Bloggers are wasting millions of hours of productivity around the world – and it’s getting worse. Just over two blog postings are made every second of every day – and that’s only for the regularly active blogs. According to the latest figures from blogwatcher, Technorati, around 3m blogs are updated regularly and there are over 180m people who have started a blog.
With 40% of bloggers claiming to spend 10 hours a week on blogging you can begin to see that there are billions of hours of time that is now taken up blogging, which would have previously been spent doing something else – such as working…!
Of course, to a small proportion of bloggers it is work; either they are employed to blog or they earn money from blogging. Others, use blogging as a marketing device, so it’s not all bad news.
However, here’s the problem – many business owners cannot find 10 hours a week to blog. And if they do – perhaps because they enjoy writing – they are giving up time which could have been better utilised earning money. Furthermore, many corporates only think that blogging is worthwhile – they have little evidence that having thousands of bloggers within their corporation brings in any extra cash.
And there’s the problem for big business; they can’t give up blogging because their staff enjoy it and, besides, if they don’t do it their competitors will. The result is that the hours spent blogging could well be wasted hours – unproductive, non-rewarding hours for the business. And if you are a small business owner, the problem is worse. Your company needs as many financially productive hours as you can muster – take 10 hours a week away for blogging and your bank balance won’t look so healthy.
However, there are undoubted benefits to blogging – apart from the potential marketing boost, bloggers also help extend a company’s engagement and social reach. Furthermore, blogging has potentially therapeutic features making for happier employees. Plus, you can earn money directly from blogging.
So how can you achieve these benefits without wasting time? The average blog gets updated about once every two to three days; according to a survey at Problogger, around half of people who blogged in one month made less than 20 posts. If these people are spending 10 hours a week blogging – and 40% of them will be according to Technorati – that means many people are spending around two hours on each blog post.
Here’s why; they sit at their PC, face a blank screen and either can’t think of what to write, or have no idea how to put their ideas into words. They get up, go and grab a coffee and five minutes later come back to their computer only to find that the words have not miraculously written themselves. So, with no ideas in mind, they head off to their RSS reader to see if there is anything interesting they could latch on to. Or they trawl through Twitter, getting distracted along the way, to find any useful tidbits they could write about.
Half an hour later, still not a word written, they look at some news sites, trawl through Newsnow, or some other news aggregator until, eventually, they find something they can get their teeth into. Then they start writing, then rewrite it and then delete it all and start again. Eventually, an hour and 40 minutes into their two hours, they start writing something useful. Twenty minutes work has taken them two hours.
Is this typical? Maybe – certainly many of my clients describe this scenario; indeed it is why so many people give up blogging. They cannot devote the time – or waste it. Yet by giving up they are denying themselves the undoubted benefits of blogging to themselves and their business.
Here’s what to do. Have a plan…! At the end of each month, sit down and write your blogging schedule. Decide which days you are going to write a blog post and mark them in your diary. Allocate just half an hour to the activity in your planner. Now you know when you will blog so all you need to do is decide what you will blog about.
Divide your blog into themes – indeed it may already be broken down into categories anyway. Allocate just one category to each “appointment” in your schedule – and then repeat that until all your days for blogging are given a specific theme or category. You will know, for instance, that next Tuesday you will be writing on Category 1 and on Thursday it will be Category 2 and so on.
Now that you know which themes are on which day, start by looking at the first theme or category and find out how many times in the month you are due to write on this. Make a note of how many “stories” you need to find on the subject. Do the same for each category. Now write down what you could write about for each of those stories. For example, let’s say you have to write three blog posts in the next month about your category of “the credit crunch”. All you need to do is think about three things you could write about that subject – and write them into your planner or diary.
The result of all this planning will be that your diary has appointments to write on a very specific subject at a particular time on a single day. For example, you might now know that on the 22nd April you’ll be writing about “interest rates and the credit crunch” at 10.30am.
Over the weeks and days before that date simply carry on working as normal. When you see a web page, an article, a Tweet or anything of interest to your blog, just file it. (I use Evernote to do this – it’s brilliant.) Then, when you get to your appointment all you need to do is go to your file and look for items relevant to the specific topic you are due to write about. You should be able to get a few hundred words written in 20-30 minutes. If you can’t then get some training in writing – learn journalism.
The result of all this planning will be blogging that takes a quarter (or less) of the time it currently takes many people. And that will free up hours of time in which they can be more productive and earn more money. Plus, if blogging is making you money directly it will give you more time to write more blog posts – like the 42 a week written by Brandon Cornett.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+