How Many Hours Should You Spend on Your Blog per Week for It to Be a Success?

Time flies...

[This is part of the Blogging Foundations Starter Kit Series.]

One of the questions I get often (and I just got this question again yesterday) is about the amount of time I spend on my blog, either per day and/or per week:

Generally the question is asked in the context of what it might take for someone to make a certain amount of money via their blog or to reach some other metric of success, like traffic (hits, pageviews, comments, etc). The question might look like this:

John, how much time should I spend working on my blog to achieve the financial and traffic goals that I want to achieve?

It’s actually an easy question to answer, at least out of the gate, and you can probably already know the answer yourself: It depends.

I’d also follow up very quickly and answer: As many as you possibly can as long as they are productive hours!

You see, generally you want to make sure that any hours that you’re spending are as effective and profitable (not just monetarily) as possible. No time to waste on your blog and every hour counts!

But I won’t leave you there of course! Here are some more thoughts to clarify what I mean:

Blog Growth ≠ Amount of Time Spent

Time spent on my blog can look like this sometimes.

This is one of the most fundamental truths that you must become very comfortable with as you grow as a blogger: The amount of time you spend on your blog is not necessarily directly proportional (nor is it guaranteed to be proportional) to the amount of success that you will see or achieve.

To be quite frank, it’s really quite a mystery why many blogs are “successful” and that’s one of the neatest things about blogs!

You are entirely dependent on a combination of what you can and cannot control. And why not, right? Nothing like a little bit of “faith” as you work through and grow your blog as it relates to the “uncontrollable” factors!

And it keeps you on your toes!

Strategies for Calculating Time

What does this mean for you then? It means that you manage and create measurable systems that work for you and your time that’s available for the growth of your blog. Here are some ideas:

  1. Create short term goals. I’ve talked about this already but it’s worth repeating. I can’t tell you how important this is for me! It is then assumed that you must commit the required amount of time to make those goals happen, which leads me to #2.
  2. Commit to a certain amount of blog posts and then experiment with the varied success or ability to hit that quota as it relates to your time. One quick way for you to know if you’re spending enough time working on your blog and writing for your blog is whether you’re able to actually do it! Let’s say you commit to 3 blog posts a week and you realize that it takes you about an hour per post. Do you have 3 hours a week to dedicate to writing? If not then experiment with another quantity!
  3. Reverse #2 and commit to a certain amount of time during the day and/or week for your blog and then see what the level of productivity is generally created over a month’s time. For example, you’ve committed 5 hours a week for your blog and you manage to publish 7 posts a week as well as test new plugins and even work on tweaking your WordPress Theme. Sounds like you’ve got a good benchmark!
  4. Find what is sustainable. Most people establish goals based on emotion rather than hard facts about their availability. This is especially relevant to new blogs or new bloggers who are at an emotional high with their new property and think they can commit to more than what is actually realistic and sustainable. I’ve seen way too many bloggers just quit due to their inability to meet their expectations and burnout is rampant among bloggers as well. Don’t be one of those!
  5. Leave room and be flexible with your calculation of the time that you think you can commit. There are days and weeks where you simply won’t be able to meet your goals and be ok with that! Don’t beat yourself up over missing a day or two here and there – your blog is still there and your community is still waiting for you (although they won’t wait around forever!).
  6. Finally, make sure you’re always having fun with what you’re doing. I’ve stressed this enough but it’s a key barometer for me to tell me whether I’m quickly running toward being burned out or doing things with excellence.

I hope that provides at least some practical strategies for you! The bottom line is that you will have to start somewhere and then begin to see if that number is right for you or completely wrong.

Generally, if I were to give you any counsel on where to start, I’d suggest at least an hour per day (not always writing though) if you can. I think that if you’re not committed to spending at least an hour a day then you’re probably not interested in taking the blog too far as it relates to success financially or traffic-wise. This isn’t a bad thing as many people aren’t interested in that type of stuff!

To each his own!

You Didn’t Answer the Question Sir!

I spend a full work week on my blog!

Of course I have dodged the question long enough in this post and it would be sad for me to just close there, so let me answer the question quite plainly: Currently I spend anywhere from 35 to 45 hours on my blog(s) per week. This includes the following:

  • Drafting and writing content.
  • Recording screencasts or rich media.
  • Finding relevant media (images, video, audio etc).
  • Mining for content and/or researching.
  • Editing guest posts and managing writers.
  • Editing and/or tweaking the theme design and/or plugins.
  • Cleaning up and/or managing information architecture within the posts and pages.
  • Building and executing strategy for monetization.
  • Planning out Blog Series (current and future).
  • Messing around with new applications that are directly related to my blogs.
  • Interviews, general administration, and goofing around.

Again, don’t forget that I’m a Full Time Blogger so this is what I do! Most people can’t possibly commit to that time requirement, at least at this stage in the game.

But here are some thoughts on how that might eventually shift for you…

A Plan for Increasing Blog Time

I wasn’t always a Full Time Blogger and it took time for these things to grow to a point where I could make a financial living off of them without playing with too much fire, so to speak, and without much risk. Here’s what generally happened over the course my time as a blogger and how it eventually birthed a job for me (never forget where you came from!):

  • It started out as a general area of interest. I wrote a few blog posts a day and had lots of time to do it. I enjoyed exploring this new landscape as a blog and wrote content because I wanted to. I had no intention of making a living off of it! 1 to 2 hours a day, max! This lasted 7 years.
  • My blogs grew and I realized that it was something of significant interest. I committed to seeing if I could “make it” and dedicated 2 to 3 hours a day for a year. I wrote at least one post a day as well as experimented a lot with many various blog platforms and services. This lasted 2 years.
  • I continued to hone my craft and started experimenting with monetization. I knew what it took to be successful and I committed for a year to see if I could really make it into a full time income type of situation. I increased the amount of time and intentionality as if I was already there, despite the fact that I wasn’t making a full time income. I balanced this as best as I could with a full time job and spent many evenings working on it. I worked at least 3-5 hours a day and sometimes more and sometimes less on the weekends.
  • I finally was able to take a look at the financial models and realized I could make it! I quit my full time job and became a Professional Blogger. I now work about 5-6 hours a day on my blog(s).

What you might take away from this is that it took some time for one to grow into this in a serious way! It wasn’t a cake walk and I wasn’t an “overnight success” as many bloggers claim to be. It required a lot of time, patience, and stamina to make it and I would strongly suggest that you have a long term perspective if you really want to make it work!

Remember, launching a blog is easy but being successful is much more difficult!

Ready... Go!

What it’s going to take though is for you to create those short term goals and then revisit them to see, over time, if you’re able to make it. Here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. Create short term traffic goals as well as yearly goals. Here are some thoughts about creating realistic and challenging goals as well as 10 ideas for goals this year in 2011.
  2. Every quarter you should review your traffic growth as well as the financial growth from your blogs. Document these things and then project how it’s trending and what you might expect next quarter as well as for the rest of the year.
  3. Monitor every quarter how you are doing in terms of content and energy around your blog. Are you still as energized as when you started? Are you having a hard time meeting your goals? Are you tired of it or find yourself exhausted? All of these things can help you become more laser-focused as well as tell you if you need to ultimately stop and do something else with your life!
  4. After that first year take a look back on where you started this journey and see how far you’ve progressed. See how well you’ve done and estimate what it might look like next year. Commit to an increased amount of time for your blog, even you can, and factor that into your general calculations (there’s no need to be super accurate here). Do this for both your traffic growth and patterns as well as your financial solvency.
  5. Rinse and repeat until you find yourself exactly where you want to be! You might be making a small amount of income and you’re quite happy with that or you might be at a place where you can jump from the “mothership” and join the ranks of Professional Bloggers! There’s a lot of different spots in between those two places so be clear with where you want to be.
  6. Rejoice in the fact that blogs are awesome.

And that’s about it! There’s really no “formula” for this type of thing and every journey and experience is wildly different and unique! That’s one of most beautiful things about blogging as there are very limited rules that you need to follow and many successful bloggers have some really unique stories to share about how they got where they are today.

Good luck and have fun with it! Let me know if you have any questions!

[This is part of the Blogging Foundations Starter Kit Series.]