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Keeping a Blog Diary to Analyze Your Blogging Routine

DiaryThis year for Christmas I’ve asked my wife if she’d give me a personal trainer.

Warning – Tangent Ahead…. It’s been years since I’ve had an organized exercise routine – and while I do eat reasonably healthily and attempt to walk regularly – I’ve gradually felt my body ‘slipping’ further and further out of shape. I’ve put on weight, get out of breath more regularly and find myself getting sick more often.

It was time to bite the bullet and get back in shape.

I’m not great on disciplining myself when it comes to exercise and respond well to being accountable to others – so I asked my wife if instead of a new gadget or toy for Christmas whether she’d give me a personal trainer. She agreed – enthusiastically.

I shot an email to Melbourne exercise guru and blogger Craig Harper to see if he knew of anyone in my area that would be a good trainer and he put me in touch with Danny from MCallisters Fitness.

A few days after I moved I showed up for my first session and Danny put me through my paces with a fitness test. The result was pain – dizziness – nausea and a realization that I was more out of shape than I thought.

Food and Exercise Diary

ExcerciseDanny said a lot of great things during our first session (we’re going to have a weekly session – maybe two) but the thing that I’ve appreciated most since then is the food and training diary that he set me up with.

The exercise is simple – to record all the food that I eat each day and to note the exercise that I’m doing.

It’s such a simple exercise – but I can already see the impact of it and think that it’s probably a worthwhile thing to do for bloggers also when it comes to analyzing their blogs. Danny simply asks me to record the meal, the time I eat, the quantity of food, the food itself, water consumption, the mood I’m in, the energy levels I feel etc

Recording my food intake has already helped me in two main ways:

  • It shows ‘gaps’ and patterns in my diet – for example I can see that I eat more food in the afternoon and go most of the morning without much food – no wonder I crash early afternoon, there’s no juice left in the tank. Seeing the correlation between the food I eat, energy levels and mood is particularly interesting.
  • It makes me think about what I’m eating – knowing that I have to record everything that I eat makes me think twice when I’m in the act of ordering food, cooking meals and snacking. Just knowing that Danny will look my diary over next Thursday in our next session has impacted my choices already.

Keep a Diary of Your Blogging Habits

We’ve talked here on ProBlogger about keeping organized with diaries, calendars and schedules numerous times before (here, here, here and here for starters) – but in each of these cases the diary idea has been to help you plan what you’ve got coming up on your blog and not to analyze what you’ve been doing.

It struck as I was filling in my food diary today that it would be an interesting exercise to keep a blogging diary for a week or two to see what patterns it might reveal.

Here’s some suggested items to check:

  • Posting Times – when do you write your posts, when do you write your best posts?
  • Post Topics – are you focussing upon part of your overall topic but not others?
  • Length of Post - do you just post one length or do you mix it up?
  • Post Type – what type/style of post are you writing mostly?
  • Post Frequency – how often do you post per day
  • Reading Other Blogs – how much time are you learning from others? Are you being distracted or inspired by it?
  • Other Activities – what other blogging related activities have you engaged in (networking, guest posting for others, social bookmarking, responding to readers, commenting on other’s blogs)
  • Comment Numbers – what posts are getting the most comments?

The list could go on. I think it could identify some interesting trends in a blogger’s rhythms and reveal when they are most productive, how they work best, what posts are working well etc

What else might we monitor with our blogging diary?

PS: this could also be extended into some sort of Points System as I wrote about a few months back.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jamie Harrop says:

    I’ve often thought about this, Darren. I just never got off my ass to do it. I guess I’ll add it to the list of things to do after New Year. I’ve always been a big fan of recording and measuring results, so it makes sense to do this with a blog.

    Off topic. Craig is a great guy. I’ve been reading his blog for a while, and we’ve chatted a little via email. He also got a mention in my vlog yesterday. His name seems to get everywhere. :)

  2. Jamie Harrop says:

    To add to that, there are so many other things that bloggers can measure. Where are most of your RSS subscribers referred from? Which visitors rack up the most page views? These are harder to track than some of your examples, but if you can do so, then it will be invaluable information.

    So, Darren. Are you going to set a good example and start recording your blogging habits? You have to practice what your preach, right? :)

  3. I’ve also considered this in the past, and have never really gotten around to it. It’s a great idea that can only really improve the quality of your blog.

  4. I should have also added, it’s nice to see another Australian blogger! I’ve been browsing your blog for a little while now, but it’s never occurred to me that you’re from Melbourne.

    I’m from Sydney, however I do manage to get down to Melbourne for some annual conferences and it’s a fantastic city. Definitely got its own unique flavor.

  5. Jason Falls says:

    Excellent suggestion. Like Jamie, however, I’m also guility of the laziness part. I have started to take note of when and in what circumstances I do my best writing — and no, it’s not when I’m drinking — but perhaps a little notepad in the pocket will do me some good.

    Great tips, as usual, D.

  6. It does make sense to keep track of your trends, though it could detract from posting. But I think if you work this in at the end of a day, just to reflect, it could work.

  7. Being organized is key. It’s hard to know if you’ve improved if your don’t keep records. I can’t even work if my office is cluttered. I always keep a clean desk and a notebook for ideas as they come to me.

    From now on I will be keeping an extra notebook on my desk for keeping track of my blogging habits.
    Thanks for the great tip!

  8. Craig Mische says:

    I have kept a folder to drop ideas for my blog but hadn’t thought about a blog diary. Great idea. My guess is that my most affective posts are in the evening as I am more relaxed. In the mornings, I think sometimes I am posting just to add content.

  9. I think RocketPost has some sort of tracking stats that help you keep a diary with some of that info with no effort.

  10. SpicePuppy says:

    Definitely a good idea. You can’t improve what you don’t know! But I think you have to limit the time you spend analyzing your routine, otherwise you’ll just be analyzing why you’re not posting anything.

  11. Jummy says:

    You’re quite good at relating blogging to other things in our lives that we should do.

    This exercise is bound to improve my blogging, as it will make a it a more deliberate and well thought out initiative, rather than the haphazard and spontaneous thing that it currently is.

    Thanks.

  12. Mark says:

    I know (or at least I think) that most of my inspiration and creative ideas for blog posts occurs in the morning (when exercising) but a ‘blog diary’ would be a great way to help quantify my assumptions.

    ON A DIFFERENT NOTE: a little Christmas TIP for all – I lost 70 of my blog post ideas (working titles) yesterday because I STUPIDLY did not back up my jump drive.

    WHATERVER you do today – Learn from my mistake and MAKE A BACK UP OF YOUR WORK!!

  13. PlasticPilot says:

    Great post Darren, it’s all about discipline.

    However as bloggers we have one advantage: our archives can tell us all what we need about the past, whereas your body can’t…

    Ok, mood and time spend reading other blogs is not obvious to track in archives, but all the rest can provide you with a strong statistical basis.

    Good luck with your exercise !

  14. Cory says:

    Thanks, Darren. As a newbie blogger, I find your info invaluable. I keep a regular journal for my life, so I might as well include my blogging activities. Thanks!

    Oh, and congratulations on the top blogger dads award from E-Moms!

  15. shy guy says:

    Exercise!! How many times I’ve exercise this week?? Zero.. Oh no.. I’m going to be a fat man..

  16. Ian N says:

    This is a great idea to monitor your blogging to notice trends and patterns. Once I get set up with my new site I will definitely use this idea.

    Now, if only there were some sort of analytics package which monitors diet and exercise!

    I need to go back to the gym soon. Hey, maybe it can be a New Years resolution that I ignore once February comes?

  17. Andrew G.R. says:

    A great tool I have started using to analyze my blogging rhythms is RescueTime.com.

    It shows me when I’m on the computer what I’m doing and for how long. For instance, I’ve noticed that I check my e-mail WAY too often when I’m supposed to be blogging.

    As far as exercise, keeping a log keeps me motivated. Sometimes!

  18. JEMi says:

    *chuckle* the same way I need real discipline to keep the darn food journal (great concept til day 3 for me. EVERY time lol) I would need to buckle down on taking note for my blogs

    although I would say its worth a shot because I could see how that would benefit me..

    now back to my mind-mapping
    (see? I’ve been paying attention :) )

  19. Rob Lewis says:

    If there’s not already a WordPress plugin which monitors this sort of thing from your published posts, then it can’t be too long before someone comes up with one…

  20. Guru says:

    The food and exercise diary will be too taxing to maintain, and with the blogging diary, i should consider that if i start blogging on a more frequent basis. For a casual blogger like me, who just rants on a few topics when i get the time, a blogging diary will just not have any content.

  21. Max Powers says:

    A nutritionist taught me about keeping a daily diary to help me lose weight – and it worked wonders.

    Now I hope the same thing helps me with blogging as I have to admit everything is done on a “whenever” basis at this time.

  22. Patrick says:

    A good site for keeping track of eating habits is “FitDay”:

    http://www.fitday.com/WebFit/Index.html

    Greetings

  23. Coop says:

    Sounds like you’ve found a great trainer. I know as trainer myself, getting a cleint to track his/her eating is very valueable. By just doing this little exercise of tracking the meals, you can quickly see where your diet is off.

    Enjoy your training Darren. You’ll be happier and more energetic from it, which translates to all areas of your life.

    Best,
    Coop

  24. Intresting idea, I have a friend who is having a weight problem and I might have him try the food journal. Anyways, is there any pluggins that can be used to make figure out all these things for the blog diary faster instead of having to figure it all out manually?

  25. apieve says:

    Hi Darren, great post. I’m new here, and was thinking about this issue yesteray, when I changed some things in my SEO Work and didn’t write It down. I was thinking that It would be very good Idea to keep track of my activities in this field.

    So, I think you bloggers should keep track of your link building work, layout changes and other things that may do good or hurt your rankings and traffic.

  26. Donald says:

    Journal / diary is a great way to monitor. It has been rightly said that you cannot manage what is not measured. This idea applies to fitness, leadership, blogging, etc, etc…

  27. Dave says:

    I’m a big fan of tips on how to work smarter and not harder. I’m so gonna have to integrate this with a points system and see how it works out.

  28. Better try that. But i think it’s hard to get used to. Writing everything down.

  29. I really like this concept and am wondering why I never thought of it before b/c I’m big on journaling. This might be a great exercise to try out to track changes in subscribers, commenters, etc. during your analysis. I just might create a quick spreadsheet to print out and track my blogging routine for a month or so, just to see what happens. :)

  30. I did this (kept track of everything I did re: blogging) when I first started my blog and then stopped for a while….I started up with it again 8 weeks ago. I had to keep track of all comments I was leaving, changes I was making to my blog, traffic, etc. as part of an independent study I was doing to complete my undergrad degree. I was fortunate that I could use my blog for this study.

    I’ve learned that it helps me tremendously to keep that blog journal because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I’m also very familiar with food and exercise journaling since I started getting on the healthy track a few years ago. I’ve since gotten a bit off track but am getting my food journal back out again….so, I’ll be doing a lot of journaling on both blogging and weight loss/fitness but again, it’s very helpful…you can look back and see where you’ve been and the progress that you’ve made.

  31. that is a great idea my mum asked me yesterday what I wanted for Christmas. I am going to tell her I want a diary!

  32. You’ll feel better after you’ve been to the gym a few months and your body adapts.

  33. Deb says:

    I have been printing my own calendar pages for my blog notebook (an idea from one of your guest posters) which has helped see the bigger picture of what I did, am doing and think I’m going to do. I think for the upcoming year I need to add journal pages linked to the calendar pages. Thanks for the reminder.

  34. Melvin says:

    This one is inspiring as well as informative…

  35. Darshana says:

    Good idea as always Darren, but for me keeping a diary of any sort has been a chore in the past. I start with lot of enthusiasm but quickly forget to keep it up. I guess it needs discipline.

    Hey, we can all make it a New Year Resolution!!!

  36. This is a good and welcome tip and timely; especially when we are all gearing up for the new year and some of our new year’s new habits include regular and frequent blogging. Thanks.

  37. You should come join us in the fatblogger niche!

    4 Reasons You Should Be Writing a Weight Loss Blog

  38. Oh yeah, I’m with Rob Lewis (above) on this — I want someone to come up with a WordPress plugin that will keep a blog diary for me…
    And then I’d really like another plugin to read it out loud to me while I’m feed-reading, and give timely reminders of relevant points while I write my posts…
    Oh, and a domestic robot to keep my tea cup filled up, please…
    And a pony.

  39. Natalie says:

    Keeping a blog diary is a great idea.

    In fact, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about keeping a music diary (my blog is for songwriters and musicians) at http://quaxle.com/2007/11/26/keep-a-general-music-log/. This is the same principle as a blogging diary, I’m a great advocate of it; since keeping diaries, the level and quality of my music making and my writing activities have greatly improved.

    I’m thinking that it might be time for me to also keep a diary of what I eat, as you describe in your post, as my fitness has been going downhill since hitting the wrong side of 30…

  40. Ruchir says:

    Yeah, I agree. Having a blog diary can be very beneficial. By keeping a log of all the activities, one can become more productive and focussed. I haven’t really tried it fully but I did kind of try it once. And the effects were pretty good. It’s great to see how to tie up daily life things to blogging…

  41. Nelson says:

    I do that. I have one book where i write what i have to do and what i do.

  42. yojibee says:

    i log everything else in my life (sports, food, to do), don’t know why i never thought of keeping a blog diary ..
    i will definitely try it out — maybe i can finally get some overview of what i write when and do more follow-up stories.
    as it is today i tend to forget what i wrote about a couple of weeks ago, and therefore end up getting many single stories.

  43. Paul says:

    Keeping a diary of your week (all aspects – diet, exercise, blogging habits, how your time is spent, etc) is a good thing to do for even the most productive people. Its amazing what you find out about yourself.

    I found a few extra hours a day I can devote to things that hadn’t been getting done, just by keeping a diary for three straight days.

  44. I’ve never attempted to log every blog post, but see the value of the process. I do try to mind map ideas about future posts, but maybe a change is in order.

    This is probably one of those exercises that would pay off huge in the long run. When you can tie times with content and comments into a cohesive package, improvements are inevitable.

  45. finkle says:

    I work in the medical field, and recording everything you do is a necessity. A medical record is really a journal of your patient’s care. If you do something write it down, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to be. It allows you to check trends, make adjustments, and anticipate your next move. It can seem tedious, but it makes you more proficient at your job, and more efficient at performing tasks.
    To think I never thought to apply the concept to blogging or pretty much any other aspect of my life…

  46. Bud says:

    A blog diary is a great idea. And then at the end of the month compile the data to generate the meaningful statistics, like “What time of the day was the best to write posts?”, etc. Then we could make changes in our processes and check it again after another month. I think perhaps a week is too short; a month might average out the data better.
    Gather data; manage the data; gather data;… A journey it is.

  47. This is a great idea!

  48. Fozia says:

    Thank for sharing good and useful information. This information is very valuable.

  49. Qaisera says:

    This post is fantastic. Wow…thank´s.