Reading Blog Posts – Is It Waste of Your Time?

reading blog posts

In blogging, there are two important activities that you have to do on a constant basis.

The first one is content creation (surprise, surprise!). You can do this in various ways (podcasting, videos, infographics), but creating content by using written words plays a major role in every blogger’s life.

So what’s the other type of activity then? It’s reading of course! Without reading you are like a half-blogger and you are missing out on a lot of ideas and inspiration for future content (amongst other things).

 Unfortunately, there is a big problem with reading and that’s because there is too much of it. Not only do you have interesting books (both print and electronic ones) to go through, but there is also an ever-growing amount of blog posts that compete for your attention.

So how are you going to solve this issue?

Most bloggers face this problem

Some time ago a reader of mine approached me with a question:

… how much time should a FT employee/dad/husband/wannabe-entrepreneur really be spending reading other people’s blog content? What’s a reasonable amount of time?

I think this question is highly relevant, since I struggled with this issue when I was working full-time. There were so many interesting articles to read – yet I had so little time to do it.

I was facing a chicken-egg problem: if I stopped reading posts altogether, I was missing out on what was going on in my industry. Then again, if I read blog posts, this time was taken out of something more important.

Nowadays things are better, and I ask myself a couple of questions before reading a post in the first place.

Ask yourself these five questions

If you are struggling with too little time/too much reading dilemma, you could ask yourself these questions first:

  • Is it necessary to read this post?
  • Does it somehow take my blogging/online business further?
  • Am I willing to take action on the posts I read?
  • Can I take shortcuts when it comes to reading?
  • Is the reading taking my time away from something more valuable?

reading blog posts

Let’s take two examples: A news story and an article related to improving your e-mail list engagement.

News story:

  • Is it necessary to read this post?
    • Well, I learn more about what’s going on in the world, but I don’t necessarily need to know this. Someone else will most likely tell me about this anyway.
  • Does it take my blogging/online business further?
    • Not really.
  • Am I willing to take action on the posts I read?
    • It’s just passive reading and I don’t know if there is any way I can take action on this information.
  • Can I take shortcuts when it comes to reading?
    • Maybe just scanning the article, so that I can go through it faster and see the main points of it.
  • Is the reading taking my time away from something else more valuable?
    • I should be writing my next e-book, so yes, it is.

When you take a look at the previous, you get four “no” answers out of five questions, and you can clearly see this activity is not worth your time.

E-mail list engagement:

  • Do I need to read this post? What is the benefit of reading it?
    • The more engaged readers I have, the more I learn about them and the more they trust me. So yes, this benefits me a great deal.
  • Does it take my blogging/online business further?
    • Yes it does. The more engaged people are, the better the situation there is if I create my own products or services in the future.
  • Am I willing to take action on the posts I read?
    • Ok, maybe not right away, but I’ll decide the action steps now and figure out the time when I take action on them.
  • Can I take shortcuts when it comes to reading?
    • Yes. In addition to scanning the post, I could send it to a text-to-speech service, so that I could listen to it in audio format while I’m on the move.
  • Is the reading taking my time away from something else more valuable?
    • Yes it is. Then again, when I’m learning more about building engaged audiences and taking action on this information, I’m not wasting my time – I’m spending it wisely.

As you can see, this latter post gets five “yes” answers out of five questions, so it’s definitely a good thing to read the article.

Now, things aren’t always this simple and you might be on the fence – whether something is worth reading or not. In that case you could decide to save the article for later reading and check it out in your spare time.

The point of all these questions is to make your blog post reading more strategic. This way you’ll focus on the posts that benefit you the most and spend less time on something that’s not worth your attention.

Reading the posts the effective way – here’s how

Let’s take this topic into a concrete level. I use these tools/steps to make a blog post reading as effective as possible.

  • InstaPaper. One tool that I constantly use is InstaPaper (Chrome extension). It lets you save blog posts for later reading. You can even transfer those saved articles to your Amazon Kindle, so you can read them while you are on the go.
  • Sound Gecko. This tool helps you to convert any blog post into audio format (.mp3). You can then download the mp3 file to your computer or to your mp3 player for later listening.

If you listen to the mp3 file on your computer, you can even adjust the playback speed of your audio player. This is what I do with the majority of audio files (but not music) if I want to go through the content even faster.

Be aware that the reader’s voice is generated by computer, so it’s not perfect. At the same time, I was surprised at how natural the voice sounded when I tested the service, so I’ll be using it more in the future.

This service integrates with your smartphone or even with cloud storage, so be sure to check it out!

sound gecko

  • Take action. One thing that you want to do is to have a plan – what to do after reading a post. In other words, don’t just read a post, but take action on what you have read!

I talked about this on my ProBlogger post last year and the point was to maximize the time you spent on reading a post.

In my case, I take notes on what I read and if any of those notes require further action, I put down a reminder about them in my task-management software of choice, Nozbe (affiliate link).

Once you have “extracted” the action points out of a blog post (to your task list), it’s time to decide the time you will implement those points in action. Only this way can you see the concrete benefits and results of the reading you have done.

  • Pick your time. If you feel that you have too little time for your online business and you still want to read posts, pick a dedicated time of the week when you do the reading. In my case, I try to dedicate time for this on Sundays, since I have already done the other work-related stuff earlier during the week.

This is a great way to get rid of the guilty feeling that you might have when reading (“I should be doing something useful instead of reading posts …”). When you dedicate a time block just for this activity, you are allowing yourself to read posts to your heart’s content and put the guilt out of your mind.

You could also think this of time as a reward for the work you have done. Since you have already focused on the higher priority things first, now it’s time to relax a bit and do some reading instead.

  • Make an executive summary. There is one final thing on how to make your reading faster. Please note that I haven’t tested this myself, but this is just an idea that could possibly work: Let your assistant (virtual or non-virtual) make a summary of the blog post.

An executive summary – according to Wikipedia – is: “a short document or section of a document, produced for business purposes, that summarizes a longer report or proposal or a group of related reports in such a way that readers can rapidly become acquainted with a large body of material without having to read it all.

When applying this to blog posts, it’s basically creating a shorter version of the post, but still capturing the essential parts of it. When this is done properly, you can understand the key points without having to read the post word-by-word.

To make this strategy work, your assistant should have a good knowledge of your industry, so that he/she can see the main points of a given article.

executive summary

Fine, so when I can just “leisure” read?

So far we have taken a look at reading blog posts through organized and “disciplined” ways. Sure, this will cut down the number of posts you read and it will maximize the time you actually spend on reading the posts.

However, you could be asking: “What about leisure reading – isn’t it allowed anymore?” My answer to this is: “Of course it is!”

Yet, you have to tweak your habits so that instead of reading posts for the majority of your time, you:

a) Cut down the number of posts you read

b) Your online business improves somehow after reading a post

c) You don’t prioritize the reading over other important tasks

If you are able to keep these main points in your mind and take the organized approach even 70-80% of the time, you’ll be just fine.

Leisure reading is fun and I do it as well. However, I don’t let it take up all the time I have.

Conclusion

I hope that this post has helped you to see the importance of strategic reading and see how to maximize the time spent on a blog post.

As bloggers, we have to create content and read, but don’t let the reading part grab too much time out of your online business.

I hope that with the ideas in this post, your reading not only becomes more effective, but also more guilt-free as well.

Want something extra?

  • An audio version of this post – generated by Sound Gecko.

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About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show you how to improve your productivity when working at home and find time for the fun stuff in your life!