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Stretching Yourself Too Thinly – How to Let Your Blog Go #10

Today I want to share one last way to let your blog go to round off our 10 part series. It’s something that has at times almost brought my own blogging to a grinding halt - taking on too many projects and stretching myself too thinly.

There’s a fine line between:

1. diversifying your blogging interests so as to have a number of income streams to help ride out the downtimes that most blogs suffer from

and

2. having so many blogs on the go that they begin to suffer as a result of you not being able to dedicate your focus to them.

The Argument for Diversification

I’ve written on numerous occasions about how it is smart to diversify when it comes to blogging for money (for example here in my 18 Lessons I’ve Learned about Blogging post). Diversification makes sense on a number of levels including:

  • Multiple Blogs (wise because most blogs go through highs and lows in terms of traffic, earnings, search engine ranking etc)
  • Income Streams (not putting all your eggs in the AdSense basket)
  • Non Blogging activities/income streams (looking outside of blogging to find other ways of supplementing your blogging income)

Diversifying your interests is a smart move – ask any financial advisor and you’ll find the advice will almost always be to hedge your bets and invest in multiple areas so that when one market goes down you don’t lose everything.

The Problem with Diversification

While I do believe that it’s smart to diversify – there are some risks with the strategy. The main problem is that you run the risk of spreading yourself too thinly across your blogs.

I learned this the hard way in my first couple of years of blogging for money. I saw what I could achieve with having a single blog and decided to multiply my efforts by blogging on up to 20 blogs at once. The result was poor quality content, stress and strain and eventually blogger burn out.

The more I gave myself to do the less time I was able to dedicate to any one activity – including the producing of engaging, useful, interesting and unique content. The flow on effect of this is that my earnings in this period didn’t raise anywhere near as much as I’d hoped.

What I ended up doing was to hire a blogger to take on one of the projects that I was running, to kill off the majority of the rest of my blogs and to focus upon two blogs (ProBlogger and DPS). In doing so I saw immediate results. The blogs I was able to focus all of my blogging energy upon literally exploded as a result of the improvement in content, the extra time I was able to dedicate to interacting with readers and my extra energy levels which renewed my passion for the topics I was writing about.

Are You Spreading Yourself Too Thinly?

There are a number of areas that I see bloggers (including myself) spreading themselves too thinly including:

  • Multiple Blogs – I find two blogs is enough for me – at b5media we have a few bloggers who handle more than that, but there comes a point where their blogs suffer if they add more.
  • Social Media – it seems that every day a new social networking site starts. If you were to accept every invitation and engage fully on every one of them you could easily spend your whole life on these sites.
  • Reader Interaction – you can never do enough interacting with readers right? Well actually you can. There comes a point where even the very worthwhile task of interacting with your readers can distract you from your core task – the producing of good content.
  • Multiple Income Streams – there comes a point where if you add too many different ad networks, affiliate programs and other income streams to your blog where you can be spending too much time administering them. Optimizing ads, tracking results, chasing up payments etc – it all takes time. Sometimes focussing on just a handful of income streams makes more sense than experimenting with too many at once.

Now before I go any further let me stress that the above activities are all good – but they CAN be responsible for you spreading yourself too thinly. I do think it’s wise to have more than one blog, engage with social media, interact with readers and experiment with new income streams…. but not at the expense of your core blogging activities – particularly the writing of content.

Tips for Overstretched Bloggers

If you are like I have been at different times in my blogging ‘career’ I have a few questions to ask and tips for you:

What is Important to You? – I think it’s crucial to constantly be asking yourself this question. Identify your goals in blogging. What are you trying to achieve? Once you’ve asked this take a look at how you spend your time and identify which things that you’re doing take you closer to your goals and which are not.

Where is the Energy? – Identify where the energy is within your different activities. What is working and what isn’t? What is producing fruit and what is greedily sucking your time and energy without any benefits? I’m a big believer looking for points of ‘energy’ in my life and putting more focus upon them. For example when I realized how I’d spread myself too thinly with 20+ blogs I picked the two or three that worked and killed the rest.

Set Yourself Deadlines - When I start new projects I generally have a deadline in mind when I would want to see results by. If i don’t see at least some signs of life in the project at this point I either kill off the project or work out how to approach it differently so that I’ll see the results I need.

Streamline your Processes - what things do you have to do that you’re inefficient at? I always knew how much time email was sucking out of my day but did nothing about it for years. The extra pressure that my inefficiency in this area of my business cost me was stupid and meant I was stretching myself further than I needed. Reinventing my email processing system gave me extra time.

What other processes suck your time? Perhaps it’s email, perhaps its reading RSS feeds, perhaps its social media, perhaps it is an activity like moderating comments? How can you streamline these important but time consuming processes?

Outsource – There has been a big focus upon outsourcing lately (Tim’s The 4-Hour Workweek might have had something to do with it). I don’t outsource much of my blogging activities but do see the sense in it. I currently have help with comment moderation and have taken on a few writers at DPS which has helped me tremendously. Do keep in mind however that outsourcing means managing others which can take even more time away from you in the short term while you get people set up.

Be Ruthless – My last tip is to echoe the thoughts that I shared in my post on how to be a Ruthless blogger. While it can be hard to let go of blogs that don’t work or to cut out activities that suck our time the fact is that for many bloggers it is these things that stand between success and mediocrity.

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. jeflin says:

    Once again, this is good advice. You are absolutely right that blogging on too many blogs is stressful.

    Your creative juices are taxed to the max and blogging becomes a chore or worse than a day job.

    Jeff
    http://jeflin.net

  2. Shanel Yang says:

    Even with all the great tips there are out there and on this blog in particular, it seems that in the end it all boils down to trial and error. Lots of trial and lots of error. But, it certainly helps to read about what has worked for all of you guys who have gone before us. Thanks for a great series. Very sorry to see it end. Also enjoyed very much your interview on The Blog Squad!

  3. This was my exact situation not too long ago. I had quality blogs within certain niches but it was just too time consuming for me. I decided to merge my blogs into one. So far so good….it’s not as good as having several blogs but it allows me to write quality posts and have quality time with my family, which above all, is the most important thing to me.

  4. Raag Vamdatt says:

    As of now, my biggest (and almost 100%) source of income is AdSense.

    I have always read that relying only on one income stream is not good strategy. So, very often I find myself searching of one avenue or the other for monitization. This, when I should be writing more!

    Thankfully, I am not at all thinking of running multiple blogs. I am instead focusing on my site on personal finance and investment planning – something I am really passionate about.

  5. Hilmar says:

    Great advice. I’m having enough problem now blogging on one blog, I couldn’t handle blogging on multiple blogs, my posts would just be really bad

  6. Tim says:

    When I first started in the blogging game I made the mistake of managing too many blogs. I thought more blogs more income! It was too hard to maintain and track performance. I now have one which I do part time and am able to focus all my energy on it and I have to say the results have been pretty great.

    As far as income streams are concerned I like to have at least 3 different types. Obviously I’ll ditch the ones that dont work, again adsense and donations is my biggest stream at the moment.

  7. Edward Lomax says:

    I find that spreading myself too thin is probably my biggest problem. I’m an idea person… and come up with tons of ideas I want to explore. Unfortunately, there is just not enough time in a day to do everything I want with any degree of quality.

    I have multiple blogs planned, but am thinking of keeping it to 2 or 3. I’m getting better as time goes on, and use software to help me make some of the blogging tasks easier, but to do quality work it takes dedication and focus on one thing.

    I practically have to force myself to stay focused, but find the results are much better.

  8. Currently, I only have one active blog. However, I have been looking to start my second blog.

    These are good points to keep in mind as I venture into the wilderness that is multiple blog ownership.

    Thanks for the post.

  9. Hendry Lee says:

    I remember not too long ago, bloggers were taking 10-20 blogs at a time. That certainly doesn’t work anymore.

    People expect top quality information. Passion is very important to follow through. It is hard or even impossible to fake empathy.

    In my opinion, multiple stream of income is not about multiple blogs, but income from multiple sources from one (or at most two) niches.

  10. I think this becomes a real concern for part-time bloggers who have other full-time employment that occupies 8 hours of their day, corporate firewalls limiting access to stuff, and then family life. I personally find myself stretched too thin RIGHT NOW and my professional blog, personal blog and renewed photography business all seem to squeak by at a turtles pace. Having a lot of life events can hinder the development and growth of a blog. I guess it’s another prime example of why you should have guest posters and posts lined up in que.

  11. B. Durant says:

    I agree that 2 blogs is the magic number. One personal, one niche focused. At least that’s what I can handle. I’ve tried the whole 50 blogs thing to increase my income. The only thing it increased was my dependence on caffeine to make some poorly written, poorly research posts. Lesson learned.

    Multiple blogs probably work well for people who write as part of a team. For example being able to write 2 articles on any given topic a week wouldn’t be too difficult and it would work well for readers if the off days were filled by other writers on the team. For one person though it’s hardly doable because of how badly everything suffers.

    As for your tips deadlines is what rings truest with me. I have a horrible habit of giving myself rotating deadlines. In other words I tell myself I’ll get it done by a certain time, but in the back of my mind I’ve already determined that it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t.

  12. Ryan Mac says:

    I used to try and run about 7 blogs at once, because I thought that if I wrote about more things then I could get more traffic. I was spreading myself too thinly and needless to say the blogs didn’t last.
    I have since deleted all 7 of these (plus others I had started) and I am now purely focusing on one blog (my financial blog) and I have a second blog which I go to every now and then (but it’s nothing special, just a long term goal).
    So the tip not to spread yourself too thinly is proven with me. Now that I just have one blog I am seeing better traffic than ever, and better income than ever

  13. Lenin Nair says:

    Darren, general ideas!

    Indeed, having multiple blogs helps a lot, however, I sincerely think that diversifying one blog is the best choice. And if you start to earn so well, then you can have one more (exactly as you have DPS). I am also planning to have one more when I start to get at least a hundred dollars from my first blog and can jump into blogging full time.

    As far as popularity is concerned, I know when our product becomes popular, and we become more powerful, our quality should increase. I am in that stressful situation now, having to research well and write only quality content : “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

    Social media marketing as you mentioned is one good aspect to get visitors, but as you say too many social media sites, it’s good to concentrate on one or two toppers only, correct?

    I am counting on Google for most of my visits, though I add in Digg and other some social media sites, Google traffic is great for long time.

    Liked your post

    Lenin

  14. Way to go Darren!
    You’re great at online management.

    I’ve come to realize that one site is more than enough for me at this point and time. Of course, the thought of another site feels exciting – yet there’s got to be enough time and motivation for the machinery to go round…

  15. I think I might be right on the cusp of this right now. I’ve been managing to juggle things okay but have this niggling feeling a few spinning plates might be about to fall on the floor and crash into a zillion pieces. I think it’s time for some serious prioritising and review of what things are really important (and most effective).

  16. Sunil says:

    I have one blog and one community board board but i would love to start one blog on Indian tourism but after reading this post i think i need some more time before i take any more project in my hand

  17. Funny I was just thinking of starting another blog today for seasonal depression support…I thought “it would be so simple and helpful”…Yikes! Maybe I won’t after reading this.

    I think the social networking is the culprit for most bloggers. I like stumble, digg, and BC discussions and pretty much just hang out there, I have met some very key contacts and fabulous friends from these sites.

    I try to rotate through them quickly though. Although I can’t help as a researcher to always be digging and stumbling.

    Any other sites my blog is registered at I spend less than 15 minutes at a day, and that is if I even stop by to check my facebook or anything like that.

    I think Twitter is a giant time vacuum…

    “What am I doing?”

    Umm…I don’t think you really want to know what I am doing…I am a doctor. You will be scared to know about what I am REALLY doing. ;)

    Thanks for the useful tips!

  18. I wish you came up with this post at least a year ago. I’ve had multiple blogs or adsense sites, hoping to cash in on the $10-per-site-times-number-of-sites-equals-big-income idea. Needless to say, it didn’t work out for me. I found myself unable to cope. It was even difficult to make $10 for every site. And then when it came to the letting go part, I was emotionally attached to the niche idea (depending on the site).

    To this day, I am still cutting down. After making so many mistakes, I am finally figuring out what is best for me.

    Thanks for sharing! Stumbled for its relevancy to my internet journey!

    Evelyn

  19. Bruce says:

    Great post series and the sad thing is I’ve found a lot of myself in some of these posts. I’m going to need to work a little smarter and not harder.

  20. The forum mentoring group I am with have suggested I start a second blog. Your post has helped me decide against it until my first blog is closer to realizing its potential. I am already spread too thinly with two other websites.
    My challenge is to stay focussed on activities that produce results such as articles, promoting etc., and spend less time being sidetracked with peripheral stuff.

    Thanks,
    David

  21. DavidTan says:

    I think all of us have that kind of dilemma and we call it greed. but like u mentioned, it won’t work if we spread it out too thin.

  22. this is an excellent post , I’m grateful to you, thanks.