Over the past few weeks I’ve had a number of people asking me for information on how I manage my time as a blogger and as someone with a number of different aspects of business running side by side.
Here’s an example of one of the questions (from a reader who asked to be anonymous):
“Darren, I’ve been blogging for a year now and I’m starting to get swamped by the admin of it all. Between answering emails from readers, deleting spam, keeping track of the growing number of RSS feeds in my news aggregator and promoting my blog I’ve hardly got time to write any posts. How do you manage to keep your blogs running? What’s your secret? Do you have any tips or tools for me to try?”
This question is typical of the sort of thing I’m being asked more and more so I thought I’d have a go at putting together an answer.
Time – Firstly it’s worth saying that I work full time as a blogger. I’m able to put extended hours into it and as a result can manage a number of blogs at once and am able to be involved in a number of other related projects (a blog network and e-resource for example).
Constant Challenge – Even with the ability to work on my blogging full time I find the administration around blogging an ever increasing challenge. Like the questioner above has experienced – the longer you blog the more admin that seems to come along and the more blogs you have the more it multiplies. I’ll be honest enough to say that there are days I don’t keep up and have increasingly considered taking on an admin assistant or intern to take on some of the tasks that mount up.
Priorities – One of the things I’ve had to work on increasingly over the past few months is the setting of priorities. This has included ending blogs, cutting back the posting rhythm on blogs, changing the type of posts etc
Sharing the Load – I’ve already mentioned my temptation to take on an admin assistant but I have taken on others to help me on a couple of my blogs as bloggers. This has been really helpful to me (and I hope they’ve enjoyed it too). It’s definitely a challenge to find the right person but once you do it’s well worthwhile.
Tools – I rely heavily on some great tools in my blogging that help me manage the different aspects of what I do. I’ve mentioned them all numerous times on this blog so won’t go into them all and how I use them but among the most useful time savers are Akismet (for comment spam), Bloglines (for RSS feed management), Ecto (desktop publishing), Backpackit (I use it less and less – but it’s good for managing some of my data), Entourage (my email/calendar client) and Skype (for IM and VOIP communications with partners and readers). I don’t feel like I use the most ‘Web 2.0′ kind of applications to manage what I do but it seems to work reasonably well with just the basics.
Practice – With time and repetition at blogging I’ve gotten reasonably quick at blogging. I guess I’ve developed a rhythm of posting that works reasonably well for me. Standard ‘newsy’ type posts take me as little as a few minutes to put up and longer posts (like this one) have a workflow that has emerged over time (I talked about some of it here). I guess practice makes perfect (or at least speeds things up).
So ultimately I don’t have any ‘secrets’ to share. It’s a lot of hard work and is largely about time management and doing your best. There are days where things work really well and I feel on top of things – but then there are other days where it feels a little like I’m going backwards.
I’d really appreciate if others would share their experience of this. Perhaps you could help me improve what I do and help others who I know are asking similar questions to the one above.
How do you manage your blogging administration? What tools do you use? What lessons have you learned?
Update: As Michael suggests in comments below – another important tool in my blogging that is a massive help in keeping on top of things is tabbed browsing. I use Firefox and the ability to open new windows all in the one browser via tabs changed my life when I discovered it. Instead of having 20-30 windows open I now have one window with multiple tabs open. I keep things open as a reminder of things to do at times.
While I think of it – another thing that has changed my blogging in this way is to move away from using a 15 inch laptop as my primary blogging machine. 6 or so months back I moved to a desktop with a 23 inch LCD and also got a smaller 19 inch secondary monitor. I use the secondary monitor to run email and instant messaging and the larger screen for browsers and blogging aps. I find that this helps me to be much more orderly in my workflow.