The reasons for which you might decide to start a blog may be diverse, but it’s safe to say that we are well past the era of blogs primarily serving as online diaries. These days blogging has become a hugely popular method of promotion, whether the subject of promotion be a product, brand, topic, group, business, or a human being. For individual bloggers, the marvelous thing about publishing a blog is that by doing so, you create one more landing site for people to discover or follow you and your work. You already know all this, but the point is that blogging has become a meta-activity, one that is performed not only for its own sake, but also strategically to support and perpetuate your reason for writing it.
From there come questions about logistics: presuming that you’re interested in marketing the actual content of your writing, the next logical step is optimization. There are bloggers out there who write erratically on an un-connected Xanga with html that hasn’t been updated since 2011, and those are decidedly not the ones who get any attention. I have personally found that establishing and maintaining a readership relies on knowing your readers’ habits and working yourself in there. I’m not the only one who does this; corporations and individuals alike have put enormous effort to analyzing the media consumption habits of their audiences (sorry everyone, you’ve been tracked), and optimization has become the name of the game. This means that the frequency with which you publish a blog post should depend on your specific readers.
But, you may ask, what if you don’t have any readers yet? Regardless, can any generalizations be made? For those looking for a basic guide to blog publishing frequency, common sense will supplement the masses of data already available on the Internet about this topic.
There are a few basic rules, the first of which is CONSISTENCY. Bloggers who blog consistently and reliably are far more likely to be sought out and taken seriously by readers. For instance, if you’re trying to get into tech blogging, it behooves you to publish punchy, pertinent posts as soon as something new and exciting happens or as soon as a new product comes out. A successful blogger has to get to the juicy morsels before the others do. Since much within the realm of blogging circles around current events, it’s essential to keep a blog up-to-date; this means that bloggers have to stay on top of their game by being able to sift through the unimportant topics to find the ones that make for really compelling content, and then write about them immediately. If your readers have already read what you’re saying in three other places, they’re not going to stick around for a 4th go ’round. This brings me to my next point, which I learned the hard way during my very early days of blogging.
Blogging frequency has to be REGULAR, and that means calibrating the quality of your content to a level that is manageable in proportion to how often you post. Current-events blogging is difficult because things around the world happen so fast that it can be tempting to write five essay posts within a few days, for example, when there have been just as many worthwhile events to write about. This kind of trap is one for the enthusiastic beginner: don’t compromise quality for quantity, no matter how tempting it might be. Readers only really read blog posts when they’re getting something useful or compelling out of the experience; if the quality of your writing, analysis, or general content declines or even varies, then you become instantly less worth reading. Again, consistency is key.
So what does that even out to? Some people have a huge amount of energy, of course, and can write dozens of posts a week without fail. But are those posts particularly good? Well, maybe on some blogs, but I can’t think of many that qualify. The most successful blogs that I’ve found have in common that they provide content that is neither too frequent nor too sparse. My own analyses suggest that people are fairly regular; most working adults read blogs in the afternoon and evening, either during long work hours, or after work. They also don’t have time to read a full post every day, much less a few times a day; therefore, it’s best to pick out two or three days a week that you always post on. That way, people get to anticipate your posts, and voila, your blog has just become a habit.
That said, except for bloggers just starting out, I really advise against posting more than three times per week. Let me elaborate on the first part of that statement for a moment, though; bloggers who are just starting out are looking for buzz more than anything else. Buzz is what will attract new readers and get a blog off the ground in terms of brand-recognition and ad revenue. Unfortunately, there’s no formula for buzz- some posts just happen to go viral, though, and blogs with one viral post invariably get orders of magnitude more readers than blogs that were never discovered. This is why it’s worthwhile to post a lot early in the life of your blog; if you can post one decent, short, high-quality thing a day, at a time determined to match the habits of your intended audience, you’re much more likely to have a post go viral.
In the end, whether your blog has built readership via networking with other bloggers, having a viral post, or just years of posting quality content that was eventually recognized, over-posting is a huge mistake for established blogs. It comes off like spam to the readers, who may be reading you through a feed system, or it might just seem overwhelming if reading your blog requires going to a single website.
In sum, the rules are simple: post content of consistent quality on a regular, pre-determined basis that you’ve established by knowing your audience. Don’t quit posting for long periods of time, but especially don’t post too much. Beyond these rules, your own strategy will prevail— en garde!