Bly’s Theory of Blogging

I am obsessed with not wasting time and being as productive as I can.

After all, my income is directly linked to my ability to produce quality work at a rapid rate.

This November will mark the 3-year anniversary of the launch of this blog, and the experience has led me to Bly’s Theory of Blogging and Personal Productivity, which states:

“Personal productivity is inversely proportional to time spent blogging.”

Is blogging fun? Yes.

Intellectually stimulating? Can be.

Useful? Opinions vary.

But the more time you spend blogging, the less work you get done.

This leads me to Bly’s Rule of Blogging Time, which states:

“Anyone who blogs more than 10 minutes a day — or more than an hour a week — is spending way too much time reading and writing on blogs.”

What’s your reaction to my Theory and Rule of blogging?

Can one spend too much time — or conversely, too little time — in the blogosphere?

How many hours a week do YOU spend blogging — both writing your own blog, responding to comments on your blog, and participating in discussions on other people’s blogs?

And really, you do it for fun, perhaps for research, or to establish yourself as a thought leader …

But you don’t think blogging is the new Marketing Miracle that’s going to Change the Face of Business As We Know It, right?


42 thoughts on “Bly’s Theory of Blogging

  • I agree with Gamermk. I would be inclined to think that each blogger’s differing personalities and abilities would dictate an optimal blogging time for themselves.

    I’ve been studying NLP lately and I think that Metaprograms might have something to do with it.

    I’m not sure though, I’m still learning. But of course, who isn’t???

  • Gamermk: If you work 50 hours a week and blog 1 hour a week, you are already spending 2% of your time blogging. This seems excessive to me. How much time do YOU spend blogging a week?

  • So the first two responders are saying that you need to spend time studying blogs in order to have the ability to create a good one? I guess I didn’t realize that blogging was such an art form, or science. People do take this too seriously.

  • Mike: My point exactly. You don’t need to study blogs to create a good blog. You don’t need a blog consultant or coach or ghostwriter. Blogging isn’t an art form or a science. And people who pretend otherwise, in my opinion, DO take it too seriously — way, way too seriously.

  • I think it depends why you’re blogging–and where you are in your career. For someone like Bob, who I’m sure has plenty of traffic and name recognition already, he probably isn’t looking to build a following or establish himself through blogging, and his time is probably better spent on other things. For someone like me–just getting started, trying to get more traffic and establish myself in my industry–I need to put a little more time into my posts so I can “prove” myself, in a sense. It’s not a miracle marketing technique, but I’ve found it to be helpful and much more fun than cold-calling.

  • I spend around two hours a week on Freaking Marketing. I do about 80% of my blog-related work during the off hours. As a stress reliever, it’s almost as good as my elliptical machine.

  • Bly should probably be spelt Bligh as you now seem to
    be rationing your blog as if it were grog.
    But you make your case very strongly and this will be my last visit ever to this blog. No more wasting time, back to work, chop chop.

  • I don’t spend enough time blogging because I am swamped with paying work. I find it hard to find time to write posts — even one or two posts a week.

    Why do I blog — that is, keep a blog and respond to other people’s blogs? Because it drives traffic to my site and newsletter subscriptions. Because other experts and journalists find me and interview me for their articles / websites / newsletters.

    Because most of the time, it’s fun.

    I just don’t like the anxiety I feel when I know I have to produce a post and don’t have the time to do so.

  • DH, RR: I agree that blogging can be fun and a nice break from the fast pace of client projects. But I know a few people who blog an hour a DAY. That’s insane, unless you are wealthy and retired. Tom: I am blogging at the same rate I have always blogged. I haven’t cut back. I’m just — like many of us — a fast blogger who doesn’t agonize over blogging the way I agonize over the copy for a client’s direct mail piece.

  • As a writer I believe in blogging as practice in selling my thoughts and ideas- as a kind of “marketing tool” like Jennifer stated. When I’m stuck on a client’s piece; sometimes I blog. When I’m struggling for ideas; sometimes I blog. When I’m longing for some kind of information, inspiriation, resuscitation, sometimes I blog.

    I don’t do YouTube or MySpace and I don’t watch much television. But I do read. A lot. Blogging is just another informative/networking tool… and can be a quality one at that when used properly. (Where else do you get to go into Bob Bly’s or other top copywriter’s heads regularly? What is detrimental to our work about that?)

    As a copywriter aren’t you getting work done if you’re drawing information and response from people? Doesn’t this blog and many others do that? Look at your list of blog links Bob, there are quite a bit there. Why are they there?

    I guess we might ask ourselves if any of us has drawn clients or bettered our work because of blogging? Is blogging on par with picking over industry newsletters and reading the latest copywriting books offering success?

  • Chris,

    Blogging makes me see things from a different perspective — both because I encounter new ideas and because I look at the world through a “is this a blog post?” perspective.

    I also don’t only read marketing blogs. My favorite blog right now is the Fake Steve Jobs blog. I read it when I need a break and a good laugh.

  • Ad Age reported this year that 35 million workers — or one in four people in the US labor force — spend an average of 3.5 hours, or 9%, of each work day reading blogs. I think that maybe that’s too much of a “much-needed break.”

    I read 4 blogs — two for fun (including and Stanley Bing’s blog) and two for work (including this one). But I’m on them less than 10 minutes.

    The other work blog I read (and respond to) has actually brought some work my way – so being involved with blogs can be and should be part of your marketing mix. For those with a name like Bob’s or Bing’s, they can have their blog. For someone like me, reading and posting — especially and obviously posting — is enough.

  • I personally spend atleast 30 minutes a day on my blog, and on other blogs if they catch my attention like this one did. I don’t think there is a limit to the amount of time spent. If it’s productive and it’s making you money, or getting you signups and subscribers etc, it’s worth it.

    It also depends on readership too, if you have a big subscriber base for your blog, you have to keep it updated more than if you had a smaller group because more readers will be able to see it and respond, so you can move on to next content. If your readership isn’t as big, then you can spend less time and give them a chance to check it out.

    It’s fun, profitable, and it gives you authority in your niche. Is it the future of business, I think it will have a BIG part to do with it, but I don’t think it’s going to be responsible for all business.

    Terrance Charles

  • TC: Here’s the problem with your approach: how many sign-ups do you get per week from your blog? What do those sign-ups cost vs. other methods. Example (made up): If your time is worth $200 an hour, and you blog 3 hours a week, it costs you $600 per week. If your blogging generates 10 new sign-ups weekly, you are paying $60 per new name. That compares very unfavorably with coregistration, pay per click, and other list-building methods that can bring you new names for between $1 to $2 per name, right? It’s not time/cost-effective. To quote Fred Gleeck: “Measurement eliminates argument.” Most bloggers — most online marketers — don’t measure enough.

  • This post is a little late for this section, but I’m catching up on Bob’s blogs. I realize I ruin my productivity when I spend too much time reading blogs and checking email during my billable hours, so I’m trying to schedule time all at once to do that. It’s been tough, but I’m learning! 🙂 I just wanted to say that I’m not taking joy in your misery, Bob, but as a fairly new dm copywriter, I take some consolation that even experts like you sometimes also “agonize over the copy for a client’s direct mail piece.” 🙂

  • You’re at it again, are you, Bob? I HAVE to blog more than an hour a week… I get paid to blog. On top of that, after going over our client list recently, we discovered that 73% of our clients came to us via the blog (without ANY mention on the blog of what we do – they came because they liked the blog and wrote to me; or they were referred by blogger friends.) So… if I were not blogging every day…I would not be in business.

    Blogging for business is alive and well. If you want to learn how to do it right, don’t listen to Bob… apparently he still doesn’t get it.

  • Bob, love your stuff. I’d like to offer one addition to your theory:

    No matter how much time you choose to spend blogging, you MUST proof each post to minimize typos!

    (And I don’t mean “you” in the “most persuasive words” sense; I mean YOU, Bob! :o)

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