Brian WoodLabel: Brian Wood, Quality, Quantity
A very popular topic in the blogging advice circles these days is the notion that quality is more important than quantity. The old advice that you should blog daily is being cast aside with the advice that it’s far better to blog only a few times a week — or even just once a week — with a quality post rather than filling up your blog with junk just for the sake of posting something that day.
I don’t disagree with this advice, but it is certainly disingenuous. It’s a bait and switch and it’s so easy to nod along because the advice is telling us that we can do less work. Doing less work is easier, and now we’re being told that we can actually make more money or get more readers by working less! Who wouldn’t want that?
As always when you hear advice that’s too good to be true, it almost always isnot true. The fact is that blogging every day is better for almost any stand alone blog.
But you have to compare apples to apples. Blogging every day with quality posts is better than blogging a few times a week with quality posts. The fault with the too good to be true advice is comparing junk posts to quality posts. If you regularly have junk or low quality posts, then you have a much bigger problem than scheduling.
Developing Reader Habits
The majority of blog readers actually go to the blog URL to read it. Strangely enough, subscribers to feeds remain a minority of visits for most blogs. Your goal as a blogger is to develop in your readers the habit of visiting your blog regularly. Every time they check back with your blog and see a new post there’s a little zip of pleasure, of positive reinforcement. The majority of them are surfing from work and looking for that little moment of distraction about a topic they’re interested in. You want reading your blog to be a pleasurable part of their daily routine, something they do without even thinking about it.
But every time they visit your blog and see no new post there’s a little zip of disappointment. The more that happens the less often they’ll check back. Some of them will find a median that matches your posting schedule (and please, if you’re not posting daily, at least have a schedule so readers know when to expect a post). But some of them won’t find that median, they’ll just quit checking back. It’s not that they get disgusted or actively make a decision to abandon your blog; they just forget about, or get distracted by something new. You just fade away.
This isn’t a big deal for certain kinds of blog: some blogs depend on SEO traffic to specific queries and provide solutions for the search phrase. These blogs are built to be successful based on traffic, but not on readers. Readers are the people who keep coming back regularly to hear what you have to say (and, perhaps, to click on ads or affiliate links).
If you post daily, you will convert more of your traffic into readers. You want the user to find your site, like the article, then poke around the starter navigation you’ve provided and realize they like a lot of your stuff. Now they’re on the hook, but so tenuously. If they come back a couple days later and there’s nothing new, odds are you’ve lost them. Providing a new interesting post on that second visit is when you really have a chance to set the hook and get them to bookmark your site, to remember it, to begin to make visiting you a part of their routine.
I started a blog in a relatively popular niche that had pretty stiff competition at the time. My two plans to stand out were to use superior SEO to attract traffic in the first place, and to convert that traffic into readers by blogging every Monday – Friday. No other blogs in the niche even posted on a schedule, and at most they post three times a week (most less). Within a year I was the dominant blog in the niche with over 20,000 visits per day. There are a lot of reasons for the success, but a regular and frequent posting schedule was alarge part of it — people got used to checking the site every day from work; they spent more time with me than they did with anyone else and as a result they got to know me better than anyone else, and trust me. I honestly don’t think the site would have been so wildly successful (about four times larger than the number two site) without that regular schedule.
And a dirty little secret here: I don’t even write five quality posts a week. I figure I can get a way one with at least one filler piece each week because coming and seeing some 5-minute whipped together post of a few hundred words is still more satisfying to readers than coming and seeing no post. Also, and this is rather frustrating actually, many of those posts are among the most popular.
Different Blogging Frequencies
To some extent the frequency that you post will be determined by the kind of site that you have and your audience. I have blogs that are just additions to a main website. The main benefit of those blogs is catching some longtail search traffic and providing regular updates to the site. For those I blog just once a week — what I think of as the minimum to keep a blog breathing.
I also write for a very large news blog that receives upwards of a million hits a day. They post at least 12 time per day (half that on the weekends), and while they have a lot of great content, they also have a lot of filler and fluff in there. But here’s the thing: if they cut out that filler and fluff they would losereaders. Their audience has been trained to check at the site regularly throughout the day and those readers want that new distraction every hour, even if it’s just a 150 word trifling update. Their readers prefer to come and see a junk post rather than no new post, provided they can also expect quality posts regularly.
Here are some of the most standard blogging frequencies:
- Less than once per week: a blog that is dying, but may not yet know it
- Once a week: minimum amount to still be alive. If your blog depends on readers and you’re posting this seldom, be sure to always post on the same day.
- Three times per week: the Mon/Wed/Fri schedule is popular among web comics and is a great compromise for a blog when you just don’t have enough time or inspiration to keep up a more ideal schedule.
- Five times per week: Mon-Fri is pretty much the gold standard that you should be trying to reach with quality posts each day. This is the optimal point to convert traffic into readers and get those readers trained into making visiting your blog a part of their daily routine.
- Multiple times per day: posting more than once per day on a regular basis requires a very specific kind of blog. I know on my blogs if I post twice in the same day, one of those two posts will get about half the readers. Unless your readers are trained to expect more than one post per day it’s very easy for them to only look at the most recent post and assume they’re caught up for the day.
There are of course exceptions to any kind of guideline on posting frequency. But if you have a blog that posts less than five times per week, you will almost certainly increase both traffic and readers by increasing your posting frequency, provided you can do so without degrading your quality.
Whether the increase in traffic and readers is worth the increase in workload is something only you can answer, but don’t let someone tell you that you can blog less and increase readers. Better content means more traffic and readers. More frequent blogging, up to five times per week, also means more traffic and visitors.
Brian Wood maintains several websites and blogs, including his recently launched AwesomeDice.com. He actively maintains three daily blogs and a half dozen blogs that post less often, and averages around 30,000 people reading his posts every day.