The faces looking at me were excited but a little concerned.
I had just finished a presentation on how blogging can be an amazing weapon in your book marketing arsenal, the remarkable effects you can achieve by just investing your time and almost no money.
It was question-and-answer time, and the first question showed where that concern was coming from:
“But Joel, how do you find the time to do all that blogging, commenting, networking and all the other stuff you just told us about?”
Good question. And one we all need to find an answer for.
Let’s break it down.
Tips for Not Going Insane Keeping Up With Your Blog
Keep in mind that you might be hearing about or reading about a lot of these tasks at once, but you don’t have to do them all at once.
If we list all the things we do in a day, it can quickly become pretty overwhelming, even to us!
But realistically, many of these tasks take very little time in themselves.
For instance, checking out a couple of forums to see if there are any posts or questions relating to your topic of interest only takes a few minutes, and leaving a comment only a few more.
You can easily do this task in about 10 minutes a day, and if that’s too much time, you can do it every other day.
The key is how you organize it, just like with your other work. Try this approach to control how much time this takes:
1. Identify the discussion threads within the forum that are most appropriate.
2. Create a shortcut or link to those specific discussion threads and bypass the others.
3. Learn how to “scan” the posts to see if there’s anything relevant. Scanning takes seconds. Reading through the posts and all the replies can drop you down the rabbit hole, and you might not reappear for half an hour or more.
These same tips apply to blog commenting, which can take up a huge amount of time if you’re not careful. Just reading through the responses on some popular blogs can take quite a long time.
In fact, if you run into blog posts with dozens (or hundreds) of comments, you might want to just skip them. Here’s why: The idea behind blog commenting as a marketing tool for your own blog is to
1. Find other readers interested in your topic and,
2. Get on the radar of the blogger.
Both of these goals are a lot harder to achieve if you’re competing with 50 or 100 other commenters. Wait for an article with fewer comments, or where you can be one of the first 10 or 12 commenters and you’ll be using your time more wisely.
Blogger, Is Thy Name Multitasker?
I’m not a big fan of multitasking, since I find that trying to do more than one thing at a time results in confusion and lowers the quality of whatever I’m doing.
This may not be true for you, but we each have to find the work style that works best for us. In my studio that means that I assign times to work on one specific task, and I try very hard to make sure that time isn’t interrupted by other tasks, phone calls, or my own imagination.
I’ve also gotten better results when I have a specific goal for that work. For instance, if I’m laying out a book, I might assign time to create all the master pages and styles. Then I’m going to stay with that task until it’s completely finished. This one practice has made me much more productive.
The Content Chop Shop
Here’s another tip that will help you handle the writing for your blog.
Set aside some time, like on a weekend, when you can explore a subject more fully.
Pick a subject that’s got a lot of elements or connections to it. For instance, an overview of a process works well because most processes link to other processes, making the subject easy to expand.
The idea here is to have the time to really explore many facets of a subject. Just keep writing and don’t worry about how long it is. Go down every path that has something to offer.
When you’re finally finished, make the resulting piece into a series of two, three or more blog posts. Add an introduction and schedule the posts for the coming weeks.
If you blog once a week, you can write and schedule a whole month’s worth of content in a weekend. Now that’s efficient.
The Tyranny of “OPA”
There’s nothing that kills my productivity more than “OPA,” nothing that defeats my aims or causes more interruption in my day.
What’s “OPA”? Other People’s Agendas.
Yep, it’s all that stuff you do for other people, and it can be one of the toughest things to overcome. But I promise you this: if you can rid yourself of the OPA virus, you will get to your goals a whole lot faster.
Here’s what I mean: Take a look at your inbox. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
Back? What did you see? I’ll tell you what I see in my inbox, it’s probably not too different from yours:
• Newsletters that I subscribe to
• Product offers
• Friend requests of various kinds
• Invitations to pay attention to something
• Any time spent on most of these messages represents an investment in someone else’s agenda.
Hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I look forward to articles and offers from some of my favorite bloggers and teachers, because I’ve gained so much from them in the past.
But the overwhelming fact is that the more time you spend responding and reacting and friending, pinning, liking and all the other activities you’re being asked to do, you’ll end up helping everyone, except yourself.
That’s not a good outcome, is it? The point here is to learn to look at your inbox—and all the other requests for your time and attention—from the point of view of your own agenda.
Blogging can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity that supports the whole framework of your social media marketing. Or it can be a drag, sucking up your time and talent without giving you anything in return.
Managing your time well and finding efficient ways to handle the activities around blogging will go a long way to keeping it fun and profitable.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at TheBookDesigner.com. He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.