As my efforts proceeded in getting this blog set up, I began to realize I was devoting substantially more time and effort to the activity than I originally anticipated. It was roughly at this time of realization that I began tracking time and effort. To date, I have spent about 300 hours(!!) getting my site ready to go, but I know this is in no way typical.
In fact, with services like Blogger, you can be up and running in 5 minutes and for free and posting comments immediately. For reasons noted in my ‘Prepare to Blog’ diary, this de minimus effort may not be advisable. On the other hand, my own needs and demands should not be indicative either. In any event, I present below the breakdown of my time and effort tracking and discuss what may be more "typical" expectations.
Unusual Demands for AI3
As I’ve stated elsewhere, there are some unique and unusual circumstances I have placed on my set-up and investigations leading to AI3. I have wanted, for example, to:
- Understand the blogging and self-publishing phenomenon
- Get my hands dirty with respect to existing tools and infrastructure
- Actually put in place a procedure that will allow me to continue to contribute in an efficient way
- Be aggressive about capabilities and understand "gaps" for bloggers (esp. the "top 1%" in moving forward
- Learn and test tools and techniques to discover gaps and friction points suitable for commercial attention
- Push the edge of the envelop on performance, scale and functionality so as to approach industrial-strength blog sites, perhaps suitable for enterprise use; and
- In general, thoroughly immerse myself into this new culture and technology.
I think I’ve been successful in these aims, but as noted before, incurred time and effort is not typical. As I present the numbers below, I will try to be specific about what may be applicable. Please understand the reference and viewpoint I present is for a serious blog content site, perhaps only applicable to 10% of bloggers or so.
Time and Effort Breakdowns
The table below presents the results of my time and effort tracking. The table shows that about XXX hours have been spent getting AI3 ready over a time from decision to do it until commercial release of about three months. These times and efforts are well removed from a 5-min Blogger site!
| || ||Hours by Major Area|
|First Post – Decided to Blog||4/27/05||1.0||0.2|
|First Blog Test Drive||4/28/05||1.0||0.5||0.2|
| || || ||1.0|
|Install Difficulties and Then Success!|
| || ||1.2|
|Design and Hacking CSS||5/6/05||5.0||2.0||0.2|
|No Local Images|
| || || ||0.2|
|External Credits and Thanks||6/13/05||3.0||1.0||0.8|
|Standard Site Content||6/15/05||1.0||3.0||16.0||8.0||28.0|
|Word Docs to HTML|
|Site Project Management||6/17/05||1.0||1.5||3.0|
|Not Playing Nice in the Sandbox||6/19/05||2.0||6.0||2.0|
|Use of Styles and Style Sheets||6/20/05||3.0||6.0||4.0|
|Clean Up Posts [not posted]|
| || || || ||2.0|
|Some Best Practices||6/22/05||1.0||4.0||6.0|
|Large Document Transfer||6/24/05||1.0||1.0||2.0||1.0|
|File Organization and Naming||6/25/05||1.0||1.0|
|The Purposeful Blogger||6/25/05||2.0|
| || || ||0.8|
|Word Docs to HTML II|
| || ||2.0|
|W3C XHTML Validation|
| || 3.0||1.5|
|Screen Resolution Fix||7/5/05||4.0||0.1||1.5||1.5||0.5||7.6|
|Trackback and Ping Setup/Testing||7/12/05||3.0||1.5||1.0||0.3||5.8|
|Better Quicktags for Comments||7/14/05||3.0||1.0||1.0||0.5||2.0||0.5||8.0|
|Formal Site Release!||7/18/05|| 3.0|| 1.0|| 4.0||0.0|
|Prepare to Blog Summary and PDF|
| 1.5|| || || 0.5|| 6.0|| 2.0||10.0|
|Summary – ‘Typical’ Tasks|
| % of Total||32.7%||9.4%||7.5%||29.2%||14.1%||7.1%|
|Summary – All AI3 Tasks (incl. red)|
| % of Total||23.9%||11.6%||3.7%||16.6%||27.5%||16.7%|
|Summary – Non-’Typical’ AI3 Tasks|
| || || || || || || || |
| % of Total|
The table lists about 30 subtasks (generally documented as individual posts on AI3) broken into the six major activity areas of Research, Set-up, Adding (or integrating) Tools, Composing Posts, or Posting clean posts with review and formatting. Please note the red entries, since these are deemed to be specific to my unusual demands for AI3 and are therefore not typical of what a serious blogger without these aims might experience. The unusual entries are either entire tasks associated with investigating tools and techniques or the efforts spent in composing and posting the ‘Preparing to Blog’ diary.
Observations and Guidance for the Serious Blogger
A serious blogger should be able to get a fairly comprehensive and well-designed site up and running in less than 100 hours, less if some of the lessons and guidance from the ‘Preparing to Blog’ diary are followed, and further less if standard site content (mission, about me, etc.) is shorter than what I provided on the AI3 site. Moreover, unlike the three months it took to get AI3 released, much quicker turnarounds could be easily accomplished. The longer times for AI3 were exacerbated by the three-times effort associated with the site’s unusual demands, business travel and demands, and one family vacation!
Some other observations that may guide planning for serious blogging from these numbers are (with the obvious caveats that different styles and skills may significantly alter these points):
- As a rule of thumb, consider that research and reading in advance of a given post takes about two times longer than actually writing up the results
- Besides normal composition time, consider adding another 50% of time to make sure the formatting is correct and the posting will display properly. In other words, preparing a "content-rich" document for your blog may require 150% of the time it formerly took you
- Set-up time, checklists, site management techniques, naming and filing conventions, etc., are well worth getting worked out in advance to reduce ongoing maintenance and relieve you to post and respond, and
- Continue to record and maintain best practices as you encounter them.
Finally, ongoing requirements and care-and-feeding will remain demands. If one assumes roughly three "good" posts per week to keep a blog active, the numbers above suggest a weekly effort of about 20-25 hours per week or about 1-2 hrs per day, exclusive of responding to user comments. This may suggest lowering expectations to only a couple of quality postings per week.
Author’s Note: I actually decided to commit to a blog on April 27, 2005, and began recording soon thereafter my steps in doing so. Because of work demands and other delays, the actual site was not released until July 18, 2005. To give my ‘Prepare to Blog …’ postings a more contemporaneous feel, I arbitrarily changed posting dates on this series one month forward, which means some aspects of the actual blog were better developed than some of these earlier posts indicate. However, the sequence and the content remain unchanged. A re-factored complete guide will be posted at the conclusion of the ‘Prepare to Blog …’ series, targeted for release about August 18, 2005. mkb