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Just Maybe… He Who Blogs Less Blogs Best

A guest post by Larry Brooks, of Storyfix.com

Or she

Regarding the title… it’s just a saying, no penis required.  It’s not your father’s media anymore.  Hard to cull the gender-based colloquialisms out of the language sometimes.

She who blogs less blogs best is every bit as gender-biased… but let’s move on.

When we begin our blogging journey, we are overwhelmed with advice. 

Most of it terrific, some of it downright confusing. 

Like ash from a nearby fire, it all settles on the emerging structure of our blogging dream, and what remains after the first stiff wind tends to infuse itself into the content-driven infrastructure upon which we are building.

A little purple, I’ll grant you.  Let’s just say we need to filter what we read and make our own way.  This is why blogging is always a lesson in life 

One of the best pieces of conventional wisdom for newbies is to saturate your site with quality content as quickly as you can. 

If you can begin your branding with a muscular archive in place, credibility ensues.  And because that can’t really happen, what does happen is that you find yourself putting up a new post each and every day.  Sometimes for months.

It works at first.  And then, after a few months a dark day arrives, usually completely unannounced, when you stare at a blank screen and realize you have nothing.

The well is dry.  You’ve said it all. 

It’ll be temporary, followed by a guilty flurry of contrived and slightly redundant takes (you’ll call it spin) on previous stuff.  Or someone else’s stuff.  Or completely irrelevant stuff.

Much of which will suck.  Thus deepening your emerging sense of depression.

But even then – especially then – the blank screen will return, inevitable as your forthcoming middle age double chin.

I’ve been there, suffered through that. 

And got the chin lipo to show for it.

Then suddenly – also in alliance with prevailing blogging wisdom – after 15 months online, I rounded an equally inevitable corner into Phase Two of the blogging journey.

I cut back.  Stopped posting daily.  Stopped demanding too much of myself. 

I no longer felt I had to sweat silver bullets to make the team.  My spot on the roster was secure, at least if I continued to show up and Play Big.

So I reduced my output to a twice-weekly pace, and obligated myself to doing so by announcing it in my News Post beneath my banner.

Nothing says commitment quite like something shown in bold red ink.

Great fear accompanies this transition from insecure, ambitious newbie to confidently cruising-forward niche guru.  But with great fear, mixed with the requisite desire, comes a sort of courage you never knew you had.

And courage, tempered by the right kind of confidence, almost always rewards you.

Here’s what happened.

My subscriptions had gone flat.  Same with my daily visits. 

Flat as the Neilson ratings for American Idol.  Flat as Heidi Montag’s forthcoming breast reduction.  Flat as Whitney Houston’s latest televised version of I Will Always Love You.

Soon after my Great Awakening, the numbers quickly, if not markedly, reversed.  Subscriptions and visits began to grow.  Pingbacks began to ping.  Guest post proposals began arriving from both directions.

All for one reason that had everything to do with the scaling back of my output.

Somebody once said that less is more.  In fact, many wives declare this the day they hit menopause.

Other than making money, this advice is golden in any context.  Ironic, because sometimes that’s precisely what it takes.

It was quality trumping quantity.

The transition had nothing to do with my enthusiasm, commitment or ability to deliver value.  It had everything to do with allowing what is perhaps the most potent essence of value to work its magic – I allowed time to enter the equation.

Fewer posts can mean better posts.

Such a strategy – functional only if your site does indeed offer a hefty backlog of archived content – rarely fails.  And you’ll know it’s time when your ability to conquer that blank screen makes you want to go do something else.  Like exercise.

After a day or two of power walking the mall, you’ll be itching to get back to it.

It’s like sex in middle age.  Less really can be more.  Nature steps in to jack up the stakes.  Anticipation is the sweet torture of impending passion. 

With or without a penis, you can take this advice to the blogging bank. 

Write less.  You just might find yourself writing better.

Larry Brooks writes about storytelling on Storyfix.com.  His book, “Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing” comes out from Writers Digest Books in February.  As you can see here, he’d really rather be writing about sex.

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Comments

  1. neel says:

    Well said about writing good quality rather tan quantity. But again we are in the world of pro-blogers where every day people like him brings out at least one quality content. Youngsters are going to face that up.
    In my personal blog I try to set a routine of 3 posts per week. And some times I still feel my quality has been reduced. It finally breaks out to keep motivated all the time to bring one or two good articles in the end every week.

  2. Marlee says:

    So true Larry!

    Quality over quantity wins almost every time. Meeting your readers expectation is essential to actually getting your stuff read.

    If you start producing junk for the sake of producing, you’re better off not producing at all.

    Thanks for the great advice.

  3. Stuart Marsh says:

    There is often that overwhelming urge to post something…anything, just so you can say you post everyday.

    My post quality is definitely suffering because of that urge, so sage advice indeed…less is more.

    Taken on, board thanks.

  4. dandellion says:

    I couldn’t agree more. As a reader, I have to do daily routine through my RSS reader just to delete all the noise from what used to be great blogs. Blogs that still give a great post once a week or so. But those get lost among five posts that are done just to keep the numbers. Then I ask myself, is that one post a week worth spamming my reader?

    Sure, steady rhythm is great. And writing daily does a miracle to one’s writing skills. But I appreciate people who talk when they have something to say. Weekly great post makes me come to the blog more often than daily obligation to click the publish button.

  5. Larry,

    Great Post. You’ve raised awesome point.
    I really like your point on writing fewer posts.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post Larry.

    keep up the good work.

  6. Just another shout out for quality over quantity. Thanks for justifying my slackerness.

  7. Casey Head says:

    I have recently been having this same discussion with myself.

    As a political activist, blogger, podcaster, with a family and full time job; at times all of the demands can get overwhelming. It is a constant balancing to try and stay on top of everything, and produce meaningful content.

    Thank you Larry, you have given me one great reason to feel good about the need to cut back.

  8. Hi Larry,

    I’ve heard both arguments. Pulling back allows a buzz to generate around your posts, boosting readers.

    I also know some who want their daily fix.

    Whatever works, stick with it. Keep in mind you can have quality and quantity as it’s possible to put out great stuff on a consistent basis.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    Ryan Biddulph

  9. That is very true. I would rather read quality content, than filler content. My filler content on my main blog is usually deals or quick tidbits that are worthy.

  10. Larry,

    I recently came to the same ephiphony myself. I realised that on certain days when I felt forrced to create a post, I eneded up generating junk and I lost subscribers. Now, I make sure that I only create posts that I am ready for, that I know will help my audience.

    It’s nice to see that this is not just some fluke, but that people actually want to read quality these days over quantity.

    There are only so many hours to cram in all of your daily information uptake, so your customers are only going to flock where the content is grade-A.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  11. Tara Mohr says:

    So glad you are writing about this.
    I just did a survey of my blog readers gathering their feedback. I was delighted to see that many of them explicitly commented on how much they liked that I don’t post every day – that I don’t post fluff or poor quality work in an effort to post more frequently.
    I think the mantra of “more content is better” has really misled a lot of bloggers and reduced the quality of our genre overall.
    There’s so much noise in the world and us bloggers who want to enrich people’s lives have a responsibility to ask: Is this important to share? Am I contributing real value here or just more overcrowdedness and noise?

    Thanks!

    Tara

  12. It’s logical, when you come to think of it. More time to do proper background research, more time to write and edit. The result being more in-depth (read: more useful, therefor better) content. All you need is, well, COME to think of it.

    (And you could have said just “Who blogs less…”—sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  13. Mike CJ says:

    If only it was true….

    Chris Brogan posted the opposite recently: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/one-big-traffic-secret/

    I can attest to the opposite on my own blog. I posted 4 times a week for a year, then increased it to 10 times for three months. My rate of growth in traffic and subscribers flew up. When I backed down to 7 posts a week, the growth rate slowed with it.

    All of the world’s major blogs post at least once, but sometimes several times a day – think Mashable, Brogan, Godin, Huff Post, even this site.

  14. Very nice post. I especially enjoyed your style of writing with a bit of light humour to open with and throughout.

  15. Very timely… I think you wrote this post especially for me. I’ve been studying the experts for over a year now and can’t quite get my own blog groove down because I’m so concerned about doing it right… I’ve even started questioning, why did I want to start this thing anyway? I’m still in the “having all kinds of ideas” stage, so coming up with content isn’t a problem yet. My problem is getting the content published. I’m afraid to commit to daily because of advice like this… I’m afraid to commit to twice weekly because that doesn’t seem like it’s enough. After reading this, maybe my madness will stop and I’ll set my own pace. Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Linda says:

    I was so relieved to read this. Co-incidence? Who knows but it’s made me feel a whole lot better.

    I’ve been posting Mon-Fri and I have to say it’s getting hard to remain motivated.

    I’m going to think about posting on Mon, Wed and Fri only.

    I must add that I don’t really notice if my favourite bloggers have missed a day so why should I worry? I’d rather write better content and really focus on 3 valuable posts each week.

    It’s you’ve given me permission! Thanks.

  17. “Now Up-Dated Every Friday!!!!!”…

    Top idea, I just up-dated my site…

    :]

  18. Blogging is interesting and fun! I like your explanations and reasoning behind blogging less.

    Cartoon Coach‘s No Risk Coaching Program:)

  19. Precisely what I believe in. In my first blog, which was personal and philosophical in nature, I used to post almost 5-6 times a week, for almost 2 months. I noticed the quality, vigor and freshness going downhill and hit the brakes rather hard. So hard that I almost gave up blogging. After nearly 3 months of latency, I re-started my blogging journey, bought a domain name and started posting at a slow pace of around 5-6 posts divided into 3 sub-domain blogs. The quality and search traffic to those posts literally shook me into realization! I mean two posts out of 26 on my Tech blog have got me more than 90% of the total traffic in a month!

  20. websitewaves says:

    With all the conversations I strike up and contribute to on facebook, there’s always a topic someone brings up that can be expanded into a blog post so just dig in to fb more and you’ll have plenty to share.

  21. You can always save up some of those good posts for the days/weeks that you can’t think of anything. That way you can keep a regular schedule and keep the quality of the posts up. Now, if I can just learn to follow my own advice.

  22. Phil Stone says:

    I was a professional bass player for years. Our first MGM recording contract brought us a seasoned producer. He came in and he said, “You know how to be a one-hit-wonder?” We were all confused. “Pick the songs for your first album out of maybe 50 or 60 you’ve written and performed. Then write 8 new ones for your next record and record those. You know how to avoid being a one-hit-wonder? Pick the songs for your second album out of maybe 30 or 40 you write after your first record.” Then he told us to get busy writing songs.

    That though in mind- should everything you write for your blog be published?

  23. Rebecca says:

    I know this is a topic that people passionately debate about, and I truly don’t know where I fall on the topic. I see your point that a lot of crap content is not any good, even if it’s daily. But I also know that to stay in people’s minds you want to place yourself in front of them as much as possible. I still do once a day, and I think I will continue to do so until my brain has turned into a river of nothing and flowed out my ears. Which should be happening in the next week or two. Thanks for a great post.

  24. Anon says:

    They who blog less, blog best. Problem solved!

    I organize the blogs I follow into a number of lists. The top list (my A List) has blogs that only post 1 entry a day, or less. When I’m really busy this is the only list I read. I have other industry lists that are broken into 2 sets – one for prolific bloggers and one for those who post less frequently. Again, the prolific list is lower down in my priority. Yes, this means that I often don’t read the blog entries by some of the biggest names in the industry. But I find I don’t really miss all that much, because much of what they post are reposts from one another! They each seem to think that their readers read their blog only, and don’t follow any other blogs. I don’t get it. Who reads only ONE blog? I wish these big names would originate more new content and limit how much they republish or publicize content found on other blogs. I’d move them up in my reading list if they would be more selective in what they post.

  25. This is exactly the philosophy that I’m going to be pursuing with my new blog. One post a week, which will a) allow it to fit into my already busy schedule and b) allow me to create quality content instead of quantity.

  26. I used to attempt to write a post every day. However, I started to lose motivation, and now I write every other day (excluding weekends), which comes out to 3 posts a week. As a result of this, I’m able to dedicate more time to my posts. I’ll start a post one day and finish it the next, adding tidbits and whatnot.

    I agree that less is more, especially with post frequency. It’s hard to write quality posts after quality posts every day of the week. This is a great article.

  27. Edge Girl says:

    I run several blogs and for sanity’s sake dropped back on how much I blogged at each one.

    My main two currently get three blog posts a week but I am reconsidering that as well.

    Of course I worried about the decision but lately I am involved in actions that are kinder to myself.

    I find that I mostly have more fun and write longer posts–and have time to do my other work.

    Plus, I agree that quality trumps quantity every time.

  28. Judy Dunn says:

    I have been blogging for almost three years and have posted once a week, religiously. I think we all heard the
    “posting daily is best for SEO” thing, but information overload (and my readers) made me conclude that it’s better to have one high-quality posts a week than seven pieces of drivel.

    I subscribe to a great number of blogs, but don’t have time to read every single post of every single blogger. It’s good to see so many people agreeing here!

  29. jason says:

    I agree, as I know that I blog daily, but looking inward, I think I could do better if I posted maybe three times a week or so. Plans for the future.

  30. Some good advice. Provide quality content instead of just content.

  31. Hokya says:

    fewer post makes guest and readers pay more attention to your old post rather than just seeing what’s the next post series of yours…

  32. Paulakaday says:

    One of the important principles I live by is “We teach others how to treat us by the way we treat ourselves.” By reducing the number of posts, I believe you showed your readers that whenever you DO write something it is worth reading.

    As a newbie, I am still in the “I gotta get as many links and recognition as possible”. Can’t wait to settle in to the groove and let things run more naturally.

    Thanks for the preview of things to come.

    Paul

  33. I agree, sort of. Quality is important, and for some people writing fewer posts can mean higher quality. Others, might actually get better at writing by writing more posts. The more you write the better you get at it.

    But, you don’t necessarily have to write more posts as long as you write a lot.

    I read an interesting blog post at ChrisBrogan.com about a few days ago, he said that the more blog posts you publish (2 a day) the more traffic you’ll get.

    - but in the end, it’s all about quality content.

  34. Mario Lodos says:

    So true the fact about quality vs. quantity Darren… But the process of shifting to fewer posts is difficult, isn’t it? I think that it is possible to post less only if you have a large quantity of visitors. If not, your initial efforts to gain critical mass would not yield any good results. Don’t you think?
    Thanks a lot,
    Mario Lodos

  35. erik says:

    It is always been hard for me to do more than 2-3 posts/week average. But for me it is not really about blogging, more about my sport. When there is lots of action I could do more writing, still I tend to keep the 2-3 posts/week pattern. Just manage to put more information in 1 post

  36. jezza101 says:

    This is the problem with “websites by numbers”, too many people trying to push a “formula” for success.

    Having got a couple of successful blogs off the ground, if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that there is no sure fire way to build a readership.

    Different sites need different approaches, and sometimes the site that does well is the one that comes up with a whole new way of doing things.

    I’d always encourage people to think about what they are doing and why they are doing. Post less? Post more? Who knows! Listen to your readers and listen to your own brain!

  37. susan says:

    Larry, really enjoyed this post. Your writing is music to my ears. Like this:

    “Like ash from a nearby fire, it all settles on the emerging structure of our blogging dream, and what remains after the first stiff wind tends to infuse itself into the content-driven infrastructure upon which we are building.”

    Wow, you are a poet!

    And all the similes and fun phrases – like exercise – like sex in middle age – inevitable as your forthcoming middle age double chin – flat as the Neilson ratings…

    My favorite bit of wisdom: blogging is always a lesson in life.

    Oh yes and of course I totally get the intended message – less is more. Very good point. Thanks!

  38. Ann says:

    Good points, its like selling 80% with ear and 20% with mouth

  39. PDW says:

    This is one of the most sensible posts I have read here in a long time. This is my strategy. I just started my blog. I really was not comfortable just posting too much in order to build up a massive archive…too much pressure. Although I do not have a weekly target for posting as yet, I have decided that I would rather take the approach of spending time reflecting, researching, writing and editing my posts. I believe that is the only way I can write enduring posts.

    I guess the approach each blogger uses depends on his or her temperament and the the theme of the blog. Newsie and technology type blogs for instance that report on trends and new happenings would be more different than perhaps human potential or more conceptual type blogs.

  40. I agree so much with this viewpoint.

    I don’t disagree that posting at least daily is a good exercise – or vital if you’re a big corp. I did three months of blogging every day and it taught me how to get into a routine.

    But this is gold:

    When you blog daily, no matter how great a planner you are you hit those moments when you write – but you know the passion is missing. You can’t ‘turn it on’; you have to feel it.

    And looking at my analytics, whenever I’m writing to keep to a schedule for the schedule’s sake, visitor engagement levels plummet.

    If you know it, they feel it. So take your foot off the gas and only blog when it feels ‘right’.

    Does that make sense to you?

  41. Amy says:

    Larry!

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve never fallen into that blogger depression but I think partly because I’ve never pushed myself to post more than once a week. Here’s the thing — I spend a lot of time on the computer, I love to read, and yet…there are very few bloggers – or people in general for that matter…who I really want to hear from every day. Even my favorite bloggers — once a week is perfect. Then each time I see their post arrive, I am excited to open it rather than reluctant.

    Before becoming a reporter, I was in the clothing business and I heard this saying:

    “Better to have a customer with an appetite than one with indigestion”.

    True that.

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm.com

  42. Tracey says:

    Larry-

    Is it really write less? I think it’s just post less, write more. Take your time. Think. Edit. Think. Edit. Post.

    I’m not sure how you can post quality content if you actually write less, but I do believe you can post quality content if you write more and only post the best.

  43. Tammy Vitale says:

    having been through the blog more/blog less (and continuing to blog twice weekly now instead of the daily thing), I will instead concentrate on the gender thing and changing the language: once you are aware, as you demonstrate you are, then changing is as simple as adding and “s” – one key stroke. As Rob Brezsny notes in his book, Pronoia: let’s let the feminine be the default for a millenia or two then we can worry about evening it out. Just saying. Nice post.

  44. Carolee says:

    I cut back on posting everyday when I realized that most people subscribe to numerous blogs and have a lot to read every day.

    I also think if you are updating daily there is a good chance people aren’t having time to read all of your posts.

    I was away from the Internet for the holiday weekend. Since I subscribe to several blogs myself, imagine how many updates I had waiting in my inbox!

    I most likely won’t get to all of them!

    I also have a little less “Blogging Stress” since posting less, and more time to visit other blogs.

  45. Great Style of writing :-) this is how you make an article interesting to read.

    Thanks for sharing and keep sharing

  46. This has got to be the best problogger post! Thank you! It’s almost a year that I started blogging. I went from 3x a week to 5 (one week as an experiment) and now I’m down to 2x a week. I find quality over quantity works. I was terrified that my numbers would fall, but honestly how many times can you read a blog?
    I write about pets and animals, and while I post stories about animal welfare that are important to me and to my readers, we ALL need a break. Also, many people in the pet blogging community tend to post photos of their pets or of other cute pets every day or a few times a day–it’s too much.
    So less is more–it’s a belief I live by. Thank you again!!!

  47. Britty says:

    My question is would Larry rather be “writing” about sex? ;)

    Great article, Larry! Quality versus quantity wins every time.

  48. Barbara says:

    I recently hit the 6 mo. mark with my blog and have to say the past 3 months have been quite an education. I guess because I was basically clueless I just did what felt right to me. I average 2-3 posts a week, and never felt compelled to post daily.

    I journal daily, but never wanted my blog to be a public journal, so taking time to craft what I felt was a quality post made sense to me. You’ve validated that gut instinct for me Larry. Thanks!

  49. As a new, unknown blogger, I have noticed that when I first post something on my blog, I get quite a few visits, mostly of course due to the accompanying Twitter and social bookmarking posts, then visits start getting less and less. Naturally I am tempted to post new material on my blog, or retweet the same material again and again, to keep those visits coming. The question is, is it better to keep writing new posts or to keep promoting the old posts and how to find a balance between the two.

  50. Interesting idea. I have had to take a break from time to time, because I felt that it was getting stale.

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