This post continues our Misconceptions New Bloggers Have series and looks at one of the most common questions I’m asked about when speaking about blogging—posting frequency.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard prebloggers dismiss the idea of blogging because they don’t have the time or discipline to produce daily blog posts.
The belief is that to be successful they need to get posts out daily (if not multiple times per day). The reality is that there is no single approach to successful blogging when it comes to how often one must post. There are plenty of examples of highly successful blogs that operate at both ends of the frequency spectrum (I’ll highlight some less frequent posters below).
So what can we say about how often you should post? Let’s take a look at some of the factors we need to consider.
Regular contact builds relationships
The blogger/reader interaction is a lot like any relationship—the more you see one another as friends, the more you begin to know about each other, the more intimacy develops, and the more you get to trust each other (a big generalization, I know).
Regular posting on your blog puts you and your brand in front of people on a regular basis, and this opens up the opportunity for a deepening relationship. Infrequent posting can lead to readers feeling disconnected, and to even forget who you are completely.
This was highlighted to me once at a conference when, after getting off the stage from speaking, I was almost knocked over in a warm embrace from one ProBlogger reader.
Through her tears she stammered, “I … just … feel … sob … like … I … sniff … know … you … so … well!”
Why did she feel that way? Every day she’d received an email from me with advice on how to build her blog.
Over-posting can be annoying
Of course if we look at “real life” relationships we also have to acknowledge that the amount of time you spend with someone can also have the opposite effect. Have you ever had a friendship with someone that became a little too much? You know the relationships … where the other person leaps in so far that you end up feeling a little smothered!
Posting too regularly can get a little like that too.
I once surveyed readers here on ProBlogger about the reasons they unsubscribed to RSS feeds and the number one answer was “posting too much.” Respondents expressed that they developed “burnout” and would unsubscribe if a blog became too “noisy.”
There’s a tipping point for every blog where one more post just becomes too much and readers begin to disengage.
It comes down to usefulness and relevancy
So what’s the tipping point? How many posts will grow the relationship and how many will destroy it?
Unfortunately there isn’t a single number that will work for every blog—instead I suspect it really comes down to the relevancy and usefulness of the content you’re producing. If what you’re writing is going to solve problems and be valuable to them, they will forgive a lot, whether that’s lots of posts or a long period between them.
One question to ask yourself on this front is, “What do my readers need?”
- On one hand, you might find in answering that question for your readership that they need lots of short, sharp posts because there is a lot of breaking news in your niche that they want.
- In other cases you might find that your readers actually need thoughtful analysis—longer posts that they have time to chew on before moving onto another topic.
The answers to this question will depend a lot on the type of blog that you’re running, the niche or topic, the style and length of content that you’re producing, and the types of readers you’re hoping to attract.
Other benefits of more frequent posts
There are a few more benefits of more frequent posting that are worth mentioning:
- More entry points into your blog via the search engines: Daily posting means 365 entry points into your blog for search users every year as opposed to 52 if you’re posting weekly, or 12 if you go with monthly.
- More entry points into your blog via social media: Similarly, by publishing and promoting your content, you’re also providing more doorways into your blog on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Daily posts give your readers more opportunities to share those links around.
- More connecting points for RSS subscribers: Similarly again, the more you post, the more alerts or updates those who subscribe to your blog via RSS will get.
Benefits of less frequent posts
On the flip-side, there are benefits of less posts, too:
- Potentially higher reader engagement: I’ve noticed on my own blogs that if I post once in three or four days, the posts tend to get higher levels of comments and conversation among readers when compared to times when I post two posts in a single day. I guess frequent posting pushes posts off the radar of readers faster, as there’s always something new coming out.
- Absence can make the heart grow fonder: I know of a couple of bloggers who post quite infrequently, but have built up almost a cult following, and who build a lot of anticipation among readers for the next post. Posts become highly anticipated and valued, and they get shared around the web at a higher rate than if the posts were coming out multiple times a day (I’ll give some examples of this type of blog below).
- It helps to avoid writer burnout and can lead to higher quality content: After the initial adrenaline rush that often comes with launching a new blog subsides, many bloggers hit a wall when, a few months in, they begin to struggle to find things to write about. The pressure of daily posting can add to this, so a less frequent publishing schedule can give a little more space to write only about the things that they think really matter. They are free to write the most useful content, and to avoid burnout as they do so.
Examples of blogs that post less often than daily
I asked on Twitter for examples of blogs that post less frequently than daily, but which still have been successful. I was inundated with examples. Here are some that were most commonly suggested by my followers:
- Zen Habits: updated an average of eight times per month over the last few months
- The Art of Non Conformity: Chris Guillebeau’s blog, which has averaged just under ten posts per month lately
- SimpleMom: posts more regularly than the above two, but usually has a day or two off per week—a good example of regularity with breaks
- The Four Hour Work Week: as you’d expect, Tim’s not going to be updating daily on this given his topic (he posts three or four times a month), yet it gets a lot of engagement
- Unmarketing: Scott Stratten commented on Twitter that “infrequency is my middle name.” However, keep in mind that Scott’s working hard on developing engagement on Twitter—he’s closing in on 75,000 tweets!
- Social Triggers: Derek Halpern posts two to four times per month, but the quality is high and there’s a lot of reader engagement.
- Penelope Trunk: Penelope is another great example of someone who has regular posting but doesn’t feel the need to write something every single day.