Behind the Blog Time

by Rachel on May 5, 2010

This week, I spent a good three hours doing what I call “BTB time.”

BTB time is “behind the blog” time. It’s the time you spend working on your blog without actually writing blog posts. It might be setting up your domain name. It might be designing a new banner. It might be organizing all your recipes onto a “recipes” page. It might be Googling tips on how to take better food pictures. It’s doing the behind-the-scenes stuff that make a good blog look great.

Three hours this week was no picnic, but it was my own fault for avoiding it for so long. It’s a necessary part of blogging, but it’s also one that people overlook or, in my case, avoid. Why? Because the immediate rewards are small. It’s not like writing an awesome post, hitting publish, and then getting comments. No. With BTB time you feel like you just worked your ass off and you’re dripping sweat and don’t have much to show for it. “What did you do all morning?” “Well I spent three hours trying to find out how to change the little icon that shows up in tabbed browsing.” (Yeah. True story.)

BTB time is usually just working on little things, but the thing is, these things add up. It’s the same as health. A walk here. A little less dessert there. And suddenly, everyone’s saying, “I can’t put my finger on it but you look fantastic!” And when you start to do these things, you slowly but surely start to invest in your blog. Sometimes it’s money, but mostly, it’s an investment of time. It’s a declaration that it’s not some little thing you do; it’s yours and you own it. It’s YOUR BLOG.

BTB time also makes you want to create better content, I can promise you that. It’s like your blog looks great, so you want people to read it, so you write good material and you Tweet the shit out of it, and because it looks great and your content is awesome, they want to read it, so you’ll build your confidence, become a better blogger, and attract more readers. It’s like losing weight and suddenly getting more dates — it has less to do with the weight and more to do with how confidently you’re presenting yourself.

Putting in BTB time makes you fall in love with your blog. And just like you have to love yourself before anyone else can, you have to love your blog before you can get more readers! I can say with 100 percent certainty that the hours of BTB time I put in last fall were the first huge tipping point for my blog getting more readers; the second huge amount of time I put in this winter was the tipping point for me just writing better content. Now we all know I’m kind of extreme and don’t play around with “moderation” but you totally don’t have to spend a week teaching yourself about themes and FTP and graphic design and obsess over the tiniest details. Trust me, even small or easy-to-do things like updating your “About” page or getting a few new plug-ins make a difference, if only because it changes how you perceive your blog. (But your readers will love it too!)

Making BTB time when you have limited time for your blog is tough, I know. It’s like only having a half hour to work out. Are you going to do strength or cardio? Most women choose cardio because then they get sweaty and feel like they’ve done something. But strength is how you tone up and change your body. Does making more BTB time mean you might have one less post this week? Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with that! You’re doing more in the long run.

The easiest and probably best bang-for-your-buck BTB time is just reading and researching — learning new ways to improve content or design — and then actually taking the time to do it. And, hey, you’re reading Hollaback — you’re halfway there!

And yeah, it’s a pain in the ass, but imagine improving your blog like rolling a ball down a hill. It’s slow at first but once you gain momentum, you’ll just go and go and go!

We’ve talked about how some blogs have that je ne sais quois — BTB time is a big part of it. It looks effortless but it’s what hooks us in. So if you want more readers, you have to earn them, and that means more than just writing posts. And once you commit to BTB time, get ready for the subtle shift in your comments and your readership and your opportunities. But the best part is, you’ll know you worked for it and the day it pays off (and it will, in some way you may not even be able to imagine now), you will be so happy with this labor of love and so proud of yourself for falling in love with your blog and making it great.

So for this weekend, when you plan your posts and budget your time and think about when you’ll write, plan in some BTB time too! And don’t be surprised when you’re reading blogs in the next few weeks and find yourself thinking, “I can’t put my finger on it, but all these blogs seem fantastic.” Mmmmhmmm!

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