For many people, being a successful blogger is the new dream job. What could be better than sitting at home in your pajamas immersed in a subject you’re truly passionate about? But blogging, just like any other business, has its headaches and major time wasters. This can be especially problematic for bloggers who work from home, where the lines between labor and play are blurry, and not getting something done can be the difference between having a legendary weekend and working through Saturday Night Live.
So what are the biggest time-wasters in blogging, and what can you do about them? Let’s take a look.
1. Waiting on Slow Internet
Blogging is entirely internet reliant. Whether you’re writing a post in WordPress or editing a video you plan on placing on your front page, that connection has to be zipping along if you ever plan on getting through your day. But the more you do online, the more likely your bandwidth will suffer and your whole system will slow down.
If you find that this is frequently a problem, it’s time to improve your connection. First, try not to launch bandwidth hogging programs like Skype, streamed video games, and video editing software all at once. Tempting as it may be to have a video call with a fellow blogger streamed into your flat screen TV, try also to avoid these larger, bandwidth hogging devices. If working on both bandwidth hogging programs and devices is a must, upgrade to business class service (you are a business, after all) as well as to an N Dual Band or AC router. If you’re still having trouble from here, make sure your computer isn’t downloading updates in the background, or, worse yet, viruses. Get that system clear!
2. Getting Bogged Down in Email
From comment notifications to advertiser outreach emails, that inbox of yours is likely stuffed full of important emails jockeying for your attention. But, no matter how good you may be at banging out a quick draft, email is a big distraction that can knock you out of a workflow, adding more tasks onto the end of your day. Soon you may find yourself with a clear inbox and a content-less blog, or a blog that’s full of content and an inbox overflowing with angry emails inquiring about your lack of response.
To avoid these kinds of situations, we recommend reading this email productivity guide, which provides quick and easy tips for mastering that inbox box. A few quick ideas might include processing your email in batches at set times during the day rather than throughout, and turning off access to it using an app like SelfControl. Another great idea is using Gmail filters to immediately archive certain types of mail, such as industry-relevant newsletters you’ll want to read eventually but that don’t require your immediate attention. Of course, as a rule of thumb, you want to aim for the smallest inbox possible by the end of the day, but that often is better accomplished by treating email as a task like any other, not a means of procrastination.
3. Not Knowing What to Write About
It’s the age old writing dilemma: you start out with passion and a million ideas. And then, after months of writing about the same topic, you come up short. Now you’re banging your head against your desk, or leaving your laptop behind entirely to procrastinate with a good round of kitchen cleaning.
To prevent this kind of paralysis, it’s important to plan ahead with an editorial content calendar. Here you might add industry-relevant events (which can provide for great commentary blogs or contests), give-aways, guest posts, and expertise posts, among many other things. For even more ideas that also happen to be search engine optimized, use Google’s Keyword Tool to expand your search and determine just what your audience is looking for.
Of course, to do all of this, you’ll have to make sure that your blog has a clear theme and purpose. While it’s perfectly normal to narrow yourself into a niche as you discover your passions and your audience’s interests, you’ll find it much harder to write about everything than to write about clear themes.
If there is a deeper problem at hand — namely, that you’re a reluctant writer — try giving yourself artificial constraints, like writing all of your posts for the week on Mondays.
4. Building Traffic
It’s not that building traffic is in itself a time waster; quite the opposite. There’s really no point to a blog unless someone is reading it. However, many bloggers find the whole subject of SEO and traffic building intimidating, and react by either not doing it or not doing it very well. In the former case, that renders the entire endeavor of running a blog a waste of time; in the latter, that makes for a lot of inefficiency as bloggers try to paste together diffuse efforts into one.
The solution? Remember that a jack of all trades is a master of none. Rather than trying to do everything at once, build one or two strategies into your daily routine, and continue from there. You might, for instance, begin building traffic by leaving at least five comments on other blogs a day, and reaching out directly to like-minded people on Twitter. Or, perhaps you might set a bigger goal for each month, like making sure you have a clear and engaging call to action at the end of each post, made all the more compelling with the help of a web designer, or securing two guests posts. When it comes to saving time in blogging, the exact approach matters less than picking one and focusing, rather than doing a little bit of everything poorly and distractedly.
5. Trying to Write Epic Posts, Every Time
Once you’ve written one post you’re really proud of, suddenly it feels like every post has to meet those same standards. This can again lead to writer’s paralysis. And, because the epic posts are often long and meaty, it can also mean you’ll spend a whole day toiling at this one novel.
Here’s a secret: while content has to be frequent and it has to be good, it doesn’t have to radically alter the universe every time. Don’t be afraid to mix up the format with simple tips and tricks lists, slide shows, contests, announcements, personal photos — you name it.
As a great example, take a look at this weekly themed post from a small business, WriteByNight, a writing coaching service in Austin, TX. All they do is define a word for their followers, and then challenge them to write a story that’s 25 words or less using the chosen word. Not only does this foster more engagement than longer posts, it requires very little time and effort on behalf of the blog owner, who alternates these kinds of posts with announcements, instructional videos, and much meatier guest posts. That’s win-win!
Blogging is riddled with just as many time wasters as any other career. Know what they are, master a few strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful (and annoyance-free) blogging career!