02 October 2012

Blog Less to Get More Out of It

by Carrie Bailey

There are a couple truths I've come to realize:

  1. Blogging is time consuming.
  2. And...writing can make you fat.
So, I've been spending more time at the gym to deal with that second little problem. I like eating pineapple fritters, drinking coffee and lying in bed with my laptop much more than lateral pull-downs and elliptic machines. Much much more. And I like social media. And cookies.

Before I explain, I want to be direct about this. I didn't start writing to improve humanity or bask in the pleasant vibes of my own personal expression of the tenacity of the human spirit. I was modestly hoping to make money doing something I enjoy: researching, telling stories and making people laugh.

Sadly, there is a finite amount of time we can devote to developing our careers as authors. And I've had to come to terms with the infeasibility me achieving my goal with my current schedule.

See the purple section? Fifty percent. Social media is more than just social networking, it's a sort of black hole that sucks you in. Portals to the hole include blogging platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. Be honest. It is easy to talk about writing, then wait for the cascade of retweets and likes and shares and other little virtual forms of approval. And it is addictive. Social media stimulates the reward centers in our brains.
Listen to the Captain.

How many of these sorts of memes have you shared?

Even if you've only thought about it, it's probably too many, but, don't worry there is hope. With a good business plan, you can spend less time on social media and get more out of it. You just have to be willing to confront your fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of change or fear of the unknown, whichever fear is telling you need a steady stream of approval.

BAM! There. That's the sound of us beating down that fear monster. We won. Now, let's get serious about being authors.

Here's five ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media:

1. Focus your efforts.

Delete all of your unused or barely used accounts. An unused or outdated account can have as negative of an impact as a positive one can be beneficial. And people do find them. Don't ask me how. Just assess how much time you can spend per week updating and developing each social media account and keep only the ones you know you can maintain.

2. Automate the right things.

Please don't automate a "thank you for following me" or any otherwise direct message to a real person on a social media platform. It hurts people's eyes. However, you can benefit from tools that help you do tasks faster.

Manage filter -an application that lets you unfollow people on Twitter who don't follow you back.

Twit Cleaner -an application that lets you find and delete spammers and other unsavory Twitter friends that might have slipped under your radar.

Twitterfeed - an application that automatically posts your RSS feed to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

3. Develop your career.

If you haven't planned anything else to do, your web browser will open up social media sites ON ITS OWN. That's the secret they aren't telling you about Facebook. Be part of the effort to curb Mark Zuckerberg's complete takeover by remembering that there is more to do than just research, write, edit and market if you want to be a career author, but it's different for each author.

Personally, I'm setting aside time every week to learn about cover design. It's an area that, as an artist and a librarian, I feel I can gain an advantage and stand out.

4. Set definite goals.

Point A is where you are today. Point B is where you want to go. This is the essence of your strategy and your tactics are how you're going to get there. If I'm sounding too business-like, just click on the link for the Peevish Penman Facebook Page. We've got memes galore.

5. Join a blog with multiple authors.

I spent two and half hours writing this blog post. How? I copied links. I organized my thoughts. I edited. I made a completely unnecessary pie chart.

I love blogging, but the time I spend here doesn't pay (unless you click that Google Ad in the sidebar in which case I get at least 5 cents). So I spent all September seeking out the right five new authors to join Winonah and I over the next month.

Although it was time consuming organizing the new authors, I already know it's worth it. Normally, I post twice per week, which means I spend forty hours a month just blogging. On the new schedule, I will blog once per month. And a multi-author blog is a conversation, not one person on a podium.

I've done a lot of research on developing a powerful turbo charged writer's platform and I'm convinced that an increase in time spent on social media does not translate into an increase in author points.

Of course, you might me asking, "What are author points?" That's simple. They're a single unit of authorness. And according to this chart based on my own particular brand of scientific fact gathering, I like to call imaginative summation, after three hours on social media, you start losing points.

It's true! There's a sharp rise in typos and accidental postings after 3 hours. After 4 hours, you're getting repetitive and starting to bore people. At 6 hours, well, that's when it has seriously eroded the time you could have spent being a better writer.

Alright, no more charts.


  1. This is a terrific article about planning and best practices for blogging and a writing career. It is useful advice and I am glad to see that I am not the only one that gets sucked into the black hole. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Lillian. It's taken three years of experience for me to get this stuff straight and I wish I'd known then what I know now.

  2. When your new bloggers have their start dates, I think we-er, I mean, THEY, should compete for most Author Points. Competitions will be gladiatorial in nature, bringing a new meaning to the term "death of the author".

    (....too much?)

    1. I'm checking the budget right now for gladiatorial gear... looks good. How could that ever be too much really?