I’ve written a lot here about how much I work on this blog. If you take a look at my Daily Blogging Diary (see the link in the nav menu?), you’ll see that I usually work on my blog from anywhere between 8 to 13 hours a day, and that’s not including any work I do on any of my smaller blogs.

I realize, however, that the vast majority of people out there can’t spend this much time on their blogs. So this post is all about how to run a successful blog if you were to spend anywhere from 1 to 3 hours a day on your blog.

Yeah, you’ll definitely want to read this :)

So what exactly do you need to be doing?

Well, there’s a lot to do! But here are the main things I think you/we should focus on.

Tasks a Blogger Needs to Do

Hopefully that makes sense, yes?

Now let’s go over each of those real quick.

  • Write your content – Duh. Writing your blog posts is a pretty important part blogging…
  • Experimenting on your blog – This involves playing with the layout and design, installing and uninstalling plugins, etc. I think that this also includes testing out new traffic generation techniques to see if you get results.
  • Respond to comments – I personally think you should respond to every comment on your blog; it’s a great way to strengthen your community and build up relationships with other bloggers.
  • Read other blogs – You should be keeping up with what’s being talked about in your niche because 1) you’ll know what has and what hasn’t been talked about to death, 2) you’ll get smarter, and 3) you’ll get blog post ideas.
  • Comment on other blogs – The purpose of this is threefold: 1) to get traffic back to your blog, 2) to get comments back on your blog, and 3) to, yet again, build a relationship with other bloggers.
  • Write guest posts – Guest posting is such a fantastic way to get your name out there and get new readers fast! It’s great for you and it’s free content for the blog you’re writing for. Everybody wins.
  • Be on Twitter – I love Twitter. It’s one of the best ways to start getting traffic fast. And I say “Be on Twitter,” but that means more than just having a presence there. You need to be active on it.
  • Read books – Some of you might not want to do this because you feel like you can learn everything online. And this might be true for you or for your niche. But I LOVE books and I LOVE reading. I read books for some of the same reasons I read blogs: for self education purposes and for article ideas. But beyond that, I find that the quality of information is frankly just better in books than on blogs. And finally, for me, reading is very relaxing.
  • Create products – If you’re like me, you’re always scheming about some other website or product. Well, stop scheming and start actually working on it! I realize that creating your own products doesn’t appeal or apply to everyone, but I think the majority of us can and should create our own digital products.

You’ll note that there are a few things that I didn’t talk about. Maybe you noticed that Facebook is missing. I think Twitter is a much faster and easier way to get traffic and readers quickly (but I don’t have a ton of experience using Facebook to promote a blog, so take that for what it’s worth). Ideally you’ll do both the Twitter thing and the Facebook thing, but since we’re talking about having limited time here, I’d recommend just using Twitter.

I also didn’t cover a ton more ways to get traffic like social bookmarking, video creation, and forum posting, just to name a few. Again, if we’ve got limited time here, for now I’d just stick with what I’ve got listed.

Keep in mind that this is all based on *my* experiences and what has worked for *me.* Your mileage may vary.

In your comment (because you ARE going to comment, right?), let me know if you think there’s something else that I should have included on that list.

Ok! Let’s prioritize!

Sweet, so we know what we have to do… But what should we do first?

Let me reiterate that I think all of the above-mentioned tasks are essential. That’s why I included them here. So even if something is a “low priority” task, it still needs to get done at some point on a fairly regular basis.

Anyway, here’s a chart showing what I believe is the relative importance of the above-mentioned tasks:

Relative importance of a blogger's tasks

Let’s go over it.

Content is obviously #1; without content, you’ve got no blog. On tier #2 we’ve got things that 1) build a community on your blog and 2) drive traffic to your blog.

I think that for me Twitter is important enough to put on tier #2. But individually, I think each of the other tasks on tier #2 is more important that Twitter. But man, even writing that now pains me because I love Twitter so much.

I guess the reason I put Twitter on tier #3 is that I feel like the things in tier #2 get you subscribers, and then Twitter helps you kind of retain those subscribers and drive them back to your blog.

And then on tier #4 we’ve got the things that really aren’t ESSENTIAL to a blog’s success, but will definitely help you succeed.

I’d love to hear what other people have to say about the importance of all of these things.

Got it. So what should I do during my 1 to 3 hours of blogging time every day?

I’m getting there, I’m getting there…

First off, I think the main thing to keep in mind here is that you should NOT try to multitask. Do NOT try to do everything every night.

Think of your blogging in terms of a couple days or a week at a time and not a day at a time. Here’s what I mean: While you don’t need to do all of the above-mentioned tasks every day,  you do need to do them at least every week, and maybe cycle through them two or three times a week depending on how much time you have and how quickly you want your blog to grow.

What should you do with your time? Let me answer that with…

The blogging cycle

Again, the cycle is the few core things you need to do once or multiple times a week. Things outside of the cycle are things you still need to do every week, but not necessarily as often as the things in the cycle. Does that make sense? (If not, keep reading; there’s a graphic a few paragraphs down that will explain it.)

IN THE CYCLE (do the things in the cycle at least 1x per week and ideally repeat 2x or 3x per week)

1. Write your post – How long this takes really depends on you and your blog. Some people can write really fast. Some write painfully slow. Some blog posts are 300 words long, some are 3000.

2. Read and comment on as many blogs as you have time for (if I’m taking my time, I can comment on 10-12 posts in an hour. If I’m rushing, I can do 20).

3. Tweet your post and retweet other people’s posts. This really doesn’t take very long, and now that I think about it, you should probably just do this as you’re reading other people’s posts. When you see one you like, retweet that sucker.

OUTSIDE OF THE CYCLE (do all of these at least once a week, regardless of how many cycles you go through)

This includes guest posting, book reading, and blog experimentation. The amount of time you spend doing these really should just depend on how much time you’ve got. Guest posting is the most important thing here, and I try to guest post at least once a week (though I missed last week). At the VERY LEAST, you should absolutely not let 2 weeks go by without guest posting.

I guess Twitter also belongs outside of the cycle, because you should be tweeting at least a little bit every day.

So in practice, how does this whole cycle thing work ?

Of course, it depends on how much time you have. But barring that…

Let’s say that after work and family responsibilities, you have a couple hours to work on your blog. First, you write a blog post. If you finish it that night, great. If not, work on it again the next night until you finish it.

Once you’ve got a post published, get out there and promote that sucker. Spending an hour or two just commenting on blogs will do wonders! Earlier today, for example, I spent about three hours just reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, and I ended up leaving 37 comments and retweeting 10 posts. Every time I do this I see a definite jump in my stats.

And speaking of Twitter, you should also spend at least few minutes on Twitter for every chunk of time you work on your blog. Twitter works best for you when you do it consistently instead of all at once.

So let’s say that on Monday you wrote your post, but didn’t quite finish it. On Tuesday you finished it and still had time so you commented on 20 blogs and retweeted 5 or 6 posts. Great job! And you’ve also completed the cycle one time!

Wednesday rolls around and you’ve got a couple more hours to burn, so you spend a few minutes doing Twitter stuff and the rest of your time writing a guest post. You put in a few extra minutes than you normally would and you finish the guest post and email it to the blogger.

[Incidentally, while you’re out commenting on blogs, you should be keeping a list of blogs you want to guest post on.]

Now we’re back at the beginning and ready to start the cycle again on Thursday.


One week in the blogging cycle

Click for the larger version.

Want to see me practice what I preach?

As most of you probably know, I spend many, many hours a day on Blogging Bookshelf. It is my main blog and the love of my life (if you’re reading this, Girlfriend, I apologize). But I realize of course that not everyone can spend that much time blogging. That’s why I wrote this post.

But in the last week I’ve created a couple new small sites. One is a blog called Blog Tips to Go, where I write about blogging tips in 250 words or less (which is a TON of fun, by the way!).  The other isn’t quite a blog (it’s more of a static site now, but there WILL be a blog there at some point), and you can find it at KeywordLuv.com. I’ll eventually have a very large listing of all KeywordLuv-enabled blogs, plus tips on keyword research and stuff like that.

I won’t spend more than 3 hours a day on any one of these projects. You can check out what I do over at the Daily Blogging Diary here on Blogging Bookshelf. You can see how much I do and what I do for each of the blogs, including Blogging Bookshelf.

Over to you

I’d love to hear your opinion regarding the following:

  • Are there other tasks you think bloggers should be doing regularly? (Like maybe link building should be on there?)
  • What tasks do you think are most important?
  • Do you blog with the blogging cycle, or do you do a little bit of everything at once?
  • How many hours a day do YOU spend working on your blog, and what things do YOU do that have worked well for you?
  • Anything else you’d like to add. I’m all ears!

I’m really, really excited about Wednesday’s post. Stay tuned :)