If you scroll through my recent posts, it might seem like I’ve been AWOL lately. Let’s face it – there’s not a whole lot of blogging happening on the blog right now. But the crazy thing is that even though you can’t see it, I’ve been blogging my booty off.
Just to be clear, I love this blog. I love blogging. Love it. Besides my family and running, it’s one of the few things that I’ve felt passionate about in my adult life. And believe me, I count my blessings every day. I know how many people would love to be in my position – to have the option of being a stay-at-home parent while pursuing a dream that brings in no money. Especially when I could return to the full-time workforce with relative ease and make a nice contribution to my family’s income.
But that’s not really what this post is about.
Last week, I added up the number of hours that I spent from start to finish on a particular blog post. And even though I’ve been doing this for 9 months now, the number still blew me away. I thought it might be interesting to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the time and effort that goes into almost every single one of my posts. Bloggers – you probably won’t read anything new here, but I’d love to know how your experience compares to mine. And non-bloggers – I think what you’ll read here will surprise you.
One more thing before I begin. As some of you know, before Mommy Runs It was born, I was part of the writing team for a blog called Madame Deals. And even before that, I wrote a weekly column for Madame Deals called “Ask a Marathon Mommy.” I’ve also been a contributor on a number of other blogs, including Pretty Muddy and Mom It Forward. So I can tell you firsthand that writing for a someone else’s blog is a piece of cake compared to owning and operating your own blog. Hats off to those who came before me. I had no idea.
The Life Cycle of a Blog Post
I’m sure it will come as no great surprise that every blog post starts with an idea. For me, an idea is just a thought that starts squirming in the back of my brain, something that starts out kind of loose and wobbly. Sometimes the loose bits of thought float apart and the idea never takes shape. Other times, the thought dances and bounces around my brain, picking up other thoughts as it goes, until an idea for a post starts to come together. Sometimes this happens quickly, but more often than not, I spend days with a thought rolling around my brain before I’m ready to sit down at my computer and put it into words.
Sometimes the idea is handed to me – a product that I’ve reviewed or a race that I’m promoting. But that doesn’t change the process a whole lot. I still spend just as much time thinking about what to write. Sometimes I actually spend more time on this kind of post, because instead of just writing straight from my heart (like I’m doing now), sponsored/review posts may have certain parameters or require some additional research.
Either way, a 300+ word post is going to take me a minimum of two hours just to write, and it might take quite a bit more than that. It depends on my passion for the subject, how much I have to say about it, how easily the words flow from my fingertips. Some of the hardest posts to write are the ones that fall outside of my niche or that just don’t interest me very much. Those can take twice as long to write because I labor over every single dadgum sentence.
Once I’ve finished my writing, the post is only about 50% complete.
First, I have to insert all of the necessary links. Sponsor links, affiliate links, links to my older posts. Each type of link requires a slightly different format. Each affiliate link has to be generated uniquely. And if I don’t do my links correctly, Google might send me to sit on the Naughty Step.
Next come the photos, which is not an easy task for a lousy photographer like me. If I’m using my personal pictures, I need to weed through them and take more if necessary. Then I edit them, watermark them, add text, make them “pinnable.” If I’m using photos that don’t belong to me, I have to make sure that they’re properly sourced. Upload, insert, resize, repeat.
Then I add a disclosure. Categories. Tags. Alternative text for my images. A featured image. SEO and keywords. Proofread.
Next thing I know, another three or four hours have passed. And then, finally…I hit the Publish button.
So I just spent somewhere between 4-6 hours writing and editing a blog post. And that’s an easy post. I’ve spent as many as 10 hours on one post. TEN!
And now comes the fun part – getting people to actually READ what I’ve written.
I promote my posts on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and StumbleUpon. And not just once, but ideally multiple times a day (more or less, depending on the platform). And in addition to promoting my most recent post, I’m also trying to draw some attention to my older content – especially posts which may have been overlooked when they were originally published.
I work with other bloggers via a variety of platforms. I have probably about a dozen Facebook groups that I keep up with daily – I help promote & support other bloggers, and they do the same for me. I join ladders and linkies and liking parties. I participate in blog hops and group opps. (Would you, could you in a box? Would you, could you with a fox?)
I love this part of blogging, I really do. But it’s incredibly time consuming. Last Monday, I spent four hours adding my two current giveaways to every giveaway site that I could find. Oh, hey, did I mention that it can be tedious, too?
I spend a lot of time on this phase of the life cycle. Too much perhaps? I’m not sure. I always tell myself that I should set a daily limit for my social media time, and then spend the rest of my time generating content. But my struggle is that I’m often only able to work in 15 minute increments (e.g., in between appointments, at the bus stop, etc.) and it’s a whole lot easier to just hop on Facebook and share a link or two. By the time I pull out the laptop, collect my thoughts, and start writing, my work time and/or quiet time is over.
This is the part where I get to spread my wings and fly…where I try to turn this blog into a brand and a business. I spend this time joining blogger networks, applying for sponsored opportunities, finding ways to monetize, responding to pitches, and pitching brands that I want to work with. For every yes, I get at least 10 nos. See, in order to be successful in this stage of the life cycle, I have to excel in the other three stages. I have to write good content, have appealing & searchable posts, and build an audience that sticks around because they dig me.
Will the Circle be Unbroken?
In conclusion? When all is said and done, I can easily spend 10-15 hours a week writing & promoting a single post. Perhaps that explains why you might only see one post a week here. The thing is, I know I’m not working as efficiently as I could be, because lots of bloggers publish several good quality posts a week. I think these are the truly successful bloggers – because no one’s going to read your blog if there’s nothing new there for them to read – know what I mean?
On the other hand, I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I like my blog and my itty bitty brand. And I think a little patience and perseverance will go a long way here. I guess only time will tell how far I’ll fly.
Thoughts or advice? I’d love to hear it! Please tell me what you think.