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16 Important but Potentially Distracting Blogging Tasks

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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?

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. Reading other personal development blogs and improving my design has been my biggest time sink. I’m finally getting away from that and writing with my own voice, though.

    Blog design is over-rated. Unless you have yellow text at 6 pt. on a white background, you’re fine. Interesting content gets read by interesting people, even if they have to read it in an ugly format. Once you build up popularity from your interesting content, people will be begging for the privilege of redesigning your blog for you. :)

  2. Mike Collins says:

    Great post Darren! I used to suffer from just about every form of distraction you can imagine (and still do at times). Then one day I realized I was spending so much time spinning my wheels that I wasn’t getting anywhere. That’s when I started scheduling time for reading other blogs, posting in forums, etc. I’ve found that blocking out a chunk of time for those activities helps me stay focused the rest of the day and my productivity has gone through the ceiling.

  3. Ryan McLean says:

    WOW! 52 Responses before mine.
    Bummer. Probably no one will ever read this.
    Thanks for the post darren

  4. Pangeran says:

    The only thing that can distracts me is the call of my beloved and the sounds of the Movie my mother watching. I can help to sit around with her and watch the movie with her. Besides, what this is all about (Try to make money – Online or Off line) if not for our family… Isn’t it?

    Who don’t agree?

  5. Martina says:

    I can relate to all these potential time wasters – particularly the social networking sites and their somewhat annoying applications. Between all the poking here and poking there, you can’t get anything done ha h!
    At the moment I am juggling the planning of my nearly 4 year old daughter’s birthday party, keeping on top of my new blog which is about gifts, fashion, accessories & party ideas for little girls (so yes, both relate to each other) but I like Louise’s (Barnes Johnson) idea of setting a timer – it is so easy to get side tracked that this would work well for me – great post Darren & thanks for the tip Louise : )

  6. autocad says:

    I think those you mentioned are all important but should be balanced. What hinders me really is procrastination and those things like looking at the stats all day are just the effect of procrastination. This is only my opinion and I’m maybe wrong….

  7. Ross says:

    Also – site tweaking…

    I often find myself (wasting?) spending hours looking at little tweaks, updates, plugins and ways to improve site layout…

    Not that its not important, but can distract from most important thing – blogging!

  8. The most distracting thing for me is my full time job.Often I have plans of posting lie 2-3 posts a day but the plan is spoiled when suddenly get a call from my hospital.

    The second most distracting thing is what you called ‘Analyzing stats’. Sometimes I start studying the anatomy of the blog stats for hours.

  9. Roger says:

    Great advice! Thanks.

  10. Tip Dad says:

    To be honest, most of my distractions happen offline (work, family, etc.). However, I have found networking to be a distraction in terms of the interaction required to maintain those relationships. Of course, I owe much of my early success to fellow network partners, so membership really is a double-edged sword.

  11. Great observation, it is important to keep balance and still perform all the important tasks

  12. Holly says:

    I spent a ton of my time doing these things for a while, then I realized that between school and socializing I did not get any blogging done. So I stopped and it’s worked much better.

  13. Angel Cuala says:

    When I sit and open my pc, the first thing I check is my mail and if there are comments on my blog posts, I moderate them, reply if I feel it is necessary or visit their blogs whether they are my niche or not. For me, the most important people in my blog are my readers so I prioritize them.

    I also read some of my subscriptions such as yours, so I guess you are a part of the distraction. Well, not really because I am learning a lot from you, Darren.

    Anyway, I think you forgot to mention managing and joining blog contests. I once held a contest to promote my blog, and it is really time consuming although it was rewarding in the end.

    You’re right though. This is all about time balancing and management. It is all about setting priorities. And it is the time that is killing us bloggers.

    Thanks!

  14. Stefani says:

    Thanks so much for this – I really needed it. I tend to go off balance either in too many of these activities and no writing, or all writing and none of the activities. I’m new and so the balance thing just hasn’t happened yet. I’ll be bookmarking this post so I can reference it to keep tabs on myself. Thanks again!

  15. Sometime I spend 2 hours reading other people blog to get some information and learn sometihing new, like this blog.

  16. UK VPS says:

    Yeh there is no point trying to get at people for copyright violations, unless you are rich and have a team of laywers. Better just to create some new content and tell google about it staight away using digg.

  17. Dilip says:

    Social network is definitely a distraction. But social life can be a distraction too. For example if I have a fight with my wife, I am unable to blog for the rest of the day.

  18. gout says:

    yes darren, very useful for me …thanks

  19. Nappy Rash says:

    I have to agree that it is incredibly easy to spend a great deal amount of time doing tasks that distract you from your main goal and focus – and a worthwhile skil to learn to do the opposite. A lot of things you do on the Internet look as if they are making a contribution and are worthy tasks, but these are perhaps not as effective at contributing to your overall goal as other (perhaps less fun) tasks. Since time began a core human skill has been learning to prioritize and organize your time by tackling the most important tasks first and this will never really change. It has always amazed me how some of the most successful people in the world do not appear to work very hard, but they just ‘work smart’ to use and old cliche.

  20. Mel Menzies says:

    Hi Darren,
    Yet again – spot on advice. I’m very new to this and probably in a different league to everyone else in that I’m in the business of writing books, so my blog is to attract readers to buy them. I spend hours looking at stats for my site and worrying about why, of all the readers who come, so few leave comments. I’ve asked questions. I’m about to do a guest blog. I’m running a competition. I’d love for you to look at my blog and see what recommendations you could make.

    Incidentally, when you talk about guest blogging, do you put the guest’s content on your blog, or do you link with theirs?
    Mel Menzies

  21. Julie says:

    Thank you, thank you, Darren. As a brand new blogger and not a bit technical or savvy or with it or anything else that leads to popularity in the blogging world, I was overwhelmed at first.

    I very quickly realized I needed to keep my priorities straight. For me, it’s not about popularity. I just want to have a place where I can share my thoughts and practice finding my voice. It’s not to build readership or have the most or best or any other superlative of any aspect of blogging. And at the outset, I could see (on other sites) there were people commenting for the sake of doing so. What a time waster for everyone!

    You have reaffirmed to me that I’m doing okay. Of course I can make improvements (and I’m gathering some ideas), but my main focus for now is how to add this beautiful task to an already overpacked schedule—and to learn to do it fairly well. I think that’s enough for a start.

    You’ve calmed my little internal storm, and I thank you very much. I don’t feel quite so much like a wee one lost in the dark, anymore.

    ~Julie

    PS: I’m saving your list! I might need reminding. ;)

  22. Athan says:

    blog designs and social networking.. these two are somehow what I consider distracting my focus on blogging. whew!

  23. att says:

    Such a delicate balance…only the truly successful bloggers have mastered it.

  24. impNERD says:

    Happens all the time! It is hard to manage the time, but it is important to set aside a certain amount for each activity.

  25. Workplace says:

    I guess I am wasting my time in your blog.

  26. Marie Thompson says:

    I agree with your post and have faced the same problems/distractions as a newbie blogger. The most time consuming distraction for me had to be thinking of ways to improve my site layout ..therefore improving number of visitors, until I found this amazing copywriting tool called Glyphius. The Glyphius software can be used for any blog layout and all other copywriting needs. This product has saved me a tremendous amount of time and effort in tweeking my site design in addition to improving the flow of traffic to my site.

  27. Carla says:

    I tend to get distracted with trying to solve a problem (usually computed/web based) and end up spending hours on it. Like transferring my WordPress.com blog to .org. That took me half the day!

  28. Norm says:

    Yeah I always getting distracted reading others people blogs. But perhaps best way to combat this is to set aside a set time each day or week to do certain task. Read people blogs once a week instead of daily.

    Been a blogger it is important to socialise and do all those things.

  29. suskanchan says:

    I totally agree with you. Be it social media, social networking or just posting comments to some other blogs, you DO tend to get distracted from the core component of blogging i.e, content creation. Look at me, I just logged on and found this post, and now I can’t resist the temptation to post a comment although my day has been scheduled to begin otherwise. Anyways, nice post…

  30. bagus says:

    Just did most of the list today…and one of it were read your posts in this blog lol

  31. J.D. says:

    It’s all about Discipline. Write your content first. Then, work on all the other important stuff.

    1. Write your content.
    2. You really need to Guest Blog.
    3. Work on everything else, like networking with other bloggers, your Del.icio.us social bookmarking, and posting on bloggers forums, helping out your fellow bloggers, and posting replies on pertinent blogs.

    You gotta have discipline. There is so much going on in blogging, that personal discipline is paramount. Otherwise you just drown in all the other stuff.

  32. Nappy Rash says:

    Does anyone know of any good task management websites – online task management. I know there are list makers out there but I was thinking about something closer to Microsoft Project but online, similar functionality. This would hugely help prioritization for me at least.

  33. Mr says:

    Wow so true. Doing almost all the 16 every single day. Good post.

  34. Amy Derby says:

    My biggest distraction is reading other blogs. It’s a fun, worthwhile distraction, but a distraction nonetheless. :-)

  35. How to Blog says:

    Recently, tweaking with my Blog’s Design and tweaking with AdSense colors and placement was my big “time consumer.” Not to mention the fact that I was always checking my statistics and my earnings when I could have been providing quality content for my readers.

    Content is king. If you write more and your articles are well written then the links will follow. The true way to blogging success… Content is king. Period.

  36. Ryan Graves says:

    I think that reading and intelligently commenting on other blogs in your niche are the most important things that you can do to drive travel and grow your base.

    Also, to answer as many comments as humanly possible. If you don’t talk back than other won’t comment. Driving the conversation is mission critical!

    check me out at http://ryanagraves.com

  37. Nathan says:

    Good post and I find myself distracted by many of those items. Tools like Twitter are useful when used properly, but it is so easy to become obsessed or distracted with every post on the list. My personal strategy is to follow who I can and hope that my reader list will grow, but also realizing that quality content trumps most other forms of advertising.
    I use addons to tweet new posts and make social bookmarking on my site easy for the readers, which saves me time and hassle.

  38. iAke says:

    Thank you for your god post.

    I love to submit digg, every time I post a new entry.

  39. #4 & 12
    I spent so much time changing templates, designing, redesigning, tweaking, resizing, only to end up going back to the basics, and ignoring all what I’ve done. I have lost count on the number of blogs and website I have created and closed.
    But at least I learned a lot from doing these.

  40. I came up with a daily checklist, because I was way too scattered with all of the things you talk about in this post. Now, I can sit down, check all of the items off and then get down to writing.

  41. The web is a double-edged sword..we have the ability to do great things on it but sites like these completely take us away from much of what has to be done! Too many distractions!

  42. Jack Payne says:

    Too good a description of my time–a big waste.

  43. This is so true. Great info.
    Wellness & Blessings to you

  44. Young Che says:

    I had a day like that yesterday. I ended up getting sidetracked by #4 – Blog Design. Today it looks like its gonna be a combination of
    #6 – Reading other Blogs in Your Niche & #7 – Reading about How to Blog. Blocking time for content creation is a great suggestion that I will have to implement.

  45. My classic mistake is spending too much time trying to tweak the look of my site.

    Im very happy with how it looks now but I still find myself neglecting the important tasks that need doing.

    Listen to Darren everyone. He is a Pro after all!! :)

  46. VeRonda says:

    Hey Darren… You know, I feel you on these items. As a blogger, you really just want to get it all right, but like anything else, it takes time. Thanks for the reminder of what’s really important and setting priorities.

  47. Holly says:

    I find it very difficult to stay on track when promoting because just blog hopping can turn into an all day task very easily. You go to a blog, read a post, comment, find another post you like, comment and etc. and before you know it, you’ve read 4 blogs from start to finish, archives and all and it’s 8 hours later and you’re tired and want to go to bed. I find it works to keep an eye on the clock, make sure I’m at least standing up, if not going away from the computer at least once an hour or so, getting something to eat and going back to what I had first intended to do.

  48. pearlin says:

    The trick lies in prioritising – do what is important that will move you towards your goals. Jack Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, developed what he calls the “Rule of 5″ to meet his goal of getting Chicken Soup for the Soul, to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List.

    Jack’s “Rule of 5″ requires that every day, Jack does five specific things to move his goal to completion.

    Completing five things each day doesn’t sound like much, but imagine this:
    Five pages of writing a day equal seven 250 page books in a year.
    Five new customers a day equal 1,825 customers in a year.
    The list could go on forever.
    By the way, Jack met his goal. Chicken Soup for the Soul, eventually sold over 8 million copies in 39 languages.
    How did he do it?

    He did five things a day.

  49. Yup Darren, you hit me right between the eyes with this one… but your list is tooo short.

    I have way too many interests in techie things and many others so I would add to your list with:

    17. Testing new video software.

    18. Editing my videos to make them “perfect” for posting to my blog and other websites.

    19. Talking too long on the phone with clients and prospects about the “how to’s” of Internet Marketing.

    20. And a big one for me, now in my 7th month of being free of the J.O.B., taking time off whenever I want to or my wife wants me to rather than planning time off for good behavior in my daily and weekly schedule.

    Being a full-time Internet Marketer/Blogger requires me to constantly look at better ways to manage my time. Thanks for your post that reminds me of this important part of my daily work.

    Henry

  50. Jo says:

    You are so right, it is so easy to get sidetracked. One really needs to stay focused in order to accomplish short and long term goals.