Seth writes a good post on what he calls The noisy tragedy of the blog commons. He observes the high posting frequency of the top blogs going around and writes:
Just like the marketers of Oreo (now in 19 flavors of cookies) we’re dealing with clutter by making more clutter. RSS fatigue is already setting in. While multiple posts get you more traffic, they also make it easy to lose loyal readers.
I think posting frequency is a question that bloggers need to consider very carefully on a number of fronts. Here are some of the factors to consider:
1. Writer Burnout – Every year I do a 24 hour blogathon to raise money for a charity (this year’s will be soon – so get your paypal account stocked up with cash ;-) ). While I enjoy the process a lot I also find that it generally leaves me quite burnt out – both physically, as you’d expect, as well as in my ability to write. This is an extreme example but is what happens if you overload your blog for a sustained period with loads of posts (unless you have a team of bloggers to help you – as do many of the larger blogs). The constant drive for high quality and relevant content is something that takes it’s toll on a blogger. Post too often and the quality of your writing could suffer.
2. Reader Burnout – I’ve noticed that on some of my blogs that a high number of posts in too short a period can also leaving readers burnt out. This is only the case with loyal readers who either come to your blog via a bookmark each day or who follow you via RSS. I know from personal experience of reading blogs that if my news aggregator shows that there are over 20 unread posts on a blog that I’m less likely to read each post in full (unless it’s one of those blogs that I’m a massive fan of). If a blog consistently posts at too high a rate I’ve even been known to unsubscribe from it simply because I can’t keep up.
3. Reader Participation - This probably relates to reader burn out but I’ve noticed that while traffic at ProBlogger tends to go down if I post less frequently here at ProBlogger that the amount of comments left per post tends to go up. Conversations in comments also tend to be more productive as readers actually interact with each other more instead of just commenting upon the post itself. I guess this is partially related to the length of time that the post is on the front page of the blog – but is also related to the amount of different threads of conversation that a person can follow at once. Write too many posts on too many topics and they’ll begin to disengage and only enter into what you’re writing to a certain level.
4. Search Engine and RSS Referrals - I’ve written previously on this blog about how one of the reasons to consider upping your posting frequency is that the larger the quantities of quality content that you produce the more open doors you have into your blog via both search engines and your RSS feed. I know that on those days that I post 10 posts here at ProBlogger that I generally have more traffic, largely via RSS. My Feedburner button’s number goes up a little and a higher percentage of referring URLs are from bloglines.
5. Blog Topic – I’m a firm believer that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to posting frequency on blogs. One of the main reasons for this is that different topics tend to lend themselves to different styles of blogging. For instance a blog like Engadget has a very very wide topic (consumer electronics/gadgets). This topic covers a lot of sub categories and to do it justice it needs to post a high number of posts. It’s readership knows this and I suspect a lot of them want it as they are attempting to keep up with a wider industry. Gadget lovers are also quite often information junkies who have are usually tech savy and able to consume larger amounts of information. Other blogs with tighter topics would not be able to sustain such a large number of posts because there is only so much to write about on any given day.
6. Visitor type – I’ve already touched on this a little (in saying gadget fans are often information junkies) but another way that your visitor type can impact posting frequency is the source of the visitor. For example here at ProBlogger I have a much higher readership that comes via RSS and bookmarks than on my digital camera blog which is largely visited by Search Engine users and those coming from my email newsletter. As a result it is not as crucial that I keep my posting level down to a reasonable level on my digicam blog because it’s not likely to impact many people. In fact having more posts can be helpful as it means there are more landing points for SE traffic.
7. Post Length – Another observation that many people make about some of the most highly visited blogs is that they tend to write shorter posts than the average blog. This is both a reason that they can post a lot (you can write multiple short posts in the time of 1 larger one) and also one of the reasons that their readership is less likely to burn out (readers can read a post in 15 seconds and then move onto the next one). A blog like ProBlogger on the other hand does have some shorter posts – but many (like this one) are medium to longer ones which means I need to be aware of how much I’m giving readers to read each day.
8. Rhythm and Consistency – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – find your blogging rhythm and stick to it. While readers don’t want you to be monotonous in terms of what you write – I’ve found they do quite often want it in terms of how you write – and more specifically in how often you write. People want to know what to expect – they buy into things that they know fits in with their own rhythm of life so if you start out writing daily but then increase the frequency to hourly you’ll probably find people reacting against it (and the same goes the other way around).
Interested to hear how often others post to their blogs and how they’ve come to that rhythm of posting.