Friday, January 22, 2016

Blogging on a schedule

If you're using your blog as a marketing tool and you want to be taken seriously, you have to take your blogging seriously, and that includes paying attention to how often you post new content.

image credit - flickr james box

How often should you post?

Well, let's start by asking some different questions:
  • How big do you want your blog to be?
  • How often can you write? or, What rate of writing can you commit to?
  • What is your writing style like - long and detailed, or short and breezy?
  • Does your topic change frequently (like technology gadgets), or not very often (like real estate)?
As you start to visualize what your blog is going to look like, and what type of information you'll provide, it gets easier to find your answer.

Think about 100 posts

100 blog posts is a sizable number.

If you write a new article, every day, for the next three months, you still wouldn't have 100 posts in your new blog. It would take you a full year of publishing twice a week, or two full years of publishing once a week, to reach 100 posts. And by that time you would have to be pretty knowledgeable about your topic.

At 300 blog posts you're an expert in your field. By this time you've been reading, researching, thinking, and writing about your topic for 6 years! (at one post per week; 3 years if you write twice a week - and either way I'd consider you an expert.)

Finding your number

One of the great things for a new blog (and a bummer for an older blog) is that it's not always readily apparent how many blog posts your blog has. If a new reader scrolls through the 4-5 posts on your front page, and then clicks "older posts" once or twice, they may skim through 12-15 posts and assume your blog is full of great content - even if you only have 15 posts!

So, with that in mind, let's not worry about trying to reach a larger-than-life number for the year. Let's say your goal for the year is 50 new posts - that works out to only one per week.

Which day of the week works best for you? Beginning of the week? Middle of the week? Weekends? Pick a day, and put it in your calendar. You WILL PUBLISH a blog post on that day.

Fridays are the best for me. I have all week long to think, outline, craft, draft, and prepare that week's post. I know that once I have a post written, I can save it until Friday and be done for the week. And if I'm not done by Thursday, I know I have a late night waiting up for me. Regardless of how I get there,  once I hit publish on Friday, I can add a success to my week, and then I get to enjoy my weekend without having to think about work.

Can you commit to writing two days each, and every week? What two days will they be?

Three days? Every weekday? Every day?

It's OK to make adjustments to your schedule. Maybe you have more to say than one day will allow? So go ahead and add a 2nd day. Maybe you have enough ideas to write three posts per week, but you don't have enough time? OK, cut your schedule back to 2 days per week.

Find a schedule that works, and then stick to it.

Here is where consistency comes into play

52 blog posts throughout the year, written at a frequency of one per week, is FAR BETTER than 50 or even 60 blog posts written sporadically in short bursts over several days in a row.



Can you see the difference? One is serious and committed; the other is haphazard and fragmented.

Also notice the totals don't match - that's by design, because that's how it's likely to end up. In fact, what'll happen is the blog without a schedule will fall further and further behind through the first nine months of the year. Then, in the fourth quarter, you'll either see a flurry of posting while the writer tries to catch up to his annual goal, or you'll see nothing - while the writer takes a break and tries to make a better plan for next year. (trust me on this one, I'm talking from experience!)

Stress-Free Blogging

When you're a blogger, you think about blogging, a lot. Everywhere you go, and every story you read, gets viewed from a "How could I make that into a blog post" frame of reference.

This is normal, and there isn't anything wrong with it, per se. But having a blogging schedule gives you a huge amount of breathing room, because once you write this week's post, you're done. Nothing else is "required" of yourself right away.

Sure, you can keep jotting down ideas, and outlines, and even rough drafts for future posts, but doing this only makes you further ahead of the game; it makes blogging even easier, since future deadlines won't be a big deal at all.

The blogger without a schedule, however, has to fight that "I have to turn this into a blog post" mentality every day, probably multiple times per day. And since you're never really finished, there's never an ending. It's a constant feed of stress, trying to get the next blog post out. (or, at times when you get sidetracked and don't post for awhile, you get stressed thinking about not having posted.)

My entire FitnessGazette blog was written from this style. Since it was only a hobby blog, I didn't want to be tied down to a schedule... Big mistake - I ended up publishing 300+ posts over a 4-year period, but I CONSTANTLY had that "I should be publishing something" feeling nagging me in the back of my mind.

It's all in how you frame it

Option 1: Don't get tied down to a schedule

Life gets crazy. Work, clients, kids, vacation, illness - it can feel like you have a million things going on at any given time, and having that blog post deadline hanging over your head can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Option 2: Let your schedule make the rest of your life easier

You've already decided blogging is an important part of your business, now give it the time it deserves. Having a scheduled deadline helps you to prioritize your work, away from blogging when nothing is due and towards blogging when necessary.

Having tried both options through various topics over the years, I can say with certainty that blogging on a schedule leads to a more successful blog. I highly recommend it.

- Chris Butterworth

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