80-20 rule, blogger, blogging, blogging better

How to Maximize Your Blog with the 80-20 Rule

“All right, guys, let’s work smarter, not harder.” These words were spoken cheerfully by my employer, and I had gotten used to hearing them a few times a week. This phrase was my introduction to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule. The Pareto Principle is named after the Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto, who demonstrated a reoccurring pattern with these two numbers. Pareto showed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by the wealthiest 20%. He extended this experiment to his garden, where he demonstrated that 20% of the pea-pods contained 80% of the peas (As a side note, when I read this, I laughed and wondered how one thinks up such an experiment).

No doubt, Vilfredo Pareto was an interesting and eccentric man. Nevertheless, his research does make a powerful point–especially when applied to blogging and leadership. Blogging activities are not created equally. Some tasks produce results that are worthy of our time. Others do not. According to Pareto, 20% of our work results in  80% of our productivity. This also means that 80% of our efforts only produce a 20% return.

The key to becoming an effective blogger is to discover the 20% of activities that produce the best results and to make these the priority. The phrase “Let’s work smarter and not harder” is an excellent reminder to put the 80-20 rule into action.

Why The 80-20 Rule Matters

In the 1930s, Economist John Maynard questioned how people would keep themselves busy when they only had to work 15 hours a week. Maynard suggested an impending economic bliss and stated, “For the first time since his creation, man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem-how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him.” Maynard’s math suggested that by the 1980s, Americans would be working approximately 2.5 hours a day.

Sadly, Maynard’s prediction never came to pass. Instead of working less, people are working more. There are full-time jobs, side jobs, and dream jobs. Many people find themselves working with a combination of each. I expect that for many who read this post, writing, blogging, and teaching are dream jobs, while the 9-5 job is a means of sustaining oneself until the doors swing open and the income from the dream job catches up.

But economics is not the only reason you and I are so busy. Luxuries like Netflix, and Kindle Unlimited, put a lifetime of movies and books at our fingertips. And today’s parents are well aware that the difficulty is not finding sports, clubs, and after-school activities for our children.  The real dilemma is deciding which of the many available options we will enroll them in!

Our lack of economic bliss, combined with people’s driving desire to take advantage of as many options as possible–I know I certainly fall into this trap–our world is busier than ever before! Thus, the Pareto Principle is especially relevant to our generation.

The 80-20 Rule for Bloggers and Authors

The 80-20 rule is pragmatic. It is all about focusing on the actions that produce the highest return. Earlier this month, I tried an experiment. I created a free eBook on happiness. I sent out a tweet, pinned that tweet to the front of my Twitter page, and asked my friends to re-tweet it. It was a good tweet. It received 4,739 impressions and 67 engagements thus far. However, the link attached to that tweet only received one click, and that click was mine—I had to make sure the link worked 🙂

From this experiment, I was able to conclude that as much as I like Twitter,  it is not part of the 20% of activities that drives the majority of traffic to this website. As a husband to an incredible wife, a daddy to three amazing girls–with our fourth due in April–and as someone who is working a number of jobs while pursuing his dream job, the Pareto Principle is becoming more important to me than ever before. I want to spend my life focused on the things that matter! Since 20% of our actions produce 80% of the results, what if…

  • As a writer, what if I focused on getting the key 20% done first?
  • What if, a dad, I took the time to be fully present for my children during the 20% of time together that is most meaningful to them?
  • In marriage, what if the 20% of things that are most meaningful to my wife became my highest priority?

Though it looks odd when I write it this way, I want to be a 20% husband, dad, and author. That is, I want to focus on the things that matter most. On those busy days, when life happens, I want to know that the 20% of things that matter most have been accomplished. The 80% of actions that are less effective can wait.

My 80-20 Experiment

The interesting thing about blogging is that there is not a hard and fast rule about the 20% that matters most. Some bloggers find awesome engagement through Twitter, while others are  Pinterest masters. One blogger builds his site by writing daily. Another attributes his success to writing a few posts and promoting them often. The 20% that brings the greatest results can vary from person to person. This is why I’m in the process of trying new things out and experimenting. I’m in the process of searching for my 20%.

How about you? Are you putting the 80-20 rule into action by becoming laser-focused on the actions that produce the biggest results? What are you doing to discover and hone in on your 20%? I would love to hear from you and continue the conversation in the comments below. Wishing you an incredible week filled with many 20% moments in your writing, family, and leadership!

For more writing ideas, be sure to visit our writing resources page. I pull back the curtain and show you all of my favorite writing resources. You can also check out my book Ten Great Ideas for Authors, where you will discover creative writing prompts and strategies to jump-start your author journey. I truly believe you are only one great idea away from writing success!  

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

26 thoughts on “How to Maximize Your Blog with the 80-20 Rule”

  1. Hey Jed,

    There’s some great insight here. I haven’t exactly figured out what my 80-20 is yet. But I hope to some day find out. Until then, I focus on being faithful and consistent on writing what the Lord has laid on my heart and I leave the rest up to Him. Thanks for hosting!

    Have a great weekend,

  2. Yes! This! I love this principle, but I don’t always live it. Practicing it is a lot harder then you might think. For me it helps when I focus on my goals, priorities and values and make sure my effort is going there rather than to the tyranny of the urgent. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. The history on this is very interesting. It is crazy in our technological age now that we do feel so much busier than before. Thanks for sharing and for hosting. Hope you all have an amazing weekend 🙂

  4. I haven’t found my 80/20 either after several years. One thing works and another doesn’t depending on each post, but I don’t think I’ve gotten too much success with twitter.

    Thanks for hosting.

  5. Great Post again this week. I am in the same spot. Trying to figure out how to best spend my time. Linking up and making connections seems to have the best payoff for me. On the plus side, I get to connect and that is way better than staring at pictures online of people that may not seem real. Thanks for hosting and connecting with us at Seeking God

  6. Jed, as always a great post. Thank you for sharing your insights and thoughts today as well as hosting the link-up. I am still trying to hone in on the 20% some days are better than others. I appreciate your posts.

  7. Hi, Jed, your post came as an answer to prayer this morning! I saw that I don’t have to try to keep up with everything, but want to be fully present for the 20% that matters most for my kids, husband, and writing. Such insight! Thank you!

  8. I’m on this path of discovering what works and what doesn’t jed. Thank you so much for the graceful tips. I read them and I don’t feel pressured but encouraged.
    Blessings to you and Jen

  9. I’m also still searching for my 20% and glad to hear in not alone! I get little engagement from Twitter, little from G+, a bit more from Pinterest, and almost none from my own Facebook page but a little traffic from people sharing on their own Facebook profiles.

    I get discouraged, but I know the engagement and community is out there so I just press on. Right now my best investment in time is spent creating content. The rest may or may not come, but I’ll just keep writing!

  10. It’s always handy to be reminded of the pareto principle – particularly when you’ve gone down an internet black hole looking for that “critical” piece of information that will make your blog post perfect ???? One of my clients needs reminding often but I could do well to heed my own advice. Minimum input for maximum output! Congrats on the new baby!

  11. Oh, Jed, I was hoping you had the answer for me! LOL Yes, it IS a constant search for what is the most productive use of time. And it seems like once you find it in one situation…well something happens to make it all wonky again… The one thing that I AM sure of, however, is that anything we put out there to #1 – build community and #2 – serve others is not a waste of time. That one is called the sowing-and-reaping principle 😉
    Hope you and the family have a great week…see you over at Coffee & Conversation on Wednesday!!

  12. I agree so many people get caught up on the blogging life then they miss the really important things life has to offer. It’s crazy Ivery been reading comments and some ladies were saying they blog all weekend and holidays!

  13. I was just about to say that I still don’t quite know what my 20% is on blogging! I am a somewhat of a novice with Google Analytics, so I don’t really know how people are landing on my site as well. From what I am seeing, my fashion blog does not have a pattern unlike my other two blogs. I am still trying to experiment here and there. What an awesome analogy. I will keep this in mind. Best post I read today 🙂

  14. What an idea! Too bad most Americans are woring far more than 2.5 hours/day! i would love to use this idea but if only i could figure out what brings traffic to my blog at all… 😉

  15. These are awesome points. I also am experimenting. I am really focusing on working smarter not harder and concentrating on relationships: the importance of them.

  16. I like to think that I’m doing better than 80/20. I’m the type who tries (even if it takes a period of realization to figure it out) to ditch things that eating up energy, so that it doesn’t grow the 80%. But it does take constant assessment and vigilance. Let up for a day and that 80/20 can start taking a foothold, trying to assert itself.

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