Things Bloggers Do Behind the Scenes
My ‘Day of My Life in Photos’ post earlier this week hopefully gave you a bit of insight into what full-time bloggers actually do all day – and also into what slightly stupid people do all day, too, let’s be honest.
A lot of the people I speak to, however, are quite surprised to find that there’s a little more to it than simply writing posts, so today I thought I’d talk about some of the OTHER things bloggers do behind the scenes – or what I do behind the scenes, anyway. Things like…
Update old posts
I wrote a post last year about the importance of older content, and while a lot of bloggers think they have to constantly churn out new posts in order to keep their traffic high (I’m definitely guilty of this myself), if you take a look at your stats, I bet you’ll find that a lot of your traffic is actually going to some of the posts you wrote a long time ago. I don’t really think you can over-estimate the importance of some of those posts, so a lot of my time is spent going through my blog’s archive, and updating them. Quite often when I do this, it makes me cringe to see some of the photos I’ve used, or the opportunities I missed, so I’ll spend time either replacing or re-editing images, re-writing headlines, and looking at how to better optimise the article for search engines.
The vast majority of my early posts were written with absolutely no thought whatsoever about search engines, Pinterest, or… anything, really… so I missed a lot of opportunities with them. If I can fix the issues, I’ll update the original article (and then promote it on social media), but sometimes I’ll decide to just create a completely new post, or approach it from a different angle, if I think the subject is still relevant or interesting. I have a few beauty product reviews, for instance, which I’ve just created a new post for, because the old one was so long ago (and was SO BAD), that most of my readers will have missed it: if improving the original post is going to be as much work as writing a new one from scratch, it sometimes makes sense to just do that, and then re-direct the old URL to the new one.
Put together outfits/recipes/projects etc
This one will obviously depend on what you blog about, but as fashion is a large part of my blog, I also spend a bit of time doing what I think of as “styling outfits”, what Terry thinks of as “playing with clothes”, and what you probably think of simply as “getting dressed”. This is definitely one of the more fun aspects of the job, but it’s quite an important one, because if I left outfit decisions to the last minute (Which, to be honest, I do more often than I’d like to admit…), it would basically be the same outfit, every single time – so a bit of advance planning goes a long way here.
For other types of bloggers, that advance planning could involve trying out new recipies, working on DIY projects, or doing whatever it is they blog about. Of course, you COULD just wait until you’re ready to write the post before you try out all these things, but that’s when you discover the hair styler doesn’t work, or the outfit totally sucks, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. And one day I full intend to take that advice myself…
Reply to emails
Emails and other messages are a huge time-suck for bloggers – and for everyone else, really. At one point last week, I actually closed down my email programme, because I was getting a new PR pitch every few minutes, and once those PR people start chasing up to see why you haven’t replied to them, it gets really time-consuming to stay on top of it all. I have a few different techniques for dealing with email (and I’ll be honest, a lot them I just don’t reply to at all, because if I was to sit and write responses to every single person who contacted me in a week, I’d have no time for actual blogging…), but even when I’m just responding to the relevant ones, it takes up a lot of time every day.
Respond to comments and questions
Another fun part of the job is interacting with readers, whether in the comments section, or on social media. I personally don’t think bloggers need to respond to every single comment, but I do always try to answer questions when I get them, and because people ask those questions everywhere from Twitter to Instagram, and every other platform you can think of, that also takes up a bit of a time.
I touched on this above, but apart from answering questions, social media is also a really useful tool when it comes to driving traffic to your blog, so most of us have to spend at least some time posting updates to our various accounts. I try to automate as much of my social media as I can, because as I mentioned in last week’s post, you just can’t be everywhere at once, but it does still take up a chunk of time. Most of my social media time is spent on Pinterest and Instagram, but I know bloggers who seem to manage to be super-active on tons of different platforms, and I can only imagine how time-consuming that must be!
Research posts and brainstorm new content
This one will depend to an extent on the type of blog you write. I don’t have to spend a lot of time researching posts for Forever Amber, for instance, because most of my posts are personal ones, and it would be weird to try to research MYSELF, wouldn’t it? I do, however, devote a bit of time each week planning out content, and in the case of my other two blogs, I’d say most of my time is spent trying to come up with ideas for posts, and finding products to write about.
One common misconception about bloggers is that we just write one post per day (or a few a week, or whatever our posting schedule is), and that once we’ve hit “publish” on it, we’re done for the day. I mean, I WISH that were true, but I schedule all of my content in advance, and I like to try and build up a “bank” of posts, just to have them in stock in case I get sick, or something else comes up that stops me blogging. Holidays are also something that have to be planned really carefully: in a “regular” job, there’s normally someone to fill in for you when you take time off, but as a blogger you have to either write all of your posts in advance (Which is HELL, seriously), or just keep on working, no matter what. I normally start planning for holidays weeks in advance of them, so at any given time I’ll normally be working on a selection of different posts for my three sites, and scheduling them all in.
Take care of admin
As with any form of self-employment, when you blog for a living you’re not JUST a blogger: you’re also an accountant, a secretary, a PR person… the list goes on. Again, you can outsource some of these tasks: I pay an accountant so I don’t have to worry about that side of things, and some bloggers have virtual assistants do deal with the rest, but there’s always some kind of admin to deal with. Always.
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As I said, these are the things I spend most of my time on when I’m not writing posts, but the fact that I have three blogs to take care of means that there are plenty of other things I COULD (and probably should) be doing in addition to these, but which I just don’t have time for, because so much of my time is taken up with content creation. I’m thinking here of things like writing guest posts, attending events, taking part in Twitter chats, etc etc. There are so many things you can do to grow your blog that I’m actually starting to feel guilty right now about all of the things I should be doing instead of writing this post. I think I might have to go and have a lie down, actually. While I’m gone, feel free to drop me a comment, especially if you can think of any other “behind the scenes” stuff I’ve missed!