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Evergreen versus Time Related Posts

I finally got around to listening to the last third of the Business Blog Roundtable and was struck with one of the comments that Stephan Spencer (I think it was his voice) said about evergreen versus time related posts.

I’d not actually thought of my blogs and the posts in them in these terms before but on reflection find the classification very helpful.

Evergreen posts are ones that don’t lose their relevancy over time. You write them today and they will be as helpful to readers in a few months (or even years) time – for example my Adsense for Bloggers series is one of these – the first incarnation of these posts was over 12 months ago but they remain among the most popular posts on this site.

Time related posts tend to be more news related – or are often tied to an event in time. For example a couple of days ago I posted that Weblogs Inc. are testing Google’s RSS ads in their feeds. This post was relevant the day I wrote it and generated a little traffic, however in a week it will be ‘old news’.

So which is best? The obvious answer to this question is that it depends upon the topic or strategy of your blog. Both types of posts (and a combination of them) can be very powerful (and profitable) in different contexts and there are different pros and cons of each one.

Let’s tease this out a little more and make a few observations about each type of post:

Time Related Posts

• Time related posts can attract erratic traffic – I have a number of news blogs that track current events. When they are hot they are very very hot, but when they are cold they tend to be very cold. A prime example of this has been the Pope Watch Blog. Whilst it does have a few evergreen posts – the vast majority of pieces there are news related. You can imagine the traffic levels on this blog over the past month or so (see graph to the left – click to enlarge). Traffic levels (and corresponding earnings) on this type of blog are very dependent upon current events, scandals, scoops etc.

• Time related posts tend to bring short term profits – This is partly tied to this erratic traffic but is also related to the short supply of relevant ads to your posts (if you’re using contextual ads like Adsense). Whilst some Adsense advertisers are quick to put up ads relating to current events – these tend to be rare. For example again on the Pope Blog mentioned above – today is the first day that I’ve seen any ads served to this blog that relate to the new pope (weeks after the event). Unfortunately the traffic spike and the relevant ads don’t really match up.

• Time related posts can return bursts of high profits - Of course you can make this short term profitability pay off for you if you pick an event to blog about that has both high traffic levels and lots of good ads (or if you use CPM ads instead of CPC ones). I can think of a number of our blogs over the past year which have capitalised on short sharp bursts of traffic and have netted us tens of thousands of dollars in short periods of time (and today earn next to nothing due to their time related nature). I’m certain that there are other topics that would be able to sustain this over a longer period of time.

• Time related posts can mean a lot of work - To keep a news blog relevant can be a lot of work. Keeping a blog like Pope Watch ticking over takes time every day. Miss one day of posting and your blog runs the risk of being quite irrelevant.

Evergreen Posts

• Evergreen posts have long term profitability – As I look at my blog earnings and which blogs they come from I observe that those that have consistent growing profitable are those blogs that are largely made up of evergreen posts. Their earnings don’t have the spectacular short term numbers of the time related blogs – instead they are slow burners – increasing traffic and income over time.

• Evergreen posts tend to rank well in Search Engines – its not only true for evergreen posts – but I find that the evergreen posts tend to do well in Google, partly because they are usually a little longer than news related posts (SEs do like posts that have a bit more substance). I guess they are also generally on topics that people consistently search for in SEs over time and not just for a few days after the event. As Stephan says in the podcast – this is especially true if you’re smart about how you link to these posts from your home page and sidebar (I’ll write more on this in another post).

• Evergreen posts can be quite labor intensive to write – on the down side, evergreen posts can be more more time consuming in the short term. For example this morning I wrote 10 time related posts in 30 minutes on my different blogs – but I’ve just spent an hour thinking through and writing this post (so far). Whilst evergreen posts need not always be long, or detailed, I find they tend to take more time due to them being more original thinking (good ideas take time). My best performing evergreen posts have depth to them that most time related posts never have.

I’m sure more can be said on the pros and cons of each type of posts. They both can be very effective ways of blogging and will suit different topics and styles of blogging. Each can be profitable in its own way and I would actually suggest that you consider using both. Without being strategic about this I’ve naturally started different blogs that are predominantly one or the other and other blogs that have combination of both.

I particularly like blogs that mix it up a little – that give me the latest cutting edge news, but also expand upon different themes within a niche in ways that I can keep coming back to over time. I hope that this is what ProBlogger readers enjoy also – as its the way I approach my blogging here.

What type of blogging do you do? Which do you enjoy reading the most? Which is where you profits predominantly come from?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Just a few thoughts:
    - are there posts that turn out to be evergreen, even though you didn’t expect them to be?
    - an important category of evergreen post is the red-faced post – perhaps one written in a hurry, because it was time-related, but once it’s on the web, it’s there… I won’t give examples, for obvious reasons
    - ProBlogger itself is a very good example of a technique to help evergreen posts stay green – the “greatest hits” or similar list. Some sites have this in a sidebar, but Darren has such posts in “topboxes.”

  2. Nels says:

    I was simply going to comment that I like websites/blogs that provide some of both. I always like to get the latest news, but you also want to read blog entries that are thought out and contain relevant information that reminds you to do something, or makes you think of something new to do. Then you can refer back to these posts in 6 months to remind yourself what you’d thought of before.

    I said I was simply going to comment at the beginning because I read Andrew’s comment and realized that ProBlogger has navigational “topboxes.” I had honestly never noticed those before until they were pointed out right now. I usually come here from my feedreader, so my main goal is to read the article/post and then get back to work. Kind of reminds me of a post I made a couple months ago about the web user experience and basketball.

  3. Craig says:

    Another advantage that you may want to consider with Evergreen posts, one that only recently came to my mind after watching my site referrals – is placing ads on Evergreen posts targeting those visitors. Ads from appropriate affiliates could potentially be good money earners there.

    I have a few readers that time and time again come up looking for a specific topic and end up at one of my blogs on a certain post, if there are related sites with an affiliate program, ones I believe to be of value to those readers, I could refer them in the right direction and make some money at the same time, everyone wins. And because its an Evergreen post, it has the potential to be a long term money earner.

  4. I remember being very surprised the first time I wrote a long, time-insensitive post. It immediately became the most viewed page on my website (after SEs got ahold of it). Since then I find that the extra time I put into evergreen posts is more than compensated for by the results I see.

  5. This is a great article. It is great to see the value of blogs that have great value through out time are worth a lot. I sometimes have a lot of hits on local events but they soon die and look like old stale news on a blog that I want to have a fresh appearance.

  6. Great post! I could not agree more, and I loved the examples that you gave. I did a small political rant on Sarah Palin when she was announced as the republican running mate for the 2008 elections. My post referred to her as a hot librarian and that post generated more traffic than any other I had ever written.

Trackbacks

  1. [...]

    Last week I wrote about the nature of two types of blog posting in Evergreen vs Time Related Posts (or posts that are long lastin [...]

  2. [...] Time Specific and Evergreen Posts – Related to this last point is that some posts are more ‘time specific’ than others. Some posts are out of date within a day or two of writing them (and as a result won’t ever be looked at much) whereas other posts are more ‘evergreen’ in nature (ie they will be as useful to your readers today as they will be in a year’s time). It’s worth pondering this topic and deciding what type of posts you’re going to concentrate upon. I’ve written on this further at Evergreen versus Time Related Posts and in a mini series on Increasing the Longevity of Key Posts. [...]