“How much time should I spend creating content versus promoting my content and doing other things?”
There are many ways to answer this, but I want to talk about the concept behind this question and then get to a few practical tips. My hope is to change your perspective a bit on time management so you can focus more on what’s important and less on the distractions.
There obviously isn’t a perfect number and the answer will vary by circumstance.
However, I think intentionally considering this question will be of great benefit to you.
A general rule: Spend 80% of your time on content creation and 20% on everything else.
This may evolve for you over time. It might also change with the style of your blog and what you hope to do with it.
Nothing matters if you’re not making great content. Do that first and make it a priority.
When I asked myself this question, the problem I had one big problem: I didn’t want to create content.
I wanted to believe that if I could write a quick post and publish it, then I could simply focus on promoting it and getting a good search ranking or some other trick.
The problem is that this doesn’t really work. Or, if you somehow get it to work, it will fall apart later on.
If you want your blog to work, you need to work on your blog first and everything else second.
The initial parts of starting and setting up a blog will be technically more involved. But once your site is up and running, the temptation is to believe that you need to be all these other places doing all these other things to make your site work. This usually leaves you doing everything but creating the one thing that makes a blog a blog – stellar content.
How much time you can actually spend on your site will also change these numbers. If you have 40 hours a week to blog, you may have more flexibility to do other things. But if you only have 10-20 hours a week, you’ll need to spend most of your time creating content.
Efficiencies come with time
I think some people freak out about time management because they see full time bloggers appearing everywhere. From the looks of it, they are creating a new post a day, promoting their content on Facebook 12 hours a day, sharing content on Pinterest 24 hours a day, optimizing their site 60 hours a day, and somehow still doing other projects and enjoying a social life.
Here’s the secret: You’ll get better at all that stuff with time. Sure, sometimes you’re just going to need to hustle, but you’ll improve on the other tasks over time. Freaking out about not being perfect at everything right now is just eating up your most valuable resource: your time.
Actually, you’ll probably realize (like we have) that you can be much more effective and powerful with social media, email, etc. if you limit your usage.
WHAT? I know, right.
Here’s the thing: All these tools are just as easily turned into distractions; distractions that are keeping you from actually creating something valuable.
Let’s look at this idea with a practical example:
If you spend 80% of your time promoting content and only 20% creating, you’re going to spending a lot of time getting very technical with things. This isn’t inherently bad, but you’re inevitably going to be limited by the amount of content you actually have to share. This usually means you try finding minute differences in how effective a photo is on Pinterest, only to insignificantly increase your traffic from that source.
Alternatively, if you’re regularly spending 80% of your time creating content and 20% of your time sharing it, you’re going to get better at making content. It’s going to be a lot easier to see what photos work for your site on Pinterest if you have more content to share. Make sense?
The Magic of Putting Your Time to Good Use
The more time you spend perfecting your craft (creating content), the further your small efforts everywhere else will go.
Besides, you want to make your content great so it has lasting value. If you can create one great piece of content, it will reward you better in the long-run than 2-3 lesser-quality pieces. Sub-par pieces might make your site look “fresh,” but they will fade away like everything else online. Great content will be very powerful for your site for years to come.
If you only have 5 hours a week to devote to blogging, you might be lucky to get one post done. That’s Ok! Just be reasonable and do what it takes to make that content great. Quality over quantity.
Ok, so the other part of this question is the “how do I manage that time?” discussion.
I can answer this much more practically. Here’s something that’s worked for me:
- Ask yourself “When is my most productive time?” I’ve read studies that suggest most people find this time early in the morning or later at night.
- Schedule that most productive time to create content.
- Guard it religiously.
- Do the “other things” as they fit – small breaks during the day, after work, etc.
I’m not saying you can’t do other things during that time. If you are most productive in the evenings, schedule 3-4 non-negotiable evenings a week. If you want to go out to dinner or just watch netflix the other nights, don’t be hard on yourself. Going 7 days a week will probably cause burnout anyway.
Just make some time and protect it. Adjust it to your personality and lifestyle. But, for goodness sake, show up and create.
Those other things still matter
Doing the “other things” do matter; or at minimum, they help.
It’s really powerful to engage with other bloggers. Sharing your photos on Pinterest is a great way to get the ball rolling, gain a bit of exposure, and get new readers to your site. Same thing with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Improving your site from time to time, making it faster, cleaner, etc. are very helpful and should occasionally be done. However, it matters much less than how much you’re probably obsessing over it.
None of these things ultimately matter most.
So, What Do You Do?
Dana spends almost all her work time creating content. Once we realized the power of this tactic, it became my duty to off-load as much as possible from her so she could just create content.
I know not everybody has a partner in this crazy blogging world, but the principle remains true: Creating content and making it great is the most important thing you can do.
You can do this and you can figure it out. The 80/20 rule is just a rough idea from the Pareto principle. The heart of this article is that you need to be doing more creating than anything else. All the peripheral details matter much less than you think. And even if they do matter, they will eventually fade away and leave you without anything to stand on if you lack great content.
Create content first. Do everything else second.