The Fine Art of Balanced Blogging

Erick Schonfeld has a great post about his first six months working at Techcrunch. The reality of blogging becomes apparent when Erick describes their size and scale:

Despite our small size, we are a global organization. When not traveling, Michael and Mark write from California, Duncan writes from Australia, and I write from New York. Somebody is always online—often all of us. Michael literally never sleeps. It is really unhealthy.

Want to build a massive blog that gets tons of traffic and tons of regular readers? Get used to staying up all night every day. Even the once a day bloggers like Jeremiah Owyang get little sleep. Jeremiah is up in the early AM typing out yet another blog masterpiece on a daily basis. As you build a blog that gains traction the addictiveness of it rapidly sets in.

I launched AllFacebook last May and within a matter of months I was staying up until 3 or 4 AM to get the news still rolling in from the west coast and would get up by 9 AM. This is not a piece on my challenging lifestyle though. The reality is that social media will suck you in and you’ll find yourself producing content via Twitter, Facebook and your blog and suddenly there is not enough time in the day to respond to all incoming messages.

So when the competitors are ultimately willing to go without sleep for years and avoid all vacations, how do you create a balanced life? Is it even possible? Well, success never came easily so the solution is not easy no matter how you look at it. Fortunately though I think there is a way to balance your content, build a business and still have a life. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet but I can tell you what my thoughts are on how to get there and you can let me know what you think.

Churning Out Content is Necessary
Some people will tell you that once-a-day is good enough to build your brand. It really depends on how big you want your brand to be but if you really want to go big you either need to pack a lot of punch in every post (as Jeremiah Owyang or Gary Vaynerchuk does) or write like crazy. As Mark Evans points out, packing a lot of punch in one post a day may be more challenging then churning out content quickly.

Churning out content is also extremely useful for building up your search engine traffic rapidly. Take a look at Alley Insider as a perfect churn machine. They pump out content so fast that chances are you’ll never read all of their articles. This model is also extremely useful for taking up space in people’s RSS readers and forcing people to read your content. The bottom line is that content is still king.

Leverage Brand You
As Gary Vaynerchuk says, your legacy is greater than currency. The best thing to do is become well known for producing regular high quality content on a specific topic. Once you become known you can start to leverage your brand to generate revenue through both advertising as well as consulting (if you wish to do so). There is also the potential to earn revenue through speaking engagements (conferences, etc), hosting your own events and other methods as well.

Separate Op-Ed and News
One of the biggest problems when writing blogs is that there is a mesh of opt-ed and news. Each view comes for various reasons and as one Techcrunch commenter points out it eventually becomes to challenging to follow all of the articles. As such it is best to highlight those articles that have quality content and leave them at the top of the site or in a specific location for a period of time so visitors can immediately find the quality content.

Focus on More Than Blogging
Dave Winer screams that the end is near for tech blogging! While I disagree with Dave, the Techmeme pile on is an issue that will eventually be resolved. The reality though is that more people are becoming part of the conversation and that’s all there is to it. While building your blog to a minimal size is critical, once you start reaching a critical mass it’s a good idea to expand beyond blogging.

Unless you want to become a full-time blogger (which is inherently bad for your health), I suggest you expand into other areas outside of blogging. You were already willing to put in the time and effort to get your blog going, you might as well figure out some ways to profit from it. As I explained under “Leverage Brand You” there is more to this world then blogging, and some of it actually can make you money! So build up that blog but build it right because the last thing we want to see is the same old story.

Then again, we all love great stories so if you can tell it better, go for it! What do you think are some good ways to balance blogging and life? Do you think the end is near for tech blogs?