I started this blog
last month 4 months ago and aimed to publish a post once a day. It was an ambitious goal but i really wanted to push hard to get some momentum going.
I know myself – if no targets were set, i would either take weeks to write a post, or have an endless list of excuses why i don’t have time to sit down and write. And then – like most of the blogs on the Web – it would have got off to a spluttering start and then just free rolled without any direction until it came to a complete standstill.
So, i devised a plan that ensured constant attention would be devoted to it:
- 1 Post a Day for 365 Days
- Each Post to be Published Daily
- No Set and Forget Scheduling
- Decent Length & Non Spammy Posts
In addition, i also tried to track how long it took to write each piece, and constantly tested different ways to write as efficiently and quickly as possible.
30 Posts in 30 Days
Well, i successfully managed to complete the first month. I wanted to get a taste of what it takes to publish a blog, and i think i got a good idea of what’s involved in writing the posts. But i get the feeling there’s actually a lot more that needs to be done.
Each post was taking between 1 to 2 or more hours to write, and by the time they were checked, formatted, and had an image inserted (when there was one), an average of 90+ minutes was spent per day before the publish button could be clicked. In fact, i think it was more like 105 minutes.
An hour or two a day may not be a lot if this is a full-time gig, but when you’re juggling a proper job, and trying to make as much time as possible for the kids, it does push you to the limits a bit.
In theory, it’s all quite doable. However, here are some of the real issues i came across:
- More often than not, you sit down and can’t think of much to write.
- On other occasions, you write but you’re not happy with it, and end up deleting it all.
- If you aim to post 7 days a week, that means no weekend breaks, which is quite tough.
- There are some days when you just don’t have that hour or two. Or they’re unproductive.
- You need to always have at least one or two articles in hand to cover for emergency days.
- You have to constantly be working on lots of ideas, outlines, and half-written posts.
- It’s not as simple as sitting down for 2 hours a day and then hitting publish. The whole process is very non-linear – it depends on your inspiration, mood and available time in the house for a bit of peace and quiet.
Each Post Takes More Time than you Think
For those of us who don’t write for a living, blogging can be a very interesting experience. I found myself constantly working on article titles and ideas in my head. Almost everything around me became a topic for discussion or analysis. In a way, it made me more aware of my surroundings, although it was sometimes at the expense of not hearing what my wife said.
Basically, trying to put out a post per day can completely absorb you. You’re jumping out of bed when it’s still dark in order to get some quality writing time before the kids wake up. You’re running through which idea to work on first as you fall asleep. You’re trying to create bullet points in your head while waiting at the traffic lights. You’re trying to make a mental note of relevant talking points you think of when you’re in the supermarket checkout.
In short, it’s not just about sitting down for an hour or two. Your mind is constantly at work throughout the day to develop and refine ideas. And when these thoughts are coherent, the words will flow a lot more smoothly when you sit down in front of the laptop.
Anyway, it was extremely useful for me to go through the 30 days. Nothing beats doing it yourself, and the experience gained is invaluable. You can sit down and read countless blog posts (like this one) to try and figure out what posting frequency you should aim for, but ultimately, you’ve got to try it yourself, and keep on monitoring your progress.
Some people have more ideas, some have a better command of the language, some express themselves better, some type quicker, some have stricter quality controls, and some are just much better writers. It all varies from person to person.
Even if you try writing 5 posts over 5 days or publish 10 articles over 10 days, you’ll get to know yourself better, in terms of your writing abilities.
One thing that will have a similar effect for most bloggers is the targeted post length.
Some bloggers can take 15 minutes or less to create a post that contains an image or an embedded YouTube video together with a few sentences. I averaged about 100 minutes because i had a 500 word minimum target, and aimed for 750+ words to produce longer articles. I think some of them ran on to over 1200 words.
In hindsight, this is the main thing i’m going to change, as I don’t think it’s the best way to spend my time – ie. spending all my ‘blogging time’ to write long posts every single day.
Even before i got to day 30, i knew some changes needed to be made. It just wasn’t efficient. There are lots of other things that need to be done to make the blog successful, and if all my available time is spent writing, many of these other tasks will be neglected.
Marketing your Blog & its Content
Google claims that bloggers should focus on creating high quality original content and their search engine will automatically send us relevant visitors. After all, content is king right? Well, it’s not that easy.
I knew this already, but still wanted to test it out for myself. Since PapaBlogger went live, i have not promoted it at all. No announcements on Facebook, no emails to friends and family members, nothing. I wanted to see if i could get traffic naturally, and that’s partly why i went all out to publish fairly detailed posts, so that low quality content wouldn’t be the reason why i don’t get many visitors.
And when i checked my traffic stats, it confirmed my suspicion. Every day, there were only a few visits to my blog’s homepage, and those were probably a mix between me and search bots. Bottom line – bloggers need to market themselves, their blog, and their content to generate traffic. You can’t just post content – which you think is brilliant – and then expect them to come.
Okay, so that’s why it’s not wise for a blogger to spend all their available time on content creation. There needs to be a healthy balance between writing, responding to reader comments, reaching out to fellow bloggers, commenting on other blogs, replying to emails, and testing out the ever-growing number of ways to promote your blog online.
I only have a maximum of about 2 hours per day for my blog, and in the first 30 days, i was spending almost all of it writing articles. This isn’t a viable strategy going forward, which is why i decided to refine the plan.
No doubt it will be continually tweaked in the future, and when it does, i’ll share my thoughts and reasons for doing so.
NOTE/UPDATE (2nd August 2014)
I wrote the article above in May 2014 but forgot to post it. That’s what happens when you push too hard in the first month and then take your foot off the gas in the subsequent weeks!
In the 3-months following the initial 30 day blitz in April, i’ve published less than 10 posts. That’s an average of 3 per month versus 30 in a month. It’s a huge and embarrassing difference, but one that’s worth documenting to illustrate the realities of starting a blog.
There are a few almost completed articles and quite a few half written ones in the works, but without a fixed posting schedule, it has been all too easy to just slack off. Hopefully, there will be a more balanced approach over the next 4 months.