Have you ever had one of those days where you set aside time to blog and while you spend the whole time that you put aside busily doing ‘stuff’ – you don’t end up actually writing anything?
I had one of those days this last week. After what felt like a busy day of ‘work’ I realized I’d not actually produced a single blog post.
As I looked back over my day and the things that I’d done it struck me that there are a lot of tasks that bloggers do that are important – but that can at times become distracting from… well… writing posts… the core task of any blogger.
16 Important but Potentially Distracting Blogging Tasks
Following are 16 potentially distracting tasks for bloggers (note, I’m not saying that any of these are not important or worthwhile, just that they can actually become a distraction if we allow ourselves to become sidetracked by them):
- Social Messaging - Twitter, Plurk, Friendfeed, Pownce…. (add your favorite micro blogging/social messaging service here). Each can suck up your time if you don’t get focused and put some boundaries around them.
- Social Bookmarking – many bloggers become somewhat obsessed with writing posts for and then gathering votes on social media sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz, Reddit etc
- Social Networking - building profiles and interacting upon Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace etc – all useful in building a brand and profile as a blogger, but potentially a distraction.
- Blog Design – blog design is important at creating a first impression but when you find yourself tweaking it, reworking it, planning your next one more than actually writing content for your blog you might be in trouble.
- SEO – like blog design there always seems to be something you could do a little better when it comes to optimizing a blog for search engines. It can be worth your time to do some of this, but one of the most effective ways of doing SEO is to write content that hits the spot with readers.
- Reading other Blogs in Your Niche – yet another great use of time, but many bloggers spend so much time on other people’s blogs connecting, leaving comments and even writing about them that they fail to write anything unique on their own.
- Reading about How to Blog – this might seem strange coming from a blogger who writes about blogging, but from time to time a blogger comes to me for advice on how to improve their blog who has done so much learning about blogging that my encouragement to them is simply to stop reading about it and start doing it.
- Guest Posting - I am a big fan about using guest posting on other peoples blogs to expand your profile and grow your readership – however the best way to utilize guest posting is to have great content on your own blog for the new readers you engage with to see when they come visit.
- Interacting with Readers - this is one that I hesitate to write about because I’m a firm believer in allocating time to spend one on one with readers – however as a blog grows it gets more and more difficult to do. There comes a time where most bloggers need to decide how to strike a balance on this front – boundaries and processes can really help.
- Networking with other bloggers – another great way to build brand and traffic to your own blog is to connect with other bloggers in your niche – however there are millions of blogs ‘out there’ and it can be an endless task.
- Monetization – finding and testing ad networks and affiliate programs can take a lot of time. Then optimizing them for your blog and tracking the results and extending your earning potential by finding private sponsorships and ad sales can really eat up even more of your time.
- Starting New Blogs – diversification is an important and worthwhile part of the journey of many bloggers development, however I come across some bloggers who start too many blogs too quickly and don’t give their early ones time to get going and develop before they branch out.
- Analyzing Stats – one of the biggest potential time suckers, that many bloggers become distracted with at different times, is analyzing your stats. Sure, you can learn a great deal from looking at who is coming to your blog, from where they come and what they do when they arrive – but at times, when you do it all day everyday, it can be a habit that takes you away from your blogging.
- Projects/Competitions/Memes - many bloggers wanting to run a competition or project on their blog don’t realize just how much work it can be to manage (or how hard it can be to get them working). They can bring a lot of life to a blog, but they can also be suck you (and your readers) attention away from your core blogging.
- Dealing with Trolls and Trouble makers – it is SO easy to get drawn into passionate (yet pointless) arguments with other bloggers and readers that can leave you emotionally drained and having wasted hours upon hours of your time. While at the time it seems to important to respond – many times it’s best just learn to hold it in.
- Tracking down copyright violations - unfortunately in the medium we operate there are people who scrape the content of others, whack ads on it and call it their own. While it can be important to track down these copyright violations down – the statement ‘how long is a piece of string’ comes to mind and some bloggers spend so much time tracking splogs down, issuing DMCA legal notices and attempting to get the content removed that they have little time for much else.
Let me reiterate – there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities…. BUT….
In fact I at different times I’ve recommended and given tips on all of them on this blog! However – this post is about balance and priorities.
While these are all great activities the danger is in those times when they sidetrack us from other core aspects of our blogging.
In my own blogging I try to guard against becoming distracted by:
- Having goals (both long term but also daily goals)
- Being aware how I’m spending time (periodically throughout each day I stop and ask myself if I’m on track
- Setting time aside for the most important tasks (I put aside three mornings a week specifically for content creation – I block out this time and remove other distractions for these times.
What distracts you most from blogging? How do you keep yourself on track?