In my last post I asked ‘What do you do with your blog on the weekend?‘
Having asked the question I thought I’d give a quick answer myself to shed a little light on one strategy (of many) that I’ve been using.
I ask questions
You’ve probably noticed it if you’re regular reader of any of my blogs – but over the last few months I’ve decided to make the weekends less about me producing content and more about the community discussing an issue.
I don’t do it every weekend – but posing a question for readers to ponder seems to be working for me. There’s a few reasons (7) that I like it:
1. It Lengthens the Window for Conversation – here at ProBlogger I’m on a 2-4 posts per day posting schedule. The downside of posting more than once a day is that stories get pushed down the page reasonably quickly. This means that the conversation that is happening on a post has a real window where it happens before quickly dying off. Posting a question on the weekend gives a conversation space to happen and lengthens the window that it can happen in. When I post a reader question like this I try not to post anything else for at least 12-24 hours. The result it lots of participation.
2. Readers are in a Different Mindset on the Weekend – I know for myself that the weekend leaves me in a different frame of mind. I do things slower, I’m more interested in connecting with people, I’m more relaxed and willing to have conversation etc. This means conversational posts have a better chance on the weekend. Instead of just getting quick and blunt comments I notice comments left on the weekend are often longer and more thought through (of course there are always exceptions).
3. Increased Reader Community and Participation - I am becoming more and more convinced that when a reader participates regularly on a blog that they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership and belonging to that blog. This means they’re more likely to comment again and keep on visiting. This is what I’m wanting to put more and more time into on my blogs – building communities around topics rather than just building my own perceived expertise. I want to build a community that is known for it’s expertise. The best way to build a true community is to give people a space to share, connect and learn together. Taking this approach on the weekend allows me to step back a little and the community to step up to the plate and show what it knows.
4. Increased Blog Stickiness - Visitor numbers tend to drop on my blogs (and they do for most websites and blogs that don’t have a specific weekend focus – such as sports blogs) however I’ve noticed that the page views per visitor tend to increase a little on the weekends. This might be partly as a result of readers being a little more willing to surf more pages as they have more time – but I also think it’s because of my reader questions and the way that that means more page views. For starters, just leaving a comment means at least two page views – but secondly, these discussions draw people back later in the weekend to see what others have written.
5. They Don’t take Much Work – another reason that I like these posts on the weekend is that they don’t take a whole lot of work to write up, which leaves me time to do fun, relaxing and non blogging stuff on my days off. I think it’s important to work hard at a blog – but also to work hard and not blogging at times. These posts help a lot with that. However, keep in mind that they can actually cause work in terms of moderation. I may not blog much on the weekends that I ask questions – but I do regularly log in to moderate the threads as comment levels go up.
6. Research – Another reason for asking questions is that they tell you a lot about your readership. Ask good questions and you’ll learn information about what type of posts to write in future, what advertisers they might respond to, what products they earn, what gets them fired up etc. All of this is useful to know as you continue develop your blog and build your community.
7. Followup Posts – Lastly, the great thing about a ‘reader question’ type post is that it opens up all kinds of possibilities for more posts. Here’s a few ways that this is the case:
- Reader Questions – quite often on these posts readers not only answer your question but ask more. These questions are often perfect topics to write upon in the following week.
- Summary Posts – these posts are where you attempt to identify the key threads of the conversation that might have happened over the weekend. You might try to graph the responses or just highlight the key points. Here’s an example of a summary post on the topic of popular post production software (which summarized this previous question post – a post with over 200 responses).
- Answer Your Own Question – this very post is a followup post to my own question posed yesterday. These posts are important as readers do like to know your own opinion and they can bring a little clarity to the conversations that are happening in the previous post.
The other good thing about followup posts is that they often can re-ignite the previous conversation and remind people to go back and read the conversation again. Followup posts can happen as soon as the day after the previous conversation or could happen weeks later.
Is this My Only Weekend Posting Strategy?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is that I use a variety of techniques on the weekend, depending upon how much time I have, what news is breaking and where the blog is at (often dependent upon what’s happened on the blog in the previous week). Sometimes I ask these types of questions during the week, sometimes I don’t ask them for a few weeks (some readers get a little sick of them and want your opinion rather than everyone elses) and sometimes I’ll throw in different types of posts on the weekend.