Focused work is how to grow a lifestyle blog in this noisy online world. Learn how to focus your work and time to grow.
Read This to Learn How Focused Work Equals Growth
In this article:
- what focused work is and does for blog growth
- what “important” work is and does for traffic and income
- how I narrowed down my tasks to essential important work only
- a brief introduction to hyper batch tasking for blogging
Recap and How to Use This Series
The articles in this series are meant to be read in succession. I understand that this is a huge undertaking, growing a lifestyle blog. I have many blogs I’ve turned into businesses which bring income consistently. I get it – it takes work, focus, and tenacity.
If you need help narrowing your focus or defining your important work, book a free, 30-minute call with me here.
- 1: How to Grow a Lifestyle Blog in a Noisy World
- 2: Lifestyle Blog Growth through Focused Work (this article)
Blog Growth Begins with Important Work
Before I get too far into this, I want to note that many bloggers skip this step. Some will read this entire thing without taking action or change what they’re doing with planning or execution.
Dig in here – it’s the foundation for important work. Why?
Because “important” work is what creates growth.
The Myth of Productivity
I going to be blunt: being busy doesn’t mean anything by itself. You can do less and get more by concentrating on meaningful tasks. Focusing on “important work” means that you have a clear plan on what you will do, why you are doing it, and how it directly supports your goals.
The benefit is that being efficient with important work brings growth!
But so many in our field do not identify the important things. They try to do ALL.THE.THINGS!
- idea creation and execution
- blog posts
- Facebook Pages
- managing guest posts or contributors
- create products
- develop lead magnets
- pitch partners or collaborators
- Facebook groups
- create courses
- back-end technical issues
- build tribes
- algorithm changes
- participate in a mastermind
- engage and be a resource in Facebook blogging groups
- blah, blah, blah.
The people who try to do all of these things will grow slower, get burned out, and/or spin their wheels for years. Sometimes people will focus for a brief time and go back to their old ways of doing ALL.THE.THINGS!
Takeaway: you not only have to identify how you’re going to get there, but you also have to stay the course. Plan the work, work the plan.
How Do We Focus?
So how do we maintain focus with all of that on our plates? We identify what is important to our business and we get granular with goals. We detail what we will do and we stick to it with a laser-like focus.
Answer these questions for a single goal.
- “What do I want to accomplish this month?
- “What will I do each day to accomplish it?”
- “How will this focus help me achieve this goal?”
- “What are my most common distractions?”
I’m sharing what I did well (and didn’t do well) in this area in order to spur you into action or self-analysis. You must identify that which is important to your business’ growth. If you need a push, set up that free 30-minute call.
The “How I Did It” Section – Focused Work
In order to get and remain focused, I narrowly defined goals. Very, very narrowly defined goals. Overall, here is what I planned and executed when planning focused work for Ruffles and Rain Boots.
One: New Content
First, I decided I would use new content to grow because I didn’t have content to repurpose. It was an easy decision for me, but yours might be different. There’s more here – so much more – but it’s rather specific to your website. We can chat about your situation if you’d like.
Two: Narrow Content Focus
“But Sarah!” you scream. “I have a lifestyle blog so I don’t have to focus on certain topics! Don’t box me in!”
M’kay. But… I identified three content topics to focus on every 30 days which allowed me to explore my important work while also giving me room to explore.
Remember, this is a non-niche site, so not only did I have to keep up with popular categories, I was constantly testing new content, as well. I’ll share more on this later, but I used data, social listening, and my own interest to decide my topics. You can do the same.
Three: Newsletter Focus from Day 1
THREE: Building a strong newsletter is an essential part of building a website. I made sure I set a call to action to sign up for my newsletter in every post – even if I didn’t have a lead magnet for the category! There’s so much more I’ll share with you on this.
Four: Tribes and Support Systems
I relied on my tribes and my husband to help me maintain focus when I got all squirrely and wanted to go off on some tangent. They were invaluable in offering suggestions for topic tangents, lead magnets, and so much more.
Sometimes all it takes is someone saying, “How does that bring you closer to your goal?”
Five: Control Distractions
I’m quoted as saying, “Doing all the things isn’t a strategy.” Why? Because it spreads focus on too many things and they ALL get diluted. And hey, I like to get at least a few hours of sleep and dedicate time, love, and interest to my marriage and parenting efforts. Plus I have like a million hobbies.
All this to say – I had to drop non-essential things. What did I remove?
- My promotion took place only on Pinterest. If you remember from the first article in this series, I decided only to focus on search (text and visual).
- I did not keep Facebook open but had set times to check it. Be honest: the time you spend there is not “all for work.” You scroll that feed as we all do because the platform is DESIGNED to suck us in. Try NOT doing that and use browser extensions to block it for certain time periods.
- No share threads. I don’t like them and there is a lot of speculation as to their benefit. Some even say there are penalties (I’ve not seen proof of that).
- Extremely limited link drops. I didn’t join link parties (yes, they still exist) or troll roundup groups on Facebook to drop links. Check FB roundup groups once a week.
- Start my own distractions. For example: Did I have at least 3 very, very good ideas for new Facebook groups? YES. But my focus was on growing my business on my own domain, so those got tabled.
- No new courses. This was hard to do for 8 months, but so worth it to maintain focus.
- The TV was off. The occasional evening show with the fella was good but if you want a lot more time, turn off the box. Additionally, put down the cell phone!
This section is to help you start thinking of non-essential tasks you do for your business OR that you consistently do to sabotage working on your business. Know your distractions and eliminate or reduce them.
Six: Find Your Work Style
Discover the best way for YOU to work by trying many, many, many work styles. My favorite for blogging is below and it’s hyper batch tasking (yes, I just made that up because I thought “crack batch tasking” had a negative connotation).
Hyper batch tasking is my best friend. Sticking to my focus topics, I published nearly 300 posts on this site in 2018, even with taking December off from new content. How?
Over the course of about 3 days, I would complete 4-7 posts within a single topic focus and get them scheduled. I would:
- do keyword, title, and hashtag research for the topic and 4-7 posts
- create content (I also used purchased content) for 4-7 posts through strategic planning of my time, camera and lighting setup, and more.
- edit or create all images for those 4-7 posts
- write those 4-7 posts
- SEO/optimize images for all of them
- add calls to action for all of them, including newsletter and what to read next
- make or edit videos for those 4-7 posts
- schedule all to non-focus platforms like YouTube and Facebook
- live-share to Pinterest when published and drop other pins randomly (I am too lazy to put together a system with a spreadsheet and all that, but you do you).
The key takeaway is “…within a single topic,” not the work I did or how I did it. The focus on the topic allowed me to limit my brain’s switching costs and really ramp up productivity.
You don’t have to work like this – you can start testing general time blocking or another work style. The point is that if what you are doing right now isn’t working to achieve your goals, change it.
What You Can Do NOW to Narrow Focused Work
Scroll back up and identify your important work by answering those questions now that you’ve read through this. And remember saying, “I’d like to earn $10,000 this month.” isn’t enough.
Focused work starts with important work, not productivity.
“In order to earn 9k in ad revenue, I will increase my page views by 100k by publishing 3 cupcake posts a week for 5 weeks. The data says they generate the most shares and page views of all current categories. Primary post promotion will be on Pinterest with 4 images published for the post and in a Facebook desserts group. I will also publish 2 easy and traditionally popular appetizer posts a week because they earn me the most affiliate income and I can add 1k to my goal through them this month because of the Super Bowl parties.”
Then, identify ways you can work smarter, maximizing your efficiency. Will you shoot all 4 cupcake recipes on Saturday? Will you host a party so you can rope your friend into being your kitchen helper when shooting the appetizers? #noshameinyourblogginggame
Get granular. I’m here if you need help.
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