Why You Need the 80/20 Rule if You Want to Grow Your Platform

the 80 20 rule 

We are creatures of habit, and we can so easily be caught up in our routines and systems. This is especially true for bloggers, who control their own schedules and have to face a whole slew of new challenges as they grow: how to build traffic, how to monetize, how to avoid burnout, how to resist the urge to give up. And as I wrote about a few weeks ago, one of the biggest mistakes bloggers can make is to spend too much time simply churning out content. If you’re just operating in survival mode five days a week, it becomes impossible to tackle the big-picture growth initiatives.

Which is why the most successful bloggers I’ve seen—the ones that built blogs with millions of pages views in just a couple of years—are the ones that understand the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule is this: you should spend 20% of your time creating content and 80% of your time finding ways to share it. Here’s why it works:

  1. Each post can be better quality. The absolute most important thing to remember when you’re blogging is to write content that is helpful to others. If you’re not helping others, what’s the point? For many bloggers, that means spending about 20% of your time to write one or two really interesting and insightful articles a week, rather than five halfway-helpful articles every weekday. Quality over quantity, people. Every. Time.
  1. You free up time to actually get your content to readers. One of the most common myths about writing—whether it’s a book or a blog post—is that doing the actual writing is the hard part. But in reality, it’s getting your writing out into the world in an effective way that trips most people up. Unfortunately, your perfect target audience won’t just magically come to you, and with a book, you can’t expect a publisher to handle all the marketing and promotion for you. So the sooner in your career that you understand how to get your work to the people it can help, the sooner you’ll find both financial success and professional fulfillment. This means setting aside 80% of your time for social media, guest posting, SEO research, reader management, speaking engagements, press outreach, etc. so that you’ll have an ever-increasing flow of visitors to your blog.
  1. You won’t be wasting one of your most valuable assets: evergreen content. Often I hear bloggers worry that once a post is over a week old, no one will have any interest in it anymore. And yes, the format of a blog—where posts are pushed down the page in chronological order—can perpetuate this idea. But the truth is that most bloggers have content that is evergreen, meaning that it will be useful to readers whether it’s a month old or a year old. Your archives are actually a great fount of content to fuel your new 80/20 balance. By mining them and sharing older posts on your social media channels, you’ll also increase the odds that you’ll surface an article that is exactly what a particular visitor is looking for.
  1. You can spend more time on big picture initiatives. I love that in my job I get to hear so many people’s creation stories: why they started writing or blogging, when they started, and how they grew their audience. And I’ve noticed something extremely interesting in talking to hundreds of bloggers about their experiences: the ones who succeed at a higher level and at a quicker pace are the ones who learn how to treat their blog like a business that must be monetized. Too many bloggers plateau after the first few years because they spend 100% of their time creating content, and they don’t focus on big-picture growth. Meanwhile other bloggers, who have often been in the game for less time, immediately focused  on building traffic and making money. This not only motivates them to keep going, but it also allows them to outsource a lot of the drudge work of promoting content, while they get to focus on the bigger projects that are still part of that 80% split, like launching a course or writing a book.
  1. You will be less likely to burnout. I could give you a million reasons why focusing on the 80/20 rule can help you grow your blog, but at the end of the day, the important thing is that it will keep you from burning out. And losing your mind. And turning into a terrible angry monster that no one wants to be around. If you spend all of your time just churning out writing and little time doing the things that will motivate and reward you with results, it ends up being too easy to quit.

So here’s my PSA for the week: step away from the keyboard, create some space in your schedule to draft your promotional strategy plan, and then schedule that 80/20 balance into your days. You’ll be glad you did.

Annie Dillard quote how we spend our days
Image: Ellen Zimmerman

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