The Cat Is Outta The Bag – How Top Bloggers Divide Their Time For Maximum Exposure

Would you like to have more traffic for your site than you ever thought possible? How do top bloggers and online marketers like Seth Godin and Darren Rowse divide their time between social media, search engine optimization, and interacting with readers to ensure continued growth of their sites…?

Well, read on my friend to find out the answer and to learn how bloggers complete what I call the “Blogging Trifecta.”

Last week I published a post on “Value Added Blogging – The Art of Growing Traffic Organically One Reader at a Time” which took a closer look at what I consider to be the most important technique to growing a website or blog – interacting with your readers.

However, after the post marinated in my mind for a couple of days (after it had been published) I realized that there are always different angles for every story, or post, and I thought…perhaps I should get some input from others on how they spend their time?

After all, blogging is a social medium, whether we like to admit it or not. We cannot survive by working in a vacuum, otherwise we would be the only people reading our sites.

For this analysis I wanted to have a representative cross-section of superstars and “up and comers” so today I have posted the responses from some top bloggers and marketers, published authors, online entrepreneurs, emerging bloggers, and other people that I find interesting.

Also, I would like to heartily THANK each and every person who responded! Good karma is coming your way.

Not that you care :) but for me, I don’t really use social media that often. I certainly do not want to limit myself (or my site’s potential) and I get just as excited as anybody when one of my posts gets a good Stumble or Digg. But, we all have time constraints and we have to maximize our potential as best as humanly possible.

Currently, I have a Stumble Upon profile and I check every couple of days to see if any of my posts have been stumbled. Likewise, I am always ready to help others and I really like to Stumble and Digg other bloggers. This way we can all get better exposure.

Please note: We can all assume (and very well know) that content is king so for the purposes of this study I was just looking for feedback on the three areas listed below. Also, some of the responses were edited down and are TRULY listed in no particular ranking order (other than the timing of when I received each one).

Below are their responses to the question:

How do you divide your time between search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and interacting with readers?

Seth Godin Seth’s Blog

  • I only do the third!

Darren RowseProBlogger (PS – check out his interview)

  • it’s a balancing act
  • in time it becomes easier and more intuitive
  • SEO is something I don’t do a lot of these days. It’s one of those things that is more ’set and forget’ in that you learn the principles, set up your blog in a good way and then let the search engines do their job. I only periodically review it every few months
  • Social Media is not something I’m too strategic about – I just try to write great content and find that it tends to look after itself.
  • organic traffic growth is something that I find I do quite naturally – I enjoy engaging with readers, answering questions and writing content that responds to their needs


  • to be truthful, I don’t do much social media or SEO
  • my growth strategy for Skelliewag now that I have an audience is just to write great content that people want to talk about
  • in the earlier stages focusing exclusively on content wouldn’t have been wise. When you’re still trying to build up an audience it’s important to do just as much off-blog stuff as on-blog stuff

Yaro StarakEntrepreneur’s Journey

  • I promote the “two hour blogging” lifestyle and to put it simply, I really spend most of that time writing content
  • SEO is pretty much a side effect of good blogging, so I haven’t worked proactively on it since I began blogging early on and set up some good SEO foundations at my blog
  • I don’t use social media much – it’s way too time consuming
  • I prefer to create content assets for my own sites/business
  • I maintain a facebook account and keep an eye on things – you don’t want to get left behind
  • Most of my interaction time is spent working with students in my forums and through Blog Mastermind
  • the best way to self promote publish ideas that people gravitate to – that’s where I focus my energy

Collis Ta’eedFreelance Switch

  • on FreelanceSwitch our SEO work is mostly done by having a theme that is search friendly and by getting content that is linked to
  • in day to day blogging I spend no time on SEO at all really
  • I spend my time 50% of my time on the daily work of publishing posts, organizing writers, responding to emails and about 50% on social media
  • the time on social media is sometimes crafting special posts for that purpose and sometimes working on my standing on Digg
  • unless you let it take a backseat social media is actually quite a time consuming activity, though a rewarding one
  • our readership grows when we have solid content (the organic traffic growth you describe) balanced with influxes of traffic (usually from social media, but sometimes from a blog like Lifehacker linking to us)

Jonathan FieldsAwake At The Wheel

  • I also run a number of other businesses, write books and am heavyily into direct-marketing my own and clients products/services, I have limited time to allocate to blogging
  • but…it’s also very easy to slip into the blogging abyss,
  • I try to cap the amount of time I spend in all blogging efforts to about 2-hours a day – in those two hours, the biggest chunk is spent writing articles, because, frankly, none of the other stuff matters if your content sucks
  • the next biggest chunk is relationship building, behind the scenes with other bloggers and social-medialites
  • always try to give more than you receive – it’s a Karma thing
  • guest posting for other big-blogs
  • then comes SEO, though, I am going to spend more time on SEO, because with the type of authority articles I write, SEO could drive a lot more traffic my way
  • Hey you WAKE UP – there is a 4th pillar that’s been left out…advertising and marketing, if you’ve got a couple of bucks, you can blend some pretty cheap, highly-targeted ads with social media to create pretty powerful results

Cameron LowNorthxEast

  • I bought NxE from Collis, so I didn’t really have to bother about generating the initial momentum, and creating the base to propel the site on SEO, social media and organic front
  • Presentation, Content Creation and Networking – these are the three things I believe that blogging is all about
  • your blog have to do well in all of these three things if you want to grow your blog
  • this doesn’t mean that one person has to do all these things well…
  • I am good at presentation (designing etc) and networking (making friends, contacts, stumble, digg etc), but I am only semi-decent at content creation… so I got people I know who are excellent at it to do it for me
  • good presentation and content (that are both SEO optimized – deep linkings, anchor text, internal link etc) will take care of the organic growth… networking will take care of the social media etc
  • if you suck at designing, get someone else to design something for you instead of spending hours learning how to work dreamweaver and photoshop… focus on your strength and stop wasting time
  • I believe that ‘being good at something’ is positively correlated to ‘passion for that something’

Michael MartinPro Blog Design

  • my current readers come first it’s more important to look after them than it is to look for new readers
  • the first thing I do when I log on is read and reply to my latest comments and emails
  • SEO, it’s quite simple. I read a few SEO blogs daily, and I write my posts with keywords in mind
  • every now and then, I reassess the state of the SEO on my blog, by that I mostly mean going over my strongest keywords…
  • social media is my weak point unfortunately. I enjoy using it (alot!), and use StumbleUpon, Delicious and Digg every day, but I don’t have any great SMO strategy
  • it’s just prioritizing I know I’m not the most prolific SM user in the world, so instead I focus  that time on commenting, writing and even forums

Leo BabautaZen Habits

  • producing content is by far the biggest part of my blogging
  • I don’t spend any time at all on SEO
  • reader interaction has been so much more important to me
  • I respond to emails and comments more than anything else except producing content
  • without the readers, Zen Habits would be nothing, and I truly believe that I have the most positive and encouraging readership of any blog or publication in history

Naomi Dunford IttyBiz

  • I’m horribly imbalanced when it comes to marketing my blog – 0% SEO
  • considering someone found my blog yesterday using the search term “how to pull really well”, I could probably stand to work on this one a little more :)
  • 3% Social Media – every now and again I mess around with StumbleUpon, Reddit, or Sk*rt, generally when I’m trying to put off sending out an invoice
  • I can’t Digg my way out of a wet paper bag
  • 97% Interacting – this is pretty much all I do. I know the names of my readers’ childhood pets and I get the vast majority of my marketing clients through my blog, so I kind of have to

Tina SuThink Simple Now

  • Social Media: 70%
  • Interacting with Readers: 27%
  • SEO: 3%
  • I’ve found social media and networking with other web publishers to be the biggest traffic drivers
  • After testing the waters at various social media sites, using the 80/20 rule, I’ve found Digg and StumbleUpon to be the most effective
  • I have found the most important detail is making personal relationships with other people through social media channels
  • To get what you want, focus on helping others get what they want, first
  • interactions with readers is the highest priority, I reply to all reader emails promptly and I reply to comments if they are directed at me with specific questions
  • my efforts on SEO has been minimal
  • I’ve spent zero time on link exchanges – as a result of my social media efforts, I’ve gotten many link backs from other sites, which is the main driver for my search traffic
  • …most of my time has been focused on content creation. Since it doesn’t matter how much traffic you can drive, if your content isn’t value packed, interesting or inspiring, people will not stay or return. Period.

Dan ClementsEscape 101

  • Out of the three, personal interaction with readers is by far the greatest commitment – maybe 90%
  • with SEO and social media splitting the other 10%
  • more and more I’m coming to see SEO not something I do, but something I receive as a result of good work and good relationships
  • social media is a pretty small slice of my time, but I do think that slice is growing
  • READ THIS: The personal interaction represents more than just good business, though. There’s a greater obligation there. There are people out there making business and life decisions based (at least in part) on the content of bloggers and authors. I think it’s important to honor that by being accessible.

Terence ChangThe Internet Entrepreneur Diary

  • since I have other online business to run, I try not to spend too much time on blogging and social networking
  • I spend 2 hours creating my blog post including on-site SEO
  • and 2 hours on reading people’s blog posts and about 2 hours on social networking
  • I try to spend 8 hours a day on my own business

LidBlog Well

  • pillar content and clear titles is really all it takes
  • if on the other hand you just want to attract the search engines, do what Ryan Durk did with TCP IP January 1
  • many visitors at once may not be quite as useful as a small but growing group of loyal readers
  • research and writing takes up about 50% of my blogging time
  • social media – spend an hour or two focusing on two or three social media sites [Another 20%]
  • interacting with visitors: Always, always reply to comments[Another 20%]
  • the other 10%? Admin….argh 😉

RITUWork n Play

  • I haven’t really focused on SEO lately
  • I focus on Social media and personal interaction
  • above all personal interaction is what really, in my opinion, brings the essence of networking
  • I try to interact with my readers and participate in discussion on my blog and do the same on other blogs
  • I try not to focus on one thing and try and do them as I go

Tibi PuiLost Art of Blogging

  • I spend something like 2 hours a day on building my social media profiles ( which means networking with fellow users
  • It’s important to understand that in a now crowded blogosphere, he who wields the knowledge of effective social media usage is king
  • WordPress is such a excellent platform in all point of view, including SEO-wise, that apart from the initial link building when the blog’s launched, there’s really little to do
  • but build remarkable content, that gets linked back
  • as for reader interaction, I know it’s a important issue in any blog’s development, but I keep it at a minimum, because I really don’t have that much time to network and get to know my readers

MariamMoney Relations

  • it would be ideal to do all three for sure, but we only have so many hours in a day
  • for a new blog, I think it would be a mistake to spread yourself too thin so concentrate on one thing
  • I chose to interact with site visitors – your blog is nothing without a stable base of readership
  • if done right, I’m assuming the next natural progression would be articles with linkbacks which would help with SEO
  • the bottom line: build a quality and stable pyramid base

FiarHumor Blogging

  • I mostly decide that a given day is the day to focus on one or the other
  • for example, on a Monday I will focus on SM submissions
  • weekends are the time for fiddling with web design and SEO
  • I respond to readers when I have time, but am not in the mood to create content

There you have it, the answers to:  ”How do you divide your time between search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and interacting with readers?

One thing is for sure – THE ANSWERS ARE TREMENDOUSLY DIVERSE! I will write a full follow-up post for this article next week. For now enjoy the information that the other bloggers provided.

How do you divide your time amongst the three? Let me know in the comments.

If you found some information of value in this post then please feel free to give it some SOCIAL MEDIA juice, perhaps StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter or DIGG.

THANKS AGAIN – to everyone that contributed.

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