Last week I ran an impromptu Ustream chat session with my Twitter followers on the theme of Blogger Productivity (to celebrate the launch of Blog Wise). It was an informal and fun session (you can view the hour-long recording of it here) but one of the recurring questions that came up was around the topic of posting rhythm and how to keep up regular posting when you may not have the time to post daily.
It’s a question I hear quite a bit. The pressure of posting daily, coupled with keeping the quality and usefulness of posts high, tips some bloggers over the edge—particularly those who write longer, deeper articles that take a great deal of thought and research to prepare.
One of the answers I gave was to consider developing a posting rhythm that mixes up the types of posts that you deliver to readers.
If you can only sustain one or two longer, deeper, more researched posts a week, you might want to consider adding in some regular posts into your week that are of a different style. The key is to keep the posts of a high value to your readers without them taking a whole heap of your time to prepare.
What we’re talking about here isn’t “filler” content. It needs to be “killer” content … or perhaps “killer filler” content.
Let’s look at a few examples.
1. Reader discussions
A semi-regular post type that we run on dPS are posts that purely ask readers a question. There are a few ways to do this. One is to give readers a couple of alternatives to an issue and ask them to nominate which is their preferred approach (e.g. Are you a Binge Photographer or a Snack Photographer?).
Another alternative is to run a “community workshop” where you take a reader’s question and then give it to your community to answer (e.g. Help this Locationally Challenged Photographer Improve her Portraiture).
You could also set up a debate… ask for stories or examples on a topic… or just pose a question. These posts are easy to write but can add a lot of value in terms of reader engagement and community-building on your blog.
Similar to asking a question, a poll can be an easy post to get up, and can deepen reader engagement—and start a good discussion too (e.g. What Mode do You Shoot in Most?). Not only that, you can take the results of the poll and turn that into a second post a week or so later.
3. Homework and challenges
One of the most popular weekly posts that we do on dPS is a weekly photography challenge: I name a theme, and readers go away and take a photo on that theme before coming back to share their image. This little challenge has become a weekly assignment that some readers revolve their photographic week around—and it could be adapted to many other topics (e.g. Photographer in the Picture: Weekly Photography Challenge)
4. Link summaries
A few years back, this type of post was a regular thing on many blogs. Bloggers would freely link up to other posts in their niche, quite often sharing a list of links with a few added thoughts on each. These days much of this link sharing happens on social media but I still find readers love these posts. In fact when I’ve created these posts on dPS, they often become posts that others share on social media (e.g. 18 (+7) Great Photography Links from Around the Web).
You’ll see in that example that I not only link to 18 great posts on other photography blogs, but also link to seven dPS articles from the archives, driving traffic both externally and internally.
5. Link of the week
Another way to write link posts is to just feature one in a post. Identify a high-quality, useful post from another blog or site, link to it, and add a few of your own thoughts to preempt or build on what your readers will find when they visit the link.
In this way, your readers find some useful content but they also get your quick insights on the topic. You’re also potentially building a relationship with the blog you are linking to by publishing this kind of post.
6. Best of and archive posts
If your blog has been running for a number of years, you probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of useful posts in your archives that new readers have never seen. Why not throw some posts into your mix that link back to some of those older ones?
Perhaps you’ve written five posts on the same topic over the years. A “best of” post that links back to them can be useful to readers. Another way to do this is to do what blogs like Lifehacker used to do regularly: publish a regular “One Year Ago on Lifehacker” post that links to a variety of posts from 12 months ago.
7. Guest posts
Much has been written on the topic of guest posts, and they work better on some blogs than others, but it is certainly worth including posts written by others from time to time on your blog. You may not do them every day, but a number of blogs I know run “guest post Tuesday” (or another day of the week) where they feature either a reader’s submission.
8. Hire a columnist
Some people don’t like to publish guest posts because they add too many different voices to a blog. An alternative might be to hire someone to write a post or two a week. This way, you build consistency into your blog and can hopefully build some momentum into your posts.
Head to Youtube, type in some keywords related to your topic, and see what videos are available—you might just find a video that is of high value that would really help your readers.
Embed it into a post, add some of your own thoughts, and you’ve got a great post (e.g. How to Create Impossible Images). I don’t do this every week, but I do like to throw a video into the mix once or twice a month on dPS—and readers love them (they’ve also helped us build relationships with other sites who produce the videos).
This idea does take more work than some of the others listed above, but interviewing someone in your niche can be a great way of creating content without a heap of work. The hardest part is finding someone with expertise in your area who has time to be interviewed, and then constructing some questions that will be interesting to your readers to hear the answers to. But once you have this, you just email the questions to your interview subject, and let them shoot back the replies for you to format and put into a blog post. The key is finding interesting people and asking questions that will help your readers in some way.
I’m just scratching the surface here of the types of posts that are a little less labor-intensive to create, but which can still serve a purpose for your readers. The key is to experiment, test what types of posts get positive reactions, and evolve them into something that you can add into a regular posting calendar for your blog.
An example posting schedule
How you do it will completely depend upon you, but you may even find it useful to assign a different type of post to each day of the week:
- Monday: Guest post
- Tuesday: Reader discussion
- Wednesday: Your longer, more thoughtful post
- Thursday: Video of the week
- Friday: Your second longer, more thoughtful post
- Saturday: Link roundup
- Sunday: Challenge/homework post