This guest post is by Greg Narayan of DearBlogger.
It’s a sad truth: if you stop blogging, people will eventually forget about you.
Just like the actors in our favorite movies or athletes once they retire, we soon forget the big names and find new ones to idolize.
Even if your blog enjoys the spotlight now with revolutionary posts that go totally Justin -Beiber-viral the moment you hit Publish, it won’t last forever. That’s where your output comes in. Reach an appropriate, consistent level of output and you’ll get returning readers while keeping Google happy too.
But how do we reach a “good” level of output, and what amount is it? How much do you have to write to stay popular? Let’s take a look.
The “one post a day” model
The one post a day model is pretty popular, probably because it’s easy to visualize. You wake up, brew the coffee, and sit down at the computer. As your heads spins with thoughts from the previous night and new ideas on the future, you write them down.
This might work very well if you run a “my thoughts on the world” type of blog, or are into self-improvement, or have a blog documenting your travels.
However, if you plan to blog seriously or blog for a living, I see a few problems with the one post a day model:
- Short: Writing one blog a day inevitably produces short posts, unless you ramble on and on, which is never good. And after Panda, Google doesn’t exactly love brief posts. Unless you have the pull of Seth Godin, one short post after another might confuse your readers or make them think you’re…
- Cheap: Anyone can write one post a day. You just jot down some words that look like they make sense and hit publish. But the best posts require revisions, to make the points clear and the copy concise. This level of quality is difficult to achieve every single day on your blog.
- Too personal: If you are writing in your pajamas before beginning the day I’d bet that writing will get pretty personal. Your beliefs and biases will littler the copy in places they just shouldn’t. So unless you have a really, intensely interesting life like Kim Kardashian (ha!) I’d avoid being too personal in your blog posts. It can scare new readers away.
When I wrote on how I blog for money, one of the main messages was that you earn by giving lots of value to readers. If you find posting every day is the best way to give, that’s fine, but be careful you’re not posting every day just to drive more traffic and attention to your blog. You’ll receive just as much traffic in the long run by posting infrequently at first.
Note: For wholesome traffic-gen strategies, check out Ana Hoffman’s blog.
Now, how about we put a different spin on this model?
One post a day, revamped
The “revamped” model will help you truly give, and also use your full creative potential.
Readers like consistency, we know that, so set one post per week in that regime to be on your own blog. Make it personal, with a story from your own experiences. The tone should be different from posts away from your blog, to give readers a distinct feel to latch on to.
The great thing is that allowing yourself to write on places outside your blog really frees up your imagination. I can’t tell you how many people come to me saying they feel pressured to keep the content churning on their own blog, and it’s hurting their writing. Well, this is a solution.
You should know a couple things though before adapting this model. In order to write great guest posts you’ve gotta be immersed. Not in the TV in front of you on the magazine on the table, though you may find inspiration there. No, be immersed in the tone of the other blog. Read five or ten of their posts, catch their vibe, and see what readers want.
A lot of the time, what readers come back for on another blog is totally different from your own blog. To be a successful guest poster you’ll need to wise up to these little style cues on another blog.
This doesn’t just include guest posts. Every Tuesday morning, for example, I send out a newsletter to subscribers only. I’d be crazy to publish a post the same day because it would overwhelm people. Plus, I usually reference past posts in the newsletter, so the flow of traffic coming to my blog is taken care of. This is a great way of reusing content and getting folks to the blog.
Where do I find the inspiration?
So, you’re going with the one post a day model. Maybe you’ve tailored it a bit so you allow yourself two days off. Nothing wrong with that. Either way, you’ll be writing a serious amount.
Where do the ideas come from? It’s no secret good writing requires inspiration, and some of us just seem to have more of it than others. But where do we get it?
Here are a few places you can find inspiration to meet your desired output levels:
- Conversations: Yes, they still exist off of Facebook. Go have a rich one.
- Old-fashioned books: Old classics (Gatsby is my fave) boast inspirational ideas well ahead of their time.
- Restaurants: Observe the menu. Neat words will pop out. Trust me, they will.
- Other blogs: Your favorite blog should be full of daily inspiration.
- Travel: Check out PickTheBrain soon for my post on how travel solves all your problems.
What are my limitations?
The honest truth is there are none. I know successful bloggers who rose to fame averaging only a few posts a month (read: Dererk Halpern).
Then there are those who furiously write, even when they can’t stand to anymore.
Forcing yourself to write can be a tremendous burden in the face of another job and even a family. If it’s not a creative outlet for you, either try to make it one, or just chill out. Put the laptop away for a while.
Often, inspiration creeps in when you’re not looking for it.
So, what is the perfect blogging output level?
There isn’t one (lame punch-line, I know).
It’s all about what works best for you, given your daily restrictions to time, money, location, etc.
Personally, I enjoy posting once a week on my blog because my readers expect it, and it’s just enough of a schedule to keep me sane. I know that when I’m not posting I should subconsciously be looking for new ideas—new weird/crazy topics to interrelate—from my surroundings. Then I sprinkle in guest posts like this one or that one to keep folks on a never-ending hunt to find me when I’m not at the blog.
It’s quite fun, actually.
But, your output schedule could be totally different. The point kind of is, you should choose something. Thinking about your output levels will help you tailor a schedule, which I firmly believe is necessary to make blogging for a living actually work someday. And that’s the goal, right?
What works for you?
I’m quite aware the one post a day model is outdated and not for everyone. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I blog enough! So, what works for you? I really hope someone successful out there can chime in and help us all out.
Let me know in the comments.