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Posting Less Frequently Can Lead to Higher Reader Engagement

I just read an interesting post by Terry Dean outlining Which 10 RSS Feeds He Actually Reads.

Terry used the ‘Trends’ feature on Google Reader to analyze which blogs had the highest % of posts that he actually read. The list of blogs that he mentioned were all great blogs which would account for the high %’s that each got to some degree – but as I read through the 10 blogs I noticed something else that I think might also account for it and increase the chances of them having their posts actually read….

they post less frequently than many other blogs

This was initially just a hunch – so I decided to do a little research on each of the ten blogs.

less=more

Posting Averages of Terry’s Most Read Blogs

Over the last week on these blogs the average posting frequency was 0.8 posts per day. I thought that is probably a little skewed because it’s the new year – so I went back to an early week in December where I found that the posting averages were just on 1 post per day on average per blog.

A couple of them post only on weekdays, a few post once 7 days a week and a couple of others post up to 2 posts a day – but on average the posting frequency wasn’t huge – but it was consistent.

Posting Averages of My Most Read Blogs

I then decided to do the same research on my own most read feeds in Google Reader.

My results were a little different to Terry’s and probably skewed because I have an ‘A-list’ of feeds that I follow more religiously because they break news (this group were all at 100% read) but I noticed a similar trend to what I observed in Terry’s top read blogs – they posted less frequently.

At least in my own reading habits – if you post more than a few times a day my engagement with your posts (or the % of them that I actually read) decreases a little.

I’m not arguing that everyone should cut their posting levels back to a minimalist level (because there are some blogs who post a lot that I do read heavily) – but it does illustrate that sometimes less is more.

Of course there are other factors that will impact the % of posts read by readers and I’m not suggesting that it’s just about post frequency – quality of posts, topics covered, post length, how compelling writing is, the titles of posts, the demographics of readers and many other factors would all play a part.

On the Other Hand….

I was just chatting to another blogger about this (who wanted to remain nameless). He told me that his strategy was quite the opposite and was to post as many posts as possible in the day.

He didn’t mind that this might decrease the % of posts read – his theory was that if he posted 20 posts a day that even if only 20% of his audience actually read those posts that he’d end up with more readers on that day if he wrote 1 post a day and 100% read it.

The result is that he writes a very successful blog with a lot (and I mean ALOT) of short sharp posts per day).

I guess there’s more than one way to build a successful blog and I guess ‘success’ can mean different things to different people.

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. Justin Dupre says:

    This strategy works best with larger blogs. For a smaller, newer blog a blogger must work harder to crack new leads to their site. It’s a giant teeter totter on the tip of a cliff. Too much and your fall into a giant hole with negative results. Too little and you are flat on the ground, not gaining, not losing, just in a constant state of not getting better (or worse).

    20 posts a day seems extreme, but very dependent on what your niche is. A joke blog, random image blog, even personal blog could easily make that. A Money making niche? Tough to say.

    Justin Dupre
    http://www.blogosis.com

  2. I’d certainly agree with the less is more ethos. The mashable feed is overwhelming when one has several hundred feeds to scan each day, but problogger and others piping out a much smaller number are far more likely to catch my attention as 2-3 posts at a go are so much more digestible than 50 at a time from one blog.

    db

  3. I think quality over quantity is largely forgotten, everyone wants to be the next gawker, engadget, gizmodo etc. There is no connection, no conversation between two people, two blogs and so on. It kind of like this blog, you only post maybe a few times a day…some days down to only one post a day. It gives me time to think about it and I can always comes back to it.

  4. Sean Hodge says:

    With my own reading habbits most of the blogs I follow post less frequently and I prefer it that way. I would like it if every log I liked posted a great article once a week, daily is touch for me to keep up with. A few times a week is a good balance for me.

  5. Terry Dean says:

    I think you made a very good observation which I agree with. I noticed it as well that the blogs which had the highest percentage readership were the ones with a little less posting frequency. Does that mean people should post less? Not necessarily.

    It means there would be different possible blogging strategies. Posting more often seems would drive more traffic and new visitors…while posting less often may allow higher level content and better relationship building with your subscribers.

  6. I really think it all depends on what the articles about. The bloggers who post once a day are probably already established and only post really good highly readable content, vs newbie bloggers who try to post about everything and anything. Secondly readability I think boils down to how interesting are the subjects. I would read a blog 5 times a day if interesting topics were posted, but if it is just product reviews, advertisements and nonsense, I am more likely to just skim over or ignore. I also think headlines of the article is really important in making the decision to read the full article

  7. cellie says:

    While I don’t put blogs that post 2 or 3x a day or more in my feed reader, I still follow them by putting them on my Google homepage (like Lifehacker and Mashable). So while I don’t read every one of their posts, I scan the headlines and read the ones that interest me. And when I am looking for information on a topic, I tend to go search those blogs with heavy posts first.

  8. esvl says:

    Since I have been posting quality more than quantity my blog has grown twice as fast.

  9. Yebot says:

    I read a alistapart.com. Posts are so infrequent that when they add content, its like the second coming of Hey Zeus.

  10. sir jorge says:

    I have definitely been seeing this effect across several blogs in which I don’t post as often. There might be something to this idea

  11. kl3tte says:

    i agree with justin. smaller blog really should try to post most they can. if your blog become popular you can switch the strategy to more detailled posts with lower frequence.

  12. Mike King says:

    I definitely agree with less is more and I use trends to kill the blogs I don’t read a lot of as well. I don’t always read everything in my reader so I will often just hammer the mark all as read just to catch up when my reading gets a bit behind (at least once every couple of weeks). Those posts and blogs I didn’t keep up with then get bad trend ratings so I end up unsubscribed from them.

    I only post about 2 times per week to my blog and I’ll be keeping it that with to keep the quality up. And personally, I don’t like the blogs (as much) with more than one post per day even.

  13. Mike Goad says:

    If someone in my reader starts posting 20 times a day, I’m probably going to delete that feed. I’ve cut back to no more than 1 post per day and sometimes that’s an image with a description.

    (I’ve also deleted all advertising off my personal blog and am devoting more of my time to my static pages. Much of what I’ve learned here and other blogs about monetizing blogs should also work on web sites as well — so long as they are kept fresh and up-to-date.)

  14. In December I was forced to cut back on my posting due to other commitments. Now in January I’ve had to do this even more as I’m about to go on a three week holiday. My blog has seen much bigger growth than ever in the past over this period. It made me focus on writing a couple of high quality posts rather than making myself post every day.

    However, I would say that without the previous high level of posting I would not have been able to see this growth by cutting back.

    I plan to increase the posting rate again in a few weeks…

  15. Koby says:

    When I first started blogging, I only posted a couple of times a week. As I started to get to a once a day posting (averaging around 5 posts a week), I noticed my readership began to increase.

    I achieved this with a posting schedule, posting on a different topic each day but that topic was consistent week to week (like Weds. was always technology related and Thursdays was a song lyric interpretation). I found that doing this for almost a year helped me gain readership.

    However, I suffered burn-out and had to cut back and right now I’m only doing commentator posts and not nearly as frequently, but I have not noticed a drop either.

    I think as a new blog, doing steady posting increases can help you gain readership. If you can get quality posts out every few days (and I mean quality) I think you’ll do okay.

  16. MG says:

    I’m trying to post around 2-3 posts every day, but then I realize that I should better post 2 or 1 quality posts than more than 3 post which aren’t interesting. So i’m trying now to write 1-2 quality posts every day and I think is going good for the moment.

  17. Eden says:

    Speaking as a reader, too many posts is a real problem because I only have so much time to spend reading RSS each day and I can’t give a large chunk of that time to one site, even if the content is pretty good.

    I created a folder for the blogs with too many posts so they would be there if I wanted to read them, but it wasn’t long before I just didn’t read them at all.

    I don’t have a problem with infrequent posts either- if the posts are generally good. I don’t want to spend my time reading crap just so I can have something to read from some site every day.

  18. Damien Guard says:

    Whilst a regular posting schedule is a good idea for web visitors the RSS model of posts “coming to you” is more like email newsletters.

    Every post is a chance for somebody to
    unsubscribe.

    The worst candidates are posts that don’t deliver on the headline as the reader wastes time realising that.

    Too many of those and it’s the unsubscribe link for that blog.

    [)amien

  19. Lex G says:

    I think it depends on the situation of the blog … Right now for instance, my blog is fresh and new …. I have about 50 draft posts that I could publish if I wanted, but they don’t define the blog as I want it to be defined at the moment …

    So I don’t publish them and work on some in depth high quality articles ….. These are the ones that give my readers the correct impression of newmediatype…

    If the blog would be huge, such as problogger, I would allow for more frequent posts though …

    Lex – http://www.newmediatype.com – web entrepreneur’s blog …

  20. Dean Taplin says:

    I cut my posting frequency from twice a week to one or two articles a month. One article a month may sound crazy to some but I’ve found reader interaction and subscriber numbers have risen as a result.

    It all depends on your blog niche. My articles tend to be long and posting less enables me to focus more on quality, do more research into each article, and respond to reader comments.

    But I only blog as a hobby so I can afford to take my time. My model might not work well for those who want to earn a living from it.

  21. seun says:

    I dont think it will be suitable for site that is just starting up. Because you want to create an impression at first and the only way to that is by having more posts on my sites.

  22. I think for most blogs one or two posts a day are good.

  23. RobG says:

    I post at least once a day on one blog and once every few days on the other. I like the results of the once a day blog. I also have noticed that I have trained my readers on both blogs when to check for new posts.

  24. On ReadScott.com, I found a dramatic increase when I decreased the quantity and increased the quality of my posts. Of course there are proponents of both sides, but I think the topic of the post and purpose of the blog as a whole is really what should drive your posting frequency.

    For example, a blog that breaks news doesn’t need to post once daily with long, valuable posts. Their strong-point is their ability to be a “breaking news source.” If you write a how-to or commentary blog, then valuable content is most important and giving readers time to read and digest is key. Plus, if you’re looking for incoming links, less posts with more value may help make each post more linkable and link-worthy.

  25. The above arguments don’t even consider the fact of how much it hurts to push that favorite post off the top.

    I absolutely hate covering up a post I really enjoyed writing and feel will be well read, with some lesser post that is only serving a purpose of “feeding” the blog.

  26. I think it all depends on the type of blog (and audience) you have. I personally favor quality over quantity. Most of my subscribers are through email, not RSS, so if I flooded their emails with articles that they weren’t interested in, than I would lose them forever. Sites that have a broader spectrum, like technology or teaching/tip blogs, can throw out many posts a day and hope that people will skim them on their feed reader and like one or two.

    Where I see a lot of people with many posts a day hurting themselves is in the SEO realm. They water down their post with so much nonsense that no one cares (including the search engines) that they lose positioning for their keywords. Of course, there are obvious benefits to having more pages and content as well, so maybe it’s a toss up.

  27. Tim says:

    Interesting point will have to keep that one in mind, what is too much though I currenly update daily , would that be classed as too much???

    htt://money-makingtruth.blogspot.com – more excellent advice on bloggin for money.

  28. Paul Legan says:

    I agree with some of the other comments – it depends a lot on the type of blog and the audience.

    If you are breaking news day in and day out – or if you are very close to the news that is breaking – then it might make sense to post throughout the day. Otherwise, you may just be shooting yourself in the foot by diluting all your material.

  29. Hmmn, nice idea, I think I’ll have to post less frequently. Do you guys think that 3 posts per day is still okay?

  30. Brad V. says:

    I really believe in that “less is more” philosophy – especially when it comes to blog postings! I subscribe to a few blogs that post a dozen or more times per day. Do I read each post carefully? No. Do I skim the posts quickly and move on? Yes.

    On the other hand, when a blogger only posts once a day, I’m usually much more interested in what they have to say, and I also will probably spend more time on his/her blog.

    There have been a few blogs I actually unsubscribed to because of the massive numbers of postings they made each day. It got to the point where I was just clicking through them on my reader just to make them disappear.

    There’s definitely a fine line bloggers need to walk on posting frequency – and each blog is different.

  31. Deb says:

    I have to vote with the less camp. In fact I just yesterday deleted some feeds where frequent fluffy posting had started to replace previously once a day meaty content worth reflecting on. My time is valuable.

  32. How short would short be? If the nameless blogger would see him/herself posting 20 posts a day, how much content would be in each post?

  33. I’ve found that the posts which generate the highest number of visits and comments are those which I’ve left on the blog before going on vacation for two or three weeks. I make them timeless – ie no reference to the day’s news – and a bit whimsical. It works.

  34. balootisme says:

    yes it’s true..

    im totally agree with u.

    im also fed up with posting frequency everyday like other famous blogger.

    because i dont like much of full-inbox…(dont have time to read all blog posting)

    p/s: ‘success’ is very mean to me…(successful blogger)

  35. Adviser says:

    Yes, and Darren and all people here should take the advice and post less often.
    I was about to unsuscribe today because you post too much, and when I saw only 2 articles, it was a joy.

    It is better to post less and better.

    And by the way, the “win money” blogs are full of scum. If only those who really win money posted, or only post when one actually knows something, all the internet would appreciate.

    So again: post less, but better content.

  36. kristarella says:

    I think that your friends strategy of posting as much as possible might work for some readers, but I would probably unsubscribe.

    In busy times, too many posts dramatically increases my unread feed count and if it comes to a point where I feel I have to cull my feeds – the one that posts too often will probably go. Unless I really love a majority of their posts, but if they’re posting on the assumption that not all their posts will get read then it’s not likely I’ll love all of them.

    3-5 times a week of well written, useful posts seems a good number to me. Perhaps more if some are quicker posts or updates.

  37. kristarella says:

    Oops, missed an apostrophe.

  38. The real question is should you sacrify traffic for new visitors?

    My answer is yes. I always prefer to deliver more quality content to my exisiting visitors.

    What do you think?

  39. Andy Merrett says:

    Several tech blogs I work on go into overdrive during shows, for example the CES currently running in Las Vegas. Post levels can often go up at least fivefold. However, we announce beforehand what’s happening, and I think a lot of our readers expect the frequency to increase. It does feel a bit strange, though. I’ve posted well over a normal week’s worth of posts in the last two days!

    (Visitor numbers have doubled, partly because it’s super-topical, partly because of increased posts, and partly because of some timely “stumbles”)

  40. wagg dogg says:

    I think it depends on the type of blog you have which should determine the number of times you post a week.

  41. Josh Hall says:

    I just read an article that said post more REGULARLY. I think that’s the key. When people know when to expect something, they’ll come back.

  42. Ebony Jones says:

    I agree that in general for most blogs less is more…but for some 1 post a day may not be enough.

    We will tend to have more posts per day because of multiple bloggers and the topic of our blog. We’re news/politics/gossip centered so alot of stuff is always happening. With the elections coming up I’m sure we may even have to increase our posts to keep our content fresh and relevant. I think it would hurt our standings if we only had 1 new post a day.

    http://www.urbanswirl.com

    Besides, I especially can’t help adding my 2 cents about every topic that comes up in the news.

  43. Katie says:

    I don’t post to my blog with any other thought than “I have something to add so I’m gonna add it.” I don’t post just to post. Some blogs I don’t post to much at all because there isn’t anything to add. This also keeps my readers checking back to see if I’ve added anything. If I kept it to a schedule it would be too mundane.

  44. Katie says:

    I don’t post to my blog with any other thought than “I have something to add so I’m gonna add it.” I don’t post just to post. Some blogs I don’t post to much at all because there isn’t anything to add. This also keeps my readers checking back to see if I’ve added anything. If I kept it to a schedule it would be too mundane. InternetOpportunitesorScams

  45. kristarella says:

    Josh, I think in this case “regulary” might not be the same as frequent. If you ony post three times a week, but always post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that’s regular and readers know when the best time to visit is.

  46. Rae says:

    I only post like once a WEEK, but if you take a look at the number of comments posted per post I write, you’ll see that for me, your theory holds weight. I tend only to post when I have something specific to say.

  47. pavs says:

    Thats not fair darren you yourself post 2-3 a day! And it works! How can argue against it ?

  48. Aruni says:

    I agree that it really depends on the blog and the topic but I too find myself gravitating more to blogs that space their posts with the only exception being Boing Boing. Their posts are short and graphic and easy to skim and check out one I like.

  49. Martin Belam says:

    I try and post one good article a day – and I thought that *was* posting frequently. I’d give up on someone posting 20 times a day – that isn’t a blog, that is Twitter!

  50. pavs says:

    martin, ever read lifehacker.com or techcrunch (I am guessing you did). They have more feed readers than darren you and I can ever dream of. Yet they have more “featured posts” meaning “not one-liners like twitters”. How do they do it? It means people are more gravitated towards blogs that are updated more often. While people will read blogs that updated les often (2-3 times a week), it’s growth will be very limited, and success rate is very low.

    And the fact that darren himself posts 2-3 times a day, should give you some hint!!

    Darren I think you should stop telling others to post less when you yourself post so often.