How much time do you spend online?
Last week, I ran a poll asking readers how many hours they spent doing online “platform-building” activities each week.
The (currently) winning choice on this poll?
Are you kidding? I don’t track my time online! I don’t even want to know.
It prompted an interesting discussion in the comments, where you all raised a lot of excellent questions about the social media versus rest-of-writing-life balance. Readers asked questions such as
- Does my blog reach my target audience (that is, the people who will purchase my products or services) or only my peers?
- Am I spending so much time platform-building that it’s taking time from book writing?
- Should I set a timer for my online activities?
- Or should I set online-free zones?
- Do blog challenges sap too much of my creative energy?
Have you ever been plagued by these sorts of questions? I know I have!
How do you benefit?
I went through a soul-searching phase in my blogging life a bit over a year ago. Was it worth it? It was taking away time from writing, and probably not getting me any closer to a book sale. I ended up deciding that I found enough value in blogging—connections, the sense of satisfaction I get from giving back to the writing community, for starters—that I would keep at it.
I’m glad I did. I found that I use the blog now to figure out things I’m working through as a writer (like how much time to spend online!). I would be journaling about many of the topics I blog about, if I wasn’t blogging; by blogging instead, my questions can prompt conversations and provide new insights. Plus it’s nice to know that others benefit from my meanderings :).
Another blogging benefit, which I didn’t consider until recently, is that it’s taught me a tremendous amount about platform-building. This blog, targeted to writers, will probably not end up being a good way to market my children’s and YA novels. However, this blog has led me to a host of ideas of how I CAN market those books.
No one but you can decide the “right” amount of time to spend online—but if you, too, are soul-searching about this topic, here are some questions to help you gain perspective:
- Do you know how much time you spend online? If not, consider tracking it with free software such as:
- Rescue Time: This program doesn’t require any data entry; it runs in the background on your computer and tracks how much time you spend on different websites or in different applications. It has both free and pro versions.
- Manic Time: Similar to Rescue Time, this program automatically tracks hours spent on different websites and using different applications. Free, downloadable program.
- Toggl: In this program, you have to enter what you’re working on and click the timer (or enter hours manually). Free plan with basic features, simple timer interface, web-based with mobile apps.
- Harvest: Free for 1 user with up to 2 projects and 4 clients (I define “Cheryl Reifsnyder” as one of my clients, and “website/blog” as one of my projects), web-based with mobile apps. Has the capacity to generate invoices.
- Slimtimer: Free, web interface. You enter projects and click to start/stop the timer.
- Interaction with other writers
- Learning to build a platform for your future audience
I’d love this discussion to continue. Please chime in with your thoughts on how blogging and social media have a positive or negative influence on you as a writer!