fortunately, my wife says she’d rather share me with a computer than with another woman. When I leave the bed, our golden retriever lies on my side so she won’t be lonely.

    (2) If something comes up during the day that seems blog-worthy, I write at least a blog title, maybe even a graf or two, or even a complete blog, and have it ready for later publication.

    (3) If I’m uninspired on some mornings, I re-run or update older posts. I get new visitors all the time who may not have seen what I wrote four months or four years ago.

    Michael N. Marcus

    — Coming very soon: “499 Important Self-publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece” (e-book) http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing/499selfpublishingtips.html
    — New: deluxe hardcover edition of “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057249
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.BookFur.com (information, help and book reviews for authors)
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html

    Reply

    Jane Rutherford May 7, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Blogging used to be a huge challenge to me mostly because I have little free time once I finish the work I have for the day. I tried multitasking once or twice, but I agree with you, it didn’t work well for me. I doubt it would work well for anyone.

    I have to admit, the best thing you mention is scanning content. Ever since I stopped reading my RSS feed and scan the articles instead, I go through the feed quicker and I save up a lot of time that I can spend on other productive things.

    Reply

    Leave a Comment


    eight + 4 =

    { 5 trackbacks }