Time. It’s what we writers fight for. Without it, we have no hope of bringing our written creations to life. We need time to study, time to read, time to ponder, time to dream, and – of course – time to write.
To further tax our meager repositories of minutes and hours, writing dreams that include hopes of being published and getting our writing into the hands and hearts of readers also require time to network, market, and otherwise promote ourselves and our work.
So, the question becomes, “How much time should you spend writing vs. marketing?”
I don’t have a definitive answer to share, but I have been trying to capturing more accurately the amount of time I spend on non-writing, but writing-related activities. This list includes things like blogging (which is typically unpaid, but serves to strengthen your voice and build your audience), research (for grants, submission guidelines, etc.), attending organization meetings, and even reading industry pubs (either online or off).
More importantly, I’m also trying to do a better job of quantifying the value of each activity so that – ultimately – I can get a more realistic sense of where I should be spending my time in order to get the best return on that precious investment.
Off the top of my head, the amount of time I spend per week on non-billable, marketing-related activities typically looks something like this:
- Reading and retweeting blogs: 30 to 60 minutes per day – I read the blogs on my iPhone via Feedly while I snuggle with my daughter after bedtime stories. I then schedule them to publish on Twitter via Hootsuite either at the same time, or in the morning when I can use my laptop.
- Writing my bi-weekly column: 1 1/2 – 2 hours every two weeks – This is the 600 – 700 word piece I write for my local paper (sometimes syndicated). It’s not a paid assignment, but it’s a wonderful creative exercise and a “real” deadline that keeps me working on the essay form.
- Blogging here at Live to Write – Write to Live: 2 – 4 hours each week – The Weekend Edition posts that I publish each Saturday morning typically take me approximately 2 hours each. In addition, I write a second weekday post every other week. And then I try my best to contribute to the Friday Fun posts as well.
- Commenting on Blog Posts: 45 minutes to an hour each week – Responding to comments on my posts is important to me, so I try to answer each and every one.
- Business Networking/Prospecting: 1 – 3 hours each week – This is more about my commercial writing, but I’m including it here because copywriting is how I earn my living. Activities in this category include get-to-know-you calls with people I’m interested in meeting, coffee dates, responding to inquiries from existing or new clients, and any pre-contract project work such as speculative project scopes and estimates, etc.
- Future “Vision” Planning: Not nearly as much time as I’d like – This includes time dedicated to “Big Picture” dreaming and planning. I definitely need to do more of this.
SO … if I do the math, that puts my average weekly time spent on activities somewhere between 6 and 11 hours. And this tally doesn’t even include time spent on my writerly education, things like listening to podcasts, participating in online and offline writing classes, and attending industry events like conferences and workshops.
I guess maybe I should do that value assessment sooner than later, but we’ll save that for next time.
For now, I’m interested to hear about how you divvy up your precious time between writing and – if you are working towards writing for an audience – marketing. What kinds of marketing activities do you include in your daily rounds? How much time do you spend on them? Do you have a sense of whether or not they are valuable to you, either in the short-term or long-term?
Thanks for sharing!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s the followup piece: Writers and Marketing – What Makes Sense?
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.