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Hey, I'm Not a Machine: How Often Is Often Enough?

by Joe Loong on January 19, 2009

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Here’s a question that comes up, and it’s worth revisiting a lot: How often should I post? And the answer, of course is: It depends.

A big dependency is the platform you’re using. Or rather, the platforms. If you’re using Twitter, with its 140-character limit, posting less generally means posting more. (That is, fewer words leads to greater frequency). Plus, it’s really easy and you can do it while you’re on the go. (There’s that use of interstitial time again.)

Here’s something that’s almost cheating: Pipe your Twitter updates into your blog using an embeddable widget, and it’s a way to pass updates to your blog without doing a full-on blog entry.

And what about that full-on blog? In the Time Demands video (from the Solution Stars Video series), blogger/author Tim Ferriss says that, contrary to some rules that others advocate, he generally posts twice per week… but he’s sure to put effort into those two posts. (Of course, you would expect that, since he advocates for The 4-Hour Workweek). So it’s the quality-versus-quantity approach.

At the If You Build It, Will They Come? event, Frank Warren of PostSecret shared the method behind his unique variation of this — he updates once a week, on Sundays, which not only sets up his blog entries as appointment programming, but it also enforces an artificial scarcity: It keeps people always hungry for more. Obviously, this approach won’t work for most folks, but it goes to show that more isn’t better — better is better.

This ties in to the very important setting of reader expectations. If you know you’re going to be posting relatively infrequently (a couple of times per week, or even per month, or only when specific events happen), be upfront about it. Let people know what to expect, and provide ways that they can keep tabs on your blog. I’m thinking specifically of one-click RSS-to-e-mail solutions that pop off an e-mail when you update (Feedburner, among others, offers this) — it works great for blogs that don’t update that frequently.

Then, think about ways you can streamline your publishing workflow, and how you can optimize it to your writing style. Also at the If You Build It event, Rohit Bhargava said his ideal blog week consisted of three posts, with his typical posting schedule starting on Sunday night, with a goal of having a completed blog entry ready to publish at 1AM Monday, and two half-completed posts to work on during his train ride commutes during the rest of the week.

The most important thing to consider when looking at posting frequency is looking at your readers. Not just the analytics, but also commenting and other reactions and feedback. See if you can discern patterns in your traffic that relate to your posting schedule. You probably won’t be able to do strict A/B testing, but you can see if time of day or day of week posting affects your metrics. And try to find out from your readers if they’re getting what they need from your posts — whether they want more, or if they could do with less. Ask and listen.

Whatever you do, please avoid the temptation to shovel in filler posts to boost your post frequency. Filler posts dilute the value of your “real” posts. Just don’t do it.

I don’t think I’ve covered any new ground here, but I’m curious to hear about your posting schedule, and how you came about it. If you’d like to share, leave a comment below — when it comes to your posting frequency, are you a “more” or a “less”?

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