Aside from writing a new blog post every day, bloggers have dozens of other tasks on their To-Do lists, most of them related in some way to the Internet. And the very fact that we spend all day in front of our computers, working on the Internet, means we also have more distractions we can’t easily avoid. Here are eight addictive habits that bloggers fall into and what you can do to kick them.
Checking Stats Constantly
Even though I’ve been blogging for years I still occasionally find myself obsessing over stats. For example, if I’ve entered a blogging contest I’m constantly checking to make sure I’m getting the traffic I need to win. Early on in my blogging career I’d look up at the end of the day and realize I’d done nothing but chase stats all day.
Set aside a specific time each week to check your stats and focus on a specific goal each time. For instance, instead of looking at where all of your traffic is coming from, look at the traffic coming from social networks this week and see what you can do to improve it. There’s no way you can take in the whole big picture in one sitting without missing something so pick one indicator each week.
Checking Email Constantly
In the beginning I always kept a window open to my email and I’d find myself clicking over to refresh the page every five minutes. Then I started leaving the window open and setting alerts, which still didn’t help because I’d click over every time the little blinker went off.
It’s important to understand that absolutely nobody you deal with expects an instant answer to an email. We all live in different time zones, we all take different days off, and we all have other obligations that take us away from the computer. Everyone understands this.
Check your email once a day – twice at the most – and take care of it the minute you open it. In other words, if you don’t have time to answer email, don’t open it until you do.
Spending Too Much Time Socializing
Yes, it’s important to interact with your followers however, you’re running a business. If you’ve targeted your followers properly they know you’re running a business and they won’t expect you to be online 24/7, nor will they expect you to do nothing but share their content and gossip.
Set aside a specific time each day to interact with your followers and make every interaction count.
Spending Too Much Time Networking
Networking with other bloggers is essential for your business. You learn new things from each other and you can work out ways to collaborate that benefit the group. However, you can also go off on tangents and wind up discussing the weather, your family, and what happened on your last vacation.
I have a separate Skype account that I use for networking with other bloggers and I keep myself invisible most of the time. We have a prearranged meeting time that’s convenient for everyone. If we make it online, fine, if not, we can always read back over the conversation when we’re available.
Obsessing Over RSS Subscribers
We’ve all done it. You visit your favorite blogs and see how many RSS subscribers they have and you start worrying about your own numbers. Then you spend the rest of the day setting up a fancy subscription form and sending out emails….
You’ve just wasted an entire day chasing RSS subscribers and for what? If you don’t focus your attention on providing great content those subscribers aren’t going to visit your blog anyway. And when you do focus on your content you’ll attract even more visitors. Chasing RSS subscribers while ignoring everything else is a complete waste of time.
Obsessing Over Search Engine Rankings
Call me crazy but I only check my search engine rankings once a month and then I only look at certain key performance indicators. If you’ve been blogging as long as I have you could spend months just checking each keyword on your blog just to see where you rank and never have time left to try to improve those rankings.
The indexes are going to ebb and flow no matter what you do. Your time is much better spent creating fresh, new content to bring in visitors and links.
Spending Too Much Time In Forums
Personally, I think forums are nothing but a big time-suck. Most conversations start out with good intentions and quickly turn into either a brawl, a gossip fest, or a whine-and-cheese party. No thanks. I have better things to do.
However, the exposure you get from forums is beneficial. Again, most people in forums realize you have other things to do all day so they don’t expect you to be on hand 24/7. I visit two or three times a week to look for new threads where I can either answer a question or find information. Limit yourself to 15 or 20 minutes and then get back out.
Spending Too Much Time Chasing Followers
A good portion of my traffic comes from the social networks but it’s not the largest portion. I’ve found myself spending days at a time on Twitter or Facebook, trying to gain as many followers as possible. Again, I’ve looked up at the end of the day only to realize I’ve wasted yet another day… for what? A bunch of people who are only following me because I followed them? These people will never visit my blog. They only followed me because they’re polite.
Instead of chasing followers, spend your time creating the type of blog that people want to follow. If you create content that people feel compelled to share, your readers will take care of bringing you new followers.